Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Itchy and Scratchy rules

Due to a change in our plans I suddenly found myself with a couple of spare hours yesterday afternoon ... so I sat down and drafted a simple set of rules that used a version of Archduke Piccolo's new D6 dice combat system.

I have temporarily entitled them THE ITCHY AND SCRATCHY RULES (with due apologies to the cartoon characters of those names who feature in 'The Simpsons') because they were the result of an intellectual itch I just had to scratch.

Unit Strength Points

Infantry: 4SP
Dismounted cavalry: 3SP
Mounted cavalry: 3SP
Machine guns: 2SP
Artillery: 2SP
Horse-drawn transport: 1SP
Generals: 1SP

  • Units are allocated a Strength Point value (SP) before the battle begins; these may be adjusted in order to take into account the unit’s strength, equipment, and training.
  • Units lose Strength Points as a result of enemy action, and these reductions must be recorded (i.e. on a roster, by the use of markers, or by the removal of individual figures).
  • When a unit’s Strength Point value is reduced to 0, the unit is destroyed, and is removed from the battlefield.

Exhaustion Point
  • Before the battle begins, both sides calculate their Exhaustion Point. This is one half of the side’s total initial Strength Points, rounded up.
  • When a side has lost that proportion of its initial Strength Points, it has reached its Exhaustion Point.
  • A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point must immediately stop taking aggressive action (i.e. it will continue to fight to defend its existing position, but will not continue any movement towards the enemy).
  • When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point, the battle ends.

Turn Sequence
  1. At the start of each turn both sides throw a D6. The side with the highest score may chose to go whether or not to go first.
  2. Once the side that moves first has moved and/or conducted combats with each of their units in turn – subject to any restrictions laid down in the rules – the other side may move and/or conduct combats with each of their units in turn.
  3. Once both sides have moved and/or conducted combats with each of their units in turn they must check to see if they have reached their Exhaustion Point. Once that has been done, the turn is complete and the next turn can commence.


Infantry: 2 grid areas
Dismounted Cavalry: 2 grid areas
Mounted Cavalry: 3 grid areas
Machine Guns: 2 grid areas
Artillery: 2 grid areas
Horse-drawn Transport: 2 grid areas
Generals: 3 grid areas

  • All movement is measured through the edges of the grid areas not the corners.
  • A unit may be moved only once each turn.
  • A unit that is attacking this turn reduces its movement by 1 grid area.
  • A unit may change its direction of movement any number of times during its move but must end its move facing the edge of the grid area not the corner.
  • With the exception of a horse-drawn transport unit and commanders, a unit may not start or end its move in the same grid area as a friendly unit.
  • No unit may start or end its move in the same grid area as an enemy unit.
  • A unit must stop as soon as it enters a grid area that is adjacent to the front, flank or rear of enemy unit, and must turn to face the enemy unit at once.
  • If a unit is being faced by an enemy unit that is in an adjacent grid area and the unit has not yet moved this turn, it may move (i.e. it may withdraw to away from the enemy unit) providing that it does not move into a grid area that is adjacent to the front of another enemy unit.


Rifled Heavy Artillery: 6 – 6 – 6 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 2 – 2
Rifled Field Artillery: 6 – 6 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 2
Rifled Mountain Artillery: 6 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 2
Smooth-bore Heavy Artillery: 6 – 6 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 2
Smooth-bore Field Artillery: 6 – 4 – 4 – 2 – 2
Smooth-bore Mountain Artillery: 4 – 4 – 2 – 2
Machine Guns: 8 – 6 – 4 – 2
Rifles & Carbines: 6 – 4 – 2
Muskets: 4 – 2
Hand-held Weapons: 4

The numbers show how many D6 dice are thrown at different ranges.

