My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I've started working on a set of rules for the AWI that is based on the rules De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) and its Napoleonic variant DBN. I call mine DBAWI.

I am still mounting troops, so in order to play test games I have to mix early and late war troops, so forgive the ahistorical battle report. At least it can help convey some of the ideas behind the rules.

Remember, you can click on any picture to see a larger version. Each is about 200K. The text refers to the picture directly above it.

This map comes from the excellent scenario book Scenarios For All Ages by C. S. Grant and S. A. Asquith, and is scenario three: Disciplined versus Irregulars.

First, a picture of the gameboard that we played on. What I did was buy an Elmer's white foam core board and color the terrain on using art markers. In the past I have also added foam core pieces to reflect hills and woods in order to give it a slight 3D appearance. I will probably go back and fix this board.

UPDATE: Some have asked what the different colors mean. Basically I use the different colors of medium green with straight strokes to show different grasses, dark green with semi-circular strokes to represent woods, and brown with straight strokes leading to a center line to be hills (darker brown is a steep slope). In future boards I will use a mixture of greens and browns for various crops, although I am experimenting with using carpet samples glued to the board as field crops. I may even go so far as to print out paper fences and glue them to the board.

The different colors for grass has no affect on game play. However, a future blog post will discuss the idea of creating different types of Good Going terrain and how these different colors can be used.

Setup: The Americans and French (Don) are the attackers and so will have the first turn. (All photos are from the British perspective.) Don is leading with his cavalry on his right flank, mostly because he has the perception that cavalry can roll over infantry pretty easily. Hopefully this game will help remove that perception...

The British have put their close order infantry in the front line with the lights on the flank. The second line contains the elites (British and German grenadiers). Here's a shot a little closer of the British. Note: the 17th Light Dragoons on the right flank were accidentally cut out of the picture.

Turn 1 - American: Don took advantage of the extra pips granted to the attacker on turn 1 (from the DBN rules) and moved his Rifles on both hills, while moving his cavalry aggressively up the center. The British were just out of rifle range (400 paces) so no fire occurred.

British: The British main line moves forward through the pass, while the British lights move aggressively with the bayonet against the Rifles, which have gotten a little too close on the left flank.

Here is a closeup of the action on the left flank. (By the way, those nicely painted miniatures are done by DJD from Thailand. If it is well painted, it is DJD; if it is good, it is me, and if it is "wargame quality", it was some random eBay purchase.)

The Rifles could not stand against the bayonets of the British lights, so they flee 600 paces. (Don thinks that infantry fleeing 600 paces, which is a double move, is too much. In the end, it is the fleeing moves that will yield 2 VP to the British.)

Turn 2 - American: Don decides to run down the British line by throwing his cavalry into them. He is about to learn that unsupported cavalry thrown into steady line doesn't usually work.

Here is a close-up of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons in Loose Order and Moylan's Light Dragoons in Open Order charging the 42nd Highlanders, the left battalion in Close Order and the right in Loose Order. The left battalion has support from the Hessian Fusiliers, but the right does not have support (Butler's Rangers are just slight back because of a previous recoil).

The Rifles drive Butler's Rangers back further with their tremendous fire, but the cavalry charge fails utterly. The 2nd are destroyed by the close-range volleys of the Highlanders and the Hessians, while Moylan's are saved by the lower volume of fire and the fact that they are skirmishing.

Here is a close-up of the damage on the British right flank. (Note: we forgot to turn the recoiling cavalry around. That is a slight change I made to the rules as a compromise between the simplicity of DBA and the attrition model you see in DBN and DBA-HX.)

British: I decide to move Butler's Rangers up in order to try and take care of those damned Rifles on the hill. Can't charge in with bayonets, but at least they are in musket range. Meanwhile, the 17th Light Dragoons attempt to flank the hill by swinging around on the right.

Here is a close-up of the action on the British right flank.

At this point I should point out that I painted Butler's Rangers and at this point, no matter who uses these troops, they are invariably the first British unit lost! I probably need to paint some additional details on the figures in order to change their karma. So far it looks pretty bad.

Butler's Rangers are again beaten back by the fire of the Rifles.

Turn 3 - American: Don finally rolls 6 pips and can start moving out. The cavalry retreats, the left flank rifles turn to fire on the British cavalry attempting to flank it, the rifles on the right advance to take on the British light infantry, and the American battle line starts moving forward. Finally!

Here's the left flank rifles siting in on the 17th Light Dragoons.

Damned rifles! They completely rout (i.e. a Destroy result) the 17th. (That's what happens when sixes and ones are rolled!) I have really got to rid myself of them. Well, at least Butler's Rangers were not the first to die again. Maybe their luck has changed.

