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.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

AWI Playtest using 'Sixty-One Sixty-Five" (Part 2)

Patriot Turn 6

Another exciting turn as the second line of militia, the Sons of Liberty boys, with freshly loaded muskets, unload into the British line, sending them reeling, and running to their rear. This makes the first British squad to break due to falling below four figures in a squad. You can see in the figure below the militia rolls a '6', and with a steady aim quintuples the British who roll a pathetic '1'. In one volley they go from five soldiers to one... It is not a good day for the British.

Elsewhere on the board the riflemen on the right continue to push around the flank, ensuring they keep the Loyalists bottled up. On the left, the riflemen also push around the flank in order to bring more rifles to bear on the British line crippled there.

Note: when a unit reaches three figures or less it must immediately rout. As the squad only has one base of 3, it should have routed. This is an oversight on my part. On of the problems with playing solo. You don't have other people to remind you that you are screwing up.

British Turn 6

I finally notice the problem on the right flank (too few figures in the squad) and rout the unit to the baseline. All I am able to accomplish this turn is to move the Grenadiers up to support their fellows, and threaten the Continentals who have advanced too close.
Patriot Turn 7

The riflemen on the left swing around further on the flank and start firing at the line, but inflicting no losses. More Continentals approach the base of the hill, which have the wounded British line on the other side. Time to prepare for a charge up and over the hill and be done with this.

On the right the rifles shift left to try and contain the Grenadiers attempt at penetrating the line. The Continentals fire, but instead take the worst of the exchange.
British Turn 7

The Grenadiers charge in, first the left then the right, putting the Maryland Continentals to flight.

This is an interesting situation, which came up several times. When a unit loses two or more figures in close combat, it must make a morale check and the flight of that unit through friends can cause one soldier to become Shaken, per unit. However, if the unit falls below 4 soldiers, the unit automatically Routs, whether it also has a morale check or not, causing the unit to be put anywhere on you baseline. Which do you do?

I resolved this by first making the morale check and finishing the outcome, then routing the unit from that new location. This way the retreat can effect other units, but you still rout in the end.

The Marylanders make a morale check and pass all three dice, so they retreat in an orderly fashion by marching to their baseline at the double-quick!

On the right flank the British line side-steps to move away from the pesky riflemen and close up the command distance. It galls the British to do this, but the command is simply stretched too thin.

I also forgot to show the retreat of the first line of militia. As you can see in the picture to the left below, the British charged and inflicted more losses, forcing the militia to continue their retreat, straight into the line of militia behind it. (I also forgot to convert the red die with a '3' on it to a removed stand, so the unit is supposed to rout.)

Patriot Turn 8

Not much occurs on this turn as the Patriots turn over quickly. The rifles on the right shift left to contain and harass the British Grenadiers, at least until the Continentals can shift and block them.

As shown in the figure below, the rifle fire only produced one Shaken soldier in one of the Grenadier units.

British Turn 8

Disaster! The British foot charges into the second line of militia, who rolls a '6' for their fire, while the British roll a '1'! With the Patriots quadrupling the British the latter unit disintegrates with all four of the remaining soldiers being struck down by relentless musket fire!

This is really too much for the British to take (and I am ready to end this playtest...) so the British decide to quit the fields

Slowly the curtain draws to a close. The picture below shows the final dispositions.


First and foremost, six figures cannot be considered an average squad size. The loss of a single figure puts you at a negative and at 50% casualties you unfailingly run. There needs to be more attrition. Second, you cannot consider the casualties dead in a campaign game, otherwise the casualty rate would be too high.

Note: all of the following suggestions are for the American War of Independence and not for the American Civil War, and reflect my views of how this period should play differently from that the original rules were written for.

As it stands, I wonder if the casualty rate is already too high, at least for this period. I was thinking about something like this:

DifferenceSquad FiringSkirmisher Firing
Beaten1 Shaken1 Shaken
Doubled1 Shaken and 1 Casualty2 Shaken
Tripled1 Shaken and 2 Casualties1 Casualty
Quadrupled2 Shaken and 2 Casualties1 Shaken and 1 Casualty

This would allow for more Shaken results, requiring more rallying. This, of course, will slow the game down. I would still suggest that a Morale Check be required when Doubled by a Squad firing, even though two casualties would not be inflicted.

