Sunday, November 11, 2012

Square Hearts First draft. (amended 13 Nov 2001)

This is the first draft of a new attempt to produce a gridded  version of Hearts of Tin aimed at the late 19thC, stretched into the early 20thC. Initially it is for card table games but if successful it will also be used with the 5" grid on the full table  using multi-stand units. (If it works even better than expected I may consider harmonizing the grid free version, essentially rolling by unit and using stands to track hits. Maybe)
A Rough, Incomplete Draft of a simple set of rules
for late 19th/early20thC  "Colonial " wargames fought on a grid.
Inspired by Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame but based on Hearts of Tin. 
(Nov 13 changes in red)

The rules were written with a square grid in mind but can be played on a hex grid. Each rectangle or hex is referred to as an "area". The game is designed for relative effect not as a scale model. Early in the period units will usually be battalions of close order troops commanded by Brigadiers but later in the period or for smaller actions they will be companies or wings commanded by a Major or Colonel. Wargame units may be any number of figures on any sort of bases as long as they fit within one area. Hits may be tracked with markers or figures/bases removed. 

Play is IGO UGO determined at start of game, usually attacker first or dice for it. The first player rolls for orders then moves and shoots or rallies units. Then melees are resolved..

Each side has one over all "General" and should have a subordinate commander for roughly each 3 to 6 units. Roll 1d6 for each Commander to see how many orders they may issue. An order is required for a unit to move. No order is required to shoot, rally or fight in melee. Commanders do not need an order to move. The General may order any unit. A subordinate commander may only issue orders to a unit which is within 6 areas and assigned to his command or which is in the same area.   The Army General may defer rolling his order die until the next turn. On the next turn he may either defer again or roll 2 dice. The decision must be made before any order dice are rolled.     

Commanders move 3 areas. If not attached roll for capture if adjacent to an enemy. If the commander rolls equal to or greater than the enemy he escapes and may move up to 3 areas. If one or more commanders are  attached to a unit in melee, roll 1 additional die with no modifiers 4,5,6 hit, 1 a Commander is killed.  If a commander is attached to a unit which takes one or more hits from shooting roll 1 die and on a 1 the commander is killed. If a commander is killed, a replacement takes over at the end of the next turn.

A unit may move in any direction and face any area side or angle after moving, however, moving on a diagonal counts as moving 1.5 areas. A unit which moves adjacent to the enemy must stop and face an enemy unit. If it is in the frontal arc of one or more enemy units it must face one of them. A unit which begins its turn adjacent to an enemy must either face an enemy, no order required, or be given an order to move to an area which is not adjacent to any enemy.  Only infantry, cavalry, armoured cars and tanks may move adjacent to known enemy.  Only 1 unit may occupy an area at the end of its move. Commanders are not units and any number may be in an area with a unit. 
Infantry and Tanks may move 2 areas or may move 1 area and shoot either before or after moving.
Cavalry, Horse Artillery and Armoured Cars  may move 3 areas or move 1 area and shoot either before or after moving. (Cavalry are assumed to dismount to shoot, artillery to limber or unlimber as needed).
Other artillery including MG's may move 2 areas or shoot.  
Wagons may move 2 areas. 
Trains may only move on rails. They may move a maximum of 4 areas but may only accelerate or decelerate by 2 areas per turn. Armoured Trains may move 1 area and shoot before or after moving.

Difficult terrain is any terrain with woods, buildings, steep slopes, fordable river etc. Armoured cars, wheeled transport and artillery other than pack artillery and MG's may not enter difficult terrain except by road. Any unit except irregular, tribal or "native" infantry entering a difficult area stops and may not move farther that turn.

Roads. Units in column/limbered which are following a road for their whole move may add 1 area of movement but may not shoot and may not move adjacent to a known enemy. If using single strand units place a marker to indicate column status. 

A unit may change its facing before firing without an order but this will count as moving. The line of fire is measured from center of the firing area to the center of the target area. If the LoF crosses any area containing terrain or troops of either side then it is blocked. If measuring the range through a diagonal that area counts as 1.5 areas. The arc of fire is 45 degrees either side of directly ahead.(60 degrees if using hexes)   The firer must normally have a line of sight to the target area. Gaps must be as wide as the firing unit so, for example, a unit cannot shoot on the diagonal between 2 occupied squares. A unit which is adjacent to the enemy may not shoot. 

