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.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

AWI Rules Review - The World Turned Upside Down (Part 2)

The Tabletop Rules

First, understand that these rules are written for 10mm troops. I say this not because they cannot be converted for use in other scales, but because the ratio of unit frontage to movement distance to musketry range usually depends upon that information. In this case, the rules don't really care for those reason, but rather for another: the ratio of unit frontage to terrain size (i.e. how many units can fit in a terrain piece's frontage).

So, each base is 25mm (1 inch) and there are about eight bases per unit (it varies), so each unit takes up about 8" of table space. With villages and fields each being about 6" to 8" square, and rough, hills, and woods being about 10" to 12" long, you get about one unit by eight units deep in the first and about 1 1/2 units by six units deep for the last. This comes into play later, during the firing and close combat phase.

Setting up the game is a little like rolling to determine the scenario in other games. For a pick-up (non-campaign) game you would do the following:
  1. Determine the (named) Generals commanding the troops (two per side).
  2. Determine the attacker.
  3. Determine the number and type of troops present (basically 2,000 for the Crown side and 3,000 for the Patriot side).
    1. This is a small battle in TWTUD.
  4. Determine the year of the battle.
  5. Determine each side's forces.
    1. There are a number of tables listing various troop compositions. A die roll determines which composition is used.
    2. Each side is generally allowed to make a few modifications, however, such as allowing one militia unit in five to be rifle armed, or deploying a British Light Infantry converged battalion as skirmishers, rather than as a formed unit.
    3. Determine how much artillery is available, and its weight.
    4. Determine the number and quality of unnamed Brigade Commanders present.
    5. Divide the forces into commands and unbrigaded elements.
  6. Determine the terrain type of the battlefield.
  7. Determine the type of battle.
    1. Meeting Engagement, Set-Piece Battle, Ambush, River Crossing, etc.
  8. Determine the number of terrain pieces on the battlefield.
    1. The attacker and defender each get a set amount based upon the size of their respective forces.
    2. The type of the terrain piece is determined by die roll.
    3. Both the attacker and defender must each commit one of their terrain pieces as their reserve/baggage area.
  9. Place the terrain pieces.
    1. The defender places his pieces, then the attacker.
    2. The attacker cannot place a terrain piece adjacent to the defender's reserve.
    3. The attacker can place their reserve adjacent to a terrain piece the defender previously placed.
    4. The players can place several "lines" of terrain if they have a sufficient number to place.
  10. Place the forces in the terrain locations.
    1. The type of battle (item 7, above) will determine who places forces first, the attacker or defender, and what locations they may be placed in.
    2. Generally speaking, the attacker's location choices are more constrained than the defender's.
  11. Determine the number of links between terrain locations.
  12. Determine the types of links present.
  13. Place the links between the terrain locations.
    1. Who places, how many, and in what order is determined by the type of battle (item 7, above).
    2. Link types are not randomly rolled.
Once you have done all of this, you are ready to start your game. Although it looks lengthy, it really is not so bad. (By the way, for campaign battles - assuming you do not resolve them with a die roll - use all of the steps above except 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6, as these elements are handled by the campaign game itself.)

So, that's an overview of the pre-battle sequence, let's talk about a few of the more interesting ones.

Troop Composition

Unless I missed it (which is very possible), you do not keep track of the units and their quality, but of numbers of men. As each base represents a specific number of men and whole bases are lost (as casualties or stragglers), it is easy to determine the number of bases lost and returned after a battle. That, in turn, can be converted back to men, which is the number tracked in the campaign game. When the next battle occurs, the composition of the previous army has not bearing on their composition the next time. I don't know if that is good or bad, but it is certainly easier. Anything else would require tracking the number of men, their quality, the replacement rate, and their quality, in order to calculate a new quality for the unit. ... I just talked myself int it; this method is a good thing.

Generals, Command Ability, and Command & Control

Another basic concept is that each General, which may be named or not, is rated in Command Ability. Command Ability (or simply "Ability") is and abstract representation of the General's ability to command, both at an operational and tactical level. Note: that means that a good tactical commander is automatically a good operational/strategic commander, and vice versa.

