Friday, 18 December 2020

Sci-Fi painting and War of the Spanish Succession rules

After deciding to take a short break from my Ancient's painting project to paint some Sci-Fi figures. A couple of figures came off the painting table. They were both test figures as I was trying to workout colour schemes I will use for the remaining figures. 

On the gaming side of the hobby I have been playing some War of the Spanish Succession games in the hope of settling on some rules.

A Plague Space Marine given a rusty look

Necromunda gang member soon to join my skirmish games

The first draft of the WSS rules are below. The combat mechanisms are very much based around those from One-Hour Wargames (Neil Thomas) but the artillery shooting rules are based on ideas from Charge! (Brig. P. Young and Lt.Col. J.P. Lawford). I opted for a different approach for artillery: firstly because I like the mechanism, and secondly it makes artillery shots more unpredictable.

The sequence of play uses playing cards to determine the order of phases in a given turn using ideas from the ruleset “The War of the Spanish Succession - Paperboys Rules”. I really like the way the approach works and it gives a clunky feel to the way a turn progresses, which seems to fit the period where armies were organised but still ponderous in their movements.

I do use Commanders and Generals in the game. These determine if units can move based on command radius, and also to rally units who may be wavering. As Commanders are used to rally troops they cease to have a command radius and your plans can get bogged down.

The Paper Soldiers march on the tabletop

Cards are used to determine the order of phases in a given turn.

Another game underway.

Draft War of the Spanish Succession Rules


The armies can have the following unit types and as a general rule are made up of 8-10 units (excluding Commanders and General)...

Infantry - Line infantry in close order who faced each other at about 60 yards and blazed away until the moral of one side failed and they routed.

Dragoons - Dragoons of this period were often used as second rate cavalry mounted on inferior horses. However, they could dismount to hold and secure key battlefield positions, such as buildings, when required.

Cavalry - Heavy cavalry used on the battlefield to engage and defeat enemy cavalry, then fall upon enemy trains, guns and infantry. A combination of Cavalry and Dragoons should make up a good third to fifty percent of the units in a force.

Artillery - Cannon were generally heavy to move and were static once they took up position on the battlefield. They were used to soften up enemy forces and any strong points.

Commanders - Individual bases representing brigade commanders.

General - Individual bases representing the General.

Sequence of Play

The game is played in a series of turns. During a turn there are a series of phases which players perform in order when their colour playing card is revealed. To prepare take six red and six black playing cards and shuffle the deck. Assign a colour to each side, for example, the French are black and the Alliance are red.

The order in which player’s perform their turn phases is determined by taking cards off the top of the card deck. Each time their colour card is revealed a player performs their next phase in the following order:

1) Artillery Shooting - a player resolves all artillery shooting.

2) Musket Shooting - player resolves all musket shooting.

3) Cavalry and Dragoon moves - a player can move all cavalry or dragoon units within a command range. This includes resoling charges where a unit moves into contact.

4) Infantry moves - a player can move all infantry units within a command range.

5) Artillery moves - a player can move any artillery and mortar units within a command range.

6) Commander/General moves and rallying - a player can move any commander and use them to rally units.

Once a player has performed their phase, take the next card from the top of the pack and a player performs another phase. This continues until both players have performed all their phases in order, then shuffle the card deck and start the next turn.


Units can be either in column or deployed. Once deployed a unit cannot return to column. Units may move up to the distances listed below during their turn.

Infantry in column = 6”

Infantry deployed = 3”

Cavalry and dragoon in column = 12”

Cavalry and dragoons deployed = 9”

Dismounted dragoons = 0”

Artillery limbered = 6”

Artillery deployed (unlimbered) = 0”

Commanders and General = 12”

Units may only move if within 6” radius of a Commander or 12” radius of a General. If outside of the command radius a unit can still turn to face enemy units.

A unit may make one turn at start or end of their move. When turning units pivot on their central point.

Units once they have changed their formation to deployed cannot move back into column formation again. The change in formation must occur before a unit is moved.

Dragoons are able to dismount after moving and it takes a full move to mount again. Once they dismount, they are considered to be in a deployed formation. Dismounted dragoons cannot move and must remount to move.

Artillery units once unlimbered cannot move for the remainder of the game, but are allowed to turn.

Units may never move through other units.

