The Rules Directory:
American Civil War

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TITLE: American Civil War: American Civil War Cover03Rules for an army-level wargame with 2 mm or 6 mm miniatures

AUTHOR: Cliff Knight & Peter Dennis in association with George Jeffrey

PUBLISHER: Hard Cover Designs



PRICE (with date): Unknown (Out of Print)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: The American Civil War

THE BOOK: American Civil War is a small booklet running a scant 18 pages. It includes one player reference sheet. The book is entirely black and white and contains just a handful of simple diagrams.

SCOPE: ACW is aimed at recreating large battles of the American Civil War.

ARMY SIZE: Given the figure ratio, armies will consist of perhaps 300-400 blocks, but in 2mm this should be pretty easy to put together even for a slow painter.


  • The base unit is the brigade. Brigades are made up of “strips” of infantry, cavalry and artillery.


  • Ground Scale: 1 mm = 8 yards ( 1 mm = 4 yards for 6 mm figures).
  • Time scale 1 turn = 10 minutes (but see note below)
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1 base = 150 infantry, 100 cavalry or 6 guns
  • Recommended Figure Size: 2 mm but conversion for 6 mm is covered.
  • Table Size: At 22 cm per mile, even a modest sized table will allow for refighting large scale battles.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening


Because ACW is designed primarily for 2mm figures which come in blocks there are no real basing guidelines provided. It is assumed the figures will be used unbased. Players will need to make command stands - triangles are suggested but no sizes are given.


ACW does not use a turn sequence. It has a “variable length bound” instead of fixed turns. Events are driven by Changes of Situation (COS). However, all times in the game are in 10-minute increments.

At the set up, each player issues orders to his commands. Movement is simultaneous and proceeds until a unit on the table has a COS. The game therefore requires players to keep track of future events.


Unlike most rules sets there is much less of a feel of distinct game mechanics. instead ACW is a free flowing game of events.

Command and Orders System: ACW uses an order system. Each command in the game - each brigade, division and corps - operates under orders. Orders should contain reference to a ground feature or specific enemy force. they may not be conditional or contain the word “if” and should be written down. Units must operate under current orders until either a COS takes place or they receive new orders.

A Change of Situation (COS) may be enemy forces appear, you are fired upon, you receive a message etc. COS happen at every level, so a COS for a brigade is also a COS for every higher level formation. The rules list 13 kinds of COS and provide for each a set of possible responses. Responses include sending a message, taking defensive action, etc.

Messages and orders take time to be delivered and acted upon. Thus the army commander may order a bridge be defended but that order may take 50 minutes to be acted upon.

Movement: Movement is simultaneous. There is no “movement phase.” Players simply begin acting on orders until a COS occurs. The rules include two movement templates to be cut out and used to measure marches. A unit in line moving through clear terrain moves up to 2”. Formation changes take from 5 to 20 minutes.

Combat: Combat is highly abstract and relatively simple, having two major components. The first component is the Closing Phase. Each strip has a Combat Value (CV) based on its morale and unit type. The total CV of the attacker and defender are compared, giving a result from A to F. Percentile dice are rolled and the corresponding row in the Closing Phase Chart consulted. Each row has different chances for tactical engagement, firefights or fall backs. Note that all combats are brigade vs. brigade.

If a tactical engagement ensues, a similar process is followed. Compare the attacker’s front line CV to the defender’s CV. This result indicates which row on the Tactical Engagement chart to roll on. Each side rolls percentile dice and results implemented. The side with the lower roll may rout. Otherwise the chart indicates that an engagement is in progress and gives a duration of either 20 or 40 minutes. Officers may attach to units and give a bonus and chance to re-roll in an attempt to get their troops to close with the enemy, but this means they may become a casualty. Interestingly, the combat is resolved at the end of the engagement. Example: The time is 11:00. Wilder’s Brigade attempts to engage the Union 4th. After the Closing Phase Check a 40 minute engagement results. The two units are “locked in combat” until 11:40 at which time the engagement is resolved, casualties calculated, etc.

Casualties are calculated completely separately, and are strictly mathematical. Each strip type inflicts a fixed number of casualties per 10 minutes. This may be modified by cover. For infantry the rate if 5 casualties per strip per 10 minutes. So 15 strips in a 40 minute engagement will cause 15 x 4 (four ten minute periods) x 5 = 300 casualties. In a tactical engagement casualties are calculated using the smaller force, with the loser taking an extra 20% casualties.

It may happen that firing occurs outside of a tactical engagement. In this case casualties are calculated in exactly the same way but are based on the number of firing stands instead.

Morale: There are almost no morale rules in the usual sense. A brigade that has taken 20% casualties will become shaken, which in itself is a COS. Brigades with 40% casualties rout. units that rout fall back for 30 minutes and then need 30 minutes to rally. Rally is automatic.

Keeping Track of Time: It is clear that the major challenge for a typical gamer in using these rules will be keeping track of time. how long engagements last, when untis will rally, when orders go into effect all require some bookkeeping. The authors suggest using an actual clock and “syncing” up the game every hour.


The rules do not include any army lists or scenarios.


This is a very interesting set of rules. There are major “gray areas” but I guess given the nature of the rules that is to be expected. They are clearly meant to be more of a skeleton. For example, they do not spell out if you remove strips or just track casualties on a roster. They refer to many events but do not spell out how they are to be handled - that is left up to the ruling of an umpire or to be worked out between the players.

These are especially tempting for playing big battles in small spaces. At 22 cm to the mile, Gettysburg would fit on a 6x6 table!


Not played.

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