Tuesday, 1 March 2016

6mm American Civil War using the Blucher rules? - Proof of concept.

Having watched Kurtus, of Table Top Commanders fame, play yet another pick up and play game of Blucher, I got to thinking of adapting it for my American Civil War. Surely the basic rules will work just as well, apart from some cavalry rules. No Hussars and Dragoons valiantly charging around Virginia!

I wanted to do a small scale representation, as this was a test only, the aesthetics came secondary to the game play. I would have to use playing cards instead of dice for the movement (MO) as being solo I can't roll dice and hide them! So twelve cards and a joker were selected and after each activation, the number of units activated was drawn, the movement ending once the joker showed. I always made sure two red cards were at the top of the pile to represent throwing a double one. Armed with a copy of Blucher and a measuring stick in base widths I was ready to proceed.

Rule book, measuring stick and MO cards.

I used part of the kitchen table, measuring 4 x 2 feet, covered it with a bath towel, green of course, and put out some trees, buildings and a road. No difficult or rough ground or heights, as I wanted to keep things simple. The back scene is there simply to cover my storage boxes, paints etc. Ignore the coaster for my mug of tea in the bottom left!

Keeping it simple. A couple of houses, road and some woods.

It does the job.

I put down three white discs as objective markers, one on each of the two houses and one on the road junction.

The Confederate force consisting of four brigades of infantry and one battery of guns for the first Corps. Of course in the American Civil War those brigades would equate to a Division, but I will use Corps, for now, to prevent confusion.

Another identical Corps is on the right of the photo with a Corps of cavalry, two brigades strong, in the centre.

The other infantry Corps with attached artillery bathed in sunlight.

The Union army was identical, their Corps of cavalry on the right wing.

One Corps of four brigades plus a battery of guns in the centre.

Another identical Corps on the left wing.

Looking down the table from the Union starting position.

I kept the unit elan, simple and took both sides from the Spanish Army List. So artillery had six shots each of 4,4,3,3,2,2. 

I also made both forces identical in elan and cost in infantry and cavalry. Using Regular Infantry with an elan of 5 and a cost of 8, with cavalry an elan of 4 and a cost of 6. This totalled 82 points for each force. Very small indeed!

As the forces were so small I toyed with, and then discarded the idea of using just six cards, equating to a single die.

Turn One (Confederate)

The confederates made three Corps activation's, all successful, and advanced up the table with reserve moves. This would normally be 12 base widths, but as the table was so small, I halved this.

Turn Two (Union)

Two successful reserve moves allowed both infantry Corps to advance six base widths, but a joker turned up to prevent the cavalry Corps from moving.

Turn Three (Confederate)

The cavalry Corps move up 4 base widths, dismount and take up position behind the woods, either side of the road, and more importantly, covering the objective marker. One infantry Corps was also able to move up on the Confederate right flank and the guns began to unlimber. MO then ran out.

The Confederate right flank moved up and the battery begin to unlimber. Union troops just outside of the 2 base width skirmish firing range.

Turn Four (Union)

Union Corps on their left flank move into skirmish firing range, artillery also begins unlimbering

Union right flank also moves forward 2 base widths and the cavalry also receive MO to advance at reserve move of 6 base widths, though they split up, one dismounts and takes cover behind the wood, whilst the other stays mounted and backs up on the right flank.

Positions at the end of Turn Four.

Turn Five (Confederate)

The artillery Corps belonging to the left wing makes a reserve move to join the right wing. The left wing Corps advances 2 base widths, but on the Confederate right, the shooting begins. The artillery opens up with counter-battery fire with no result. However, both leading infantry brigades score hits on their opposite numbers, reducing elan from five down to 4 and 3 respectively.

On the Confederate left, the move forward brings them almost into volley fire range.

Turn Six (Union)

The Union infantry open up on the Rebels and score 3 & 1 hits, excellent shooting at skirmish range. The dice on the artillery is to show the number of times it has fired and not its elan as artillery doesn't have elan.The Union counter-battery fire in ineffective.

