Monday, 14 January 2013

An incident from the Rusland Civil War

Thanks to my preparations to take part in yesterday's meeting of the Jockey's Field Irregulars, I had all the stuff needed to mount a wargame out and ready to use. The opportunity to put on a quick wargame was therefore available to me ... and so I took it.

I decided to use the opportunity to try out my newly-acquired playing card tiles for the first time. I think that they are going to be a great aid to my solo wargaming and will probably feature in many of my future games ... if the experiment works!

During the Rusland Civil War most of the fighting took place between small forces who were trying to take control of the towns and villages that were spread across the country. A typical small force would comprise six to ten Infantry Units, an Artillery Unit, and other troops that might be available. Such a force would usually be commanded by a Colonel or low-ranking General and could not expect any reinforcements if it found itself fighting an enemy force.

The town of Vilnov was situated in an area of undulating countryside that was dotted with small woods. It had not declared its support for either side in the Civil War and both the Reds and the Whites were determined to take it for themselves. To achieve this both sides sent a small force to seize the town, purge it of any members of the opposition, and construct defences that would ensure that it would be defendable from any possible counter-attack.

The Opposing Forces
The Red column consisted of:
  • Six Infantry Units
  • An Naval Artillery Unit
  • A Commander
The White column consisted of:
  • Five Infantry Units
  • A Machine Gun Unit
  • An Artillery Unit
  • A Commander
The opposing side were therefore fairly evenly matched, although the Machine Gun Unit did give the Whites a slight advantage.

The Terrain

Both sides entered from opposite ends of the battlefield. The Red column's first four Unit entered at 8f, 8e, 8d, and 8c, and White's first four Units entered at 1f, 1e, 1d, and 1 c.

Turn 1
The playing card tiles were 'dealt' face down to both Red ...

... and White Units.

These were then turned over by the Reds ...

... and the Whites.

It was clear from this that the Reds would have a slight advantage this turn.

Each side then activated its Units by suit and card value, starting with the Red Unit that had been 'dealt' the Ace (or 1) of Hearts, then the White Unit with the 4 of Spades, then the Red Unit with the 8 of Clubs, etc, etc.

As no Units were in range of each other there was no combat during the turn, and the Units ended up in the following positions:

Turn 2
Further Red ...

... and White Units entered the battlefield.

Playing card tiles were again 'dealt' to each side face down, and then turned over.

Yet again Units were activated in turn by suit and card value.

Both sides moved their forces forward until they clashed in the town of Vilnov ...

... where Infantry Units of both sides became embroiled in a number of Close Combats.

By the end of the turn both sides had Units in the town, but so far the Whites seemed to be in the ascendancy.

Turn 3
The playing cards were 'dealt' out ...

... but before they were turned over, the Red Artillery Unit opened fire on the White Infantry Unit that was directly in front of them in the town. The White Infantry Unit was hit ...

... and was forced to retreat ...

... thus reducing the White hold on Vilnov.

The playing card tile allocated to the Red Artillery Unit was removed and the rest were then turned over and the remaining Units were activated in turn by suit and card value.

The Whites used their advantage to move their Commander forward and then the Machine Gun Unit, which opened fire on a nearby Red Infantry Unit.

The latter was hit and destroyed ...

... which left a gap on the Red force's left wing.

The Reds countered by moving an Infantry Unit forward so that it could attack a White Infantry Unit in the flank, but the Reds threw a very poor die score whereas the Whites threw a high die score, ...

... which resulted in the attacking Red Infantry Unit being destroyed!

This now left a gap on Red's right flank and ...

... and brought them dangerously close to reaching their Exhaustion Point.

The White Infantry Unit that had been forced to retreat due to the very effective firing by Red's Artillery Unit now reoccupied the part of town they had previously vacated and attacked a Red Infantry Unit in the flank.

Their attack was not only successful but also caused the destruction of the Red Infantry Unit.

The Red force had now reached its Exhaustion Point and was no longer able to mount any further attacks.

The Whites, on the other hand, were still able to mount offensive operations and attacked in the flank one of Red Force's right-hand Infantry Units ...

... but the attack was ineffective and both sides were unable to inflict any casualties upon their opponents.

This brought the turn – and the battle – to an end.

The Reds were unable to occupy Vilnov, which was firmly in White hands. Furthermore they had been unable to inflict any serious casualties on the White forces and their Commander knew that he would need reinforcements if he were to capture the town. On the other hand the Whites felt confident that they could fortify and hold the town should the Reds mount a further attack.

Only time will tell which of the opposing sides will be correct ...

This was a sharp and short battle which proved that the playing card tiles are a simple but effective method of overcoming the problems usually associated with using an 'Igo-Ugo' turn sequence in a solo wargame. Units were activated randomly, which meant that during each turn the initiative ebbed backward and forwards between the two sides. To my mind this enhanced the battle no end, and I will certainly be using the playing card tiles again.


  1. Seeing that chess mat made me realize how perfect it would be to do a game with hidden set-up for one side, or, if a third party can be found full hidden movement for both sides.

    Written orders would be simple and unambiguous on a grid. e.g. C3 moves to C5, faces D5.

    The card tiles seemed to work well. It occurs to me that the local craft store sells 'scrabble' tiles. Which would work as well with 26 or fewer units.

    Have you considered having a unit's action limited by their suit? e.g. in order to attack the unit must have a red tile, or a black tile to ford a river; etc.


  2. SAROE,

    The hidden movement idea is one that I have discussed with one or two other wargamers, and we all think that it would be very easy to set up and use.

