Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tiny Soldiers: An Elemental 18thC Diversion. (updated)

After further contemplation I decided that it would be best if I cut myself, and my various armies, a little slack  and not to try to force every army from 1/72nd AWI & ACW elements to 40mm & 54mm 19thC single Toy Soldiers to use the same rules. Since the name Hearts of Tin brings the glossy toy soldiers to my mind, I'm tempted to let the toy soldiers keep the name for the current rules though it might be more consistent (honest?) to transfer the name to the element based rules that they started as and rename the current game "With MacDuff To the Frontier 2012". Its just a name but I'll think on it and welcome comment on the topic.

Here is the proposed 18thC set for elements combining the best of the old Morschauser Meets MacDuff with the best of last years HofT experiments. These are aimed at my 1/72nd AWI armies which now live on the other side of the river and at certain 10mm armies of my acquaintance but since many of my 40mm AWI troops are still element based, I'll try to test them out with those.
  Tiny Soldiers
Ross Macfarlane 1 Aug 2012
Errata as of 7 Aug in Red. Any farther updates will appear in a download version.

A. Basics.  This is a simple set of rules for fighting mid-18th Century wargames. Troops should be based on stands or bases with a common frontage as agreed upon. 1 to 5 stands constitutes a unit. Chance cards may be used to introduce random events, General’s being wounded, weather, and so on.

Each army has a General who is in over all command. 
A Brigade consists of a Brigadier and as many units as is appropriate.(4 to 6 recommended)
Independent units such as reserve batteries may be commanded by the army general

A unit’s frontal zone is the area to its front extending 45 degrees to the left and right.

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 then resolves charges. Repeat reversing roles.

C. Orders: During the order phase, roll 1 die per General and per Brigadier. The score on the die show how many Orders may be issued. A Brigadier may only order units in his brigade. The General can order any unit.(Acknowledgements due to DBA for the PIP idea)

Ø     1 order is required to move, shoot or rally 1 unit or a Formed Brigade and only 1 order can be issued to a unit or Formed Brigade each turn.  
Ø     No orders are needed to move a General or Brigadier.
Ø     If an order is being issued to a unit which is more than 24" away or if the unit belongs to  a Brigade which has lost 1/2 or more of its units then each order uses up to pips of the dice instead of 1.

A formed brigade consists of 2 or more adjacent units of the same brigade, side by side or in column 1 stand wide, 1 behind the other. Units moving as a formed brigade must maintain their relative positions while moving.

D. Troop Characteristics.
D. Troop Characteristics.

Troop Types
Range/To Hit
Melee Value
To Hit
     Line Infantry
     6” +3” in column
     6” 5,6
     4+   3
    Grenadiers (also Guards)
     6” +3” in column
     6” 5,6                      
     3+   4
    Light Infantry
    9” 5,6
     5+   2
    6” +3” in column
    6” 5,6
     5+   1
    6” 6
     4+   2
    Heavy Cavalry

     3+    5

      4+    4
    Hussars, etc
    6” 6
     5+    3
    Battalion Guns
    6” 4,5,6 18” 5,6
     5+    2
    6” limbered
    9” 4,5,6, 24” 5, 6
     4+    3
    Siege Guns
    3” limbered  
    6” 4,5,6  36” 5,6
     4+    3
    Generals & Brigadiers
     4+  N/A

D. Movement Restrictions.
v    Woods and steep or rough hills. Light Infantry and Irregulars move full speed, Infantry, battalion guns and Hussars move at 1/2 speed. Others may not enter.
v    Fordable Stream or obstacles. 1/2 turn to cross.
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 shoot or charge.
v    Direction. A unit may move in any direction and may about face unless it is within the frontal zone of an enemy unit within 6” or is charging. It may always wheel before moving, counting the distance moved and may always advance or retreat facing the enemy.
v    Formation. It costs a full turn to change between line and column or to limber or unlimber artillery and siege guns. Battalion guns only need to limber to use road movement.
v    Passage of Lines. A unit may move through friends if retreating or if one of the units are light infantry, hussars, or unlimbered battalion guns, artillery or siege guns.
v    Cavalry which dismounts is treated as infantry on the next turn. Dismounted cavalry which mounts is treated as cavalry on the next move. Not all cavalry is trained to fight dismounted.
v    Charges. A unit which charges must have the enemy at least partially in its frontal zone. If it is at least partially in the enemy’s frontal zone, it must charge the front of the enemy. A unit may not charge an enemy in terrain that it cannot enter. A unit may not shoot and charge as charge resolution includes the effects of shooting. Light Infantry and Hussars may retreat a full  move if charged but must rally on their next move.

E. Shooting. Light Infantry and battalion guns may move full then shoot. Other units may move or shoot. Roll 1 die per stand with a target in range in its frontal zone.
v    Each die which rolls the required score as per the troop chart inflicts 1 hit.
v      -1 from each die if firing at skirmishers, cavalry, artillery or troops in cover.
v     +1 to each die if firing at a column.
v    Siege Guns may destroy cover by rolling a 6 at a 6” range.
v    There must be a clear line of fire.

