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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Plastic Army of the Potomac (updated)

Well, ok not a great name but the Tin Army of the Potomac was already taken and anyway these are mostly plastic so I thought I try it on for size. So far The Tin Army in the Civil War is leading contender since the rules are a development of  earlier The Tin Army drafts rather than a variation of either the Square Brigadier or Hearts of Tin. (and yes I know there have been many civil wars.)
The new command stands are ready to go. I need a name for the union commander though.

Tin Army in the Civil War
(@ Ross Macfarlane 7 Sept 2015)

This is a simple set of wargame rules aimed at Division or Corps sized battles. They assume that low level tactics are being handled by regimental officers and their Brigadiers and by the dice. The game may be played on grid with 1 unit per grid area otherwise all distances are roughly equal to the frontage of a deployed infantry unit or roughly 150 yards. Units within that distance  and directly in front of, behind or beside each other are deemed to be adjacent. Turns represent a variable length of time and overlap the previous and following enemy turns. 12 to 15 turns each is a good medium length game with a simple scenario and a dozen or so units per side.

Units. (reworked to fit any basing ) Units may take a base of 3  hits if infantry, 2 if cavalry, artillery or sharpshooters. +1 if experienced or regulars, +2 if Elite or equivalent. Hit which are taken show a unit's loss of cohesion and effectiveness including but not limited to casualties, ammunition depletion, stragglers, oficer losses, fatigue and so on.

For simplicity all artillery units are treated as if they were a mix of smoothbore and rifled guns for the ACW. If they wish players may add their own more detailed rules for special units such as the Lightning Brigade and for particular batteries.

Unit Quality Bonus.reworked to fit any basing  Units which were rated as experienced etc or Elite and which receive just a disorder unit ftom shooting may take a hit instead of the disorder.  Units rated as Shock units receive a combat bonus. Units may be rated as superior firepower if they are markedly more effective than other units whether due to equipment or training.

Sequence of play. Players take turns. Decide who is going first by any acceptable means. First a player moves or resolves skirmisher and artillery fire with each of his units then removes disorder from units not adjacent to the enemy then both sides resolve combat between adjacent units. Optional Rule. If this is too predictable for you then after both sides have taken a turn then each play rolls a die with the high score choosing to go first or second for the next set of turns, ties mean keep the same sequence.

Chance Cards. (Optional) Make up a custom deck with chance cards and blanks or use playing cards. Assign red to the Confederates, black to the Union. Decide the maximum number of pairs of player turns, shuffle then pull that many cards to make a game deck. At the start of each pair of player turn, pull 1 card. Face cards and Aces are effective for the side with that colour, other cards are no effect. When the deck has been played the game is over.
Sample chance effects:

  • King. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that is not in cover. It must immediately advance a full move or as far as they can without violating movement rules. It may not move again on its turn but may shoot.
  • Queen. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that must immediately retreat a full move or as far as they can without violating movement rules. It may not move again on its turn but may shoot. this turn.
  • Jack. Choose 1 Brigade of either side that must remain halted this turn.
  • Ace. A unit of unexpected reinforcements arrives on that side's baseline. If no fresh units are available upto 3 hits may be removed.
  • Joker. If a joker appears roll d6 and discard that number of cards from the deck. 

Command Control. Each army has 1 General and may have 1 a Brigadier for every 3 to 6 infantry and cavalry units. Brigadiers only effect units assigned to their command at the start of the game. The General commands all units. At the start of a turn if a unit is not visible to and within 3 areas of its Brigadier or the General it may not move unless it rolls 4,5 or 6 on 1 die.

Infantry, Sharphooters Move 2 or shoot
Cavalry Move 3 mounted or dismount and move 1 or shoot.
Artillery Move 2 or shoot. Horse artillery move 3 or shoot.
Terrain. Max 1 unless sharpshooters. Some may be impassible to some troop types.
Road column +1 to move but may not attack.

Attacking. A unit which moves adjacent to an enemy must halt and resolve combat. This is an attack. A unit which shoots may not attack. Artillery may not move adjacent to an enemy.

Passage of Lines.  A unit which is not attacking may pass through a friendly unit but may not end its move stacked with it. A retreating unit which reaches supports may have extra movement to pass through them.

Disorder. Disorder is a combat result. A unit which is disordered  may shoot or fight with a penalty and may retreat but may not attack. A unit which is not adjacent to any enemy will recover from disorder on its turn after all moving and shooting is done.

