At the beginning of the year, I had the plan to upscale my ACW gaming to Regiment/Brigade level. I’d really be interested to fight some smaller actions, comprising one to three brigades per side, on the tabletop. I even painted flags and commanders to be able to use my Sharp Practice units as regiments.
But which rules to use? I’ve tried out several and read some more, but none of them have completely captivated me. My game of Black Powder was fun and I subsequently bought the rule-book and the ACW supplement. However, I didn’t like the books at all – they are, for lack of a better term, reactionary in every sense of the word. Kugelhagel, another set I tried at the club, is a more dynamic game insofar as it breaks with IGO-UGO. In fact, I find it too dynamic, playing too loose with historical plausibility for my taste.
Longstreet is the game favored by my chums Virago and Sigur. I really liked the game I played, but upon reflection, there are a couple of things that keep me from getting it. First, the price – I’d need the rule-book plus two sets of cards, which would set me back about 100$, and although I’m prepared to pay a price for a rule-book, this is too much. Second, it’s geared towards one brigade per side, and I’m not sure how it would do with two or three. And third, while the card mechanism is fun, it feels a bit too abstract and gamey for my taste.
I then got Pickett’s Charge, which looks very good. I was impressed by the historical depth and by some of the rules mechanics. However, the level of battle I’m looking for might be a bit too small for those rules. Also, I’ve watched a game being played at our Gettysburg Battle Day and it looked like hard work. I think I’d prefer something that is a bit more streamlined.
Being a wargamer, I then decided to write my own rules. I even had three test games. They worked ok and I’ll continue working on them, but still, they didn’t give me the experience I was looking for.
Some time ago, Mike Hobbs mentioned Over the Hills on the Meeples&Miniatures podcast. This is a set of regimental level napoleonic rules produced by Stand to Games and has become his go-to rules for the period. I liked what he said and thought that I wished they were available for the ACW.
Guess what? They will be soon (hopefully)! Stand to Games has just launched a Kickstarter for Over Malvern Hill, an ACW variant of the rules. They seem to be geared just towards the level of engagement that interests me. They furthermore seem to play fast while still retaining a feel for the period.
This is what the authors say about their design goals:
“We wanted to produce a fast paced easy to play game where the psychological effect of warfare was strongly reflected throughout the game and the rule mechanics.
Command and Control and ACW tactics should be firmly rooted in the game.”
To model the psychological effect, they use a fatigue score which diminishes as the unit takes casualties. They also have an interesting turn sequence which enables to non-active player to react. And they even include rules for sieges and balloons!
Perhaps they’ll be the rules I am looking for? Let’s see – I backed the Kickstarter and hope it will be successful, as I’m eager for a chance to try them out.