Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Death of a Prince

What Really Happened to the French Prince Imperial, Louis Eugene Napoleon.

Louis was the last surviving legitimate Bonaparte heir to the throne of France. This made him the nostalgic hope of some, and the embarrassment and fear of others. Just like in England a century earlier, Bonnie Prince Charlie had become a dangerous pretender for the throne of Scotland, and the feared Jacobite enemy of the English monarchy: and we all know where that led to, yep... a short, messy campaign fought on both Scottish and British soil, culminating in the bloodbath that future generations came to know as The Battle of Culloden.
So Louis Eugene, the last true blood descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte was loved by the hopeful few, who would have liked nothing more than to see this young, likable man become another French national hero of the people, while the rest of France sat back in silent fear, wondering if anyone would notice if this rakish young fool might meet with an accident... a very permanent one.
Eventually (for his own safety) Louis was exiled to England, where he flourished, did okay at university (nothing outstanding but he cut rather a fine dash among the social elite and noble high society). Louis thrived at Military Academy though didn’t exactly excel at anything academically; he was the heart-throb and hope of many an eligible young lady of the Ball (each of whose parents would have had kittens had their daughters gotten themselves seriously mixed up with such a potentially dangerous political upstart... however rich he might be). In time, Louis became more British than French, and if anything, tried desperately to play down his Bonaparte connections . But it was too late. In assimilating his home as England, suddenly this made his well being a poignantly British problem... diplomatically speaking. Should anything happen to this young, not terribly wise or overly bright, foolhardy brave, yet dashing, promising aristo`... the eyes of France (and the world for that matter) would fall heavily and critically on Queen Victoria`s Mighty Empire. It could even start a war! Did England have Louis `bumped off ` to be rid, finally, of the last Bonaparte, they might easily have said?
When the Zulu War was declared in 1879 the Prince was passionately keen to be with his (academy) comrades in action, and despite his mother's objections, he obtained permission from Queen Victoria and the Duke of Cambridge... the Commander-in-Chief of the British army... to go out to South Africa with the British reinforcements as a "special observer".
Inside, Lord Chelmsford, the overall British commander in Zululand, must have uttered a silent groan of “oh God, why meeee?” for sure as `eggs is eggs` Fredric Augustus Thesiger The Lord of Chelmsford, was now responsible for the young man`s safety.
Young Louis arrived in Cape Town early in 1879, and sailed on to Durban where he disembarked. He was attached to the staff of Lord Chelmsford as an extra aide-de-camp (where it was hoped he couldn’t get himself into too much trouble). Louis stayed in Durban for nearly a month, and then went to Pietermaritzburg, where he spent even further days. By now he was bored out off his skull, and desperately keen to see some real action.
Full of enthusiasm, he was warned by Lieutenant Arthur Brigge, a close friend, (Quote)  " avoid running unnecessary risks. I reminded him of the Empress at home and his political party in France." Chelmsford, mindful of his duty, attached the Prince to the staff of Colonel Richard Harrison of the Royal Engineers, where it was felt he could be active but safe.
Harrison was responsible for the British column's transport and for reconnaissance of the forward route on the way to Ulundi, the Zulu capital. While Harrison was happy enough by the presence of Louis, he was told by Chelmsford that the Prince must be accompanied at all times by a strong escort. Lieutenant Carey, a French speaker and British subject from Guernsey, was given particular charge of Louis.
The Prince took part in several reconnaissance missions, though on one occasion, Louis` eagerness for action almost led him into an early ambush: because he exceeded orders in a party led by Colonel Redvers Buller. Despite this, on the evening of May 31, 1879, Harrison (tired of the young fellows “nag nag” pestering), finally agreed to allow Louis to scout in a forward party, scheduled to leave in the morning... in the mistaken belief that the path ahead was free of Zulu skirmishers, so almost totally safe.

On the morning of June 1, the small troop set out, earlier than intended, and without the full escort (largely owing to Louis's impatience). Led by Carey, the scouts rode deep into Zululand... and by noon the troop was halted at a temporarily deserted kraal while Louis and Carey made some sketches of the terrain, and used part of the thatch to make a fire.
As they were preparing to leave, about 40 Zulus fired upon them and rushed toward them screaming. The Prince's horse dashed off before he could mount... causing the Prince to cling to a holster on the saddle - after about a hundred yards a strap broke, and the Prince fell beneath his horse and his right arm was trampled. He leapt up, drawing his revolver with his left hand, and started to run - but he could not escape: the Zulus were faster, and had him surrounded in no time.

The Prince was speared in the thigh and then in his left shoulder. But he tried to fight on, using the assegai he had pulled from his leg, but, weakened by his wounds, he sank to the ground and was overwhelmed. The Prince's body was recovered the following day and brought down from Zululand to the coast, and back to England on board a British troopship.
The Prince's death caused an international sensation. A report of his death headlined the Illustrated London News, dated 28 June 1879. His funeral took place with practically state honours. Queen Victoria herself attended the funeral, along with the Princesses Beatrice and Alice... where they stayed on to comfort the Empress Eugenie: while the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh were among the pall-bearers. The Prince Imperial's body was placed on the gun-carriage, accompanied by the crash of guns positioned all around.
A great procession of troops and mourners followed in their wake.
With his death, the last possible legitimate hope of the Bonapartists was now effectively gone forever.
Now, here is MY “what if” version of what really happened... or at the very least, could have happened: with a (tasteful) tiny bit of Steampunk thrown in for good measure.
The Set of rules I used for playing this game through can to be found at the end of this battle report. Please feel free to use any part of these rules you see fit.

