D3 Ancient Rules

Punic War - Wargame Rules

These home-brew rules are a variant on Neil Thomas’ One-Hour Wargames Ancient rules. Units types are geared towards from the 2nd Punic War, including elephants with a berserk rule. The rules also use chance cards to reflect army characteristics and leadership.

Units Types

The game is geared towards the 2nd Punic Wars and uses the following units types:

  • Veteran Heavy Infantry

  • Heavy Infantry

  • Warband (Gauls)

  • Light Infantry

  • Veteran Light Cavalry

  • Light Cavalry

  • Heavy Cavalry

  • Elephants

  • Catapults

  • Commanders (attached to a unit)

The units need to be consistently based. I have been trying large base widths of 12”. This base width naturally limits the ability of units in formation to move around easily except when positioned on the flanks.

I have been playing games with 6-8 units per side using the army lists in Ancient and Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas as a guide to an army's make up.

My normal basing is 4x3 inches, but for these ancient games each unit has 3 bases to make units 12x3 inches.

Sequence of play

Each player takes a turn to move, shoot and melee with their units in the following sequence:

  1. Draw chance card

  2. Movement

  3. Shooting

  4. Melee

  5. Eliminating units (and berserk elephants)

The game ends after 15 turns.


During the movement phase a player can attempt to move their units. A unit may move up to the distances listed below:

  • Heavy Infantry - 6”

  • Light Infantry, Warbands, and Elephants - 9”

  • Light Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry - 12”

  • Catapults - cannot move, but are allowed to pivot on the spot.

Units may pivot at the start and end of their move..

Only light infantry may pass through other friendly units. Any unit that is passed through is treated as having moved or cannot have moved that turn.

Only cavalry can exit and move away from combat.

Units that have moved or turned may not shoot or engage in combat.


Terrain has an impact on a unit’s movement and combat.

Woods - Only light infantry and warbands can enter

Towns - No effect on movement and treat as broken ground for combat

Marshland and lakes - Impassable to units

Rivers - Can only be crossed at bridges and fords

Broken Terran (e.g. Rocky, Fields and Streams) - Only infantry can enter and heavy infantry do halve their hits when attacking units in broken ground.

Roads - Units moving all their move on roads add 3” to their move distance

Charges (Moving into contact)

Units may move into contact with enemy units, but have the following constraints:

  • When charging a unit may not turn during their move. They must move straight ahead.

  • Only one attacking unit can contact each side of an enemy unit (front, left flank, right flank, and rear)

  • Light infantry and light cavalry can only charge into combat providing the enemy unit is already engaged in combat.

  • Cavalry cannot charge elephants.

Combat is resolved in the combat phase


Only light infantry, light cavalry, and catapults can shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

  • Units may only shoot at a target within their frontal facing.

  • Light infantry and cavalry have a range of 12” and assess the number of hits by rolling a D3-1. 

  • Catapults have a range of 24” and assess the number of hits by rolling a D3-1 and do not halve hits for a target's armour. 

  • Halve the hits (rounding up) if the target unit is in cover, heavy infantry, or elephants.

  • Warbands do not halve the hits for shooting.

Units cannot shoot at units engaged in combat.


The procedure for combat is as follows:

  1. Units only inflict hits during their own player turn.

  2. Assess the number of hits:

  • Heavy Infantry - D3+1

  • Warband (Gauls) - D3+1

  • Light Infantry - D3-1

  • Heavy Cavalry - D3

  • Light Cavalry - D3-1

  • Catapults - cannot attack in combat situations

  • Elephants - D3 (regardless of unit type - no halving of hits)

Any unit with an attached commander unit and roll two D3 and select the highest value when calculating hits. 

Halve hits for attacks on warbands, veteran heavy infantry, heavy infantry, and elephants. Ignore this rule if the attacking unit is an elephant.

If attacking from a flank or rear +1 if attacking with light infantry or cavalry, or +2 if attacking with heavy infantry or cavalry.

Units defending woods, towns, broken terrain, river crossings, or hills -1 from the number of hits.

Combat concludes with the elimination of one of the contested sides. Units are allowed to face an attack upon their flank or rear, only if they are not already being engaged frontally.

Eliminating Units and Berserk Elephants

Units are eliminated after taking more than 8 hits.

When an elephant unit is eliminated, check to see if it goes berserk. Roll a D3 and:

  • On a score of 1 the elephant immediately charges the nearest friendly unit with 12” and inflicts D3 hits. After which the elephant unit is removed from play.

  • On a score of 2 the elephant immediately charges the nearest enemy unit with 12” and inflicts D3 hits. After which the elephant unit is removed from play.

  • On a score of 3 nothing happens and the elephant unit is removed from play as any other unit would be.


Commanders must be attached to a heavy infantry or heavy cavalry unit at the start of the game.

All units with an attached commander roll two D3 and select the highest value when calculating combat hits. 

If a commander’s unit is eliminated, then any Rally, Initiative, and All out Attack chance cards are treated as having no effect for the remainder of the game.

Army Resolve

An army loses its resolve when they have lost more than 70% of their units and may no longer advance upon, or towards, enemy units.

Chance Cards

As a solo wargamer I enjoy incorporating chance cards into a game to create uncertainty and also to reflect any army characteristics. In all there are 15 cards, one for each turn (the cards also help you keep track of the turn).

The chance cards are acted upon during the turn they are drawn and cannot be carried over to another turn. The cards:

  • 5 x No Event. Nothing happens

  • 3 x Confusion. A player’s units cannot move this turn unless they have an attached commander, but they are allowed to pivot.

  • 2 x Ammunition Shortage. A player’s units cannot shoot this turn.

  • 2 x Initiative. One unit can make a move, shoot, or conduct a round of combat if already engaged in combat. The unit can still be activated as normal later.

  • 3 x Rally. A player can halve the hits from a single unit, rounding down.

To help create some army characteristics, the Roman army replaces one Initiative card with a rally card. This represents the ability of Roman armies to maintain discipline and keep on fighting. As for the Carthaginians they replace a Rally card with an Initiative card.

The same approach can be used for good and poor commanders. For poor commanders replace an Initiative card with a No Event card, and for good commanders replace a No Event card with an Initiative card.

There is opportunity for this to be taken further with supply. Armies with supply problems would replace a No Event card with an Ammunition Shortage card.


  1. In the original OHW rules, If a unit is in close combat it remains locked until one of the units is destroyed. So each turn more units could join in the combat (flank attacks). Seems like all units from both sides could wind up in one large combat. Is this correct?

    1. I have missed a sentence (or two) covering the movement in combat. Thanks, I will update shortly.