Saturday, November 18, 2023

Shambattle Maps.

This posting is by way of a 'filler', though inspired, if that is the word, by others' blog posts.  Especially Bob Cordery's. Just to be in the swim, methought to create maps for my gridded tables, to see how they would look.  Having seen what others have done in the Shambattle field, I thought I would look to see how it would go on my table.  Three years ago I took a whole different approach, which led to this clash:

A slightly extended Shambattle in a different 
theatre, using very limited forces.

First,  the square-celled grid.

This would be how the thing would be presented on my 10x10 table.  The first thing to observe is that the river would be placed along the sides of the grid cells, and not along a row.  I've changed some of the place names, keeping the chromatic gist, of course!

For both maps, I would use my Ruberian and Azurian armies, of course, though the OOBs would differ in size.  The above map has 100 grid cells, the hex-celled grid has 170-odd.  It would seem reasonable, then, that the army size for the latter to be 50-60% larger than for the former.

OOB Square-celled map:

Commander in Chief, General Sir Arthur Reddesley
9 Infantry stands - Rifle range: 1 grid area (orthogonal and diagonal)
4 Cavalry stands - Close combat only
2 Machinegun stands (Gatlings) - Shooting range: 2 grid areas measured orthogonally
1 Artillery stand - Shooting range 6 grid areas
2 Field hospitals (horse-drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (probably in Redton).

Marshal Andre Azuréna
9 Infantry stands
4 Cavalry stands
2 Mitrailleuse stands (Nordenfeldt)
1 Artillery stand
2 Field hospitals (horse drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (most likely in Cerulean City)

Of the 16 units on each side (discounting the hospitals), 8 would have to deploy at the outset in the towns, each having at least 2 units by way of a garrison.

The Spy...

It is tempting to subvert the adamantine river line by including the possibility of treachery in the enemy ranks.  As I'm playing these games solo, how this is done would have in some way to be programmed. I'm thinking less in terms of 'spy' and more in the way of 'Fifth Column'. The procedure (in broad terms) would go something like this:

  1. Select a stand that contains the snake(s)-in-the-grass.  This might be done at random, or simply selected.
  2. This stand will be liable to standing aloof or turning their coats at some point in the battle. A roll of '6' on a D6 will effect the change of loyalty.
  3. At the beginning of the Army's turn, it will dice to determine whether their Fifth Column will switch sides and (possibly) join them.
  4. The Fifth Column will not return to their former allegiance.


These  go towards restoring Strength Point losses, 1SP per turn, the recipient stand for the whole turn in the same grid area as the hospital, and not engaged in any other activity.  The stand requiring first aid will enter the hospital's grid area, and have 1SP restored at the end of the Army's next turn.

I have a feeling that one of the effects of these establishments is the creation and retention of a reserve, so that depleted units might be withdrawn, and fresh units take their place.  It would be nice to think that this will work, but I haven't tried it yet!


I propose using my own 'Command-&-Colours' combat method.  Shooting or close combat.  A grid area may hold 1 or 2 units, of any type - 2 infantry, say, or 1 infantry and 1 gun).  The following results count only if the target type happens to be present.

1. Artillery or Machinegun lose 1 SP
2. Cavalry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
3. Cavalry lose 1 SP 
4. Infantry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
5. Infantry lose 1 SP
6. Infantry lose 1 SP, and retreat 1 grid area.  Hazard to Army Command if present.
If Army Commander is in the target grid area, he may be hit.  A separate roll of '6' means the Army Commander is toast (one could roll to determine whether he is KIA, WIA, or POW).

The number of dice rolled is equal to the number of SPs in the fighting grid area, plus an extra one if the Army Commander is present.

On the square grid table rifles may shoot across the river into an adjacent grid area, but close combat can be conducted only at the river crossings.  A force attacking across a defended river crossing count half (rounded up) their combat SPs, before adding the Army Commander's +1 if he is present. Whether shooting or close combat, if the enemy is in cover,  or in towns, woods, up hill, combat SPs are halved (rounded up).  Again, the Army Commander's +1 is added after modifying combat SPs.  The halving for terrain is not cumulative. 
2 units, plus Army Commander, in one square
 grid area - as much as the area can accommodate.