  • All ranges are measured through the edges of the grid areas not the corners.
  • Each unit may attack only once each turn.
  • Units have an arc of attack that is forward of the direction in which they are facing. This must be directly into the adjacent grid area, widening out as the range increases but never exceeding 60° on either side of the direction in which the unit is facing when it attacks.
  • Units may only attack targets that are in direct line-of-sight.
  • Units can attack 1 grid area into woods, built-up areas, and fortifications.
  • Units can attack out of woods, built-up areas, and fortifications if they are in a grid area that is on the edge of the woods, built-up areas, or fortifications (i.e. the adjacent grid area in the direction they are firing does not contain woods, built-up areas, or fortifications).
  • Woods, built-up areas, and fortifications count as cover.
  • Attacking units that are in the same grid area as a General increase the number of D6 dice thrown by 2.
  • The target is identified. The requisite number of D6 dice is thrown for the type of weapon the attacking unit is armed with and the range at which the combat is taking place.
  • Results:
    • A treble 1 destroys a General if they are in the open.
    • A treble 1 PLUS any other double destroys a General if they are in cover.
    • A double 1 destroys one Strength Point if the target is an Artillery or Machine Gun unit that is in the open.
    • A double 1 PLUS any other double destroys one Strength Point if the target is an Artillery or Machine Gun unit that is in cover.
    • A double 2 or 3 destroy one Strength Point if the target is a Cavalry or Horse-drawn Transport unit that is in the open.
    • A double 2 or 3 PLUS any other double destroys one Strength Point if the target is a Cavalry or Horse-drawn Transport unit that is in cover.
    • A double 4, 5, or 6 destroy one Strength Point if the target is an Infantry unit that is in the open.
    • A double 4, 5, or 6 PLUS any other double destroys one Strength Point if the target is an Infantry unit that is in cover.
  • All lost Strength Points are removed immediately. When a unit’s Strength Points are reduced to 0, the unit is destroyed, and it is removed from the battlefield.

These are very much a first draft, and need to be play-tested ... but they are simple and they do fit onto one side of A4 paper ... just!


  1. Bob,
    Interesting rules - I look forward to trying them and reading about your developments.

    However,when I copied and saved them to a Word document, they took TWO sides of A4. Your eyes must be far better than mine if you have reduced the font to fit them onto one side!

    Actually, two sides is fine for use - Ifit them back to nack inside a plastic wallet.


  2. I often think that I spend too much time on the net following war game blogs but, the inspiration I get is priceless.


  3. Bob,
    I spent some time reading the I&S Rules whilst travelling on buses tonight. You will not be surprised to hear that I have been removing references to Rifled Artillery and Machine guns to portray black powder era warfare!

    Some questions:

    When you use the expression ‘any other double’ in Combat Results when a unit is in cover, does this mean that the double may NOT be the same number as that in the initial double or triple? So, for example, if an Artillery unit in cover is receives dice scores 1, 1, 1 and 1, it does not lose a Strength Point, whereas if the scores were 1, 1, 2 and 2 it would?

    I assume an Infantry unit in the open, accompanied by a General in the same square, that received six dice numbering 1, 1, 1, 4, 4 and 5 would result in both the Infantry losing a Strength Point AND the General being killed.

    But, suppose the Infantry unit, accompanied by a General in the same square, is in cover and receives the same scores 1, 1, 1, 4, 4 and 5. Can it still suffer the loss of both a Strength Point and the General, on the grounds that double 4 and triple l satisfy the conditions for the former AND the latter? Or can only one of the losses be sustained? The same issue would apply to an Artillery unit accompanied by its Horse Transport unit – or does an Artillery unit include its own horse teams, for purposes of the game?

    One could argue that, if fire has penetrated the cover sufficiently to cause casualties in the unit, the General must be at risk too, given the random nature of such fire. In the case of Horse Transport, there is a stronger case, as the teams are a much larger potential target.

    If not, how should the decision whether it is the troops or the General that suffer loss be made? I would suggest by another die roll: 1-5 the troops lose one SP; 6, the General is killed, to reflect the fact that he is only one man amongst many. Allowing either the firer or the receiver to choose seems to confer too ‘gamey’ and advantage to one side or the other.

