Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hearts of Tin Command System

Now that I've taken time off to deal with the storm formerly known as Hurricaine Arthur including a 40 hour power outage, its time for several blog posts.

The one about geography, grass roofs and large goats in Atlantica can wait, today's post is by request.

A Division of 1/72 Union Infantry. The sticks are 6" long. The White caps indicate Shaken stands, the Red caps indicate hits, in this case caused when the other unit routed through them.
Please note that the following comments apply to a draft in the middle of being tested and some of the details are no longer valid.

I received a question about how the command rules work and thought that an example with picture was the best way to answer.

Here we see a Union division with general (C) and 2 brigadiers (1 & 2) and a battery of guns. The picture editing on my tablet is a little basic and this is the first time I have used it so no fancy arrows or even  unit labels. Hopefully this will suffice.

The Division Commander has just rolled 3 Orders.

The battery is in position to fire so may be left to do so without using an order.

The first brigade has a broken unit which needs to be rallied either now or soon. It has 3 units in a Brigade line. The 3rd unit is beyond the Brigade commander's 6" radius but is part of a Brigade line (technically the rules say touching but that is close enough for me, I should amend that to a base width) so may be included in a Brigade Order to move while maintaining their current alignment and facing. Since orders do not have to be applied to all units in a Brigade line the unit with 2 hits could be ordered to rally or the end unit ordered to close the gap, or both if 2 orders were used.

The second brigade has 5 units 3 in a line (base width apart)  and 2 at various distances behind but all within 6" of the Brigadier. The entire 2nd Brigade could be ordered to move on a single order since all are within 6" but would have to maintain this scattered formation. Individual orders could be issued to units to move up into a tighter formation.

Last but not least if the 3 orders are not enough to allow the Division General (aka the player) to do everything, either he or the 1st Brigade Commander could ride over to join the broken unit and rally it in person without using an order but that would leave the Brigadier too far from his Brigade next turn to issue a brigade order and there is a risk, admittedly small, that a commander can be swept away by a rout.

Is that any clearer?


  1. That's really good - can the C-in-C allocate orders to his brigadiers regardless of how far away he is from them - i.e. is their a higher level of command radius?

    1. After much debate and several unhappy attempts to make it matter, yes. I eventually decided my table was too small to worry about it considering the abstract nature of the rule. I'm sure I'll regret it periodically especially if the Division and Corps Commanders all go sit in a tavern at the back.

  2. Ross Mac,

    You seem to have been having a somewhat trying time of late, and it is good to hear that the worst seems to be over ... for the moment.

    The explanation of the command system is very clear and I had no problem understanding it.

    I look forward to reading about geography, grass roofs, and large goats; it sounds very intriguing!

    All the best,


    1. Don't we all Bob? The post should not be long in coming. Having settled some long standing conumdrums I am happily getting back to discovering this new land and history.

  3. Ross: first of all I want to thank you for your kind answer and all the time and effort you have spent in answering my request.
    Your explanation is very good and the orders system is now much clearer for me now.
    I still have a some questions about it:

    The rules say:
    Brigade Orders: A Brigadier who is not attached to a unit may pass a single order to any or all units under his command within 6" him or touching and aligned with a unit that is within 6" of him. If moving they must maintain their relative position.
    So in your example:
    If Brigadier 1 ride to join the broken unit, in the next turn wouldn't he be unable to issue orders to other units of his brigade? (because he is attached to a unit and not because of being too far)?
    What is the difference between a professional staff and a ADC?
    The orders stored by an ADC could not be issued to Brigadiers?
    Do Army and Division general have a command radius?

    Finally I would like to say is good for me to see HofT is now "stand based" again because I think it is what it was intended for when you created it.
    My only concern about this new version is that it require many markers, but I know this is one of the issues of this kind of rules.

    Kind regards,

    1. Cesar you are welcome. Your questions are always a good and useful exercise for me.

      You are right, it is because he is attached that he cannot give a Brigade order (he is too busy).
      Staff vs ADC is careless editing after too many versions.
      I have reluctantly not bothered with a command radius for the higher Generals. I was not happy with any of the ways I tried and when I compared my tabletop to several historical actions, I decided the radius would only really apply to a table bigger than mine. In any case it is a very abstract rule.

      The markers are one reason I tried to switch back to a system of removing figures but that just led me to bigger armies. I am going to make some better markers and will only need 2 Hit markers per regular unit plus a shaken markers. I realized after the last game that 2 different markers would reduce the total number. I may use wounded figures for hit markers.

    2. Ross,
      As you have gone back to using bases, have you considered 'disorder' or 'shaken' status as 'tipping' the bases (still in contact) of the unit to 20 or 30 degrees off center to each other?

      The visual immediately shows a 'shaken' sort of line with gaps that are immediately visible in the unit and there is no need for any separate marker.

    3. A good idea, I did think about turning them about but since some units are only 1 stand strong I would have to mark them anyway. Could be useful if I run short of markers at one end of the table.

  4. I forgot to mention your ACW troops look quite good. I really like their new two-rank basing. This is a very inspiring image!

    1. Thank you, these armies are one main reason I wanted to fix Hearts of Tin.

  5. Dear Ross,

    It sounds like you weathered the storm in a decent manner. I had told my wife that when I looked at the storm's path we'd be merely brushed with some wind and an occasional down pour but that you seemed to be the storm's direct path. While the power outage is at best inconvenient, at least there was nothing worse.

    Do you have a list of the command orders that can be issued? Per your example, reforming a brigade costs a unit, and movement costs another. Is there any action which requires two orders like "rally and reform facing front?" And I agree completely with Cesar - your figures look wonderful. Have you considered using messenger figures, mounted aides de camp, to actually represent orders being passed from the C-in-C to the brigades?

    All the best,

    1. Yes when I was watching those maps I had a similar thought and indeed mid afternoon the wind dropped, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly as the eye passed over. Then came round 2.

      Re orders, to quote the rules "In this game the orders are not actual orders in the literal sense but are a form of game activation that allows a unit to move or rally. A unit without an order can still shoot, react to a charge and fight in melee."

      I just wanted something that sounded less intrusive. The idea of the Brigade order is that an army that has taken care to form up is easier to control than one which is scattered.

      In the past I have used officers, ncos and drummers to track how many orders are available and where they have been used.

  6. Thank you very much for your answers.
    I am sure you will find a good solution for markers. I will also try to find one. They are some kind of challenge for this kind of rules.
    I have a doubt about moving generals.
    The rules say: A General who is ordered may move once during the Action phase.
    So: Is it necessary to spend an order (PIP) to move a General or Brigadier? (except for attaching him to a unit, of course).

    1. Yes it costs a PIP to move a General. In most cases a Brigadier will be able to move as part of a Brigade order. I would allow him to detach without an order, moving just enough to be obvious.

      When ever thing is firm I must go through and make sure I add such details so please keep the comments and questions coming. Right now I am not very happy with the simplified skirmisher rule but have not had time to consider it fully.

  7. Thank you for your answer.
    I like the new "formed" rule (aligned with and within 1 stand´s width) for brigade orders (mainly for aesthetics).
    I am very interested in this new version of HofT.
    Once I finish a careful reading of the rules I will like to play some test games. I think this will be a good way to contribute better with your efforts.
    Are you planning some test game?

    1. I am, a smallest possible game then a big one but this is the hardest time of year for me to find time to play and even harder to find a cool day to play upstairs. So it may take a while and I may need to switch to a portable game outside in the shade.