Sunday, April 14, 2013

New ACW Rules from John Hill?

New ACW Rules from John Hill?

This is how I imagine a brigade of Rebs, with a supporting battery, would look deployed on the tabletop.
** 9/25/2013 I've updated this post now that the rules have been announced! The rules will be called "Across a Deadly Field" and are being published by Osprey Publishing. This is exciting news for ACW gamers! They are available now for pre-order and will be available May 20th, 2014!

Click on this link below to have a look:

Across A Deadly Field

The rumors are true. John Hill is indeed working with a major military history publisher on a new set of hardbound, deluxe ACW miniatures rules that will enable gamers to recreate large battles while still using individual regiments and batteries. John has loosely referred to the rules as a grand tactical version of "Johnny Reb III", and the gaming scales do suggest that it is almost an exact "half-sized" version of JRIII. The ground scale will be one inch equals 100 yards and each figure represents about 60 men and most regiments will be two stands. The turn time scale may be bumped up to 30 minutes per turn to accommodate longer battles - but, that is still being thought about. According to John, a key design intent is that no figure remounting will be necessary - just grab half as many stands per regiment while the battery presentation will be the same - one gun figure per battery, with the number of gunners representing the number of gun sections. At present, the new title is still not fully finalized, but one thing is certain, it will not simply be called "Johnny Reb IV", as the new publisher feels that while JR roots will be obvious, it will be important for this game to establish its own identity and following.

With the ground scale exactly halved and the figure scale doubled, this means that a battle that would take a six foot by twelve foot table, could now be recreated in half that space. So, with a little tweaking around the edges, almost all of the main Gettysburg battlefield from just north of Barlow's Knoll to just south of Big Round Top would fit roughly on a 5 by 9 foot ping pong table. I was worried that since the scale was bumped up for larger battles, the game might simply be a simplified version of JR III and that much of the detail might be "dumbed down". Well, John assured me that would not be the case, as since JR was first published, miniature gamers have become much more sophisticated and in John's opinion they can easily handle a lot more detail and complexity than twenty years ago when "Johnny Reb" was first published by Adventure Games. In fact, the new game will have more regimental and battery detail than does JR III. For example, in JR III there are only four types of small arms and five types of guns listed on the Reference Chart - though more types are covered in the rules themselves. In the new game, however, the one page Reference Chart (which seems to be a John Hill trademark), will probably have seven or eight different types of small arms and about ten different types of field guns.

How a "Two Stand" Regiment might look for John's new ACW rules.

One of the unique characteristics of all three "Johnny Reb" rules was its use of hidden order markers that when revealed gave the game a lot of suspense along with a semi-simultaneous turn resolution - and John assured me that all of the mechanics of the new game will still work fine within the traditional JR "order-marking" system - which is still his preferred system. That being said, John has noted that many gamers do not like their game board cluttered with order markers, so the new rules will also have a smoothly integrated action/reaction sequence that accommodates much the same result without the orders chits. John feels that both systems will give the gamer a realistic and playable ACW game - so both options will be presented.

Of course, the obvious question was when will the game actually be published and will "play test" kits be made available like was done for "Johnny Reb III"? John responded that the publisher has a long standing tradition of making sure that everything is presented with a very high end finish, along with a penchant for getting all the details right and they fully intend to give themselves enough time to do that - so, his best estimate is sometime next year. While it would have been nice to have it out for the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg - the publisher felt it was better to take the time to make it a really superb product. I obviously had a lot more questions about the game, but John concurs with the publisher's desire that they want to make sure everything works as intended, before they talk too much about the game. Okay, I guess we can wait....

I'll continue to pester John about his new rules and I'll post updates as soon as I have more news!

A brigade of Rebs with a battery in support. These are pics of some of my old 15mm Old Glory figs. I'm excited about the new rules, and am thinking about staring a new 10mm or 6mm ACW project specifically for the game.


  1. The new game will be supported by scenario booklets, one for large Eastern theater battles, the other for large Western theater fights.


  2. This sounds very cool. I have just rebased all of my 15's for Volley and bayonet so I could fight the big battles. A 6mm project may be calling me as well.

    1. Mike,
      Let me know if you want any Adler on the cheap. I have lots and lots and lots of unpainted 6mm that is taking up space in my house!!!

  3. Interesting news, never tried any of the JR rules but I always enjoy buying and reading new thing to get inspired. Got loads of 10mm so maybe that's the way forward for big battles.

  4. I was wondering if I could ask you for some help in identifying some ACW miniatures.