Monday, October 7, 2013

Square Hearts? (A new rules draft) (Oct 13 re-revision)

Square Hearts ( or The Square Brigadier v4.2 )  14 Oct 2013

*** Please Note that this is only a partial draft with new ideas for play testing***

This is a draft set of simple gridded wargame rules for the 1850's and 60's written for play on a grid of hexes or squares but easily adapted to a non-gridded surface by adopting a standard unit of measure, say 3" as an area.

Game Units:    A unit is whatever fits into a hex and normally represents between 300 and 600 men or 3-6 guns. All units may face an angle or a side but may only move or shoot through a side. The arc to their front, 90 degrees wide for squares or no grid, 120 degrees for hexes is their frontal arc for combat. An area is adjacent if it shares a side.

Sequence of play. At the start of each turn opposing commanders roll and compare dice. The commander rolling highest has the Initiative and chooses whether to move first or second.
First player moves units
Second player moves units
Second player rolls combat dice. First player gives ground
First player rolls combat dice. Second player gives ground.

Orders. A unit within 3 areas and in line of sight to a general may be ordered to move. Units that do not have line of sight to a general within 3 areas must roll a die. 1 = no move, may shoot or rally.

Movement. Units may move less than their maximum.
Infantry moves 2
Native Irregulars move 2
Artillery moves 2 and ends limbered or moves 1 and ends deployed ready to fire Horse Artillery moves 3 and ends limbered or moves 2 and ends ready to fire.
Cavalry moves 3 and ends mounted or moves 2 and dismounts.
Generals move 3 but may move up to 2 during the combat phase to join a unit.
+1 area if in column on road but may not move adjacent to the enemy or shoot.

Individual units may move in any direction and may turn when moving or rallying. Artillery and cavalry may not enter dense woods or towns except on road.

Units must stop when moving into an area adjacent to enemy or when entering an area of difficult terrain. If a unit which begins adjacent to an enemy moves, it may not enter any area  adjacent to an enemy on that turn.

Sharpshooters. Sharpshooters are specialist units of skirmishers. They get one die in combat if adjacent or within 3 areas with a clear line of fire but can only take 1 hit.

Combat: The target must be in front and there must be a clear line of sight one area wide between the firing unit and the target.

Infantry: Roll 2 dice during combat for each infantry unit adjacent to an enemy unit to its front. Roll 1 die for an infantry unit with a target within 2 areas but not adjacent. (This may be long range fire but would usually represent skirmishers firing)

Irregular Infantry: Roll 2 dice if adjacent to the enemy.

Artillery: Roll 2 dice during combat for each artillery unit firing at a unit within 3 areas. Roll 1 die for each artillery unit firing at an enemy unit which is  4 or 5 areas away.

Cavalry: Roll 3 dice for each cavalry unit adjacent to an enemy unit if mounted and both units are in open ground or if dismounted with breechloaders. Roll 2 dice for other cavalry adjacent to an enemy. Roll 1 die for a dismounted cavalry unit within 2 areas but not adjacent.

Combat Effects: A score of 4,5 or 6 inflicts 1 hit on infantry.  A score of 5
or 6 inflicts 1 hit on cavalry or artillery.

Difficult Targets.
A unit behind cover (fieldwork, stone wall) may cancel 1 hit per turn unless it was caused by sharpshooters.
Vulnerable Targets. Add 1 die if firing at an enemy flank or a march column.
Superior Firepower/Shock. Add 1 die if rated superior firepower whether due to equipment or training (breechloaders etc) or if rated as Shock troops and adjacent to the enemy.

Giving Ground. A unit may cancel 1 hit per turn by retiring 1 area. A unit may not fallback into an area adjacent to an enemy or an area occupied by a friend.
Support. A unit may pass 1 hit per turn to an adjacent friend.
Generals. A general may try to steady a unit which has taken hits. Roll 1 die on a 4,5,6 1 hit is cancelled. On a 1 the general is wounded and removed.

Morale.  An average unit has 4 strength points if infantry, 3 points if cavalry or artillery. This may be increased by 1 or 2 for above average units or reduced by 1 or 2 for units that lack training or are demoralized or otherwise unsteady or are small detachments.  When a unit has taken that many hits it is removed.

Entrenching. A unit which is in woods, a fenced field or a rocky hill and not adjacent to the enemy  may build improvised fieldworks instead of moving.  An improvised fieldwork counts as cover against non-adjacent shooting only but is lost if the unit moves. A unit in fieldworks must always pass an orders check to move.

Using Battlecry Dice. Battlecry dice may be used for combat and morale. Treat sabers as a 6. Count a flag as 1.  A score of 5,6 = sabers and either artillery or cavalry symbol, a score of 4,5,6 = infantry and crossed sabers.


  1. Dear Ross,
    Are you considering using this game system for another go at the Battle of Belmont? The use of the officers in a game sounds like the way I've been reading that officers functioned during the ACW. Brigadiers issued orders to arrange and move their commands, they observed the battlefield to order up reinforcements or change unit orders, they advanced to encourage charges and the like, and they rallied troops who were falling back. These functions varied tremendously from leader to leader and you might want to think about giving leaders like Lee (throughout the war) or Sheridan at the Battle of Cedar Creek superior leadership skills to rally their men.
    BTW, I absolutely love the simplicity and elegance of these rules.

    1. Jerry, I am planning to have another kick at Belmont for comparison. The command system is a slight variation on the one I use with my other rules. (I see I forgot a combat bonus, now added) .

      I'm looking forward to seeing how the skirmishers work, I disliked ignoring them or getting too abstract but its bin a pain sometimes to track them. If this works as well as I hope I can see it feeding back into the non-gridded Hearts of Tin.

      I did consider attributes and modifies for generals but left it for now. I could see having a greater command radius for orders and a roll for unreliable subordinates to get them moving (or in some cases to stop them) as well as an additional inspiration plus or the lack of one. Possibly as scenario rules, I have a few of those in mind for this game.

  2. Very promising, I hope the skirmisher ideas work out well in the next game.

    I must get my act together to get some sort of hexes/squares option, it's on my list of things to do.

    1. I'm not really sure that I want to track all those skirmishers but the idea is appealing. The thought has occurred to me though that the above rules don't really need a grid, I could just play MacDuff with a 1/2 scale ruler!