ECW D3 Rules

D3 English Civil War Wargaming Rules

These rules started out as a variant of One-Hour Wargame Pike and Shot rules by Neil Thomas, and have been gradually added to with ideas from Charge for the artillery along with a card activation system.

The game uses a combination of D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) & D6 dice (1,2,3,4,5,6). 

The rules are geared towards games using 6-8 units per side.


All units are represent the following unit types:

  • FOOT — Representing units of combined pikemen & musketeers.
  • COMMANDED SHOT — Detachment of musketeers used to hold a position, occupy woods, or support cavalry.
  • DRAGOONS — Mounted musketeers used to quickly seize key locations on the battlefield and support the cavalry on the wings.
  • HORSE — Parliamentarian and Royalist cavalry were both moving towards the Swedish system where cavalry were trained to discharge their pistols before closing with the enemy. Royalist Horse can be treated as impetuous with increased melee benefits, but will a tendency to charge off after routed enemy.
  • ARTILLERY — Covering a range of artillery pieces where armies used whatever guns were available. Artillery is more of a nuisance factor than a game winner. Once in position and firing the guns\ must stay in place and make no further moves. They can force a reluctant enemy to advance or retire rather than stand and suffer losses over time.
  • COMMANDER — Representing the player on the tabletop.


The order in which a player’s units perform their actions is determined by taking cards off the top of a card deck. The deck has the following ten cards which are shuffled together in one card deck.

5 Red cards: 

  • Horse Activation
  • Foot Activation
  • Dragoon Activation
  • Artillery Activation
  • Commander Activation

5 Blue cards: 

  • Horse Activation
  • Foot Activation
  • Dragoon Activation
  • Artillery Activation
  • Commander Activation

Each time a players colour card is revealed (blue or red) that army's player activates the unit type on the card. Once complete, take the next card from the top of the pack and repeat until all cards have been drawn, then shuffle the card deck and start the next turn.

This approach of a player having units types activated by the cards is trying to reflect the difficulty of commanders trying to coordinate the various parts of an ECW army.


Unit movement allowances are:

    • Horse units - 12”
    • Dragoon units - 9”
    • Foot units - 6”
    • Commanded Shot units - 6”
    • Artillery - 6” and cannot move once deployed for shooting.

A unit may move up to their movement allowance, but never exceed it.

All movement must be in a straight-line.

Units can pivot on their centre at the start or end of their movement.

Horse and Foot are the only units that may charge into melee. Charges are resolved by moving the cavalry straight ahead into combat. The following restrictions apply:

  • The charging unit may turn once up to 45 degrees at the beginning of the charge move.
  • Only one attacking unit may engage any given defending unit.


Units may not move through other units.


  • WOODS - Provide cover against shooting. Only Commanded Shot units can enter
  • TOWNS - Provide cover & only to Infantry, Dragoons & Commanded Shot may end their move in a town. Only one unit may occupy a town.
  • HEDGES - Provide cover only for melees.
  • MARSH/LAKES - impassable to all units.
  • RIVERS - impassable except at bridges & fords.
  • HILLS - provide advantages to units defending a hill in melee.
  • ENTRENCHMENTS - Provide cover for melee and shooting combat.


Only Foot, Dragoons, and Commanded Shot units may shoot with muskets or flintlocks. They may shoot after completing their movement, but that movement must have been forward movement. Units moving sideways or backwards outside of their 45 degree front facing cannot shoot. 

The procedure for shooting:

1) Check units have a 45 degree field of fire and have a clear line of sight of the target.

2) Check the target is within 12” range.

3) To determine the hits roll a D3 for a unit. The score is modified by the following:

    • Ammunition shortage. Subtract 1 for each ammunition shortage marker.
    • Cover. Subtract 1 if target in cover (entrenchments or buildings).

Ammunition shortage - Whenever a unit shoots roll a D6, on a 5-6 their ammunition supply is reduced, add an ammunition shortage marker. A unit can accumulate multiple ammunition shortage markers.


Artillery cannot move or pivot and shoot. The procedure for shooting:

1) Check units have a 45 degree field of fire and have a clear line of sight of the target.

2) Determine if target is in range. If the target is in the open roll a D6 and multiply the score by 6” to calculate the range. The range is modified by the following:

  • Reduce the D6 score by 2 if target in clover
  • Reduce the D6 score by 1 for each ammunition shortage marker.

3) If within range, the target takes 1 hit.

Ammunition shortage - Whenever a unit shoots roll a D6, on a 5-6 their ammunition supply is reduced, add an ammunition shortage marker. A unit can accumulate multiple ammunition shortage markers.


Only cavalry and infantry can initiate a melee by moving into contact with another unit. While other units can melee if attacked. The procedure for melee is as follows:

  1. One Sided Combat. Units only inflict hits during their activation.
  2. Assess Hits. Units roll a D3. The final score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which are modified by the following:
    • If the attacking unit is Impetuous Horse +1
    • if the attacking unit are Dragoons or Commanded Shot -1
    • If a target is Infantry -1.
    • if a target in a woods or in fields -1.

3) Flank and Rear Attacks. If the attacker is attacking the flank or rear, then double the number of hits scored after modifications are applied.

Artillery units and commanders are immediately eliminated if engaged in melee.

Units may withdraw from a melee, but cannot perform any other action such as shooting.

