ECW D3 Rules

D3 English Civil War Rules

Updated July 2023


These wargaming rules draw inspiration from two influential books: "One-Hour Wargame Pike and Shot rules" by Neil Thomas and "With Pike and Musket" by C.F. Wesencraft. The latter book concisely describes a battle during the English Civil War in a single paragraph.

The English Civil War battles typically saw infantry formations positioned in the centre, facing the enemy's infantry, while cavalry units occupied the two wings. The artillery guns were positioned in front of the infantry. Consequently, four distinct actions took place during the battle. First, the guns bombarded each other, followed by clashes between the opposing cavalry wings. Finally, the infantry engagement occurred. Interestingly, each action often occurred independently, without mutual support. Even victorious troops tended to prioritise chasing down their particular foes instead of assisting other sections.


These rules are specifically designed for tabletop games involving 4-6 infantry and cavalry units and 2-4 independent dragoon, commanded shot, and artillery detachments per side. The actual size of the bases is flexible as long as the basing scheme remains consistent across the armies. Typically, cavalry and infantry units are based on two bases, while independent detachments like dragoons, commanded shot, and artillery use single bases.


All units represent one of the following types:
  • INFANTRY — Representing formations of combined pikemen & musketeers.
  • COMMANDED SHOT — Detachment of musketeers used to support cavalry.
  • DRAGOONS — Detachments of mounted musketeers used to quickly seize key battlefield locations and support cavalry on the wings.
  • CAVALRY — Parliamentarian and Royalist cavalry were both moving towards the Swedish system where cavalry was trained to discharge their pistols before closing with the enemy. Royalist Horse units are treated as impetuous with increased melee benefits, but with a tendency to charge off after any routed enemy.
  • CUIRASSIER - These heavily armoured cavalry were not often seen on the battlefield and have reduced mobility.
  • 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 the guns remain stationary.
  • COMMANDER AND STAFF OFFICERS — Representing the army commander’s position on the battlefield with up to 3 individually based staff officers. Tokens can be used instead of figures for the staff officers.
  • POWDER CART - Representing the option to resupply infantry out of ammunition. A token can be used instead of a model.
Cavalry and infantry units - both with two bases.

Sequence of Play

At the start of a game turn each player rolls a D6 and adds the number of available staff officers. The highest scoring player will move first as Player A, re-rolling any ties. 
The sequence of play for each turn is:
  1. Movement for player A.
  2. Movement for player B.
  3. Both players’ units shoot simultaneously.
  4. Both players' units melee simultaneously.
  5. Remove eliminated units and check for impetuous cavalry.
Artillery and dragoon detachment - both single bases.


When moving a player may make D3 movement orders. Each order can:
  • Move 1 infantry or cavalry unit, 
  • Move a staff officer to rally an infantry or cavalry unit, or 
  • Move all detachments (dragoons, commanded shot, and pivoting artillery).
For example, a player with a D3 roll of 2 may order the move of: 1 infantry and 1 cavalry unit, 2 cavalry units, or 1 cavalry unit and all detachments. 

A player is not required to use all their movement orders. 

Unit movement allowances:
  • Cavalry - 12”
  • Dragoons - 9”
  • Cuirassiers - 9”
  • Infantry - 6”
  • Commanded Shot - 9”
  • Staff Officers - unlimited
  • Artillery - cannot move, but can pivot.

Turning. A unit may move up to their movement allowance, but never exceed it. Units can pivot on their centre at the start and end of their move. There is no restriction on how far they can pivot. Any pivoting reduces their overall movement by 3”, even pivoting at the start and end still reduces movement by 3”.

Moving and Shooting. Infantry, dragoons, and commanded shot can move and fire. Artillery that pivot cannot shoot.

Interpenetration. Units may move through detachments and vice versa, but while detachments may pass through each other, units may not interpenetrate through other units.

Charges - Only infantry who are out of ammunition and cavalry can charge other units by moving the attacking unit into contact with its target. Charges are subject to the following restrictions:

  • Turning. A charging unit may turn once, at the start of its move. This evolution may not exceed 45 degrees and reduces their movement by 3”.
  • Limited Engagement. Only one attacking unit may contact each face of the target (these being Front, Left Flank, Right Flank, and Rear).
  • Fighting. Combat is resolved during the Melee Combat phase.
A powder cart - used instead of a token.

Terrain Effects

WOODS - Provide cover and may only be entered by detachment (dragoons and commanded shot)
TOWNS - Provide cover to Infantry, Dragoons & Commanded Shot. All units may enter but their movement is reduced by 3”.

