D3 Horse and Musket


This set of rules is a variation of One Hour Wargames Horse and Musket rules by Neil Thomas. The rules use D3 dice to determine hits and a 9 hit system, they use a simple activation system to create increasing friction as units take hits.

A PDF version of the rules can be found here

Unit Types

The game features infantry, cavalry, skirmishers and artillery. The first three unit types can occupy a frontage of 4” and artillery occupy a frontage of 2”.

The game also includes generals which can influence unit activations for moving, shooting, and hand-to-hand combat.

Sequence of Play

Each turn consists of two player turns. Each player will complete the following sequence of phases listed below in their player turn.

  1. Movement
  2. Shooting
  3. Hand-to-hand Combat
  4. Unit Elimination

During the movement and shooting phases, whenever a unit is moved or shoots they must take an activation test.

Activation Test

When checking whether a unit can activate to move or shoot. Roll D6 and multiply the score by 2, if the score is greater than the unit’s accumulated hits, the unit is activated to move or shoot. Otherwise the unit remains inactive and in a state of disorder for the remainder of the turn.

The activation test adds friction to the game and how units as they get worn down through combat become less effective.


During the movement phase units and generals can be moved in any order. The procedure for moving units is as follows:

  1. Check a unit’s activation.
  2. Successfully activated units may move up to their movement allowance in a straight line.

Movement Allowances

  • Infantry 6”
  • Artillery 6” until they are deployed for shooting then they cannot move, but can pivot.
  • Skirmishers 9” 
  • Cavalry and generals 12”


Units turn by pivoting on their central point. They may turn at the start and/or the end of their move.


Units are affected by terrain as follows:

Woods - Only skirmishers can enter.

Towns - only Infantry & cavalry may end a move in a town.

Marsh/Lake - impassable.

Rivers - Can be only crossed via bridges & fords. It takes a full move to cross.

Streams - cannot be crossed by artillery. All other units take a full move to cross.

Difficult and broken terrain - only Infantry or skirmishers can enter.

Hills - all units can move onto hills.


Only skirmishers may pass through other friendly units and vice versa.


Cavalry are the only units that may enter hand-to-hand combat. 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.

Combat is resolved during the Hand-to-Hand combat phase.


The procedure for shooting is as follows. Note that cavalry never shoot and units that have moved cannot shoot.

  1. Activation check
  2. Check the field of fire - Units may only shoot at a single unit within 45 degrees of their frontal facing, while units in town have a 360 degree facing.
  3. Check the range - Measure the distance from the front center of the shooting unit to any part of the target unit. Skirmishers and infantry have a range of 12”. Artillery has a range of 48”.
  4. Determine casualties - Infantry roll a D3 and skirmishers/artillery roll a D3-1. The score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which are modified by -1 if the target unit is in cover

Hand to Hand Combat

Charges are one sided and only the charging unit can inflict casualties. Cavalry roll a D3+1. The score gives the number of hits the target acquires, which are modified by the following:

  • -1 if the defending unit occupies a hilltop
  • -1 if the defending unit are cavalry

If attacking the flank or rear of a unit the attacker doubles the hits.

If the cavalry fails to destroy the enemy unit, it must retreat a half move, facing the enemy.


Units are eliminated and removed from play when they have acquired 9 or more hits.


Generals once per turn can re-roll a single activation check during a turn. They must be within 12” of the unit to attempt a re-roll.

They cannot be attacked. If the enemy moves with 6” of them with no intervening friendly unit, then they must move 12” away during their movement.

Generals can always move, there are no activation checks required for them.


  1. Hi Peter. Tried these last week for an imagi-nations (SYW era) game. Worked well. The initiative roll becoming harder to achieve in the stress of combat was a nice touch, as was the commander’s ability to reroll a failed initiative roll.
    Many thanks.

    1. Great to hear the rules worked out and you liked the initiative roll approach. Thanks.

  2. Hi Peter . Ran scenario #8 in a OHW face-to-face game last week using these D3 rules. The activation system really added to the tension, and had significant effects when worn out units attempted to win the day with a charge, or deliver that final volley…and then failed. Opponent loved the system, and picked it up pretty quickly.
    Do you ever combine these with the random events cards? (We did, and they were also an interesting twist).

    1. I have not yet tried the activation system with random events cards. If I were I would be tempted to remove some of the adverse events as the activation system itself only produces adverse (or limiting) results.

    2. Ah, good point…possibly giving ‘too much of a bad thing’.

    3. The other option is have event cards adjust activation. For example, confusion would be -3 on all move activations, and no ammo -3 when shooting.