Sergeant Carey, Prince Louis (+ his faithful pooch), and a small British detachment of scouts, have almost reached their destination. The blazing heat has made them hot and irritable, and they dismount for a moment... drinking deep from their water bottles, aware the deserted kraal and its few old abandoned buildings is in sight in the distance (where they will soon be able to refill their bottles in the cool waters of the sunken well).
Prince Louis looks ahead at the wobbling mirage like horizon. He is eager to be off and without even realising it, he is soon meandering in that direction, getting further and further away from his companions, who remain temporarily oblivious of the fact. His dog follows silently behind, sniffing the svelte... lost in happy doggie smell heaven.
What was going through Louis` mind? Why did he walk off without his horse? Was he such an excitable young man that he simply forgot for a moment, as the desire for this new excitement took over his rationale (which, as we know, is a very real problem with youth)? Hot, bothered, bored out of his skull with the almost agoraphobic vastness of the endless wilderness. There in front of him was..... well it must have looked like a veritable city to the Prince, after the stoically dull journey. Perhaps the adrenalin rush which coursed through his veins at that moment was overcome with a sudden curiosity to see more! Like a child`s first sight of a Fun-Fare or a Circus. Eyes become blinkered and focussed only on that one... single... tantalizing sight, so seductively calling to the heart. The mind is temporarily cast aside as passion wins out.
Rising from the grassland like ghost, a lone Zulu stands, aims his stolen rifle, and fires a shot. The echo breaks the baking hot silence of the early afternoon.

2 chances of a hit (2 card for a `fraction` of a unit firing)... 2 cards are laid out. The Prince places a save card over each one. The first save card is a 1: not enough to block the Zulu shooter`s card which is a 5. So one wound is inflicted on the Prince. The second save card is a Joker: nothing can beat a joker and the Zulu`s chance at inflicting a second wound is negated by the Prince. But the wound knocks the Prince clean off his feet and he crashes onto his back, the world about him spinning. Blood pumps from a nasty graze on his skull.  

Jasper the dog starts to bark furiously.

With an effort, he staggers back onto his feet and takes careful aim with his loaded army service revolver. A large group of Zulus are already advancing on him fast.

    I often measure by hand without using a ruler at all. I`m well used to estimating distances, and pretty accurately at this stage.

Sergeant Carey and his men jump up immediately, but suddenly notice the Prince is not with them. He is a few hundred yards ahead..... and alone.

Sergeant Carey looks to his men, looks to the Prince, a small silhouette in the distance. He allows his eyes to move to the left and to the right. Zulus! He spies Zulus moving like the wind, and closing in swiftly on the Prince`s solitary position.

No time to think. Time to make a decision. Now! Too late to reach the Prince, the Zulus are almost on him. The sergeant calls out: “Lads, shoot those bloody black men. Make each shot count, the Prince`s life depends on it!”

Meanwhile: unbeknownst either to Sergeant Corey`s scouting troop or to the ambushing Zulu war party...  Royal Engineer Chief - Lieutenant John Chard... 24th Foot, South Wales Borderers and his batman Dan Lynch, 24th Foot: private 2nd class, were already at the settlement Sergeant Corey was heading towards. The kraal which Sergeant Corey was hoping to make repairs on for Lord Chemsford`s column (when it got here) was long gone, fallen to pieces in this damnable heat and dry rot, but Chard was here for another, altogether different purpose! One of Her majesty`s (God bless her) mighty Hardlove Heavy Steam Chargers had broken down a week earlier, right slap bang in the middle of the settlement. The crew had long since legged it, but Chard had been ordered to ride out with a small patrol (so as to cause as little attention as possible), and fix and retrieve the armoured fighting vehicle as speedily as possible. Chard has wasted no time in riding out, and indeed, he only took a single man as his escort... a rather slow and wet behind the ears young soldier. But Chard must have seen something in this young man, for of all the Battalion to pick from, he chose this lone, fresh from the barracks, untrained trooper.
Chard had been here two days now, and had been working round the clock to get this AFV back in working service. He liked engines: he felt at times that he understood them better than people. This engine was being a pig though, but he was confident he could make it work properly again.... if you ever could call these new fangled contraptions reliable. Make it work properly? Did they ever run smoothly? But Chard liked machines. He liked building bridges even more: or defences for the army. Anything he could work with his hands, this was his province.. his vocation, he called it.
He knew there were Zulus about. They had been hanging close for a day and a night now. Indeed, they had stolen close and made off with their horses only last night. But Chard wasn’t worried. The tank must have made a hell of a noise when it drove straight through Zululand, and these savages would be very slow to come too close to something so obviously sent from the Gods of evil.... or whatever they called their own Devils and Demons. Chard would soon have the machine working again, and then they would have a clunky, noisy, long rattle boned ride home.
A shot rang out! Followed by other shots. “Lynch, with me, if you please.” And the pair trotted round the side of a building and looked out over the makeshift wall, no doubt left behind by the last inhabitants of this old deserted settlement.
Sergeant Corey`s lads fired a volley into the flank of the advancing Zulus, but the range was extreme and a single Zulu fell to the ground, twitched, then lay still.
The Zulu save cards were incredible, managing to negate every shot fired, except one, a Joker (Joker cards don’t work for the enemy.. only for the heroes. So the card counted as a 0).

