The fine art of running away

29 01 2012

Last time we talked rules, I mentioned the distinct possibility that troops getting shot at could eventually get sick of it and start running for their lives.  This occurs when a unit that had previously been ok with standing their ground fails what is known as a morale check due to enemy fire.  This brings up an interesting notion.  When running for one’s life, is it really possible to run far enough?  When do you stop?  Nearest ditch?  When you get back home to Ohio?  Never?

Troops in battle would run towards the rear (ideally behind their own troops so they would be screened) putting real distance between them and danger.  Distance is the best cover after all.  At the battle of First Manassas (First Bull Run if you are a closet southerner) the union troops fled from the battlefield all the way back to Washington D.C.  The retreat took several days and was a national disgrace known as the “the Great Skedaddle”. Much was learned from that fiasco including the necessity  keeping reserves on hand to provide a position that could be used to rally troops while  still on the battlefield.

From a game perspective fleeing is an odd notion.  It’s compulsive movement that occurs despite unit/officer skill.  Up till now moving troops is a very deliberate act requiring an officer to employ skill to issue orders.  Furthermore, we have already stated that routing units can’t be issued orders, the exception being the ever popular “stop being routed you knuckleheads” order… (which I’m not explaining yet!).    We need fleeing to occur at random times and we need fleeing to happen despite the units will.

Is now a good time to panic?

The bag o’ destiny is the keeper of all things timing.  It dictates the order in which game events occur and it might as well tell us when we should do our running.  To this end I have created some Flight Check markers that are the same shape and size as the generals activation chits.

Flight Check Chit

I figure that units probably run for their life faster than they march, or even quick time, into battle so I put two of these bad boys into the bag o’ destiny along with the general markers.  That way each turn units will have to check for flight twice and therefore will move twice as fast as regular units not running for their lives.  Play testing may reveal that I am an idiot and this is too much or not enough.


During the game, whenever a Flight Check token is drawn, all routing units will check to see if they flee.  There is not mechanic for delaying this check.  It occurs immediately and simultaneously.

Flights are also triggered if an enemy unit gets within 4” of a routing unit or is shot at at any range.  When triggered by movement, flight will be checked  before the moving unit gets to shoot.

Flight checks

Once a flight check token is drawn, all routing units make skill checks to see if they must flee.  To make a flight check, units make a skill roll using the following modifiers:

  • -1 shaken (negative morale is negative morale modifier. FUN!)
  • -2 if routed (More FUN!)
  • -1 per stand lost
  • -1 if flanked (any of the shooting units can not be shot at)
  • +1 partial cover (fence or tress)
  • +2 full cover (building or works)
  • -1 if disordered (Which it is… its routing.  Sorry)
  • + 1 for each foot the unit is away from the nearest enemy unit

Two fun things about the list above. 

  1. Being disordered is a –1 modifier.  This makes since as far as it goes BUT there is NO WAY for a routing unit to NOT be disordered.  I could restate this rule to say that being disorded is NOT a –1 but you need a ‘5’ instead of a ‘4’.  I could also leave it out all together and make it easier to not run away.  I choose to state it this way because it that makes this list of modifiers REALLY similar to the morale check modifiers.  That leads us to thing #2.
  2. This list is IDENTICAL to the morale check list with one teensy exception; I get a +1 for every foot I am from an enemy.  This means that units become less likely to run the further they are from the enemy.

As always, when making a skill role, a unit uses 3 dice modified by –1 dice if the unit is green and +1 if the unit is elite.

Units can elect to automatically flee when a check occurs.  This can be done either because the unit would be better off moved or because the units controller dislikes math.  Either way, Flight is always an option.

What happens when a unit flees

Two things happen when a unit flees; It gets smaller and it gets closer to safety.  Let’s do smaller first.

Each unit that flees takes two straggler hits.  These are the groovy yellow inner tube hits that a unit picks up when it quick times or routes.  A straggler check (a roll for effect using the table above minus the distance modifier) may be made to see if these can be avoided (each success reduces stragglers by 1) or you could just take the two hits like a man and avoid doing some math here because by this point the unit is pretty screwed.  A routing unit that is missing one stand and has no cover will need to roll ‘8’ with its skill check (base of 4, -2 routing, –1 disordered, –1 for one stand)

Remember, when a brigade is activated, each unit in the brigade loses one straggler hit automatically.  This models soldiers that are separated from their unit with the serious intent of rejoining it.

