Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Simplicity in Practice - Options & Modifications & Clarifications

 I am a big fan of Neil Thomas' Simplicity in Practice (SiP) rules, published back in Battlegames 23, for simple Horse-and-Musket era games.  They deliver quick but involving games that can get to a result in an hour or so for an 8-12 unit/side game on a small table - a very gameable proposition.  

Like all of his rules, SiP is very easy to modify and Neil Thomas encourages this in his rules.  And strictly speaking, like in all of his rules, they are underwritten in that the chances of something arising in a game not covered by the rules is quite high.  These are questions like "what constitutes a flank attack?" and "how much of a target base must be visible and/or clear to a firing unit to qualify as a valid target?". And so on.  Anyway, enough preamble, these are my current set of clarifications, amendments and optional extras.

Unit Types:

Optional Rules:
In the early horse-and-musket period, DRAG can spend one turn mounting or dismounting; whilst dismounted they operate as LI.  In scenarios which use LI before they existed in that historical army, DRAG should be substituted.
In the Napoleonic period, INF can 'dissolve' into two LI units, each having the same amount of DPs as the INF had.  Whether LI can reform into INF or not is a further option.
ART may be designated as Horse Artillery (HS), which acts as artillery except:
It can move and fire.
Its range is 20cm (optionally, 30 cm).
It hits on a 5-6.

Unit Elimination:

Suggestion: I would strongly discourage the use of units able to sustain more than 5DPs, partly for play balance reasons but mainly because it isn't clear whether any unit could be better than 125% of the average in this period: I suspect not. On the other hand, units can be as weak as you want given sufficient lack of numbers, training, discipline and/or enthusiasm...

INF: Standard Move: 10cm (12cm); Deduction for Turning 5cm (6cm); Deduction for Difficult Terrain 5cm (6cm); Road Move 15cm (18cm)
LI:  Standard Move: 10cm (12cm); Deduction for Turning 5cm (6cm); Deduction for Difficult Terrain - (-); Road Move 15cm (18cm)
HC/DRAG: Standard Move: 20cm (24cm); Deduction for Turning 10cm (12cm); Deduction for Difficult Terrain NA (NA); Road Move 30cm (36cm)
LC: Standard Move: 20cm (24cm); Deduction for Turning 5cm (6cm); Deduction for Difficult Terrain NA (NA); Road Move 30cm (36cm)
ART: Standard Move: 10cm (12cm); Deduction for Turning - (-); Deduction for Difficult Terrain NA (NA); Road Move 15cm (18cm)
HS: Standard Move: 20cm (24cm); Deduction for Turning - (-); Deduction for Difficult Terrain NA (NA); Road Move 30cm (36cm)
Clarification: I use the distances given in brackets, since I use 6cm wide bases, all the movement distances become BW like in DBx or Polemos.
All units turn by pivoting on their central point.  This can be done at any point in the move if not moving into melee.
Clarification: If interpreted very strictly, this encourages keeping some gaps between units in column, since a unit with a unit directly adjacent to its rear or its flanks cannot turnIt is worth thinking about whether you want to play it this way or not before you start.
HC, DRAG, LC, AT & HS cannot enter difficult terrain.
Optional: DRAG can do this when operating as LI.
Optional: Napoleonic-era INF units can adopt square formation (this takes one round's movement); in square formation, units move 5 (6) cm only. Pivoting therefore takes the full move allowance and the unit cannot enter difficult terrain.
Musketry has a range of 10 (12) cm
Artillery has a range of 40 (48) cm
Optional: Horse Artillery has a range of 20 (24) cm; or 30 (36) cm.
Units have a field of fire up to 45 degrees forward from the front edge corners of the base.
Optional: INF in square fire with one dice only from each edge of the base.
Each unit rolls 4 dice, registering a hit on the following scores:
INF 3-6; LI,DRAG,ART 4-6; LC 5-6
Optional: HS 5-6
LI, ART (& HS) may never move into melee (Optionally, LI may move into melee with ART & HS).
Clarification: Units may not fire into melees.

Each side rolls 4 dice in melee

Optional (in the original rules, each of the following factors is weighted as adding 2 additional dice):
Each side rolls 3 additional dice for each of the following conditions that apply:
Attacking enemy flank or rear (Clarification: the centre of the front edge of the attacking base must make contact with the flank or rear of the defending base; Option: Napoleonic INF in square have no flanks or rear)
Defenders with terrain advantage (depending on strength of terrain)

Each side rolls 2 additional dice for each of the following conditions that apply:
Defenders with terrain advantage (depending on strength of terrain)
Fewer DP than enemy unit
INF defending against INF with same number of DP
INF attacked frontally by HC, DRAG or LC
INF, HC, DRAG or LI attacking LI in open terrain
HC fighting DRAG or LC
DRAG fighting LC

Each side rolls an additional die for each of the following conditions that apply:
More friendly than enemy units within 10 cm of melee
Defenders with terrain advantage (depending on strength of terrain)
These optional changes reward flank and rear attacks most, then strength and weight, then numbers of supports. 
The sole function of leaders in the original rules is to write and send written orders to individual units (with the possible implication that units the leader is with in person may be ordered to do new things on the spot).  This is quite a clunky mechanic in a game, although it does have its points in terms of realism.  Over the years I have used two different optional mechanics to replace written orders:
Rallying: Leaders present with a unit can rally away DP after the melee phase of their own turn.  A d6 is thrown: 4-6 removes a DP.  If the unit was engaged in melee combat during their turn, or fire or melee combat in the preceding enemy turn, and a 1 is thrown, the leader becomes a casualty and is removed from the game.  As a further option, roll a d6 every friendly movement phase to generate a replacement leader if necessary: this requires a 5-6 on a d6.
Orders: Instead of writing orders, a command radius mechanic is used.  Within 24cm of the leader any unit, will do as ordered.  From 24-36cm from the leader, a unit must roll a die to carry out any action, succeeding on a 2-6. For every additional 12cm of distance from the leader,  or if the unit is out-of-sight, then 1 is deducted from the die roll.
Army Morale:
As an option, in each melee phase after 50% or more of an army's units have been broken, a die is thrown.  On a '1', the army's morale collapses and the game is over instantly.  Both the 50% threshold and the score on the die may be altered to taste or to reflect different enthusiasm or discipline levels on an army basis (as a way of reflecting tiredness or hunger, for example).  


  1. Very nice modifications. Some nice historical chrome while still keeping speed of play in the spirit of the original!

    1. Thanks Noel. The modifications don't really decrease the speed of play or increase the mental complexity, which are my basic acceptance criteria for modifying these rules.