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.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Basic Sketch of new rules variant.

OK, rwo basic forces have been based. They just need a lick of paint in the morning and I'll be ready to play. 

Once again preexisting assets have torpedoed a few of what seemed like reasonable decisions. The subject of grid or grid free has been up in the air with a bias  towards gridded but I would have to replace all my favorite  buildings  or go with too few large squares. My existing units vary in size which makes a 1 unit per grid solution awkward as well as any system with rules based on fixed unit sizes. Luckily, the rules were originally based on Morschauser's rules where each stand is a unit and regiments meaningless groups of stands for colour.   So its 1 stand units and no grid. Dropping the grid and working with multiple small units has allowedme to go back 15 years to variable moves for groups of stands as a form of command control. 

What follows is not even a rough draft but rather an outline or summary skipping many details, explanations and rationale, just enough to test the new bases in battle. Not sure about a title, like Hearts of Tin it is a development of Morschauser Meets MacDuff but closer and leaning in the other direction.

  1. Aim: Solo Non-European mid19th century, horse and musket, division or smaller sized, wargame rules suitable for fighting scenarios or for games based on actions from War of 1812, Mexican American War, Indian Mutiny, American Civil War and others. Each 60x60 stand is a game “unit" of 200-400 men. Player is “army” commander, unit commanders are assumed to be handling details. Brigade Commanders coordinate and motivate units.
  2. Formation is 1 unit or else Commander and 2 or more units touching and aligned. Must maintain formation when moving but units may detach before move.  May rearrange units instead of moving.(eg column to line).
  3. Movement. Roll per formation. Announce intention before roll. 2d6” for infantry or artillery. 3d6” for cavalry, horse arty +d6 for cavalry charge.  x½ in broken ground or if infantry in difficult. May not move closer than 1” to enemy unit or enemy held terrain unless charging.
  4. Shooting. Infantry long range is shooting by skirmish screen
    1. 2 dice close range,  1 die long range. 5,6 hits +1 superior firepower, -1 inferior firepower.
    2. ½ dice vs troops in cover, lt inf and cavalry
    3. ½ dice if shaken
    4. Range: musket 3”/6”, rifle 6”/12”, arty 12”/36”
    5. Give ground. Target unit may cancel ½ hits by retreating in disorder.

  1. Charge Resolution. Charge is move to contact. Must begin move facing enemy, if starting to enemy’s front may only charge the front. Align after combat. After all moves, shooting and rallies done resolve charges. Attacker picks order of fights. Both sides roll 4 dice per unit. 5,6 hits, +1shock troops, -1 inferior melee ½ dice if attacking cover or over obstacle or if shaken, disordered or flanked. +1 d per supporting unit. Must be touching but not in melee If attacker scores more hits defender retreats, o/w attacker retreats in disorder. Disorder must rally next turn may not shoot or move. If shaken rout.
  2. Morale. Avg 4, elite 5, poor 3. hits = morale = shaken replace hits with shaken marker. Shaken shoots and fights with ½ dice . Shaken unit defeated in melee routs. If hits again = morale then unit destroyed for game purpose. Shaken unit cannot recover during game.
  3. Rally. No move or shoot. Roll 1 die. 5,6 remove 1 hit.   +1 Elite or gen with. -1 Militia
Commander. Enables Formation move, add 1 to rally if attached, add 1 die in charge combat, 1=cdr removed.


  1. I like those rules, I think they will give a lot of grit for little rules overhead. I have one question and one suggestion.

    The random movement - is the sum of the dice the distance that MUST be moved or does it simply give a maximum movement allowance for that unit that turn?

    Secondly, for rally, you have 'no move or shoot', is there any mileage in adding to that ' or fired upon in the last enemy round of fire'?

    Anyway, all good stuff. I have just picked up the Perry's Battle in a box and that has a nice smile ruleset that also includes variable movement.

    1. Thanks Norm. The roll is a maximum to be used in conjunction with the intent. o/w it makes things like moving to the edge of cover or occupying a town etc too difficult. I'll rely on chance cards to allow for the 1% misunderstood order.

      I did think about modifiers or prohibitions on rallying under fire but experience suggests that the low probability of success crossed with having to forego causing damage are sufficient to encourage either fighting or moving to a safe place before rallying unless desperate in which case the game benefits from there being a chance.

      I started using variable moves in the 80's, Eventually the combination of card activation + dicing for command control + variable moves made the game too variable so I'm still searching for my happy spot.

  2. sorry - 'smile' should read as simple rule set.

  3. Ross Mac,

    Funnily enough I spent part of yesterday thinking about a simple set of rules to use in my forthcoming 'revitalising my jade wargaming morale' game ... and then you go and produce these!

    I am afraid to say that I am going to stick with grids (I have invested so much money in buying Hexon II terrain that I would be silly not to) but have gone back to basics. I am looking at using a modified version of Morschauser's Colonial rules, and hope to put my ideas down on paper later today, with a view to fighting a wargame ASAP.

    I look forward to seeing how you 'new' rules work.

    All the best,


    1. Bob, as late as yesterday morning I was still planning on staying on the grid for this. It'll take a few tests to see if I feel if the large figure scenery on small grid conundrum needs to be resolved.

  4. I look forward very much to see where you go next with your rules and basing.
    Keep inspiring us Ross!

  5. Forgot to say I wonder if you might try them with grids in the future?

    1. I might. It would mean changing the movement/command rule and require either fixed 2 stand units or coping with multi grid terrain but that is my fall back plan. I have rediscovered recently that the single stand units make gridless games less fiddly.

  6. I have been looking at grids with a larger figure scale and have come to the conclusion that you either have a bigger grid or use the same size grid,but 1 unit needs to extend across two grid sectors. there are boardgames (for hexes) that have done this in the past, particularly when trying to emphasise line formations.

    My own experiments continue but I am mid- crossroads in a crisis that was just scale based and it has now grown into a scale and grid crisis - I don't use the term crisis too lightly as the not being sure which direction to choose, just leads to game and painting block.

    1. Oh I hear you on crisis, there has been much dithering nd backtracking here over the last 5 years.
      I have found that I can fit a close order unit of up to 8 40mm figures in a 4" hex or square if they are multi based, 6 if singles. I did play with multi hex units but had better luck with dealing with groups of linked units (ie 2-5 "companies" with battalion command stand or CO for example or 3-4 small battalion with brigade commander) whereby activation, morale etc was based around contiguous units of the same organization but actual movement was individual just as bsttalion formations were changed by msnouveting companies.

  7. Ross, Rather than enlarge the grid squares to accommodate the sizes of the buildings, perhaps you could let the house occupy (or partially occupy) more than 1 square to signify a village.

    Just a thought. I don't have them very often...


    1. Thanks Chris, its a good idea (ie I was thinking something similar). With a different design of building or if I went to a footprint template and removed the awkward buildings when they were in the way, I just seem to like making my own life difficult. If I miss the grid I'll probably do the work to make functional multi square towns.

  8. The 1/2 dice for certain targets:

    If a unit is firing at cavalry at long range, they roll half a die, I'm not sure how that is meant to work. Perhaps the difficult targets are only hit on a '6'? Should give a similar effect

    1. Stu, it was a tricky issue for sure, inferior firepower troops only hit on a 6 to start with but I didn't want to allow the lethality of more dice or higher scores. My normal practice would be to say that less than a die means ineffective fire but in special circumstances I might be willing to track partial hits or dice for each one 4,5,6 counts 1,2,3 ineffective.

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