Gerard de Gre’s Ancient Wargame Rules … as modified by Charles and David Sweet

I finally managed to finish transcribing these rules (including the special rules and Army Lists) this afternoon, and they can now be downloaded via the link from this blog’s Free Downloadable Wargame Rules page.

I have also added a link to Gerard de Gre’s Napoleonic Wargame rules (as modified by Charles and David Sweet) from the Free Downloadable Wargame Rules page.

Gerard de Gre’s Ancient Wargame Rules … as modified by Charles and David Sweet

I had the potential to waste quite a lot of my time today waiting for our new washing machine to arrive. The delivery ‘window’ was 7.00am to 7.00pm(!), as a result of which I was up by 7.00am waiting for the delivery truck to arrive. I waited … and waited … and waited. I did not want to start anything that I could not stop doing immediately, and so I could not do any painting or modelling, and fighting a wargame was just not possible. In the end I decided to do something that I could leave and return to once the washing machine had been delivered and I had installed it. My choice was to transcribe the Ancient rules used by Charlie and David Sweet.

Some time ago Dick Bryant – the former editor and publisher of THE COURIER – had sent me scans of the Ancient rules that had been devised by Gerard De Gre and modified by Charlie and David Sweet. They had been published in THE COURIER back in the 1970s, and like their Napoleonic counterparts they had been ‘lost’ to the general wargaming public for many years.

Dick had already given me permission to re-publish them via my blog, and I have spent time today transcribing them. Unfortunately the scans that Dick sent me appear to be incomplete, and until I have the missing pieces I will not be able to make them available in a downloadable format that potential players can print off for their own personal use.

The rules are interesting in that they use small catapults to simulate the fire of their ancient full-size equivalents and dice to adjudicate the outcomes of light infantry ‘fire’ (i.e. javelins, bows, slings, etc.) The melee system is very similar to that used in the Napoleonic rules and uses six alternative melee deployments (Melee Deployment Indicators or MDIs), each of which has different strengths and weaknesses.

So in the end my day was not a total waste of time. I feel that I managed to achieve something, albeit incomplete. And for those of you who might be interested, the washing machine was finally delivered at 4.45pm, and I finished installing it by just after 5.00pm.

Latest draft of the Portable Wargame: Modern rules now available to download

In the light of the recent play-test I have made several changes to the existing draft of my PORTABLE WARGAME: MODERN rules. The latest draft includes:

  • A turn sequence that uses playing card tiles to determine the order in which Units are activated.
  • Changes that enable Artillery Units to ‘hold their fire’ if they are firing at targets that are (or are likely to be) in direct line-of-sight and at a range of not more than 4 grid areas. (This concept was ‘borrowed’ from Gerard de Gre and Charlie Sweet’s Napoleonic wargames rules in which Artillery can ‘hold fire’ if they intend to use canister later in the turn.)

I have used the opportunity to make a few cosmetic changes to the layout of the rules and have included a range of optional rules including:

  • Air-to-air combat rules
  • Air-to-ground combat rules
  • Ground-to-air combat rules
  • Rules for Cyclist Units
  • Rules for Ski Troop Units
  • Rules for Tank Riders
  • Rules for Gas attacks

These ‘one side of a piece of A4 paper’ rules have now become seven pages long … but in my defence I would like to point out that the last three cover Special Rules, Definitions, and Optional Rules.

The latest draft can be downloaded in PDF format from here.

Gerard de Gre’s Napoleonic Wargame Rules … as modified by Charles and David Sweet: the downloadable rules

I have reformatted and tidied up my original transcription of these rules, and they are now available in PDF format here.

Gerard de Gre’s Napoleonic Wargame Rules … as modified by Charles and David Sweet: the rules

Originally by Gerard DeGre
Modified by Charles and David Sweet

The game is played on a board divided into 4” squares which determine all movement, firing ranges, and melee involvement. Except for retreats, measurement or movement on the diagonal is counted as 1.5 rather than 1.

A. Opponents move alternately. The sequence of a turn is as follows:

  1. Both sides fire artillery (except held canister).
  2. Both sides fire musketry.
  3. Attacker moves.
  4. Defender fire held canister.
  5. All melees are fought.
  6. End of turn, next turn begins with the attacker becoming the defender, and vice versa.

B. No unit, once formed, may separate or reform, except artillery, light infantry, or light cavalry. Commanders may join or leave any unit.

