Two Splendid Lines - 6mm ACW rules

Eons ago, I wrote a post about a wargameI was writing called Two Splendid Lines.  It was an ACW game whose aims were:
  • To recreate regimental level combat at roughly 1:1 scale, in 6mm or 2mm
  • To be highly realistic, capturing the realities and challenges of line warfare
  • To be playable and simple
Not too ambitious then!  After six months rigorous playtesting (as part of Supercampaign IV: Hood's Stalwarts), it's almost finished.  I thought I'd share a preview of it and see if anyone was interested in a copy once they're done.

Conducting some field research on charges.  We do get into character a little bit - and these rules allow us to do that by using period methods of commanding troops.



You command a single regiment, which consists of ten 2x2cm bases, each one representing a company of men.  You must move them according to the drill manuals - no pointing and waving, 'Over There' fashion.  You want them to get round those trees in good order with dressed ranks?  Well, you'd best know the proper orders!

The game rewards historical accuracy, while still encouraging player initiative.  It does this by a series of 'carrot and stick' rules which give bonuses for certain formations.  To give a simple example, marching by line - ie, in a big wide formation a la Total War - is discouraged by hefty order and morale penalties for units getting mixed up in difficult terrain.  Column movement is encouraged because it allows greater command and control of your men - just as in real life.


I've distilled Hardee's Tactics down to about 15 drill commands.  Each one has an order (for shouting at full volume by the players!) and details of the movement to be carried out.  There is a mishap, which is a penalty applied on failing an experience test representing some of the real historical difficulties of carrying out the manoeuvre.  Here, advancing in line of battle results in Drifting and Bunching where some companies bunch towards the guide, or drift away from him.  There are also several options for things like doubling.


This is a little more complicated.  It outlines the procedure for moving from double column to line of battle - an excellent way of deploying from column into line.



Casualties and shooting are very simple - all shooting is given a notional difficulty of medium (which is a 4+ to score a casualty with a musket), and a series of 'shifts' are applied which can make it more or less difficult.

The crowning jewel is (if I do say so myself) the morale system.  Rather than 'failing break checks' and simply legging it, your men have a sliding scale of morale.  As your level progressively drops, you are forced to maintain a certain distance from the enemy.  20 yards for the relatively minor Disordered, but 250 yards for a Rout.  Thus, if you lose a firefight or a melee, you'll find your men melting away and edging backwards and you have to fight to control them.

I'm rather proud of these rules, they're based very heavily on a combination of primary and secondary sources (I'm doing a dissertation for my MA on ACW tactics at the moment, and I have lots of stuff on loan from the library), and have been extensively playtested.  Lots of complexity has been stripped away - the rulebook is 20 sides of A5, and 15 of those are the aides-memoire for each drill movement.


Comments and suggestions below!  I'm looking to try and get everyone's experience factored in here, so any thoughts or criticisms will be welcomed.

What's next I hear you cry?  Well, how about regimental-level English Civil War combat...

Comments

  1. Humm, Interesting. If we pick the weekend carefully enough, I can offer you my very interesting tour of Oxon (Edgehill, Copready Bridge and Stow on the Wold).

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    Replies
    1. You know what, it's been far too long. Stand by for an email, we'll do that one weekend in Sept.

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    2. Red leader, standing by......

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  2. It is something I'd be interested in. Will it be a physical product or a digital one?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pete, thanks for your interest. At first it will be digital, but once the rules 'settle down' I'm going to get a hardback rulebook printed. What sort of ACW do you play at the moment?

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    2. To be honest it has always been on my 'to do' list. Though my interest is more academic as I've got a module on the American Civil War to do for my MA and was intertested to see how your rules read as they are so firmly grounded in the tactics of the time.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

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    3. That sounds interesting; I've been wargaming for years, but it was my study which drove me to try writing my own rules. If you're interested my main sources were Civil War Infantry Tactics by Earl J. Hess, Bloody Crucible of Courage (B. Noseworthy), Battle Tactics of the Civil War (Paddy Griffith), and Wargaming the American Civil War (Paul Stevenson). If you fire me an email (colonelscipio(at)yahoo.co.uk) I'll send across what I have if you like.

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    4. I have a copy of 'Union and Confidence' written sometime after the war ended - its an extremely dry read, but an obvious attempt at a scholarly work looking forward to a brighter future. It could possibly inform study of the ACW in some way. But it is bloody dull. And I'd like it back at some point....

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  3. Very interesting - I like where this is going!

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  4. Its been a game changing experience playing these rule (in particular the moral system). I dimly remember about 2 years ago saying 'I'm not really into ACW'...

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    Replies
    1. Haha as soon as you saw that Enfield you were hooked...

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  5. I mentioned these rules to my ACW gaming opponent and he was interested in giving them a go. :)

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    Replies
    1. Huzzah and hurrah! The word is spreading. I'll try and remember to pop them in an email when I get back, but you know what I'm like. Pop me a reminder email and you can give them the once over.

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    2. Will do good sir. Might be a bit before we get to play though. Many things going on in RL that are keeping me occupied right now. Thanks loads!

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  6. Please colour me interested.

    I love reading rules, and as I now have more time on my hands (note: I'm trying to catch up on the blogosphere) I look forward to new cleverness!

    I may even be able to get some proxied playtesting in at the club, but no promises...

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    Replies
    1. I'll try and remember to forward you a draft copy later so you can have a once over. Ooooh, more playtesting...

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  7. Oh by the way, I stumbled across these 'blind boxes' for hidden deployments: mde me think immediately of your endeavours:

    http://rhannibalswargamingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/blucher-battle-of-frischbach.html

    The previous post is all about them too.

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