Monthly Archives: March 2008

More photos of my 15mm layout


In a recent post, I shared a quintet of photographs of my 15mm South Mountain JR3 game. Several of you asked for more photos so you could take a crack at making your own mountain layout. The table in the photos was for two of my regimental-level scenarios that appeared in Undying Courage: Antietam in Miniature (the Fox’s Gap PM scenario and Turner’s Gap), both of which make for very interesting convention games.

Click to see a few more photographs!

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Categories: Antietam, Civil War wargaming, Johnny Reb 3 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gettysburg Reenactor Appreciation Weekend

Today I attended the 3rd annual Reenactors Appreciation Weekend in Gettysburg. There were more than 400 living historians and reenactors in town to take advantage of several free get-togethers and special events, as well as discount admissions to various museums, restaurants, and specialty retail stores. The bad weather in western PA and across Ohio, WV, and Kentucky kept several people from attending, but those who were able to come seemed to have a good time.

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Civil War Commander: new rules from Jim Kopchak

My friend Doug Rogers of Ohio recently reviewed Jim Kopchak’s new CWC regimental-level ACW rules set, which has recently been published after considerable playtesting. Doug’s review was originally posted in the pages of the hard copy Charge newsletter, but some people have asked me to give it a wider audience through this venue.

Here is Doug’s review:

On one rainy Saturday afternoon last October, Jim Kopchak from the Northern Ohio Wargaming Society (NOWS)  GM’d the Battle of Brawner Farm/Thoroughfare Gap for five novice players and myself, who had played these rules only once before, at the Drums Along the Maumee (HMGS-GL) convention in northwestern Ohio earlier this year. Within just over three hours, despite our inexperience, we had completed ten turns to finish the scenario, which engaged two Union brigades against three Confederate brigades. After thrusting the entire Rebel front against the Yanks in this meeting engagement, the Secesh captured the guns of the collapsed Union left and resurged in the center, but were swept on the Federal right for an overall Union victory.           

Civil War Commander (CWC) is a fast-playing game that can be adapted from its original regimental design upward to brigade scale, or down to battalion/skirmish level by changing how many bases (stands) are used per unit and modifying the “hit levels” needed to remove a stand from play. Each command represents progressively larger units, longer distances, and longer turn/time representations as you go from battalion to brigade-level battles.            

Figure mountings for Johnny Reb, Fire & Fury, or other popular rules are fine for CWC, because the number of figures per base (stand) is not critical. Rather, the number of bases is important, and the figures on them are not counted. It is helpful to have magnetic baseplates to use with individual stands’ metal plates to hold the unit together on the gaming table. The 15mm figures we used had flags to designate the various regiments. Markers for casualties, shaken, and routing are also used in standard game play. However, unlike some other rules, you will not get eye-strain headaches from staring at large tables after counting and re-counting individual figures. Instead, each base of a unit rolls a D10, at or below a critical number, to hit. This hit number is determined by weapon and range alone, making the fire “table” practically memorized after a few turns.           

Civil War Commander is a great rules system for those souls who perpetually roll low dice sums, since one must roll a D10 ‘at or below’ to fire, motivate, melee, or pass morale. The game turn sequence is Motivate/Rally/Initiative, Move, Fire, and Melee, each of which is punctuated by morale checks and opportunity fire. Movement is by initiative, while firing is generally simultaneous for normal end-of-move combat. The rules cover cavalry, artillery, skirmishers, snipers, command radius, charge and evade, saving modifiers, and plenty of other details that do not detract from the simplicity and speed of play.           

The speed and simplicity of these rules make for good convention play. At the same time, I am only beginning to realize the flexibility and variety of interesting play/results they offer. Copies of CWC (10 pages + a laminated quick Reference Sheet) are available directly from author Jim Kopchak at for about a ten spot, plus postage and handling. I’ll still play JR3 and Brother Against Brother, but I definitely will make use of these new rules to play larger engagements and for those cases where we have young or novice players and/or need quick play. Civil War Commander is a great addition to any serious wargamer’s cache. 

… Doug Rogers, North Coast Historical Wargame Society           

Categories: Civil War books, Civil War wargaming, Product reviews | 5 Comments

New ACW book from Brent Nosworthy!


Roll Call to Destiny
The Soldier’s Eye View of Civil War Battles

Roll Call to Destiny puts readers on the frontlines of the Civil War by providing the point of view of small bands of men who braved unique combat situations. Acclaimed military historian Brent Nosworthy answers such questions as what it was like for artillery to beat back an aggressive infantry assault or to take part in a fast-paced cavalry charge, and how Civil War infantry conflict was waged in thick, forest foliage.