The unit next moves 150% of its regular move “to the rear”.  Infantry in disorder have an 8” move so they would flee 12”.  This move should be toward something that would look like a good place to hide, would provide cover, is not towards enemy units, already has friendly fleeing units, has formed friendly units, or in general looks like a road back to Washington D.C.  There really is a role playing element here that you can’t capture in a rule.  The flee-er should pick a spot he can reach and his opponent should say “Yeah… I would totes hide in that barn too”.  Either that or he should point out a better barn.  The thing to avoid is using flight to redeploy units.

Oh… in addition to running and taking straggler hits, its customary amongst seasoned wargamers to quote Bill Paxton while running away.

Bill Paxton reflecting on his situation

Units that flee off the table, by convention, are removed from the game.  The stands lost are counted as casualties for scenario victory point purposes.  Another reasonable outcome is that they count as half casualties (given that they aren’t really dead.)  I would probably do the latter.  It is also OK to keep track of the number of inches the unit flees of the table keep track of it elsewhere.

Units that lose all their soldiers to straggling aren’t eliminated.  They are tracked like there are still units on the table but the do NOT collect extra straggler hits.  The regiment on the table doesn’t so much represent the mass of soldiers on the table but rather the point at which they will eventually begin to reform.

Example of fleeing

Consider the following example…


The 47th Indiana has been blown up.  They have already routed and are now hiding in the woods pretty close to one of their artillery units.  They were once a 4 stand regiment and now down the the last figure on their command stand.  A Flight Check chit has been drawn and its now time to see if time to run for our lives.

Let’s see 47th needs a modified 4…

4 + 3 = 7 for lost stands

7 + 2 = 9 for routing

9 + 1 = 10 for being disordered

10 – 1 = 9 for being in the woods (partial cover).

You can’t see the confederates in the picture but they are less than a foot away.  Bummer. 

A 9 is a big number to reach fro with a six sided die.  Let’s see how that turned out!


So…. 47th Indiana is a Veteran unit… so they get 3 dice.  Their general must have been about to through away a dice because it looks like he lent then one of this command dice (for a bonus fourth dice).  We roll and we get a 1, 1, 3, 6!.  That six has a 50% of actually being a 7.  We roll a 4… bingo… it’s a 7.  Now we have a 50% chance of that 7 being an 8.  We roll a 5 and its now an 8.  Now we have a 50/50 of being 9.  We roll another 5 so we get 9!

Ok.  Reality check.  The odds of me getting a die to roll a ’6’ is 16%.  The odds of rolling a ‘6’ and winning 3 coin tosses is 2%.  Nice long odds but not relevant given we rolled 4 dice.  Let’s flip the scenario so we can work out the odds of failing this roll with all four dice.

The odds of NOT rolling a ‘9’ is 98%.  The odds of me NOT rolling a ‘9’ on 4 dice is  92% (98% x 98% x 98% x 98%).  That means the odds of me succeeding is 8%.

OK.  So… given that the enemy is so close still and I’ve got no figures left to shoot with, I had no business trying to not flee.  I need to get the hell back to D.C.  Doubly so given that I can’t take more straggler hits!  Let’s say we just forget I rolled those dice and I run for the hills.


I am supposed to be running 12” to the rear.  I have some latitude on where I can run so I check to see if I can make it to some cover.  I see a patch of woods that looks perfect for running into and hiding.  I will have to cross two fences (each with a 1” movement penalty) and about 1” of woods to go through which costs me 2” inches of movement.  That means I move 9” linear inches.  There.  Much better.

By the way…  I took these picks in my first ever play test so the situation above was not so hypothetical.  The unit above got itself into a proper pickle prior to breaking and I managed to get a good photo.  This is the unit just before deciding to leave.


I love the casualty markers!


Where the hell is Doug?

7 01 2012

I have confession to make.  I don’t paint as fast as I blog.  (Who does?). 

