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"Johnny Reb v Fire and Fury" Topic

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American Civil War

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Warspite110 Jul 2019 4:36 a.m. PST

I am looking to get back into ACW.
I previously played Johnny Reb 1, I updated to Johnny Reb 3 but never actually played them but they seem good.

How does Fire and Fury compare with Johnny Reb?


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 4:53 a.m. PST

The basing systems are different. The F&F systems are constant frontage and base removal, where the JR series has frontage varying with the size of the regiment, and casualties are marked off.

Generally, the bigger the battle you want to fight, the more--of the two--you need to shift of F&F which has a brigade and a regimental-level game.

Note that the new editions of F&F want to stack bases two deep for a formed line, so you can't use any bases with infantry two ranks deep. For that, you'd want something like On to Richmond or Touched with Fire for the brigade-level game and Mr. Lincoln's War for the regiment-level game.

And now I'll go hide behind something while the advocates of various systems throw brickbats.

KeithRK10 Jul 2019 6:52 a.m. PST

You've got that reversed on the frontages.

F & F units have a variable frontage size, with a variable number of stands per regiment or brigade based on unit strength. Each stand of figures represents a number of soldiers, and full stands are removed as casualties are taken, resulting in the unit's overall frontage shrinking as it suffers casualties.

Depending on the version, Johnny Reb has a set number of stands per regiment (I believe 5 stands) with a variable number of figures mounted on each stand depending on the strength of the regiment. Each figure represents 20 men, so a 200 man regiment would be 5 stands with two figures on each stand, a 300 man regiment would be 5 stands with 3 figures on each stand, etc. Casualties are marked against individual figures, with the 5 stand frontage remaining constant.

Old Contemptible10 Jul 2019 7:04 a.m. PST

First, do you want to play regiments or brigades? I played JR2 and then JR3 for years. The basing and charge rules finally got to us. We switched to "Mr. Lincoln's War" (MLW).

MLW is a good set of regimental rules but they were kind of a project as they needed a little bit of work on our part to make them a more playable set of rules. It has a very intricate sequence of play (SOP). Once you learn the SOP you see how it all works together.

If you like the F&F system and want to stay with regiments then you might try Regimental F&F. I never played them as I have issues with the rather large regiments it has you use. I have no experience with Brigade rules as I believe regiments are the way to go when it comes to the ACW.

Here some photos of a recent MLW game I hosted.


Next year we may give RF&F a try. While I never played F&F, I have played AOE because our club plays them. I'm not a big fan but they and F&F are pretty popular.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 7:09 a.m. PST

Keith, depends on how you look at it. Build all your stands to the same frontage, and you can play F&F. To get full value out of JR, you need stands of several different widths with different numbers of figures.

JR 1 was five stands per regiment, going down to four by JR 3. (Can't remember which JR 2 was off-hand.) And Across a Deadly Space works on two stands per regiment. But there was no change in basing system. If an old JR 1 player came in for a game of ADS, one of his old regiments would now be 2 1/2 of the new ones, but he wouldn't have to rebase.

For contrast, original F&F was On to Richmond basing--3-5 castings on a 1" base in 15mm. But F&F Regimental added a two-base deep line, so no one with 4 or 5 figures per stand would play it more than once without rebasing. I'm still mad about that one--and I still haven't rebased. Not going to, either.

Old Contemptible10 Jul 2019 7:18 a.m. PST

JR2 is 5 stands. You vary the size of the stand and number of figures. Being the JR heretics that we were. We only used four figures to a 7/8 by 7/8 base.

We varied the number of bases to indicate the size of the regiments. When a three stand regiment lost a base it was down one base. Worked great tor 12 years and then I moved to a different town and after a few years they suddenly decided they didn't want to play that way.

Old Contemptible10 Jul 2019 7:23 a.m. PST

I thought JR3 was five stands too. Don't have my rules with me. Will check later.