F. Charge Resolution. If in contact with the enemy after all movement and shooting is done, combat must be resolved. This represents close range shooting as well as attempts to close with cold steel.
v    Dice. If a unit is in line or deployed and in contact to its front only, roll 1 die per stand. If shaken or in contacted in the flank or rear or is limbered or in column then roll 1 die for the unit. Each die that rolls the required score on the unit chart inflicts a hit on the enemy.
v    Defensive Fire. Infantry and deployed artillery, siege guns and battalions guns which have been charged from the front this turn may roll their dice and apply the hits before the enemy rolls. In all other cases the dice are rolled and hits applied simultaneously.
vTo Hit: Each modified score of 4,5 or 6 inflicts 1 hit on the enemy.
v +1 to each die if higher melee value than the enemy (eg Grenadier vs Militia are +1) 
v    -1 from each die if the enemy is in cover
v    -1 from each die if the charger attacked through difficult terrain or across an obstacle.
v    Commanders in close combat. If a Brigadier or General joins a unit for charge resolution, it rolls an extra die without any modifiers, inflicting a hit if a 4,5 or 6 is rolled. If the die rolsl 1 the General or Brigadier is wounded and is removed from the game. A replacement will take over at the end of the player’s next turn. Place him as desired.
v    Deciding the Outcome. If one side took more hits than it inflicted it must about face and retreat a full move. It may not move or shoot until it has been ordered to Rally. Units which are unable to retreat, such as deployed artillery, are destroyed. If all of a cavalry unit's opponents are destroyed or forced to retreat then after all charges are resolved it may immediately make a charge move and resolve melee again but it may nor move or shoot again until its is rallied even if it wins. If it matters, the active player chooses the order of pursuit moves.

G. Morale. Hits are a mix of casualties, fatigue and a loss of cohesion.
Ø     Shaken. When a unit suffers 3 hits it becomes shaken. Each additional hit on a shaken unit will remove 1 stand.
Ø     Rallying. A unit may rally instead of shooting or moving A unit may never remove the last hit and lost stands are never recovered
Rally Chart
    Rally and remove 1 hit
    Retreat a full move, Take a hit from Stragglers. Rally again next turn.
Die Modiefiers
    Grenadiers or if General is Rallying unit
    Militia, Irregulars, Hussars
    Enemy visible within 12”

H. Victory.  In the absence of any other victory conditions, an army must retreat if over 1/2 of its units are shaken or have been destroyed or forced to retreat off table.


  1. You know, I think this is very much on target, especially for the shear quantity of 10mm battalions I have been amassing - but I also expect they will be good fun for smaller battles. Everything important looks to be there.

    1. Hopefully and anything missing for a scenario can be easily added. It seemed to me that we had some good games with the HofT draft that used these basic mechanisms.

  2. Hi Ross,
    Just what I needed, another set of easy rules to tempt me into another period. I already had to fight like hades to resist forming RCW armies when those rules appeared. Ah well, this too shall pass... but there's something about armies in tricornes... but who's going to paint them...

    One question: are battalion guns supposed to only have one range band? 6” 5,6 12” 5,6
    Is that because they weren't as effective at firing grape/cannister?
    Ok, that's two questions. picky picky.


  3. Well we could probably rework it into one compound question but the answer would still be. "No, that was a typo" Now fixed.


  4. Ross: I think you will have to provide some guide to control relationship between Brigadiers/Units in order to maintain the balance of the game.
    And: Is it necessary to spend a PIP to order a unit or formed to shoot?

  5. Cesar, you are probably right. There may also be a need for a distance penalty though I would prefer to avoid it. The intent is that once properly formed a Brigadier should be able to advance and fight his brigade but that it may take a few turns to complete deployment and if the brigade formation gets broken up it may not always be able to move all units. Normally I would expect 3 to 6 units per brigade + a battalion gun.

    Yes a point is required to shoot but not to defend in melee.

  6. Ross,

    Why do Hussars get a 6" shooting range when all other mounted are limited to 3"?

    Move 24" and shoot 6", eh?

    -- Jeff

  7. Good question, Jeff! Actually the others should not have a shooting range at all, their mounted fire is included in combat resolution. That's why I need editors!

    The hit infantry on a 6 probably over rates the effect of skirmishing hussars, cossacks and turks but hopefully is not a big danger and a poor enough use of fast cavalry to avoid abuse especially since it is move 24" OR shoot.

  8. Thanks for posting these Ross. Some great ideas and tempting to try out.


    1. Thanks Keith, I hope you do give them a try, with or without some tweaking to suit yourself. I'd like to hear how that goes, good and/or bad. I've made 2 small changes after the weekend's game, they are marked in red. Any questions or if there are comments that you would prefer to make direct, drop me a line at

  9. Seems working...
    Could it be used also for medieval and ancient wargaming?
    Changing line by med. inf.; grenadiers by heavy inf. and so on.
    What is your opinion?
    One set of rules for everything would be nice

  10. Lex, Its possible though you may need a few extra rules or troop types depending on the period.

    Just off the top of my head. Many armies were less well organized so I would suggest 8 - 12 units per "brigadier" (sub-general). I would give heavily armoured troops the same -1 against shooting and melee as if they were in cover. Only archers would get defensive fire.
    I would suggest for melee:
    knights, cataphracts, elite heavy cavalry: 6, other heavy cavalry, elite heavy infantry 5, other heavy infantry 4. medium infantry, peltasts, auxilia etc , archers, light cavalry 3 , levies , skirmishers 2,
    Give an extra +1 per die if troops with javelins or lances charging or being charged, and -1 for cavalry fighting against spears or pikes.

    Let heavy and medium infantry units formed 2 stands deep count 1/2 the 2nd rank stands in melee.

    That's not perfect but it should work ok as a start.

    1. Thanks of lot for your suggestions.
      But if knights have 6 points then they hit every time?
      Using a D8?
      By the way i like reading your blog. Always interesting.

    2. Lex, Sorry, I should have mentioned. I made some changes after the game last week, these are marked in red on the blog post. The higher melee value now gets a +1 so knight vs knight: no modifier. Knight vs anyone else +1

      My pleasure, glad you're enjoying reading.