C. No two different units of one side may be in the same square, except artillery may form in any way, as long as there are no more that 2 guns, 1 supply wagon, or 6 crew stands in one square, and commanders may join any unit with a limit of 1 commander per square.

D. A move begun, travelled entirely upon, and ended on a road is lengthened by one square.

E. No unit may move through enemy units. If two enemy units are diagonally adjacent, the space between them may not be moved through.

F. A gun must have at least 1 stand of crew to move it. Anyone may move a gun. In case of conflicting speeds the gun moves at the slowest rate.

G. Attacker may limber, unlimber, or face in any direction freely at any time. Defender may not limber or unlimber, but may face around +/- 90° if in square adjacent to a melee contact square. After a melee, both sides may face around in any direction freely. Every unit must at all times face in one direction towards one side or corner (exception – see squares).

A. All guns of both sides can fire on a given turn, even if destroyed on that turn. Any other stands destroyed on a turn may not fire back.

B. To be able to fire, a gun must have 1 stand of artillery men and be unlimbered.

C. Each foot battery has 3 shots per turn at the beginning, 2 field guns and 1 howitzer. If 1 gun or the supply wagon is lost, the battery has two shots per turn, 1 field gun and 1 howitzer. If 1 gun and the supply wagon are lost, the battery has a choice of 1 field gun or 1 howitzer shot per turn. If both guns are lost, the battery has no shots per turn.

D. Each horse gun has 1 horse gun shot per turn.

E. A gun may not fire at an angle greater than +45° from the direction it is facing, up to its maximum range. Squares occupied by friendly troops adjacent to a gun screen it and keep it from firing in that direction. Friendly troops two or more squares away do not screen. However, a hit on a friendly stand destroys it.

F. To fire a field or horse gun, place the model gun to the rear relative to the intended target. Platforms may be used at the same elevation of guns on hills. The gun is fired and a 1” radius circle is placed with its center on the tip of the Q-tip where the Q-tip came to rest. Any one stand which has any part of it within the circle is a casualty. To destroy a gun or wagon, the tip of the Q-tip must be touching it. If a gun or a wagon is destroyed, its crew (1 stand) is destroyed with it. If the tip of the Q-tip comes to rest over water, the shell is presumed to have landed in it and does no damage.

G. To fire a howitzer, proceed as in G, but use a catapult, flipper or other arching weapon, and measure the circle from the center of the projectile. A howitzer cannot be screened.

H. Canister – A gun may fire canister instead of its normal shot into any adjacent square within +/- 45° of the direction it is facing. Canister cannot be fired into a square containing friendly troops. To fire, call the target square and roll 3 dice for each field gun or howitzer shot, 2 for each horse gun shot. Kill as per musketry at the proper range. Canister may be fired with the rest of the artillery, or held until enemy units pass within range. But if held, no other shot can be fired, and if the gun is destroyed, of if no enemy units pass within range, the gun cannot be fired at all.

A. Musketry is simultaneous, after artillery fire but before movement. Any stand destroyed by musket fire which has not fired may fire back if otherwise possible.

B. Firing is by units. Line infantry may fire straight ahead only. Any other musket-firing unit may fire straight ahead +/- 45°. Any units in the way at any distance screen and prevent fire by either side at the screened units.

C. Each stand throws one die when firing. If the unit firing is a Guards unit, it adds one die. If a Commander is present, the unit adds one die. Any unit after the first firing at the same target adds one die. Dice may also be subtracted if the target is in a protected square (see Protection).

D. To fire, roll the correct number of dice and refer to the table below:

E. Each hit destroys one target stand. If more than one type of unit can be destroyed, firer gets his choice.

A. A unit must move into a square occupied by the enemy to make a melee. This square becomes the contact square. Units in adjacent squares may face around to support (remember attacker may face any direction, defender may face around only +/- 90°). They are able to support in any direction of the contact square if the first table says “yes”. However, if a defending cavalry unit cannot support an infantry or artillery unit at the beginning of the turn, it cannot wheel to do so. Units able and willing to support are included in the melee (a unit does not have to support if it does not want to). All supports must be indicated before the melees are resolved; attacker does so first, then defender. A unit may fight in only one melee a turn.

