TITLE: Civil War Battles: Rules for American Civil War Battles In 15mm
AUTHOR: RFCM Team
PUBLISHER: Peter Pig / Rules for the Common Man
PUBLICATION DATE: 2007
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
Some basic questions can be answered on Peter Pig’s web site here.
There is also an active Yahoo group supporting the RFCM series of rules here.
PRICE (with date): $38.95 (in 2008)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: The American Civil War
Civil War Battles (CWB) is a 136 page perfect bound paperback book. The rules run 114 pages though a lot of that is made up of charts and illustrations. The remaining pages are made up by optional rules and scenarios. The cover is in full color, the interior in black and white. The rear cover is a play sheet for 15mm, and a separate quick reference sheet is included.
SCOPE: CWB is unusual in scope. While nominally designed for a corps per side, it is especially suited to pick up games or tournament play (see below).
ARMY SIZE: Figure density is relatively low. A Union division, for example, might require about 60 figures and two guns with crew.
BASE UNIT: The base unit is the brigade.
- Ground Scale: 1” = 50 yards
- Time scale 1 turn = None given
- In CWB a stand of figures represents 240 men
- Recommended Figure Size: 15 mm, although a conversion to 25 mm is included.
- Table Size: The game is designed for a 6 x 3 foot table.
- Game Length: Depending on the size of battle chosen (see below) from one to four hours.
Basing in CWB is simple. Infantry stands, including infantry command, are based on 30 mm square bases. Artillery and Corps Generals are based on 40 mm squares. All other units are based on bases 30 mm wide and 40 mm deep. The game also calls for half-bases 30 mm wide by 15 mm deep. These are used to mark casualties.
A notable feature of this series of rules is the pre-game preparation. A series of player choices and die rolls determine the battle to be played. This generation system can create three sizes of battle: Quick, Standard or Big. The number of divisions and their size is limited by the size of game chosen. The game generation sequence is as follows:
- Army Selection: Each player chooses an army from one of 14 army types. Choices include “Union Early War Eastern Theater” or “Confederate Mid-War Western Theater.” Each army is limited to the number and type of troops that may make it up.
- War Points: Each player is given 60 war points. These are spent on various campaign events. Each event is diced for, and the result can affect the army or situation for each player. These events include such categories as Political Pressure, Supplies or Cavalry.
- Generals: Each general is rated for a command value which is randomly determined.
- Attacker Determination: Each game of CWB is an attack. Players must spend between 10 and 25 of their war points on being named the attacker. For each war point the player rolls a die. Every 5 or 6 is a success. The player with the most successes is the attacker.
- Choose and Deploy Scenery: Each player must choose 2 or 3 pieces of scenery in addition to some compulsory scenery. The scenery is then placed according to the rules. The attacker also places three objectives.
- Determine Ownership of Flank Roads: Each player rolls three dice for each road. High roll may use that road for reinforcements.
- Players Note Deployment Sectors: The table is split into three zones. Players must commit each division to one of these zones.
- Unit Deployment: The attacker now deploys all of his units. Then the defender deploys. The defender then dices to see which of his units are “off board” and must be removed, creating gaps in his deployment.
- War Points Effects: The various war points events are now resolved. For each war point (if any) a player rolls a die. Each five or six is a success. The player with the most successes “owns” the result. Subtract the losers successes from the winners’ and look up the difference on the event chart. Wins with a small difference lead to very minor results. The rules encourage spending unevenly to gain a real advantage. Here are some sample results:
- The opponent must choose one of his infantry brigades and move it off table to become a reinforcement unit.
- You choose two of your own infantry brigades from the same division and upgrade both by one quality class, e.g. average to veteran.
- One of your own Divisions has four extra ammunition markers awarded to either guns or brigades. Your choice.
- All of the units from one of your own divisions may be completely redeployed within their deployment zone.
- Roll morale for units with casualty markers, then roll to reform units.
- Move Generals.
- Calculate the number of Determination Dice
- Action Phase: The player now motivates units (see below) and then rolls for their Action Points (APs). These APs are then spent by that unit. Units are activated one division at a time. Upon failure to motivate, the player proceeds to the next division.
- Combat: All combat takes place during this action phase as APs are spent.
- Roll for reinforcement arrivals.
- Game Countdown: At the end of the turn roll a die and subtract the result from 21. When the running total reaches zero the game is over immediately.
The Action Points: CWB uses an Action Points (AP) system. Brigades are Motivated one at a time. The owning player rolls two dice. If the total of the dice exceeds the sum of the Division commander’s Command Value + the unit’s Motivational Value + and modifiers, then that brigade has been motivated. The player then rolls a die and the unit has that many APs for the turn. One AP allows a unit to move 3”, two APs are required to fire, one AP to change formation, and so on. Note that artillery and cavalry do not need to be motivated - they simply roll for APs.
Units are motivated by division. The player selects a divisional commander and begins to attempt his motivations. Once he rolls a failure, that general may not attempt any more motivations.
Determination Dice: Each Corps Commander receives Determination Dice each turn. Each die allows the player to re-roll an AP roll; reinforcement roll; falter test; motivation test or arrivals. Attempts can only be re-rolled once.