Skirmisher and artillery fire. (includes occasional long range volley fire) Some units may not move and shoot but any unit may change facing or deploy or dismount and shoot. A unit adjacent to an enemy may not shoot or be shot at but must resolve combat instead. A unit which shoots may not then move adjacent to an enemy. There must be a clear line of fire 1 unit wide between a firing unit's front and its target.
Infantry 2
Sharpshooters 3
Artillery Range 6 If there is a unit immediately behind target reroll misses vs second unit. If all smoothbores range 4.

Roll a base of 2 dice per unit.  
-1 die per unit if disordered
-1 die vs cover
  • 5, 6 hits
  • +1 to @die if arty at range 2 or any unit rated superior firepower.
  • -1 to @ die if muskets or muzzle loading carbines
Effect. The first hit on a unit disorders it. Each additional hit causes the loss of a stand.

Combat. Combat represents close range firefights as well as charges.  All units which are adjacent to an enemy must resolve combat during each combat phase. Units are assumed to react locally to face the enemy etc with the degree of success being shown by the dice.
Combat is resolved between 1 pair of units at a time with the active player deciding the order as he goes. Each active unit fights only once unless eligible to pursue. Defending units fight back as often as they are attacked. If a unit of deployed infantry, artillery, sharpshooters or dismounted cavalry was attacked from the front this turn then it rolls its dice and applies hits before the attacking unit rolls. In all other situations both sides roll at the same time.
Roll 3 dice per unit
Lose 1 die if disordered or attacking over an obstacle or up  a steep hill.
Lose 1 die if the enemy is in cover.

  • 5,6 hits 
  • +1 per die if shock troops
  • Units defending cover cancel 1 hit. 
If a Brigadier or General is attached to a unit in combat roll 1 die 4,5,6 = inflict 1 hit if attacking or cancel 1 hit if defending. 1= killed or wounded. If a General or Brigadier is ever alone and adjacent to an enemy unit both sides immediately roll 1 die. If the officer rolls equal or greater than the enemy he moves away up to a full move other wise he is captured. The enemy unit may continue its move if able to.

Result. The first hit on a unit disorders it. If already disordered each additional hit causes the loss of 1 stand. If neither side is destroyed and one side took more hits then it must retreat in disorder. If it is a tie the attacker must recoil a full move if mounted cavalry. If both sides would be destroyed then the units are each left in disorder with 1 stand  but the result is based on the total number of hits.

Pursuit. If mounted cavalry attacked this turn and the enemy was destroyed or forced to retreat then they advance onto the defeated unit's position and may attack another adjacent enemy but may not pursue again. If infantry attacked this turn and won they must advance onto the area that they attacked.

Army Morale. Each side is given a morale level, usually equal to between 1/2 or less of its original number of units plus the value of any objectives held. This is reduced by 1 for each unit or commander lost and by the assigned values of objectives taken or achieved by the enemy.


  1. Hey Ross!

    You could always name the Union commander, "Cellan MacLittle"! It seems appropriate for the scale of his troops.

    1. Thanks Martin. MacLittle sounds too much like a snack but I like the Little Mac connection. I'll keep that in mind. Appropriate indeed!

  2. Nice, simple rule set - way simpler than my 'Bluebellies and Greybacks' set. I thought I would list some of my ACW commanders:
    GOC Maj-Gen Titus E. Canby
    I Division: Maj-Gen Justinian B. Praughan
    II Division: Maj-Gen Miles R. Long
    III Division: Maj-Gen Justin Cayce
    IV Division: Maj-Gen Shelby Wright
    Cavalry: Maj-Gen Gerard G Ryder

    GOC: Lt-General Jubilation T. Corncobb
    I Divsion: Maj-Gen Scraxton Scragg
    II Division: Maj-Gen Thomas J. Klaxon
    Cavalry: Brig-Gen Humphrey Cammell

    Some CSA Brigade Commanders:
    Willett B. Allwright, Scruby D. Scoones, Zander Z. Zebedee, J.E.B. Blewitt.

    I was tempted to include a Major-General Hamilton Burger in my Union Army, but a vacancy has never opened up.. Perhaps you could find a place for him?

    1. Or General Frigh. I like to be ... erm ... subtle. Or General Pickle (Actually I do have a General Grogpickle - I forgot about him). Another one that occurred to me today, from a schoolboy joke: General George A. MacHinery...

      Come to think of it, I believe a certain Col Fry commanded a CSA brigade at Gettysburg...

      I have also just remembered: General Klaxon's front name wasn't (isn't) Thomas, it was (is) Montgomery. Dang.

  3. Because I was known to be both mentally deficient and just plain nuts, my old group used to call me "Burnsickles"--you gotta admit it has a certain ring to it. Fell free to adopt it...


    1. Almost as bad as 'Butlerbanks'. :-D.

    2. A certain ring, yes, just not sure which sort.....but thank you.