Author Topic: Civil War factions - Overall Design  (Read 714 times)


  • Playtester
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 249
Civil War factions - Overall Design
« on: April 28, 2020, 03:24:46 PM »
Overall:  I wanted to design gunpowder armies that could be defeated by the current factions.  For that, I had to identify the strengths of gunpowder armies and then incorporate many of their weaknesses also.  Some of them are summarized below.

Very high Power stats -- Bullets hit very hard. 
Cannon balls and cannister are mass killers. 
Soldiers only need a few weeks/months of training instead of years. 
Rifles have the “potential” for very long ranged shots

Very short ranged (powder smoke limits visibility to short range and a few weeks of training limits ability to hit at longer ranges). 
Very low skilled (only a few weeks of training vs a lifetime of training)
No armor (armor is useless against bullets)
No heavy or medium infantry and cavalry
Bayonets make poor spearmen when engaged
Artillery isn’t going to stand up against a charge (there’s maybe 10 troops total)
Easily destroyed by engaged attacks based on above weaknesses
The Colors and Drums Unit is a weak link in the army.

I’ll summarize some of the strengths and weaknesses I purposefully put into the units.  The strengths are heavy short-range damage and lots of impact hits.  The weaknesses are limited shots outside short range, very few hit boxes, low defense and toughness, units shoot half or a quarter as often as bows, low to mediocre courage, low offensive skill, very weak when engaged, and mostly LOS ranged attacks.

Basically, the units are hard hitting, but very fragile and short ranged.  There is no heavy infantry or heavy cavalry since no one wears armor.  These units are eggshells armed with sledgehammers.  If they hit, it’s going to be devastating.  If they get hit, it’s going to be devastating.  If you can shoot outside short range or dash through short range to become engaged, you’ll have a great advantage.  If you get caught in short range, you’ll have a disadvantage.

These units are not going to be long-range shooters for the most part.  They won’t survive long when engaged, either.  A bit of this and that, but not good at either one.  However, at 7” they will be good.  At 2.5”, they’ll destroy a healthy unit.  You don’t want to miss your Final Rush by an inch with these guys.  If you can stand off and shoot outside short range, you’ll do well.  If you have a shooting duel at short range,  you’ll be able to trade blows with these armies.  If you can lead your charge with cannon fodder, your follow-up units have a good chance of engaging (exactly how the term cannon fodder came about).  If you can get through short range fast enough to engage, you’ll massacre most of the units.  If you stall at 2.5” or let them get good artillery shots off at you…well better luck next time.  In fact, you don’t want to be 2.5” away from loaded artillery.  Really, you don’t.  Canister provides 9 impact hits!! at Power 10 which will just ruin your day.  Thankfully, the artillery takes a long time to load.

Impact Hits: I’m a believer in keeping things simple.  Rather than make up a new rule or key word to give a ranged hit without rolling the die, I use Impact Hit.  An Impact Hit provides the effect I’m looking for (hit without rolling) even though the unit isn’t charging. 

Union Concept:  The Union is an urban, industrialized, standardized, and more unified army than the Confederacy.  Yes, it’s not truly a national, unified army, but it’s closer than the Confederacy was.  No unit stands out from any other unit for the most part.  They mostly follow the same doctrine and training.  Elite units are the result of technological innovation more than training and skill.  Union units are not as skilled as the Rebels but have more hit boxes to reflect standardized equipment and good supply lines.  Union units’ courage is lower than the Rebels to reflect a relative lack of commitment (The soldiers weren’t defending their homes, etc.).  Line infantry is a core unit, but Calvary is a standard unit because the Union is recruiting mostly city folk who don’t ride horses often or for long trips.  They have trains and trolleys for that. 

Confederacy Concept:  Limited industry and a heavy blockade results in a non-standardized army composed of mixed equipment.  The Confederate army is more of an alliance of state armies than a unified national army when compared to the Union army.  The Confederacy is rural with a poor transportation network that provides an increased number of horsemen to create cavalry units.  They’ve been riding their whole lives not just a quickie course.  They will be better skilled than the union, but they have to bring their own equipment (This is where the Shotgun Cavalry came from).  Units overall are more skilled than Union but have fewer hit boxes to reflect mixed equipment and poor supply lines.  The Confederacy loses effectiveness faster because the unit wasn’t supplied with that one item that could prevent disaster.  The “for want of a nail, the battle was lost” theory if you want.  The Confederacy has better courage because they were defending their homes and viewed the Union troops as cowards (I can stick it out longer than those Yankees).  Calvary is a core unit because of their horsemanship culture, but line infantry is a standard unit because the state infantry was more important to the culture than the “national” infantry. 