Impetuous Horse - Any Horse units on the winning side of a melee that eliminate the target, must test to see if they pursue the vanquished combatants. Roll D6 and on a score 4+ they are removed as they have chased the defeated unit off the battlefield.


A hit represents a combination of casualties, moral & exhaustion caused to a unit by combat. Units rout and are removed from the tabletop when they exceed 8 hits. 

Artillery and commanders are removed if engaged in melee regardless of the number of hits they have taken.


Each army has a single Commander representing their position on the battlefield. If an enemy unit moves into contact with a commander, they are removed from play.

Commanders during their action can move and join a unit to rally it. To determine how many hits are removed from a unit roll a D3. If the unit being rallied is in melee, then subtract 1 from the score.

Commanders can only attempt 4 rallies during a game. An optional rule is to allow inspirational commanders and maximum of 5 rallies and poor commanders 3 rallies.


I use the weather barometer from “With Pike and Musket” by C.F.Wesencraft to determine the weather in games. The following are impacts from the weather:

Light Rain - Ammunition shortage on 4-6

Heavy Rain - Ammunition shortage on 3-6 and artillery cannot move or pivot and becomes bogged.

Storm - Ammunition shortage on a 2-6 and all movement is halved and artillery cannot move or pivot and is out of action for the remainder of the game.


  1. Peter, I have a few questions for you:
    What is the effect of being disordered and how does a unit recover from it(reform)?
    Does a unit in melee only inflict damage to an enemy unit during its own player turn?
    Each grid square is 6", correct? If so, then how does a unit retire 3"?
    Can more than one unit ever occupy a grid square?
    Melee is initiated when a unit moves to a square that is adjacent to an enemy unit and that enemy unit is in its front square?

    Thanks for your efforts on this.

    1. Hi Clay, Thank you for your questions. Presently I am not playing with these rules on a grid, I am using free movement. However, I have made an adjustment to the 3" give ground so I can be consistent with a grid.
      Coming back to your questions with a grid in mind:
      1) Units only inflict damage during their players turn.
      2) Adjusted the give ground rule to fit with 6 inch grid. So now if unable to give ground a unit takes a hit (rules updated now). This also tidies up the disordered question which I did not clean up from a previous version of the rules.
      3) If using square, then only one unit per square (commanders don't count as a unit). When in melee, push units to edge of square to show contact, which is important for gallopers so once in melee they don't get their charge bonus. This then raises the question on diagonal attacks. I generally allow that providing a unit is not attacking between two units.
      I hope this helps. Peter

  2. I apologize for thinking that you were using a 6" grid with these rules. I just noticed that all of the distances were multiples of 6 and thought that it was. Thanks for the answers to my questions. I had not even thought of attacking on the diagonal.
    The section entitled "MUSTETRY" might be better named "SHOOTING" since artillery is in that section also.
    I find these two statements to be confusing and/or contradictory:
    1) The number of units a commander can see (has line of sight) within 2 bounds determines number of activations their army can make.
    2) Actions to move & shoot cannot exceed the army resolve.
    Please elaborate/clarify this for me.
    Thanks & Happy New Year.

    1. Both points are mistakes on my part. Point 1) It now reads - the number of units a commander can see and are within 12". On point 2) the statement is a left over from a previous version of the rules.
      Finally, I have taken your advise and changed MUSKETRY to SHOOTING.
      Many thanks again for the questions - they are much appreciated!

  3. Dear Peter,

    Excellent rules. Any suggestion for "clubmen"?
    How to handle dragoons in melee (d-2) vs some targets: extra minus eg infantry, towns, hedges.... Perhaps always in any situation one point if throwing a 6 when with a d3 no effect possible?
    Thx, Lex

    1. Dear Lex,
      The question on Clubmen is interesting, and one I have not considered. I have not Clubmen models (yet). Initial thinking is their combat in a melee situation to be D3-2 and all shooting against them are treated as them having cover. This way they are not a major threat, but can be a nuisance hard to be rid of. Knowing the lay of the land and making opportunistic attacks.
      As to Dragoons if they have been engaged in melee by another unit. As they themselves cannot initiate a melee. Currently they would attack with D3-1, which would be modified by minus 1 against infantry to D3-2. Should a situation arise where a Dragoon unit, or any other unit, are not able to inflict casualties. Then I would suggest applying the "give ground" rule automatically.
      I hope this helps, and thank you for your question.

  4. Hey Peter, so my son and I just did a couple of games based on this rules page.

    One question came up immediately, do Trotters have any melee ability? They are specifically not listed in the melee list.

    We treated them the same as commanded shot, figuring that they still had the horse and sword and the melee in close quarters would be about the same.

    Otherwise Trotters would just take hits in any melee and always have to withdraw, something that is just not even slightly historical. Yes trotter units did take it on the chin in the early war, yet the Ironsides are still a trotter unit just with more cohesion (so maybe elite?).

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. My mistake, trotters can melee once out of ammo. I have them with a D3 for combat. No difference to their shooting, but with combat they then benefit if they flank targets. I will clarify this in the rules - thanks.
      As for Ironsides, I would be tempted to take your suggestion as elite and give a +1 in melee.

  5. Hi,
    Very nice rules. Unless I'm just missing it, how many hits can a unit take? (15 as in the regular 1HW rules?)

    1. The number of hits is under the section call Routing. It is 6 hits, but more often now when playing I am routing units after exceeding 8 hits.

  6. Like the look of these rules and will give them a try.
    I will leave feed back when I have.