In the Introduction, the author remarks that the ruleset herein presented was written to meet the needs of the convention-going wargamer, for whom a typical complex set of wargame rules is too complex to learn from scratch during a single convention game. So he set out to write some rules that were simple to pick up quickly, yet still managed to reflect the style of warfare of the American Civil War period. This is followed by notes on the requirements for running the game, assuming standard 15mm miniatures are to be used.
Next comes an overview of the way American Civil War armies were organised - although similar there are minor variations between Union and Confederate forces. Naturally an enthusiast for the period will have more detailed information to hand, but for someone who just wants to try out an ACW skirmish or two, this does fine. This moves on to more arbitrary ways of measuring the 'quality' of a given group by means of assigning a 'morale class' to them. This gets slightly muddled as one moment there's a description of morale STATES - which will change during the course of a battle - which morphs straight into a discussion about how some regiments can be elite while others are green. This rounds off with how to determine starting morale for your units.
The discussion then moves on to how the game is actually played. It's a multi-phase turn-based system, with some phases - such as initial writing of orders - taking place simultaneously while others require the rolling of initiative to decide who goes first. To reflect the quality of command, a die roll must be made for each Divisional Commander which, modified by the Commander's personal rating, determine how many 'Command Points' he has at his disposal: these are spent as orders are issued to units under his command. There's a random system for determing personal ratings if you do not want to use hisorical commanders for some of whom ratings are given. Then comes movement, with an initiative roll to decide who goes first then units from each side alternating until all have gone where they were ordered. You can mix in modifiers for terrain, weather and darkness if more realism is required; and there are a range of movement types from which you can choose. Once everyone has got into position, those which are engagement range of the enemy can exchange fire with them.
Rules and tables out the way, a couple of scenarios are presented for you to try out. The first is a fictional skirmish designed to introduce the ruleset in action, and the second is a recreation of the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as First Manassas). For each, army lists and objectives are given, as well as the starting positions of the forces involved. Nice and clear, complete with victory conditions and diagrams of the battlefield. To round off, there are a couple of quick reference sheets that summarise the rules, far easier to cope with around a wargames layout than the complete rulebook.
While this is a simplistic system as far as wargames go, it is probably still a bit complex for a complete newcomer to wargaming... but as an introduction to the particular requirements of an American Civil War simulation it does quite well.
Return to Rally Round the Flag page.
Reviewed: 2 November 2009