The first draft of the WSS rules are below. The combat mechanisms are very much based around those from One-Hour Wargames (Neil Thomas) but the artillery shooting rules are based on ideas from Charge! (Brig. P. Young and Lt.Col. J.P. Lawford). I opted for a different approach for artillery: firstly because I like the mechanism, and secondly it makes artillery shots more unpredictable.

The sequence of play uses playing cards to determine the order of phases in a given turn using ideas from the ruleset “The War of the Spanish Succession - Paperboys Rules”. I really like the way the approach works and it gives a clunky feel to the way a turn progresses, which seems to fit the period where armies were organised but still ponderous in their movements.

Commanders and Generals are used in the game to rally units who may be wavering and at risk of routing.

The game uses a combination of D3 (1,1,2,2,3,3) and D6 (1,2,3,4,5,6) dice. The D3 dice are mostly used in the combat mechanisms to determine results are above average, average, or below average.


The armies can have the following unit types and as a general rule have 8-10 units, which excludes Commanders and Generals as they do not represent units:

Infantry: Line infantry in close order who faced each other at about 60 yards and blazed away until the moral of one side failed and they routed.

Dragoons: Dragoons of this period were often used as second rate cavalry mounted on inferior horses. However, they could dismount and are useful to hold and secure key battlefield positions, such as buildings and bridges when required.

Cavalry: Heavy cavalry used on the battlefield to engage and defeat enemy cavalry, then fall upon enemy trains, guns and infantry. A combination of Cavalry and Dragoons should make up a good third to fifty percent of the units in a force.

Artillery: Cannon were generally heavy to move and static once they took up position on the battlefield. in the field. They were used to soften up enemy forces and any strong points.

Commanders: Individual bases representing brigade commanders.

General: Individual bases representing the General.

Sequence of Play

The game is played in a series of turns. During a turn there are a series of phases which players perform in sequence when determined by a playing card. To prepare take 5 red and 5 black playing cards and shuffle the deck. Assign a colour to each side, for example, the French are black and the Alliance are red.

The order in which player’s perform their turn phases is determined by taking cards off the top of the card deck. Each time their colour card is revealed a player performs their next phase in the following order:

  1. Artillery Shooting - a player resolves all artillery shooting.
  2. Musketry Shooting - player resolves all musket shooting.
  3. Cavalry and Dragoon moves - a player can move all cavalry or dragoon units within a command range. This includes resoling charges where a unit moves into contact.
  4. Infantry and artillery moves - a player can move all infantry units within a command range.
  5. Commander moves and rallying - a player can move any commander and use them to rally a unit.

Once a player has performed their phase, take the next card from the top of the pack and a player performs another phase. This continues until both players have performed all their phases in order, then shuffle the card deck and start the next turn.


Units can be either in column or deployed. Units may move up to the distances listed below during their turn.

  • Infantry in column = 6”
  • Infantry deployed = 3”
  • Cavalry and dragoon in column = 12”
  • Cavalry and dragoons deployed = 6”
  • Dismounted dragoons = 0”
  • Artillery limbered = 6”
  • Artillery deployed (unlimbered) = 0”
  • Commanders and General = 12”

Units may only move if they pass a movement test. Roll 2D6 if the score is greater than the number of hit a unit has taken, then it may move.  

A unit may make one turn at start or end of their move. When turning units may pivot on their central point.

Deployed units can retire their allocated movement distances, providing they move directly backwards and do not pivot.

Units once they have changed their formation to deployed cannot move back into column formation again. The change in formation must occur before the unit is moved.

Dragoons are able to dismount and dismount after moving. Once they dismount, they are considered to be in a deployed formation. Dismounted dragoons cannot move and must remount to move.

Artillery units once unlimbered cannot move for the remainder of the game, but are allowed to turn.

Units may never move through other units.

Only cavalry and mounted dragoons can move (charge) into contact with enemy units.

Only deployed infantry units, artillery units or dismounted dragoons can shoot.


  • Woods - Can only be entered by infantry in column and with half movement. Units in woods are in cover. Units can deploy on the edge of woods, but are not considered to be in cover.
  • Towns - only Infantry & dismounted dragoons 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 terrain - only Infantry & dismounted dragoons can enter.
  • Hills - all units can move onto hills.

Cavalry Charges

Only deployed cavalry and deployed mounted dragoons can charge into combat. Charges are resolved by moving the attacking unit into contact with the target unit with the following restrictions:

  • The attacking unit can only pivot up to 45 degrees before charging.
  • The attacking unit can only attack a single unit.

The charging unit rolls a D3+1 for cavalry and D3 for dragoons to determine the number of hits, which are modified by the following:

  • Subtract 1 from the score if the target is uphill
  • Subtract 1 if attacking deployed 
  • Double the score attacking the flank or rear of the target unit, or the unit is not deployed or unlimbered if artillery.

If after the hits are applied and the target unit is not eliminated, then:

  • The charging unit retires 3” still positioned facing the target unit
  • The unit which was charged turns to face the charging unit.

Artillery Shooting

Only unlimbered (deployed) artillery units are able to shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

Check field of fire - units can only shoot at a single unit within 45 degree of their frontal facing side.

Check the range - to determine the range roll a D6 and multiply by 6”. If the target is in cover, deduct a further 2 from the score. Measure to see if the target can be reached.

Assess hits - roll a D3 to determine the hits.

Artillery can shoot over other units if they are positioned on a hill, or the target is position on a hill.

Musket Shooting

Only deployed infantry and dismounted dragoons are able to shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

Check field of fire - units can only shoot at a single unit within 45 degree of their frontal facing side. While units in towns benefit from a 360 degree field of fire.

Check the range - infantry and dragoons have a range of 6”.

Assess hits - infantry roll a D3 to and dragoons roll a D3-1.

If the target is in cover reduce the hits by 1.

Routs and Unit Elimination

Units are routed after taking 9 or more hits and are immediately removed from play.

Commanders and Generals

Commanders and Generals are able to rally units (except artillery units) which are wavering by attaching themselves to the unit. Upon joining a unit their number of hits is halved (rounding up any fractions). The Commander must remain with the unit for the remainder of the game.

Generals are only able to rally a unit once all their commanders have rallied units and are attached to units.

Only one commander or General may perform a rally per turn.

A unit can only ever be rallied once during the game.


  1. I'd like to hear more about these Peter.

    1. There was a game report here which also covers some wooden buildings you were also commenting on: https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2021/01/a-windmill-and-war-of-spanish.html