The lone Zulu sniper took aim and fired again! A soldier screamed in pain, and went down like a stone. He writhed on the ground, dark blood pumping from a nasty thigh wound.

At precisely this moment the loosely picketed horses (until now happy to remain standing dutifully by) decided to bolt onto the horizon.

This forced a moral check on the patrol. 3 rolled: -1 for officer casualty (I deemed that surrounded by Zulus, almost a dozen to one, with no way to reach the Prince and help him: this counted as officer down): -2 casualty to unit this turn: -1 for being outnumbered 2 to 1: this turned the morale dice of 3 into a final result of = -1:

The unit looked regretfully over their shoulders at the Prince desperately fighting for his life, alone and beleaguered... then turned tail and broke. They dragged their fallen wounded trooper with them, and ran from the field.

The Prince fires wildly, turning all the time... BANG!..... BANG!!!! BANG!!!!! His shots go wide..... a fierce thrust to his thigh, and he goes down on one knee.... his revolver clicks empty!!!!! His sword is knocked out of his grip and falls somewhere in the long grass. Pulling the assegai from his leg with a horrifying sucking sound, the Prince waves the Zulu weapon round his head as he tries desperately to defend himself.

His dog barks frantically but stays close to its master. “Go Jasper... GO now, there`s a good boy!” The dog looks up at him and for the moment, master and hound lock eyes.
Then the Zulus are on him in a mass horde of bodies.

Still the bold Prince refuses to give up the fight, and kicks and bites and punches... even as the blades strike down at him over and over again. Eventually he weakens and the last thing to be seen is the Zulus triumphantly wetting their spears in his blood.
The cry of "Izulu!" fills the air.
“Poor devil, whoever he is.” Lieutenant Chard looked away after a while, silently cursing the Zulu and all their kind.
“An officer perhaps, Sir?” Dan Lynch offered.
Chard looked at the boy sharply: “Well of course he was a bloody offi....” Chard shook his head and unbuttoned the top hole on his crimson tunic. When he was done, the anger had subsided.  He looked at Lynch and smiled weakly. “He was an officer, son. Did you not notice his blue uniform. The blue and gold... of the Natal horse, I think?”
“Sorry Sir!” Lynch`s simple, sing song Welsh lilt was full of embarrassment.
Chard let his eyes drift one more time, back out at the carnage... and suddenly his blood ran cold.  “Look out, they`ve spotted us.... move soldier, they`re preparing to charge us... runnnn boy!”

“Run where Sir?” Lynch followed his officer as he disappeared round the corner of the nearest building.

Chard Sped towards the Tank. He prayed Lynch was following him. He needed that boy to help operate that blasted contraption... now, if he could just get it to start. He was sure it would. He had just finished work on the last valve and was about to try the engine, when he had heard the first sounds of gun fire. He crossed his fingers as he raced across the courtyard. Lynch was close on his heels.

“Come on, get IN boy!”
"But Sir, w..w..what if it won’t start... Sir?”
"Just get in... now soldier!”
The Zulus rounded the corner of the building. But had spread out to form their classic horns of the bull, hoping to pincer their foe on three sides.. then envelop them entirely in one fluid movement; a tried and tested tactic which usually proved deadly to their enemies.
The great metal beast whined and spluttered, shuddered and stalled. The Zulus rushed forward.
The Tank burst into life with asthmatic reluctance, and foul thick black smoke belched from its rear end.
... and the Zulu advanced crying "Izulu!"
The beast finally roared into full wakefulness, and shuddered on its tracks.... the screech of metal on metal filled the air as Chard maneuvered the beast to get a decent aim.
A gout of flame emitted from the barrel of the behemoth, followed by a loud BOOM! And Zulus fell dead in its path.. blown apart by the thunderous massive energy of the gun`s explosive 5pdr blast.

Three cards (the same draw counts for all surrounding targets): the Zulus failed to save with even one card, and each Zulu took 3 hits... one hit is enough to kill, but three hits each is enough to blow each man to pieces.
Chard swiveled the Tank menacingly at the Zulu horns coming into view round the sides of the buildings. But seeing what this mighty living beast could do and how it had devoured and torn their comrades to shreds ... the Zulus turned tail, and... run!
Chard sighed with relief. Thank the Lord, the Zulus were totally unaware just how long it would have taken Private Lynch to load a fresh shell, ready to fire again.
The remaining half dozen Zulus flee the board!
Yet again, another good result for IGRADIC. They really are a beautifully streamline set of rules which help you tell a story without the rules ever getting in the way. Not only do they assist a good game, but they give the results you would expect and hope to see... just like watching a good film or gripping episode of your favourite tv show.
Incidentally, when Chard and Lynch went to recover the body, I throw for Prince Louis Eugene Napoleon on the IGRACIC table, checking the result on the most unfavourable column I could find (Impossible) and asked myself the question: “could the Prince possibly still be alive”  then I rolled 2 D6 and I rolled a 3: WOW.  That`s an Okay result. Alive it is. In a coma, and near death with probably over a dozen wounds, but somehow, hanging onto life by a mere thread. This man was still alive.