From firsthand accounts, Nosworthy has pieced together Burnside’s infantry at Bull Run (infantry-versus-infantry on the open field), the Fifty-Seventh New York at Fair Oaks (fighting in the woods), Daniel Webster’s section at Arkansas Post (artillery attacking a fort), the third day at Gettysburg (cavalry-versus-cavalry), plus much more. A must-read for anyone who wants to know what Confederate and Union soldiers saw, heard, and felt, as well as how they acted at critical moments of the Civil War.Brent Nosworthy’s previous books on military history, The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War, The Anatomy of Victory: Battle Tactics 1689–1763 and With Musket, Sword and Cannon: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies, are considered classics in their field. A graduate of McGill University, Nosworthy lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Get your copy now from!
$27.95 / $33.50 (Can.) hc
ISBN 978-0-78671-747-7
336 pages, 6 x 9
Maps and illustrations throughout

Also by
Brent Nosworthy:
The Bloody Crucible of Courage

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Missing Cold Wars this year!

Several of you have asked why I will not be presenting a wargame at Cold Wars this year.  Frankly, I’m burned out. I have poured my leisure-time energy over the past 4 months into writing my new manuscript, A Spirit of Daring: The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, and I have not had much time to devote to gaming activities.

I think this will be the very first Cold Wars I have missed since I moved to Pennsylvania in 2001. I have grown to really enjoy this venerable gaming convention, and have in the past presented a number of well received wargames at the Host during this con. Unfortunately, my business travel has really stepped up, and I am not in a position to properly prepare a wargame. As with my business career, if I can’t do something 100%, then I won’t do it at all. A half-hearted wargame ill-prepared and ill-presented is worse than no game at all.

I look foward to returning to public wargaming at Fall-In this year in Gettysburg! If anyone wants to send me photos of Civil War regimental games at Cold Wars for inclusion in Charge, please feel free to do so!!!

Categories: Conventions, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Estimating regimental strengths in JR3

For most Civil War battles, there is precious little accurate information as to the exact (or even estimated) number of men who fought in each regiment. Brigade strength information is more commonly available, particularly in the Official Records and other contemporary reports. Usually the scenario designer will simply estimate the number of soldiers in each regiment based upon the aggregate in the brigade or division.

There are a few sources of regimental data for some of the larger battles, such as Busey & Martin’s classic Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg. I used this, coupled with adding back in battle losses and estimated stragglers to work backwards from Gettysburg to Hunterstown to Hanover to Upperville to Middleburg to Aldie to Brandy Station for my popular Crossed Sabers all-cavalry scenario book.

Here are a few tips for researching regimental strengths for the next battle you want to fight on the tabletop…

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Categories: Johnny Reb 3 | 1 Comment

Brothers Divided


Ivor Janci, Colin Burke, and I are collaborating on a new scenario book for the popular Brother Against Brother rules set. Volume 1 will cover several scenarios from early in the Gettysburg Campaign, including the ambush at Ewell’s Church, Elijah V. White’s raid on Point-of-Rocks, Maryland, the defense of Thoroughfare Gap, attack on the Goose Creek Bridge, and other seldom gamed actions. The maps are done, and the layouts and graphics of individual scenarios are in progress. This promises to be in the same genre and quality as our strong-selling Johnny Reb 3 scenario books.

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Categories: Civil War books, Civil War wargaming, Gettysburg, Wargaming in general | 4 Comments

A day trip to the Hershey area

My son Tom and I spent the afternoon in nearby Hershey and Palmyra, Pennsylvania. The latter town has a very nice little wargaming store called Pastimes (the same folks that are usually found in the dealer hall at Historicon and Cold Wars selling flocking and terrain items). They have a lot of 15mm JR Miniatures Civil War buildings of various sorts, as well as other items of interest including trees, tree kits, mats, GHQ Terrain Maker kits, ModelMaster paints, etc. For those who enjoy Settlers of Catan, Pastimes sells very professional wooden gaming trays to hold the hexes in place – very, very nice!

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Categories: Civil War wargaming, Wargaming in general | Leave a comment

Afterburner event


Some of you know I am a scientist for a billion-dollar company in the paper industry. Among the types of paper we make is hardback book paper that goes into a lot of popular Civil War titles (including my two upcoming books), as well as the occasional wargaming book. We make metallized paper for beer and water bottle labels and teabag and coffee papers for your gaming refreshments, as well as the postage stamp paper you used to send away your payment check for that next shipment of figures. We make playing card paper for those wargames where initiative is decided by drawing cards from a deck. You touch our products every day of your life.

This past week, four dozen of our corporate leaders met for three days for an off-site strategy review, planning session, and training seminar. The latter portion was hosted by Afterburner, a company that provides motivational speakers and process trainers for businesses. Founded by a former U.S. military pilot, every speaker is a former or current fighter jet pilot, and they dispense a little of their military training theories and best practices to the audience of businessmen and women.

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Categories: Wargaming in general | 1 Comment

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