A while ago I stumbled across H. G. Wells’ game ‘Little Wars’ while surfing the web, and for me it really captured what I love about wargaming....
The sense of adventure and fun I used to have messing around with my toy knights, back before where were dice and tape measures and endless tables to sift through.
I had to recreate it, but as I was a student at the time money was the biggest problem.
Then I found EM4 miniatures and I had a eureka moment! I could use the pawns they sold to represent units on the battlefield! What alternative was there that could get me twenty troops for a pound?
I bought some bags of pawn 1 in red and blue, and pawn 2 in red and blue (check out pawns under accessories on the EM4 website).
Pawn 1 became the infantry in the game and the larger, beefier pawn 2 the cavalry.
The one thing I was missing was artillery. Cannons formed a major part of H. G. Wells’ game, in fact the game was based entirely around toy cannons that could actually fire matchsticks.
The last thing I wanted to do was recreate that with dice, which would take all the appeal out of the game!
Then I realised that EM4 also provides plastic counters (tiddly-winks) so I ordered a bag of 22mm x 1.7mm. I never realised before how much fun it was to flick tiddly-winks at plastic pawns.
Wells’ rules did need a little adapting and eventually the dice did creep back in (to simulate musket fire as Wells didn’t have any real rules for that).
So here are the rules I put together heavily based on Wells’ but with a few twists of my own. This game is so simple and so much fun it really could be a wargame for the whole family!
I’m currently working on more advanced rules and they will include generals, unit formation bonuses and campaigns.
LITTLE WARS RULES
- All units must remain in formation at all times, a nice neat rectangle or square made up of roughly equally sized ranks, with each man no more that 2cm away from the other members of his unit.
- Infantry units may consist of 10-40 men.
- Cavalry units may consist of 5-40 men.
- A cannon is represented by 1 tiddlywink with four infantry men in contact with it one each at the front, back and both sides.
- Each infantryman is worth 2 points, each cavalryman is worth 3 points, and each cannon (including the crew) is worth 15 points. Other unit types are explained in the advanced rules below.
SETTING UP THE BATTLEFIELD
This version of Little Wars must be played on a surface that allows you to flick tiddly-winks easily, a dining room table with a cloth over it works perfectly.
The battle field also needs terrain, buy some cheap wooden toy blocks and construct buildings and towns, sometimes I use my jenga set.
You can imagine the carnage when a well placed cannon shot, from my now sworn enemy, toppled the town hall into my well placed cavalry unit!
At either end of the battlefield there should be a line clearly marked out. Units deploy with their reart rank on the line. Units can deploy behind the line freely.
STARTING THE GAME
Both players roll a die, the player who rolls the highest chooses whether they go first or second.
- If any units are in contact with any enemy units melee must be resolved before any other units perform actions. (see below).
- The player may perform 1 action with each of their units. An action can either be a move, shooting, or nothing..
Once the first player has acted with all his units, the second player resolves any melees and performs actions with his troops.
- An infantry unit can move up to 10cms, a cavalry unit can move up to 20cms.
- No member of the unit can move more than the limit this includes when the unit turns or attempts to move and change direction at the same time.
- Only cannons and infantry units can shoot.
- When a cannon shoots the player moves the gun crew out of the way and flicks a tiddlywink from the cannon's position.
- A cannon may only fire an equal number of times as the number of crew still alive on the cannon per turn (they start with 4 crew).
- Any soldiers enemy or friendly knocked over by tiddlywinks are killed.
- The cannon crew may shoot as a standard infantry unit if they choose, but may not also fire the cannon in the same turn.
- When an infantry unit shoots, first check to see if the unit they wish to fire upon is within range the maximum range is 20cm (a cavalry move) if one member of the unit is within range the whole unit counts as within range and may fire.
- 1 in every four of the infantry shooting causes a casualty on an enemy unit. For example a unit of 12 would cause 3 casualties.
- If a unit is not made of of a number of troops that is a multiple of four the remainder is rolled for on a D4, if the roll is equal to or less than the remainder a further casualty is caused. For example a unit of 15, 12 is a multiple of 4 so 3 casualties are automatically caused. The remainder (15-12) is 3, a D4 is rolled, if the roll is 3 or less a further casualty is caused.
- Shooting causes casualties to Cavalry in the same way as to Infantry.
- To resolve melee, count the number of troops in both units (even if not all are in contact).
- If both are equal both units are entirely wiped out.
- If one is larger the smaller unit is entirely wiped out and the larger unit takes casualties equal to the number of the smaller unit, on a 1 for 1 basis.
- In the case of cavalry fighting infantry one cavalry man is worth two infantry men. A unit of 10 cavalry would wipe out and be wiped out by a unit of 20 infantry, but a unit of 10 cavalry against 10 infantry would completely wipe out the infantry and only take 5 casualties.
- If an infantry unit being attacked by a cavalry unit is made up of an odd number the one remaining soldier is killed without causing a further casualty on the cavalry unit. For example a unit of 15 infantry against 8 cavalry, 2 infantry die for every 1 cavalry, until we are left with 1 infantryman facing off against 1 cavalryman, the 1 infantryman is killed and the cavalryman survives the melee.
- If a cavalry unit wins a melee they may make a 5cm move after the melee has been resolved, this does not count as their action regardless of whose turn it is.
Play continues until one side has been completely wiped out or withdraws from battle.