The nearby Witt family (Dutch, neutral Christian missionaries... who are left alone by the Zulus) would be called, and they would administer to the wounded Prince, no doubt stabilizing and ultimately saving his life. He would be gravely ill for a very long time, most of it in a deep coma (effectively, out of the game for a long while to come). But he was ALIVE... by some miracle.
Jasper returned to the kraal a day and a night later. The poor thing was half starved but otherwise, totally unharmed. They say it never stopped wagging its tail for a full week.

Stoic heroes of the hour.

Sergeant Corey and his detachment were later court marshalled for cowardice in the face of the enemy (Chard and Lynch gave evidence against them). Corey was disgraced, stripped of rank.. then faced execution from a military firing squad. One Private was hanged, and another was imprisoned for eight years. The soldier wounded in the thigh made a full recovery, and returned to active duty a few months later. His mates all said: `he should have got a medal.`

The cook house and portable ovens of the kraal.
They say that, the tender care and (in the latter stages) the wonderfully delicious dishes made by Coco, the maid servant, were more than part responsible for the young Prince`s eventual recovery.
I hope you enjoyed this little wargame skirmish of mine. If you would like more, please check out the short story recently added to the bottom of  “The Horns of the Buffalo ” (located along the top of the blog page).

Victorian, Pulp, & Sci-Fi Gaming

Rules For Solo Role Playing & Wargaming:

I wanted something like this all my growing up years of gaming: all through my teens, early adulthood, and into my first greying hairs. I wracked my brains (giving myself even more white wool in my rapidly thinning locks) and tried to come up with a simple, yet workable system for playing solo rpg and wargames. I never imagined back then that proper solo role playing was even possible - until one fateful happy day, I discovered Mythic.

But this unique Mythic games engine thing didn't quite work for me in the way I wanted – far too many rules. But Oh golly yes... without having read this neat innovation to the hobby, I still probably wouldn't have had a clue where to start my own solo system. I guess all pioneers get copied endlessly, and this is no exception. But what I have done is totally altered the concept, made it my own; made the whole thing short and easy to learn - and came up with the In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator: or IGRADIC for short!

Once I got started, I found my direction quickly; the rules fell into place and were written pretty much over night. Then by play testing I found the system worked, and the rest was easy. I did originally write this just for myself (and other solitaire gamers) to enjoy. But I discovered the system works just fine as a standard player to player game as well.

Morale test
Things can make your models less keen to fight. An entire unit is affected by the morale rules, whatever their type. A unit is a group of figures all belonging to the same outfit.
Roll 1d6 when:
·     The unit takes a casualty or sees its leader killed/captured.
·     After declaring a charge, but before actually moving towards the enemy.
·     If the unit is surprised by a (sizable) previously unknown enemy.
·     If the unit is trying to rally.
Add or subtract the following factors:
-1 for each leader casualty this turn within sight, and/or if under fire from the enemy capable of causing casualties.
-2 for each figure lost as a casualty this turn within the unit.
-1 visibly outnumbered at least 2 to 1 in melee, or/and if infantry engaged against Cavalry.
-1 having been demoralized by an enemy unit within 10" this turn.
+1 having a stirring speech from a friendly leader this turn.
+2 Cavalry who are all ready in a fanatical state.
+1 if the unit is cavalry being led by a Brave Officer.
+1 for each non engaged friendly unit within 10" maximum: plus 2.
Stirring speeches and enemy demoralization replaces all movement on any given turn.
A stirring speech is a charismatic sermon intended to boost morale made by a friendly leader to the men under his command.
A unit demoralizes an enemy unit when it stands within plain sight of its foe and publically taunts them with withering words, dance or/and chant... or abuse and threats of immanent retribution.
Then check the result by this table:




6+          If the Unit is Cavalry: morale becomes fanatical – unit must charge/fight nearest enemy and must continue fighting/pursuing enemy until morale stabilizes.
3+        Morale is fine - carry on as desired.
0-2       Unit may not move closer to any enemy forces. It has to pass                
          a morale test next turn to move closer to the enemy.
Under 0       Unit must immediately move away from the enemy as quickly as possible. It must pass a morale test next turn to stop running away.

