WSS Cards


This is the third draft of the War of the Spanish Succession rules. Many of the combat mechanisms are very much based around those ideas from One-Hour Wargames (Neil Thomas) and Charge! (Brig. P. Young and Lt.Col. J.P. Lawford), but using playing cards instead of dice.

The sequence of play also 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 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 morale of one side failed and they routed.

  • Dragoons: In this period they 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. They were used to soften up enemy forces and any strong points.

  • Commanders: Individual bases representing brigade commanders.

  • General: An individual base 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, shuffle a pack of playing cards and 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 the phase followed by their opponent. The phase order is as follows:

  1. Artillery Shooting Phase - a player resolves all artillery shooting.

  2. Musketry Shooting Phase - player resolves all musket shooting.

  3. Cavalry and Dragoon Movement Phase - a player can move all cavalry or dragoon units within a command range. This includes resolving charges where a unit moves into contact.

  4. Infantry and Artillery Movement Phase - a player can move all infantry units within a command range.

  5. Commander Movement and Rallying Phase - a player can move any commander and/or use them to rally a unit.

Once a player has performed their phase, the other player performs the same phase. After a phase is complete, take the next card from the top of the pack and the player who colour it is performs the next phase, followed by the other player. This continues until both players have worked their way through the phases in order. 

Once the phases are complete and the turn is over, start again.


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

  • Infantry in column = 9”

  • Infantry deployed = 6”

  • Cavalry and dragoons = 12”

  • Dismounted dragoons = 0”

  • Artillery limbered = 6”

  • Artillery deployed (unlimbered) = 0”

  • Commanders and General = 12”

All movement must take place in their forward 45 degree arc of the unit. Units can turn to move by pivot on their centre point at either at the start or end of their move.

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 pivot.

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.

  • Fortified 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.

  • Hills - all units can move onto hills.

  • Steep Hills - only Infantry & dismounted dragoons can occupy.

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.

Assess hits - Hits are determined by drawing a card and applying modifiers. Cavalry will cause 3 hits and dragoons 2 hits which are modified by:

  • Add 1 if the attacking unit draws a red card 

  • Subtract 1 if attacking deployed infantry frontally

  • Double the score attacking the flank or rear of the target unit, or the attached unit is not deployed, or unlimbered artillery.

Unless a unit is routed, then they remain in incontact until one side choses to retire.

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 degrees of their frontal facing side.

Check the range - Draw a card, the range is determined by the card’s suit:

  • Clubs = 12”

  • Diamonds = 24”

  • Hearts = 36”

  • Spades = 48”

If the target is in cover, have the determined range.

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

Assess hits - 2 hits are caused if the target is within range. If shooting a town and the card drawn is a face card (J,Q,K) then the town is on fire and must be evacuated the next turn. This does not apply to fortified towns. 

Mortars - use the same approach as artillery except:

  1. Cover does not impact the range calculations

  2. Mortars cannot target units at ranges less than 12”

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 degrees 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 12”.


Assess hits - hits are determined by drawing a card and applying modifiers. Infantry will cause 3 hits and dragoons 2 hit which are modified by:
  • Subtract 1 If target in cover.
  • Subtract 1 if target is at long range, greater than 6”.
  • Add 1 if the attacking unit draws a red card


Units are routed after taking 13 or more hits and are immediately removed from play.

Commanders and Generals

Commanders and Generals are able to rally units (except artillery units) 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. A unit can only ever be rallied once during 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.


  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:

  2. Hi Peter,

    These look really good. I love the initiative approach!



    1. Hi Jay, I find the approach creates a level of uncertainty with movement which I enjoy as a solo wargamer, particularly if I am using written orders. Regards, Peter

  3. Rick Kimberley6 May 2023 at 02:35

    This seems like a good fast-play system. I like how the card system makes things a bit uncertain, and the "once per game" mechanisms mean you really need to choose your moment. Seems to have the right feel for the very formal early C18 battlefield.

    1. Thanks Rick, I was trying to make movement possible, but clunky with limited coordination between the different arms of the army.