B. Except for a commander, a unit must consist of more than one stand.

C. To resolve a melee the value of each side is totalled. Each side then chooses a Melee Deployment Indication (MDI) and the result is determined (see table at end of rules). Fight as follows:

EQUAL DEPLOYMENTS – If unequal numbers, weaker and stronger sides each lose value equal to ½ the strength of the losing side. Weaker side then retreats 2. If one side is more than 3 times the strength of the other, the remainder of the weaker side is destroyed rather than retreating. If numbers are equal, each side loses ½ and retreats 2.

UNEQUAL DEPLOYMENTS – Inferior deployment lose 1 for the first superior 1, 1 for each 2 superior remaining. Superior deployment loses 1 for each 2 inferior casualties. Weaker side then retreats 2, of if the numbers left are equal, then the inferior deployment retreats 2. But if one side is 3 or more times the strength of the other, the remainder of the weaker side is destroyed instead of retreating.

D. If withdrawal (MDI) does not succeed, treat it as an inferior deployment. If it does succeed, all withdrawing units retreat 2 without loss taking their equipment with them.

E. The first stand destroyed in a melee is in the contact square. Thereafter destroy in a clockwise circle, spreading kills as evenly as possible among all the units involved.

F. Because units have different values, the exact number as specified above, cannot always be destroyed. Therefore follow the rules as closely as possible, flipping a coin to settle a dispute if necessary. The opponent’s sense of fair play is to be relied upon. EXAMPLE: A has 2 line infantry and 2 guards cavalry stands and is to lose 3.5. He loses 1 line infantry and 1 guards cavalry stand and flips a coin with B to see whether or not he loses a second line infantry stand.

G. For retreats only, diagonal moves are counted 1 instead of 1.5. Retreats toward the rear for defender, or toward the direction the unit came from, for the attacker. If enemy units are in the way, the retreat skirts them but goes as much as possible in the correct direction. If retreat is impossible (enemy units and/or impassable terrain cut retreating units off), the retreating units are destroyed.

H. Superior deployment (unless destroyed) captures all equipment. If deployment equal, stronger side captures all equipment. If everyone dead, equipment remains in the open, belonging to neither side.

I. All remaining units at the end of a melee may face freely in any direction.

A. Any square containing rocks, trees, houses, etc. is called a protected square. For artillery (except canister) to destroy units in a protected square the tip of the Q-tip or other projectile must be in the square and be within 1” of a stand; otherwise no stands are destroyed. One die is subtracted from each gun firing canister or each unit firing musketry into a protected square. If the contact square of a melee is in a protected square, the attacker destroys one less the he normally would.

B. Before each game, special rules for restrictions on movement, extra protection, etc. for forts, hills, and other large terrain features may be agreed upon.

C. Bridges are not considered protection.

D. If the tip of the Q-tip or other projectile is touching a tree, house, bridge, or other inflammable object, roll 2 dice. If one 1 shows, the square is burning and all units must retreat 1 out of it. Thereafter it is impassable. If double ones are thrown, the square burns up and everyone and anything in it are destroyed. Thereafter the square is considered normal and may be moved through, etc. as usual. A burning square screens as unit normally do.

7. COMMANDERS – support in the same way as the unit they accompany. However, if acting independently they support as shown in the first table.

A. Any number of line or guards infantry units may form a Square. To form a square, or to break one voluntarily, takes one entire move, Long rectangular “squares” are not allowed. A Square must have at least 1 stand per square of frontage facing forward, backward, left, and right or it is not a Square legally.

B. A Squared is the only formation which faces in more than one direction. Squares cannot move, but they may fire and support in any direction as per the ability of the units which form them. Cavalry cannot melee an unbroken square. Since all melees are simultaneous, for cavalry to melee a Square it must be broken before any movement begins.

C. A Square is broken when 1 or more sides fall below the legal limit of 1 stand per square of frontage. Defender must immediately face every stand of each unit in 1 direction, which he can choose. Broken Squares receive none of the unbroken Squares advantages.

9. RETREAT – As soon as a unit is down to one stand, except light infantry, on each of its turns it must retreat 1 full move backward until it is destroyed or retreats off the edge of the board. The stand may face in any direction, and fire and fire and support if possible, but it cannot advance or attack. All artillery stands are considered 1 unit together. Guards infantry and cavalry are exempt.

10. If a unit retreats off the board, it is set apart from the destroyed units. It fights no more, but still counts for points at the end of the game.