British: I also get 6 pips to work with, so I start by attacking both rifle units on the flanks. Butler's Rangers fix bayonets and charge up the hill while a second British Light unit brings supporting fire to bear on the left flank. While the British battle lines move forward, the British Legion cavalry shifts from the left to the right flank.

Here is the close-up on the left flank. The light infantry is uphill and in range of the rifles! By concentrating my fire on them I may be able to get them to recoil before I go in with the bayonet!

Here is the close-up on the right flank. Butler's Rangers have squared up on rifles, but the British battle line has not moved past the rifle's rear, so if it recoils it won't kill the Highlanders on the right flank.

Things keep going the way of the British as both Patriot rifle units flee. The rifles on the right are almost off of the board, but there is nothing there to exploit it (what with the 17th Light Dragoons now routed).

Turn 4 - American: Don starts rolling bad for pips again, so all he succeeds in doing is moving the rifles on his right back up and moving his skirmish cavalry on his left up onto the hill to block Butler's Rangers.

British: The British take advantage of the lull on the American side by pushing forward the battle lines further through the pass and having the British light infantry charge the rifles on the left. The British Legion cavalry finishes its move and has now crossed over to the right flank, ready to take on the skirmishing American cavalry, if necessary.

Finally! The British lights rout the American rifles on the (British) left flank. The rifles flee and because they run out of board, they are out of the game.

This episode points out two things: maybe the distances for the Flee result is too far for foot; and the depth of the board does matter when it comes to keeping units on the board. However, given how little Don has moved his troops in the rear forward, the same result might have occurred.

Something a little more subtle to note: Butler's Rangers forces the skirmishing American cavalry to retreat and the French line in the center recoiled from the Hessian fire. These retreats become significant as Don continues to roll low for pips.

Turn 5 - American: All Don can do (as he only has two pips again) if to get his French line recovered from recoiling.

The more we play this new rule - that recoiling troops must recoil one base depth and turn 180° - the more I like it. It forces the expenditure of pips to "recover from disorder" and as the commander cannot afford to use those pips, the line starts to crumble. All without markers or notations.

The British got the worst of the volleying this time: one Hessian recoiled, along with a British light unit, while only one Continental unit was shaken up.

British: The British were able to recover their disorder, while also pressing forward with Butler's Rangers, and the British Legion cavalry in support. With the American Light Dragoons caught in the woods, now was a good time to attempt to destroy them in Bad Going.

Again, the Fusiliers recoil, as does a French unit, but what is significant is that another Continental unit recoils on the American right and the American cavalry is destroyed as it was penned up in the woods. The British are now leading 2-1.

Turn 6 - American: Again Don rolls two pips for his turn. He brings one of the French line back and moves forward with the Rifles on his left. This is, in my opinion, a bad move because:

1. His right flank is crumbling and he really needs to rally some of those units because it is too late.

2. His rifles cannot stand against either the bayonets of Butler's Rangers or the sabers of the British Legion cavalry, so he is just throwing the unit away. He should have entered the woods, if he was going to make a move with the rifles at all. There they can chew up either unit. Oh well. He is still learning.

The rifles have managed to drive back the Highlanders, but at what expense? Another of his Continental units are thrown into disorder by the crack British light infantry firing from the hill. There is little to stop them next turn...

British: Forsaking the chance to recover some of my battle line's disorder, I move in for the kill. My British lights on the left charge the disordered Continental line while the British Legion cavalry charges the exposed American rifles on the right.

It is over. The British lights destroy one of the Continental units while the British Legion cavalry forces the Rifles to flee off of the board. The game is over, with a British win of 5-1.

Aftermath - Again, I like the changes to the rules. I think that some of the tactical factors that I put in help give this DBA variant an AWI flavor. The Rifles are tough: +3 in firing, plus the enemy is -1 for being hit by rifles in the open. It might even be too tough. Don is just not used to them yet.

The +1 for the hill played a big part. Should shooting get that modifier too? (It does in some DBA variants.) I am thinking it should not. Probably have to play another game or two to find out.

I'll try and publish the rules. If not here, then on the Yahoo forum for the Sierra Vista Historical Gamers.

UPDATE: Changed "Open Order" to "Loose Order" and "Skirmish Order" to "Open Order" to use the more appropriate terms. Updated some spelling errors.


  1. Nice Blog Dale, well done.
    You throw up some interesting ideas, I do like your new recoil concept. I reckon we'll give it a try in some of our games.

    All the Best


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").