ACW Rules

These rules are in draft format as at December 2019


This set of rules are a variant of One Hour Wargames American Civil War rules by Neil Thomas. Some of the variations:
  • D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) are used to provide only three combat values: below average, average, or above average.
  • Attached commanders provide benefits to moving and shooting.
  • Dicing for variable movement
  • Rallying of units


The game has 4 to 8 units per side of the following types:
  • Infantry
  • Cavalry
  • Artillery
  • Commander

Sequence of Play

Players take turns activate all or some of their units during their turn. During a turn a player follows the steps below:
  1. Rally
  2. Movement
  3. Shooting
  4. Unit Disorder
A unit can either rally, move or shoot.


Disordered units can attempt to rally if they are outside of musket range 6” and artillery canister range 12”.

When rallying infantry and cavalry units can remove its. Artillery cannot rally.

Roll D3-1 are remove that many hits. This can be increased by 1 if the unit has an attached commander.


Units may move a variable distance during their turn. The procedure for moving is as follows:

All units roll a D3-1 adding 1 if there is an attached commander. Then multiply the score by the move rates below: 
  • Infantry: 3”
  • Cavalry and Artillery: 6”
Turning: Units may pivot on their central point at the start and/or end.

  • Woods - Only infantry can enter.
  • Towns - only Infantry may end a move in a town.
  • Marsh/Lake - impassable.
  • Rivers - Can be only crossed via bridges & fords. It takes a full move to cross.
  • Streams - cannot be crossed by artillery. All other units take a full move to cross.
  • Difficult terrain - only Infantry can enter.
  • Linear Obstacles (Fences) - provide cover and cannot be crossed by cavalry or artillery.
  • Hills - all units can move onto hills.

Interpenetration: may only occur when disordered units retreat.


Units cannot shoot if they have moved. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

Check field of fire - units can only shoot at a single unit within 45 degree of their frontal facing side. Units in towns have a 360 degree field of fire.

Measure the range - infantry have a range of 6” and artillery 24”.
Assess hits - units roll a D3 dice when shooting with the following adjustments:

-1 if a unit is in cover
-1 if artillery and the range is 12” to 24”
-1 if cavalry
+1 if commander attached

Artillery can fire over other units if positioned on a hill.

Unit Disorder

A unit becomes disordered after taking 6 or more hits. 

Any disordered units must retire a minimum of 6” in a straight line away from attacking enemy units.

Disordered units keep retiring each Disordered phase until a they are rallied or eliminated by moving off the tabletop.

A unit that is disordered looses any attached commander immediately.

Attached Commanders

An infantry unit with an attached commander can move 9” and shoot with D3+1.

Commanders may only be attached to infantry units.

Commanders are removed once a unit is disordered.

Promoted commanders can be added to any infantry unit which is not disordered. The effects of a commander are applied immediately.


  1. I know I've asked this before, but possibly not for these rules. Is diagonal movement allowed? And can ranges be measured diagonally? For example, if two units are diagonally adjacent to each other, are they at a range of 1 or 2 bounds?


    1. Diagonal movement and shooting is allowed. The cost of a bound (one square) is the same whether the move is diagonal or not. In your example the range is 1 bound.

    2. Note - rules now free movement.

  2. Is there a limit to how many units can occupy a square? How many units do you typically use for a battle?

    1. Hi - I play on a 6x4 table (so that's 12 x 8 squares) and the number of units used has been up to the about 15. The table has not felt overloaded with troops, but is starting to limit manoeuvring of units.
      As for your first question, I generally allow one unit per square. If a position is heavily fortified I will as an exception have two units in a square if one unit is artillery.
      I hope this helps.

  3. I'm not sure what's meant by the text "For example: the blue player rolls 5 and the grey player rolls 3. Blue player’s commander 2 orders one of their commanders." Does this mean that one of blue's commander can order 2 units?

    Also, does artillery gain more firepower when firing at a target in canister range (I'm assuming around 2 bounds)?

    1. Yes, the commander can issue 2 orders. I have updated the rules. Thanks for pointing this out.
      Artillery and canister range. An interesting option. I have added an option to re-roll if at half range. Thanks again.

  4. 6 hits disorder a unit, forcing it to retreat.

    How many hits destroy a unit?

    1. Thanks for the question. The units are destroyed when they retreat off the tabletop. I did try allowing units only one rally before being destroyed if disordered a second time, but opted against it preferring attacking units to press forward forcing disordered unit off the table. I will update to rules to clarify this.