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"How Big Should a 15mm ACW Army Be?" Topic

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American Civil War

1,160 hits since 5 Jul 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian06 Jul 2018 8:31 p.m. PST

In your opinion, what should the minimum size of an ACW army be, in terms of numbers of 15mm figures?

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 9:00 p.m. PST

It should be as many figures as your rules of choice require to represent the force you want to put on the table . . . more if possible and desirable, but definitely not less.

jdpintex06 Jul 2018 10:22 p.m. PST

Not to exceed the weight limit of the game table

Yellow Admiral07 Jul 2018 12:43 a.m. PST

For balancing ACW games, my rule of thumb was to use about as much as it would take to line the table from edge to edge in a single rank. When the troops are arranged into proper formations and some put in reserve or strung out in approach march, there are guaranteed to be maneuver room and tactical options. A little bit less than this is the minimum, a little bit more is the maximum.

In less subjective terms, I feel like a miniatures gamer should have about 2-3 feet of frontage under his command, maybe 4-5 feet on an open flank or with a big gap to cover in scenarios where sweeping maneuver or desperately scrambling to cover a gap are part of the tactical situation. Less than 2 feet makes the game feel cramped and moves friction out of the game and into interpersonal relationships.

- Ix

langobard Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 2:51 a.m. PST

I'm with Yellow Admiral. Unless you are working on a specific scenario, a single rank across the table thins out amazingly once you start factoring in off table reserves, second lines, troops marching along roads, etc.

Not to mention the fact that if a player DOES line them up edge to edge, they are almost certain to be overwhelmed at almost any point the opposing players chose to concentrate on…

Apart from that I work on the idea popularized by DBA of approx a dozen tactical units per player, rather than actual frontage in terms of table dimensions.

PS, that said, my 15mm ACW armies are approx 800 infantry strong, and 100 cav to cover most of the scenarios I am likely to run.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 2:52 a.m. PST

275 figures.

12 Infantry @ 20 figures
6 Artillery @ 3 figures
1 Cavalry @ 12 figures
5 Command @ 1 figure

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 3:48 a.m. PST

For the Union
9 infantry brigades of six bases four figures each
1 cavalry brigade of six bases (with dismounts) two figures each
5-6 artillery bases each with a gun and three gunners
1 general.

Or, if we're being serious, it depends on number of players, rules, size of table and basing system.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 3:49 a.m. PST

This is one of the few subjects where:
You have a huge number of well documented interesting small battles.
If you only do that, as most troops are roughly similar, and after all not smashingly beautiful ( don't tell me about zouaves, I do own all of Weed's… In a case1-20).
So a few brigades of each side will do.
f&F rgt for ex 1000-1200 and you can do most. Both sides together, large variety of cannons to show the right ones.
Then it depends on the scale representation.

Cleburne186307 Jul 2018 4:49 a.m. PST

That really depends on your rules set and scale. I think a corps per side will be able to play almost any scenario. Even a large division per side would be enough for most scenarios that you want to start and finish in a day for most regimental rules sets. How many figures is that? Again, depends on your rules set.

Ferd4523107 Jul 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

Pish Posh! As many as you want limited by only two factors. Factor one is financial. Factor two is dependent upon your wife's (or partner') tolerance level. Some civil wars can be avoided. H

Perris070707 Jul 2018 7:30 a.m. PST

Big enough to re-fight Gettysburg.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 7:47 a.m. PST

i wil link tis reply to specific set of rules. i think this is the way to conduct this discussion (?)

CWB (civil war battles) by Peter Pig.

Basic manoeuvre unit is a brigade. Average about 6 bases of 3 to 4 figures each. 6 brigades per side.
Gives 3.5 x 6 x 6=126 figures plus gun crews and command=150 figures. This is for a median sized game of CWB.

150 per player

It would be great to hear the same calculations for other rules. Then a better comparison can be made?

Glengarry507 Jul 2018 9:05 a.m. PST

More then you have time to paint.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 9:31 a.m. PST

I don't know. Our group can deploy about 8,000 15mm
ACW figures, foot/horse and guns. Basing is an issue
since about each 1/3 of the figures are based for
different systems.