    I know you have reasons for not specifying exactly what a ‘unit’ represents, but there are some issues regarding weapon ranges as the size of the unit increases. If, for example, a ‘unit’ is a battalion, then effective Musket range ought to be about equal to unit frontage, but here it is twice the frontage. Similarly, canister range for Smoothbore FA (6 dice) ought to be about twice musket range, instead of only equal to it.

    I can see the logic of a unit attacking by fire reducing its move by one grid area, so that half the turn – in effect – is spent exchanging fire. But surely one attacking with Hand weapons – sabres, lanes & bayonets – would not slow down, and the resolution of the close combat would be much quicker than an attritional exchange of fire? Much depends, I think on the size of a ‘unit’ and hence the time represented by a turn – because the unit is moving through a distance equal to/exceeding its own frontage…


  4. Arthur1815,

    I managed to get them on one side of A4 paper - just - by using a 9pt Arial Narrow font as a slightly different layout to the one used in the blog entry.

    Once I get the rules play-tested they will probably stretch to just over a page, and if I increase the font size they certainly will! (My eyes are getting not younger as well!)

    All the best,


  5. Paul Liddle (Paul),

    If I have managed to inspired you even just a little bit, then my blog has served its purpose.

    All the best (and keep reading!),


  6. Arthur1815,

    In my defence, I have not yet tested these rules and they are a first draft, but I will try to answer your very help questions and to clarify the rules in relation to the three scenarios you pose:

    1. When I used the expression 'and any other double' I did mean any ... so it can be the same number as your 'hit' double (i.e. Artillery in cover will be 'hit' on a 1, 1, 2, 2 or a 1, 1, 3, 3, or even a 1, 1, 1, 1).

    2. Your assumption is correct. That is what I intended. It is a danger that Generals will face if they expose themselves to enemy fire.

    3. Your assumption is again correct. Both are 'hit' even thought the dice scores (and the results) are the same as if the two were in the open. It was a compromise that I decided was acceptable (and also unlikely/rare enough) to keep the rules as simple as possible.

    I was working on the assumption that units would be companies or possibly battalions of Infantry (or their equivalent sized units in other the arms), and that the battles I used the rules for would be set in the 1880s to 1900s where weapon ranges were quite long compared to the frontage of a deployed unit.

    The hand-held weapons were intended to represent the close-quarter weaponry used by Native troops (e.g. spears and swords) ... but I now realise that I did not included a movement 'bonus' for Native troops charging home. I will add that when I amend the draft.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

    All the best,


  7. Bob,
    Thank you for your very helpful replies.

    Good to know my assumptions were correct!

    Looking again at the chances of scoring a hit with Musketry at long range with 2 dice, it is probably not unreasonable for a battalion. But if the 'unit' is, let's say, one of the 4 'grand divisions' of c. 2 companies into which an early C19th British battalion was divided for firing, the close range is perhaps rather short.

    I wonder whether the solution, if you want the rules to cater for different sized 'units' in different games, would be to specify movement and ranges in terms of multiples of 'unit' frontages?

    Thus, if a unit was a company, throw 4 dice at Close Range up to 2 x frontage; 2 dice from there up to Random Shot 4 x frontage; whereas if a unit is a battalion, throw 4 dice up to unit frontage, and 2 dice up to 2 x unit frontage, &c.

    Such a chart would involve more work initially, but would be a one-off effort that would make the rules applicable to different sized forces.

    Personally, I would far rather have easy to read rules on two sides, than have to squint at 9pt on one page. Do your eyes a favour, Bob!

    Best wishes,

  8. Arthur1815,

    I think that your suggestions would work for the earlier part of the nineteenth century, but since I answered your earlier comment I have decided to make the units battalion-sized (or equivalent) for Infantry and Cavalry and batteries for Artillery and Machine Guns, thus giving units rough equivalence in terms of firepower.

    I will try to send you a .doc version of the rules (in 12pt font!) later tday so that you can play around with the rules yourself.

    All the best,



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