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"What makes gaming the ACW exciting?" Topic

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MiniPigs15 May 2019 11:02 a.m. PST

I mean the armies are basically the same and cavalry has been taken off the board. What is it exactly which makes gaming the ACW so popular?

JimDuncanUK15 May 2019 11:15 a.m. PST

I dunno, you tell me.

rustymusket15 May 2019 11:25 a.m. PST

There is more variety than appears at a cursory glance of the history. Tactics varied from linear to Napoleonic to guerrilla to skirmish. Small arms varied from flintlock, to cap lock to brass cartridge magazine weapons. Artillery varied from muzzle loaded to breach loaded rifled cannon of which range varied considerably. Mounted troops had little place in the battle line, historically, but there were cavalry battles and with imagination there could be all kinds of fictional scenarios. And this comes from someone who is not a big fan of ACW gaming. I prefer Napoleonic warfare.

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 11:26 a.m. PST

Nothing I'm afraid… my opinion.

Mister Tibbles15 May 2019 11:32 a.m. PST

The beards.

USAFpilot15 May 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

Perhaps it has to do with its popularity in American history. Also, many of the generals on both sides were graduates of West Point who had fought together and became friends during the war with Mexico.

MiniPigs15 May 2019 11:49 a.m. PST

@Jim Duncan

I wouldnt presume…though I could probably recommend a better barber.

@ Mister Tibbles

You know, you are right! It's a pity few miniatures lines sculpt beards on the figures. Odd, eh?

Ferd4523115 May 2019 12:08 p.m. PST

Speaking as an American citizen I think several things contribute to its popularity. First it is homegrown. For many Americans a Civil War battlefield is not that hard to get to. Second the majority of primary sources are in English. No need to debase ourselves with foreign tongues! (That was sarcasm) Third many of us have relatives in the war OR have a unit from the area in which we grew up; so there is a possible emotional attachment. And a +1 to rustymusket, except for the last sentence. H (g Grandfather Ferdinand 6th OVI and his brother Henry, regimental surgeon 35th Ind.).

WARGAMESBUFF15 May 2019 12:15 p.m. PST

For me being English, and have visited Gettysburg three times, Chickamauga, Shiloh, Stones River, Harpers ferry and a few others it is an amazing piece of history.
many English, Scots and Welsh also fought for both sides, a distant relative was an Edward Knight in the 7th Tennessee CSA.

Personal logo reeves lk Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 12:43 p.m. PST

It the only war that the losing side wrote the history.

mckrok15 May 2019 12:51 p.m. PST

I became interested because I moved to Northern Virginia and drive through or past battlefields on a routine basis.

reeves lk, I'm LMAO at your comment. How true!


Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 1:28 p.m. PST

It's not a period I really game, but I enjoy reading about it; some of the factors you mention as detracting from interest actually, to my mind increase it. Because the doctrine, weapons and officer training are similar, you really see which commanders and tactics are successful and which not. Also, as rustymusket notes, there are actually quite a few troop types/qualities. I should add that I prefer the Western theaters to the Eastern.

ChrisBrantley15 May 2019 1:33 p.m. PST

I +1 Ferd45231's comments, but would add these from a purely gaming point of view:

1) Literally hundreds of battles, large and small that are mostly well documented down to unit strengths and armaments, creating lots of challenging scenarios featuring widely diverse tactical situations.

2) Fully supports gaming from 1:1 skirmish to regimental, brigade, corps or even army level battles.

3) Cavalry isn't entirely dead…you've got cavalry on cavalry battles (Brandy Station/Yellow Tavern), dismounted cavalry (Gettysburg, Chickamauga) and cavalry in combined arms battles (Sheridan in the Valley).

4) Opportunity to explore tactical and strategic aspects of new technology – rifling, repeating rifles, gattling guns, trench warfare, balloons, wireless, railroads delivering troops to the battlefield, etc.

5) More than just blue and grey…lots of unique units to paint and model – zouaves of all sorts, bucktails, Louisiana Tigers in straw hats and mattress ticking jeans, units with pet eagles, you name it.

6) Lots of figures available in just about every scale.

7) Lots of generals and units that are well known for their exploits and inspiring to simulate in miniature and put on the tabletop – Buford or Chamberlain at Gettysburg, Hood's Texans at Antietam, the Stonewall Brigade at First Manassas, the Iron Brigade at Brawner's Farm,

I'm sure I could come up with more..but I think this hits the main points that fuel my interest in ACW gaming, plus the fact that I have family history to draw on.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 1:37 p.m. PST

+1 to reeves

22ndFoot15 May 2019 1:56 p.m. PST

ChrisBentley, not wireless but certainly the telegraph.