Turn Seven (Confederate)

The left flank open up but manage only one hit.

On the right flank the artillery throw a double six and destroy the Union battery, whilst musket fire picks off more elan from the Federals. The second gun battery has now also unlimbered and can fire next turn.

The fatal double six!

The first casualty, a total of four destroyed units means defeat. So 1-0 to the Confederacy.

Turn Eight (Union)

The Union right flank open up with muskets and fail to hit.

The second Union artillery battery unlimbers and trains it guns to assist on the left wing, in an attempt to replace the lost battery.

Fire on the left wing is only slightly more effective than the right, causing one casualty to the Rebels.

Turn Nine (Confederate)

An infantry brigade and two batteries decimate one of the leading Union infantry brigades

The Union have reached halfway to their break point with two units lost.

On the left flank, volley fire further weakens the two leading Union brigades.

Turn Ten (Union)

With two enemy gun batteries on their flank, the Union infantry brigade charges forward, the leading brigade crashes into the Reb's and vicious hand to hand fighting results in the destruction of the Confederate brigade.

However, it costs them another elan and leaves them vulnerable to the fresh enemy brigade now to its front.

The first Confederate unit to leave the field. 2-1 to the Rebels.

The rebel cavalry wisely take cover behind the wood as the Union battery unsuccessfully tries counter-battery fire.

On the right flank the volley causes two and one hits on the Confederate infantry brigades.

Turn Eleven (Confederate)

A firestorm of musket balls and cannister rip into the previously undamaged Union second rank infantry brigade, causing 1+2+2 hits from the two batteries and infantry in front, respectively, mowing down men like wheat under a scythe. The just victorious Union front brigade, after its bitter hand to hand combat is also mown down by volley fire from the fresh Rebel brigade. Two losses for the Union.

The Union left wing Corps has been decimated.

The battle is lost as four Union units now are off the table.

The Rebels complete their turn and pour more musket fire into a rapidly weakening Union flank.

The field at the end of the battle. The Confederate right looking almost as strong as ever.

The Union right still is completely intact, but the army is defeated.

A final view of the battlefield.

A very enjoyable and fast flowing battle. Although I kept it simple, it proves that Blucher can be used for the American Civil War. I still need to work on a few things, Officer traits and different elan for experienced units etc. But it should all work just fine. It also shows that a decent battle can be fought on a small table with a Division a side.


  1. Great stuff. A very smooth playing set of rules. Would work well for many other periods as well. Hmmm... personally I would rate standard infantry as 6 for the ACW. You could add elies and militia based on that. But still, if you feel 5 works, go for it. Another interesting element is rifled guns (for artillery). I imagine allowing greater range for these. What did you do to represent "dismounted" cavalry anyway?

    Great stuff Ian. Glad you took the time to try out some ideas.

  2. Thanks Kurtus, I went with elan of five across the board for infantry but agree a six would be a good baseline, adding one for elites and removing one for green troops. Dismounted cavalry had an elan of four, this was to simulate them having less men in a brigade, though having repeating rifles, still makes them a tough nut. They could move and dismount in one turn, but not fire. Same with artillery, they could move and then begin to unlimber, being able to fire next turn. Rifled guns would be an interesting addition.

  3. Great looking game and I enjoyed the report. Tough day for the Union to have the whole flank collapse like that.

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying Rod, didn't receive a notification. It was a tough day, and some incredibly good die rolls for the Confederates. Very enjoyable though.

  4. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that these rules would work for 7YW just as well.

    1. Hi Steve and thanks for the comment, I have only just seen it. I imagine they can be adapted for any musket period with a little thought, to give a flavour of the period you war game in.

    2. Hi Steve and thanks for the comment, I have only just seen it. I imagine they can be adapted for any musket period with a little thought, to give a flavour of the period you war game in.