Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rank & File Rules: ACW Game

I played half of my first "Rank & File" game today.  Rank & File is a Horse & Musket rules set from Mark Sims and covers the entire Horse and Musket period from about 1700 through 1900.

I have purchased a number of rules from Mr Sims now, and all I can say is that I am very impressed.  There is a tremendous amount of thought into where the different periods fall in the rules (rally, morale phase, charge phase, etc).  At first glance, it doesn't look like it makes any sense but when you sit down and play the game, everything comes together nicely.  I give Rank & File 5 out of 5 stars, and give it the highest compliment I can think of for a wargaming rules-set:

If I was going to design a rules set myself, this is exactly how I would design them.

Aside from being a rules write-up, this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase my ACW rebels!
 Rank & File boasts that it can handle any level of Horse & Musket warfare, from tactical through operational, with players choosing a troop scale to match their tastes.  Most units will break down to 6 stands.  Stands are removed after a certain number of casualties, with a unit becoming non-mission capable after it is reduced 50%.
Regiments move a whopping 8 inches, which is nice as you can get to the heart of the matter.  I personally never liked rules where movement rates were God-awfully slow.
 I played a scenario from Charles Grant's "Programmed Wargame Scenarios" where a large Brigade or small Division must break through a gap dominated by a ridge-line.  In this instance I moved the Ridgeline forward but it forced the Rebs to bottle themselves up.

Artillery is straightforward and easy to use.  The size of the ordnance and range to target determines the amount of fire dice you get.

An unfortunate Rebel Battery takes casualties!

And the Division Commander shows up to sort things out.  Unfortunately, the STILL fail the rally test.

Rebel battle lines.

 The Rebs push forward under shot and shell from the Yankee units.  The Rebel Artillery needed to move out well in front of the advancing troops if they were to provide good covering fire.
Infantry halve movement in woods, as these 2 Regiments would find out...

Union Zuoaves waiting behind a "hindrance" which would offer them a small amount of extra protection against small arms fire.

Rebel advance approaching!

Looking down the pike at the advancing lines of butternut.

Southern General attaching himself to a Regiment under fire.

The battle unfolds.  2 Rebel Regiments position themselves to charge in the upper right.  While the rest of the Confederate force straightens itself out for an advance up the road.

A brutal firefight breaks out!  

A slew of Union Casualties, among them is Brigadier General Amos Stoltzenfuss!
So this first half of the game ends with the firefight claiming a Union stand, and their commanding General, who was attempting to keep his boys' morale in check.  The rebels are about to charge in the beginning of the next turn, having reduced the Zuoave Regiment but 1 stand.  It will end up being a Brigade attack with 2 Regiments coming on if they have the movement for it.

I have so far read Mark Sims' excellent "Rate of Fire" skirmish rules, which I also purchased, and his fantasy set "Legions of Battle" and if any of them are as fast moving, simple, and enjoyable as "Rate of Fire" then I will be content playing mostly these rules in my spare time, when I'm feeling like a skirmish game, mass fantasy battle, or a Horse & Musket game.


  1. Not Amos Stoltzenfuss! Mein' Gott! Who will paint the hex signs?
    Actually very nice figures!

    1. Luckily, according to the "Berks Gazette" of 1863, Amos was survived by his 5 sons, Adam, Albrecht, Arnold, Amos Jr, and of course, Martin. All prolific Hex sign painters.

      Thanks, John you're too kind. The figures are musket miniatures and a little Old Glory mixed in there. They have not been reflocked yet so the bases are still very sloppy.

    2. I use the same mix of figs, with a few Minifigs added. They work well.

    3. John,
      The minifigs do fit in nicely among the musket and OG guys. I have a ton of minifigs for AWI but sadly none for ACW.

  2. Agree with John, beautiful figures and pictures...

    1. Thank you, Phil! I wish I had better lighting in my basement. The flourescent lights don't make for the best miniatures photos but I'm feverishly working on a solution...

  3. Great looking game and high praise indeed for the rules. Just caught up on all your armor as well. Great work.

    1. Thanks, Sean. It was definitely an enjoyable game and has moved to the top of my list. I still like Black Powder best and the basing conventions are somewhat similar and open ended.

      Thanks for the comment on the Armor. Those Command Decision M48s really painted up nicely! But goodness, even with my small collection, there is still a TON of models to assemble and paint! Why didn't I just stick to microarmor!!!!