Sunday, 28 December 2014

Chessboard ACW

Over the last couple of years I have been playing around with square-grid games, some of them using mechanisms lifted from games such as Battle Cry and Memoir '44. Up until now I'd not really written the rules up in any form; bits of them appeared in various blog posts, but mostly they just floated around inside my head. But since I spent a lot of yesterday using them to try out scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' I thought that it would be worth actually writing them down in a coherent, playable form, so people could see where I was coming from and, if they like, make use of them.

So here they are. No imaginative name, no frills. Games on a chessboard.

Square Grid ACW Rules

Any comments are more than welcome.

And, as a bonus, here's a game I prepared earlier. This is scenario 2 from 'One Hour Wargames' - Pitched Battle (2). The armies start on opposite sides of the board, all troops deployed. The winner is the side who controls the hill (I assumed the centre square) and the crossroads. The scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' are very sparing on terrain, and this works OK for some of them. But for this game I decided to break up the battlefield a little, randomly placing a field of crops in each side's half of the battlefield. Crops block line of sight and provide cover from shooting. In a strange twist of fate, both fields ended up next to the objectives.

The armies deployed, Union at the bottom of the picture and Confederates at the top. Both sides rolled four Infantry and a Cavalry, with the Confederates getting Artillery as their sixth unit and the Union a Veteran Infantry.

Early moves saw the Union cover the crossroads, using the field as cover.

The Confederates seized the hill.

The Confederates did well for activations early on, and advanced on the crossroads with infantry and cavalry. The Union did less well, and spent their effort fighting back, failing to start their own advance on the hill.

The Confederates pushed past the crossroads, and took the field.

Only to lose it to a counterattack.

On the far Union right one of their infantry units was routed by steady fire from skirmishing Confederate cavalry.

Finally getting some decent activations the Union start their advance on the hill, their veterans leading the way.

The Union troops defending the crossroads, however, were under a lot of pressure.

The Union advance on the hill was stalling under artillery fire, although the veterans reached the cover of the field, ready to make their attack.

The Confederates finally captured the crossroads as the last Union unit on that flank ran..

Another Union unit was lost, as artillery fire from the hill proved too much for it.

The Union veterans, however, took the main part of the hill, although their position was precarious; two Confederate units were in a position to fire on them, and they only had one hit left.

They survived the fire - due to the veteran status allowing them to ignore certain hits - but were forced to retreat.

Up until now the Union cavalry had done nothing but remain in reserve, but it now made a bold thrust towards the crossroads, and ended up charging its Confederate counterparts.

The Union had reoccupied the hill with the veterans, and it was now the final Confederate move. A good series of combats on their part could see the Union cleared from the hilltop, and it being recaptured. However they rolled a single activation; there would be no coordinated assault.

The Confederates made a single bold attack up the slope, but couldn't dislodge the Union infantry.

The end of the game. The Union failed to activate anything on their last turn, so a final lunge at the crossroads by the cavalry didn't happen - the cavalry could have moved to close assault the infantry on the crossroads and if they had scored a retreat occupied the space themselves, winning the game.

So the battle ended in a draw, despite the Union only having two units left to the Confederates' five.

The truth is that the scenarios would adapt better on a 9 x 9 board, as a bit of fudging is required to fit the terrain onto one 8 x 8 (I divide each side up into sections of 3/2/3 squares if that helps). Indeed it would be easier to tweak movement distances and ranges and run them on a 12 x 12 board; that makes each square the equivalent of 3". If someone tries that before I do, let me know how you get on. I think six units a side would get a bit lost on it if each one only occupies one square.

I have played quite a few scenarios in 'One Hour Wargames' using my Great Northern War figures, also on a square grid. Here's how they looked - two 1" bases in a 2" square for each unit.

UPDATE - The rules I used for the Great Northern War games can be found HERE

My next job will be to write up the GNW variant. It works surprisingly well all things considered.


  1. A very interesting set of rules and they seem to work well. From my experience, if you can write a set of rules that work on an 8 x 8 grid, they will work equally well - if not better - on a larger grid. The difficult bit is creating a set of rules that work for a confined space; after that, rules for larger areas are easy.

    Good luck with these projects.

    All the best,


  2. A really interesting idea, the ACW battle was very close.


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