Browse by Series/Type
Browse Departments
Browse Designers
Online Resources

Iron and Oak

DESIGNER: James M. Day
DEVELOPER: Chris Janiec
ART DIRECTOR: Rodger B. MacGowan MAP and COUNTER ART: Charles Kibler
PRODUCERS: Gene Billingsley, Tony Curtis, Andy Lewis, Rodger MacGowan, Mark Simonitch
Price: $59.00


Iron & Oak

Your browser may not support display of this image.

Ship-to-Ship Combat during the American Civil War



A black plume of smoke from coal-fired boilers and the Yankee ensign hoisted aloft are squarely in your sights. Standing with your officers on the casement roof, you are tracking the progress of the monitor as she steams toward your ship leaving little doubt that there will be a mighty fight to control the river. Your ship is all that stands before a Union passage.

Your browser may not support display of this image.Climbing down to the gun deck you order your ironclad cleared for action, then take your position in the pilothouse. Armored port shutters are triced up. Your gun crews strain to ram home the 7 inch rifle bolts you hope will pierce the monitor’s turret, or at least jam it in place. You have seen the bolts slam into those turrets and bounce away many times before. You know the Yankee gunners have brought up the huge solid shot with the winches from the magazines for the monitor’s two Dahlgren smoothbores. Most of your men have never been on a ship before they volunteered for your command, but they know how to lay guns on target.

There are shouted commands all around. The gun crews quickly pull together to run out the Brooke Rifles. Gun captains hold the lanyards ready, preparing to hook to the percussion locks as the enemy moves into range. Now there is only the sound of the droning engines and the feel of the roll and pitch as the helmsman tries to correct the wallowing. Your ironclad steams on. You cannot hope to match the agility and speed of the monitor, but you know the strength of your ironclad’s armor. You have faith in iron & oak.


Iron & Oak is game of ship-to-ship combat set during the American Civil War. As a tactical representation of naval warfare, each of the ships is accurately modeled for offensive capability including gunnery, ramming and spar torpedoes; for defensive capability including damage and five distinct armored or wooden hit locations; and for maneuverability, crew size and draft.

You command 70 famous ships of the era, including the Union: Onondaga, Tecumseh, Winnebago, Monitor, Osage, Minnesota, Brooklyn, Hartford, Essex, Carondolet, Kearsarge, Ossipee, Queen of the West, Iroquois, Spuyten Duyvil; and the Confederate: Tennessee, Virginia, Atlanta, Palmetto State, Arkansas, Albemarle, Alabama, Florida, General Beauregard, Sumter; and many more.

Your browser may not support display of this image.Many of the 14 scenarios, in this easy to learn game, are playable in an hour or less. Included are 13 historical and 1 hypothetical engagements featuring Hampton Roads, Mobile Bay, Trent’s Reach, Wassaw Sound, the duel between Alabama and the Kearsarge, and the saga of the Arkansas, which may be played as three individual scenarios or as a linked mini-campaign.

In addition, forts bristling with guns make their appearance to challenge the will of the ship captains. If that was not enough to heat things up, scenario based optional rules add a few interesting ‘what if’ situations to expand on play.

If you are interested in commanding your own fleet, Iron & Oakincludes a standalone campaign module where player selected forces fight it out in the many rivers, bays, inlets and costal areas. The campaign game recreates the brown water actions, typical of the period, in a series of randomly generated battles. As play progresses, the players do not know the exact length of the campaign or the specific mix of the battles. Players must not only manage the unfolding battles, but must also strategically allocate resources and repair and refits their ships. The 16 card Navy Yard deck is used to plot a course through and influence the challenges of the campaigns.

Two or more players battle it out on an 11’ x 17” map that features an area movement grid. This simple approach controls ship movement as well as all combat action. Gone are the long periods of inaction, typical of ACW tactical naval games, as these early steam-era ships struggled to maneuver into battle.

Your browser may not support display of this image.This innovative game system places the emphasis on quick action and tactical decision making. The 50 Action Cards are used to assist and enhance play, not drive it. Each time you battle it out, whether in a scenario or campaign game, the action unfolds in a very different manner. Do you wish to employ hot shot or incendiary shells? Is now the best time to rapid fire or is it wise to maneuver and ram? Should you allocate part of the crew as a repair party? Is that enemy ship going to maneuver into your torpedo (mine) field? These and many other possibilities exist through the play of the action cards. Or, you may decide to not play any action cards at all and just maneuver and shoot. You control how and when the action will unfold.

At its core Iron & Oak is a naval simulation. It accurately models the close-range slugging matches typical of the period. You have the opportunity to play out the various battles to their conclusion. Will history repeat itself, or will a new account be written? Will the Monitor’s 11” Dahlgren smoothbores blast through Virginia’s armor plating or will their battle again end in a stalemate? Will the powerful Tennessee win out against Admiral David Farragut’s Union fleet or again fall to his superior numbers? Will the Atlanta defeat the two Union monitors in kind or again slip aground and strike her colors. This time, you get to determine the outcome. You are not bound by history’s stories.