Ranged Weapons

Uses a normal pack of playing cards: every 3 figures from the same unit draw 2 cards. Fractions below three also draw 2 cards (except Multi-Shot figures, which always draw 4 cards). Heroes, leaders, etc draw 3 cards: example, a single figure would still draw 2 cards; so would 2 or 3 men. A 4 man unit plus a hero would thus draw 7 cards: 2 for the first three figures and another 2 for the additional forth figure, and 3 more for the hero.
  • Heavy Blaster/Laser/Rifle: Range: 18 inches.
  • Musket: Range: 14 inches.
  • Bow/Sling: Range: 12 inches.
  • Blaster/Pistol/Revolver: Range 8 inches.
  • Multi-shot Weapon (Machine Gun, Pulse Laser etc): 14 inches; Draw the top 4 cards from the deck for each Multi-Shot armed figure firing.
  • Artillery: Range: 40 inches; Draw the top 3 cards from the deck per gun firing. The target and all adjacent miniatures take the same hits as the 3 card initial draw. If a picture card is drawn, the gun is out of ammunition or power (any remaining cards for the weapon still to be drawn are lost this turn). The weapon is resupplied on the subsequent turn.
  • Thrown Explosives or Grenade (one per unit): Draw 1 card (ignore picture cards and draw again), the number drawn must be between 1 and 6 to land on target: anything over this represents shot deviation or a failure to explode (1d6, 1,2 left: 3,4 right: 5,6 overshoot). Pull a card from the deck and divide by 2 (round down) for the distance of deviation; a picture card drawn means the shot fails to go off at all. Anyone within 3 inches of the explosion must draw 2 cards (unless behind substantial cover) to see whether they take any hits.                                                               
"Self " side (the good guys) hit in ranged combat when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn.
Bad Guys and Monsters hit when Clubs are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.

Save Cards

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered and picture cards apply: except to Bad Guys and Monsters), the target unit may attempt to negate the hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Targets that are in cover against ranged weapons draw 2 save cards at a time against each attack. Targets over half range also draw 1 additional save card.


At the beginning of each turn, the sides involved each draw 1 card (the side representing "self" may draw 2 cards and use the highest one shown). Highest number goes first that turn. Draw fresh cards if the numbers are tied.

Next: both sides draw 1 card for every 3 figures (or/and fractions) in play. If only picture cards are drawn; no actions may be made by that side on this turn. The cards represent the number of actions (card points) that side may use during the turn Actions include movement: making ranged attacks: moving and making ranged attacks: melee: or Other Actions.

Beyond this, accurate sequence of play is left pretty open.

Human movement is usually 6 inches per turn (4 inches if slow). Very fast humans may move 8 inches per turn. Mounted figures, large animals move 12 inches per turn. Vehicles can move up to 20 inches a turn, and can accelerate/ decelerate 5 inches a turn. If a vehicle wants to make an immediate stop, it will skid 1 inch for every 4 inches of its current speed that turn. Passengers in a vehicle may place an additional save card against ranged attacks (counts as cover). A vehicle has 1 to 10 hit points (car 3: lorry 5: armoured car 10 etc). Ranged attacks against a vehicle must be nominated at the passengers or the vehicle - and declared before taking the shoot.
Card Points: A side may move one of his/her own figures or shoot at a cost of 1 card point. A side may move and make ranged attacks with a figure for 2 card points. A side may make a melee attack with a figure by adding 1 card point. Moving a figure over difficult terrain (opening a door and entering a room, moving over a wall or debris, swimming or wading through water, moving through trees, moving uphill, etc) costs 2 card points. To move over difficult terrain and make a ranged attack costs 3 card points.... and so on: from this you can work out the card cost of any action.
Other ACTIONS: represents a figure attempting something outside the rules. Attempting to pick a lock on a door, disabling a trap, climbing a ladder, tying up a prisoner, starting an engine, saddling a horse, getting dressed, writing a letter, jumping safely across a wide gap, etc etc etc. For sake of argument, assume all Other Actions cost 1 card point. Some Other Actions may need to be resolved (to determine success) using the IGRADIC table as well.
Casualties: no unit or single (except NCO`s, Leaders, Officers and Heroes) may inflict more casualties from ranged attacks, than the number of figures making the attack.
Units of men must try to stay within 5 inches of at least one other member of the same unit at all times. The Games Host must keep an eye open to ensure this discipline is always maintained where humanly possible. Single figure units also exist: e.g. a single armed guard with a multi shot pulse blaster. A henchman patrolling the grounds at night, etc.


This is similar to drawing cards for ranged attacks. The exact weapon type used is not important... the number of cards a figure or group of figures represents is what counts. When large close combat fights take place (with multiple base to base combatants), pool all the attack cards together... and lay them out in a line.
  • Every 3 Cavalry draw 3 cards in melee.
  • Every 3 Infantry or Artillery & Crew draw 1 card in melee.
  • Every 3 Veteran Infantry draw 2 cards in melee.
  • Every 3 Weak Monsters draws 1 card in Melee
  • Every 3 Monsters draw 2 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Tough Monster draws 3 cards in Melee
  • Every 1 Elite Monster draws 4 cards in Melee               
  • Every 1 Huge Monsters draws 5 cards in Melee

Combat Classing Your Collection
Weak Monsters might include: Goblins/Native Tribesmen/Gangsters/Zombies.    
Monsters might include Federation Security/Chaotic Fanatics/Gorillas/ Hungry Wolves/ Horrifying Living Skeletons/Lost Dwarf Nation/Mythical Atlantis Elves.                 
Tough Monsters might include Ogres/Living Trees/Raptors/Cthulhu Monstrosities.  
Elite Monsters might include Trolls/Elephants/Giants    <-- Clubs & Spades to hit  
Huge monsters might include T-Rex/King Kong/Demons   <-- clubs & spades to hit                                                    

"Self " side hit when Hearts and Diamonds are drawn. Bad guys & Monsters hit when Clubs (Clubs & Spades if elite or huge) are drawn from the pack but picture cards are discarded.

