Thursday, 5 July 2018

"Froggie went 'a courtin'...."

..or... How I do "chases" (Sometimes.. Other methods are available..)

An unexpectedly successful series of packing/unpacking operation (props for a Living History talk on Saxon Sussex, in kirtle, winningas, maille & Saxon smurf hat, unpacking same, then packing my 1504 kit for Germany last Thurs. do the event and return) left me with more time on my hands than I expected.. So, as I had left a games-table up....

On occasion, with a idle hour to fill, I will do a quick "chase" or "hunt" game. These can be as much fun as a larger, "fighting" game, especially when I base them in a "live environment", but can be quick and easy..

Occasionally a hunt will be a "hunting for food/sport" activity, on other occasions a manhunt (escaped prisoner, trying to get a small group of survivors from a massacre home & dry etc. etc). With animal quarry games things are a little more complex than the  method below, since in those cases I "play" the hunter, rather than the hunted, and hunted animals are more unpredictable than folks (usually)..

This time, however, I play the quarry...

The obligatory "back story":  The Lady Marion is still being pursued (for matrimonial purposes) by that Naughty Norman Sir Guy de Gisbourne (some folks just wont take "No" for an answer).

Having learned that, headstrong lass that she is, she has set off from home to go to her cousin's father's hold without a proper escort - and so will be out in the wilds all on her lonesome lone (Well, with Beefy Bess, one of her maids - but staff don't count) - Sir Guy, with two of his henchmen to act as witnesses and the hastily dragooned Father Phillip of Felpham (reluctantly in tow to do the ecclesiastical necessaries) intends to ferret her out and force the nuptials....

And so to..

The Rules:

Activation of the units is dictated by a full normal card deck (inc. red and black jokers. Black cards activate - the goodies, Red - the Baddies).

The pips on the cards shows the number of Movement Points (MPs) available that move for one group/rider (e.g. a two of diamonds = two inch move for the Red side, King of Spades = a 13" move for the Black side).
Once the card is drawn, if the two sides have split their force, I then dice to see which groups or individual riders are activated by that card. The MPs on the card can only be applied to one group/rider (i.e not split).

Jokers mean unexpected reinforcements arrive. A Red Joker drawn means more of Sir Guy's bods have arrived - I dice (1/6D) for number, then for point of entry at table edge (dice for which edge, dice for where along said edge).

A Black Joker means some Merry Men are on the table. I dice for number as above, then for type. A throw of one means they are friendly Men at Arms, two-five means they are Merry Men, a six means Robin himself.

I dice for location:  1=4 enter at table edge as above.  5-6 means they appear actually on the table - I dice for which bit of woodland/cover they have emerged from.
Merry men groups brought onto the table on an Odd numbered dice throw will have one bowman with them. Robin will have a bow.

The type of Sir Guy's reinforcements will be diced for individually (foot men at arms a throw of 1-3, scurriers a throw of 4, mounted Men at Arms 5-6).
"Friendly Movement":

The activated rider/group is moved as I wish.

"Hostile Movement":

Sir Guy can decide to split his force on a dice throw of 4-6.

If no quarry is in sight direction of movement is dice controlled.
Hostiles who "spot" my folks will be assumed to shout out loud. All folks within a thrown 5x6D radius can hear (one shout per activation).Once any of "my folks" are spotted the "Zombicide" type movement rules apply - i.e. groups/riders will gravitate towards where there is one of my bods in Line of Sight or towards any noise (e.g fighting/shouting).  


If activated and mounted, and before drawing the card, the player must declare if the figure/group is going to walk, trot, run or gallop.

Trotting: add 2MP to the card pips. If a horse is running/cantering add 3MPs to the pips on the card. If galloping add 5MPs.

It costs 1MP to turn a walking/stationary horse 180 degrees.

A trotting, running/galloping horse cannot turn, they can only wheel (exception "emergency turn"; below).

