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

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Product of a Fevered Brain.

The initial draft of these rules has now been recalled and the revised set set may be found here:

By Ross Macfarlane 23 July 2012
(with a few minor corrections)
A. BASICS.  This is a simple game for fighting American Civil War battles on a hex grid. One hex = roughly 400 yards. 1 turn averages 1/2 hour. Each stand or group of figures is a unit. A unit is either; a brigade, averaging 1500 men or  artillery batteries totalling 12 to 16 guns on average. Up to two units can be in a hex as well as 1 or more Generals.

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 fire zone representing the effect of skirmishers, low level of artillery fire ( a few guns attached to brigades etc) and long range rifle fire.

All dice are 6 sided.

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 brigade and artillery stands as is proper. 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 communication (LOC). The train must be placed on a road leading to the LOC hex and be within 6 hexes of all units in the corps at the start of the battle. (or as agreed upon) Independent Divisions may be treated as a Corps.

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 activation dice, then moves any units, then resolves any bombardments. The other or inactive player now resolves combat then the active player resolves combat. Repeat reversing roles.

C. Activation: During the activation phase, roll 1 die per General. The score on the die are Activation Points or pips which indicate how many units can be activated to move or bombard. A Corps Commander may only activate units in his corps. The Army General can activate any unit. The numbers of activation points required for a give activity are as follows:

Ø     1 pip is required to move 1 unit or a line of battle or a column or an unattached General.
Ø     It costs 1 extra pip to move an infantry or cavalry unit, or line of battle if it begins its move in an enemy fire zone. (Scenario specific rule for some late war battles:  +2 pips for combat weary troops.)
Ø     1 pip to bombard with artillery that does not move.
Ø     The number of Pips required is doubled if General is more than 3 hexes from the unit or from the closest unit in a Battle Line or if he cannot see the unit being activated.

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

D. Movement. Infantry or artillery may move up to 2 hexes, Cavalry or Generals up to 4 hexes. A train may move 1 hex. A unit may change facing as often as the player wishes when activated 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 one to face.

A column or single unit which begins on a road and moves its whole move by road may move double but may not move adjacent to an enemy unit.

Unit must stop if entering a woods or other difficult terrain hex, crosses an obstacle such as a fordable stream or if it moves into a hex in an enemy fire zone. Any remaining movement is lost.

Artillery and Trains may not move adjacent to an enemy unit.

E. Bombardment. Artillery which is activated but which did not move, may bombard. Artillery range: Heavy rifled artillery 9 hexes, Field batteries (12 pounders and rifles, lighter guns are included in with Brigade fire) 3 hexes. Roll 1 die per artillery unit bombarding a given hex. There must be a clear line of sight from the artillery to the target.  One hit is scored for each 5 or 6 rolled. The owner of the units in the hex may assign them to units in the hex as he chooses. The effect of hits from bombardment is the same as the effect of hits on combat.

F. Combat. Combat occurs if opposing units are adjacent. During the inactive player’s combat phase, all units which have an enemy unit adjacent and in their fire zone, must resolve combat. No activation is involved. Roll 2 dice per unit against the target hex. 1 hit is caused for each 5 or 6 rolled Subtract 1 from each die if the enemy is up a steep hill. The owner of the target may assign the hits to the units in the hex as he sees fit after all dice are rolled.    
Ø     1 hit on a unit = retreat 1 hex or take a Heavy Casualties marker.
Ø     2 or more hits on a unit = retreat 1 hex and take a Heavy Casualties marker.
Ø     Cover negates 1 hit per unit. (woods, town, entrenched etc)
Ø     A unit which takes a 2nd Heavy Casualties marker is removed from the table.
Once all of the inactive player’s combat is resolved and the effects carried out, all active units which have an enemy unit adjacent and in their fire zone, must resolve combat. No activation is required. The process is exactly the same as for the Inactive player.

Victory.  In the absence of any other victory conditions, when both sides have had enough or when 20 turns have been played, tally victory points.  Each side counts 1 point for each enemy unit with a heavy casualty marker and 2 points for each unit destroyed or forced to retreat off table. Add 1 for each remaining enemy unit in a corps which has lost its train or whose LOC hex is being occupied. The side with the most points wins. The degree of victory may be determined by writing a report on the battle and consulting the opinions of those who read the report.