Small Arms Fire: Shooting in CWB uses a simple “kill-dice” system. The front two ranks of a unit may fire. The player rolls one die for each stand in the front rank plus one for every two in the second rank (rounded down). The unit may fire directly ahead. depending on range, weapon type and target location, a “to hit” number is calculated. For every die that equals or exceeds this number one hit is caused. However, there is also a re-roll for weapons other than (smoothbore) muskets. Raw troops re-roll and 1s, average troops re-roll 1s and 2s, and veterans re-roll any 1,2 or 3. Now the final number of hits is determined.
The defending player then makes a saving throw. He rolls one die for each hit. The to save number is usually a 3 or better, subject to modifiers for cover, range etc. Each successful save negates one hit. It takes two hits to cause a stand to be removed. Full stands may be replaced with half-stands to keep track (but half stands count as full for game purposes). The defender chooses where to allocate any hits.
Artillery Fire: Guns roll one die per AP spent (up to four) with no re-rolls. Guns have a 90 degree arc of fire. Otherwise the mechanic is the same as for small arms: determine the “to-hit” number, roll the dice, then roll saving throws. Each hit causes 1/2 stand of damage. In some instances artillery may fire over intervening terrain or units.
Opportunity Fire: Each unit is allowed one opportunity shot during the enemy’s turn. It comes after the opposing payer has taken his morale checks. Opportunity fire may only be taken at short range.
Ammunition Rules: CWB uses an abstract ammunition rule. Units may have “plentiful” ammunition noted by use of markers. These extra ammunition points are given to specific units. Units with plentiful ammunition may, if they choose, re-roll the shooting dice (note: in this case they re-roll all of them, not just certain ones). They would still be entitled to the normal re-roll. Using this re-roll gives a 50% chance that the marker will be used up (removed).
If a unit rolls two ones when shooting, it has become low on ammo and should be marked. If they already had a “plentiful ammo” marker, that marker is removed and the unit now has regular supply. Otherwise they are low. Units low on ammo may, at the defender’s choice, have to re-roll their entire shooting dice until resupplied. Resupply requires spending one full turn without moving or shooting.
Melee: Melee is resolved through an opposed die roll. The Morale Rating of the involved unit is added to a die roll and a short list of modifiers. Modifiers include having supported flanks, terrain etc. The higher roll wins. The loser retreats and suffers kills equal to the difference in the die rolls. Melee is obviously deadly as the best units can only take 6 kills total!
Disorder: Units that begin a turn disordered lose 2 APs from their die roll. Disorder can be caused by melee, casualties, passage of lines, etc. Units may spend APs for a chance to remove disordered markers. For each AP spent a die is rolled. The marker is removed on a 3+ for veterans, 4+ for average troops, and a 5+ for raw troops. Multiple attempts may be be made in a turn.
Assaulting and Fighting (Melee): Units that wish to get to grips with the enemy must first successfully assault the enemy. To conduct an assault troops are moved up to 1” from the enemy and both sides roll for the falter test. The enemy will (usually) take opportunity fire prior to the falter test. If the defending unit is cavalry or artillery it then has the option to attempt a withdrawal. A withdrawal requires a die roll and may result in casualties or a rout.
To conduct a falter test each player rolls two dice. They then add to their total modifiers for various situations, up to a +5. The scores are compared and the falter test table consulted. Results are “Excellent Assault” which routs the defender, “Successful Assault” resulting in melee or failure. If the unit fails it halts, is disordered, and may use no more PAs this turn (ouch!).
To conduct a melee, each player first determines how many dice he will roll. He gets one die per stand plus dice for flank attacks, nearby support, etc. On each die a 5 or 6 scores a hit on the enemy unit. There are no re-rolls. Each player rolls his saving throws. If the defender suffered more casualties he takes a morale check. Otherwise the attacker has lost, becomes disordered and will the either retire or rout.
Morale: Units must take Morale Checks for a number of reasons including:
- Beginning the turn with a casualty marker
- Losing an assault
- A nearby friendly unit (within 6” regardless of visibility) is destroyed or routs
To check morale, the player calculates how many dice to roll. He adds dice for casualty markers, disorder, raw units, etc. He subtracts dice for veterans, attached guns and nearby generals. The dice are rolled and each 4, 5 or 6 is a failure. Results of the test depend on how many failures were rolled. Four or more fails and the unit routs, rolls a die losing and suffers that many hits (remember a stand takes two hits).
Units that must retire retreat a die +1 inches but end facing the enemy. units that rout are removed from the game.
The rule book includes a dozen historical scenarios and extensive army lists (see above). Also included is a short appendix on uniforms and a summary painting guide. There is also a brief section of optional rules for recovering routed units, fortifications and field works, going prone, etc.
Civil War Battles is put together in slightly scattered style. I thought the rules did not “flow” well, with related sections far apart in the rule book. In addition lots of rules are explained in bulleted lists and charts instead of the text itself. As a result I felt like I had to flip around in the rule book quite a bit on a first read through. I think in part this was caused by the use of lots of different type styles, headers and titles.
However, once players have found and put together all the relevant sections I think the game has no obvious gray areas. There are a good number of diagrams and examples and the supplied sheet of charts is pretty complete. I would liked to have seen an extended example of play putting motivation, movement, firing and an assault all together. This, I think, would have helped the rules “gel” much more immediately.
All that said the rules are easy to follow and written in an easy to understand, yet fairly exact, style.