In Melee, every 3 men get the number of cards indicated above. Fractions below three draw card like 3 men units do. In addition, Heroes draw 3 cards in melee. Side Kicks, Generals, Leaders (NCO`s), and Bad Guy Bosses draw 2 cards in melee.

Every time a hit card is drawn (numbered or picture cards apply), the target unit may attempt to negate the melee hit by drawing a card and placing it half over the hit card. If the save card (any suit) equals or exceeds the hit card, the attack for that hit card is ignored. Hits always remove 1 figure or one artillery crew... when all artillery crew are removed as casualties, the gun is inoperable. Should you need to give an artillery piece a hit rating during a scenario: give a gun 3 hit points.

Once hits and saves have been calculated, the good guys ("Self") always get to choose which enemy or enemies receive hits.
When it is a bad guy dealing out the hits (i.e. the enemy the solo player is trying to win against) then the good guys ("Self") always chooses which own figures receive hits... in any combination he/she likes. Shuffle the pack of cards often.

Get into the habit of doing this, to keep the game interesting. Every 3 men and of course fractions (or 1 artillery and crew) in cover get 1 extra attack card in melee.

In Addition: targets of melee attacks that are in cover occupying a building, or who are uphill of the enemy; and on the first turn of a melee if they are defending a wall, hedge, or in trees, etc. draw an additional save card each melee.

                                          Five of Diamonds & Jokers

A Five of Diamonds always represents a fumble. It represents an automatic catastrophic failure or/and fumble. A Joker always represents a glorious success or/and lucky break. Only good guys get to use the joker card.

Hit Points for Heroes, Leaders, Bad Guys & Monsters

I suggest "Self " main characters start a game with 4 or 5 hits each: officers and side-kicks 3 each.

Bad Guy main characters 3.
Ordinary Human Bad Guys/Henchmen/Soldiers/Guards/Civilians 1 hit point each                              
Weak Monsters  1 hit point each                                                                                   
Monsters  2 hit points each                                                                                                  
Tough Monsters 3 hit points each                                                                                          
Elite Monsters  5 hit points each                                                                                             
Huge monsters 6 hit points each                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
When an individual figure is hit due to ranged attacks or melee the owning player should mark the figure in some way to show it has been damaged. When hits take a figure to `0` the piece is removed from play      
In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator

The IGRADIC table is your friend, and will (if treated right) make all those awkward decisions for you without disrupting the flow of the game in any way. Once you decide an action you need to resolve: quickly determine the difficulty level you wish to apply, throw a couple of dice, and read off the result (there are only ever four outcomes so it's not confusing). Determining what happens using the result of the IGRADIC table - well that's up to you to decide using your imagination and how you think the game should go.

The following table is a catch all to cover any situation the solo player wishes to resolve quickly and smoothly. Use it wisely, use it often... but also know when not to use it and simply apply common sense instead.

Select Difficulty, Roll 2D6           Perfect     Okay     Fail           Massive Fail

Impossible - but you just never know   N/A      2-3        4-5                  6-12

Very Unlikely - but this is fiction           2         3-4        5-7                  8-12

Below Average - go for it                      2-3       4-5       6-8                   9-12

Average - fifty-fifty                                2-4       5-7       8-10                11-12

Above Average – easy                           2-5      6-8        9-11                   12

A Dead Certainty - in your sleep           2-6      7-9       10-11                  12

Impossible To Fail - no contest             2-7      8-10      11-12                 N/A
  • Perfect: The action has succeeded so well the game character gets a positive bonus to the result. If the action being rolled is to entangle a dangerous animal in a net, a "Perfect" result not only achieve this but would also bring the beast crashing to the ground in stunned confusion. Maybe the action was to listen in secretly to a conversation. A "Perfect" roll not only means the conversation was successfully overheard, but the listener also hears something unexpected and highly valuable the scenario... perhaps a vital clue to the main campaign plot itself.
  • Okay: The action succeeds - no more, no less.
  • Fail: There are no adverse effects to a fail result other than the failed action itself.
  • Massive Fail: The opposite of a "Perfect" roll. The failure is so catastrophic that an additional penalty is incurred by the character's attempted action. Catching his whip onto a tree branch above the deep pit, "Inuit Jones" attempts to swing safely across to the other side of the fiery chasm... but he gets unlucky and fumbles the attempt. With a loud *snap* the branch breaks off the tree, and suddenly the character finds himself plummeting - falling right towards the lava filled pit of destruction!

Plot Aid Campaign Card Deck (Normal Playing Cards)

Once every so often (perhaps once or twice a game session), shuffle a normal playing card deck and pull three cards. Or if you simply want scenario ideas, use the cards in the same way to generate a set of random event ideas to spice up your scenarios.
Like thus:

The first card drawn is called "Self" and is always drawn for the good guys... the solo gamers’ personal favourite 'side'.

The second card drawn is "Influence" goes to the left of the "Self" Card already drawn, and represents recent events (leading up to the present), plus it indicates the growing schemes and machinations of the enemy.

The third card "Manoeuvres" also represents the enemy (or enemies); goes to the right of the central "Self" card and indicates current or very near future events. Combined with "Influence" and "Self" the three cards should suggest a current viable plot for the solo gamer to play out, either in his ongoing campaign, or on the current games table.     