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

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 PIPS and 1 hex may be entrenched for each PIP rolled. After 1863, 2 hexes may be entrenched for each PIP rolled. 


  1. Hi Ross,

    Your fevered brain looks to have come up with a belting set of rules!

    These look very interesting indeed and so I have copied a set into Word and will be trying them out as game number 15 at the weekend with the AAR to follow on the blog as usual! My only initial observation is the artillery range differential 'twixt heavy rifles and field artillery. I know the ranges translate into 1,200 and 3,600 yards which is probably right (I am not well up on ACW artillery capabilities) but on an ACW battlefield is that sort of range ever likely?

    Looking forward to trying them out.

    All the best,


  2. The siege guns were certainly capable of it but they were rare, there's only a handful of batteries where 1 stand would appear. No indirect fire though (should have mentioned that) so the trick is to find a line of fire that long. The 1,200 yards, not a problem, that's roughly the distance between Seminary Ridge and Cemetary Ridge at Gettysburg. I'm assuming 6 pdrs and the like are included in the Brigade stands.

    I'm hoping to try them out this week/weekend too.

  3. I shall certainly give these a try-out as and when time allows. Thanks for making them available.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Tim, but you may want to wait until you try them. They are straight from concept to page bypassing pretty much all sanity checks, stats and testing. Could be horrible!

  4. Yes, thanks. Duly copied and hopefully I'll get to them in the near future.

  5. Hi Ross,
    Rules look like fun and simple enough to actually play! (for me.)
    Couple of minor nits for you to resolve in your next draft:
    1. "Cover negates 1 hit per unit." Consider changing to "Cover negates 1 hit per firing unit." -- although this will make bombarding artillery ineffective against units in cover. Or is the intent to add all fire dice together, then reduce the total hits by 1 for each unit in target cover hex? Usually there is a penalty for stacking rather than a bonus, target-wise.
    2. Pick LOS or LOC and stick with it.

    This is so much like something I was planning(?) to do with Battle Cry and a new batch of plastic 20s and some revised Featherstonish rules... another distraction...
    But thanks, I always enjoy your rule-generation process.

    If you use the 20s for this, do you think you'll stick with 6-figure stands?


    1. 1. The idea was that it should be very (VERY) hard to destroy units in cover or force them back. Other wise the stand offs that happened, wouldn't have.

      Two brigades per hex is pretty well packed, either 1 up and 1 in reserve or both deployed in 2 lines. So a well defended line can absorb a fair amount of punishment before being forced back and has the man power to suck some losses. So first 2 hits on the hex can be ignored if well manned. If 3 hits inflicted on hex 1 unit will have to pull back or take losses, 4 or more hits could mean both units retreat and/or suffer casualties but since 3 or 4 hits have the same effect as 2, I would expect 1 unit to fall back with casualties while the reserve brigade steps up to the plate fresh. (assuming both are fresh to start) All without fiddling with deployment inside the hex. A fudge but one that makes it quick and easy while hopefully make a well held line safe.

      Units in the open have the same options but of course without the protection.

      2. Uh yeah, good point, didn't notice that. Since I need to add that all bombardment os Line of Sight only, I should go with LOC. I need to check more examples of how far back the trains could be too.

      I have, I think 72 stands of 20's on hand (1/2 and 1/2), almost all 4 figures on 40x30mm bases and I don't see that changing. I'd still like to have 2 stands per brigade, but its a bit cramped! I also hated cutting out Division commanders 1/2 way through.

  6. Ross
    We're talking about playing with toy soldiers and here you are worrying about sanity? I think that particular ship sailed a long time back...

    1. Tim, I've heard people say "He's waiting for his ship to come in." I thought it had something to do with money!

  7. These look like fun. May I make a suggestion based on some experiencde along the same line? Don't use hexes - use squares. Make them large enough so that your units can face an edge or a corner. Your 'limiting' 4 sided critter suddenly has 8, and is a whole new beast!

  8. Thanks Mark, I was thinking of squares but went with hexes for the simple reason that they are already painted on tabletop. Eventually I plan to repaint and limit hexes and squares to mats or cloths thrown over the table. Should be easy enough to convert from one to the other.