Roll 1 die per unit with small arms, 2 dice per artillery or mg unit.  

Range: (Other weapons can be added as needed)
Rifles: 3 areas,
MG, Superior Rifles: 4 areas. 
Smoothbore Artillery: 6 areas
Other Pack/Horse Artillery 12 areas,
Other Artillery: 18 areas.  

Observed fire.  Artillery capable of indirect fire may fire at targets they can not see if they are connected by telephone or radio to an observer who can see the target and the range is at least 6 areas. Range is measured from the gun but line of sight is traced from the observer. Indirect, observed fire may ignore intervening terrain and troops. Radios are very rare and must roll 2 or better each turn to connect. Telephones lines must normally be laid before the game begins and if either the observer or the battery move or are destroyed then the connection is destroyed.  

Effect. Each die scoring 4, 5 or 6 after modifiers causes 1 hit on the target. .
Shooting modifiers:
 +1 if superior firepower or heavy artillery,

-1 inferior firepower .
-1 if the target is in cover or obscured or is armoured, cavalry or artillery.

-1 if moving and firing
-1 if firing over 1/2 range or if firing observed fire,  

Dense targets. If there is a unit of either side adjacent to the target and the line of fire would go through it if extended then roll 1 extra die against this unit counting as an obscured target  A unit in road column is also a dense target, roll an extra die against it.

Melee must be resolved during the appropriate phase if opposing units are adjacent. Roll 2 dice per unit if there is an enemy unit in an adjacent area in the unit's arc of fire except that units in road column only roll 1 die. The dice may be split amongst eligible targets as desired by the rolling player but the decision must be made before rolling. Each  4,5 or 6 causes a hit. The active player declares which units are charging and which are firing then the 2nd player does the same. The 2nd player rolls first with infantry and artillery units and the hits are applied then both sides roll simultaneously with any remaining units.    

Melee modifiers: +1 cavalry vs infantry or artillery, +1 superior firepower, +1 defending obstacle or hill  -1 vs cover or an armoured target, +/-1 any scenario or special troop modifiers
Rear support. If an infantry unit is directly behind and adjacent to a friendly infantry unit in melee it may add 1 die  without modifiers needing a 6 to hit. 

Hits include morale and unit cohesion as well as casualties. A regular unit is destroyed when it has accumulated 3 hits. Militia by 2 hits, Elites by 4 hits. A unit of infantry or cavalry which  is reduced to a single hit is broken and will immediately retreat a double move, stopping if it reaches the board edge unless it started its retreat on the board edge. It must attempt to rally on its next turn, if it is unable to rally or fails to recover a hit then it is routed and removed from the game. Units which are not broken may also rally to try to recover from losses. A unit which rallies may not move or shoot and may not be adjacent to an enemy. Roll 1 die. On a score of 4, 5 or 6 1 hit is cancelled  +1 if one or more Commanders are in the same area or if there is a support unit in an adjacent area or if the unit is elite. -1 if militia or levy. A unit which has been destroyed cannot rally.

An army which has lost over 1/2 of its units at the end of a turn including broken, destroyed or forced to retreat off table. must retreat unless the scenario says otherwise.

The use of a chance card deck is recommended to increase uncertainty and drama. (forth coming)


Adjacent is any area which is touching either through a side or a corner.
Superior or Inferior Firepower is a judgement call about relative effectiveness and should be used for troops who are better or worse armed or trained than average for their type. Examples might be the BEF in 1914 or units with more MG's attached than usual,  natives with obsolete firearms, Civil War troops with smoothbores etc...


  1. Vive la difference!

    I like the way that you have adapted and melded some of the ideas from PW with your own particular brand of wargame design ... and devised a very neat set of rules that I could envisage using myself.

    I look forward to seeing these rules in action in the very near future.

    Allthe best,


    1. Thanks Bob, I'm hoping to give them a spin tonight.

      Here's to the open exchange of ideas!