  • Ace: An important card, whose in game meaning is often affected by the environment of the previous or following (enemy) card. With another hearts card it implies new or rekindled love, friendship, and affection (maybe even the return of an absent character); with diamonds it represents money and news of distant friends.. with festivities, and social or domestic rejoicing; with, spades or clubs it stands for disagreements, misunderstandings, contention, or misfortune. Individually, it stands for the home, appointed office, safe place, etc.
  • King: The game is currently dominated by a well meaning man, with strong affections, possibly an emotional man, and given to rash judgments, possessing more zeal than discretion.
  • Queen: The game sees a woman take centre stage: fair, loving and lovable, domesticated, prudent, and faithful; possibly overbearing and persuasive.
  • Jack: Represents information and good/bad judgement from a friend, or as a fair person's thoughts. The enemy cards placed previously and directly after this card are indicative of the good or bad nature of this card interpretation.
  • Ten: A sign of good fortune. It implies a good heart, happiness, and the prospect of temporary security. It counteracts bad cards and confirms good things in the vicinity.
  • Nine: The wish card. It is the sign of riches, and of high social position accompanied by influence and esteem. It may be affected by the enemy bad cards.
  • Eight: The pleasures of the table, convivial society. An important gathering. Another meaning implies love and the prospect of relationship or even possible marriage between game characters.
  • Seven: A faithless, inconstant friend who may prove an enemy.
  • Six: A friend or contact with a confiding nature, liberal, open-handed, and quite possibly easy prey for swindlers; courtship, and being approached by devious enemies.
  • Five: Causeless jealousy in a person of weak, unsettled character.
  • Four: Lack of trust.
  • Three: A dire warning card (perhaps a warning from a mysterious stranger, a scrawled manuscript thrust under a door, or a second hand witness to an overheard conversation).
  • Two: Unlooked for (short term) prosperity... maybe a new benefactor, a lucrative payment, a newly appointed (and favourably looked upon) officer.

  • Ace: Treasure. Missing item. A clue.
  • King: Fresh reliable news.
  • Queen: Flirtatious woman... one used to having admirers. A friend or loved one may wander in this direction.
  • Jack: A near friend or contact will put his/her own interests first.
  • Ten: The potential threat of kidnap, innocent victims known to the card drawer.
  • Nine: Lack of strength, loss of faith, loss of belief in self. Low ebb. Disappointment.
  • Eight: Chequered Past surfacing. The past surfacing to cause potential harm.
  • Seven: Bad Gossip and slander. A Set up.
  • Six: Former friend, lover or partner suddenly surfacing, making things uncomfortable.
  • Five: Unexpected news. Business success, a lucky break.
  • Four: Breach of confidence. Troubles caused by inconstant friends, vexations and disagreements.
  • Three: Legal and domestic quarrels. Temper or fight.
  • Two: An unsatisfactory love affair, awakening opposition from relatives or friends.

  • Ace: Wealth, a peaceful home, industry, and general prosperity.
  • King: A dark, shadowy, mysterious man enters play.
  • Queen: A dark, exotic, beautiful and mysterious woman enters play.
  • Jack: A new friend or ally.
  • Ten: Stolen riches.
  • Nine: Friction through opposition to the wishes of friends, colleagues, or associates.
  • Eight: Love of money, and a weak passion for speculating or gambling.
  • Seven: Great happiness and momentary good fortune (short term goal achieved) - but with a price to pay.
  • Six: Loss of income, blackmail, unpaid gambling debts, swindlers.
  • Five: An advantageous proposition.
  • Four: Falsehood and double-dealing.
  • Three: Real trust. Leap of faith.
  • Two: Care is needed to avert disappointment, and to avoid opposition.

  • Ace: Ill-chosen friend(s).
  • King: An attack against a friend, friends, or self.
  • Queen: Bribery.
  • Jack: Weak, and unwillingness of others to help do the right thing.
  • Ten: An evil omen; grief or imprisonment. Has power to detract from good signified by the "Self" card.
  • Nine: An ill-fated card, meaning sickness, losses, troubles, and dissensions.
  • Eight: A warning with regard to any enterprise in hand, this card means evil; also opposition from friends. Bad choices; walking into a trap.
  • Seven: Sorrow caused by the loss of a dear friend.
  • Six: Rest after toil. Respite. Going into hiding.
  • Five: Temporary happiness, and a choice between personal desire and doing what's right.
  • Four: Illness, recovering from a wound. Temporarily out of action.
  • Three: A journey. New adventure.
  • Two: A removal, or possibly death.
                                               © 2016, Stephen A Gilbert.


  1. It really pleases me to see a set of homemade rules which contains no glamour, is not a ga-zillion pages long (just ten), but which gives as good a game as ANY professional set of rules out there. All goes to prove my enduring point, which I am forever trying to explain to people at conventions and so on. You don’t NEED a flashy glossy coloured cover, you don’t NEED an official stamp of approval from a leading game company for a set of rules to be good, you don’t NEED a hundred and fifty pages of rules: and you don’t need to play other people`s rules all the time (playing rules invented by other people is a bit like always eating a meal that someone else has prepared).

    10 pages, that’s all it takes to create a... let`s see.... 30 page A4 battle report, and the rules I warrant have the sheer scope and potential to play, Old School Marval Avengers, a Zombie game maybe, Pulp Gangsters, a World War Two Skirmish, Blakes 7? The list is really quite endless isn’t it.

