New to ACW – A couple of questions

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    I just bought ACW today along with Glory Hallelujah and the BP2E core book and I have some confusion over a couple of aspects. First off the points system, I’m getting a general gist that the points system has been neglected or purposely left out of the 2nd edition! Surely in a pick up game a points system is fundamental for 2+ players to base their forces on? How on earth would you work it out to have a balanced game?
    After looking at the Glory Hallelujah book it does give me some points, for example; pg 78 The Eastern Theatre, the Union first line says Infantry with Smoothbore Muskets costs 32pts which I presume is for a standard sized regiment (which is 5 stands in ACW), now if I wanted to field a tiny, small or large regiment how do I know how to adjust the points to accomodate that? If there is no standard then how do I get a balanced game if the other player has adjusted his differently.

    Second question – I’m pretty sure I have missed something here, but what is the point of formations, they seem to be a fundamental part of the game, but I can’t see the benefits, read the movement section and marching in column doesn’t give you any further movement which I would have expected and there doesn’t seem to be any disadvantage when in combat except that it gives you a narrow front for firing, so why don’t I just move my troops around in line formation from the get go? Like I said I’ve probably really missed something here and need to put my other glasses on over the top of the ones I am wearing!!!

    Big Al

    Hi there

    To answer your first question, the rules were written to be used for scenario games. Points are not necessary and were not intended. However, there was a basic points system in the original book. It was very basic and there were no army lists. The author of Glory Hallelujah has provided some pointed armies for those who want to use them but they are not required.
    As to balanced games, again, forces in real life were never balanced. Trust me, the game worked extremely well without points. I have never played using pointed armies and I have been playing the game since it was first released. Same with Hail Caesar, although there are  army lists for that game.

    Your second question about formations. You need to read the rules fully. Then you will find the answer. The game is all about Command and Control. Your troops only move when ordered to do so. Different formations affect your ability to issue orders, not give additional movement. A man can only walk so far or so fast over a small section of time, so being in any formation does not speed him up or make him go further!
    Sorry, that might come across as patronising and I apologise if it does. A formation like Column of March gives the advantage of a +1 to the command roll when you roll for the success of the order (+2 if the column is on a road). Should you fail the command roll, the formation allows the unit to make a single free move. There is nothing in the rules to say what that move should be, but most players make it the first part of the failed order that the player announced.

    All of this is in the Command Phase section of the core rule book.

    The rules in the Glory Hallelujah book are suggestions for the specific period and not actual rules or rule amendments. If you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to use them. They were written before v2 of the rule book and some of them may be obsolete due to some of the changes made in v2 of the rule book. This is certainly the case in the Napoleonic supplements.


    Hope that helps you out.


    Charge The Guns

    Hi Mick,

    Welcome to Black Powder! I think Big Al has got you covered on most of your questions.

    The march column v. line is fairly straight forward.  As Al has said, rather than you move extra inches for being in column, you are more likely to get an order, that allows you to move, when in march column.  The ability to get a move, even if you fail your order, can definitely be worth it. p31 covers moving in march column.  Fighting is march column is, as you’d imagine, not a good idea.  If you are in march column you are no allowed to charge (see p59), and if you do end up in hand-to-hand because the enemy charge you, then you only get 1 dice (see p68).  So, if you state in march column too long / get too close to the enemy, then you risk getting caught in this formation by an enemy charge, and most likely will be beaten.

    The points thing is as Al as described.  There is an ACW scenario in the main BP book (p176), and there are a bunch of scenarios in the Glory Alleluia book as well.  Perhaps while you and your opponents are learning the rules you could try fighting some of the scenarios.  The system is not really set up to play games were building points based list is part of the challenge. The system instead assumes someone is going to provide a scenario for the game, perhaps with different objectives for the two sides.

    I hope this helps?  Do come back with any more questions that you have.  If you have particular Glory Alleluia questions I know that the author is sometimes on the forum and I’m sure he’ll help if he’s about.

    Good luck 👍

    Garry Wills

    In the ACW supplement the author removed the benefits of attack column, as being not appropriate to the ACW, which seems fair, so march column and line are the way to go as explained by big Al.

