Monday, February 3, 2020

A Triumph of Persistence Over Good Sense?


What I have been searching for, for some years now, is essentially a game that has the simplicity, ease and speed of play of a stand=a unit games such as Morschauser, Volley & Bayonet, DBA, and the Portable Wargame but with just a little bit more tactical colour to feed the narrative (since I play at lower scales of game and am not terribly imaginative at interpreting game mechanisms into narrative).  I wasn't sure if or how reverting to one-stand-is-a-unit basing would help but once done it didn't take long to start remembering such games from early this century that I had enjoyed before first losing the simplicity by a return to the old multi-element unit and then becoming  fascinated by and converted to grids. (Both still useful and attractive options btw.)

The Bodyguard took a chance and got lucky, routing a unit of Grey infantry while the charge of the Mounted Rifles was repulsed by a dose of cannister.

Up until a few days ago, I wasn't really thinking about going off grid for this but my current Medieval/Fantasy rules were designed that way for compatibility with a friend and with our 16thC rules which are also  one stand units, no grid, rules.    So, when I set up the game that is currently on the table, I planned to use the grid but suddenly decided to do a new set of one page, off-grid, rules. The first go was OK but still without that colour, especially around charges while having too much unimportant detail that I had felt maybe ought to be shown.

The apparently Crack Grey gunners silenced a challenging Red battery and then continued to pound Red's cavalry. The opposing cavalry decided to play it safe and dismount for fire action until all of both armies was deployed. Red's infantry had started their assault with discouraging results.

I had recently taken another look at Neil Thomas and some of his rules philosophy. It suddenly seemed that maybe I needed to let go of a few of my habits, get drastic, and came up with something at a little bit different than what I've been doing for the last while but still familiar.

The firefight was loud and bloody for both sides but Grey's last reinforcement had arrived and the sun was sinking. It was time to gamble or go home. 

The end result was a fast paced game with the sorts of decisions I wanted to make and a minimum of fussy stuff, but with some brisk action that could have made a good story and a nail biter of an ending where a gamble against the odds paid off with a last minute do or die cavalry charge by Red sweeping away the shaken enemy while a desperate Blue infantry charge against a battered Red unit resulted in a routed unit of Blue's Zouaves and a wounded Brigadier, all in just over an action packed hour. A full size game with double the number of units should be easily handled in an afternoon without tedium.

Red's infantry had fought their way into the town and Grey's losses amongst his lead brigades had been heavy. He decided to pull back his nearly exhausted battery and sent in the newly arrived Zouave Brigade to retake the town and drive the enemy back.

I've sort of run out of names and this isn't really a direct development from any of my other games but since the Model Major General never gelled,  I've given myself permission to reuse the name.

NOW or NEVER! Red's army was nearing its breaking point but Blue looked to be even closer to breaking. There was not enough daylight left to be sure of breaking the enemy's morale  by fire alone. Red decided to gamble and ordered his infantry to hold in the village on against every counter attack and ordered the Bodyguard and Hussars to mount up and CHARGE!  This time, Fortune favoured the Brave. 

Here's the 2 sides of a page version as played in the illustrations.

Model Major General (2020 ed)
Wargame Rules QRS
2 Feb 2020 1st Draft

Turn Sequence. Determine Initiative
A Moves and declares charges, then B moves and declare charges 
B Fires then A Fires, 
A charges home or retreats then B charges home or retreats, resolve all charges.
Orders. Roll 1d=number of orders. -1 if General lost. (In large games roll by Division)
1 order needed to move a unit or a formed Brigade. (Brigadier+ a group of touching units. They do not need to stay touching.)

Infantry: 9” + 3” if in Brigade column 
Irregulars: 12”
Arty: 12” -6” to limber/unlimber
Cavalry: 18” mounted, -9” dismounted

Facing: Units may move any direction and face direction as desired unless charging.
Bkn gnd. (Fenced fields, open woods etc)  Cav, Arty, 1/2 speed.
Difficult Terrain. (Dense woods etc) Infantry and Pack animals only at 1/2 speed
Towns. Move by road only. 1/2 move for Inf or Dismounted cav to occupy buildings.
Road: Negates terrain.
Charges. Units may not move close than 1” to enemy during movement. A unit that declares a charge and moves to within 1” pins the target unit in place until the charge is resolved. A unit may only charge an enemy which is to its front when the charge is declared. A Pinned unit may choose to shoot during the fire phase OR hold fire until the Charge resolution phase OR if mounted cavalry or spearmen may countercharge
Interpenetration: Units may interpenetrate friends if they may clear them.

Shooting: Tgt must be in arc (45 degrees either side of ahead) and range with a clear line of fire.
Unit Dice Hit On Range
Inf  2 5,6 12”
Shpstr 1 4,5,6 18"
Dis Cav 2 5,6 9” 
Gatling 3 5,6 18”
Arty 2 4,5,6 36”
Difficult Target:  Suffer 1/2 casualties rounding up if artillery, cavalry, sharpshooters or in cover.

Charge Resolution.
4d per unit if charging or holding fire.
5,6 hits
+1 if Shock troops 
Inflict 1/2 casualties if charging enemy defending fortified position or cavalry charging over obstacle or into broken ground etc

Remove any Broken units. If still in contact infantry that charged may back up 1” or a full move. Mounted Cavalry will retreat a full move. If the target of a charge is eliminated the charging unit must occupy the ground and if cavalry may advance 3” and charge again with no response. There is no second pursuit.

Units take 4 hits +1 Vet/Elite, -1 Militia or Irregular
Commander Rally. Once per turn, at any point a unit takes hits, a Commander may join a unit within 3” and roll 1d6: 5,6 cancels 1 hit, 1=cdr is a casualty.
Hospital.  1d per turn, 5,6 = 1 unit recovers 1 hit
Army Morale = If 1/2 units broken must concede. Objectives may count as units for this.
Now to reset the table, prep a few more units and try a different scenario.     


  1. Seems to have resulted in a wonderful looking game.

    Best Regards,


    1. Looking like the picture in our head is half the battle there isn't it?

  2. Looks like an exciting end!

    I love the simple rules - particularly inspired by the commander rally where there's a risk to the commander.

    1. I've been using variations of that for years. Explains why there is a Blue Brigadier lying in the road in the last pic. Tried to halt a rout!

  3. I’m also very impressed by these rules Simple, yes, but even more so, elegant. They’ve given me some ideas (on top of those worth stealing outright, that is!)

    1. Please do. I'd try to point out which, if any, bits are original but I've been poking at this for so long now that I'm not always sure anymore.

  4. They look like a very clean set of rules which I plan to definitely give a go.

    1. I look forward to reading that with an honest review of what, if anything, worked for you and what didn't.

  5. Nice set of rules and lovely models. By casualties does each unit have a number of ‘hit points’? I noticed the dice and assumed this was the case.

    1. each hit reduces a unit's morale by 1. (Last section) The use of 'half casualties' rather than "half the usual number of hits" was habit.

  6. Love the elegance and simplicity of the rules. I can't see where you defined "Broken unit". Is it below half strength?

    1. Broken is slang for 'unit has taken maximum number of hits' as per morale rule. (and you're right it doesn't say that )