KeithRK10 Jul 2019 7:50 a.m. PST

It's been a while since I've looked at the Johnny Reb rules. Maybe I mixed up the versions. I was thinking of the one that was a boxed set put out by GDW. I don't recall it using different size bases. They marked off casualties by wedging different colored pieces of pipe cleaners between the figures.

Steamingdave210 Jul 2019 11:46 a.m. PST

Have you looked at "Bloody Big Battles"? This is a development of Fire and Fury specifically designed for recreating the big battles of the 19th and early 20th century on smallish tables (6 x4). Simple basic rules, which can be picked up in a couple of turns. Becoming my preferred set for this period, having previously enjoyed Brigade Fire and Fury. Has a Yahoo group and a blog


Teppsta Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 1:36 p.m. PST

If you use 5 base regiments as standard, you also have the option of using Pickett's Charge rules (which give a great game)

corzin10 Jul 2019 3:27 p.m. PST

Johnny reb 3 is 4 stands with the stands different width based on the number of figures on a stand…usually 3-5. of course all mine are mounted on whatever stand we bought them on

Warspite110 Jul 2019 4:58 p.m. PST

Thank you all on the basing side of things – however what I was seeking was how the rules themselves playout. Ease of play, style of play, etc.

And, yes, I prefer a regimental approach, four regiments to a brigade, etc.


KSmyth10 Jul 2019 7:49 p.m. PST

I haven't played Johnny Reb, so I'm not a good person to make a comparison. I really like Fire and Fury. I really like the maneuver table as the engine that drives movement and morale. I've played both the brigade system and the regimental game, though I've only played regimental for War of 1812 and AWI. It is a game of middling difficulty that will seem much easier with regular play. Together with The Sword and the Flame, my two favorite game systems.

DFLange Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 9:51 p.m. PST

If you like brigade level rules the new edition 2 rules for Fire and Fury Brigade are very well organized and presented. The various play aids are excellent and make it possible to get into the game fairly quickly. While the infantry basing is technically 3/4" by 1" you can play with the old 1" x 1" without any problems so there is no need to rebase from the original edition. In addition to the three scenarios supplied with the rules they have just come out with a Western Scenarios supplement with some sixteen scenarios. They provide helpful data so you can play pickup games for any year and theater of the ACW. With a little research you can create historical scenarios of your own. I highly recommend it.

3rd5ODeuce Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 12:03 a.m. PST

Johnny Reb III uses 4 stands per regiment. The size of the base depends on the size of the regiment, (i.e. number of figures in the unit). Typical unit sizes were 12, 16 and 20 figures.

The biggest difference was that in Johnny Reb it was simultaneous turns versus the I go You go of Fire and Fury. That and the fact that you had to secretly mark orders in Johnny Reb. IMHO, this made for a much more tense game and a good level of FoW.

Dexter Ward11 Jul 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

You don't need to rebase your Brigade F&F stands for the regimental game. Each brigade stand counts as 2 bases for the regimental game, all you need is a marker to show odd base casualties.
Johnny Reb is very slow to play compared to F&F, but to be honest I much prefer Pickett's Charge to either of them

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 6:38 a.m. PST

DF, Dester, no one reads.

No, no one had to rebase for later F&F who took the skinflint option of three figures per stand to begin with. But everyone who used four figures 2x2, which was compatible with OTR, MLW and TWF and I think actually showed up in the F&F illustrations for first edition, was pretty much beaten into the dirt when the new edition introduced lines two bases deep. Yes, you can play a system which gives you ACW infantry four ranks deep, but no one's going to.

DFLange Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 7:04 a.m. PST

The second edition of Fire and Fury Brigade level deploys line formation only one stand deep just as the original edition did. As Dexter points out there are work around options for Regimental Fire and Fury if you do not wish to rebase your figures.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

I've never played JR, so can't comment.

I've been playing RFF for years and I think it's a great rule set. It's written extremely clearly which I like and to me at least, feels very ACW. It's very solo friendly.