    I find the points system useful in designing historical scenarios. Unfortunately a lot of people in the historical hobby see points systems as an easy alternative to doing research on your army/scenario and an enabler of forces that are not historically ‘valid’ and therefore tend to dismiss/despise them. However they have their uses as long as they are not abused. I posted the points system on this thread




    Thanks for the replies, they have given me a greater understanding.

    @Big AI – I don’t think it’s to do with not reading the rules fully it’s more to do how I interpret them and that along side the fact that this is a new game system it’s just not what I am used to. The only rank and file game systems I have played were Warhammer Fantasy and GW’s Warmaster, and over 20 years ago, so this whole command and move system is new to me. While the fundamentals are all there, move, shoot, hand to hand, break tests are very similar some aspects are not what I am expecting.

    With the March Column I think I was expecting some extra few inches on movement or something especially when moving along a road, but there is none. I was expecting something along the lines of if I have an infantry unit moving down a road in line formation with difficult terrain either side it would hinder movement, so I would keep it in a column formation to keep the unit moving at full speed.

    And your response is not patronising, any information is good information if it helps me get to grips with the game 🙂

    I will have to beg to differ on the speed of different formations though, being ex-military I know this for a fact. For example if we were on a forced march to a location your are tightly packed and easy to coordinate, but then if you were on an alerted patrol you would be more spaced out in somes cases the end chap would not be able to see the chap at the front so communication would take that little bit longer as each instruction would have to be relayed person to person. Then if you were setting up in a defensive posion or getting ready for an assault you would be in the equivalent line formation with the section leader running alnog the line giving you your firing arcs or teliing you what you are attacking. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always the same but the basic principles are there.

    @Charge The Guns – After re-reading the Command section I think I have got to grips with it, but again, all it’s doing is giving me an advantage on the command roll, and not so much the movement itself, so I would still say I am better off just moving in line formation from the get go, that way I don’t have to waste movements doing formation changes. Have you got an example of how moving in March Column is advanatagious?

    I swear I must be reading this wrong. Let’s say I have a Commander rating of 8, I have a unit already in Line Formation, with an enemy say….55″ away (Obviously not Epic ACW scale). I want to move within firing range (Smoothbore Musket 18″), I would need 3 moves to do this, and therefore I need to roll a 5 or less on my commander roll to get my 3 moves correct? If successful I get to move 3 lots of 12″, bringing me into firing range. Now if my unit was in MC formation I need those 3 moves, 1 to change formation and 2 to move closer and even then I won’t be in range to shoot (1″ short). So apart from giving a modifier on the commander roll there seems to be no plus side to MC. It seems I may as well just deploy everything in Line from the begining of the battle and if I am worried about command range then I just put each unit in line formation one behind the other to keep spacing down, then as I approach the enemy I start fanning out.


    As for the pts system, yeah I still a little gutted that there isn’t more structure to it. In most games even in their prebuilt scenarios you will get a variety, so you might have one that the sides are even, then you might get some where one side has an advantage. Bolt Action for example has the Theatre selectors and you choose a points limit but are free to choose your force. Adeptus Tianicus you might have a scenario where one players starts with 1000 pts more than the other. So I guess I was expecting something similar in BP. While historical scenarios are great but how many times do you play them? The BP Core book has 2 ACW, the GH supplement has 10 and the Epic supplement has 5, 4 of which are in the GH supplement with a slight variation on forces. But lets be positive and say there is 17 scenarios, so 34 if you play each one as both sides. I’m presuming you just use your imagination after that? What do you guys generally do for a pick up game if you play them? I was expecting to be able to go on my gaming FB page and ask anyone for a game, set a date sides and points value then just turn up. But if I want to do that then I need to work out points values of units, but then I need to make sure we are singing from the same system.

