Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five minute Punic War rules.

A friend and ex-workmate now living in the States has been over here visiting friends and in-laws for the last couple of weeks and having a good catch up. As it happens, since he last left Japan he has become a genuine, card-carrying wargamer, and was thus eager to hook up for a game of something. We hastily arranged that he and whoever else was interested could come over to the school yesterday after classes finished and I would have something organised to play.

Everything was a bit last minute, and as I wasn't quite sure how many people might turn up I prepared an easily-expandable Naval Thunder game and also readied my Dark Age figures just in case Dux Bellorum seemed like a better fit.

Naturally, such prep as I had done all went out the window when the two who turned up announced a firm desire to play Romans against Carthaginians!

Being caught short, I had to come up with rules off the top of my head. This is what I went with.

GROWN SLIGHTLY BALD: five minute Punic War rules.

Turn order.

Dice for initiative. Both sides roll a d6. Highest score chooses who moves first this turn. Ties are won by the Carthaginian player.

Active player moves and/or fights, one unit at a time. Two units activate for free, but from the third unit onwards player must roll 1 or better on a d10 (faces read 0-9, not 1-10) to activate, with the number needed increasing by 1 for such subsequent successful activation. Units may only be activated once per turn. When an activation roll is failed, play passes to the other player.

And repeat.


Units move in unit-width increments (8cms for my 15mm figures). Heavy infantry move 1, medium infantry, elephants and light infantry 2, heavy cavalry 3, light cavalry 4. May pivot up to 45 degrees before moving an increment. Pivots greater than 45 degrees use up a full unit width of movement.

Light troops can pivot as much as they like with no penalty; elephants use up a unit width if they pivot at all.

Light troops can move through other friendly troops if there is room for them to move through fully, but cannot be moved through themselves except by other lights.

Light troops can disengage from melee (one unit width is used to about face, the rest to move away from the melee) but cannot shoot or melee again on that turn. Heavy cavalry can disengage from combat with infantry in the same way.

Units cannot disengage if they are sandwiched by attacks to front and rear, or on both flanks.

Units attacked in flank can turn to face on their turn if not already engaged to their front.

Hit points.

Units have 4 bases, each with 4 hit points (lights have 4 bases each worth 2 hit points). When a base is lost, roll for morale. On a 5 or 6 another base is removed (4,5,6 for last base or if fighting elephants). Elephants only have one base and only take 4 hits. When all bases are gone, a victory star is given to the enemy.


Only medium infantry and lights can shoot. Range is 1 unit width. Roll 2 dice, hitting on 6s. Must have line of sight, and distance is measured from centre front of unit. Lights may shoot before or after movement; light cavalry may pause  to shoot during movement and then continue movement.


Units fight to their front, and only on their own turn.

Heavy infantry roll 4 dice.
Medium infantry, allied infantry, heavy cavalry roll 3 dice.
Light infantry and light cavalry roll 2 dice.
Elephants roll the same number of dice as their opponents.

Hits are scored on rolls as given below.

Flank attacks: units attacking flank or rear add 1 die; heavy cavalry add 2 dice.
Elephant terror: elephants that roll and hit on a 4 count that hit and get to roll it again as well.
Elephant rampage: when an elephant takes a hit, all units within 1 unit width must roll 1d6. On a 6, they also take a hit.

If playing again I would have heavy cavalry attacking heavy infantry in flank or rear also count 5s as a hit. 

Units which charge into melee and destroy their opponents immediately may use any remaining movement to contact and fight a second melee if desired.


Both sides have one general, and generals must be attached to a unit. General adds 1 to melee rolls, but takes a 2d6 leader death test if his unit is hit, dying on a double 6. Only roll once per melee for leader death. A dead general counts as a victory star for the enemy. If a general's unit is destroyed while he is attached to it, the general is counted as killed as well.

Generals may 'teleport' to another unit in their army but may not add combat bonuses in the same turn they move.


Units in hills or woods or meleeing into hills or woods use 2 dice maximum, but add extra for flanking or generals as normal.


When you have 50% of the enemy unit total in victory stars, you win.

Sample Armies.

Rome: 4 units heavy infantry, 4 units, allied infantry, 2 units light infantry, 2 units heavy cavalry, 1 general.

Carthage: 2 units heavy infantry, 3 units medium infantry, 2 units light infantry, 1 unit elephants, 2 units heavy cavalry, 1 unit light cavalry, 1 general.


Put a screen down the middle of the table (table for our 15mm game was 150cmx90cm). Players deploy their armies secretly, up to 1 foot in from their respective board edges. When armies are revealed, Carthaginian player may have two units swap places if desired.

The game.

Slightly confused deployments!

Early game.

Late game chaos - units everywhere mixed up!

Both players enjoyed themselves and it was very hard fought. Carthage pulled away from a 4-4 victory star deadlock to finally win 6-4 (7-4 in fact, because Rome lost her general as well in the concluding melee).

The rules relied heavily on concepts from Neil Thomas's and the Commands and Colors: Ancients rules, but with a couple of little Prufrockian touches too. For something dreamed up and explained on the spot in real time, I was quite proud of them!


  1. A very nice blend of rule ideas, simple enough just to allow everyone to concentrate on units and not on rule referencing. I very much like the activation idea.

    1. Thanks Norm. Am not sure where the activation idea came from; probably just because I had a d10 handy!

  2. I think those are Neil Thomas' rules from Ancient & Medieval Wargaming with just a couple of modifications, such as the activation and replacing inches with base widths.

    1. Yes, definitely an AMW influence with the morale checks, but the movement and combat system is mostly an adapted CCA no-hexes variant I did back in 2008 or 2009, so CCA is actually the bigger influence. See here:

    2. ...and the casualty removal system, shooting and melee procedures. Otherwise completely original. Mind you, I've nicked NT's mechanisms for quite a few games of my own.

    3. Trebian, if you look at the final paragraph of this post and in fact any of my home brew rules posts you will see that I always acknowledge where I get rules ideas from. I can assure you that if we had been playing virtual AMW then I would not hesitate to say so. In this case, the melee and shooting was inspired by Commands and Colors: Ancients. The morale system is simplified AMW, casualty removal is a mix of AMW, C&CA, and thinking on the fly. Generals & elephants are modified C&CA; Light cav shooting during movement is AMW, activation is my own, using base-widths for move increments was something I did for hexless C&C:A.

      Not trying to claim originality, but nor am I trying to pass of Neil Thomas's rules as my own.


    4. Aaron, - Apologies that last posting of mine did look unnecessarily rude, and I agree you have been completely upfront in your recognition of influences. It's a matter for a much longer post how much is actually original in our hobby.


    5. Thank you, and no problem. That's an interesting topic for a post, and I'll certainly keep an eye out for it.


  3. Quick thinking and good looking game! The mechanisms certainly seem familiar. Was it "Day of Battle" that used a similar activation mechanism?

    1. Thanks Jonathan, had to make do with what I had! Yes, the activation was just because I had a d10 handy, I think. The closest thing to that idea is probably To the Strongest! which uses cards (essentially a d10) for activation.

      Certainly nothing to write home about as innovative, but did the trick when needed!


    2. If you and your buddies had fun, that is all that really matters.


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