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  • Writer's pictureMike at SBS

Year of the Forts!

Another year has passed in the blink of an eye! It was another busy one for Dawn of Iron. Forts and fortifications seem to be the one through line for all this year's battlepacks, stretching from the eastern coastline at Charleston to the inner reaches of the Mississippi river valley at Forts Henry and Donelson. But we did manage to sneak a few interesting features in here and there, such as submarines and solitaire rules. While I continue to develop the infantry side of things, there was still plenty to keep us all occupied!

The Battlepacks

After a light showing last year on the battlepacks side of things, I wanted to make up for some lost time this year in this space. As I mentioned above, this year's projects seemed to be all about forts.

This focus on forts likely has a lot to do with the ground forces rules I've been thinking about and developing. I'll be keen to loop back around to these battles once I have a working system for the ground elements, especially for places like Fort Donelson and Battery Wagner. However, there were a few that were entirely naval affairs, such as Fort Henry and Charleston Harbor. So there's an interesting variety of battles to explore this year.

Battlepacks: 2023

As you can see, there's a lot of content there, especially around New Orleans, which includes a whopping 42 ship cards! When you add in last year's battlepacks, these numbers definitely point to getting started on a second anthology...

Subs & Solo Play

Two of the battlepacks this year offer something a little different. The Strange Fish of Charleston Harbor takes a deep dive (if you'll pardon the pun) into ACW submarines. This brought the frequently requested HL Hunley into the game as well as some rules for operating these small torpedo craft. The scenario featured in this pack allows you to try and sink a target with one of these experimental craft, and I found testing it particularly exhilarating as I tried to both sink the target and escape to talk about it!

One thing I was surprised to learn was that the Union's USS Alligator was just as operational as the famous HL Hunley, though it never saw combat. It got me thinking about other experimental vessels during the war, which is certainly a space to watch in 2024!

Another often requested feature was a solitaire system. I started working on this last year, but after putting together so many one-sided ship vs. fort battles, I wanted to revisit the system I had created to try and simplify it and incorporate feedback from the community. In the end, the solitaire system is actually quite agnostic to the rules system you're playing, so go ahead and give it a try with other ACW or even other periods. If you do, please let me know how it goes!

Ship Models

I wanted to take a moment and highlight the indefatigable David Manley over at Longface Games who has been creating a tremendously large collection of ACW ships for 3d printing.

Even if you don't have a printer, David's models are available at a few print-on-demand services, so you can conveniently order your fleet and have it shipped directly to your theatre of operations. I'd argue that never before has there been a better time to get into American Civil War ironclads with the size of David's collection and that of Eastcoast Ironclads, among others. We're incredibly fortunate to have these modelers churn out 3d files for all the weird and wonderful ships of this era, so please support them if you can!


I'll do another write up about what I have planned for next year, but for now, you can be assured that it will include a few more ACW naval battles, experimental ships, and (hopefully) a second anthology compilation towards the middle or end of the year. But for now, I hope you have a happy holiday season and we'll catch you in the new year!

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