Another change I could see, but only because I would want more figures on the board, would be to increase the Squad Size so that Large is 10 to 12 figures, Medium is 7 to 9 figures, Small is 4 to 6 figures, and the Squad still Routing at 3 figures or less. This change and the one above may produce a very long game, but that remains to be seen. If I were to change only one, it would be the Squad Size.

To go along with that I would change the Skirmishers to 2 figures for muskets and 3 figures for rifles. The rationale for that is that the rifle is simply a slower firing weapon. Rather than changing the number of reload actions for Skirmishers, by only allowing 1 in 3 riflemen to fire you effective slow the firing rate of rifles down, but not so drastically as if you required 2 actions to reload. As the muskets can reload faster they are only 2 figures. In both cases, loss of a single Skirmisher figure results in the Skirmisher unit being force to retreat to its parent unit.

I see that in turn 7 I made another mistake: I allowed a Skirmisher unit to move within 1S of a Squad without being in cover. Normally I would say that was minor, but in this case it allowed another Skirmisher to fire.

In this period skirmishers may or may not be a part of a parent unit. I think that it is better that they are, but that they are not "lost" when merged back in. A unit should be rated as skirmish-capable or not. If they are, the unit (or an NCO or Leader) can use an action to "deploy skirmishers", allowing 2 (or 3 for rifles) to break off and form a separate Skirmisher unit. Such a unit cannot ever have more than 1/2 of the figures deployed as Skirmishers and if the parent unit ever falls below the 1/2 mark, the player must immediately retreat sufficient Skirmisher squads to bring the formed parent unit back up at 1/2 the total.

I still believe that, given the scale of the rules, in this period there could easily be fights where one side has skirmishers and the other does not. The side without skirmishers should have cavalry available, or artillery at the least, otherwise they will find a number of actions being spent on rallying or shooting at skirmishers.


Overall, I really liked the rules. Using 12 figure units I could see using that unit to represent a company. This would make the rules very much like The Sword and the Flame in design concept, where each figure represents 5 or 10 men, but is played as if represents a single man. I can definitely see given these rules another go.

There are a rich number of choices for the player to make: which unit to activate and in what order, how aggressive to be with a unit (by deciding the number of activation dice to use), whether to use the Corporal to rally for the unit attempts to take its action, how far to stretch the line (stressing the command distance), when to use the activation die or morale die re-rolls, and so on. And these are just decisions that the game mechanics force upon you; there are still the decisions you make with every game (where troops are placed, who will they face off against, etc.).

I look forward to playing the Sixty-One Sixty-Five rules again and recommend them to others that wish to play their games at this quasi-skirmish level. The next challenge will be developing historical scenarios at this level...

Update: Much of this assessment to change things is probably due to my using multiple-based figures rather than singly-based figures. As it happens, I have a substantial collection of AWI both singly- and multiple-based. I should try another "straight" game with the singly-based figures and look for a different set of rules that allow me to use the multiple-base figures. As it so happens, my copy of the Black Powder rules came in today...


  1. Hi Dale,

    Do you have a "corrected" summary of your AWI rules?
    I want to use my Imex AWI figs for a game using 61-65 as well and why recreate the wheel?

    - Marc

  2. I did try several games with single figures and the game did not change significantly, so I did not feel it necessary to update.

    My issue with AWI rules have always been the same. I feel like most rules try to modify Seven Year's War or Napoleonic rules (or in this case, with me, American Civil War rules) rather than acknowledge that it was a bit different, and thus calls for different rules. The Patriots basically tried to "shoot 'em down" while the British relied on trying to skewer the enemy with bayonets. Who ultimately succeeded depended largely upon morale. Where the Patriots were able to control the troops propensity to run (Cowpens, King's Mountain) they decimated the British; where they could not (Camden, Waxhaws Massacre) they were decimated and scattered. The interesting ones where the two were pretty heavily balanced (Guilford Courthouse) are where the British won a victory they could not afford.

    I have come to realize that the game would be better represented by a process or morale checks, approaching fire, and close assault. Somewhat akin to Flames of War (2nd Edition) assault rules. (No, I am not going to convert WW II rules to ... hmmmm.)


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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").