Halberdier Detailed Description

Introduction (From the rules)

Wargaming battles of the renaissance period is rewarding for many reasons. Uniforms and flags are arguably the most colorful in history. Troops and tactics were in transition from the supremacy of the medieval knight to that of the universal soldier with firearm. This transition was facilitated in this period with the use of large bodies of pike armed troops used to protect firearm infantry. Eastern and Asian armies of the period offer even more variety of troops and tactics.

My main motivation for writing a set of wargaming rules for this period stems from the lack of a more modern and streamlined rule set being available. Recently, many other wargaming periods have had rule sets introduced that stress playability and speed of play while maintaining the historical accuracy needed to prevent a loss of the 'flavor' of the period. This is my primary goal with Halberdier. My secondary goal was to produce a set of rules that could be used both for friendly games and tournament style competitive games without detracting from the enjoyment of the game. This meant creating a rule set with procedures that have the absolute minimum of ambiguities. Thorough playtesting has found that most tournament games played with armies of 1500 points can be played to an obvious conclusion in three hours or less.

The main sources for inspiration in these rules came from WRG 2nd edition renaissance rules by George Gush, Tim Walker's article The Italian Wars from Wargames Illustrated magazine and many rule sets from other historical periods. Figure basings and ground scales have been taken from George Gush's rules in order to prevent players of these rules (and Newbury Fast Play or Tercio rules) from having to rebase their figures.


Figure frontages given are guidelines. Frontages other than those listed may be used if both armies are mounted similarly and close order, order and open order troop frontages per figure are increasingly larger. Frontages given are for 25mm figures. Divide frontages in half when using 15mm figures.
  Foot in close order           15mm frontage per figure
  Foot in order                 20mm per figure (depth at least 20 mm)
  Foot in open order            30mm per figure (depth at least 30 mm)
  Mounted in close order        20mm per figure
  Mounted in order              25mm per figure
  Mounted in open order         30mm per figure
  Elephants                     40mm per figure
  Ultra light gun/Hvy. Handgun  30mm per figure
  Light gun, bombard            50mm per model - including crew
  Organ or Battery gun          50mm per model - including crew
  Medium gun, bombard, mortar   60mm per model - including crew
  Heavy gun or bombard          75mm per model - including crew
Close Order:Used by cavalry who are trained to charge at the trot and many infantry with shock weapons like pikes, spears and sometimes halberds.
Order: Used by most foot with firearms and those with shock weapons that require a good deal of room to wield. Used by cavalry that charge at the gallop and are not primarily skirmishers.
Open Order: used by shot, skirmishers, rocketmen and gunners. Also by cavalry who are primarily skirmishers or scouts.

The Game Turn Sequence

Each side alternates taking turns moving (being player A). The turn's sequence of play is identical for each side, consisting of four major phases:
1. Movement phase:
a. Player A moves all routing units. Check morale for all friends within 100 yards of the routing units.
b. Player A declares all charges. Check morale for cavalry charging formed facing pikes or troops behind battlefield defenses.
c. Player B declares charge responses. Check morale for shaken troops wishing to hold and mounted troops wishing to react against formed facing pikes or defended obstacles.
d. Player B moves evading then all reacting troops
e. Player A moves charging units, then other eligable units.
2. Defensive shooting phase:
a. Player B shoots any/all eligible units.
b. Check morale of troops receiving 'C' result or higher.
3. Combat phase: Conduct hand-to-hand combat for all touching units.
4. Morale phase: Check morale of all units required to.
Player B now starts at Phase 1 as player A.

I will try to give a brief overview of each phase and the inovations that help make this game unique.

The turn/counterturn system is well suited for both friendly and competitive games. It almost completely does away with arguments like "Well if your unit does that then mine will do this." as well as simplifying the determination of where a particular combat takes place and who's on who's flank, etc.
Formation changes, as well as mounting/dismounting, etc. all have a uniform penalty (1/2 move) which simplifies movement. There also is an easy to read terrain table which speeds this phase.
All figures shooting at a particular target are figured at once which speeds up the shooting considerably. Casualties are assessed as figure loss and/or the addition of disorder factors which are kept track of with casualty caps or rings on the figure's bases. No paper record keeping is necessary and a units morale status is immediately evident.
Combat resolution is done with a simple table lookup system and a random factor. Casulties and morale effects are applied automaticly. There are seldom any morale checks necessary.
Morale is kept track of with markers on the units. Different classes of troops may receive more disorder markers before suffering a shaken or rout result. There are very few times when morale is actually 'checked' and most of these are in order to recover from an adverse morale state. The procedure involves a die roll with very few modifiers to determine the morale result of a unit. The average 3 hour game usually produces less than 8 morale checks. All other morale results are 'automatic'.

Halberdier page written and maintained by: Allan Wright -- aew@unh.edu
If you have additional information or corrections, please e-mail me.
Last update: 1 June 1995