Close combat is initiated by a force attempting to enter a grid area occupied by an enemy force. This is signalled by the front edge of at least one stand being placed slightly over the edge of the target grid area.  Close combats are automatic, both sides rolling, and, if continuing, take place in both sides' turns.  The posture of the respective sides will indicate who is the attacker.

Activation of units: 

The whole game is IGoUGo, but in each pair of turns roll for which side goes first. 
1.  Artillery and Machinegun fire (both sides, count as simultaneous)

2.  Roll for initiative, high roll going first and completing moves and combats for all units

3.  Roll for the Fifth Column: a '6' on a D6 means the '5C' stand changes sides and may be used in this turn

4.  For each unit: 
    Movement (artillery and MGs if not having fired this turn)
    Rifle fire  and outcomes (moving side only)
    Close Combat and outcomes (both sides)

5. Low initiative roll completes moves and combats for all units.


Riflemen: 2 squares, traced orthogonally (i.e. through square sides, not corners) in clear areas or on roads; otherwise 1 grid area only.
Cavalry: 3 squares on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only
Machine guns: 2 squares on roads or clear, otherwise in grid area only.
Artillery: 2 squares on roads, 1 square in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.

I appreciate I have rather reversed the usual order of tracing out these rules, but I added the activations and movement more for the sake of completeness.

The Hex-celled Grid:

The gimlet-eyed reader will notice that the Vermilion City and Blueburg I have placed, per the original Shambattle map, right up against the river banks. I'm rather taken with the idea of urban fighting being required to force a crossing.  Whether this adds or detracts from the action, we would have to see.

This being a larger game area, a larger OOB is required, and a commensurate change in shooting ranges as well.

OOB Hex-celled Map:

Commander in Chief, General Sir Arthur Reddesley
14 Infantry stands - Rifle range: 2 grid areas
6 Cavalry stands - Close combat only
3 Machinegun stands (Gatlings) - Shooting range: 3 grid areas measured orthogonally
2 Artillery stands - Shooting range 8 grid areas
2 Field hospitals (horse-drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (probably in Redton).

Marshal Andre Azuréna
14 Infantry stands
6 Cavalry stands
3 Mitrailleuse stands (Nordenfeldt)
2 Artillery stands
2 Field hospitals (horse drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (most likely in Cerulean City)

Of the 25 units on each side (discounting the hospitals), 12 would have to deploy at the outset in the towns, each having at least 3 units by way of a garrison.

2 units - infantry, machinegun - and the 
Army Commander in one hex-grid area.


Riflemen: 2 hexes in clear areas or on roads; otherwise 1 grid area only.
Cavalry: 3 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only
Machine guns: 2 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise in grid area only.
Artillery: 2 hexes on roads, 1 hex in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.

In the above picture, the MG could shoot out to 3 grid areas; but at 2 grid area range, the rifles can be added.  The Army Commander's presence putting them on their mettle, would add +1 to the units' SPs for shooting or close combat.

Strength Points.

(I'm following Bob Cordery here:)

Square Grid Armies SP values:
10 Rifles @ 3SP: 30SP
4 Cavalry @ 2SP: 8SP
2 MG @2SP: 4SP
1 Artillery @2SP: 2SP
1 Army Commander @6SP : 6SP
Total: 50SP/ Exhaustion Point: -17/ Rout Point -25.

Hex Grid Armies SP values:
14 Rifles @ 3SP: 42SP
6 Cavalry @ 2SP: 12SP
3 MG @2SP: 6SP
2 Artillery @2SP: 4SP
1 Army Commander @6SP : 6SP
Total: 70SP/ Exhaustion Point: -24/ Rout Point -35

Well, we are in 'suck-it-and-see' country here.  It remains to give these games a burl some time...


  1. Ion,
    It strikes me that another effect of a "spy" or "5th Column" could be a morale one, rather than actual treachery. That could be positive or negative.
    Some potential outcomes to factor into a random die table perhaps:

    Confusion; the unit is consumed by doubt and uncertainty - outcome either paralysis (no action) or retreat. Morale minus if attacked.