    How long have you been using these rules Stevie? You kept these pretty quiet hehe.

    I LOVED the story narrative, was enthralled how you took history.. told a small story then went: “now then, here`s MY version of what really might have happened” then told the story all over again. lol. Loved it. You even got one of your Victorian Steampunk tanks into it.

    This is really good, I loved every moment of it.

    Tarot xx

  2. Thanks Tar` that's sweet of you.

    *chuckles* actually I have been using IGRADIC to play most my solo games for many years now (they are used by many solo gamers out there at this stage... I see the rules cropping up all over the place from time to time, and it makes me smile happily to see them being enjoyed so much).

    The "In Game Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator" has seen many genre specific guises over the years actually: as I just tend to do a re-write (when I need something new) to cover whatever I want to rules to do. Currently I have a Zombie version, a World War II version, a Fantasy one, Pulp Fiction, Horror, and Star Wars Sci-Fi. They`re all out there for free on the web.

    Oh and they work just fine too as a standard set of rules played against an opponent. I might post a monumentally huge battle report I played out with Jack (using an old, basic 7 page version of IGRADIC) sometime soon... maybe.

  3. .... as for the tank, I fished that out of my `old` pile and thought "hello little fella, you`ll do nicely for my story." But its badly in need of some TLC, so it will probably get a major overhaul and British Crimson paint job soon. Might affectionately rename it "The red Pig" when its done.

  4. I think the hero of that story was the little tank.. at the moment I`m naming it "the little silver bug". It reminded me of the hard working overused mini steam launch in the Bogart movie: "The African Queen". That too was the star of the show.. or maybe I`m just into inanimate objects. Oh Gosh I`ll start developing feelings for our bathroom boiler next.

    Lovely work. Labour of love. Its easy to tell your first gaming love is in historical storytelling.

  5. Nice piece of historical re-imagining, Steve. A few points to make. First, no wonder the Prince died when the Zulus had the Hand of God on their side (see picture #8). Chuckle! Secondly, I loved the little tank. Just seeing it made me smile. No wonder Hil dubbed it the star of the show.

    I was going to ask what does IGNRADIC mean, but when I saw the heading, In Game Numerical Random Action Decision Indicative Calculator it all became clear. It doesn't exactly trip of the tongue though. Still, they look like a decent set of rules. I am curious to know why the Five of Diamonds is such a lousy card to draw. What is the significance of that particular card?

    Great post, Steve. I'm off to read your short story now.

  6. lol the hand of God hahahaha.

    5 of Diamonds is a personal thing, it goes all the way back to a role playing game (I`ve always enjoyed card driven rpgs) where the players wanted to do something totally mundane and super easy... but vital to the plot, and asked what the chances were of success (I think it was to crack the final safe and get out with the loot.) I replied "Pull a card" informing them that the result would be an automatic success unless they pulled a 5 of Diamonds. In which case their whole plan would be rumbled and real bad consequences would ensue.

    Course, they pulled a 5 of Diamonds from the pack.

    The rest of that month, the guys seemed to keep pulling that card every session they played.

    The tank is ace isn't it (a Eureka Miniatures model) one of a number of Pax Limpopo Steampunk ones I really must find out, assemble and paint. I so nearly didn't include `the silver bug` in this batrep because it is in desperate need of a decent (and proper) repaint, but somehow it ended up the centre of attention throughout the game lol.

  7. Lovely work, Steve. And an interesting piece of history I was unaware of. I do love "What if?" scenarios and fiction = Fatherland by Robert Harris, Aztec Century by Christopher Evans and The Leader by Guy Walters = all covering different areas of history with slight tweaks. Nice looking and seemingly simp!e rules, which I will peruse in depth at a later date.

    On a semi=related note, I would recommend 'Deliver Us From Evil' by Tom Holland, which is set during the Restoration and is similar in tone and content to your 'King, Parliament & Zombies'.

  8. Thanks Simon, actually I have heard of this.... I think I may even have it on PDF backed up somewhere. I will check it out for sure.

    Yeah, what if`s are fun. I like doing the actual history, like re-creating the battle of waterloo, and seeing how close to history a chosen rule set can make it happen. Then going back and doing it all over again with a few variables, and creating a `what if` and seeing what m-i-g-h-t have happened :))

  9. Sorry to point this out, Steve, but Carrion Crow is Jez. Simon is Blaxkleric.

  10. Oh Duh hahhhaaa, yes what am I thinking lol sorry Jez *grins sheepishly*

  11. I love the batrep buddy, what fun and the rules look great, I've never EVER gamed with playing cards so look forward to giving it ago at some point!

    1. Oh yes I love the historical background and the what if part, sorry should have added that earlier but wrote the reply in between call outs lol

    2. Thanks bud... I know how you like simple rules so thought you might like this: especially the way it shows you simply don't always need complex systems to play a really enjoyable game.

      Card run rules are a fun alternative I`ve been tending to use more and mote this last few years, both for table top wargaming and for rpg. Works in a similar way one would normally use dice, except you can tailor and customise a card deck... where as dice only allow you to alter their physical results by allowing adds and minuses.

  12. *waves across the void to Andy*