    Then there is the conversion from 28mm to Epic, wow, this is overwhelming! So….. using all 3 books, I think I have an understanding of the base and unit sizes. In the GH book pg 78 the first line on the forces table tells me that a unit of Smoothbore Musket Infantry costs 32pts, then I thought but how big is it? So going by the stamina of 2 and according the BP rulebook pg 18 it tells me that it is a small unit, am I reading that right? If this is correct that makes things simple, in Epic a small unit is 3 stands of infantry. But then I need to work out points for tiny or large units, 1 stand and 7 stands respectively. I’m not to keen on that pts per pip system, initially it seems that you could make overwhelminly powerful units and the pips for range is confusing, I mean, is that the range to shoot or is that line of sight range? Because I thought weapons had a specific range!

    On the conversion to Epic as well, even the scenarios don’t tell you what weaponry each unit had. The 2 scenarios in the BP core book tell me what units were at the battle, the size of the unit and what weapons they had, but in the Epic scenarios it just says the unit type and size, so I thought maybe all the weapons are the same just to keep it simple and keep gameplay fast, but then a few pages earlier it has a table of weapons and ranges, so how on earth do I know what weapons they have in the scenarios? Some artillery stats aren’t listed. The battle of Wilson’s Creek, the Union 4th Brigae has 1 Artillery unit of 12pdr Howitzers, where’s the stas for it? They are not on the table.


    Extremely frustrated, I really think I’m approaching this all wrong, especially the convesion to Epic :(, I think I need to see if anyone at my local club plays this so I can see a runt through from beginning to end.

    Wow, this is overwhelming


    Garry Wills

    The command test fundamental determines how far units move. So a unit in line with a Staff rating of 7 will move an average of one 12″ move per turn, in march column the staff rating goes up to 9 (ie. plus 2 for march column on a road) and on average the unit will move an average of 1.8 moves a turn. Your example doesn’t work because you started in line and this determines the command test. Normally units come onto the field in march column and then deploy into line. The fact that the command system can result in 0,1,2 or 3 moves, is the reason that you don’t get a few inches extra for column, this difference is negligible given the difference between 0 and 54 inch movement. Likewise some terrain doesn’t affect movement eg. hills, unless rough ground, this speeds up the game.

    There are lots of ACW scenarios available  online and in scenario books for other rules systems all of which can be converted to Black Powder, with little work once you have a good understanding of the system.

    Re Wilson’s Creek, the 12pdr howitzers are shown on the artillery table on p.45 with a range of 40″, with the stats on p.127 of the Glory H. supplement.

    The points values for artillery are based on the range of the guns as given in the range table. The points values are constant and don’t vary with line of sight.

    In terms of unit sizes the rules state and assume that the majority of units are standard size, with small and large sizes covering exceptions. Consequently whenever the rules mention a unit without mentioning size you can assume it means a standard unit. The points values of smaller or larger unit all simply reflect the changes in the firing, close combat and stamina ratings, which are all specified in the rules themselves.

    Be patient it will pay off in the end. We can answer all your questions.



    Big Al

    Regarding movement, I don’t think that you can compare the troops and their training to the modern day practices that you experienced. A standard unit is not a small squad but consists of something like 500 to 750 men. Getting them to move more quickly and all in step would be difficult. Then there is also the fitness. You guys were kept fit with various exercises, while the troops in your average Napoleonic regiments would be straight off the street. To top it off, there is the food situation, which would be nothing like what a modern army runs on. So, the sort of additional movement of which you speak would really happen.

    with regard to the Epic units. The easiest conversion is to use centimetres instead of inches because there is no maths involved.
    As to base sizes and the number of bases to a unit, Mr Stallard decided he wanted a massed troops look so decided that five 60mm units for a standard unit would be a good idea.
    to me, it defeats the object of the scale because these units have a far bigger frontage than my 28mm Napoleonic units, and mine are larger than most because they were based to an older system which featured in al the photos in the v1 book. This means that you still need an enormous table. The point to going smaller is space!

    My friends and I and a lot of others have reduced the ACW Epic standard units to three bases, large units 5 bases, small units 2 bases and tiny units a single base or bases as singles or pairs.


