Sunday, 10 April 2011

The portable wargame: Latest draft of the nineteenth century version

I have finally managed to complete the latest draft of the nineteenth century version of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules. They are as yet unplay-tested, and are likely to remain so for some time to come. However, I thought that interested blog readers might like sight of them as they stand. Any constructive comments would be welcome.

The Portable Wargame Rules
For use with a battlefield marked with a grid of squares
By Bob Cordery
Based on Joseph Morschauser’s original ideas

Equipment:
The following equipment is needed to fight battles with these rules:
1. A gridded battlefield that is marked with a grid that is at least eight grid squares by eight grid squares;
2. Items of terrain;
3. Two armies, mounted on bases that are smaller than the size of each grid square on the gridded battlefield. The armies may not contain more Units than the number of grid squares along the side of the battlefield that the army is defending multiplied by 1½ (e.g. a battlefield has eight grid squares along each of its sides; therefore the maximum number of Units the army can have is 8 x 1½ = 12 Units). One of the Units may be a Command Unit;
4. A set of at least eight Activation Dice (See Appendix 1);
5. A set of ‘pin’ markers to indicate Units that cannot move until they have been ‘unpinned’;
6. Two D6 dice (one for each player).

Terrain:
Each item of terrain – such as woods, built-up areas, or hills – must fit within the bounds of a grid square on the gridded battlefield and should, if the terrain is passable to troops, allow a Unit base to be placed in the grid square.
The placement of a piece of terrain in a grid square indicates that entire grid square is filled by that type of terrain (e.g. a tree in a grid square indicates that the entire grid square is wooded; a building in a grid square indicates that the entire grid square is a built-up area).
Where pieces of terrain are larger than an individual grid square (e.g. a hill) they must be sized in multiples of grid squares (e.g. two grid squares, three grid squares, or six grid squares) and be marked in squares in the same way as the gridded battlefield.

Unit Types:
Infantry (Firearms)
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: 2 grid squares

Infantry (Close Combat Weapons)
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 4
c. Weapon Range: -

Mounted Cavalry
a. Movement: 2 grid squares
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: -

Machine Guns
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 6
c. Weapon Range: 3 grid squares

Light Field Artillery
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 4 grid squares

Field Artillery
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 6 grid squares

Fortress/Siege Artillery
a. Movement: -
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 10 grid squares

Command
a. Movement: 2 grid squares
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: -

Notes on Unit Types:
No Unit’s Close Combat Power may drop below 1 regardless of other rules.
Artillery Units may not move during a turn in which they have fired.
Dismounted Cavalry Units move and fight as if they are Infantry Units but their Close Combat Power is reduced by 1 whilst they are dismounted.
Infantry and Cavalry Units may move forward to replace an enemy Unit after it has been successfully attacked and destroyed by Close Combat; other Units may not move forward in these circumstances.

Activation Dice:
The number of Activation Dice a player may throw each turn to activate Units in their army is determined using the following formulae:
a. For European armies: One activation dice for the Command Unit plus one activation dice for every three Units in the army rounded up (e.g. A player commanding a European army of eight Units will throw four activation dice; one for the Command Unit and three for the remaining Units).
b. For Native armies: One activation dice for the Commander Unit plus one activation dice for every three Units in the army rounded down (e.g. A player commanding a Native army of eight Units will throw three activation dice; one for the Command Unit and two for the remaining Units).
As a player’s army loses Units, the number of activation dice the player may throw will decrease in line with these formulae (e.g. If a player commanding a European army loses their Command Unit, they immediately lose an activation dice; they will also lose an activation dice every time the number of non-Command Units in their army is reduced to a number that is evenly divisible by three).

Unit Activation:
The Activation Dice determine how many Units each army may activate during a turn.
When activated, a Unit may move or fire or be unpinned. (N.B. Any Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not move this turn but they may be unpinned.)
The only exception to this rule are Native Infantry and Cavalry Units which may make a double-length move if the player commanding them decides to use two of their Unit activations to do so. For example, a player commanding a Native army may use four activations to:
a. Move four Native Infantry Units one grid square each or
b. Move one Native Infantry Unit a double-length move (i.e. two grid squares) and two Native Infantry Units one grid square each or
c. Move two Native Infantry Units a double-length move each (i.e. two grid squares)

Pre-battle Deployment:
For ‘one off’ battles, each side must deploy its army within its deployment zone. These are the first two rows of grid squares on the opposing sides of the gridded battlefield.
For campaign battles, each side may deploy its army within its half of the gridded battlefield, subject the rule that no Unit may start the battle in a square that is orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to one occupied by an enemy Unit.