Normal acceleration is Halted to Walk, Walk to Trot, Trot to Canter, Canter to Gallop and in reverse to slow down. When accelerating/slowing moving in speed sequence with each card drawn there is no cost.  (e.g. character emerges from a wood on a "4". He declares that on the next friendly card drawn/allocated to him he will accelerate. He can therefore go to trot at no cost of MPs next move. Ditto from trot to canter and from canter to gallop at each future turn of the card.  Changing speed based on the card turns has no co

It is possible to change speed during a move, but to do so the rider must have enough MPs to do so. MP requirements in unused MPs are; 1MP for the decision/thinking time and 1MP each step change (e.g. deciding costs 1MP, going from walk to run costs/takes 1 MP and from walk to run to gallop an additional 2MP = 4MPs in total) with only half of any added final speed benefit added this move (rounded up) no matter at what stage the decision is made.

Deceleration is the same in reverse, except that in addition a 6d Risk Throw must be thrown and 1 taken from the dice for every deceleration step made that card draw/turn over and above a single step change (i.e. Changing from gallop to canter only does not change the Risk Throw. Changing from gallop to trot does, by minus 1). On a throw on a 6D of 1 or less (or 2 or less for Bess or Father Phillip) the rider comes off of the horse.

E.g. Bess wants to slow down from a gallop to a walk mid move. She makes the decision = 1MP and needs to have 2 more MPs in hand to change speed.

Because of this swift change of pace she has to make a Risk Throw. She throws a 4, takes 2 away for the change steps gallop to canter, canter to trot, and falls from her horse.

"Emergency Acceleration/Deceleration Declaration" and/or "Emergency Stop":

This needs 2MP for the decision and an additional 2MPs to move from one speed to another during the move, "skipping" one deceleration stage (as opposed to a controlled acceleration by "declaration" the previous move or the above in-move acceleration). For example, changing from gallop to trot will need 1MP to decide and 2MPs in hand to do this and pulling a horse to a complete stop from a gallop will need a total of 6MPs to be available.

An emergency change of speed involves a "risk throw" then an extra penalty of -1 is applied.

As well as needing the above MPs in hand an emergency stop requires "space to stop" of 1" at a walk, 2" at a trot, 4" at a canter and 6" at a gallop. If this space is not available due to lack of space the rider risks crashing into any obstruction in its path at the speed it had reached at the time of impact.

"Emergency Turn":

To carry out an "emergency turn" of 180 degrees a trotting/running/galloping horse must first reduce speed as if to stop (with all the cost and risk implications above, +1 extra MP for the actual turn). The risk throw for a stop and turn may be combined, in which case take 1 extra point from the risk dice throw.

E.g. Bess is already galloping on a sunken road on a card of 9 pips (a 14" move of 9" +5 for galloping). As she rounds a bend, having already moved 3" of the move, she sees four baddies 12" ahead. The road is only wide enough for three riders, so four riders effectively block this narrow, sunken road. If the terrain had permitted she could have continued to the full distance and wheeled away from them or, had they not blocked the road, tried to ride through them.

However, other than crashing into them, she really has no choice but to try to pull the horse up - and, ideally, turn around to get away. Luckily she has pips/MPs (11 left) and space to do so (more than the 6" needed to stop). She "declares" an intent to Emergency Stop (1MP) and pulls the horse up (total 6MPs). 

Her decisions/actions need 6MPs worth of distance to stop. She originally had 14" for this move, less the 3 already moved, less the 6 for her actions and decision. The enemy are 12" away; even moving the 6MPs it has taken her to decide and control her horse to a stop she still has enough room to stop her galloping horse safely without colliding with them.

However, in trying to slow from gallop to stop/emergency turn she must throw a dice to see if she keeps her seat. When throwing to test this she will deduct from her throw 1 per speed-step jumped (gallop to stop = 3 steps jumped) and 1 for the act of carrying out an "emergency stop".  Although she has MPs in hand to try to turn she dare not try to turn this move, as this will add to her test penalties, make her fail her test, and fall (basically she is having issues controlling her horse).

If it had been Lady Marion, rather than Bess, in the above example she could, on stopping (on a total of 9MPs used), have risked a turn (cost 1MP) applying her +2 risk bonus). If successful she could then, with her spare MPs, have moved 4" at a walk away from the enemy and declared she will jump to trot next move (she originally had 14MPs for this move, less the 3 already moved, less the 6 for stopping, less the 1 to turn) or even decide to go straight to trot (walk 1", use 2MPs to decide to go to go to trot, move 1MP but gaining 1 extra MP).

