Friday, 11 March 2011

The portable wargame: Twentieth century version – Second draft of the rules

I have just finished proof-reading the second draft of the twentieth century version of the portable wargame rules. They have undergone some significant changes since the first draft, but retain many of the original game mechanisms.

The second daft is now available for interested blog readers to read and/or print at:
Frontier/Modern Wargames Rules
for use with a chessboard battlefield
Please remember that these are still a draft set of the rules, and are likely to be amended in the light of further play-testing.


  1. Bob, during the excellent game that these rukes provided on Sunday, I did have 2 situations crop up repeatedly where I'm not sure if I was following your intentions or not.

    I'll use red and blue to distinguish sides in the question:

    1) The 1st is easiest to explain. If a Red unit attacks a Blue unit and is supported by one or more Red units but loses or draws, do the supporting units stay in contact? or do they retreat. I assumed that they would retreat if the Attacking unit lost or drew.

    2) When 1 unit moves adjacent to an enemy, both turn to face. But what if A Red unit moves in between 2 Blue units. Red can only attack 1 of Blue's units. Does the other Blue unit also turn to face? A 2nd attacking unit reduces the defenders close combat power but there is no reference to an attacker's CC Power being reduced if there are additional defenders in contact with the attacker's flank. It appears that by the letter of the rules, Red unit can put himself in the middle and attack with no penalty? That is what I did.

    As a follow on from some of the confused fighting, there are two close combat situations that almost came up.
    1) During movement, a unit which moves adjacent must turn and face the enemy which must turn and face him. If an advancing cavalry unit moved next to an enemy unit after combat, does this apply even though the 2 units do not fight?

    2)It is clear that a unit that begins a move in contact can move if various conditions are met. It is also clear that if a unit on the active side has an enemy to its front during the close combat phase then it must attack. However, what if the 2 units are not facing each other? This tends to happen after confused melee's. For example where Red is attacking a Blue unit to his front but also has a Blue unit on his front which is itself being attacked by a Red unit and is facing that unit. These leaves the 2 units flank to flank, If both win then they will start the next turn in contact flank to flank. Are they forced to either move or turn and fight? or can they ignore each other as long as neither turns? (lets say the Blue defender was on a wooded hill, a strong position for defence but all benefits would be lost if forced to attack out.

    Amazing the things that can crop up :)


  2. Ross Mac,

    You have raised some interesting problems for me to solve.

    My answers are as follows:

    1. I had assumed that only the attacking Unit would withdraw; hence the movement rule that allows Units that are in 'contact' with enemy Units to withdraw from the 'contact' when they are activated, and thus avoid a Close Combat.

    2. Red can only attack one of the Blue Units, and only faces the Unit it is attacking. Although the other Blue Unit is in 'contact', it is not being attacked and therefore plays no part in the Close Combat.

    As to your follow-up 'situations':

    1. I assumed that if a Unit advanced as a result of winning a Close Combat and it came into 'contact' with another enemy Unit, it would turn to face this new enemy Unit, even though they are not going to fight them.

    2. My feeling is that if the two Units are in flank to flank contact at the end of a turn, then the side which activates one of those two Units first will determine whether or not they will fight a Close Combat by either turning towards the enemy Unit or moving out of 'contact'.

    I hope that makes things clearer.

    All the best,


  3. Thanks Bob. It occurred to me about 1/2 way through the Hook's Farm game that a strict reading of the rules indicated that only the actual attacker would retreat but I didn't want to change horses in mid stream.

    I noticed earlier that only units in line with an artillery target are at risk of a wobbly shot, units on a diagonal are safe. When you add the proper interpretation of the close combat rule it adds an interesting dimension. A group of units dispersed into a chequer board pattern will be at a reduced risk from artillery fire but at increased risk from close assault, especially by cavalry ( or other troops capable of moving more than 1 square ). These can penetrate into the gaps and flank the leading units without (immediate) risk from the 2nd line. A solid line can't be ganged up on but is easier to hit with artillery.

    Well designed. (but it argues against line infantry being allowed to move 2 squares in 1812 )

    I'm still not clear on the last point. It sounds like while 1 of those 2 options are considered likely, they are not compulsory and a unit could choose to neither turn, nor move away if that was advantageous. In other words they would not be forced to counter attack. The risk of not doing so is that the enemy when activated may then choose to penetrate deeper rather than turning to attack.



  4. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for your comments about tactical deployment of Units, and the benefits and disadvantages of different formations.

    Your point about flank-to-flank Units is well made, and I am not sure how to proceed. I would not like to try to construct a rule to cover this situation unless I was sure that it was likely to occur frequently.

    I will give it some thought, and if I can come up with a solution, I will get back to you.

    All the best,


  5. What about leaving it as it is?

    In the game I started tonight, (well the terrain for Hook's Farm was still on the table so I figured why not test the horse and musket again ) I decided that a unit which started adjacent to a unit but not facing it needed to be activated to turn and attack or support. That remains consistent. The situation should only occur due to previous close combats that the unit was not involved. "If it ain't broke.."

  6. Ross Mac,

    After re-reading the relevant sections in the 'new' edition of Morschauser's book, I agree that leaving the rules as they are is a better option than the alternative, which is to only allow 'contact' in the grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the direction a Unit is facing.

    As you say, if it ain't broke ...

    All the best,


  7. Ross Mac,

    Having re-read what I have just written, it sounds like I am both agreeing and disagreeing.

    I totally agree with your interpretation of the rules. The Unit will have to be activated and turn to face the enemy Unit if it wants to be involved in a Close Combat with it; otherwise they will ignore each other.

    All the best,



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