Tag Archives: House rules

Portable Wargame: Retreating house rule

I recently finished reading Donald Featherstone’s Advanced War Games (1969). I think it’s only fair to say that it’s a bit of a hotchpotch of wargaming ideas from the early years of the modern hobby. Having said that, I’m glad I’ve read it. Not only has it has helped me appreciate the pioneering work that Donald and his contemporaries contributed to the hobby, but it’s been a palate cleanser of sorts. When you strip things down to their nuts and bolts and see things with fresh eyes, it can help you build anew.

Donald presents extensive morale rules – 19 pages in all! There are tailored morale tables for Ancients, Medieval, 18th century, 19th century, colonial and American Civil War, each detailing the various factors which could be applicable during that period. However it was some of the possible outcomes that I was particularly taken by; troops retreating in good order and those retreating in disarray. These feature in military history time and time again, yet there seemed to be no rule to help actualize this in one of my current wargames of choice, The Portable Wargame by Bob Cordery.

In The Portable Wargame, retreating is one possible outcome of a unit being under fire – the other being the degradation of their Strength Point value. But when a unit retreats, the direction that the unit is facing seems to be left up to the player in charge of that unit. Given the choice I’m sure no-one would want to have their rear facing the enemy when there’s a chance that they could follow up, but history tells us that this could and did happen.

So here is a simple houserule for The Portable Wargame to determine the direction that a retreating unit is facing, when the quality, condition and situation of the troops are considered, inspired by the distilled ideas of Donald Featherstone.

Portable Wargame: Retreating

When a unit retreats, roll 1d6 to see if it’s conducted in good order.

  • If the retreating unit makes its target number, then it retreats in good order and does so facing the enemy.
  • If the retreating unit fails to make its target number, then the unit is routing and faces away from the enemy.

Target numbers:

  • Elite: 3+
  • Average: 4+
  • Poor: 5+

Modifiers to the dice roll:

  • Friendly Commander with the retreating unit: +1*
  • For each friendly unit in good order that’s on the flanks of the retreating unit (within 2 hexs of the unit’s initial location): +1
  • If the retreating unit has already lost half or more of its SP: -1
  • If retreating from artillery fire: -1

* If using Commander ratings as described on p39 of The Portable Wargame, then you could use the following:

  • Good Commander: +1
  • Average Commander: +0
  • Poor Commander: -1