Sunday 11 June 2023

A sunny afternoon so time for a book review - Muskets and Springfields from Helion & Co.

I didn’t think I would like this set of rules as the focus is on big battles on small tables, whereas it won’t have escaped anybody’s attention who follows this blog that I prefer big battles on big tables! Nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised.

The latest in the Helion Wargames series is ‘Muskets and Springfields - Wargaming the American Civil War 1861-1865’ by Nigel Emsen. These rules are aimed at big games with players commanding a corps-sized force, and where the basic unit represents a brigade. The rules are recommend a 6’ x 4’ table and use a grid system for moving and shooting which keeps things neat.

These innovative and original rules are card driven (which I like) and quite straightforward and easy to follow, are well laid out, and contain everything one would normally expect to find, such as army structure, morale, inflicting and recording losses, melee, quick reference sheets and even an Army Builder and so forth. Everything is explained clearly and some useful colour diagrams help players understand clearly what they can and cannot do. Overall the rule system is actually very simple and provides the basis for some challenging games.

There are also six useful scenarios, including First Manassas, Shiloh, Cedar Mountain and the obligatory Gettysburg, days one, two and three. I have to say that these all look really promising. I normally wargame in 28mm on a 14’ x 6’ table but I did set up a small game to run through the systems in practice (I don’t own any ACW armies but substituted my Crimean War collection), and got a good an idea on how the mechanics worked, and was quite happy with an engaging and enjoyable hour testing the rules.

The scenarios are all accompanied by some very colourful maps and suggestions for orders of battle, and throughout the book has numerous colour images of ACW battles from several sources; obviously the author’s collection of 1/72 scale Airfix figures but also images of 10mm armies in action courtesy of Pendraken Miniatures.

So, if you are an experienced ACW wargamer wishing to try something different to ACW rules already out there, or just want to dip your toe into the period without buying thousands of miniatures these rules are worth considering.

ISBN 978-1-804512-91-3 Softback, 80 pages.


  1. You said Airfix figures. I bought the book. I curse you Sir!

  2. Colin, Thank you for your kind review. You can scale to your 14' tables :) just adjust the grids to what works for your enjoyment. Nigel.

  3. @Matt.. I even have a copy of the Airfix ACW book guide

  4. Colin, did you actually read these rules?

  5. Jonathan, yes I have read them! 🤔😏 I guess you do t like them.but rules are like Marmite. I like Marmite. Thanks for following the blog and your comments. Colin

    1. Well, rules may be like marmite. Still, these left an unpleasant taste.