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

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Hexed General

By Ross Macfarlane 28 July 2012

  This is a simple game for fighting American Civil War battles on a hex grid. It is, in a sense, a development of the Square Brigadier and despite appearances, owes much to my experiences fiddling about with Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame. For those who don't like Grids, simple replace the word hex by "distance" with a distance being 4" or such other distance as suits you. A unit's fire zone is then  2 distances deep and 60 degrees left and right of straight ahead.  Feel free to add things or change anything you don't like.

A. BasicsOne hex = roughly 400 yards. 1 turn represents an average of around 20 minutes. Each hex can hold 1 unit representing an average of 1,000 to 1,500 men or 12 guns. All dice are 6 sided.
All units must face a corner of the hex. The 5 hexes in front of a unit (2 adjacent and the next 3 beyond these) are its front and its fire zone representing the effect of skirmishers, low level of artillery fire and long range rifle fire. The 2 hexes behind a unit are its rear.
Each army has a General who is in over all command. 

Each corps consists of a General (Corps Commander), a wagon representing the corps train and as many Divisions as is appropriate. Each corps must mark a hex where a road or railroad leaves the board or which contains a landing place on a navigable river which marks its line of supply (LOS). The train must be placed on a road leading to the LOS hex.

A Division consists of a Division Commander and as many units as is appropriate.

Independent units such as reserve batteries may be commanded by the army general until such time as he attaches them to a Corps.

B. Sequence: This game is played in turns. Determine who goes first in any manner you choose. This stays the same for the whole game. The player going first becomes the active player and rolls his order dice, then moves and shoots any units. The other or inactive player now resolves defensive close combat then the active player resolves close combat. Repeat reversing roles.

C. Orders: During the order phase, roll 1 die per General. The score on the die show how many Orders may be issued. A Corps Commander may only order units in his corps. The Army General can order any unit.

Ø     1 order is required to move, shoot or rally 1 infantry or cavalry unit
Ø     1 order is required to move, shoot or rally all the artillery in the corps
Ø      (Scenario specific rule for some late war battles: an extra order must be issued per unit to move combat weary troops adjacent to an enemy unit)
Ø     No orders are needed to move a General or Division Commander.
Ø     No orders are required to move, rally or shoot with a unit which is in the same hex as its Division Commander or which is part of a Battle Line or Road Column if the Division Commander is in a hex with one of the units.

A line of battle consists of 2 or more adjacent units of the same division, side by side. A road column is 2 or more adjacent units of the same division, one behind the other on a road.

D. Movement.
v    Open ground. Infantry or artillery may move up to 2 hexes, Cavalry or Generals up to 3 hexes.
v    Woods or crossing a fordable stream or other obstacle. All units may only move 1 hex if entering a woods hex or crossing an obstacle unless using road movement.
v    Roads. A road column or unit which begins on a road and moves its whole move by road may move double and ignore off road terrain but may not move into an enemy fire zone.
v    A unit may change facing as often as the player wishes when ordered even if it does not actually move. If it moves adjacent to an enemy unit it must face that unit. If adjacent to more than one it may choose which ones to face.
v    A unit may move through friends but cannot stop in the same hex. Any number of Generals and Division Commanders may occupy a hex with a unit.
v    Cavalry which dismounts is treated as infantry on the next turn. Dismounted cavalry which mounts is treated as cavalry on the next move.

E. Shooting. Infantry or Artillery which is ordered may shoot instead of moving or rallying. Artillery range: Heavy rifled artillery 9 hexes, Field batteries 3 hexes, Infantry 2 hexes. Roll 1 die per unit which has a clear line of fire to the target. Line off ire is blocked by terrain and by units of either side. One hit is scored for each 5 or 6 rolled against the target. A unit in cover ignores one hit from shooting each turn. A unit which receives more than 1 hit after cover has been considered, must take 1 hit but may immediately retreat cancelling 1 additional hit for each hex that it retreats. If meeting friends it may retreat additional hexes to pass through them.

F. Close Combat. Close Combat occurs if opposing units are adjacent after the active player has moved. No order is involved. The inactive player resolves combat including any enemy retreats and friendly advances then the active player resolves combat with any units that are still eligible.
v    Resolving close combat. During a player’s close combat resolution, roll 2 dice for each of his units that have an enemy adjacent to it and within its fire zone. If there are 2 such enemy units the dice may be split if desired. One hit is caused for each 4, 5 or 6 rolled.  If a target unit is in cover or is defending a stream or obstacle then it ignores one hit.  A unit which receives more than 1 hit after cover has been considered, must take 1 hit but may immediately retreat cancelling 1 hit for each hex that it retreats. If meeting friends it may retreat additional hexes to pass through them. If all adjacent enemy units retreat, a unit which scored at least 1 hit may advance into one of the vacated hexes. Cavalry which advances may resolve combat again but may not advance again if the enemy retreats.
v    Commanders in close combat. If a commander or General joins a unit in close combat he adds 1 die but if that die rolls a 1 or if a commander or General is adjacent to an enemy unit during the close combat phase and is not co-located with a friendly unit then he has been wounded or captured and is removed from the game. A replacement will take over at the end of the player’s next turn. Place him as desired.

G. Morale. Hits are a mix of casualties, fatigue and a loss of cohesion. When a unit suffers too many hits it ceases to be effective and is removed from the table.
v    Hits. Units are removed if they take 3 hits.
v    Rallying. A unit with 2 hits may Rally if it is not in an enemy fire zone and does not move or shoot. Roll 1 die +1 if joined by a General. A score of 4,5 or 6 removes 1 hit.

Victory.  In the absence of any other victory conditions, if at the end of a turn, if the infantry and cavalry units that have been lost equal 1/2 the number of infantry and cavalry units that the army began with, the army must concede defeat. If a corps’ LOC is occupied it counts as a unit lost as does the Corps train if captured.

If playing a multi-day battle. Each side may make 1 night move but may not move adjacent to the enemy or bombard.  Roll again for orders and 1 hex may be entrenched for each order rolled. After 1863, 2 hexes may be entrenched for each order rolled.

Chance cards may be used to introduce random events, General’s being wounded, weather, and so on.


  1. Ross Mac,

    I think that these rules have lots of potential uses ... and not just fro ACW but for almost all conflicts from 1840 to 1880. They will force the players to make army/corps level decisions rather than just tactical ones. This includes if and when they themselves should directly enter the fray, and the consequences of getting ithat wrong can be suitably disastrous.

    A very nice piece of work.

    All the best,


  2. Thanks Bob. It was certainly an interesting change from the low level stuff.