Unboxing: Warlord Epic Battles ACW Starter Set (Deluxe Preorder)

Today I finally got my deluxe pre-order edition of Warlord Games’s new hot game — Epic Battle American Civil War (ACW). Its not actually a new game, though, just mini miniatures for an existing game in a smaller scale than Warlord usually sells. If you’re new to wargaming, this may sound ridiculous, but actually its a really big deal. While many gamers already play large-scale battles with small-scale miniatures, they almost always have to play with metal models that are fragile, heavy, and often expensive. These new models from Warlord are the first small-scale (around 13mm) ACW miniatures I have seen in hard plastic, and boy are they nice. So lets take a look at this box set and see what I got.

Here is the box. It is an absolute monster. I haven’t weighed it, but I’d guess my deluxe edition weighs around 12 pounds or so. It’s certainly one of the largest wargame starter boxes I’ve ever owned. As soon as I saw the box artwork I couldn’t help but start humming The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Feel free to hum along with me as we unbox this beast.

Glory hallelujah! The box is overflowing with plastic! Even though I’ve already watched several unboxings on Youtube, I was still pretty shocked with how packed the box is. That said, my deluxe version has extra MDF terrain in it, which has increased the box’s density quite a bit. Still, even without the extra stuff, its still very impressive.

Here are the included books that come with all starter boxes. There is a small A5 sized version of the Black Powder rules, which I believe is the exact same as my full sized version (but smaller!). Also included is a decently-sized booklet with some background about the ACW, special rules for Black Powder, and some battle scenarios. It seems like most of the content in this booklet is copied directly from the Glory Hallelujah supplement, which is disappointing since I own it already (though good for people who don’t). I think some of the battles are ripped straight from the supplement as well, though I noticed some new ones. Unusually, it seems like only a couple of the battles can be played using the contents of the box.

My copy came with a signed copy of Glory Hallelujah, but since I own it already, my friend who I’m sharing the box contents with will probably claim it. Very good supplement, probably one of the best wargame supplements I own. Highly recommend it if you are interested in this playing Black Powder ACW.

You were probably thinking, “Why did he show us the books first, we want to see the models!” Ok, I admit I’m a bit of a tease. Anyway, here you go. Look at how much plastic is stacked here! Its a mountain of blue soldiers! This is only half of what you get in the box, not including bases.

One sprue contains enough models for an entire regiment, plus cannon and commander. If you were buying plastic 28mm models, that would be less than you get for an entire $30 box. This starter contains 24 of these sprues – you do the math. Also, in case it wasn’t obvious from the picture about, the Union and Confederate sprues are exactly the same. I know that this has been a point of contention with many ACW history nerds (i.e. the target audience of the game), but I think for the price its hard to complain.

Here is a closer look at one of the sprues. I was really amazed at how much detail thhe models have considering their small size (lots of beards!). Unlike most miniatures, they come clumped together in groups of 10. I’m hoping that this makes them easier to paint. Also, a really good tip that I read from another blogger is to prime and paint these minis right on the sprue. I think I will probably cut out the side bits first though.

Heres a view of the commander, cannon, and command company. I read someone on social media complain about the number of spokes on the cannon wheels, but that is literally the last thing I would complain about them (though there really isn’t much). Its unfortunate that so many commanders will be identical, though you can probably buy other sculpts from other companies. Also, in Black Powder, you usually use one commander for every three or four regiments, so there will plenty of extras that don’t see much play. Cannons, on the other hand, can (and should) be fielded in batteries of multiple models, so having extras will be good.

Here are some of the base sprues. They have holes in them, so no need to manually center the models when gluing them. Also, I’ve noticed that the models are designed so that they cover all the extra holes, so you don’t need to fill them. I’m curious if future releases will do this as well.

With my early preorder, I received two bonus generals. They are not made from hard plastic, but rather a soft resin material. While they have plenty of flash to clean (like all resin models), they are nicely detailed. Nothing to really complain about, other than I think the Lee miniature’s pose is much more interesting than the Meade one.

This is the MDF terrain that comes with all starter boxes. It has a couple houses and a fence (its there, trust me). It seems nice, though definitely not neccesary to play the game.

My deluxe edition came with some additional MDF terrain, including these houses and barn. My hometown in the US has these exact kinds of farmhouses, including Dutch-style barns. Again, they look nice but will have almost not impact on gameplay.

The other bonus terrain pack contains some buildings from Gettysburg. I have visited Gettysburg several times when I was young, but I honestly don’t remember seeing them. These is by far the heaviest terrain pack in the box and contains several pieces of MDF board.

The box includes small sheets of little flags to add to the command companies. To be honest, I was a little disappointed with these. The Union sheet seems to have a lot less flags, and 1/3 of them are for Iron Brigade and zoaves. There are also cavalry flags, even though there are no cavalry models included. I’m very happy to see the 54th Massachusetts on here and I will definitely be painting up a black regiment or two.

Lastly there is a small bag of six-sided dice included. Unlike many wargames, Black can be played with just six dice, but usually more are used to keep track of unit morale. Though my dice were white, I’ve seen other unboxings with different colors. Not that it really matters though, since most people are just going to throw these into their pre-existing big pile o’ dice.

My deluxe preorder came with additional boxes of Union and Confederate infantry. As you can see, it is three sprues of infantry with bases. The infantry models are the same generic ones that are included in the starter box. There is also a sheet of flags which is identical to the one in the starter.

So thats all thats inside the box! The non-preorder non-deluxe version is basically the same, but without the extra generals, terrain, and Glory Hallelujah supplement book. Still, it is really a good deal since you can already play decent-sized battles just with the base contents. If you choose to use three bases for a regiment (which we will probably do) instead of the recommended five, then you can form additional brigades and play even larger battles. I think playing with three bases to a unit will also make maneuvering much easier on a standard 4′ x 6′ table.

As far as negatives go, it would have been really nice for some variation between Union and Confederate models. Cavalry would have been great too, though they were not used as much in ACW battles. Honestly, I think the MDF terrain is not neccessary, and removing it could have reduced the price. The included pamplet is nice, especially for new players, but I wish there was more original content included in it instead of just copy/pasting from Glory Hallelujah. Also, it would have been really nice the resin generals were included in ALL copies of the starter set, like most Warlord games starters.

Those minor quibbles aside, this is a great box set. It is almost certainly the best way to get into Black Powder and other gunpowder-era rank-and-file historical wargames. In my opinion, the greatest thing about this set is that it is going to make a niche wargaming genre much more accessible to many more gamers. Hopefully, Warlord will continue to expand this range and release ranges covering other conflicts.

(Yes, I am aware of the wave 2 and 3 releases. I, like many, have mixed feelings about their pricing. I may write a blog post about this topic in the near future)

What do you think about Warlord’s Epic Battles ACW? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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