EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Plastic Army of the Potomac

Well, ok not a great name but the Tin Army of the Potomac was already taken and anyway these are mostly plastic so I thought I try it on for size. So far The Tin Army in the Civil War is leading contender since the rules are a development of  earlier The Tin Army drafts rather than a variation of either the Square Brigadier or Hearts of Tin. (and yes I know there have been many civil wars.)
The new command stands are ready to go. I need a name for the union commander though.

Tin Army in the Civil War
(@ Ross Macfarlane 2 Sept 2015)

This is a simple set of wargame rules aimed at Division or Corps sized battles. They assume that low level tactics are being handled by regimental officers and their Brigadiers and by the dice. The game may be played on grid with 1 unit per grid area otherwise all distances are roughly equal to the frontage of a deployed infantry unit or roughly 150 yards. Units within that distance  and directly in front of, behind or beside each other are deemed to be adjacent. Turns represent a variable length of time and overlap the previous and following enemy turns. 12 to 15 turns each is a good medium length game with a simple scenario and a dozen or so units per side.

Units.  Units have a base of 3 stands if infantry, 2 if cavalry, artillery or sharpshooters. Stands are removed to show a unit's loss of cohesion and effectiveness including but not limited to casualties, ammunition depletion, stragglers, oficer losses, fatigue and so on. For campaign purposes consider a destroyed unit to be restored to 2 stands by morning unless a GM rules otherwise. Instead of removing stands losses may be tracked by markers.

For simplicity all artillery units are treated as if they were a mix of smoothbore and rifled guns. If they wish players may add their own more detailed rules for special units such as the Lightning Brigade and for particular batteries.

Unit Quality Bonus. Experienced or Elite units may be given 1 or 2 bonus markers that may be traded to either cancel 1 hit  or to add 1 die in combat. I use single figures, buglers, drummers etc  but any sort of marker will do.

Sequence of play. Players take turns. Decide who is going first by any acceptable means. First a player moves or resolves skirmisher and artillery fire with each of his units then removes disorder from units not adjacent to the enemy then both sides resolve combat between adjacent units. Optional Rule. If this is too predictable for you then after both sides have taken a turn then each play rolls a die with the high score choosing to go first or second for the next set of turns, ties mean keep the same sequence.

Chance Cards. (Optional) Make up a custom deck with chance cards and blanks or use playing cards. Assign red to the Confederates, black to the Union. Decide the maximum number of pairs of player turns, shuffle then pull that many cards to make a game deck. At the start of each pair of player turn, pull 1 card. Face cards and Aces are effective for the side with that colour, other cards are no effect. When the deck has been played the game is over.
Sample chance effects:

  • King. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that is not in cover. It must immediately advance a full move or as far as they can without violating movement rules. It may not move again on its turn but may shoot.
  • Queen. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that must immediately retreat a full move or as far as they can without violating movement rules. It may not move again on its turn but may shoot. this turn.
  • Jack. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that must remain halted this turn.
  • Ace. A unit of unexpected reinforcements arrives on that side's baseline. If no fresh units are available upto 3 hits may be removed.
  • Joker. If a joker appears roll d6 and discard that number of cards from the deck. 

Command Control. Each army has 1 General and may have 1 a Brigadier for every 3 to 6 infantry and cavalry units. Brigadiers only effect units assigned to their command at the start of the game. The General commands all units. At the start of a turn if a unit is not visible to and within 3 areas of its Brigadier or the General it may not move unless it rolls 4,5 or 6 on 1 die.

Infantry, Sharphooters Move 2 or shoot
Cavalry Move 3 mounted or dismount and shoot.
Artillery Move 2 or shoot. Horse artillery move 3 or shoot.
Terrain Max 1 unless sharpshooters. Some may be impassible to some troop types.
Road column +1 to move but may not attack.

A unit which moves adjacent to an enemy must halt and resolve combat. Artillery may not move adjacent to an enemy.
It costs 1 area of movement to move through a friendly unit unless retreating in disorder in which case a retreating unit which reaches supports may pass through them.

Disorder. Disorder is a combat result. A disordered unit fights with 1 less die and may not move towards the enemy. It recovers at the end of its move if it is not adjacent to any enemy. Casualty or prone figures make good disorder markers.

Skirmisher and artillery fire. (includes occasional long range volley fire) A unit may not move and shoot but may change facing or deploy or dismount and shoot. A unit adjacent to an enemy may not shoot or be shot at but must resolve combat instead. There must be a clear line of fire 1 unit wide between a firing unit's front and its target.
Carbines and Smoothbore Muskets 2
Rifles 3
Sharpshooters 4
Artillery Range 10 If there is a unit immediately behind target reroll misses vs second unit.

Roll 2 dice per unit  
Lose 1 die if disordered.
  • 5, 6 hits a target in the open
  • 6 hits a target in cover
  • +1 to die if arty at range 2
Effect. The first hit on a unit disorders it. If already disordered each additional hit causes the loss of a stand.

Combat. Combat represents close range firefights as well as charges.  All units which are adjacent to an enemy must resolve combat during each combat phase. Units are assumed to react locally to face the enemy etc with the degree of success being shown by the dice.
Combat is resolved between 1 pair of units at a time with the active player deciding the order as he goes. Each active unit fights only once unless eligible to pursue. Defending units fight back as often as they are attacked. Both units roll at the same time and compare scores.
Roll 3 dice per unit
Lose 1 die if disordered
  •  6 hits troops defending fortifications
  • 5,6 hits targets defending cover or a steep hill or obstacle
  • 4,5,6 hits other targets

If a Brigadier or General is attached to a unit in combat roll 1 die 4,5,6 = inflict 1 hit if attacking or cancel 1 hit if defending. 1= killed or wounded. If a General or Brigadier is ever alone and adjacent to an enemy unit both sides immediately roll 1 die. If the officer rolls equal or greater than the enemy he moves away up to a full move other wise he is captured. The enemy unit may continue its move if able to.

Result. The first hit on a unit disorders it. If already disordered each additional hit causes the loss of 1 stand. If neither side is destroyed and one side took more hits then it must retreat in disorder. If it is a tie the attacker must recoil a full move if mounted cavalry. If both sides would be destroyed then the units are each left in disorder with 1 stand  but the result is based on the total number of hits.

Pursuit. If mounted cavalry attacked this turn and the enemy was destroyed or forced to retreat then they advance onto the defeated unit's position and may attack another adjacent enemy.  If infantry attacked this turn and won they must advance onto the area that they attacked.

Army Morale. Each side is given a morale level, usually equal to between 1/2 or less of its original number of units plus the value of any objectives held. This is reduced by 1 for each unit or commander lost and by the assigned values of objectives taken or achieved by the enemy.