Civil War naval


I had the privilege last Saturday night of playing a wargame in York, PA at the home of a friend, with a couple veteran Johnny Reb 3 gamers from nearby Adams County stopping by to partake of good fellowship, tasty pizza from one of York’s many small family-run pizza parlors, and a playtest of a naval wargame being presented at the upcoming Fall In! convention in Gettysburg in November.

We were playtesting a 1:600 Civil War riverine naval scenario using Bob Johnson‘s interesting and very easy-to-play rules set. The hypothetical scenario involved a small Rebel fleet trying to steam up the Mississippi to disrupt a Federal riverport and incoming barges of Union supplies. The Tyler and Cairo were among the defenders, with a number of Reb cottonclads protected by the Arkansas and Tennessee as the attackers.

The game was lively and fun, and we had a good time debating the merits of the scenario, which will be slightly modified for the convention to give it more balance. I had only played ACW naval games a few times in recent years, and my friends had seldom played as well. The GM, rules author Bob Johnson, will present the game on the Saturday of Fall In!

I think I’m hooked on ACW naval! Between Bob’s game and the upcoming publication of Chris Maes’ excellent, and detailed, Jack Tar (in the November issue of hard copy Charge!), perhaps it’s time to invest in some miniature ships for the long York County winter. I’d better leave my checkbook at home at Fall-In, or the ACW naval dealers might be going home with my money.

The photo, by the way, is from my old NE Ohio gaming buddy Doug Rogers’ collection. He has scatchbuilt a 15mm fleet for use with combined arms rules for Johnny Reb 3.

What’s your favorite ACW naval rules? Smoke on the Water? Tin, Stream, & Iron? Something else? Why? What miniature ships should I consider? Who’s the best manufacturer these days?

Categories: Civil War wargaming | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Civil War naval

  1. Ray Garbee

    I’ve been a fan of Smoke of the Water since it was released. It works well for small games (4 boats to a side). Bigger games can bog down under the weight of pro-rated movement and the number of dice rolled to resolve combat. Aside from that, the game gives good results – use the ‘optional’ rate of fire rules or Monitors will rule the tabletop moreso than during the Civil War.

    Beyond that, I worked up a set derived from Mongoose Publishing’s Victory at Sea that works pretty well for large games. (We played the CSS Albemarle’s sortie in under two hours. Dave Manley did a similar set also based off VAS that can be found online.

    Ships. Ships, ships, ships. I’m a big fan of the 1/600 ships from Thoroughbred and Bay Area Yards. I have…many (which is the short way of saying that I’ve lost count of how many are in the fleets.) I can practically refight Mobile Bay with all the right models.

    But…if I had it to do all over again, I might go the 1/1200 route. Between Houston, Langton and ‘Rebels and Raiders’ (I think that’s the name – I saw them at Cold Wars) there are a number of manufacturers to choose from in 1/1200. Less space and less fiddly to build.

  2. Rob de Wolfe

    I love ACW naval, I enjoy it even more than the land battles (this is the only period that I enjoy naval gaming). For rules I prefer ‘Smoke On The Water’. I like them because I found them to have the best trade off between detail and speed of play for my tastes. Once you have played the rules a few times you can play most ACW naval battle in 4 hours with only a few of the very largest battles taking an hour or two longer. For miniatures I recommend 1:1200 or 1:1250 because ships can move fast and can take up a lot of room maneouvering, if you use 1:600 you either need a very big table or you need to limit the number of vessels to very small engagements. That’s my take on ACW naval gaming anyway.

  3. I thought that picture looked familiar! I continue to use “Steam, Iron & Tin” free rules from Angelfire for my ACW naval games. The naval games are quick and fun to keep the kids’ attention. I am looking forard to Jack Tar in CHARGE coming soon. At Historicon I picked up another ship and enjoyed playing in one of the ACW Naval games.

  4. Marv

    You indicated the ships depicted were scratchbuilt 15mm? Does your friend Doug have a website where he details how he built the vessels? I’m interested in taking on a similar project but am unsure of where to start, having never modeled ships before. Thanks.

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