DIXIE: First Bull Run - Setup Variant

adapted by Greg Nichols

When I play First Bull Run with one of my hard-core gaming friends, we usually use the Battle Points method (250-300 BP's) to build competitive Battle Decks. If I'm playing with a casual gamer or non-gamer, then randomly dealt Battle Decks are often used. But as anyone who's ever played with randomly dealt Battle Decks can attest, these games can be wildly uneven affairs. Recently, I came across a clever variant written for Dixie:Shiloh by Steffan O'Sullivan and I decided to put my limited math skills to the test and devise a similar variant for my beloved 1st Bull Run. This variant is a fun alternative to the other two Battle Deck building methods and should retain the minor historical flavor that DIXIE designer Tom Dalgliesh intended. Finally, this variant requires two or more Dixie Decks (a complete set is best) and provides 30 cards to each player for a game played in the basic layout (3 positions each and reserves).
1.0 Separation
Choose sides. Then each player separates their CSA or USA deck into six decks consisting of the individual card types (i.e. one deck each, per side for Generals, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Terrain, and Specials).
2.0 Secret Selection
Each player secretly selects three cards from any of the six types to be the foundation of his/her battle deck. Got a favorite General? Fond of high combat value Infantry? Want to make sure you get a particular Special card? This is your best opportunity to put what you want most in your battle deck. When selected, place the three cards face down to form a Battle Deck.
3.0 Shuffle
Each player must now thoroughly shuffle each of their six decks. Lay them out in front of you in a fashion that you can remember (e.g. GI CATS is a useful acronym). You could also develop a small player aid for this or just use scraps of paper to indicate card types.
4.0 Random Draw
Each player will now randomly draw (no peeking!) the following card amounts and add them face down to their respective Battle Decks:

Player  Gen.  Inf.  Cav.  Art.  Ter.  Spc.

CSA      4     11     1      3       2      3

USA      4     14     -       3       1      2

5.0 Random Selection
Each player randomly selects three cards from any of the six card types. A player might decide to take 3 Specials or 2 Infantry and 1 Artillery etc. Any combination of three cards is acceptable and once drawn (again, no peeking!) they are added face down to the player's Battle Deck.
6.0 Final Shuffle
Now that each player has a complete 30 card Battle Deck, shuffle it thoroughly and hand it to your opponent for a fairness cut before mustering out the 18 USA and 15 CSA cards. That's it!
Play begins as dictated by the basic rules.
Notes on Math
The Secret Selection and Random Selection are each 10% of a Battle Deck. The Random Draw is the other 80%. Since each side has a potential 100 cards to draw from, the percentages are straight forward (e.g. 17 USA Generals equals 17% of the total deck). I tried to make the Random Draw reflect the percentage of each card type found in a complete Dixie Deck (with minor fudging to compensate for the other 20% of the Battle Deck cards). Hopefully, this variant provides both choice and randomness for many unique and varied games of Dixie:1st Bull Run. Enjoy!

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Page Last Updated: 4/10/03