Only cavalry and mounted dragoons can move (charge) into contact with enemy units.

Only deployed infantry units, artillery units or dismounted dragoons can shoot.


Woods - Cannot be entered.

Towns - only Infantry & dismounted dragoons may end a move in a town, unless on a road. Towns provide cover to infantry and dismounted dragoons.

Marsh/Lake - impassable.

Rivers - Can be only crossed via bridges & fords. It takes a full move to cross.

Streams - cannot be crossed by artillery. All other units take a full move to cross.

Fields - Infantry & dismounted dragoons can claim cover.

Hills - all units can move onto hills. Provide benefits to those defending hills against charges, and artillery can fire over units.

Cavalry Charges

Only deployed cavalry and deployed mounted dragoons can charge into combat. Charges are resolved by moving the attacking unit into contact with the target unit with the following restrictions:

  • The attacking unit can only pivot up to 45 degrees before charging.
  • The attacking unit can only attack a single unit.

Combat is one sided with only the attacking unit causing casualties. The attacking unit rolls a D6+2 for cavalry and D6 for dragoons to determine the number of hits, which are modified by the following:

  • Half the score if the target is uphill
  • Double the score attacking the flank or rear of the target unit.

After the hits are applied. If the target unit is not eliminated, the attacking cavalry or dragoon unit must retire 6”.

Artillery Shooting

Only unlimbered (deployed) artillery units are able to shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

  • Check field of fire - units can only shoot at a single unit within 45 degree of their frontal facing side.
  • Check the range - to determine the range roll a D6-1 and multiply by 6”. If the target is in cover, deduct a further 2 from the score. Measure to see if the target can be reached.

Assess hits - roll a D6 to determine the hits.

Artillery can shoot over other units if they are positioned on a hill.

Musket Shooting

Only deployed infantry and dismounted dragoons are able to shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

  • Check field of fire - units can only shoot at a single unit within 45 degree of their frontal facing side. Units in towns have a 360 degree field of fire.
  • Check the range - infantry and dragoons have a range of 9”.
  • Assess hits - infantry roll a D6 to and dragoons roll a D6-2

If the target is in cover halve the number of hits rounding up fractions.

Routs and Rallies

Units are routed and removed from the tabletop after taking 15 or more hits. Units can be rallied and D6 hits removed when a commander is attached.

Generals and Commanders

Commanders are used to order units to move and in the case of Commanders rally units.

To order units to move a Commander must be with 6” radius of the unit and 12" for a General.

Commanders are able to rally units which are wavering by attaching themselves to the unit. Upon joining a unit their number of hits is reduced by the score of a D6. The Commander must remain with the unit for the remainder of the game and cannot order other units, except the one they joined.

Generals are not allowed to rally units.

Commanders and Generals cannot be shot at or charged. If they are in the way, then move then 6" out of the way and towards the rear.


  1. Peter, that is some fancy brushwork on your sci-fi.

    1. Thanks. There is a lot of dry brushing going on to pick out the details.

  2. I like your trial paint job on those plague maraines Peter:). Your WSS rules look good and I use a slight tweak to the Honours of Wars rules published by Osprey for this period, with said tweaks freely available on the HoW forum. The paper soldiers look great btw.

    1. Thanks for the tip on HoW forum, I will have to investigate.

  3. Not being allowed to enter woods is going to hamper any refight of Malplaquet?

    1. Thats true. Off the top of my head I will probably go for half movement and limit shooting range to 3 inches in wood. Thanks.

  4. You have put together what seem like simple, but effective rules. Your version of card-based activation looks good. The role of commanders is central and direct, which I reckon is far preferable to some mechanic that is representative of it. I'll be interested to see and read how they develop.
    Regards, James
    p.s. I also really like that you cited the influences on what you have put together. This is almost never done with commercial sets that would have you believe that it is all new, when precious little is!

    1. Thanks James. I need to play a few more games and have a few situations to consider, such as infantry and woods. In the new year I hope to setup a mini-campaign and test out the rules more thoroughly. Regards, Peter

  5. Having just played the NT OHW rules, the NT core of these is clear. I like the addition of Rallying/commanders, and the "chopped up" sequence deck is very Piquet/FoB like!

    1. The simplicity of OHW make them a wonderful starting base for adding other rule mechanisms too.