ECW D3 Rules

D3 English Civil War Rules

Updated 18th September 2022

These rules are a variant of One-Hour Wargame Pike and Shot rules by Neil Thomas using D3 dice for combat and an activation approach using an armies organisational commands. They have been influenced by the wonderful book “With Pike and Musket” by C.F.Wesencraft, where he summarises an English Civil War battle rather nicely in one paragraph.

“In battle, the infantry usually were formed in the centre, opposite the enemy infantry, the cavalry forming the two wings. The guns were run out in front of the infantry. Thus four distinct actions were fought. First, the guns bombarded each other, then the two wings would clash, and finally the infantry met. Often each action was unaided by any other supporting one, even victorious troops often preferring to chase their own particular foe from the field instead of going to the assistance of another section.”

The rules are geared towards games using between 10-20 units per side played on a 4x4 to 6x4 tabletop. My units are based as a single unit on a 4x3 inch base, but units of any base size will work.

The game uses a combination of D3 dice (1,1,2,2,3,3) and D6 dice (1,2,3,4,5,6). D3 dice are used for combat as the three results generated by the dice simplify combat results to: below average, average, and above average.


All units represent one of the following 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 battlefield locations and support 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 with 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 remain stationary.

  • COMMANDER — Representing the player on the tabletop.


Units are organised into commands. A command represents part of the army organisation on the battlefield. Commands group together one or more units which must be in most cases the same unit type, the exception to this are the independent artillery and dragoon units. There are a maximum of five commands, but not all need be used by a player:

  • Centre - can only be made up of Foot units.

  • Right Flank - can be made up of either all Foot or all Horse units.

  • Left Flank - can be made up of either all Foot or all Horse units.

  • Reserve - can be made up of either all Foot or all Horse units.

  • Independent Units - can be made Dragoon and Artillery units and is the only command these units can belong to.

Where there are multiple units in a command a unit must always remain within 6” of at least one unit from that command. In the event that this rule is broken, units must be moved to adhere to this rule, including breaking off melee. This rule does not apply to independent units who do not need to remain in contact with other units within the command. 

Make up a card for each command. Set aside any command card which is not used.

When setting up the game it is necessary for players to assign units to their commands. All commands will have the opportunity to be activated once during a game turn, and all units within a command can move, shoot, or melee when it is activated.


Unless playing a scenario with set deployment the following steps are followed:

  1. Players roll a D6, the highest scoring player deploying first in all the steps (re-rolling any ties).

  2. Deploy all centre command units (if there is a centre command).

  3. Deploy all right flank command units to the right of the centre if there is one.

  4. Deploy all left flank command units to the left of the centre or left of the right flank if no centre command.

  5. Deploy all reserve command units behind any of the deployed commands (remember to leave room when deploying the other commands).

  6. Deploy all independent units. Artillery are deployed either in front of the centre or on hills for artillery. Dragoons and Commanded Shot can be deployed in front of the flanks or beside a flank unit.

    A traditional deployment with artillery and dragoons in front, Horse on flanks, Foot in the centre, and a small reserve of Horse

    A Horse heavy force deployed. With few Foot units the centre command is not used and the Foot unit is used as reserve. Dragoons are placed beside the Horse flank. 

Sequence of Play

At the start of each game turn each player takes their command cards and places them in the order they want their commands to be activated. Only the player knows the order, so place the cards face down with the first command to be activated on top. Then both players roll a D6 and add their commander’s value with the highest scoring player activating their command first (re-rolling any ties). Players then alternate activating their commands in the order of their command cards by taking the top card from their deck of command cards.

When a player’s command is activated all units in the command can: move, shoot, and melee.

Once both players have activated all their commands, start the sequence again with players ordering their command cards and dicing to see which player activates first.

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

If during a game a command loses all its units, immediately remove the its card from the deck.

If you are playing a solo game, try just shuffling the opposing army’s command cards and always give a veteran commander.


Unit movement allowances are:

  • Horse units - 12”

  • Dragoon units - 9”

  • Foot units - 6”

  • Commanded Shot units - 6”

  • Artillery - 6” and cannot move after attempting to shoot.

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

Units may pivot at the start and end of their turn. When pivoting units reduce their movement by 3”.

Units may not move through other units.

Units within 12” of an enemy unit that is not engaged in melee must either remain stationary, move towards the enemy, or directly away from the enemy. This rule stops units from manoeuvring under the noses of the enemy, forcing players to either engage the enemy or keep their distance.

Horse and Foot are the only units that may charge other units by moving the attacking unit into contact with its target. Charges are subject to the following restrictions:

  1. Turning. A charging unit may turn once, at the start of its move. This evolution may not exceed 45 degrees.

  2. Limited Engagement. Only one attacking unit may contact each face of the target (these being Front, Left Flank, Right Flank, and Rear).

  3. Fighting. Combat is resolved during the Melee Combat phase.

Terrain Effects

  • WOODS - Provide cover against shooting and may only be entered by Commanded Shot units.

  • TOWNS - Provide cover and may only be entered by Infantry, Dragoons & Commanded Shot.

  • HEDGES - Provide cover for defenders in melees.

  • MARSH/LAKES - Impassable to all units.

  • RIVERS - impassable except at bridges & fords.

  • HILLS - provide cover 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 if stationary, or after completing their movement which must have been forward in their 45 degree front facing arc. They cannot shoot if they have moved sideways or backwards. 

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 range 12” for muskets and 24” for artillery. If artillery are positioned on a hill, then their range is 36”.

  3. To determine the hits roll a D3 for infantry and D3-1 for dragoons, commanded shot, and artillery. Reduce any score by 1 if the target is in cover.

Ammunition shortage - Whenever an infantry or artillery shoot (not dragoons or commanded shot) roll a D6, on a 5-6 they have run out of ammunition and cannot shoot for the remainder of the game. In the case of artillery they are removed from the game.

The artillery range is deliberately short at 24”. Artillery, while useful, was not overly accurate and the range reflects this and encourages players to position artillery units in the front line as they tended to do historically.


Only cavalry and infantry can initiate a melee by moving into the square of an enemy unit. The effects of melee are determined immediately and the procedure 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 a target is Infantry -1.

  • if a target is in a cover -1.

  • If the attack is on the flank or rear, then double the number of hits scored after all other modifications are applied.

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

Impetuous Horse - If the winning side of a melee that eliminates a unit and is impetuous, they must test to see if they pursue the vanquished combatants. Roll D6, on a score 5+ 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 are considered routed and are removed when they exceed 8 hits.


Each army has a single Commander representing their position on the battlefield. Once placed at the start of a game or when they arrive on the tabletop they cannot move. If an enemy unit moves into contact with a commander alone they flee the battle and are removed from play.

If a commander is forced to flee, all units immediately take D3-1 hits.


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 become bogged.

  • Storm - Ammunition shortage on a 2-6 and all movement is halved and artillery 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.

  7. Yesterday I treied your AWI and I enjoyed them a lot, are you going to publish these in a pdf file?

    1. The AWI as a PDF can be found here

  8. Yes I tried it, what I was asking about was the ECW rules.

    1. If you let me know your email (I will not publish the comment) and I will send a PDF copy.