Sunday, April 26, 2015

Back to the Table

There is nothing like sitting at a computer to update a set of wargame rules to confuse and confound an undisciplined mind and nothing like putting figures on the table and rolling some dice to clear it again.

I explored many paths over the last few days and restarted this game 3 times with changes in rules and organizations. Naturally I eventually found my way back to where I started 2 weeks ago but simplified (ie less tightly defined in some areas, better defined in others). Writing this up properly for all of the sub-periods including explanations is going to take a while and I expect time will be short for the next while so this post includes the 'back of a postcard rules' version that I used.

40mm 1885 Atlantica. Armies entered on the diagonal. Blue 2 cav, 2 guns, 5 infantry, Hospital. Red 2 cav, 2 guns, 1 gatling, 4 infantry, observation  balloon. Objectives are to control cross road and bridge. At mid point everything  is contested.

Back of a Blog Post Rules for late 19thC
(summarized from Hearts of Tin)

Distances are in undefined increments roughly equal to the width of a deployed infantry unit. I used  6" increments but it could as easily be 3" or squares or hexes.  The game was designed with 3-5 "companies" per unit with dice per company but here it is phrased per figure. Currently my 40mm Toy Soldier units are 8 infantry (4 companies), 6 cavalry (3 troops), or 1 gun and 4 crew (2 sections) but this is not a mandatory organization. For translating these units for Grant and Asquith scenarios if use 2 guns = scenario battery, 2 inf = scenario infantry unit, 1 cav=1 scenario cav unit. My 20mm units are 3 cav bases or 4 infantry bases each counting as 2 figures. At this period a deployed unit of infantry is assumed to have a firing or heavy skirmish line extended in front with close order supports under cover to the rear to refresh and reinforce the firing line as needed. Earlier the line is the main fighting formation with a thin screen so a few skirmishers can be stuck out for show but measure to the main unit and scoot the skirmishers when engaged.

Sequence. 1st Player rolls for number of orders the moves and shoots with all units in any sequence desired. Both  sides resolve combat between engaged units. Repeat reversing roles.

Orders: 1d6 @turn. 1 order per unit except order to Brigadier allows him to issue order to his units within range 2.  Order needed to move or stand up or form column. No order needed to shoot or deploy or go prone if deployed.

Move Distances: cavalry:4 and attack, deployed infantry:1 and shoot or attack, infantry column, mg: 1 and attack or 2, artillery:2.
+1 in column on road but may not attack.
Terrain. Define by scenario but base is move reduced to 1 or impassible

Engagement Range Moving to range 1 of enemy is an attack. Must halt or close and must resolve combat.

Shooting. Must be deployed and not engaged. Deployed Infantry may move 1 and shoot with 1/2 figures or may go prone and shoot but may not shoot and attack. Any unit may deploy or dismount and shoot.
Range and dice
Infantry & dismounted cav: 1d/4 figures Ranges: Rifles 3,  Carbine, musket 2
 Gatling 3 dice, range 4.
Artillery. 2 dice up to 1/2 range 1 die beyond.
Rifled artillery range 10, smooth bore range 6
Effect: @ 5,6 hits
-1  vs cover
+1  if superior firepower ( scenario defined)
+1 vs column or enfilade
Going to ground. Infantry with breechloaders which are deployed may go prone when fired at. They will count as in cover against shooting only but may not move. A prone unit takes a whole turn to stand up and may not shoot while doing so. Standing up requires an order. (Note Infantry with muskets may go prone but may not shoot while prone.)

Combat/Melee. All units within range 1 of enemy must roll. 1d per 2 figures.
5,6 hits.
-1 vs cover (Note: attacker may not claim cover on turn of attack.)
+1 if mounted cavalry attacking or attacked in the open or if regulars attacking irregulars or untrained troops or other advantage as defined for scenario.

Side losing more than inflicted retreats 1/2 move and may not move except to retreat and may not shoot next turn.
Winner may occupy ground. Mounted Cavalry may pursue and fight again. If drawn melee mounted cavalry must fall back 1/2,

Understrength. Units below 50% may not attack

Commanders. Move upto 4 if ordered + once per turn Commander not with unit may move without order to join a unit and steady it if it takes a hit. Must stay with unit till next turn. Roll 1 die: 5,6 hit cancelled, 1 =Commander removed and not replaced.  If General lost -1 to order dice for rest of game.

Special Units. Deployed hospital may receive 1 hit figure each turn. Next turn roll 1 die. 5,6 returns the figure to his unit. 1-4 he dies or is evacuated.
Observation Balloon aloft +1 to Orders Die.

Army Morale.  1 pt per unit.
-1 each unit below 1/2 strength but still on table
-2 each unit destroyed
- VP of each objective held by enemy.
At 0 must retreat.

With the day getting late and a drawn game looming despite a firm grip on the crossroads, Blue launched a series of cavalry charges to drive Red away from the bridge but mostly managed to wreck both cavalry brigades. Belatedly he brought up his artillery, the stars of the game for Blue. In no time heavy cavalry casualties forced Red to retreat. In the end Red lost 3 units destroyed with 3 more below 1/2 strength and Blue holding both objectives.  Blue only lost 1 unit with only 2 more below 1/2 strength thanks largely to a very efficient hospital. Once again it seems that in a small game an observation balloon is of minor value since there are usually enough orders while a hospital can be very useful. In large games the value reverses as orders are always short but the hospital gets overwhelmed.  

So, a storm is a teacup after all and all is well with the world again. The next cavalry unit is almost ready for varnish and more figures are waiting!


  1. My God man, how have I contrived not to have seen your observation balloon before?

    Looks like an excellent game - I could see something like this working for a 1850s European set to Russians versus Allies.

    1. I don't know, its going on 5 years since its first game
      but it hasn't been out much recently.

      yes, the 1850s was the original setting. range 2 for smooth bores.

    2. I meant to ask.

      - I can't find the range for artillery?
      - What ratio of brigadiers to units do you envisage?
      - What is the turn sequence?

    3. Oops, basic artillery ranges were there at 1 pt. They have been added back along with pkay sequence.

      Brigadiers are tricky. A few Brigadiers with a lot of units make it to easy to move everything. Too many brigadiers make it impossible to control a readonable chunk without adding Div Cdrs. I try to have 3 or 4 Brig or none, 2-4 units per Brigadier.

    4. Thanks for that Ross - I was thinking this might be a useful set for scenarios that don't lend themselves to CCN. I like the idea of keeping it very simple and using specials like the balloon and the hospital.

      I was wondering if there would be any use for wagons?

      And now to build a balloon.

  2. Ross- Your rules are very concise and neat - I presume that they are meant for 40mm only and I wonder how they would go with my 25mm 1885 Colonials -with larger units etc....might give this a try Ross- could be quite interesting....have You tried out these Rules for Your 20mm ACW?.... KEV.

    1. They were originally written for 15mm armies on bases but have been adapted over the years to be easy to modify for any size or basing. This just a tweak of the rules used for the last ACW game.

  3. I am looking forward to seeing how things proceed and glad to have you posting games again too.

    1. Well the original goal was 1 a month now I shoot for an average of 1 a week,