Mr Jones15 May 2019 2:08 p.m. PST

As someone who is (a) not American and (b) just getting started in ACW, I think it's the morbid fascination of two lines of blokes standing yards away from one another blasting each other with muskets. Great fun!

Ferd4523115 May 2019 2:47 p.m. PST

reeves lk. Say it again brother. I'm in the choir. H

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 3:45 p.m. PST

I like the variety of uniforms on both sides, especially early in the war. The use of cavalry on the battlefield. The various flags.

The evolution of strategy to meet the revolution in small arms design, rifle muskets, breechloading rifles, repeating rifles. The introduction of the Gatling gun and breech loading artillery. The rise of trench warfare.

The personalities, the strategy and tactics, the variety of battles from skirmishes to huge battles. Just the best period ever. It really helps if you are a ACW Buff like myself I have been a student of the ACW since Junior High School.

Here is a Cavalry scenario we recently did. I played in a Brandy Station game years ago and plan to do it again. You could a different historical scenario, once a week for years and not play the same one twice.


Lee49415 May 2019 3:57 p.m. PST

My experience has been that it's not popular and is seldom gamed the preferred periods in my next of the woods (NJ/Philly) are WWII, ADLG and sometimes Napoleinics then everything else. ACW is like a distant 5th or 6th place. Cheers!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP15 May 2019 4:45 p.m. PST

Everyone has their tastes. I love the ACW at all levels from skirmish action up to grand tactical.

Ancients, on the other hand, meh. Just can't get excited about it.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 5:46 p.m. PST

ACW was just about the only period we did for 12 years. ACW in the U.S. is easily 2nd or 3rd in terms of popularity. Our club is in the middle of playing out the Antietam Campaign.

I love the period. Just look how many rules, scenario books and figures are available. In the U.S. IMHO it will always be popular easily, in the top 3.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 7:21 p.m. PST

Lots of rules, lots of figs, lots of possibilities

In addition to the chance for lots of uniforms, the basic Union kit of sack coat and forage cap holds a strange attraction

Plus for me it was my great-grandpa's war!

advocate15 May 2019 11:48 p.m. PST

Reeves lk, go to Waterloo and you might assume Napoleon won.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2019 3:48 a.m. PST

Simple to build armies compared to Napoleonics (its nearest rival in Horse & Musket gaming), easier to paint, far less uniform details, troop types to track, organizational simplicity, etc.

redbanner414516 May 2019 4:36 a.m. PST

Confederates are so much fun to paint and Union so easy.

FlyXwire16 May 2019 5:52 a.m. PST

A good set of rules, a fun scenario w/decent figs and terrain, and a friendly but sharp group of gamers to play with – so, pretty much the ingredients for making any game period exciting works for the ACW too.

Rich Bliss Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2019 11:25 a.m. PST

Many of the battles and campaigns turn on well documented leader decisions and its interesting to the potential outcomes when different choices are made.

Bill N17 May 2019 8:52 a.m. PST

First, more bang for the buck. The same figures could realistically be used for a wide variety of battles by at most changing command stands.

Second, a large number of small but important battles as well as large ones.

Third, ACW lends itself well to skirmish games and raid scenarios. Mounted troops work well in these.

Fourth, if you live in the eastern U.S. it is relatively easy to visit the actual battlefields.

donlowry17 May 2019 9:31 a.m. PST

Fascinating history, but to me the interest is at the campaign level, not the battlefield level.

historygamer18 May 2019 6:25 p.m. PST

Lots of real battles, big and small, to redo.

MiniPigs24 May 2019 7:27 a.m. PST

Are there any interesting and not overly large/complex campaign boardgames/PC games that can be used to integrate with tabletop ACW battles?

I was looking at the old game Mosby's Raiders link

FlyXwire25 May 2019 7:33 a.m. PST

MiniPigs, the Commands & Colors game Battle Cry had an official connected-scenarios "campaign", and then a user-created variant of "Jackson in the Valley", and guidelines for a "Western Campaign", the variant by Michael Dippel (TMP member Bayernkini), as downloads -

PDF link




Not sure if any of this would be of use, or along your lines of thinking.

One of the problems with converting from a strategic board game format (or even in some tactical board game campaigns), is there's little enabled for converting the board game's map to a sufficiently-detailed battle board wanted for a tactical miniatures layout.

This is perhaps why connected scenarios, with the battlefields already being created offers a usable compromise.

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