The 8,000 are roughly 50/50 US/CS

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Hmm. Part of the problem is that I never think of 15mm armies in terms of figures, but in terms of bases. F&F says put 3-5 infantry figures on a base. It makes a difference. And people playing "Brother against Brother" in 15mm individually based are going to have a very different notion than those playing OTR with 8-10 15mm figures on a 2" base.

I think Langobard and Yellow Admiral are right if you change "single rank" to "single line" since a lot of us are based two ranks deep.

For personal use--not supplying a club--I figure unit frontage should be 6-8" (1/6 of a 3' or 4' table) and smallest acceptable army is 10 units to match One Hour Wargames. Four infantry, one gun or two cavalry to a 1" base would be somewhere around 200 figures.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 11:48 a.m. PST

I sold all of mine but it was at 7000+ when I parted ways with it.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 2:00 p.m. PST

I'm still painting mine, but I'll have (for "On to Richmond" rules) when completed:

Union XIV Corps [reinforced] (Thomas, Army of the Cumberland) -- 19 mounted & 5 foot officers, 435 infantry, 15 guns, 60 gunners, 40 mounted infantry, and 36 dismounted infantry; for a grand total of 669 figures.

Confederate Hardee's Corps [modified] (Hardee, Army of Tennessee) -- 18 mounted & 5 foot officers, 412 infantry, 8 guns, 32 gunners, 20 mounted cavalry, and 23 dismounted cavalry; for a total of 556 figures.

Grand total of 1,225 15mm figures.


Stew art Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 2:40 p.m. PST

I like Martin's idea, lets go by rule sets..
I'll do Regimental Fire and Fury, as it's my favorite.

the minimum size of an army will also change depending on table size in my opinion, so I'll add that variable.

on a table 4 x 4 or smaller, I think the min for RFF would be about 8 regiments. some smaller with less bases and some larger with more. so let's say 8 bases per regiment just to pick a number.
8x8 = 64 bases, 3 guys per base = 192 15mm figures.
add in around 6 bases of artillery.

on a 4x6 or 5x6 table, where a good sized game will have around 16 regiments. Again some regiments will be large and some will be small so let's say 8 bases again per regiment…
8 x 16 = 128 bases,3 figures per base = 384 15mm figures.
add in around 12 bases of artillery.

for minimum armies, don't have any cavalry.

on the flip side, the MAXIMUM number of bases you would need for RFF is around 200. that would let you play all but the biggest scenarios.

shirleys painting07 Jul 2018 5:37 p.m. PST

My husband and a friend are switching from Johnny reb, which they have played scince the mid 1980's, to Regimental Fire&Fury.

My husband sold his 15mm collection, which was a mix of most 15mm figures on the market, they are going to go with the 18mm(or "big" 15mm) from Blue Moon.

They will be getting many figures, and I guess I will be painting most of them.

Without pay…

Ferd4523108 Jul 2018 5:06 a.m. PST

As I said in an earlier post on this thread, two factors. Finance. Wife's tolerance. My wife helped me paint horses when we were dating; but she always let me do stuff like Shirley's husband. But I had to paint. GBY Shirley. H

Consul Paulus08 Jul 2018 10:04 a.m. PST

Continuing the rules set approach, see Sam Mustafa's Longstreet and its Grand Campaign section. 2 or more players start with identical forces, and then fight a series of battles that advance chronologically through the war. Recruits replace men that are lost, so that by the end the size of the forces will differ.

Assuming 3 infantry figs per base, 2 cavalry figs per base, 1 gun model per base (this seems to be a common arrangement for 15mm), you need 90 infantry figures, 16 cavalry, 3 artillery to start playing the Grand Campaign.

A rough estimate of the maximum needed to finish playing it is

USA: 180 infantry figures, 40 cavalry, 9 artillery
CSA: 150 infantry figures, 40 cavalry, 9 artillery

For a non-rules set approach, I know that in the UK Essex Miniatures, Museum Miniatures, Irregular Miniatures and others sell armies that they say represent a balanced force. Anyone volunteer to calculate an average from these?

ancientsgamer08 Jul 2018 8:50 p.m. PST

More than 20 units starts to get cumbersome for one player to handle. So multiply this times the figure scale and unit type.

