Sunday, March 8, 2015

Playtesting "Muskets & Mayhem"

Duc de Gobin over at his excellent blog "Warfare in the Age of Cynics and Amateurs" playtested a game of our recent trans-oceanic collaboration on a simple horse & musket  set of rules. The Duc coined the name "Muskets & Mayhem" and it instantly stuck.

Besides showcasing some splendidly painted figures and what looked like a cracking good game, he also played the rules' inaugural game and delivered excellent feedback that we can work into the system.

I have incorporated most of his changes in the rules below.  As we flesh out some of the hiccups still in the system, I will include the latest and greatest versions of the rules.  Each time we communicate, I continue to post modifications to the rules and I think things are coming together nicely.  I plan on playing a 15mm AWI version this week sometime.

Muskets & Mayhem: 

Simple Rules for Horse & Musket Battles Fought with Toy Soldiers

  1. Initiative (both sides roll D6 with higher roll choosing to go first/second)
  2. Movement (alternate formations EG I move a unit, you move a unit, units charging conduct their pre-charge morale check now.  If failed, they remain at a halt. Targets of charge make their morale checks now.  If passed they may fire on charging unit instead of in fire phase)
  3. Artillery Fire (apply casualties at end of artillery phase)
  4. Stationary Fire (apply casualties at end of Stationary Fire Phase)
  5. Moving Fire (apply casualties at end of Moving Fire Phase)
  6. Morale (conduct all morale checks as a result of  stand loss through fire combat)
  7. Melee Combat (units in contact resolve melees at this time – initiative player determines who goes first)

Line units move and not fire 12 units of measurement. Line units who will fire and move 8.  Attack columns move 12. Artillery may move 6, foot limbered may move 12.  All cavalry move 20.  Commanders move 30. Squares may not move.

Units inter-penetrating other units as a result of a melee loss (if melee push back option used) take 1 additional hit.

Units of Measurement
Inches for troops larger than 15mm.  Centimeters for 15mm and below.  If you're using blocks of 10mm or 6mm troops, consider making hits by base instead of by figure.  (Just say each base fires with 2 D6 and takes 4 hits.)

Unit Composition
·         Line unit sizes are 16 troops, including figures representing officers, musicians, etc (unit represents  most likely an 18th or early 19th century battalion or ACW sized Regiment).
·         Light Infantry Battalions are composed of 8 total troops individually based or based 2 to a base, with each base receiving 1 fire die.  Light Infantry Battalions skirmishing always fire as if they were at DISORGANIZED morale (they always hit on a 5).
·         Cavalry Squadrons are 8 to 10 mounts including officer and color bearer.
·         Artillery Batteries are 1 gun model with up to 4 gunners

Shoot groups of 2 figures.  So a full strength line battalion gets 8D6 (8 six sided dice).  Game uses opposed shooting rolls.  So firer shoots his fire dice.  For every hit, the unit being fired upon rolls its morale dice to see how it stands the fire.  Artillery batteries fire based on number of gunners with cannon.  (4 gunners = 4 fire dice – casualties are removed for unsaved hits).

EG: Austrian foot at normal morale (4 stands of 4 troops each) rolls 8 dice.  Normal morale hits on 4+.  He rolls 1,1,2,3,4,4,5,6.  Every die that is "4" or higher scores a hit.  The Austrian unit scores 4 hits.  The Prussian unit he fires at is currently also at Normal morale.  He rolls 4 dice (1 for each hit) and rolls 2,3,4,5, canceling out 2 hits from the Austrian player.  THe Prussian player takes 2 total hits to his battalion.  The Prussian player places a small die with the "2" showing behind the left-most stand.

Skirmisher / Light Infantry Battalions are units of 8

Attached Commanders / Officers
If attached to a unit, a commander can remove a single hit.

Morale Levels are Normal, Disorganized, Shaken.  For every 4 hits, you reduce your morale level by 1:    

4 stands full strength.  3 stands Disorganized. 2 stands Shaken.  Units reduced to 4 figures or 1 stand are removed.

For Shooting and Morale
Normal Morale GREEN Dice hit on 4+ /  Save on 4+
Disorganized Morale YELLOW Dice hit on 5+ / Save on 5+
Shaken Morale RED Dice hit on 6 / Save on 6

Shooting Ranges
Musket and Close Artillery Close range  / Long Range: 6 / 20

Prepared Defenses
Units in defenses: +1 for units rolling morale and saves, and a +2 to their morale roll when charged in defenses.

ALTERNATE MORALE SAVE DICE OPTIONS (roll number or higher on 1D6) for those who want combined grenadier battalions, Guards troops, riflemen, etc)

MORALE Dice for Opposing Fire
Elite 3+
Regular 4+
Second Rate 5+
Hastily Trained Conscript / Mil. 6

Units must take a morale check after losing a stand, prior to melee, and receiving a charge.  Must roll your morale level or better on 1D6.

Line up Battalions and roll as per shooting.  Winner must beat loser by 2 casualties.  (Prussian scores 4 hits, Austrian scores 2 - Prussian is the winner.)

Melee Sequence

1. Moving player announces Charge and makes pre charge morale check during movement phase Moving player moves unit in.  
2. Player to receive charge makes morale check.  Must pass or retreat full move distance.
3. If Morale check passed, player receiving charge may fire immediately (if infantry) or counter-charge immediately (if cavalry) after charging player finishes charging unit’s movement.  Both charging cavalry units would then meet in the middle.
4. Join units.  Resolve melee combat dice rolls during Melee Phase.
5. Melee Phase roll 1D6 for every figure in unit, striving to meet or exceed the Shooting/Morale number.  (Normal Morale 4+, Disorganized Morale 5+, Shaken Morale 6).  Both sides make Morale 6. Save Dice throws for each hit.
7. Remove Casualties or use marker dice if troops are on bases.
8. Winner is the side who scored 2 more hits than opponent.
9. [Optional Melee Results] 

Option A: Losing side retreats 1 full move facing enemy and makes a morale check if a tand is lost
Option B: Losing side is removed from play (makes for a quicker game)

Combat Dice Additions
Cavalry charging infantry in line receive double dice.
Infantry or cavalry charging artillery receive double dice if artillery battery passes its pre charge morale check.

Follow-On Playtest Considerations
  1. Rally rule for units who have dropped to 3 stands, allowing them to rally back to full effectiveness (Normal Morale)
  2. What happens to units that lose a stand and fail morale?  Are they pushed back?  Or does morale just drop 1 level?
  3. Flanking charges?  Unit charged gets no saves?  Charging unit gets double dice?


  1. HAHA Thank you sir, though this particular Duc must report that he is not worthy of the title of 'illustrious'.
    Very much looking forward to the AWI game. If only I had enough stiff painted for it - but yes, I did notice that the mechanisms really lend themselves to the Revolutionary period.

    Might be possible to grant British Guards an elite status, whilst giving certain American officers an expanded radius of command to affect die re-rolls (Morgan at Cowpens for instance, vs Tarleton's less than sterling performance).

    1. It's funny - the reason I'm doing the AWI game is simply because I have the most troops based and painted for a game with a respectable amount of figures. I will be able to have German units as well as British troops on the table.

      I was thinking of having some units with different morale levels, but not too many to change any balance. Perhaps the Guards get elite status, or American riflemen may re-roll a missed shot. There is definitely room for period rules. I really want to test the concepts this week - so nothing is off the table!