Making the armies different:
Both of these armies had the exact same units historically.  Units consisted of rifle-armed infantry, carbine-armed cavalry, and smoothbore or rifled artillery.  Although most differences in the units are minor, I tried to find ways to provide different flavors for each army.  I wanted more than just the same army with a few stat tweaks.  Thankfully, there were enough different types of units during the Civil War that I was able to divide them up between the armies.  For the most part, I split the units by theme.  The Union got technology units and units that fit with a poor cavalry tradition.  The Confederacy got cavalry units or units that emphasized skill.  Below is the list of similar units and distinct units for each army.

Similar Units:   
Union Units                       Confederate Units
Union Line Infantry           Confederate Line Infantry
Volunteers                         State Militia
Marksmen                          Sharpshooters
Napoleon Gun                    Mixed Battery
Ordnance Rifle                    Parrot Rifle
Union Cavalry                     Confederate Cavalry
Union Colors & Drums        Confederate Colors & Drums

Distinct Units:
Union Units                   Confederate Units
Mounted Infantry          Partisans
Repeating Rifles            Zouves
54th Massachusetts     Shotgun Cavalry
Mounted Rifles              Partisan Rangers
Gatling Gun                  Horse Artillery
Balloon                         Generals

6 of the 13 units are distinct and unique to each army.  These units, also, deepen the differing themes.  The Union is cavalry poor, so they have mounted infantry.  Soldiers who ride to battle but fight on foot.  The Union has technology represented by the Gatling gun and balloon.  The Confederates have a cavalry tradition with poor supplies represented by the shotgun cavalry and partisan rangers.  The horse artillery was fitting for a cavalry heavy army.  The Zouves and generals emphasize the higher skill theme of the Confederate army.

I think this army list is more than 2 gunpowder armies with slight modifications.  It’s a higher-tech infantry army invading a higher-skilled cavalry army protecting the homeland.  The Union has 6 infantry and 2 cavalry units.  The Confederates have 5 infantry and 3 cavalry units.  The Confederates can field an entire army of cavalry, but cavalry does not meet core requirements for the Union.  Zouves and Horse Artillery will, also, allow the Confederates to field a faster combined-arms force than the Union.  The Union has a general advantage in their health and artillery.


  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5119
Re: Civil War factions - Overall Design
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2020, 01:30:39 PM »
I apologize for not really being able to dig into this (I can barely keep up with development as-is), but I always had two ideas in the back of my head for firearms:

- Impact Hits:  Just like you did.  Firearms cause X impact hits.  Regular firearms cause 1 and cannons cause 2 (or even 3) as they bounce through the enemy line.

- Enfilading Fire:  this is a rule we toyed with adding to the main rules but ultimately dropped.  That said, in a faction with basically all LOS shooters the issue that cropped out shouldn't.  We could make it a firearm rule, functionally.  Basically if you could draw an Open Path to the enemy's flank side (and it was the Nearest Open Side), then you get the Flanking bonus for your ranged attack.  Or you could keep it simple and say you get +1 impact hit.

- Unnerving:  when you take a damage from firearms, you must take a Rout check.  Even if it doesn't knock you into the Yellow/Red.  The idea is that firearms are the "awe" part of shock & awe tactics.  They disrupt an enemy so that they can be finished off by a charge.

Use whatever you'd like!


  • Playtester
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 249
Re: Civil War factions - Overall Design
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2020, 08:10:28 AM »
I apologize for not really being able to dig into this (I can barely keep up with development as-is)

Don't worry.  Any feedback is appreciated.  You've got things to do.  I'm good.


  • Playtester
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 249
Re: Civil War factions - Overall Design
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2020, 02:47:35 PM »
- Unnerving:  when you take a damage from firearms, you must take a Rout check.  Even if it doesn't knock you into the Yellow/Red.  The idea is that firearms are the "awe" part of shock & awe tactics.  They disrupt an enemy so that they can be finished off by a charge.

I like it, and I'll put it in.  I worry about it being too much.  There's already a lot of units getting disrupted just by the damage.  Have to see how it playtests