D3 ACW Rules


This set of rules are a variation of ideas from “One Hour Wargames” American Civil War rules by Neil Thomas. These rules provide such a sound foundation to add modifications which include:

  • The use of D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) to provide only three combat values: below average, average, or above average.
  • A reduction of the number of hits before a unit is eliminated.
  • Games are played on a hex grid, normally on a tabletop of 6 hexes by 9 hexes.
  • Morale tests when hits are taken.
  • Commanders

Event cards as described in “One Hour Wargames” are used with some modifications to help create some period flavour and add a level of uncertainty for solo-wargaming. The board-game Battlecry helped to inspire a few of the event cards.


The game has the following units:

  • Infantry
  • Cavalry
  • Artillery

Commanders are always attached to units, and up to 3 commanders can be used per side.

An infantry unit with attached commander. (The models are 15mm MiniFigs)

Generally games have between 6 to 9 units per side. When playing larger games with more than 6 units, 6 units begin the game on the tabletop with any remaining units in reserve. Their arrival is determined by event cards.

The use of a hex grid means unit's basing does not matter. The one limitation is how well a unit can fit into a hex which includes terrain.

Units need to be able to fit in a hex with terrain.


The tabletop uses a hex grid. The size of your hex grid is depends on many factors, but generally for One Hour War-game sized armies (around 6 units per side) a 9 by 6 hex grid works well.

Example gridded layout

(Note - rivers run between hexes. This is because of musket shooting ranges which are 1 hex and having rivers running between hexes keeps the rules simple.)

Sequence of Play

Players take turns activate all or some of their units during their turn. During a turn a player follows the steps below:

  1. Draw an event card
  2. Movement
  3. Shooting
  4. Check Morale
  5. Eliminating units

A game ends after 15 turns are completed by both players.


Units may move up to the distances listed below during their turn.

  • Artillery and Infantry: 1 hex
  • Cavalry: 2 hex

When moving units they can move in any direction and must finish their movement facing a hex side.

Reacting to enemy units - Unless already facing an adjacent enemy unit, a unit will immediately turn to face an enemy unit when they move into adjacent hex. (The order in which a player moves their units to engage enemy units can be important.)

Terrain and its effects:

  • Woods - provide cover and only infantry can enter.
  • Towns - provide cover and only Infantry & cavalry may end a move in a town.
  • Marsh/Lakes - are impassable to all units.
  • Rivers - can be only crossed via bridges & fords.
  • Streams - cannot be crossed by artillery. All other units can cross.
  • Difficult and broken terrain - only Infantry can enter.
  • Fields - provide cover except against artillery.
  • Hills - all units can move onto hills. Artillery can fire over units if positioned on a hill.
  • Entrenched Positions - provide cover and can only be occupied by infantry and artillery. Entrenched units never take moral checks.

Units may not pass through other units, friendly of enemy, and may never finish their moves in the same hex as another unit. 

Units must stop their movement when moving into a hex adjacent to any enemy unit. The exception is when the hexes are separated by a river.

Units must end their movement when entering any hex with a terrain feature. The exception is when moving along a road.

Units may not exit a hex adjacent to an enemy unit and move into a hex adjacent to an another enemy unit. The exception is when infantry with an officer involved in a successful attack and move into a vacated enemy hex.


Shooting is only undertaken by units that have not moved during a player’s movement phase. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

Check field of fire and range

Infantry and cavalry units with a range of 1 hex can only shoot at a single unit in the hex they are facing. 

Units in buildings do not have this restriction and can shoot at any adjacent hex.

Artillery units have a range of 4 hex and must have a clear view of the target unit. I use a ruler (or piece of wooden dowel) to help decide of the artillery can see a target by checking the ruler does not cross a hex occupied by a unit or blocking terrain such as woods.

Artillery units positioned on hills are allowed to shoot over other units. 

Artillery shooting at units not adjacent to them cannot shoot at enemy units adjacent to friendly units.

Assess hits

Units roll a D3 dice when shooting with the following adjustments:

  • Minus 1 if the target unit is in cover
  • Minus 1 if cavalry
  • Minus 1 if Artillery shooting at greater than 1 hex


Test morale whenever a unit takes any hits and is diced for after all attacks on the units are complete. Roll two D6 and sum the score:

  • If the score is more than or the unit’s hits, the unit passes the morale test
  • If the score is less than or equal to the unit’s hits, the unit has failed the morale test.

A unit failing a morale test without an attached commander is routed and removed from play immediately.

A unit failing a morale test with an attached commander must remove the commander and is not routed. The commander was wounded or killed rallying their unit.

Eliminating Units

Units are routed and removed from play when they exceed 8 hits or fail a morale test.

An artillery unit with 2 hits. I use little squares with numbers written on the sides. The side with a unit's  hits faces the unit. Small dice can also be used, but do have a tendency to occasionally roll.

The hit markers have numbers on each side and are flipped to record hits 5 through to 8. Painting the markers green stops them from standing out too much on the tabletop.


Commanders are attached to a unit at the start of the game, and they must remain attached to the unit for the duration of the game.

Units failing a morale test with an attached commander remove their commander rather than being routed.

Infantry units with attached commanders involved in combat can advance into a hex vacated by a routed or eliminated enemy unit during the shooting phase.

Some event cards also benefit units with commanders.

Event Cards

Two sets of event cards are required for each player. At the start of each turn a player draws one event card and actions its effect that turn. Cards are not carried over into following turns.

There are 15 cards in all, one for each turn:

  • Sharpshooter - Allows one opposing commander to be removed.
  • Hit and Run - Allows a cavalry unit to move, shoot, and move again.
  • Rally - A routed infantry unit can return to the game without any hits. It enters play on the player’s base edge. (Note - a rallied unit cannot have an attached commander.)
  • Force March - One unit can move twice.
  • Demoralised - All units must immediately take a morale test.
  • Surprise Assault - One unit can move and shoot.
  • 4 x No effect/Reserves - If a player has reserves, then one unit arrives. If there are no reserves the card has no effect upon play.
  • Stonewall - A stationary unit has found a good defensive position and is treated as being in an entrenched position until it moves or is eliminated. (I place a fence or stonewall in front of the unit to show this.)
  • 2 x Confusion - Only units with commanders are allowed to move
  • Ammunition Shortage - Artillery units are not allowed to engage in shooting.
  • Smoke - all shooting treats target units as being in cover. Units already in cover does not benefit from this event.
Example cards which are printed (after being created in PowerPoint or Slides) then stuck to card with a glue-stick and cut out.

Determining Victory

Outside set scenarios with defined victory conditions. A quick way of determining victory to to tally points. A player will get 1 point for:

  • Each enemy commander removed from play, including those removed when a unit is eliminated after taking more than 8 hits.
  • Each unit routed or eliminated. Units still count even when rallied through event card, and rallied units are counted twice if mounted or eliminated a second time.
  • Each occupied defensive position agreed at the start of the game. Normally terrain features such as hills and built up areas.


  1. Hi Peter, Excellent clear rules! Love the event cards.



    1. Hi Jay, the event cards are very much based on those from One-Hour Wargames and hopefully give the game some period feel. Thanks, Peter