HEDGES - Block line of sight unless the unit is within 1” of the hedge or the target is within 1” of the hedge. Movement is reduced by 3” to cross.

MARSH/LAKES - Impassable to all units.

RIVERS - impassable except at bridges & fords. Movement reduced by 3”.

STEEP HILLS - provide cover to units defending a hill in melee.

ENTRENCHMENTS - Provide cover for melee and shooting combat.


Only infantry, artillery, dragoons, and commanded shot may shoot.

The procedure for shooting:

  1. Check the unit has either remained stationary or has advanced. Units that pivot cannot shoot.
  2. Check units are directly facing the target and have a clear line of sight.
  3. Identify the priority target. Select a unit in range that causes the most damage and where there are multiple targets, pick the closest.
  4. Check the target is within range 12” for muskets and 36” for artillery.
  5. To determine the number of hits roll a D3 for foot infantry and commanded shot and a D3-1 for dragoons and artillery.

Cover - Halve the hit score, rounding up, if the target is in cover.

Ammunition shortage - Whenever infantry, commanded shot, or artillery shoot and roll a natural 3 on the D3, then they have run out of ammunition and cannot shoot for the remainder of the game, place an out of ammunition marker behind the unit. Artillery and commanded shot are removed from play when they run out of ammunition. Dragoons do not run out ammunition.

I use soft-toy stuffing to mark unit that have fired, and it looks effective.


Only cavalry and infantry who are out of ammunition can initiate a melee by moving into contact with an enemy unit. All combat is simultaneous. 

The procedure is as follows:

  1. Assess Hits. Infantry and Cavalry roll a D3, and dragoons and commanded shot roll a D3-1. 
  2. The score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which are modified by the following: 

+1 If the attacking unit is Impetuous Horse.

-1 If cavalry attacking infantry or cuirassiers

+1 If the attack is on the flank or rear.

Cover or Defences. If the target unit is in cover or behind defences, then halve the number of hits, round up any fractions.

Movement In Combat. Unless engaged frontally, a unit can pivot within melee to face an enemy. However, units may not disengage from a melee.

Impetuous Horse. If impetuous Horse are in a melee with a unit that is routed, not a detachment, they must test to see if they pursue the vanquished combatants. Roll a D3, on a score of 1 they are removed as they have chased the defeated unit off the battlefield.

Commanded shot to support cavalry with some firepower.


A hit represents a combination of casualties, morale & fatigue suffered by a unit in combat. When a unit has accumulated more hits than their break point they are considered routed and are removed.

Infantry and cavalry have a break point of 8 hits, and dragoons, commanded shot, and artillery have a break point of 4 hits.

I use 1” squares of MDF to record hits. One side has 1-4 and the other 5-8 written on it. The side pointing to the base is the accrued hits, the unit above has taken 4 hits.

Ammunition Resupply (Optional)

A well supplied army may have a powder cart. Whenever an infantry unit is out of ammunition they can be resupplied with ammunition. This counts as a move. This can only occur once during the game for an  infantry unit that has an ammunition shortage and is not in melee. Remove the ammunition cart when a resupply has occurred.


Every army is led by a single Commander figure positioned on the battlefield. The Commander is placed at the start of the game or when they arrive on the tabletop, and they cannot move from their position thereafter. If an enemy unit moves into contact with a Commander, the Commander flees the battle, resulting in their removal from play together with any staff officers not assigned to units. loss of the commander subtracts 1 from future initiative rolls.

During movement a staff officer can be moved and assigned to any infantry or cavalry unit (not a detachment). The unit the staff officer is assigned to immediately rallies the unit halving their hits, rounding up any fractions. The staff officer remains with the unit for the remainder of the game. 

No more than 1 staff officer per game turn can be moved to rally a unit and a staff officer may not be assigned to a unit where a staff officer has already been assigned.

Note - The staff officers represents both the quality of the commander and how well trained the army is.

A commander and his staff officers.

Army Resolve (Optional)

At the start of the game count up all available infantry and cavalry units on the tabletop, ignoring detachments and artillery, then halve the total rounding up any fractions. This is the army’s resolve. Where there are reinforcements arriving, add them to the original total upon their arrival and recalculate the army resolve. 

When an army has lost more infantry and cavalry units combined than its resolve total, then all remaining units, including detachments and artillery, take D3-1 hits.


  1. 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

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