Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Circle Game

I had a few minutes of doubt about revisiting the question of grids in general and hexes in particular, mostly because I felt a sudden urge again to make special hex terrain modules and cover my main table in 3" hexes so I could play big hexed games as well as small ones. Then there was the desire to harmonize the card table and main table rules apart from the question of tracking hits but I finally decided to go ahead and write up a back of a post card version of a hexed card table game keeping it as different as possible to avoid confusion. It is easily adapted to squares and for now, if I decide to go for a full hex table, I'll buy a set of Hotz mats and lay them over hills to avoid disrupting MacDuff and the 40's and to avoid making hex shaped hills.  I'm not ruling out  using the Battlecry cards instead of the order dice and will keep an eye on Ron's experiments in that line to get around the left, center, right which often does not apply to Tabletop teasers.

The Hexed Brigadier (or Sq Brigadier v4.)
1 Oct 2013 (clarifications in brown 2 oct) (change to flag result Oct 4)
Simple gridded wargame rules for the 1850's and 60's. Written for hexes but easily adapted to squares using orthogonal movement& measurement or to a non-gridded surface by adopting a standard unit of measure, say 3" instead of hexes.

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

Game Units: A unit is what fits in a hex or is agreed upon. Units may be General, Infantry, Spearmen, Militia, Arty, Cavalry, Light Cavalry, Skirmishers. All units face an angle. The 2 hexes in front define the frontal arc. (45 either side of ahead if not using hexes) Infantry take 4 hits, Militia, Arty, Cavalry take 3. Lt Cav, Skirmishers take 2. Elite units take 1 extra. Only 1 unit may be in a hex at the end of movement except a General may stack with any other unit.

Sequence IGOUGO fixed for the game.
Toss 1 die for orders. Each pip allows 1 unit to move or charge. No order is required to shoot. A formed Brigade may be moved on 1 order but must charge as individual units. A formed Brigade consists of a General and any unit adjacent to him or in the hex with him.

Movement. Units may move less than the maximum.
Infantry move 2 or shoot or move 1 and charge an adjacent enemy.
Artillery move 2 or shoot.
Horse Artillery moves 3 or shoots.
Cavalry move 3 and charge an adjacent enemy or dismount and shoot.
+1 hex in column on road but may not charge or shoot in column.

Artillery may not enter woods or town except on road. Cavalry, Light Cavalry, Infantry and Militia may only move 1 hex into or out of woods. Lose 1 hex to cross stream.

Turns and formation changes, mounting etc are free when moving.

Must stop when moving into a hex adjacent to enemy. 

Combat: Target must be in front and there must be a clear LOS. A die result of the right type causes a hit.  (Oops I just noticed that I accidentally deleted the bit on dice. If you don't have Battlecry dice, used 6 sided die as follows: 6 = flag = disorder, cavalry and artillery are hit on 5 , infantry are hit on 4 or 5, 1 = crossed sabers and cause a hit on any unit if charging  and cause leader check.)

Each flag causes the target to be disordered. A disordered unit fights with 1 less die than usual and may not charge. The disorder marker is removed at the end of the player's own turn. If a disordered unit receives another disorder, whether from the same or a subsequent attack, it will retreat one hex for each additional disorder received. eg if a unit suffers 2 flag results it will become disordered and retreat 1 hex. 

If charging then sabers also cause a hit on any target.

If a saber is rolled against a unit which has a general attached roll again and another saber indicates that the leader is a casualty.

Number of dice rolled: (not reduced until unit removed)
Rifled Muskets: 3/2/1
Skirmisher: 2/2/2
Smoothbore light or horse artillery:  3/3/2/2/1/1
Smoothbore foot artillery: 4/4/3/3/2/2/1/1
Cavalry, Spearmen: 3

Troops in cover or uphill may cancel 1 hit or 1 flag from each attack. Fortified troops may ignore 2 hits  or flags from each attack.
Skirmishers and light cavalry may choose to cancel 1 hit from each attack by retreating 1 hex. Skirmishers and light cavalry may retreat 1 or 2 hexes for each additional disorder. 
Militia retreat 2 hexes per additional disorder.
Elite may cancel 1 flag per attack.
Units with a General may ignore 1 flag per attack.

Cavalry and spearmen that charge and destroy enemy or force them to retreat may occupy the hex and may charge an adjacent enemy. Only 1 pursuit per turn.
(exeunt humming "and the painted ponies go up and down")


  1. Ross Mac,

    This is looking very simple ... and very interesting!

    Good luck,


    1. No new ideas but a slightly different mix, I'm looking forward to trying them.

  2. These look interesting - something else to try :)

    What unit strengths do you use?

    1. The rules treat a unit as a unit regardless of how many figures or bases it has.

      My plan for the 20mm ACW is to have 2 bases per infantry unit and either 1 or 2 per cavalry unit and will use casualty markers to track hits until a base come off. If I were to play with the singly based 40mm figures I would field 4 infantry figures (+1 figure for elite) (3 per for cavalry, arty, etc)

  3. I'll be interested to see how this develops. Good musical reference!

  4. Hi Ross,
    That is looking really good (and very similar to a variant of one of your earlier ACW grid rules that I used for BattleCry, because I don't like the cards or flag result in that game). Out of curiosity, what made you choose the BC dice over D6s?

    Speaking of that other BC variant, I used it to fight a couple of campaigns using the boardgame A House Divided (by GDW, then Phalanx Games) for the map portion. It is a very simple, elegant, quick-playing yet strategy-rich game in it's own right, if you have never played it; and it works fine as a campaign battle-generator. It was easy to make up a chart for converting the AHD units to BC units, and back again at the end to reflect casualties. The only problem was generating the battlefields, which I usually solved by selecting one from the BC scenarios that seemed appropriate.

    If I was going to base a combat system on the BC dice, I think I would rule that sabers are only effective in close combat, with your addition that if a general is in the target hex, sabers from any range get re-rolled to see if he is hit. And that it takes two flags to cause a retreat if not adjacent.

    Just some ideas.

  5. John, Its simple, the dice are cute and gimmicky and a gift. I had included a translation for 6 sided dice but noticed earlier today that it got accidentally deleted somehow, so I've put it back.

    I've heard of House Divided but have never played it. Something to keep in mind.

    The rules were not fresh start, just a reworking based on accumulated experience of what I liked and what I didn't. I was in 2 minds on the flag/retreat result myself but decided it could replace morale tests quite handily with elite and entrenched troops being able to ignore while simultaneously taking the role of a Black Powder style command blunder (ie the flg might be a low level command decision rather than a morale failure). In particular I don't like a single long range shot driving a unit back but you've just given me a good solution for that!

    I do have the sabers only having effect when a unit is charging, a sort of +1 bonus as well as the risk to general. I thought about including them in all adjacent combat but that's already covered by the extra combat dice and the charge requires expenditure of command points so represents the difference in an attack being pushed by the commanders or a firefight lapsing into a slow grind as people hug trees and rocks and peer through the smoke.

    Thanks for the ideas!


  6. Just to create more confusion-You could use an offset square grid, where alternating rows are shifted half a square to the side. Thus getting the best (or worst) of both square grids and hex grids.

    1. Yeah, I've looked at the off set grid and for me its the worst of both, at least on a full sized table where the game can be set up in any direction. It has the same inability to do a straight multi-unit battle line or straight movement in some directions and almost as much difficulty in doing multi-square hills but the arcs of fire vary with the direction you are facing.

      Thanks for the reminder/suggestion though.