The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

One-Hour Wargames: Medieval Rules + minimum clarifications

Simple, but some  explanations, or outright mechanical constructions, needed:

These are self-explanatory. I hope they help you in your games. I can't guarantee that NT would approve of these takes on rules mechanics, but I hope they provide a clearer guide to you as you play so you can concentrate on fun and the scenario rather than fiddly unexplained aspects of the game. At the very least, I think that the "over half" and "must fit" rules will take care of many questions that arise. If you've any input or if I've made errors please send a comment. My goal is not to change any of the core rules, and that which is [more or less] his original text is in black, with my clarifications in grey.

Happy gaming!

EDIT: I accidentally imported my use of 4 x 45 arcs into this version of the rules. The rules only have one arc, a 45 front arc for both shooting and charges - this has now been amended. I also cleaned up some language about Contact and added my interpretation of shooting into melee on 05 OCT 17.

ONE-HOUR WARGAMES: Medieval Wargames Rules [As Written w’minimum clarifications]
By Neil Thomas, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., South Yorkshire, 2014

This take on the rules is faithful to the original rules but adds into them the minimum clarifications to handle situations that inevitably come up in a game, i.e. Line of Sight, Contact, Turning near impassible terrain, etc. Players need to agree on these or their own preferences lest they spend their time figuring them out [or arguing] instead of playing. I also renumbered rule sections and renamed some things for brevity and clarity, i.e. Hand-to-Hand combat is now just Mêlée.

0.0 Grey Areas. Any situation not explicitly covered in the rules, or measurements “too close to call” are defined in either/or terms and resolved with a friendly roll-off in favor of the winner.
0.1 Measuring is allowed on the table anytime, anywhere.
0.2 Dice are the standard “D6”, with six sides numbered 1-6.
0.3 Unit Types.
      i.        Knights are the most numerous Unit, reflecting their battlefield dominance. Their impetuosity is reflected in their fast movement and +2 Mêlée bonus. They lack cohesion and their horses are not as well protected as the riders, so they do not get any bonus against Shooting.
     ii.        Archers are equipped with the exceptionally effective crossbow, giving them a +2 when Shooting. They lack an effective Mêlée weapon or armor protection, so fight with a -2 penalty in Mêlée.
    iii.        Men-at-Arms are heavily armored and shielded dismounted knights with spears and other long mêlée  weapons. This gives them protection and endurance, so they take combat Hits at half normal rate.
   iv.        Levies are less enthusiastic foot with spears and shields but little armor, so they receive no bonus against Hits. They do strike effectively, however, and can protect flanks and hold key terrain features.
Medieval Units are undisciplined and poorly trained, so lack capacity for skirmishing in woods and passing through each other. This inflexibility enhances the period by providing a great test of any wargamer’s ability.
0.4 Unit Frontage is 4-6”; the wargamers themselves should decide what kind and how many figs should go onto a unit base, and therefore the depth, also. To ease play, all Units should be a solid rectangular base the same size, especially within Unit Types, with a 2-1 Frontage-depth ratio. Every Unit has four sides, Front [where figures are looking!], Rear, Left and Right.
0.5 Unit Front Arc is measured 45° off the corners of the Front Side of the base. Target Units must be within this arc to be shot at or charged. The other 270° around the base aren’t used as arcs in game mechanics.
0.6 Over Half. In most game situations, you will need to see half or more of a Unit’s Side to shoot it or charge it, half or more of a Unit within or atop Terrain, to get its benefits etc.
0.7 Must Fit. In all game situations, Units must physically fully fit in/thru a space on the table to use that space.
0.8 Terrain comes in two types, Area and Linear. Area is a square about 6-12” a side. Linear Terrain is 6-12” long and the model’s width, i.e. a stone wall. A Unit is “within” Area Terrain if it is entirely within the edges of the model [given any naturalistic shaping]. A Unit is “at, on or behind” Linear Terrain if its side is in full edge contact with it, and an attacking Unit is Targeting that side. A Unit is “uphill” of an opponent if it is at a hill’s crest or plateau edge, or on a slope and its entire Rear Side is above its attacker’s Front Side.
0.9 Line of Sight. Units must have a Line of Sight [LoS], to shoot or charge a Target Unit. A LoS begins at the center of the Front Side of the shooting or charging Unit, and runs to the center of a Target Unit’s side, and:
      i.        Is as long as the Range or Move Distance of the attacking Unit, and,
     ii.        Must be traced to all or at least 3” of that targeted Side.
A Line of Sight is obstructed by anything intervening about a figure height or taller, i.e. Hills, Woods and Units:
    iii.        So requires a gap 3” wide between obstructing Terrain or Units,
   iv.        But may be traced up to 3” through Woods, Towns, or across a Hill crest [or plateau edge], and,
    v.        May be traced freely to or from Units lining the edge of Woods and Towns.
Given these guidelines, a laser pointer or string at “model’s eye view” can always help clarify!

