Monday, 23 April 2018

A One Hour Wargame with Featherstone style rules

Over the weekend I did some work on tweaking a Donald Featherstone ruleset that appeared in 'Campaigning with the Duke of Wellington and Featherstone'. This is basically the same set that was used in the Peninsular War book he wrote for Argus books in the 1990s and similar to the rules in the recently republished 'Wargaming the American War of Independence'. In the original rules combat is resolved by the target unit rolling percentage dice. 5 hits and the unit was done for, although a d6 roll would decide if it retreated or routed before that point.

In order to make this a bit more simple and intuitive for me, I transformed it from the target rolling percentage dice to the attacker rolling a d10. This required very little tweaking, and on top of it I added some basic command rules and force morale rules. A few clarifications were added, just to remind myself or opponents about fields of fire etc, but the guts of the rules fits on 3 sheets of paper, which I expanded to 4 with a cover, so that I could print it out as a booklet on A4.

Next I altered the rules to fit the American Civil War, which was very simple to do, using some ideas from the rules in 'Featherstone's Complete Wargaming'. So today, having not been balloted for jury duty this morning (phew), I had time to come home and play a quick game.

With the Napoleonics being totally unready for play, I chose the American Civil War collection, and rolled a scenario out of Neil Thomas'One Hour Wargames  (no. 13 - Escape). I then rolled up the makeup of the two rival sides as well. Apologies that some of the units in this game are unpainted - both sides rolled cavalry which are next on the list to paint, and the Union rolled Zouaves, which are also awaiting their turn to be coloured in.

The game starts with one Confederate unit on the board dfending the road (right). The Union has to bust through them and get 3 units off. This photo is in turn two, where units show up on the hill in the left rear. An infantry unit is about to be placed next to the artillery as well. Note the Union cavalry at the top of the picture. They're about to be very important.

In turn 4 The cavalry managed to get around the back of the 4th Texas, who were also charged frontally by the 46th Pennsylvania. Note the top corner where the Indiana Regiment is about to be destroyed. It as their own fault - any sensible unit would have retreated, but they stood in front of the guns, rolling sixes for morale.

In the same turn Confederate reinforcements arrived. The cavalry made a beeline for the Zouaves, who were in column, but didn't quite have the distance to reach. 

The 4th Texas is surrounded and wiped out. The general survives, but beats a hasty retreat.

The Zouaves have time to change formation and launch a volley. The Michigan troops in the woods also open up on the 3rd Texas. Both units roll '1's for morale! With the general over 12"away, they won't rally!

The first two Union regiments leave the board (to the right).

In turn five the last Confederate unit shows up - a battery - and then promptly rolls a 1. The Confederates fail their Brigade morale for having lost over 50%, but the Union was bound to get a third unit off the board within a couple of turns. 
Union victory! Both sides only had one unit each destroyed by enemy action, but the Confederates also lost 2 units to rout, and this was the game winner for the Union. Had the general come on with the reserves (which he could have), he would have been in a much better position to rally his fleeing units.

The rules worked well, even in this small a game. Everything was intuitive, there was very little calculation needed (working out the differential in melee is about as hurtful for the brain as it gets), and the outcomes rewarded sensible tactics, while also reflecting a little bit of luck. By the time the armies are fully painted I'm expecting to have 4-5 brigades a side, so it is good to start small first.

In their current form you can find them here.



  1. Always good when some new rules work out well. The combat outcomes table appears at first reading to be an influential table on how units perform.

    1. They are quite influential, moreso in the ACW version, in order to represent the skedaddling then rallying which was more prevalent in that conflict. In the Napoleonic version units don't have to check combat outcome from shooting unless they have 3 or 4 hits already.

  2. I like the write up and will have a look over the fast play rules. I am keen to see your Napoleonic version as you make it. Well done so far thanks.

    1. No problem Chris. I'll put the Napoleonic version up in a page of their own.

  3. Great battle and it's always good to see new life breathed into old rules.