ECW Rules

ECW Rules for Larger Battles

These rules are geared to playing on a 6 foot by 4 foot tabletop and with armies of between 12 and 18 units. Units are based with frontages of 4 inches for troops, 3 inches for artillery, and 2 inches for individual commanders.


I play on a 6 foot by 4 foot tabletop and an armies will have between 12 and 18 units involved in a game. Units are based with frontages of 4 inches for troops, 3 inches for artillery, and 2 inches for individual commanders. The game features the following unit types:

Infantry. These units consist of both pikemen and musketeers, with half or more, equipped with muskets as their primary offensive weapon and wielding pikes for defence against cavalry.

Dragoons. Mounted musketeers or groups of musketeers employed to capture vital battlefield positions or harass enemy forces from the flanks.

Cavalry. Parliamentarian and Royalist cavalry were shifting towards the Swedish tactic of firing their pistols before closing in for combat. 

Artillery. The armies employed whatever guns were available. Artillery served as a nuisance rather than a decisive force on the battlefield. Once positioned, artillery remained stationary.

Commander — These individual models represent the army commanders on the battlefield, providing leadership to wavering units and leading attacks. One commander is designated as commander-general.

Supplies - These models are placed on the table to represent rear areas which can be attacked for victory points.

How to Win

A battle ends, normally after a set number of turns, typically 12 turns, or when an objective is taken depending upon the scenario. When the game ends, each player calculates their victory points which are awarded as follows:

  • Add 1 point for each routed enemy unit.
  • Add 3 points for each enemy supply unit attacked.
  • Subtract 2 points for each commander lost.
  • Subtract 4 points if the commander-general is lost.
  • Add 6 points if the enemy units are reduced by more than half, including any enemy cavalry exiting the tabletop after attacking supplies.
  • Add 6 points if objective taken.

Organising Your Army

Units in an army are generally organised into the following commands:

  • Right Flank
  • Centre
  • Left Flank
  • Artillery
  • Dragoons
  • Reserve

The flanks, centre, and reserve commands need to consist of either infantry or cavalry; they cannot be mixed within a single command. Dragoons and artillery have separate commands of their own.

Commanders are assigned to the flank, centre, and reserve commands.

Initial Deployment. When deploying commands at the start of the game, all units in a command must be deployed within 12” of their designated commander. However, this constraint does not apply for dragoons and artillery units, which can be deployed independently. It's important to note that this rule applies solely to initial unit deployment and not when moving units.

Sequence of Play

Each complete game turn comprises two player turns. Each player follows the phase sequence listed below during their player turn:

  • Movement
  • Artillery Bombardment
  • Combat
  • Routing Units

Orders. During each turn, a player can give two orders to their commands. Issuing an order is necessary to move either one unit or all units within a command, or to order an artillery bombardment. However, this restriction only affects the movement and bombardment phases of a player’s turn and not the other phases.


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

Unit Type Movement Distance

Infantry 6”

Dragoons 9”

Cavalry 12”

Commanders 12”

Artillery 3”

Artillery. Once fired they must remain stationary and can only pivot.

Turning. Units pivoting on their central point. They may do so at the start and/or end of their move. All movement is limited to 3” when turning.

Interpenetration. No unit or commander may pass through other units.

Enemy Units. Units must cease movement upon moving to within 3” of an enemy unit. They can only turn or move directly away from the enemy.


Units are affected by terrain as follows:

  1. Woods. These are impassible to all units.
  2. Towns. Cavalry may not end their move in a town. Defending Dragoons benefit (see rout phase)
  3. Fields and Broken Terrain. Passible for all units. Defending Dragoons benefit (see rout phase)
  4. Marshland and lakes. These are impassible to all units.
  5. Hills. All units move 3” when moving up a hill.
  6. Rivers. These may only be crossed via bridges or fords.
  7. Roads. Units moving by road increase their movement distance by 3” if their entire move is spent on the road. This bonus is not received if charging.

Artillery Bombardment

Artillery units providing there are no enemy units with 3” can bombard enemy units not engaged in combat. The procedure is as follows:

Frontal Facing. The enemy unit must be directly in front of the artillery unit.

Measure Range. Artillery have a range of 24” range.

Assess Casualties. Roll a D6. A score of 5+ causes a hit.


Shooting and melee are combined into the combat phase. Units are considered to be in combat range when within 3” of an enemy unit. The procedure for combat is as follows:

Frontal Facing. Units must face the enemy unit being attacked. Defending units must turn to face the primary attacking unit.

Measure Range. Infantry, cavalry and dragoons have a range of 3”.

Assess Casualties. Both the attacker and the defender roll opposing D6s. The player with the highest score causes a hit on the opposition.  The scores are modified by the following:

  1. Muskets. Infantry with ammunition add 1 when attacking.
  2. Cavalry. Add 1 except when attacking infantry with pikes.
  3. Artillery. Add 1 for any unit attacking artillery.
  4. Commander Rally. Add 1 to an infantry or cavalry unit.
  5. Supporting Units. For each supporting unit attacking add 1. Supporting units do not take hits only the primary attacking unit. A unit cannot support if it is within 3” of an enemy unit which is not being attacked this turn.

Check Ammunition. The primary attacking Infantry, not any supporting units, rolls a D6. On a score of 1 or 2 they have run out of ammunition.

Routing Units

A unit is routed and removed from play once it has reached its designated hit limit. The hit limit varies depending on the type of unit. Infantry units rout on taking 3 or more hits, cavalry and dragoons 2 or more hits, and artillery 1 or more hits. The number of hits taken can be modified by the following:

  1. Cover. Dragoons in hedged fields or towns increase their hit limit by 1.
  2. Rivers. All units increase their hit limit by 1 if defending a river and all attacking units are on the opposite river bank.
  3. Support. Infantry and cavalry with 2 other supporting units (infantry for infantry and cavalry for cavalry) within 3” increase their hit limit by 1. The supporting units still count even if engaged in combat.

Whenever a unit situation changes, for example, dragoons leave cover or a unit lacks support, always reassess immediately to determine if the unit should be routed. 


Commanders within 3” of a combat can choose to encourage or rally an infantry or cavalry unit. Adding 1 to the unit’s combat roll


Commander Misfortune. After combat, roll a D6. On a result of 1 the leader has suffered a misfortune and has to leave or be carried from the field of battle.

Commander Attacks. If an enemy unit moves into contact with a commander, the commander must immediately retire 12” and take a misfortune test.


Armies have 3 supply bases. They are be placed anywhere along the army’s tabletop edge and must be spaced with 12” between them.  If a an enemy cavalry unit reaches a supply base it is removed along with the cavalry unit. The cavalry unit is counted as lost, but the supply marker counts towards victory points.


  1. These rules look very interesting. Thanks for publishing them! I look forward to reading the battle report. I don't have such a large space available and will be using either 10mm or 6mm figures, so I will reduce all movements and ranges in proportion.

    1. The game report should be posted in the next week.

  2. Interesting rules (and I like the design notes post a lot).

    When does a unit count as supporting another, aside from not being within 3" of an unengaged enemy unit?

    1. Thanks. I kept the supporting unit rule as straightforward as possible with just similar units (for infantry and cavalry) being within 3 inches. The units can be engaged or not, so long as they are within 3 inches. Formations are quite key. A line of say 3 infantry units, all engaged, the centre unit would be able to withstand an additional hit as it is the only one within two other units. Where a deeper formation of two infantry units in a line with a third infantry unit in a second row supporting would allow all 3 units to withstand an additional hit. I hope this helps answer your question.