15 October 2016

Tinkering with the Rules. . .

 A 'macaroni' was yet another derisive term for a popinjay, a fop, or a dandy (in the extreme.  A vain, conceited man overly concerned with his attire and appearance.  Ouch!  That description strikes a little close to home I fear.

Not a whole lot of painting recently as real life and work-related stuff have encroached into my evenings and weekends these last several weeks.  But, I have stitched together a short, simple set of very derivative rules based on the work of many wargaming "greats" both past and present, stretching from Featherstone, Wesencraft, and the Grants to Mason, Gilder, and Hezzlewood, to Purky and Protz. 

The reason for the rules presented below is due to my growing dissatisfaction with Charge! as an easily recalled, playable set of rules that keeps the game moving forward at a reasonable pace.  As much as I love the book and the illustrative stories contained therein, in practice I find even the basic rules slow going.  Greg (Horne) more or less concurred when I asked him about it in a subsequent e-mail.  

 After 30+ years in the hobby (something I find really difficult to get my head around since on a good day I still feel 17), it finally dawned on me that what I really want on those all too rare occasions when the soldiers are set up for a battle is an easy, fun game without the need to consult a rule book or playsheet each and every turn.  I'm not after a hyper-realistic simulation of 18th century warfare.  I simply want to see and play with my toy soldiers on an attractively laid out table AND reach a decisive conclusion to the game before my eyebrows are completely gray.

This realization hit me like a bolt out of the blue during the recently concluded Battle of Doltz e-game, which I ran much in the style of a classic kriegspiel where Greg and Ross (MacFarlane) sent me their general orders at the start of the game and followed up with subsequent orders as the game developed.  I handled all of the dice rolling to resolve combats and chance occurrences, feeding them new information via photographs with descriptions right here on the GD of S blog as the situation changed and/or new ones arose.  

I enjoyed the game as I always do, but the need to consult the quick play sheet that I cobbled together several years ago, coincidentally for a an e-refight of Sittangbad with Greg, became a pain in the neck.  Isn't there an easier way to have fun with our model soldiers and terrain?  It dawned on me that the late Donald Featherstone had the right idea.

So, below is what I have worked up based on various simple rules by the hobby "greats," both past and present.  They present six -- That's right, ONLY six -- easily remembered core rules with an additional dozen to keep in mind should a scenario or situation call for it.  Have a look, think about them, try 'em out if you wish, see what you think, tinker with them to your heart's content, and maybe drop me a line here with your own thoughts and conclusions.  Let's talkLadies and Gentlemen, I give you. . .  Call It Macaroni!

Call It Macaroni!   Simple Old School Rules for Tabletop Warfare

D6 per unit moving 1 = -2”; 2 = -1”; 3 or 4 = Normal; 5 = +1”; 6 = +2”

Line 12” (No woods; Move OR Fire)
Light 18” (Move AND Fire)
Cavalry 18” (No Woods)
Hussars/Uhlans 24” (No Woods)
Artillery 12” (Unlimber/Limber -1/2 Move)
Transport 12” (No Woods)
Staff/ADCs 30”

***Formation Change/Enter or Leave BUAs/ Obstacles/Uphill -1/2.  No penalties for Light Infantry.

Skirmish Fire (Individuals)
0-6” - D6 per each figure firing, 3, 4, 5, or 6 hits.
6”-12” - 4, 5, or 6 hits.
12”-18” - 5 or 6 hits.

***Use this rule too for odd numbers of line infantry, but at the shorter musketry ranges.
Artillery Fire
A) Ranging (Once for each NEW target)
0-6” Automatic Hit
6”-12” 4, 5, 6 Hits
12”-36” 5, 6 Hits
36”-60” 6 Hits

B) Determining Casualties
0-6” D6 per Gun
6”-12” D6 -2
12”-36” D6 -3
36”-60” D6 -4

***Cavalry, skirmishers, troops in cover -1/2 hits.

***Guns that use a half move to unlimber may still come into action that turn, attempt to range up, and, if proper range established, determine casualties inflicted.

A) Determine if one side or the other flinches before contact made -- at 6” or less -- by rolling a D6:

0-10% Casualties = 6 unit retires full move to rear.
10%-20% Casualties = 5, 6 ----------
20%-50% Casualties = 4, 5, 6 ----------

B) If and when units close with one another:

D6 for each foot figure
2D6 per each cavalry figure

High score wins.  Side with most losses retires two full move distances where it must remain stationary and rally during next turn with no offensive movement.  Winner moves immediately forward into space vacated by loser.

0-4” D6 (per eight figures)
4”-8” D6 -2
8”12” D6 -3

***+1 per D6 on first volley
***D6 for 6-7 figures.  Dice individually for 5 or less.
***Cavalry and target in cover -1/2.