    The playing card tiles work much better than even the smallest normal playing card ... and I see no reason why Scrabble tiles could not be used instead. In fact I can see that they might have a distinct advantage; no confusion over suit precedence or whether an Ace is worth 1 or not.

    Although I have not used the suit to determine what options a unit can choose or have imposed upon it, I know that Ian Drury and Richard Brooks (who came up with the original idea to use playing cards to determine the order in which Units were activated) have used them in the way you suggest.

    All the bet,


  3. Francis Lee,

    I am glad that you liked it.

    All the best,


  4. Hi Bob,

    Great little action - neat, compact and with the right amount of feel - how big are the squares?

    I managed to obtain a set of the card tiles and they are really useful. My plan would be to use two suits as most of my games involve less than 13 units a side.

    I must confess that I am looking forward to reading more about the Rusland Civil War - especially when armoured trains enter the fray!

    All the best,


  5. David Crook,

    It was a very enjoyable little battle, and made up - a bit - for missing the Jockey's Field session. I am not sure how big the squares are; I will have to measure them!

    The playing card tiles are a great way to add some element of randomness and surprise to solo battles ... and I am sure that you also find this.

    I hope to fight some more Rusland Civil War battles in due course ... and when I do, I will write suitable illustrated blog entries. I don't know if armoured trains will appear ... but other armour might well do so.

    All the best,


  6. Nice battle and good to see the tiles in action. Somewhere on my computer is a set of rules I found on the interwebs that addresses the issue of suit. I'll see if I can find them and I'll share them if they seem useful.

  7. Sean,

    I am glad that you like both the battle report and the tiles.

    If you can anything about card suits, I would be interested in reading it.

    All the best,


  8. Hurrah! Cordery returns in the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

    Glad to see you back in action Bob, it must be been really frustrating to have missed the game the other day.

  9. Great report and setup! It's a bit surprising to me how good and fun this looks and sounds. It's so simple (deceptively so?), but seems to play out very nicely. (either that or you write it up very well!) I guess that means it's an elegant system, your rules and the chessboard and buildings and terrain and figures and the card tiles combined.


  10. Conrad Kinch,

    I think that you exaggerate ... slightly!

    I was rather miffed that I missed the game session at Jockey’s Field on Sunday, but it would not have been fair to cough and sneeze over everyone else all day. This was some of the stuff I had packed up to take with me so I thought that I might as well use it before it was put back into storage.

    All the best,


  11. Fitz-Badger,

    I am very pleased that you liked both the battle report and the simple (and possibly even elegant) set-up. It was a fun little battle to fight and until I turned over the playing card tiles I had no idea what either side could or would do.

    The system is simple, which allows the players (or in my case, player) to fight a battle rather than fight the rules. When I write my battle reports I try to use the images to tell the story … which I hope makes the whole experience of reading them more enjoyable as well as making the unfolding action easier to follow.

    The playing card tiles have one advantage that I did not mention; coping with interruptions. Half way through the second turn I had to take a break … but because the tiles were there I knew what Units had already been activated and which was the next to be activated. Not feat of memory or written note was required; the tiles made it obvious what should happen next.

    All the best,


  12. Pete Grizzell managed to get a couple of sets of those tiles so we hope to try them out some time. I also note that they can stand upright on flat playing surface which could be handy if you wanted players to be able to view them while keeping them hidden from the other side.

    On your travels you might want to look out for a continental draughts board, these are 10x10 but seem hard to find in the UK. A neighbour inherited a reversible board (8x8 one side, 10x10 on the other) from her French grandmother.

  13. Nigel Drury,

    Good luck using the tiles!

    I had not realised that the tiles were thick enough to stand up on their own. As you state, this gives them additional flexibility of use.

    I did not know that continental draughts boards were not the same as UK ones. I will try to look for one when I am next on the continent.

    All the best,


  14. Bob, i just came up with a question for PW and BBPW.

    When figuring number of Units for initiative dice purposes, are you including transport?

    I AM counting halftracks and carriers, which I allow to fight with machine-guns, but NOT trucks, wagons and artillery tractors. They DO count against losses for Critical Point.

    -Thanks in advance,

  15. Steven Page,

    I would do exactly what you have done. Any unit that has offensive capacity should be included in the initiative dice count BUT all units count when it comes to calculating each side's Exhaustion Point.

    All the best,


  16. Bob, after much searching I found both the rules I was thinking of and where I got them from.

    I don't know if the idea would actually work with PW. The executive summary is that you roll 2d6 per side for number of cards dealt. They are assigned face down. Red takes priority over black, heart over diamond, spade over club. 2 is low A is high. Red prioritizes combat and black movement. You must roll either 3d6 or 2d6 to beat the number value of your card. 3 dice for priority etc. There is more but that is the gist as relates to movement and combat. I'll try to review it on my blog.

  17. It looks like an elegant and fun gaming system. I need to go back and read your portable wargame posts before I say more, but it looks most promising. Visually very appeaking as well.
    What scale are the minis?

  18. Sean,

    Thanks for the link to the rules ... which have some very interesting playing card-generated game mechanisms. I have printed them off and they are in my file of resources and ideas.

    All the best,


  19. Michael Peterson,

    I am glad that you liked the battle report. The rules have been under development (off and on) for two years and they have a small but devoted group of users ... most of whom modify them to suit their particular requirements.

    The figures I used in this particular battle were all 20mm-scale from a variety of manufacturers, but most of my battles have been fought using 15mm-scale figures.

    All the best,