    Well after the last couple posts you guys have wrote I think I am a lot more re-assured, still a lot to take in, so I think what I will do is just take forces of equal size and play a few games to get my head round everything. The fundamentals I don’t think will be an issue as they are more or less the same in any combat game just with some tweaks / additions. it’s mainly the conversion I am struggling with, not the measurments that is easy enough, it’s more the weapons. It feels like I have to grab tit bits from each book get get the information I need 🙁 or I have the pieces to a jigsaw in multiple boxes.

    Wills – Looking at the order of battle for Wilson’s creek again, both the general and brigade commanders all have a rating of 8, so if I have a unit in line formation with no modifiers, no roads, no difficult terrain, and I do a command roll resulting in 5, thats 3 less than 8 so I get 3 moves so I could move straight forward for 36″ (or 36cm in Epic). Now if that unit is in March Column, it only has a modifier of +1 for being in column right? Taking the commanders rating to 9, so lets say I roll a 6 or less, that is still 3 moves I am getting so I can still only move 36″/36cm? So I can’t see why I would bring my troops on in March Column where at some stage I have to use a move to change formation. Does that makse sense? The only time where I can see and advantage (from reading the difficult terrain rules) is if I have a unit moving along a road with difficult terrain either side, which would make a line formation move at half pace, so moving in column would make sense. So the next question would be, is all the battlefield classed as difficult terrain except otherwise noted? I,e; roads, woods or impassable terrain? It basically says that difficult terrain is scrub, sand, heavily plough soil, which could practically mean the whole of the american land, lol.

    As for the artillery, I can see the artillery ranges on pg 45 of the core rules, but no mention of points and some of the types of artillery are not listed. But on pg 45 of the GH supplement all artillery is listed 🙂 but no pts, however when I look at pg 79 for the Eastern Theatre of the GH Supplement it does give me pts values so I think I can come up with something there.

    Just as an example of what I am looking at Pg 18 of the Epic booklet, Battle of Wilson’s Creek, looking at the order of battle under the Union army, the 4th Brigade has 1 artillery unit of 12pdr howitzers (6 guns). On pg 13 the 12pdrs are not listed on the range table, so how do I know what range they can fire at, so I think I would just go by the 40″ in teh GH supplement? On pg 14 they are also not listed for their stats, so how strong are they, what is their morale etc? So I look at Pg 45 of the core rules, again, not listed on the range table. So finally I look at pg 45 of the GH supplement and see them listed at Range 40″ but I still have no other stats. So now I think why on earth would you list something in the order of battle and not have it’s stats listed in the Epic Battles Regiment Stats table? At first I thought I may be trying to do a literal conversion of every weapon and I shouldn’t be, and that the aim of Epic was to keep things simple, so just treat the 12pdrs as 6pdrs using the stats on the Epic Battles Regiment Stats table, BUT, on that table the last entry is  Artillery – 6 gun – 3 stands – 6pdr smoothbore. So it IS telling me that it is a 6 pdr, so where are the stats for the 12pdr?

    Here is the range table on Pg 13 of the Epic booklet;

    Shotgun, Pistol 6″

    Smoothbore musket 18″

    Rifled musket, breech loading rifle, repeating or magazine-fed rifle 24″

    Smoothbore carbine 12″

    Rifled Carbine, breech loading carbine, repeating or magazine fed carbine 18″

    6 pdr smoorthbore artillery 36″


    Here is part of the Epic Battles Regiment Stats table (artillery only)

    Artillery – 4 gun – 2 stands – 6 pdr smoothbore

    Artillery – 4 gun – 3 stands – 6 pdr smoothbore

    Now here is the order of battle for Wilson’s Creek on pg 19 Epic booklet

    Brigadier General Nataniel Lyon

    1st Brigade – 3 x Infantry, 1 x Artillery (6pdr smoothbore, 6 guns)

    2nd Brigade – 3 x infantry, 1 x Artillery (6pdr smoothbore, 6 guns)

    3rd Brigade – 6 x Infantry

    4th Brigade – 4 x Infantry, 1 x Cavalry (rifled carbine, tiny), 1 x Artillery (12 pdr howitzer, 6 guns)

    As you can see the 12pdrs are not on either of those tables? So now I have to go to the GH supplement to get the stats. There are two lines of teh GH supplement for 12pdrs, one has a (6) next to it so I presume this is the 6 gun entry I am looking for.


