Civil War OnLine

Rule Book 

Last modified June 19, 2018

This document provides the rules of the Civil War OnLine (CWOL) game. CWOL is divided into four game modules. The first module, Rolling of the Drums (ROTD), is the land warfare component of CWOL. The second module, Wood, Iron, Steam, and Canvas (WISC), is the naval warfare component of CWOL. The third module, Specie, Loans, and Greenbacks (SLAG), is the financial and economic component of CWOL. The fourth module, Constituents, Legislation, and Policy (CLAP), is the political component of CWOL. Each module has its own rules, which are linked from this document. This document contains the rules that apply to all four modules and establish the framework in which each module is played.

1. Nations and Players

1.1.  CWOL is a game played between two nations, the Union (or USA) and Confederacy (or CSA). Each player in the game is assigned to one of the two nations.
1.2.  Each side is composed of a number of states and territories. Each player is a citizen of exactly one state. Border states are part of both the Union and the Confederacy. The states are:
  • Union: Maine (ME), New Hampshire (NH), Vermont (VT), Massachusetts (MA), Rhode Island (RI), Connecticut (CT), New York (NY), New Jersey (NJ), Pennsylvania (PA), Delaware (DE), Ohio (OH), Michigan (MI), Indiana (IN), Illinois (IL), Wisconsin (WI), Minnesota (MN), Iowa (IA), Kansas (KS), Nebraska Territory (NE), Dakota Territory (DK)
  • Border: Maryland (MD), Kentucky (KY), Missouri (MO)
  • Confederate: Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Tennessee (TN), Alabama (AL), Mississippi (MS), Arkansas (AR), Louisiana (LA), Texas (TX)

Thus a player whose home state is (say) Indiana will necessarily be assigned to the Union nation, and one whose home state is (say) Georgia will be assigned to the Confederate nation, but a player whose home state is Kentucky could be assigned to either the Union or Confederate nation.
1.3.  The CWOL map contains cities and ports. Each city has a primary loyalty to one side; to the Union in the Northern states, to the Confederacy in the Southern states, to one or the other side in the border states varying from city to city. Those ports which are also cities have the same primary loyalty as the city. Two of the off-map ports which are not also cities have primary loyalty to the Confederacy: Ship Island and Dry Tortugas. The other off-map ports are in foreign countries and do not have a primary loyalty to either side. Each city, and the two off-map ports of Ship Island and Dry Tortugas, are controlled by one side or the other; control can change during the game. The other off-map ports are not controlled by either side at any point in the game.
1.4.  Each player in the game has both a background and a political affiliation. The background is either political or military; the political affiliation is either Republican or War Democrat for Union players, and either Confederate Nationalist or States Rights for Confederate players. A player's background and political affiliation are determined at game start, along with his or her side and home state. The way in which different events affect a player's score depend on that players background and political affiliation; see section N below. Players may not change backgrounds, political affiliations, sides, or home states during the game.
1.5.  Each player has a rank. All players start at the rank of Brigadier General, and may rise to the ranks of Major General, Lieutenant General, or General during the game. They also have a naval rank; all start at the rank of Captain, and can rise to Commodore or Rear Admiral during the game. Some players also hold political offices; see the CLAP rules for details.