I started this project about 3 years ago when I mentioned my hobby to a coworker and he seemed pretty enthused by what I described.  He wanted to know when we could play and I mentioned that I didn’t really have a game that could be played.  When he asked how long it takes to get one ready I said that at the rate I paint and given that I was really anal with my painting it could take 3 or 4 years.  He felt I should get started then.  This made sense to me so I did.

Meanwhile, I have found that a number or notable people/coworkers/people I admire had created useful blogs.  Blogs sort of last forever and they tend to give their writers a high level of credibility.  They also force changes to the perspective of the writer.  I don’t do anything with my game without thinking how I would explain it or illustrate it.  I can happily say this bleeds over into my work and home life. It was recommended to me and I recommend it to you.

Now… I started painting about 3 years ago, and, as you may have noticed, I started blogging just over one year ago.  This means that I had a good deal of my game finished before I started the blog.  A lot of this blog has been documentation of things I finished long ago.  Sadly, I am out of things I finished long ago.  I have few things in the can I can blog about but, sadly, I must paint and blog in roughly real time.

Thing 2…  I like football.  I like painting too.  I liking painting on the weekends.  Unfortunately, my teams like playing football on the weekends too.  Conflict!  Historically I slow down my painting in the fall.  Usually I am a spree painter anyway but September through December are slow months for me painting-wise.  Good news is its January and I can no longer blame my lack of productivity on football.  I now blame it on the weather.

Let me explain.  It’s cold outside and I paint in the garage.  I find this to be a useful place to paint most of the year as I have enough room for everything, I don’t have clean up when I’m done and I keep my beer in the garage fridge anyway.  Win!  Problem is its 40 degrees outside as I speak.  Some days space heaters are little better than huddling up with a lit match.  Today is one such day.

The Plan

My original plan was to play test the game in the fall before I hibernated.  This didn’t work out for interesting reasons.  I did get the painting done but I had a magical combination of business travel, head colds, and house guests last year that made play testing a no go.  I will try to get this fixed but it might be a month or two.  A playtest will not only make an interesting blog or two but I should get pictures for three or for rules blogs as well.

I also have some foundational projects in mind.  They will be boring blogging but essential for other things.  Right now I have a couple of bookshelves and tables in the garage and they are getting miserably cluttered.  I will be building a garage shelf that will help me with my storage.  I would like to get on that this month.

I also intend to install some gaming lighting in my garage so that McPherson and Revenge can be played without tearing up the house.  This should lower the threshold for getting my game on the table and, as I already mentioned, I keep my beer in the garage anyway.  It’s a weak blog topic but I might post it anyway to give the perception of movement.

Please bare with me over the coming months as I get reorganized for the coming year.  I may be far enough along that I can fight the battle of Champion hill this summer but it will be a bit longer before it looks like I’ve gotten back in the saddle.   Think happy thoughts.

The Invasion of Mississippi

23 10 2011

General Grant began landing his army at Bruinsburg Mississippi on April 29th.  His original plan had been to land at Grand Gulf a few miles upstream but with the timely advice of a local slave decided instead on Bruinsburg.  At Grand Gulf roads both north and south were impassible due to seasonal flooding and the one road that lead eastward was impaired.  This would have made it challenging to move his entire army on.  Furthermore, the bulk of Bowen’s division was based there which would have meant a real fight before the chance to land enough troops to gain a bridgehead.

Note:  Having a sizable slave population is an EXCELLENT way to ensure that an invading army has timely and accurate information about the disposition of your forces and up to date information of road and river conditions.  This is an amazing disadvantage made worse by the fact that slave owners typically fled in the face union armies.  I’m certain there must be a really good book out there on the gathering of intelligence from friendly slaves during the American Civil War.

To really isolate Vicksburg from the rest of the Confederacy, Grant needed to strike inland towards Jackson Mississippi.  Jackson was not only the local thriving metropolis, and therefore a supply of both men and material, but it was the intersection of both an east-west and north-south rail line.  The more Grant’s forces proved a threat to Vicksburg, the more troops would flow into Jackson from all quarters of the confederacy where, in time they would become a well supplied and numerically significant threat.