The 50% Rule
A unit reduced to half of its original strength must be removed from the table and takes no further role in the battle.

Initial general orders must be written out beforehand and troops correspondingly placed on the table before the start of the game.

Turns equal roughly 30 minutes of actual time give or take.  Dice to determine time when battle begins, or decide randomly.  Battles slow at sundown and come to a halt at dark depending on the season.

Orders may only be changed by writing and issuing new ones via an ADC. Roll a D6:

1 = ADC lost or captured, orders never arrive.
2 = ½ Speed
3 or 4 = Normal Speed.
5 = ½ Speed
6 = Orders reach intended destination but misunderstood and go unfollowed

Rafts, Barges, and Boats
Downstream 12”
Upstream 9”
Each holds a half company of infantry (8 figs.).
Each takes half a move to load/unload.
Leaves landing/boarding site at half move distance.  Subsequent moves are at full distance.

Isolation and Prisoners
If one side has no supporting troops within one move distance when a melee occurs, it is isolated.  If the isolated figures are less than half the number of their remaining opponents AFTER melee casualties have been determined, they are taken prisoner and are escorted to the rear (one sentry for every six prisoners).

Building Bridges
Two companies of pioneers can bridge a:

Small river in 1 day
Medium river in 2 days
Large river in 3 days

Bridge Demolition
One company of pioneers:

Small Bridge 4 turns (two hours)
Medium Bridge 6 turns (three hours)
Large Bridge 8 turns (four hours)

Pontoon Bridges
Two companies of pontooniers can:

Float one pontoon 1 turn (30 min.)
Add bridge decking 1 turn (30 min.)

*** D6 for each pontoon.  It breaks free on a 6.

Field Works
Two companies of pioneers can build:

Redoubt for two guns 24 turns (twelve hours)
12” of trench 6 turns (three hours)
12” of abattis 6 turns (three hours)

Fog or Mist
If fog or mist present on tabletop battlefield, throw a D6 per unit:

1-2 = 1” to L
3-4 = No Change
5-6 = 1” to R

The Unexpected
Keep the spirit of the game in mind!  Players should handle unexpected situations not catered for in the rules by the seats of their pants, making up something on the spot to arrive at quick and decisive conclusions that keep the game pleasant and moving forward.

Period Feel
Players are encouraged to scatter extra vignettes, vehicles, period and location specific buildings, or anything else that might help create the right historic flavor around the tabletop battlefield.  These items and impedimenta play no direct role in the game, but foster the right sort of atmosphere.  Think Peter Gilder, Doug Mason, Bill Protz, and Jim Purky!



Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

I'm all in favour of tinkering and experimenting with rules and I HATE having to refer to a playsheet to resolve fire etc.

However, ironically, Charge! is one of the very few commercial sets that I was able to play without a cheat sheet after about 2 games but then I always play the advanced version which (ironically) is much simpler than tbe introductory version. I think this due to the written turn orders and simultaneous movement, firing etc. Rather than the interlaced alternate system.

Enjoy the experimenting!

Prince Lupus said...

Very interesting and quite similar to the home grown set I use. With firing I found it easier to count hits as per dice but exclude the higher numbers at longer ranges eg 1 is one hit, 2 is two hits whilst 3 4 5 6 are misses rather than deducting from the throw. Melee mechanics are similar as too many mechanics complicates things. I have the fifty per cent rule but have the unit withdraw with a child as nice to rally "hits" back. I have found I enjoy playing much more with simpler rules.

The Good Soldier Svjek said...

Interesting ideas here ! , are the melee dice thrown per two opposing figures - highest score winning ? , Tony

tradgardmastare said...

Most interesting,I shall give them a whirl very soon.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Thank you everyone for your comments so far! I am interested to learn how these work for others with regard to reasonably fast, fun play. I hope to give the a shot (pun intended) very soon myself and will share my post-game reflections here at the GD of S blog.

Best Regards,


Der Alte Fritz said...

I don't see a problem with having a quick reference sheet to use during the game. I wouldn't be able to remember all of the different measurements and the meaning of individual dice rolls that are shown in your tables. I would need to consult a chart to play your rules ( not that there is anything wrong with that 😀 ). My general observation is that if you don't like a particular set of rules, all the changes and tweaks are not going to make your experience any better unless you already like the mechanics of fire, movement, melee and morale, etc.


Old School ACW said...

Oh, look, there's an article in this.

*All innocence*


Big Andy said...

I shall give these a bash with "Shinyloo".

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Please do have a bash Andy, and everyone else. Let me know what works, what does not, and what is easily committed to memory. As I say, there are not original but are a collection of various bits and pieces by others that I have come across over the years and combined into a single "rule set" that might hopefully be very easy to use after two or three games, producing quick results and easily finished games. That is the intent at any rate. Touch wood as my Welsh step-father says.

Best Regards,



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