Tales of the Anaconda

Welcome to Tales of the Anaconda!

You've found the home port for all things Anaconda - both the original western rivers game as well as Anaconda: Capital Navies focusing on naval actions in Virginia waters.


First published in 2002, Anaconda was the debut product from Blue Water Designs. An 'operational' level game, Anaconda creates a ‘hypothetical’ campaign that accelerated Confederate naval production. It would also allow the players to control the ships they used as well as where their forts and batteries were deployed and when battles took place.

As an incentive to fight, a simple table assigns a ‘mission’ to each side with a victory point
reward for completion of the task is to motivate the players into joining battle. This system forces
players into the role of commanders saddled with what may be incompatible orders from higher
headquarters - much like their historical counterparts in the American Civil War. In the position of
commander on the spot players must make decisions that may cost them a battle, but will win them the
war. Most importantly, the rules had to generate tabletop battles quickly and easily.


In the late 90's,  my local gaming group dove into ACW naval gaming in a big way. Fed by the excellent 1/600 models produced by Thoroughbred Figures we amassed rather large squadrons of ship models. But how to best use them? Refighting historical battles got old quickly and it didn't use all the cool models we had purchased. Over the next few years Anaconda developed from our monthly group gaming and naval campaign.

In 2002 the testing was complete and a hard copy of Anaconda was printed. This copy was released in exclusive partnership with (now defunct) warbweb.com. The rules went through a second edition that cleaned up some formatting and typos and a total of three printings.

In 2010 inventory of the printed copies were exhausted. For a time, the author (that's me folks! ) made available a pdf copy of both Anaconda and the current beta version of Anaconda: Capital Navies to the members of the the Yahoo ironclads group.

In 2016 Anaconda was released as a digital document available for purchase through Wargames Vault.

In January 2017 Anaconda: Capital Navies was released through Wargames Vault, It's very similar to the old beta copy that was available through the Yahoo group, with a few small updates. Anaconda: Capital Navies is a stand alone game of naval operations in the Virginia theater covering roughly Baltimore to Richmond. It is not compatible with the original Anaconda rules (different time scales, different movement rules, different production mechanisms).

In February 2017 Anaconda: River of Blood was released through Wargames Vault. This is a supplement/expansion for the Red River campaign. It uses the core Anaconda game, but expands on the Red River with new maps and special rules derived from research done in the years since Anaconda was published. It's a great way to get those late war ironclads on the game table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Wasn't this game published in a magazine?
A: Anaconda has never been published in a magazine. The original release in 2002 was as a printed soft cover spiral bound rules book. In 2016 a digital version via PDF was released in partnership with Wargames Vault.

Q: I've got this cool model of the Yazoo Monster, but it's not in the ship data annex. How do I determine the point cost for a ship that is not included in the data list?
A: The rules include a section on calculating the production cost of any vessel in the game. You will need some basic information about the ship. It is recommended that you obtain a good reference on ironclads and gunboats. This author is partial to Paul Silverstone's Civil War Navies (but not at the links price!).

Q: The description says that Anaconda "...requires but does not include; dice, miniatures and rules for resolving tactical combat...." That doesn't sound like much of a game - what's with that?
A: Call it truth in advertising. Anaconda and Anaconda: Capital Navies are both campaign games designed to help generate the background and setting for tabletop battles. They are not sets of rules for tabletop battles. They do not include ship models, measuring rules, or dice (though really, don't all tabletop gamers already have the last two items?)

Q: In Anaconda: Capital Navies, some ships arrival numbers carry a suffix of "*". What does that mean?
A: That means the ships historically did not serve in the Virginia theater of operations, but are included to support the 'what if''s; that we gamers so enjoy.

Q: Again referencing Anaconda: Capital Navies, what does the arrival number of 'special' mean for several of the Confederate ships?
A: Those are ships that appear as a result of a random event effect. The referee will adjudicate which specific ship appears as a result of the random event.

Gary posted an after action report from the first two turns of Capital Navies on his blog.


  1. Good to see this and your passion for ACW naval back to the fore! Now, let's game! What about the new shop in Milford? They have some tables and the public exposure could be a good thing for Anaconda!

  2. It's a possibility. Maybe in June or July.

  3. What's new with Capital Navies? I have a draft dated 2009. Has a new version been released?

  4. Patrick - The 2009 version was a 'working draft' copy as I never formally released Capital Navies. I plan on releasing it in the next few months. The only real difference between the versions is formatting changes and sanity checks on the rules. The final proof reading and edits were done back in June. Then I went and got sidetracked with the Red River campaign.

  5. Yes, sanity in war gaming is very important! Can't wait to see the new version...