Port Gibson

Once Mclernand’s XVII corps had crossed the Mississippi it started inland on the long march to Jackson.  It had only to go a few miles before it reached Port Gibson where Brigadier’s Martin Green and Edward Tracy and and over 2400 men waited.

Port Gibson Detail

This part of the world is a defenders dream.  It is a series of undulating ridges interspersed with creeks.  Ideally the confederates would like to have occupied a position astride the road from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson, dig in and wait for the confederacy to reinforce them. Unfortunately the road connecting these to Mississippi towns inexplicably forks requiring the already intensely outnumber confederated to defend two approaches to Port Gibson.

On May 1st, General Tracy and his Alabamians assumed a position across the northern approach to Port Gibson and General Green placed his Missouri troops across the southern approach.  Each were attacked multiple times throughout the day by soldiers of both Mclernand’s and McPherson’s corps .  Each assault would result in either a bloody repulse or these two independent forces being pushed back and further apart.


Eventually Grant’s numbers came to dominate the battle despite the presence of some confederate reinforcements.  Not only could assaults be performed in large enough numbers to succeed but virtually every position assumed by Confederates could be outflanked by Union forces.  At 9:00 PM that evening confederates slipped out of their position and crossed Bayou Pierre to the north, burning bridges as the went.

The number of participants of the battle for the south can be described succinctly as “4 brigades”.  This would have been around 3000 to 4000 men.  Conversely Union forces would have been described as “2 corps” and would be as many men could be wedged into position in front of the Confederates.  Around 40,000 to 50,000 would have been available for this task.

This battle resulted in around 800 casualties for each side.  Union casualties where primarily dead and wounded while confederates suffered a large number of captured soldiers.


Abandoning Port Gibson had at least one major impact on the confederate defense of Vicksburg.  The fort at Grand Gulf (a few miles north on the Mississippi) could no longer be defended and its near 5000 men (Bowen’s entire division) could no longer stay where it was.  Grant would be astride their supply line (and Bowen’s line of retreat) once he rebuilt the bridges across Bayou Pierre and the fort would be quickly starved.  Two options were available:

  • Join the defeated troops from Port Gibson and form a new defensive line to interpose between Grant and his goal.
  • Join the defenders of Vicksburg.

Ultimately the decision was taken to move the Grand Gulf defenders back to Vicksburg.  While it was obvious to Grant he needed to go to Jackson, it was far less so the General Bowen and the Vicksburg Garrison.  Vicksburg was the ultimate target so rushing to defend it was an easy choice. By one of those quirks of military command, the Vicksburg forces were not responsible for Jackson. Their responsibility was the banks of the Mississippi river and Vicksburg and this part of the Mississippi bank was already lost.  The threat to the Vicksburg supply line that passed through Jackson was not fully appreciated at the time.  Jackson nominally had its own Commander, General John Gregg, who would be on the hook to keep Jackson safe.  Good luck to him.

With Confederates fleeing north towards Vicksburg, Grant’s path East to Jackson was wide open.  Not only where there no troops on the roads to Jackson to slow the union advance, there was no one to warn the locals or organize the removal of supplies.  There would be no scorched earth in Mississippi.  Every farm and plantation held onto its equipment, animals and provisions in the vain belief that they would be spared.  Grant’s army would be abundantly supplied on its drive to Jackson.

With the Road clear to Jackson, Grant pulled General Sherman’s Corps out of its position opposite Vicksburg and it began its trek through Louisiana to the crossing at Hard Times. 

Campaign Maps

I know its confusing to drop city and river names at random on readers not steeped in obscure civil war history.  In addition to the maps that pop up in books I use, I am very fond of a pair of maps created by Hal Jasperon that are available on Wikipedia.

Mr. Jasperon is the dean of high quality freeware maps of the civil war and the internet, and in particular Wikipedia, is literally covered in his work.  His civil war maps page contains literally hundreds of strategic and battlefield maps (though sadly, not one for Champion hill).

Here is a map of Grant’s inland campaign (along with spoilers!)


Here is a map of Grant’s operation against Vicksburg prior to the invasion.


Orchards and their Necessity to Society.

25 09 2011

Ok… I don’t know that orchards really are such a necessity but I was at a loss for a title  this week and Abigail seemed to think this would work.  Go Ab.