Side A moves, side b shoots, side A shoots, then melee.
then switch sides.

in RFF, I really like the turn sequence and how the defensive fire / pass through fire works, I like the fire point system, and how the morale and maneuver are rolled into the same table. I like the terrain rules.

In RFF, regiments get ground down until they start falling back and become combat ineffective, which I also think captures the period. All you need to play is the QRS.

There are 2 RFF scenario books as well, which are excellent and just good resources in general.

The only real negative of RFF I think is that it takes awhile to set up, because each regiment, battery, and leader needs a little command tag / label attached to it.

You can't go wrong with RFF.

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 10:51 a.m. PST

Over the years, the rules system I have used the most, by far, is the FNF family, both regimental and Brigade. I enjoy the system tremendously. Basing has never b been a problem as long as both sides use the same side bases. Easy peasy

JR will always hold a warm spot in my heart because it was the first rules system I experienced that included an awesome array of scenarios that came with the game. And map work for the scenarios was so very good; it really caught my imagination. I would just look at the scenarios whether I had a game going or not. John Hill did great work.

With that same thought in mind, however, Rich Hasenauer consistently produces excellent scenarios too, well researched and reasoned.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 Jul 2019 12:48 p.m. PST

Of the two I find Fire and Fury faster to play with decisive results. After 2-3 turns most players can run the game themselves just using the reference sheet.

Regimental Fire and Fury gets a bit grittier, but most of that is in the scenario and force set up.

We played LOTS of Johhny Reb but once we started with Fire and Fury I never looked back

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2019 7:04 p.m. PST

Played both, liked both but our preference is grand tactical and for us Fire & Fury plays better for big battles, which is why we pretty much only use F & F now

Dexter Ward12 Jul 2019 2:31 a.m. PST

Robert wrote:
No, no one had to rebase for later F&F who took the skinflint option of three figures per stand to begin with. But everyone who used four figures 2x2, which was compatible with OTR, MLW and TWF and I think actually showed up in the F&F illustrations for first edition, was pretty much beaten into the dirt when the new edition introduced lines two bases deep
Each brigade F&F stand with 4 figures on counts as 2 stands one behind the other for regimental F&F. The number of figures on the stand is irrelevant. No rebasing needed, just need to mark bases which have taken a casualty (or make up some half sized bases as change). So, you are only beaten into the dirt if you choose to be.

historygamer15 Jul 2019 7:17 a.m. PST

It depends. The designer of F&F once told me that re-enactors seemed to favor the details found in JR games. F&F (1) Brigade level has less details, and you really have to "close" to achieve results. Can't comment on F&F II or Regt F&F, though the later looks interesting and I am giving them a read.

coopman15 Jul 2019 12:18 p.m. PST

You can use the division as the basic maneuver unit and play really big battles with "Bloody Big Battles".

DJCoaltrain16 Jul 2019 9:11 p.m. PST

I have played both. And, would still play both, but the folks with whom I play are not JR folks. They tend to like games that can be played to a conclusion in 3-4 hours. My best convention was in 1990 at Historicon. John Hill hosted a JR game that went the whole convention. Hump's Hill, it was a lot of fun for me just being at the table with so many JR fans and having John Hill as our host/moderator. Now I play a lot of FnF Regimental and Brigade. It appeals to most of the folks around here. The great drawback to JR is the passing of John Hill. A mournful day for the hobby. No clarifying authority to speak for/about JR I, II, or III.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2019 9:10 a.m. PST

Steamingdave, coopman: many thanks for the kind mentions of BBB. I wasn't planning to hijack a JR/F&F thread, but since BBB's been mentioned now, collected reviews can be found on the BBBBlog:

So too can a fair number of ACW AARs.


Bloody Big BATTLES

Old Contemptible30 Jul 2019 2:15 p.m. PST

Apples and Oranges. Do you like to play Brigades or Regiments? I play regiments as I believe it is more represented of how the war was fought. Don't overlook JR2 many favor it over JR3. I play "Mr. Lincoln's War" now. Here is a recent game of MLW we played last weekend.


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