    @Big AI – Interesting point about the scale, someone mentioned about the number of stands in Epic ACW on FB page saying something similar that they are reducing a standard sized regiment to 3 instead of 5 which sounds reasonable because if you look at the largest battle in the Epic booklet “Battle of Salem Church” the Union infantry alone totals 155 stands, lol, that is mad!!!

    Anyway, I really really apreciate the time and effort you guys have put into your replies, I know it can be a pain explaining something over a forum. But when you don’t know anyone personally who plays I can only ask on line.

    I think for now I will concentrate on the scenarios or just use balanced forces for quick pick up games and worry about a pts system later. I definitely won’t be giving up on teh game though as I have invested quite a sum in it, lol. And I love the whole idea of the command system. Looking forward to teh Napoleonics coming out next year as well. Hopefully they will do an AWI one after that, lol.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Mick.
    Big Al

    Yes, right now you can’t see why you would bring a unit on in March Column, but as I said earlier, the other advantage to being in Column is that the unit gets a free move if the order you roll for fails. On paper, it isn’t going to fail with the +1 modifier (I prefer to call it a -1 to the roll result), but in the heat of battle, the die rolls don’t work out. I have lost count of how often my troops have stalled because of my poor dice rolling! Once played a game where an entire division refused to move even though they were in March Column and on a road. That free move came in handy 😅.

    Looking forward to your views once you have tried a small game or two.

    Happy New Year to you!

    Garry Wills

    Hello Mick

    Glad you are sticking with it. On movement of columns you are being too selective in your examples if you look at all dice throws the march column will move 2 moves per turn including the free move vs 1.4 moves per turn with a Staff rating of 8, so it does depend on the size of the table, I use 15mm figures and cms instead of inches, so it makes a difference, but your point about the cost of changing formation is well made on relatively small tables. The effect is more dramatic in Napoleonic games where attack columns are more common.

    The points for the 12 pdr howitzer is not affected by the shorter range, as it falls within the 48″ range band. The stats for it are on p.127 of the GH supplement. P.92 in the GH supplement is the appropriate army list for Wilson’s Creek. This gives the 12pdr Howitzer (field) stats and a points value of 32 points but this is for a 4 gun battery shooting 3/2/1, the one in the scenario is a 6 gun battery shooting 5/3/1 so we need to apply the 10 point upgrade mentioned at the bottom of the page, giving a final total points of 42 points. It is all there somewhere. I don’t have the Epic book as all my ACW stuff is Peter Pig.

    All the best


    PS As a historical gamer for 50 years, I am equally confused by trying to get my Infinity and Gloomhaven stuff on the table.


    Happy New Year to you all as well guys, hope you have a geat year and may all your battles be victorious and fruitful, unless you’re playig each other in which case my condolences to the defeated 🙁

    I think I must have been misinterpreting the free move section, after reading your posts I went back on it and read the sections on initiative moves and free moves. Initially I thought the free move only came in to play if you failed a command order. But now going back over it I read the sentence “A unit in March Column,…….can move once EVEN when an order is failed”. So the keyword EVEN. So even if the order is passed I still get a free move? If so then this makes alot more sense, so while your units in line are stuck where they but your units in column can still keep moving.

    As for the points I might just have that sussed, going through the army lists in GH I thik it pretty much as it covered, the only thing I need to do is adjust pts for any smaller or larger units. That being said I don’t think I will have to worry about a pointed system in teh short term what with all the scenarios, I hink I might just put something together in a spreadsheet so it’s all in one place and make some reference cards to print out.

    I’ve even started undercoating my first regiment today, so it looks like this might tanke priority over my Bolt Action force I am currently collecting.

    Thanks again chaps

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Mick.
    Big Al

    No, you hadn’t misinterpreted it. You were right the first time. Free moves only apply if an order is failed. That is the reason why it says “Even”. Admittedly, the wording could be different, but that issue was clarified by the author on the old Yahoo Group forum.

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