This article was written by Ralph Hart, a member of an Australian gaming group which next year, is seeking to replicate the Battle of Gettysburg for the 160th anniversary using Epic Battles: American Civil War figures…

Ralph: A bunch of us Aussie wargamers are planning an insanely large Gettysburg gaming weekend next year. Using Warlord’s Epic Battles: American Civil War plastic figures, we intend to as faithfully as possible represent every single Regiment or battery present at the key points of the historical three-day battle.

Why? I’m a megalomaniac when it comes to wargames – the bigger the battle the better! I just love putting together large teams of gamers so that, in the throes of tabletop warfare, you can simulate command friction or, hopefully, engage in the battle with a united team spirit! With Warlord’s Epic Battles range, you can now more easily go extra large in your battles! With the battle’s 160th anniversary next year, the better question might be why not?

This is not the first time I have embarked on such a project, nor is it the only battle I have tackled. The event will also represent the 10th Anniversary of a group of two dozen Aussie wargamer’s epic three-day refight of Gettysburg (for the 150th anniversary), albeit that time with 28mm miniatures.  We’ve also partaken in mega games for the battles of Borodino, Fredericksburg and Waterloo over the years. Back then, we would use 28mm figures on a couple of 24′ x 6′ tables to represent just half of the units historically present at the respective battles. These games were hosted by a gaming store in southern Sydney, the Hall of Heroes Campbelltown. We think these were perhaps the largest ACW wargames ever held in Australia (let us know in the comments below if you know of any others -ed.) – but this new project should eclipse it.

The Battle of Gettysburg 150th anniversary game played at Hall of Heroes, with 28mm miniatures.

The old gang are really keen to get stuck in once again. But we have also welcomed lots of new project members, hailing from all over Eastern Australia, who have been attracted to horse and musket wargaming by the release of Black Powder Epic Battles scale figures, to fight the Battle of Gettysburg for the 160th anniversary – but even bigger and better in a truly Epic fashion.

A weekend sounds like a lot of time to play, but with the immense scale of this project there are time challenges in setting up the terrain (as well as packing it away), and in getting around 500 regiments and batteries from their painters to their on the day ‘commanders’ and even further to their actual starting positions on the table (and then reversing that process). Factoring in time for socialising, team briefings and orders, our weekend is looking packed before we even begin to start manoeuvring our troops or rolling dice. Thankfully with the ease of playability of Black Powder, suitably themed using selected rules and traits from the ACW Supplement Glory Hallelujah!, the weekend will provide more than enough time to put on a massive game or two…

This brings us to the format of the mega game. Using the Gettysburg 160 Facebook group to get organised has been really helpful, with everyone’s input welcome and polls used to narrow down exactly how the battles will work on the day. Collectively we have opted for two or three big games recreating highlights from the three-day battle, rather than a single huge table that represents the entire battlefield. We also voted to start each game with historical orders of battles and locations, but then allow free play, rather than simply try to re-enact the actual occurrences of the day.

So far, each of the three games, which will be played simultaneously, will probably cover:

  • Day 1 (1 July 1863): The area to the north and west of Gettysburg from 8 am to 6 pm, with the US Cavalry and Union I and XI Corps attempting to stem the Confederate advance.
  • Day 2 (2 July 1863): The area to the south of Gettysburg, encompassing Cemetery Ridge through to Culp’s Hill.
  • Day 2: Longstreet’s Assault and The Peach Orchard. This covers the southern end of the battlefield (The Round Tops, Devil’s Den, etc.)

Each table will have about 10 players, split into Blue and Grey teams, and an umpire. The weekend’s overall result would be the sum total of all objectives held across all three tables.

Although details are yet to be cemented, the weekend will likely take place at the Hall of Heroes gaming store once again, on 17th/18th June 2023. That’s two weeks prior to the actual anniversary of the battle, 1-3rd July, to allow time for us to properly blog the game.

We are now a couple of months into the project, so what have we achieved so far? Our Facebook group has 36 active members, and we’ve already committed to a painting plan for around 500 plastic regiments. Some lads have committed to painting an entire Corps, but most folks are just providing two Brigades of four regiments each, one for each side. As we are doing Day One with all the cavalry action, the new plastic Cavalry and Zouaves release (both Union and Confederate versions are available –ed.) is particularly handy! We also have the enthusiastic support of the Hall of Heroes in Campbelltown, New South Wales. The format of the weekend has more or less been decided upon, so the main thing now is painting, painting, painting!

Getting some practice in – Shenandoah Valley 1862 campaign inaugural game, First Kernstown.

In the run-up to the game, we are playing a Shenandoah Valley 1862 campaign using Epic Battles models and rules, at my local Wollongong Wargamers club. This is a great starting point for getting to grips with American Civil War set Black Powder games as the battles were fairly small by the standard of the period. Our inaugural game in this campaign, First Kernstown, was a great success and has already given us food for thought in how to adjust the Black Powder rules to streamline play for such a huge game, whilst retaining the flavour of the iconic battle that was Gettysburg. So, fingers crossed, taking full advantage of these tiny, but Epic figures and the opportunities they provide, we are seizing the colours and storming the ramparts with the aim of once again putting on the biggest Gettysburg game ever (at least in the Southern Hemisphere!)

by Ralph Hart

We’ll be sure to check in with Ralph as the project develops and of course for the games themselves.

Getting Started with Epic Battles: American Civil War

With both the new Gettysburg battle set and the Guts & Glory starter sets now available to pre-order, which both include brand-new plastic sprue featuring cavalry, dismounted cavalry and zouaves (these are also available in the brigade boxed sets shown below), it’s never been a better, or easier time, to get started gaming this fascinating period of history using the Epic Battles: American Civil War system.

Guts & Glory

This new starter set is ideal for new players easing their way into Black Powder Epic Battles for the first time, or even those who want a healthy number of reinforcements for an existing army. In here you’ll find enough for a regiment each of zouaves, cavalry, dismounted cavalry and skirmishers, as well as six regiments of infantry, cannon & mounted commanders. In addition, we have a dutch-style barn and snake fences in laser-cut MDF and everything you need to get playing, and with flag sheets included for both Union and Confederates, you’re not tied down to a particular side.

Gettysburg Battle-Set

For those who want to follow Ralph’s example and go big (and who doesn’t?) we have the superb value battle-set, Gettysburg. This is the ultimate way to get started with Epic Battles, with two massive armies in colour-coded plastic, MDF scenery pieces and just about everything you need to get playing the American Civil War on the epic scale it deserves. The Gettysburg Battle-Set contains:

  • Union army (blue plastic) – 8 infantry regiments, 1 Zouave regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, 1 dismounted cavalry regiment, 1 skirmishers regiment, 8 cannon & 8 mounted commanders
  • Confederate army (grey plastic) – 8 infantry regiments, 1 Zouave regiment, 1 cavalry regiment, 1 dismounted cavalry regiment, 1 skirmishers regiment, 8 cannon & 8 mounted commanders
  • Green plastic bases for all figures
  • A5 Black Powder rulebook
  • 36-page American Civil War background, scenario and supplemental rule booklet
  • Flag sheets for both Union and Confederate forces
  • Laser-cut MDF farm building
  • Laser-cut MDF Snake fences
  • Six D6 dice
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