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Bottled Ship Builder

Blockade Runner


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This is a project I decided to take on regarding the attack on Fort Fisher and the USS blockade against the South. Blockade Runner is a board game I decided to build for our family to play this Christmas. The idea is the South have to get by the blockade set up by the North. The North have some ironclads, raiders, and some gunboats. The South have specially designed blockade runners, gunboats, and a few supply ships to aid the troops.


Eventually I'll model a few ships in light-bulbs. I love the lines of the vessels of this particular period of naval history.


One would ask to what extent during this horrific conflict and extensively large loss of life; the stories of which I cannot fathom came an outcome at what cost? I have read various books on this conflict and my heart bleeds when I see the graphics of what transpired. War is ugly! The board-game is a reminder of history and least we never forget the sacrifice on both sides!


Fist up is my reference book by Mr. Gibbons front and back.





Next two pics are the campaign map and USS ships are built. I have to start on the Souths vessels next!






More to come ... Jeff



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  • 1 month later...

I had a chance to start working some more on my board game over Christmas. It’s amazing how fiddly working at such a small scale can be. Sometimes; I‘d cut a part only to have it blow away, fly away, or fall someplace on the floor never to be seen again.


The first ship to carry the name Savannah, this fifty-three-ton schooner was converted to an Atlantic Coast privateer after hostilities began in 1861. The ship was lightly armed with single eighteen-pounder cannon, of War of 1812 (1812-15) vintage, which had been converted into a rifled gun. The privateer Savannah took one merchant ship as a prize of war before being captured by the brigadier USS Perry after two weeks of service.


Displacement: 53 Tons. Dimensions: 56 ft. long

Crew of 20










Being this ship is a board game marker; I took a lot of liberty with the rigging and color scheme. I also chose not to put any gunwales on and left a lot of the deck furniture off as well. This ship is a wild card in my game and is used to lure the Union blockade ships off of their post so the South can get their runners out to seas for necessary supplies etc.



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  • 3 weeks later...

American Civil War vessels hold a fond place in my memory because my very first scratch built model was of the USS Monitor. Made it from a scrap piece of 1 x 4 and a tin can with holes for two pieces of pipe for the turret, ballasted with another piece of pipe so the deck was almost awash. Took it to a pond and "re-enacted" a battle by tossing firecrackers, cherry bombs and M80s at it. It did not survive the bombardment. I was nine or ten.

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Remember the board game 'Wooden Ships, Iron Men'? I still have it! There was another that was pretty neat but I don't remember the name. Game pieces were red and  blue ship hulls to represent English/French/etc. and American and there were some white masts with sails that could be removed to represent loss due to action after the roll of dice.

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The other game was by Milton Bradley. It was called 'Broadside'. It was a lot of fun for a young boy that I was then. 'Wooden Ships, Iron Men' was by Avalon Hill if memory serves me.


Your game reminds me how advanced our nautical designers had become. It's pretty amazing when you think about it! The C.S.S Hunley was very impressive to say the least. I have always wanted to model it in some fashion. 

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There were several period "Running the Blockade" games that I've seen in books.  Most were published in Great Britain.  


Great game idea, Jeff.

To add some realism to your game, you can add the Whitworths guns that Ft. Fisher got from one blockade runner...similar to the mines on Broadside.

The Union blockaders were not aware that Ft. Fisher had acquired these guns whose range was 2.5 miles.  Twas a surprise for the Union ships & they

had to station ships out of range which aided the runners. 


Have a "bad coal" card.  Some runners could not get the high-grade anthracite coal & had to use low grade coal / peat/ oil-rags which dropped there speed.

Many were captured cause of bad coal.


A "yellow jack" card would be cool too.  Lays up the runner for 3 months time so no supplies from that ship.


Broadside is a great game.  "Take a shot" Broadside gets rowdy.  Players "take a shot" of rum when a mast is lost. 

Edited by Jim Goodwin
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Thanks Jim those are some excellent ideas. I have read about the bad coal and some runners actually threw cotton in the boilers when things got really desperate. I also want to weave in some spies and honey pot scenario's into the game as the aforementioned is something that I believe will make the game a lot more interesting. Lot's of research to do and so little time ... Jeff

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