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  • Writer's pictureMike at SBS

Dawn of Iron - Capture the Flag Battlereport

Over the weekend I ran a demo game for Dawn of Iron to test things out ahead of sending the book to the publishers next week. I threw together all the ships that I had, some terrain, and headed to my semi-local club. I wasn't sure how many players there would be and I only had one sea mat to use as well, so I hit on an idea to run a Capture the Flag style game. It was fun and I highly recommend it if you want to run your own demo as it forces the players to get moving and take risks in order to win.

Battlefield Setup

I used a large 6x4 table and placed an island in opposite corners. The islands were surrounded by at least 12"/30cm all around. I placed a small dock pointing directly to the corner of the table as a marker.


Set a Tonnage Points limit for players. In our game we went with 75-80 points per player, but you might want to limit this to 20 or 30, and graduate players up using the optional rules below instead.

Placing Ships

Trace a line between the corners that do not have home base islands. Roll a die for each side. The side with the lowest result choses a ship from their side to deploy behind and no closer than 4"/10cm from that line on their half of the table, followed by one from the opposing side, and so on until all ships have been placed.

First Turn

The side that had the highest result after the dice roll for placing ships has the first turn.

Capturing the Flag

If your ship passes the enemy's dock marker and rounds their island, you could steal the flag as a free action (you do not need to dock or anything, just sail past the dock). You then need to return to your own island and perform the same maneuver to score a point. The flag is then returned to the enemy island and play continues. If your ship is sunk carrying the flag, it is returned to the enemy's island.

Victory Conditions

Set a time with your players. When that time runs out, the side with the highest score wins.

Recycling Players

If a player is eliminated, they can return their ship to their dock and reenter play in the following turn.

Optional Rules


Each player starts with a low tonnage points value, say about 20-30 points. During the game, if your team sinks an enemy ship, all of that team's captains gain +5 points to their Tonnage Limit, which they can use for Refitting (see below).

Refitting Ships

Every time you are forcibly relocated or voluntarily sail to your home dock, you have the option to spend your Activation to upgrade your ship. You can trade in their vessel for another of equal or lesser value than their current one, and purchase upgrade cards. Once refitted, you can rejoin the fight.

Shore Batteries

I deployed some batteries but opted not to use them. Feel free to protect your flags with some simple shore batteries, rated as Light Guns with an effective range of 24"/60cm. The Battery can shoot only in its Fore Arc with a rate of fire of 4.

Our Battle

For our battle we didn't use the Bounty and Refitting rules, but instead opted to take larger fleets of two or more ships each. On the Confederate side, Captain Mike G took the CSS Arkansas and Gaines. Andrew M backed those heavy hitters with a ram fleet of CSS General Beauregard, Colonel Lovell, General Van Dorn, and General Sumter. On the Federal Side, Damian C took the USS Hartford and Essex into battle, while I took the USS Chickasaw and US Ram Switzerland (represented here by a model of the US Ram Queen of the West). The Union won the dice off and both sides kept their ironclads back to cover the home islands, ceding the center of the board to the timber and cotton clads. With that, the battle was on!

Above: First turn, with the USS Hartford and US Ram Switzerland charging into the center of the field

Above: The Confederates respond, with an all-out charge of their ram fleet

Above: USS Hartford sails past a small island

Above: US Ram Switzerland is supported by USS Essex as they steam across open water

Above: CSS General Van Dorn navigates away from some exposed rocks and into a flanking position

Above: The USS Chickasaw holds back to cover the Union home base. While scary, her 11" Dahlgrens are unable to find target at extreme ranges

Above: The battlefield after the initial moves

Above: USS Hartford takes some fire from the rebel rams, but presses on

Above: CSS General Beauregard comes under intense fire, but manages to avoid any damage

Above: The CSS Colonel Lovell charge forward to join General Beauregard, closing the gap to their Union targets

Above: Again the rebel rams avoid damage, despite withering fire and broadsides from USS Hartford

Above: The Chickasaw moves to counter the rebel rams sneaking in from the flank

Above: The Chickasaw neutralizes the CSS General Sumter with her 11" Dahlgrens

Above: Meanwhile on the other flank, the CSS Arkansas moves to intercept US Ram Switzerland. Like her rebel opposites, the Federal ram manages to avoid damage, even at close range. The ram ends up colliding with the Arkansas, but fails to deal her victim any damage

Above: The battlefield at the mid-point of the fight

Above: The Rebel rams severely damage the Hartford as they attempt to slip by to capture the Federal flag

Above: The Switzerland and Arkansas are entangled, which causes the CSS Gaines to collide with the ram. The damage to the federal boat is severe and she begins to sink

Above: The Arkansas frees herself from the sinking wreck of the Switzerland, however the Gaines is trapped and takes fire from the USS Essex passing at her stern

Above: Combined fire from the Hartford and the Chickasaw finally sinks the General Beauregard

Above: Badly damaged, the Hartford avoids some rocky shoals

Above: The Union has pressed deep into rebel waters

Above: The Chickasaw continues to prowl the waters keeping the rebel rams in check

Above: With the rebel ships tied up on the flanks, the USS Essex steams around the Confederate home base

Above: The Essex snags the rebel flag as she steams past the dock.

Above: Essex takes fire from the Gaines and Arkansas as she rounds the corner of the island on her way home

Above: With the rebel ram fleet destroyed, the Chickasaw maneuvers around the home island, picking up speed to intercept and escort the Essex home

Above: The Essex delivers a fatal broadside into the Gaines as she sails past

Above: After some maneuvering and evasive action, the Arkansas finally succumbs to the intense firepower of the Chickasaw, ending confederate resistance and allowing the Essex to return home with the rebel rag! A Union victory.

The battle was fought over the course of a few hours at our local club. Many thanks goes out to the players who jumped into the captain's chair and to TCOW for hosting us.

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1 Comment

Vol Williams
Vol Williams
Nov 12, 2022

Great AAR! The models and terrain are fantastic!


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