Turn Sequence:
1. Any Artillery Unit that is within range may fire. Because artillery fire is deemed to be simultaneous, casualties are removed after all artillery fire has taken place.
2. Both sides roll a D6 die to see which side will activate its Units first. The side with the highest score activates its Units first this turn and then:
2a. Throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
2b. Selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn. When activated, a Unit may move or fire or be unpinned. (N.B. Any Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not move this turn but they may be unpinned.)
2c. Any Close Combats are resolved and casualties are removed. Once the first side has activated all the Units it may activate, the second side may activate its Units.
3. Once both sides have activated their Units, the turn has ended and the next may begin.

Artillery Fire:
Artillery fire is simultaneous; therefore if an Artillery Unit is destroyed it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
Artillery Units may only fire once each turn, and if they fire, they may not be activated during the same turn.
Artillery Units may fire if they are pinned.
All artillery fire ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares).
Artillery Units fire within an arc of fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which they are facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
Artillery fire can destroy any type of ground Unit.
Artillery Units can fire into woods, built-up areas, and fortifications.
Artillery Units can fire out of woods, built-up areas, and fortifications if they are in a grid square that is on the edge of the woods, built-up areas, or fortifications (i.e. the orthogonally adjacent grid square in the direction they are firing does not contain woods, built-up areas, or fortifications).
If an entire Unit can be seen by an Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the artillery fire is direct fire; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. woods, built-up areas, and fortifications), the artillery fire is indirect fire.
After nominating the target grid square the Artillery Unit is firing at, a D6 die is thrown:
a. Die score = 5 or 6: Artillery fire lands on the target grid square.
b. Die score = 1: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the left of the target grid square (i.e. at 9 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
c. Die score = 2: Artillery fire lands in the grid square beyond the target grid square (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
d. Die score = 3: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the right of the target grid square (i.e. at 3 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
e. Die score = 4: Artillery fire lands in the grid square before the target grid square (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
If there is a Unit in the grid square that the artillery fire lands in, that Unit is hit.
A D6 die is then rolled to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon any Unit that is in the grid square in which the artillery fire has landed.
a. Direct artillery fire – 5 or 6: Destroys a Unit; Any other score: Pins a Unit
b. Indirect artillery fire – 6: Destroys a Unit; 4 or 5: Pins a Unit; Any other score: No effect

Movement:
A Unit may only move once each turn and then only if it has been activated and:
a. It has not fired or
b. It is not pinned.
All movement is made and measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares)
A Unit may change its direction of movement any number of times during its move.
A Unit may move through grid squares that are:
a. Occupied by friendly Units;
b. Diagonally adjacent to the front, flank, or rear of an enemy Unit.
A Unit may not end its move in the same grid square as another Unit.
A Unit must stop as soon as it enters a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the front, flank or rear of enemy Unit, and both Units turn to face each other at once.
If a Unit is being faced by an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square and the Unit has not yet been activated and moved this turn, it may move providing that:
a. It is one of the Units chosen to be activated and moved this turn and
b. It does not move into a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the front of another enemy Unit.

Non-Artillery Fire:
Non-Artillery Units may fire once each turn if they have not moved.
Non-Artillery Units may fire if they are pinned.
All non-artillery fire ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares).
All non-Artillery Units fire within an arc of fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which they are facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
Non-Artillery Units can fire out of woods, built-up areas, and fortifications if they are in a grid square that is on the edge of the woods, built-up areas, or fortifications (i.e. the orthogonally adjacent grid square in the direction they are firing does not contain woods, built-up areas, or fortifications).
If an entire Unit can be seen by a non-Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the target Unit is in the open; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. woods, built-up areas, and fortifications), the target Unit is in cover.
A D6 die is rolled for each non-Artillery Unit that is firing.
a. Target is in the open – 5 or 6: Destroys a Unit; 2, 3, or 4: Pins a Unit; 1: No effect
b. Target is in cover – 6: Destroys a Unit; 4 or 5: Pins a Unit; Any other score: No effect