Play Sequence. A complete turn has two Player Turns of four Phases, each following the below sequence:
1. Move     2. Shoot     3. Mêlée     4. Remove Units
Alternating Player Turns is far more manageable than simultaneous actions and surprisingly more realistic as it is only superficially true that armies acted simultaneously in historical battles. Generally, one side acted then the other reacted. This process of alternating actions is reflected quite accurately with alternate player turns.

1.0 Move Basics. Units may move on the table the below distance in a straight line during their Player Turn. A Turn may be made before or after. Roads add distance and some terrain prohibits entry.
1.1 Move Distances
Unit Type                                           Movement Distance
Archers, Men-at-Arms, Levies                         6”
Knights                                                            12”
1.2 Terrain affects Unit Moves as follows:
      i.        Towns and Hills do not affect movement.
     ii.        Rivers are impassible, but may be crossed at a Ford or Bridge.
    iii.        Woods, Lakes, Marsh, Units and the Board Edge are impassible to all Units.
   iv.        Roads give +3” if a Unit spends its entire move with its base astride the road and it is not charging. The road also allows a Unit to move through Terrain normally impassible to it, i.e. Rivers.
1.3 Interpenetration. Unit bases may touch but not pass through each other during a Move.
1.4 Up to two Turns may be made as part of a Move: rotate the Unit on its center point at the start and/or end of the Move. While Turning, Unit corners may not cross into impassible Terrain [1.2]. However, a Unit may always rotate 90° [slide base over to fit] or 180° [an “about face”] in place. This problem with rotating rectangular bases is best avoided by keeping 1-2” between Units and Impassible Terrain.
1.5 Moves in Melee. Units in Melee Contact cannot move except to Turn 90° or 180° to face their Front to a Unit in Contact with a Flank or their Rear, and only if they are not Contacted on their Front. If 90° move other Units in Contact as little as possible to fit the Turn while remaining in Contact: a 180° needs no adjustment.
1.6 Moving and Shooting. Units that move or Turn may not Shoot in Phase 2;
1.7 Units may move thru Gaps in Impassible Terrain over 3” wide and if they end their move clear.
1.8 Charges occur when a Unit moves or turns into Contact with a Target Unit in LoS [0.9]:
      i.        One Turn up to 45° is allowed at the start of its Move [0.5].
     ii.        One Mêlée Contact per Unit side is allowed, so four at most [0.4].
    iii.        Contact is made by moving the Unit straight along the LoS until it touches its Target. It is then moved freely – unmeasured – into as much full edge-to-edge Contact as space allows, centered if possible, until it is in full edge contact with all or at least 3” of that Side of the Target Unit.
   iv.        The Mêlée is resolved in Phase 3, Mêlée.
[Note that the above turning rule requires the LoS to a Target Unit to be within 45° of the Charging Unit’s Front side – before Turning – to be Contacted. More subtly, a Charging Unit must be entirely over a 180° line drawn from a given Target Unit’s side for the Charger to Contact that side of the Target Unit.]