Orchards play a recurring role on the civil war battlefield (The Peach orchard at Gettysburg for instance).  Orchards provide opportunities for cover which soldiers like without all that nasty underbrush which makes movement such a chore.  And… if the battle wears on, and it’s the right time of year (or you don’t mind green fruit) you could have an apple or two during the fight.

In McPherson and Revenge, an orchard:

  • Provides +1 cover modifier for morale checks and being shot at.  Yeah! 
  • Has no impact on movement.
  • Is a a source for material used to create improvised cover

Creating Orchards

To make my life easier (and this blog entry shorter) I start with completed trees


Single tree stands of both the light and dark green variety are used to create peach and apple trees.

To create an apple tree I put drops of thinned glue onto the true using my glue applicator.


I then dunk the tree into a container of scenic forest’s “apples”.  This stuff is basically just tiny round pellets covered in (sadly) water soluble red paint.


This does not work well.  There is just enough a static charge to make the apples stick without actually being glued.  Really… this is a pain.  Please try a different method and let me know how it works.  Pretty please.

I “coated” my light green trees with apples and my dark green trees with peaches


There is a slight scale problem here as you can see.  As small as the fruit is, it looks like the tree is being pulled up by its roots by colorful helium filled balloons.  It looks better on the table than it does in a close up photo so I can live with it.

Next step… I spray matte finish on the trees in a vain effort to get the fruit to stay on the tree.


This doesn’t work of course but it makes me feel better and after an afternoon of mucking with tiny fruit spraying things with glue is very relaxing.

Here are some of these orchards in action!



Most projects I present in this blog are pretty much all successful.  I rarely feel like I finish with a compromised result.  This project is a sort of exception.  It was more work than it should have been and there was one really disappointing “gothcha” I ran across that I never found a work around for.

The fruit is covered is a really water soluble paint and the glue is water based.  This caused me no end of trouble as the red and orange paint came off the fruit and stained the trees.  A number of orchard tress had to be thrown out as I learned how to work with this material.  Were I to do this over again I would likely use the spray matte to attach the fruit.  I have doubts this would work but the fruit would at least not run onto the tree.

The final result is “good enough” but this is my least favorite project to date mostly because neither the process nor the finished result matched my expectation.  boo.

Commanders on the Battlefield

18 09 2011

Officers play a weird role in most wargames.  Regular units deal and take damage, have finite movement, and are looking for a reason to run away.  Officers on the other hand never shoot, frequently can’t be shot, don’t really belong in one specific spot and exist to suppress their soldiers natural instinct to run away. Occasionally they give soldiers a well timed die roll modifier to nudge them in the right direction.

Commanders exist to manage and coordinate achieving strategic objectives.  This is true at all levels of command.  They accomplish this by relaying information up to a level of command where that data can be analyzed and made sense of.  Decisions are made and orders communicated back down through officers to individual solders, and, if everyone is lucky, the facts that prompted the orders still hold true by the time it is acted on.  The level that this decision is made at typically scales with the size of the objective.

In McPherson and Revenge, officer stands do not literally represent troops on the table.  They are placeholders to help organize the table and show how much influence and luck (or karma) remains available to the soldiers nominally under their control.  They can’t be shot at and can be moved anywhere at anytime.

Officer stands

My officer miniatures from Baccus6MM are modeled as distinguished looking guys on horseback.  At 6mm this is pretty indistinguishable from Cavalry.  To make the stand look different from cav (which I haven’t done yet or I’d show you a picture) I decided to mix both horseback officers and standing figures.


On this miniature I decided to use a standing flag bearer and an a drummer from the infantry command stand.  Note: I replaced the soft metal flag stands with piano wire on the flag bearer, I have lots of pictures of this process on my union and confederate infantry blogs)


To keep from going through to many infantry command figures,  the next command stand will have an officer and an infantryman.

Next, I glue the figures to a 1” deep by 7/8” beveled stand.  (for more on stands, see my stand blog)


I arrange the figures in a random but plausible pattern.  Each of my command stands will be played out differently from each other.

I then add ballast to the stand using white glue and my handy dandy nifty neeto glue applicator.