Other Actions:

The hedgerows can be jumped - but this is risky (a throw of 4-6 on a 6D) and can only be done cantering or galloping (and if your horse is galloping, you take 1 from the dice test). Oh, and Bess and the Good Father don't jump.

Gates and walls can be jumped on a 3-6 if running/galloping as above.

Gate start shut (a cost of 2MPs to open/shut and you must stop to do so).

Marion adds +2 to every jump and "emergency action" test dice throw (she is a good horsewoman, and dresses light).

Sir Guy and his scurriers (but not his ordinary men at arms) add 1 to every jump and "emergency action" test dice throw (he is an equally good horsemen - but is encumbered with arms, armour etc. His scurriers are lightly armed scouts).

Movement in woods is normally at a walk (half speed). If moving any faster than this a Risk Throw must be taken for every 3" travelled in the wood. The following penalties are applied: -3 if running, -4 if galloping. Less than 1 and the rider is unhorsed or the horse falls (dice for which, then dice for injury).


Simple hand to hand rules as per "En Gard" style fighting. Sir Guy & Robin get 4 dice each. Guy's Men at Arms and Marion get 3 dice each. Guy's scurriers and Robin's men get 2 dice each. Bess gets 1 dice. Father Phillip is a non-combatant.

I chose how my folk's dice will be applied (aggressively or defensibly) first, then I randomly draw the "hostile" figure's dice from a tub of equal numbers or white & coloured dice. White means that dice will be deployed defensively, coloured dice aggressively.  Highest unparried (i.e. exceeded) attack causes a "hit". Check saving throw for kill (1-2), serious wound (3-4) or light wound 5-6 (with armour modification +1 for Guy & men at arms). Wound effects: serious wound lose 1 dice, minor wound -1 from dice throw per wound. More wounds than dice = collapse.

For example, Bod A has three dice. He decides to use use one dice aggressively and two defensibly. Bod B, also with three dice, decides to attack with all of his dice. He will automatically take a hit, as he isn't using any dice to parry Bod A's attack, however, he will also automatically inflict one hit on A, as A only has two defending dice to his three attacking ones. When we compare A's other two attacking dice - a 4 and a 5 - with B's defending dice - two 4s - we see that B has inflicted another hit on A. We then dice for effect.

Bowmen choose their target then shoot by throwing 6 dice. Each dice pip represents 1" on the table.  If the target lies within the distance it is hit. Dice for man or horse if mounted target, then level of harm. Robin gets 8 dice when shooting. Throw for wounds as above.

"The Chase of the Chaste...".
The table is already set up; fields, woods, dead ground etc.  Since it is early morning there are few other folk about (trans. I haven't time to complicate matters with NPCs). 

Marion gets a 2 move head start (i.e I ignore the first two red cards & replace them in the pack). She and Bess head for the nearest woodland and take cover.

Sir Guy splits his force, sending one Man at Arms to scout left, while he proceeds up the track. Marion & Bess stay in hiding. They stay in cover for a couple of moves, allowing Sir Guy and his minions to move off..... When the time is right they sprint off into some dead ground (not clear from the pic, but it is there - all them dips n' bumps).


A Joker comes up, and Sir Guy gains an extra scurrier.... Meanwhile he despatches his original scurrier to scout out the woods where, ironically, Marion & Bess are headed. This chap spots them, but fails (unsuccessful shout) to alert the main party.

Another Joker for Sir Guy comes up (Jokers are returned to the pack and the pack shuffled each time one is returned), and this time a mounted Man at Arms appears, unknowingly blocking Marion's escape route.

Marion takes to the woods in the centre of the board unseen, and slowly, slowly creeps along under cover; while Sir Guy musters his lads.
Sir Guy's scurriers and detached Man at Arms seem to have left their glasses at home, for for all their looking they see n'owt....


Suddenly, having crept to the end of the wood, but with the detached Man at Arms getting closer, Marion & Bess make a break for it, trusting to the cards to get them out. 

Meanwhile a Joker brings on two friendly Men at Arms - sent by Sir Richard at Lee ? However, these prove to be VERY slow, and will never get more than a move or two onto the board....

But The Madonna is with Marion, the cards go right for her and, while the Normans are looking the other way, she and Bess rush for the board edge (the Forest fence) and freedom.....

Too late, they are spotted by Guy's scurrier, who has scouted the woods to no avail. The Normans give chase...

