Bull Run

(4 customer reviews)


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Bull Run:  The Great Skedaddle

Bull Run is a tense Military Strategy Board Game where players lead new, green armies in this first major battle of the American Civil War.

Union general McDowell developed a brilliant plan to launch a surprise flanking attack. Confederate general Beauregard was able to reinforce with Johnston’s army from the valley by rail. Many expected this to be the only battle needed to put down the rebellion. Instead, panic gripped both armies of green troops as they closed for combat. This quickly escalated into a full on rout all the way back to Washington, becoming known as “The Great Skedaddle”.


• Huge map (38” x 24”) covers the extended area, so you can explore many different possible strategies to the battle.
• This map also covers the area fought over in Second Bull Run, to allow for a Add-On, expansion scenario.
• Hardwood, Kriegsspiel style blocks for Fog-of-War.
• Fast play time.
• Tremendous Replayability.
• Excellent for Solitaire play.

Instead of giving players complete control of their units and perfect intell, this system focuses on realistic command and logistical limitations.  In this chaotic and uncertain environment, you must learn to adapt your plans to accomplish your objectives.  

This highly acclaimed rules system is based on real combat data, officer experience and training principles from the era:  Kriegsspiel.  It is used to train officers in the US military and in military academies around the world.


Playing Time:  1-2 hours
Scale: 16,000:1
Complexity: Low wargame
Solitaire Suitability: High
Players: 1-4
Age: 12+

Components List

  • Main Rulebook
  • Scenario rules & Setup
  • Measuring scale card
  • Map, 38″ x 24″.  Huge!
  • Hardwood blocks with custom stickers (20 Fed, 21 Confed long blocks)

Some Assembly Required

Learn more about the Pub Battles system.


Get the No Block Version and save by reusing the same Standard Blocks for all of your battles.

Paper maps are folded in a game box.

Canvas maps are rolled in tubes.

Real maps of the period were printed on canvas.  This authentic, premium map is tough, durable and beautiful.  Printed on 100 year, museum quality, archival canvas.  It is water resistant, spill proof and lays flat and smooth.  Truly a work of art.  




Gamer’s Assessment

Both armies here are very fragile.  This makes maneuver before the battle critical.  You have to be very selective as to when and where you decide to fight.  It is a tough situation for both sides.     

All the crazy colors can be confusing at times but it’s not too bad.  That’s what the real battle was like!       



Additional information

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A
Set Options

Stickers Only, Paper Map, No Blocks, Paper Map, Canvas Map, Canvas Map & Block Set

4 reviews for Bull Run

  1. Mike Strand

    High marks on the map! It is clear, and can be read without confusion, yet rewards careful study.

  2. Steve Carr (verified owner)

    You really hit it out of the park with the new Bull Run game. Best Bull Run game I have played. The map is superb. The game captures the flavor of the battle perfectly. I have made one small addition for historical flavor: I made one of the Confederate detachments Hampton’s Legion with similar rules as Stewart’s cavalry. Thanks again for all your work. Can’t wait for Chancellorsville.

  3. Tom Dempsey (verified owner)

    This is one of the most interesting games in the Pub Battles series. It is also one of the only games addressing Bull Run to successfully capture the chaos and confusion that attended this first major battle of the American Civil War. It features a superb map (a hallmark of the Pub Battles series) and a visually compelling set of blocks and labels that have a significant impact on the play of the game.

    Starting with the map, it is one of the most impressive cartographic works of art in the Pub Battles series. It is not a technically correct, surveyed topographical map, as is the standard in the hobby. Rather, it is a product of contemporary maps prepared by military cartographers in each army. These professional military engineers produced maps that identified key terrain, significant high ground, water obstacles and areas of forest and other vegetation that had significance for maneuver, fields of fire, and other aspects of civil war combat. The map covers all of the areas along, north, and south of Bull Run creek that affected a widely distributed battle, again covering far more of the campaigning area than earlier games of the battle.

    The units – blocks and labels – also represent a unique departure in Pub Battles games, and by their very nature help to capture much of what made Bull Run such a unique battle. The blocks and labels to not identify the two opposing sides, as is the case with other pub battles games. The blocks are a variety of colors, as are the labels: blue, grey, green, white, red, among others. No single color predominates, nor is any particular color characteristic of one side or the other. This is a deliberate design feature of the game, and reflects the fact that neither side had a standard uniform at this point in the war. Units were raised and equipped locally, with uniforms frequently designed by prominent local actors, or by the units themselves. The result was a chaotic mix of uniforms on the battlefield, making it almost impossible to identify friend from foe simply by observation, especially at a distance.

    You will experience the results of this throughout each game, no matter how familiar you become with the orders of battle on each side. Glancing at the map at any point during the battle will confuse more than it explains. It will be difficult to follow the development of the fight, and you will frequently lose track of which units are which, even in your own army. You can, of course, pick up and examine your own blocks any time you like, but you will be surprised at how difficult it is to make sense of things, even so. Welcome to Army Command at Bull Run.

    Another really unique feature of this game is the “Militia” status of almost all of the engaged forces. There are only two non-Militia units in the game, both of them in the Southern armies: Jackson’s infantry brigade, and Stuart’s cavalry command. This feature accurately captures the fact that the armies at this point in the conflict were largely untrained, with inexperienced leaders at every level. As you will quickly find, when both sides are made up pretty much entirely of militia, combat becomes bloody and unpredictable. It will be much harder to manage your losses than is the case in other Pub Battles games, and every attack will become something of a “crap shoot.”

    Some of the most interesting games you play will be your very first ones, cold, right out of the package. The mixed colors and lack of familiarity with the ground will create the same confusion and uncertainty experienced by the actual commanders. The militia status of both sides will make for unpredictable combat results and rapidly shifting tides of battle. Exactly what occurred historically.

    Once you have played through several times, the game changes pretty dramatically. The fragile nature of the armies makes for much more careful, even conservative, play. The widely distributed battlefield, much like Antietam, means that decisions to commit forces involve significant lead times. Decisions to cross Bull Run tend to be irrevocable, compartmentalizing the fight. Disaster on one part of the field can be accompanied by dramatic successes elsewhere. ,

  4. Dave Dugas (verified owner)

    Good review, this is what I experienced with the great unique game. It is a very subtle, simple system but results in highly accurate results…a hallmark of the Pub Battles games. A “must have” if you love wargames.

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