So… if you have been following along up till now you may have noticed that this is the first time I have ever gotten to this point in the process without fully painted minis.  I prefer to paint the mini’s on the base actually.  Infantry are the exception because of how close they are to each other on the stand.  In particular their rows make them tough to paint.  I could have done this either way really.

Next I prime the mini’s black.  (No picture Sad smile)

I then start painting base colors.  Here I have done gray and blue.


Next I paint with butternut.


Then I start filling in with other colors including tan, off-white, red and light blue.


With flesh paint the minis now look like something.  I also painted the ballasted surface dark brown and dry brushed it with a red brown.


Next I do the front and sides in black.  I also paint the back bevel white.


I apply glue (with the greatest glue applicator in the whole wide world!) and blow static grass onto the mini.


I created a label with my generals name and an icon indicating their command level.  I cut out and and glue this label to the back bevel of the mini. (note… I changed mini’s on you.)


One star denotes a Brigadier.  Two stars is a Division commander.  I go into a good bit of detail on the game impact of these rankings in my command blog.

Next comes the flags.  This bit is tricky because, as I pointed out in my confederate infantry 2 post, the famous confederate stars and bars would have been far from common at champion hill.


In the end I decided that generals whose units are predominately from Arkansas get the Van Dorn Banner (red with stars and half moon) and the units from Kentucky get the Kentucky war banner (blue with white cross).  I also used a Polk flag somehow.  Given that Polk was not at Champion hill, I’m not sure what I was thinking but I trust me.

To apply the flags I fold them, apply white glue and wrap them around the flag pole.  While on the flag pole I manipulate then with tweezers until I get something that looks like a flag billowing.


I also paint the edges of the flag with a pinkish red to cover up the white seam.  I love the way this looks.


Here is General Cumming and his Georgia brigade!


I have General Cumming, his activation chit, four influence dice and his Battle Karma all together.  This is the way he would appear on the table.

Fun note: As I put this pic in the blog I just realized the Cummings brigade consists of universally HUGE regiments and are all Green.  I had an order of battle I followed it unquestioningly.  It’s only now that I realize that this unit will be hairy to manage on the table.  It will be fragile yet unwieldy and there will be no crunchy units to lead with. Had I used my judgment rather than a real order of battle I would never have created this brigade this way.  This cracks me up!

More Fun Fact!!! – Just looked at the battle again.  Cummings held the high ground at the begging of the battle and his troops… uh… sorta… well… collapsed. <goose bumps>

Bonus project!  Union Officers!

Some of my mini’s I paint way ahead of the blog entry.  This is the case with My union commanders.  I finished these guys a year  before I knew I would be blogging and sadly I painted all the figures I had so I don’t have any to paint up and photograph.  The process is identical except for the color choices.



Blowing stuff up Pt. II: Running away

28 08 2011

Getting shot at is unpleasant.  I have no first hand knowledge of this but I’ve seen Saving Private Ryan a bunch a times and it just seems like it sucks.  I seriously doubt that soldiers, even tough soldiers who have seen Saving Private Ryan, could do this overlong.  To model this we need some system to handle units getting fed up with being shot at and doing something about it.

I imagine that staying in position while being shot at requires tremendous discipline.  Discipline is a commodity that soldiers enter the battle field with a ready supply of.  When in this controlled state the unit can be described as being in “good shape”.  It mostly wants to do what it’s told.

As the battle wears on though this discipline is torn away by fatigue, disorganization and shock.  At a critical point in time a unit reaches a tipping point and functionality degrades.  Units become less likely to react, and follow orders.  In this state a unit can be described as “shaken”.

Shaken units that continue to suffer the effects of battle will eventually get fed up and leave, regardless of what their commander might wish.  These soldiers will run to a position of perceived safety to the rear of the fighting, preferably behind friendly troops, preferably in a barn.  In this state a unit is described as “routed”.

Units can, over the course of battle. improve their condition with time, distance and some proper coaxing but that is the subject of another blog.