Game Features

TIME SCALE 1 to 15 minutes per turn
MAP SCALE grid-based area movement

individual ships and fort batteries


Customer Reviews
# of Ratings: 9
1. on 3/23/2014, said:
I've played this game 5 times already. Three scenarios in less than 3 hours. We had a blast. Is it a real-time simulation of naval warfare? No. Is it a fun game that gives you enough meat on the bones to appreciate the flavor of the period? Yes. If you want a simulation, get a computer game or something where you can plot what gun crew #5 is doing between 1314 and 1315 hours. If you want a fun game, this is it.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(7 people found this comment helpful, 3 did not)
2. on 3/8/2014, said:
The more I play this the better it gets. Each game is very different and the system builds an exciting story. Sometimes games are very quick (an early successful ram attack will do it) other times more drawn out but it plays very true to the period.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(4 people found this comment helpful, 2 did not)
3. on 3/8/2014, said:
As someone new to war board games, and a huge Civil War buff, I highly enjoy this game. It's vey addictive and keeps you coming back for more. The only criticism I can make, is that some of the rules seem to be a tab bit ambiguous, but nothing that one can not work with.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(6 people found this comment helpful, 2 did not)
4. on 2/6/2014, said:
Fun bit of narrative randomness.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(1 people found this comment helpful, 8 did not)
5. on 8/7/2013, said:
I am a fan of Naval Games generally especially the Ironclad and WWI eras, and have been playing for several years. I read the reviews of this game in advance and they vary depending on the reviewers preferences. I bought it to form my own opinion. I play and love Ironclads, have recently bought and am playing Steam and Steel (wargaming rules)and have been comparing them with Iron and Oak. Although the movement mechanism is based on big areas rather than the hexes we all know and love, the rules still allow for close in combat and 'crossing the T' etc that are so familiar to Naval gamers. The system works on opposed dice rolls - ie everything a player want s to do will involve rolling a number of dice and the opponent rolling dice. The re are the usual modifiers for damage advantages and disadvantages, and additional variations are introduced by the play of cards (players have a limited number of these from the start of the game they are not replenished). The highest dice determines the success / failure of the event. This sounds like it is all dice based, but the number and type of dice strongly affect the statistical chance of an event occurring or failing. The mechanism is simple to pick up, and once you have the hang of it being a little unusual (not a failing, just different from the norm) this gives a fast, elegant, and playable game. I prefer 'plan view' counters, whereas those provided are elevation views, but they still look the part. There are a generous number of attractive ship cards on which to record damage (with counters), but there is definitely scope for an expansion set. There are a good range of scenarios, and an interesting and well set out Campaign system played over a number of 'random' scenarios, with repairs and crew changes between etc. Having got used to the system I can say that a) I really like this game. b) The outcomes have the right feel to them. Ironclads hammer away at one another with little effect until something gives, and wooden ships go down fairly quickly to big guns that hit. Don't buy this game if you likes a lot of detail on angles and firing each gun with lots of modifiers, and have the view that all games should be on hexes. Do buy the game if you want something that plays simply, and lets you finish a several ship game in an hour or two with what seems the right sort of outcome. I would have given it five stars, but some rules could be a little clearer, and as I say, I prefer the plan view counters of ships, but these are minor issues. Geoff Curran
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(11 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not)
6. on 5/21/2013, said:
After being a huge fan of Ironclads, I wasn't sure how I would take to this, but I like it a lot. It doesn't have the bells and whistles that Ironclads has, but it offers enough to be fun and enjoyable. My take is that if you don't enjoy a game because it doesn't meet your expectations, maybe the issue isn't the game? Just a thought.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(5 people found this comment helpful, 7 did not)
7. on 5/12/2013, said:
Being an avid Civil War buff, I am deeply disappointed in this game. It is way too simplistic. But it then overcomplicates the supposed simple mechanics of movement with dice rolls, card draws, etc. All of the mechanics are distorted in this way. I cannot see any way one could explore Civil War naval situations and tactics with this game. Its components are not even attractive. So I won't be using the board or counters in other games. I'm sure some folks will like it for the competition and "ease of play" (?). But not me. It's way too simplistic, abstract and limited. I would not give this game away to anyone because I wouldn't want to give them the false impression that they might learning anything about the Civil War at sea or on the rivers. (Never mind the development of ironclads) I have been a fan of GMT games for years. They have had consistently good even great games, beautifully rendered components, and excellent customer service! I preordered this game more than 2 years ago, so I should have paid more attention to its development by reading the draft rules when they were posted. If I had read them, I would have cancelled my order.
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(11 people found this comment helpful, 15 did not)
8. on 5/5/2013, said:
Not being a fan of American Civil Naval actions I had my doubts about this game. After the first few turns we had the rules down and things got exciting! If you are a fan I highly reccomend this game. If not, try it any way, it's pretty fun!
Was this comment helpful? yes no
(8 people found this comment helpful, 4 did not)
Showing comments 1-8 of 8