11. Either side may destroy any of its equipment at the end of any turn.

12. Games last until 1 side surrenders or is destroyed, or after an agreed number of turns. If the last case occurs, the cost points of each side (including units retreated off the board) are totalled, and the highest total wins. [ED. NOTE points could be awarded for capturing certain objectives].


MDIs are 6 cards, 1 set to a side each card marked with one of the possible deployments. The deployments and their value are described below:

COLUMN is superior to FLANKING and PINCERS
LINE is superior to COLUMN and SQUARE
SQUARE is superior to PINCERS and COLUMN
FLANKING is superior to LINE and SQUARE
PINCERS is superior to FLANKING and LINE
WITHDRAWAL succeeds against LINE and SQUARE

THE FIRING GUN – An actually-firing gun of plastic is used to represent field or horse gun fire, and a homemade catapult for howitzer fire. The field/horse gun shell is a Q-tip dipped in paint and allowed to harden, while the howitzer shell is a small square of plasticine whose centre has been marked, so no troops are hurt by this method. We also feel an element of personal skill is introduced into the game (certain players of this game are renowned for their accurate artillery). The realism of windage, faulty charges, crosswinds, and other spoilers of aim is simulated by the bouncing and rolling of the shells. In addition, with this method the artillery commander can make the classic mistake and fire at his own troops. The guns are reasonably accurate at short ranges, much less so at longer ones. Not only is the method realistic, but the game is thereby speeded up and much dice rolling is eliminated.

ORGANIZATION – Our organization is a compromise one between the various nations. We have a tendency to mass elite units. However, our games turn out realistically for the most part if a little on the bloody side. They are decisive and allow skill to triumph over luck.

Each line and guard infantry, and guard cavalry unit consists of 4 stands. Each light infantry and cavalry and line cavalry unit consists of 3 stands. A foot battery consists of 4 foot crew, 1 mounted crew, 2 foot guns, and 1 supply wagon. A horse battery consists of 1 mounted crew and 1 horse gun.

GUARDS – This is our designation for elite, heavy infantry and cavalry units which are not always strictly guards. For instance, the 42nd foot was not called guards by the British Army, but since it definitely was an elite unit which was distinct from and better than normal line infantry regiments, we designate it as a guards infantry unit.

Our armies usually consist of several basic divisions apiece. Each division contains:

3 line infantry units
1 guards infantry unit
2 light infantry units
1 line cavalry unit
1 light cavalry unit
1 guards cavalry unit
2 foot batteries
1 horse battery
1 division commander

Gerard de Gre’s Napoleonic Wargame Rules … as modified by Charles and David Sweet

Dick Bryant – the former editor and publisher of THE COURIER – has sent me scans of the Napoleonic rules used by Charlie and David Sweet. They are based upon those used by Gerard de Gre, and were published in THE COURIER back in the 1970s. As far as I know they have been ‘lost’ to the general wargaming public for many years, and I think that their ‘rediscovery’ will be of interest to quite a few wargamers who may have heard of them but who have never seen them.

Dick has given me permission to re-publish them via my blog, and I have spent most of today transcribing them so that this will be possible … hopefully later today. If and when time allows I will also turn them into a downloadable format that potential players can print off for their own personal use.

The rules are a very interesting combination of the old and the new … and I can definitely see a linear development from Gerard de Gre’s original ideas – as modified by Charlie and David Sweet – to those used in Joseph Morschauser’s rules. Likewise there are links back to H G Well’s rules in that all artillery fire is conducted with small toy cannons (for field and horse artillery fire) or catapults (for howitzer fire). It also has what I believe is a unique method for resolving melees that is somewhat akin to the traditional ‘scissors, rock, paper’ game many of us played as children.

Charlie Sweet: another pioneer of gridded wargames

A few days ago Jim Duncan – one of my very regular blog readers – sent me a link to a blog that featured an entry about Charlie Sweet. I have just got around to visiting it … and I must thank Jim profusely for pointing me in this particular direction!

I had heard of Charlie Sweet but knew little about him other than that he was an early wargamer and that he knew and had wargamed with Gerard de Gre. As a result of this link, I have discovered that he was also one of the pioneers of gridded wargames.

Of particular interest to me is the reconstruction of Charlie’s Ancient wargames rules, especially as I have had several requests to produce an Ancients version of my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules. I hope to spend some time over the next few days reading this blog entry and the other blog entries that it is linked to … and I suspect that they will give me a few ideas.