Morale checks

After each fire command or reaction fire where a unit takes a hit that unit will need to make a skill check to see if its moral status degrades.  If multiple units are ordered to fire at a single unit in the same command then all fire is resolved before a morale check is made.  Morale checks are made with the following modifiers:

  • -1 shaken (negative morale is negative morale modifier.  FUN!)
  • -2 if routed (More FUN!)
  • -1 per stand lost
  • -1 if flanked (any of the shooting units can not be shot at)
  • +1 partial cover (fence or tress)
  • +2 full cover (building or works)
  • -1 if disordered

Note: all skill and rolls for effect are modified +/- a die based on the elite/green status of the acting unit.  I may sometimes forget to mention it but its always true.


If a unit is in good shape and fails a morale check, then it is now shaken.  Shaken units immediately take two straggler hits (yellow ring) minus one for successful die on a skill roll.  This roll (a straggler roll) is made modified by the same table above.

A unit that is shaken gets a shaken counter and has the following limitations

  • -1 on all skill checks
  • no more than a quarter movement may be spent moving towards the enemy.
  • No assaults
  • No supporting an assault
  • Not thinking about assaults


If a unit is shaken or routed and fails a morale check, then its now routed.  Routed units immediately:

  • Take two straggler hits and make a straggler check as above
  • Becomes disordered
  • Flee 150% of regular move towards “the rear” (typically 12”)

“The rear” is an abstract concept and not something you can make a rule for.  When fleeing both sides should discuss where the proverbial barn would be.  Fleeing troops would likely flee not only to a place of safety behind friendlies but also towards other fleeing troops.  Also… units are unlikely to move past cover so the 12” movement is a guideline, not strictly speaking a rule.

This entire process is known as “fleeing” and may come up again in other blogs.

A unit that is routed gets a routed counter and has the following limitations.

  • Routed units must remain disordered
  • The only order that may be given to a routed unit is a rally.
  • The only reaction that a routed unit can perform is a full movement to the rear.
  • – 2 on all skill checks
  • If enemy gets within 4” then the unit automatically flees again (new straggler roll!)

Example of Morale Checks

When last we left 22nd Kentucky they had taken two hits!

Post Fire

This is a bunch of getting shot.  To make a moral check the 22nd Kentucky must get at least one success on 4 dice (3 dice +1 for being elite)

The will need at least one ‘4’.  There are no modifiers on this roll…. should be easy.


Oops.  And I’m all out of Battle Karma too.  Bummer.

One more example… This time from the beginning! (Including shooting!)

The 22nd Kentucky decides to grab some cover to its rear and shoots ineffectively.  The Confederate unit then moves to conform and shoots again.


Less than 4” and more than 2”… That’s medium range.  The 22snd is behind a fence (partial cover).  To hit the confederates need “6”s (4 +1 for medium range and +1 for the fence).  The 22nd should be fine here.


Crap!  A 6!  Boo.  No Battle Karma left… dangit!  This is the third hit on the stand so its gone.  22nd Kentucky just got smaller.

This morale check is gonna be a good bit tougher.  4 dice (3 +1 for being elite) and the 22nd needs a 5 (4 +1 for being shaken +1 for being down 1 stand, –1 for being in partial cover).


Poop!  No “5s” or “6s”!  Is that a barn over there?!?!  RUN!


12” to the rear and now the 22nd is disordered.  Note: 2” of movement are spent crossing two fences to the 22nd’s rear so only 10” are moved.  (These rules and many others are covered in movement)

Let’s see if we take straggler hits.  The 22nd still get 4 dice but now then need “7”s! (4 + 2 for being routed, +1 for being down a stand)


Good news/Bad news.  We got one “7”.  We rolled two “6”s and got pretty excited but we could only turn one of the “6” into a “7”.  If this makes no sense then refer back to our rolling for effect blog.

Next time we will see if we can’t get these guys back in game!

Blowing stuff up

21 08 2011

Most games do a bad job simulating gradual effects.  It’s true.  For instance, troops do not blip from one spot to another 400 yards away without occupying any of the spaces in-between but in our game (and virtually every other one as well), they do.  We have to draw the line somewhere that balances the need for granularity and playability so we create rules that enforce that units in motion are measured once ever 15 minutes and we hope nothing goes really wrong.