For example, for each point of ability, a General can:
  • Move 1,000 troops operationally.
  • Increase the chance of capturing a location with an enemy garrison.
  • Increase the chance of a favorable type of battle (see below).
  • Alter the chance that a rearguard action is successful.
  • Increase the number of unbrigaded units in a command.
  • Increase the chance your side is the attacker.
  • Increase the number of actions a CinC can perform each turn in a battle.
  • Increase the number of units a subordinate General can order each turn in a battle.
It is these last two items that we will focus on.

The basic command and control concept of the rules is that the CinC can perform Ability number of actions per turn. Each action allows the CinC to either: move, order a single unit, or activate a subordinate General. If a subordinate General is activated, they can in turn order an Ability number of units to take action. The key, however, is that order subordinates or units does not produce automatic action; a subordinate General is activated by rolling his Ability or lower on a D6, while a unit is activated rolling their Combat Effectiveness or less on a D6.

Links, Terrain Type, and Placement

The third new concept the rules introduce is regarding terrain (called locations), and its relationship to movement and combat.

The board is comprised of a number of locations, each of a specific terrain type, and links, which are the allowable movement paths between locations. (Links also have a type, but it only affects movement, not combat.) If you imagine a point-to-point map, the board resembles that, as shown in the figure to the right. Each point is a location and each line between is a link.

Units are at locations, except when they are trying to move between them and do not succeed in making it in a single turn. All combat occurs at locations, and no combat occurs between locations, even with artillery. Thus, all combat is either a Close Range Firefight, a Skirmish, or a Close Combat, and occurs within a single location.

However, locations do not appear to be abstract entities as they do have dimensions and it plays a role in combat. More on that in another blog entry.

Determine the Type of Battle

To determine the type of battle, the attacker rolls 1D6, adds or subtracts the difference in Command Ability of the opposing CinC, and then compares the number to a table, resulting in one of the following types of battle:
  • Skirmish (No Battle)
  • Defender Ambushes Attacker
  • Set-Piece Battle
  • Meeting Engagement
  • Attacker Ambushes Defender
This battle type will later determine who sets up terrain, links, and forces in what order.


As stated previously, all combat occurs at a single location and is either a close range firefight, a skirmish, or close combat. As you might expect close order foot is best at close range combat, skirmishers in a skirmish, and British at close combat. When combat occurs, both side fight.

The results of a close range firefight is determined by calculation to determine the number of hits inflicted. Hits are converted to casualties by rolling a die (generally 50% of all hits will become casualties). Each odd hit will remove a base while each even hit will remove an Officer figure (representing the unit's Combat Effectiveness). Finally! An interesting way of representing rifle units: each odd hit is an Officer and each even hit is a base. This reflects the riflemen taking the unit's command and control elements (i.e. Officers and Sergeants).

Skirmish fire is generally conducted if your General was unsuccessful in ordering the units to engage n a close range firefight. The mechanism for this is also a calculation to determine the number of hits, which in turn have to be rolled to see if they are casualties, as above. Note that the number of hits for skirmish fire is much lower than with a close range firefight.

Close combat is calculated as with a close range firefight, but an attached General can add his Ability to sway the fight. The British may cause the Americans to run before a close combat, but know that close combat only occurs if the attacker was in a close range firefight.

Other Goodies

In addition to all of the above the system also has "Fate Card", which are minor events that have an effect on combat, such as adding to your combat or subtracting from your opponent. Should be fun.


These look like very interesting rules, but I already have some questions. I will save them, and further judgement, until I do my playtest. One note on that, however, is that these rules require a lot of figures. In a pick-up game of 2,000 on the British side and 3,000 on the American side, you need 200 bases (800 figures), and that is just a basic game. Ironically, their Franco-Prussian War rules require far fewer figures, but represent multiple Corps.

I look forward to trying this out, if only with (virtual) pen and paper.


  1. So, assuming we are using the base and terrain sizes given, how big does the tabletop need to be? 6'x4'? larger?

  2. Good question. The width of the board is number of locations * 10 to 12 inches. Pick-up game has six locations, so 6' is fine. Depth not defined because it is abstract.


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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").