The movement model uses faster rates for Units that moved rapidly over the battlefield, rather than various turn rates or other abilities. Turning on the center and only before or after straight line movement, has the net result of limiting the maneuver of Units realistically while making it easier for players to understand. Terrain has limited but important effects, [critical for victory in the scenarios]. Prohibiting movement for most units in difficult terrain is both historical and easier – exceptions are made as needed in some of the scenarios.

2.0 Shooting is performed only by Archers, at one target, that is within:
2.1 Arc of Fire of 45° off the Front [0.5]
2.2 Range of 12”
2.3 Resolve shooting Hits by rolling a D6 adding 2, giving the total number of Hits, modified as follows:
      i.        Cover. Units within Towns [or Woods, if scenario permits entry] halve the Hits inflicted.
     ii.        Armor. Men-at-Arms halve the Hits inflicted,
Any Fraction is rounded up.
2.4 Shooting into Melee is permitted as long as the target Unit is in LoS [0.9]. This represents the support of archers in what is really a number of small hand to hand combats with periods of rest and pauses in between, as well as the support of shooting before and after contact.
Hills are considered to be relatively gentle slopes. While even this provides an advantage in Mêlée, standing on an open hilltop provides little cover from missiles [especially considering their plunging arcs].

3.0 Mêlée is resolved in each Player Turn, but only for their Units.
3.1 One Sided Combat. Units inflict Hits only during their Player Turn.
3.2 Resolve Mêlée Hits by rolling a D6; Knights add 2 and Archers subtract 2. The total is then modified:
      i.        Terrain halves Hits against Units within Towns [or Woods, if scenario permits entry], at River Crossings, or uphill from opponents.
     ii.        Armor halves Hits against Men-at-Arms.
    iii.        Flank and Rear attacks inflict double Hits against a Unit Contacted on those sides.
Any fraction is rounded up. Mêlée ends when all Units of one side are eliminated.
Mêlée is one-sided, which seems strange since real life mêlée was simultaneous. However, this makes it easy to keep track of player turns and rewards the charging player with getting in the first blow [sometimes this is enough to win the mêlée with average rolling on each side: plus, it acts as  a charge bonus]. Mêlée is a fight to the finish, it being difficult for medieval Units to disengage from the enemy in the confusion of fighting. Faster Units can often determine when and where to commit to the engagement, but should be careful to seek an advantage like a flank when doing so.

4. Remove Units
Units with 15 or more Hits are removed from the table.
Units receive Hits through combat in the game without reduction in fighting ability until they have 15 or more Hits and are removed. This reflects a model of fighting whereby casualties are actually relatively low as a percent of personnel, but morale effects and fatigue add up until the Unit routs from the battlefield.

5. Optional Rules
5.1 A Fort is a Town that prohibits Melee with Units inside it [Scenario. 22].
5.2 Irregulars: 9” move, may enter woods, (Melee/12” Shoot) both D6-2. May replace any two Units [Sc. 23].
5.2 Peasant Archers fight as Levies, may enter woods, Shoot bows 12”. May replace any one Unit [Sc. 24].

5.4 A Redoubt gives one foot Unit a 180 field of fire, cover, and delays attacking Units for a turn? [Sc. 30].


  1. " and delays attacking Units for a turn?"

    Yes, I have no idea what that means either.

  2. It's GOT to mean that melee is delayed for one turn - doesn't it?

    Thanks for being a follower! If you are still at TMP, post something about these blog posts - Queen Catherine has been suspended in some fashion [not dawghoused, just suspended. They don't like that QC observed that the ranting political threads Bill and others make to bait people and that go to 150 posts are just there to push up the thread count.

  3. I left TMP back in 2016, with a blog post which caused Bill to have a minor meltdown and cost him a couple of advertisers. No plans to go back.

    As for the delay, I can only think that a unit has to spend a turn climbing over the wall. It's very odd phrasing, though.

    1. Do tell - I'm getting sick of TMP as well.

      Bill Armintrout needs competition. I'm wondering if its time an alternative to TMP was created? What do you think?