Nowhere is this granularity vs. playability problem worse than the measuring the effects of fire.  In a fifteen minute time frame (one of our turns) a soldier might reasonably squeeze off 10 to 40 shots (based on how scared he was and what he is carrying) and, at what we are calling close and medium range, can reasonably expect to hit something. During the war about 150 bullets would be fired for each hit soldier.  Not a great rate but it adds up.  This means that 400 men could shoot between 25 and 100 soldiers a turn (again, 15 minutes).

At what point do we say “ok… that’s enough hits… let’s give you a measurable impact”?  Even worse… what IS a measurable impact? 

Stands are an obvious answer here.  As a unit takes damage it can remove a stand!  The problem is, a stand (which we established represents 90 guys) is too big a chunk to just break off whole.  We need something that I can reasonably say a regiment can kill one or more of in a turn.  We need sub stands.

To add granularity to fire, each stand can take 3 “hits”.  A hit is a 30 man casualty that ain’t coming back.  A stand marked with a “hit” will be fully functional BUT once a third hit is received the whole stand is gone and the unit marked with a stand loss counter. 

To mark hits I purchased groovy colored rubber O-Rings that I place on the injured stand.  Red is my “dead” colored casualty marker.  I also have yellow markers for stragglers (a rule I hinted at in my movement blog). This doesn’t look so much good as it just works and is an old school way to track casualties. 


Note: 3 is not a number I came up with. At this ground scale using more traditional 15mm miniatures, I would have gotten 3 figures to a stand and then used each figure to represent 30 men.  Each of the O-rings above would have fit over a figure and looked like the a soldier was schlepping a red inner tube at a water park.  If the thought of battle bothers you then you are free to think of the soldiers stripping down to their trunks and queuing up on a water flume


Units can shoot at anything that is in front of them and in range.  This deceptively simple and common sense statement statement implies TWO rule systems; Arcs of fire and weapon range.

Each stand (not regiment!) has an arc of fire that it can shoot that extends 45 degrees from either side of the stand.  (Note: I can’t make the last sentence not suck.  I tried.)  Here is a example of how arcs of fire are measured.

Fire Arcs

If a unit cannot fire all its stands at one target then it can split its fire with no penalty.

Range is based on the weapon system being used by the unit.  In the vast majority of cases the unit will be infantry, and the weapon system will be a muzzle loading rifled musket.  The ranges for this weapon are reflected in the table below.  Other weapons such as smoothbore muskets and carbines will be covered later.

Fire is done using the roll for effect mechanic with the following modifiers:

  • -1 Medium range (<4” for infantry rifles)
  • -2 Long range (<8” for infantry rifles)
  • -0 Short range (<2” for infantry rifles)
  • -2 if firing unit moved 3/4 movement (more below)
  • -1 if firing unit moved 1/2 movement (more below)
  • -1 Partial cover (woods, fences)
  • -2 Full cover (buildings, fortifications)
  • +1 Target is in dense formation (Column, Assault Column, Disordered)
  • -1 Target is in dispersed formation (Skirmish)
  • +1 Firing on flank (unit cannot shoot back because of Arc)
  • -2 Firer is “spent” (in the case of reaction fire)

There will be other modifiers as I introduce Artillery and Cavalry but to keep things simple I am limiting my examples here to be infantry only.

As you may recall, rolling for effect is done by rolling a die for each stand, looking for a modified “4” or better and counting each hit.  In this way it is possible to have multiple hits.  The number of dice is modified as follows

  • -1 die – Green unit
  • +1 die – Elite Unit

Note: if the unit splits its fire, then this bonus die only applies to one die roll (the attack with the larger number of dice)

Example of fire

In the example below, two regiments face one another at Medium range.


The confederate unitwill get 4 dice and will need “5’s” or better.


The confederates roll and get two hits!  This has a few impacts on the game.  One… The confederates are Spent.  Two… The union troops take two “ain’t coming back” hits!

Post Fire

We are not done here.  The next step would be to determine the morale impact of being shot.  One has to imagine that standing still while being methodically killed is pretty tricky. I will cover these rules next week(ish).

One final note (because I know Jerry will have this question)… Yes…  Assuming the Union unit is still here after checking morale (whatever that means) then it will get to make a reaction check to shoot back.