SQUARES - The Civil War Battle Game

A Strategy Game of Military Maneuvers and Tactics

for the do-it-yourself'er:

how to


SQUARES - The Civil War Battle Game

engineers at work
PLEASE READ the LEGAL CONDITIONS before you make your own game.

SQUARES - The Civil War Battle Game can be put together in almost any way you want; from whatever materials you can afford or chose to use. These instructions will provide you with guidelines on how to make the game for yourself. You are certainly free and even encouraged to be creative with your homemade version.

First of all the game consists of only two basic parts:

  1. a gameboard
  2. game pieces


The most important aspect of the gameboard is the layout and positioning of the squares and rectangles that make up the gameboard. Color and/or artistic style are secondary, and are left up to your own individual tastes and preferences.

Study the geometry of the gameboard carefully before you start.

The easiest way to make the gameboard is obviously just to redraw it on a piece of paper or other material of your choice. You can be as elaborate as you want with this, going as far as painting the gameboard on a hard surface.

However, to get that true classical finish to your gameboard I would suggest a different, slightly more challenging method; what I call the strip method. In this method you cut out strips of material (either paper, cardboard, or wood) in the proper shapes, color or paint them, and then piece them together in the proper pattern on some kind of sturdy backing. If using wood, I would suggest getting balsa wood strips, at least 1/8 inch in thickness. You will need the following number of specified shapes:

  • ten 1.5 x 1.5 inch squares (5 yellow, 5 natural)
  • ten 1.5 x 3 inch rectangles (2 light green, 2 medium green, 2 dark green, 2 yellow and 2 natural)
  • four 2.25 x 1.5 inch rectangles (2 yellow, 2 natural)
  • six 4.5 x 1.5 inch rectangles (3 yellow, 3 natural)
  • two 13.5 x 1.5 inch rectangles (1 blue, 1 gray)
natural color can be any tan, beige, white, or light wood stain color of your choice. It is called "natural" because the original SQUARES gameboards used natural varnish wood finish.

The dimensions given above can be modified to suit your specific tastes (larger or smaller), just remember to get all of the dimensions adjusted proportionally.

Once you have these pieces cut out (and if wood sanded smooth), and painted/colored, you need to paste them on some secure backing, like a thick posterboard, or hard pegboard. Draw the map pattern on the backing material in light pencil and fit the pieces together on the drawing before you start glueing. This is so you can trim any excess off the edges, or otherwise make adjustments to get the best fit, (don't worry about the pieces fitting together perfectly; unless you're a professional carpenter it's not going to happen).

Once you have a good fit go ahead and glue the pieces onto the backing. For paper or construction paper, I would recomend a light coating of paper cement, or a glue stick (paper doesn't have to be smothered in glue - it will just cause problems). For wood use a little dab or two of white glue. Make sure the sides are anchored before you start so that the pieces won't expand out during the glueing and drying process.

Once all the pieces are put down, cover the gameboard in wax paper and add weight to press the pieces together firmly (at least 10 pounds, or a foot high stack of magazines). Make sure the gameboard is sitting on a hard flat surface for the pressing process. Let the glue dry under the press for at least 24 hours.

After the glue has dried I would strongly recommend sealing the gameboard in some fashion. For paper, cardboard, or construction paper gameboards I would use the some clear plastic lamenation material (found at most departments stores, in the kitchen section). For wood, I would suggest a polyurethene spray coating, or two or three.

The Game Pieces,

Unfortunately, this is going to be harder. If you really want to make your own pieces, you will need to go to your local Hobby Store and get some materials and advice to cast your own plastic or metal miniatures.

Or you can do what I do; buy them already made.

So head down to your neighborhood Hobby Store anyway and find out what miniatures they have for sale. You can also use plastic miniatures but they are harder to find, especially the artillery pieces. In any case you will want to get 25mm or HO scaled miniatures (for the size gameboard we just made). You could also get the 54mm miniatures, but you would need to make a bigger gameboard (one in which the center squares were at least 2 inches on a side).

If your local store doesn't carry the miniatures you want or need, then you might try one of the following;

  • Scotty's Scale Soldiers; Bay City Michigan
  • Imex Civil War Figures (plastic miniatures); Brookville Florida
  • Musket Miniatures; Broomfield Colorado
  • The Toy Soldier Company; New York, New York

There is an alternative to miniatures. You can make the pieces out of wood blocks. You will need to get some wooden rods, either from a Hobby Store (in the model airplane section) or a hardware/lumber store; a square shaped rod, a triangular rod, and a circular rod (dow). Hard woods are generally better to work with then soft woods. I would advise against balsa wood.

Use the square rod to cut out cubes representing infantry. Use the triangular rod to cut out piece for cavalry (cut them to be the same length as infantry). Use the circular rod to cut out cylinders for artillery (again the same length as the infantry). Ideally the width (and length) should be 3/4 inch for the size of the gameboard described above. These dimensions can be varied to suite your own needs; for example, you could use 1/2 inch size pieces with a gameboard that had 1 inch center squares (8x9 overall size). If a triangular rod is too hard to find, you can take an infantry cube and cut it in half diagonally across one of it's faces.

After the pieces are cut out, sand them down to a smooth finish. Use a fairly fine sand paper grit (100-200).

Next you will need to paint them. It is best to use model airplane acrylic paints (again, back to the Hobby Store). You may paint the pieces in any color or pattern you desire, however the following scheme is recommended;


  • Gray (with just a touch of red mixed in): 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Butternut (roughly 20% gray, 80% orange): 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Brown: 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Red (with a touch of gray mixed in): 4 cavalry triangles
  • Light Blue (almost a baby blue): 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Medium, or Royal Blue: 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Navy Blue: 3 infantry cubes, 1 artillery cylinder
  • Dark Blue (darker then medium but not as dark as navy): 4 cavalry triangles
You should probably apply two coats of paint to each surface. Once the pieces are dry, you're done.

Enjoy your game!


Send us pictures of your creation. If they are really good we'll display them on our website.

Click here to view some that have already been sent in.


Do-it-yourselfer's Pictures


The Civil War Battle Game








playing piece


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Deer Valley Game Company

P.O. Box 31661

Mesa, Az 85275-1661

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copyright 1995, G. Myers, all rights reserved - however read the LEGAL CONDITIONS

"SQUARES - The Civil War Battle Game" is the trademark of Deer Valley Game Company, Mesa Arizona

photograph courtesy of Library of Congress - Richmond, Va., vicinity. Engineers building corduroy road. D.B. Woodbury, photographer. 1862 June. (LC-B815-0656)