    Death to traitors! Morale bonus as unit is buoyed by patriotism.

    Hunt them down! Detachments due to increased security, reduce strength points as men engaged on internal security.

    Trust no-one! Refuse to accept orders until senior officer convinces them they are real (dice throw - really poor shoot the officer!).

    Just some random thoughts.

    1. Neil -
      Thanks for those ideas! The thought did occur to me that the unit in question might not switch sides altogether, but might simply refuse to move or to shoot - a mutiny, rather than changing sides altogether. I read recently of one of the last big battles of the Sengoku period in Japan, in which a large proportion of both sides declined to engage the enemy. It was when one large contingent finally made up its mind to switch sides that a decisive result was achieved.

      Since both sides' armies harbour the seeds of treachery, perhaps it would be better that there were at least two disparate possibilities. All your suggestions would add a certain entertainment value to proceedings, but some would require some thought to work out the game mechanics, maybe.

      Roll 1D6:
      1-2 = Mutiny! Refuses to take orders, and will at once begin a retreat that will take them off the table behind their capital
      3-4 = Defection! Refuses to take orders. Will at once begin moving to join an enemy unit or cross the river, without shooting (or being shot at). Having achieved one or the other, it will surrender, to the enemy, its SPs lost. The unit receiving the surrender can not move or fire this turn.
      5-6 = Fifth Column! Immediately joins the enemy side, and will act freely as an enemy unit. Its current Strength Points accrue to their adopted side (and its subsequent losses also), all its SPs added to the losses to the Army betrayed.

      I think these three will do to start with, without the whole notion dominating the game (... too much...).

  2. Nice looking set up Archduke - I'm pleased that you included the Spy and Hospital features of the original. Neil's ideas of morale issues are intriguing too. Looking forward to reading the game report.

    1. Cheers, Maudlin Jack -
      The thing could get interesting/ entertaining, for sure!

  3. I suppose a “Spy” could be involved in such things as:
    * Burning of supply dumps (so impacts enemy supplies available),
    * Damage/destroy bridges (so reducing the enemy capability to travel),
    * Interfere with communications (could either “intercept” a particular message, or more generally “slow down” the speed at which orders are delivered).

    1. Geoff -
      I have a feeling that your suggestions would 'fit' better with a rather different campaign set-up. I still have in mind a couple of quite large - all right, three... four - quite large campaign projects in which attacks upon logistics and communications networks form part of the whole operation. Such events might be driven by event cards, say, although there are always possibilities of raids behind enemy lines by small, fast-moving columns.

      Running these things solo does mitigate against espionage per se. If using numbered priority chits to determine move order or formations and/ or commands, perhaps a successful spy operation against some formation might lead to its having to swap an early priority chit with the nearest enemy formation with a later one. Most of the time that probably won't mean very much, but if the enemy happens to be close by, they might be in a position really to scramble whatever has been planned for the friendly unit.

      Something to think about anyhow!

  4. Lots of interesting ideas to consider. Smiling at the Hospital mechanism, very HG Wells Little Wars.

    1. Perhaps rather archaic - but one could perhaps extend the notion to represent logistic support. I use it to replenish Strength Points, but probably food, water and ammunition supply could equally well be represented with the same game mechanics end view - and might withal be a better notion. Calling them hospitals does perhaps seem more ... humane...

  5. Archduke Piccolo,

    I love the way you have adapted the concept to suit your own squared and hexed tabletops, and I think that the OOBs should guarantee that you have an interesting mini-campaign.

    I also think that you’ve cracked the spy and hospital problem that I didn’t even bother with … and I will have to give them some more think time.

    All the best,


    1. Bob -
      One of the reasons for my 'Indulgence' of 3 years ago was that I didn't think the Shambattle system would be adaptable to my table(s). You showed me I was wrong about that. The practicalities of the spy and hospital features have yet, of course, to be demonstrated.

      The calculation of the orders of battle I determined using your own as the basis, adapted to the table size in numbers of grid cells. Plus a little bit of poking around with it here and there!