2. Game Sequence

2.1.  CWOL is played as a series of six campaigns: Fall/Winter 1861/62, Spring/Summer 1862, Fall/Winter 1862/63, Spring/Summer 1863, Fall/Winter 1863/64, and Spring/Summer 1864. Each season is divided into 12 turns.  Normally turns will be run twice a week. There will be a week's pause in the game at the end of each campaign, and pauses for holidays as necessary during the game. [More details on turn schedules] A full game normally takes at most 41 weeks of game time - six campaigns of six weeks each plus five between-campaign one-week pauses.
At the start of each game there are three special turns; a regiment build turn, a unit build turn, and a deployment turn. Each state begins with a starting army and navy which is not as large as the army and navy that side actually fielded in fall 1861, or can afford. On the regiment build turn, state bloc governors can form regiments and batteries, units can be reassigned and players can change their passwords. Units can also be moved to strategic squares where a side wants to build NBs on the unit build turn (ask the GA for a manual move for this - it is required that the NB build be performed if a unit is moved.) On the unit build turn, each state can use those regiments to build additional units, and also build ships, headquarters units, and pontoon bridge trains, to complete its starting forces. Exception: RI, RG, RT, IC, and TR ships may not be built on the build turn; only FR, SL, and GB types can be. Also on the unit build turn, supplies and stores can be purchased, units can be reassigned, players can change their passwords, and units can be rebuilt and ships recrewed (though this is usually not necessary).  (At the moment fortifications can be built but only to level 1. Changes may be needed here.) At the end of these two turns, ministers receive updated ministry reports, but position reports are not sent (actually they might be). On the deployment turn, units can be moved according to the deployment turn move rules, using the deployment turn unit and ship orders forms. Also, units can be reassigned and players can change their passwords,but nothing more can be built. After the deployment turn, the first game turn is scheduled as turn 1 of the Fall/Winter 1861/62 campaign.

Complete Turn Sequence

3. Scoring for Sides and Victory Conditions

3.1.  Each nation has a morale score that tracks the will of the nation to continue the war. The score starts at 750 and varies between 0 and 1000. Winning battles and taking cities causes a nation's morale to rise; losing battles, losing cities, and taking casualties (even in winning battles) causes a nation's morale to fall. In addition, Confederate morale rises by 1 point per turn and Union morale falls by 1.5 points per turn. (Other events can also cause national morale to change (see the CLAP and SLAG rules for details). If a nation's morale falls to 0, the game ends and that nation loses.
3.2.  There is also an international opinion score that tracks the will of the European powers to support the Confederacy. The score starts at 500 and varies between 0 and 1000. If it rises to 1000, then the game ends in a Confederate victory as the major European powers recognize the Confederacy and enforce peace. The amount of financial and economic assistance the Confederacy can get in Europe also depends on the value of this score.
3.3.  If the game does not end early, then at the end of the sixth campaign, Spring/Summer 1864, the North holds a Presidential election. If Union morale is above 250 at the end of that campaign, then the Union wins; if Union moral is below or exactly equal to 250, then the Confederates win.

Details of Game Scoring

4. Scoring for Players and Individual Standings

4.1.  Each player has a score that tracks his or her personal accomplishments in the game. Players earn points for commanding units that win battles and capture cities. They lose points for commanding units that lose battles, lose cities, and take casualties. Players who command army and corps headquarters get points for the units that get supply and communications from their headquarters units. Players also get points for holding political ranks such as Congressman and Governor, or for serving in the national leadership. Other events can also cause a player's personal score to change. Players with military backgrounds get more points for military events, and players with political backgrounds get more points for political events. Political events affect different players differently depending on their political affiliation. For example, emancipation benefits Republican Union players but harms Democratic ones; a Confederate draft benefits Nationalist players but harms States Rights players. A chart showing the different events that can affect individual player scores will be forthcoming, and will be subject to change at the end of CWOL8.

Details of Individual Scoring

5. Player Behavior

5.1.  Each player is expected to respond to email from the leadership of his or her nation, and to officers whom the leadership may appoint to command over him, in a timely and responsive manner. Players who fail to do so may not receive command of units or ships. Players are strongly encouraged to notify their leaders if they must be temporarily absent from the game, and should expect to be temporarily replaced if they do not communicate with their government for several days or longer. 
5.2.  All players are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which does not disrupt the game or reduce the ability of other players to participate in the game. Disruptive and obnoxious behavior will not be tolerated and will result in removal from the game. Forging emails, or altering the content of forwarded emails without acknowledgement of the alterations, will normally result in removal from the game.
5.3.  Each player is expected to serve his or her nation loyally. It is against the rules of CWOL to purposefully act against the interests of one's nation. Violation of this rule will result in sanctions up to and including removal from the game.

Module rules:
ROTD Rules - land warfare module
WISC Rules - naval warfare module
SLAG Rules - economics and finance module
CLAP Rules - political module

Rules maintained by Stephen Schmidt: last modification date at top of page