Marion and Bess dig in their heels, and scurry for the Forest, leaving Sir Guy to curse his luck and his underlings, and mope off home to spend another lonesome night polishing his rondel.....

Well, there we are. About an hour's play (if that) and great fun. This was a one-off bit of fluff, but when part of my "Shaft Practice" (Yes. I know...) Robin Hood project these incidents form part of the narrative that links together games in a satisfying way....

In later posts I will set out my "Animal Movement Spiders" (for hunting games) and other elements of of how I run a "Live Environment" for my bods to play in..

Again, any thoughts, snipes & queries are always welcome...


  1. Really enjoyable post. The rules are great.

  2. Cheers... Sometime I don't have time for a full game, so excursions like this are quick and fun..

    I probably need to clarify a few points, and have been asked if I can do a PDF for the Solo Wargamers FB group, so there may be some updates. As usual all my "rules" can be regarded as a "work in progress"... :)

  3. three questions
    1. How big is the table?
    2. Any simple (free) rules for ACW/Medieval solo Play you can recommend
    3. Bess. To my shame, I don´t recognise the bodette...what make is she? The nag Looks a bit like a tumbling dice, I´ll make a guess she is too??

  4. Okee dokee...

    1) The table (this time - I have a little leeway to expand & contract)is - gets out tape measure - 5 foot by just under 6ft. I do fight on smaller tables (this one was already laid out for some experimenting), depending on scenario. A 5 foot width (unless I invest in a gibbon)is about the limit of my reach (my table has to be high - dodgy back).

    2)I'm afraid I'm a terrible tweaker & cannibaliser of rules and always end up with "House Rules" to suite mine own weirdness, so recommending particular sets is hard (esp. as it's a very personal thing, solo play).. I usually end up setting my own "A.I." mechanisms, sometimes a little like the "Mr. Babbage" idea in TMWBK, sometimes a bit like "Zombicide", sometimes with sets of "Decision Tables" for "the other side"...

    ACW - At present I'm messing with solo-ised Sharp Practice - but I keep meaning to investigate the free "Give Them The Cold Steel" & the "Old Glory" rule sets.

    Medieval: My own medieval variant of Sharp Practice 1, with personalised cards & hand-to hand rules a bit like (but predating by a couple of decades) "En-Gard".

    As my blog progresses I will put more stuff on here - esp. stuff I've previously posted on the FB Solo Wargamer group. If you'd like anything, like example decision tables etc., PM'd please let me know..

    3) Yes, Bess is a (demoted) Maid Marian from the Tumbling Dice "Robin Hood Command Pack". It's probably frightfully sizeist of me, but I see M.M. as, um, a tad less "chunky" than this figure, so.... :)

  5. Merci.
    I got the make of bess right!!!My shame is lifted:-) The prob with TD bods...hard to find pics of them and that has so far put me off getting any...well, I have a few, mostly WotR´s part of a Job lot I bought a while back. I´ll have to give the Robin Hood set a go.
    I´m very inconsistant with my wargaming. I like the story telling side of a battle only I tend to get annoyed with the rules. Like you I fiddle to personalise them..Play them a couple of times then adapt them again but unlike you, I loose track of what I am aiming for...Note to self...more concentration required.

    1. Yes.. It's something I can't get my head around; the idea of producing a set of figures, setting up a website which will take images, but then zipping straight to the 1970s "please buy my figures blind" school of marketing.... Given the amount of scale-creep, the wide variation in "bulk" between designers and the seemingly inescapable "these guys ARE the same scale as the next guy's. They're just half as big again" issues out there this seems SO self-defeating.. Ho, hum...

      The TD's are nice, but a bit tubby/big-headed for my taste, so I use them sparingly. I feel another comparison pic coming on..... :)

      Ha, ha... Sounds like we are similar.. I too like a narrative, also get frustrated with certain rule types - and tweak, tweak, tweak all the time.

      I used to be very slapdash ("back of the fag packet" rules)but have found that posting on the FB pages has helped MAKE me be more systematic 'cos folk ask questions or for copies of my systems.. I have the dilettante mind of a grasshopper - but the work ethic of an ant whenever I feel I have an "obligation" to someone else so... :)

      It gives the illusion of being "systematic".... :)


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