Having said this, I have played bigger battles than this in many genres.

donlowry10 Jul 2018 7:58 a.m. PST

About twice as many figures as you have time to paint in your lifetime.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 8:51 a.m. PST

There was some 40ish thousand on both sides at Shiloh, so that sounds like a good starting number.

Yellow Admiral12 Jul 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

I think Langobard and Yellow Admiral are right if you change "single rank" to "single line" since a lot of us are based two ranks deep.
Most of my ACW infantry are based 3-4 figs/stand in 2 ranks (or rank-and-a-half?). By "single rank" I meant a single rank of miniatures or stands or bases or whatever is in use.

- Ix

Yellow Admiral12 Jul 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

Just to chime in about specific rules sets:

For Fire & Fury (1st ed. brigade version) I came to consider about 4-6 brigades organized in one medium or two small divisions (+ a few arty battys) to be the right command size for an inexperienced player, and about the minimum for an entertaining game. Experienced players could handle about double that without bogging the game too badly, and some players can manage triple that.

For Regimental Fire & Fury the same rule of thumb applies, down one command level: one or two brigades with a total of 4-6 regiments minimum, double or triple that for experienced players.

With RF&F I actually prefer to give each player a single brigade, because I find it helps add a bit of period flavor to the proceedings. Brigades become "Bob's brigade" and "Frank's brigade" and "Pete's brigade" in the more informal lingo of the day; a brigade command stand really becomes each player's own center of gravity, which feels just a bit more like actually being on the battlefield; having only one brigade increases a player's engagement in the operations of that brigade across the course of the whole battle; having only 4-8 units increases the opportunity to learn each unit's personality (weapon type, morale gradations, combat power, sometimes a brave colonel, etc.); etc. The downside is brigades which wind up in a quiet sector (boring boring boring!), but careful scenario design can mitigate or prevent this.

I played Rank & File once and liked it despite the near-absence of C3 rules, and also found that it was so easy to play that it pretty much doubled the number of units a player could handle (compared to my (R)F&F experience).

I tried a game called "Line vs. Line" once, which was a very interesting study in the micro-tactical minutiae of regimental line combat. A single regiment was really the minimum, but I also felt a single regiment was a stretch for me to handle. As with any rules, I expect playing a lot would smooth the experience, but we didn't do that. (Once was enough to scratch the itch, I guess.)

I've found ACW games using Field of Battle 2 and Battlecry (basically Commands & Colors for ACW) to be similarly scalable, with players easily able to handle an entire side; the absolute minimum is really "one command", but a better minimum for an entertaining game is probably more like 2 commands. The very episodic nature of the card-activation systems limit the operations per card-play, so nobody gets bogged down with a whole army to command.

- Ix

teramaze Inactive Member23 Aug 2018 6:46 a.m. PST

My Guess would be smaller than What i have. I went a little over board with mine. Having go big or go home. I Have the 5th and 12th Corps and the Artillery Reserve of the army of the Potomac at Gettysburg. The 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia At Gettysburg. also have Hindman's Div and Johnsn's Div. At Chickamauga and the 14th corps 3rd Division at Chickamauga. and the 146th Indiana a regiment my Relative was in at a size of 49 figs base o the only numbers i could find for them all in 15mm 1 figure to men and artillery ever two piece begin one model plus command stand. Base on the the nofi book for Gettysburg and David a Powell for the unit numbers

donlowry23 Aug 2018 8:16 a.m. PST

Al Nofi wrote a book on Gettysburg?

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

Depends on the rules you play. Do you do brigades or regiments?

I play regiments. I played JR2 for years. Lately I have been playing Mr. Lincoln's War. I have enough 15mm regiments to do the second day of Gettysburg with some to spare.

teramaze Inactive Member23 Aug 2018 1:09 p.m. PST

Al Nofi wrote a book on Gettysburg?

He wrote THe Gettysburg Campaign June- July 1863 by Alnert A Nofi part of the great Campaigns series by Combined Books inc. it is now on its 3rd as a print on demand book

Trajanus25 Aug 2018 1:10 a.m. PST

Regardless of rules, around twenty infantry units and four artillery are enough for most games unless you have regular access to a table over 8 feet in length. Cavalry can be added later may be four or five units.

If you are painting both Union and Confederates then doubling the above should keep you out of trouble for some time!

TunnelRat Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 4:28 a.m. PST

You can never have enough!

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