Close Combat:
Close Combats are fought if, after a side’s Units have been activated and moved, a Unit is being faced by an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square.
Units do not need to be activated to take part in a Close Combat.
If several Units move into grid squares that are orthogonally adjacent to an enemy Unit, the enemy Unit is turned to face the last Unit that moved into contact with it. This last Unit is deemed to be the attacking Unit for the purposes of resolving a Close Combat, and its Close Combat Power is used when the outcome of the Close Combat is determined. If the attacking Unit loses the ensuing Close Combat, it is the Unit that is destroyed and removed.
When several Units attack a single enemy Unit, the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power is reduced:
a. 2 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 1;
b. 3 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 2;
c. 4 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 3.
This rule is subject to the proviso that no Unit’s Close Combat Power may drop below 1.
To determine the outcome of a Close Combat, each side throws a D6 die:
a. If the attacker’s dice score is equal to or is less than its Close Combat Power, the defending Unit is destroyed and removed at once; If the attacker’s dice score is greater than its Close Combat Power, the defending Unit survives the Close Combat. (Notes: If the attacking Unit is an Infantry or Cavalry Unit it may move into the now empty grid square. If this results in the attacking Unit coming into contact with another enemy Unit, it may not attack the enemy Unit this turn.)
b. If the defender’s dice score is equal to or is less than its Close Combat Power, the attacking Unit is destroyed and removed at once; If the defender’s dice score is greater than its Close Combat Power, the attacking Unit survives the Close Combat. (Notes: The defending Unit may not move into the now empty grid square.)
c. If one Unit is destroyed, the surviving Unit or Units have won the Close Combat.
d. If neither Unit is destroyed, the Close Combat ends as a draw. The attacking Unit must withdraw into an orthogonally or diagonally adjacent empty grid square that is not orthogonally adjacent to a grid square occupied by an enemy Unit. If it is unable to do so, it is destroyed.
e. If both Units are destroyed, the Close Combat has resulted in mutual annihilation.

Special Rules:
1. Pinning:
With the exception of European Cavalry Units, when a Unit is pinned is stops where it is and may not move until it is unpinned.
Whilst pinned, the Unit is deemed to be under cover, even if it is in the open. This reflects that fact that it has ‘gone to ground’.
European Cavalry Units do not stop when they are pinned; they immediately charge towards the nearest enemy Unit, and will continue to do so until they are unpinned.
This reflects the fact that European Cavalry Units tend towards ‘flight to the front’ when the come under fire rather than seeking cover.

2. Hills:
Units may only move up or down one hill contour each turn.
A Unit that is attacking an enemy Unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Close Combat Power by 1.

3. Roads:
Each grid square of movement made along a road by a Unit uses up only half a grid square of movement.
If a Unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-grid squares of movement are lost.
For movement, built-up areas count as roads.

4. Rivers:
Rivers may only be crossed by bridge or at a shallow spot (ford).
Units that enter river grid squares where there is no bridge or a shallow spot (ford) are destroyed.
When crossing a shallow spot (ford) in a river, a Unit moves into the river on turn A and stops. It remains in the river for turn B, and it then moves again on turn C.
Units that are fording rivers (i.e. are in turn B of the above sequence) may not fire.
A Unit that is in a river grid square and is attacking an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square reduces its Close Combat Power by 1.

5. Woods:
Units attacking enemy Units that are in woods reduce their Close Combat Power by 1, even if the attacking Unit is also in the woods.

6. Built-up Areas and Fortifications:
Units attacking enemy Units that are in built-up areas or fortifications reduce their Close Combat Power by 2, even if the attacking Unit is also in the built-up area or fortification.

Appendix 1: Activation Dice
The Activation Dice are D6 dice with the faces marked as follows:
a. One face marked with ‘0’;
b. Two faces marked with ‘1’;
c. Two faces marked with ‘2’;
d. One face marked with ‘3’.
In the absence of a set of such dice, players could use ordinary D6 dice, each score being divided by two and rounded down:
a. 1 = 0;
b. 2 = 1;
c. 3 = 1;
d. 4 = 2;
e. 5 = 2;
f. 6 = 3.
It is important to note that, when using ordinary D6 dice as Activation Dice, the dice scores are not aggregated before being divided by two; each die’s score must be separately divided by two and then the resultant scores are aggregated to determine how many Units a player may move.

2 comments:

  1. It looks good Bob.

    I did find 1 minor editing item. Under activation you explain that artillery that fires may not move but may be unpinned but under artillery it still says that they may not be activated (vs moved).

    However, I also noticed a minor/rare possible issue to do with direct artillery fire. (The indirect fire is good) Now I should say that I find it odd that the artillery might fire for effect at the wrong target if they were observing their own fire but accept it. Today it struck me that in the unusual situation of artillery being adjacent to an enemy unit (presumably after the enemy fought a melee against a friendly unit and advanced or was supporting an attack ), if the artillery fires at the adjacent square, the shells/canister might deviate onto the gun itself, potentially destroying it. Perhaps it calls for a special case where direct fire from a gun at an adjacent square will automatically land in that square?

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  2. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for raising those points.

    The first just requires clarification (artillery cannot move if it has fired but can be unpinned).

    The second needs a simple additional rule to be written that says if the range is one square, a hit is automatic.

    I will add both to the next draft.

    All the best,

    Bob

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