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"Rank and File Rules" Topic

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1,603 hits since 30 Mar 2013
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John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2013 9:32 a.m. PST

I put up a summary of this ruleset on my blog.
I must say they have a very nice and simple mechanism of play.
A full play test should follow in a couple of days.


ddon1234 Inactive Member30 Mar 2013 2:54 p.m. PST

Looking at your blog you seem to have tried quite a number of rule sets. I'm looking for a set that gives a flavour of each nationality but doesn't give the British any better firing than anyone else except for maybe being able to hold a position better and doesn't have the French attacking in column all the time.
Which ones do you suggest?

normsmith Inactive Member30 Mar 2013 3:34 p.m. PST

Nicely presented summary, thanks.

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2013 11:24 p.m. PST

Rank and file are very good. They replicate line v column very well I think plus are good for ACW. The only tweak I'd suggest is to use a d10 for morale, not a d6.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2013 5:40 a.m. PST

Thanks, I should have a detailed play test in a day or 2.

ddon: I have tried 4-5 sets now, none of the sets I have used give advantage to the British (aside from BP with it first fire advantage) or FoB allowing only the French in AC. This set of rules really has no national characteristics this is something that you would have to add on yourself or affect by the composition of your forces.

korsun: I agree the mechanics of this game are some of the best I have seen, very simple and easily resolved. I have heard about using a D10 for morale, can you explain this a little further with specifics. There are 3 or 4 levels of morale now in the game depending whether you use elite class troops as well as green, regular and veteran. Do you increase the number of modifiers (there are only 3 now for non charging troops). I have not played enough, but it seems like a -1 for each stand lost is a little aggressive. So I am curious about the actual mechanics of using a D10.

I am play testing using a couple of large 8 stand units to get a better sense of this, but generally I would be using 4-6 stand units as that is how my Napoleonic forces are set up. I understand the increase of the morale die is more related to units with a large number of stands. Maybe this is not an issue with units with less stands.


korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2013 7:00 a.m. PST

We found that the d6, coupled with small units ( say 4 stands) would make it hard to pass morale and could lead to small veteran or elite units ( we don't use the reroll for elite) struggling let alone poorer quality troops. A d10 can be hard too particularly for poorer quality units but does allow a better chance. Also, and I can't remember if this is in the rules or not, a 10 stand unit does not count a stand lost for morale purposes until it has lost two. Then the – kicks in. This would reflect the less obvious size implications between losing 50 out of 200 men, or 50 out of 500.


John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2013 7:50 a.m. PST

Thanks Jon, so essentially you use the modifiers on the morale table but throw a D10 rather then a D6. So on a D10 you have a 70% chance of passing a morale test when you need to get a 4 or higher rather then a 50% chance on a D6. Got it!

I understand the max # of stands is 9, but I saw an optional rule somewhere that no morale test is needed on first stand lost in large units. This will not be a problem for me as my units are either 4 or 6 stands.

Since you know the rules a couple of more questions.

The 50% rule troubles me with 4 stand units, I was thinking of modifying this with >50% rather then =50%. Would this affect the play.

You mention elite units, I see little about them in the rules aside from the the fact that you can re-roll a failed morale test. I see that this would not be necessary with a D10. But what else is their value. Are they in fact also shock troops so they have a +1 modifier in Melee? I am having difficulty finding this explicitly stated in the rules, maybe I am just missing it.


Fredloan31 Mar 2013 9:00 a.m. PST

John I will be interested in reading your review of Shako II. Our group, about 10-14 players use this exclusively now for 15mm.

The thing I do not like about some rule sets are the 8 to 12 figure units for infantry. We play at 1:45 and that is on the small side for me but, still looks good for large battles. I also like Shako II because there are only 2 total pages of charts or information and simple to follow.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2013 10:49 a.m. PST

Hi Fred,

I will not be doing that review, one of the other fellows will be. I actually had a look at the book last night. Less well put together then Rank and File, but I suspect similar combat mechanism.

I do like the bigger units with 24 to 36 figures per battalion. Rank and File summary sheet is just 2 pages but is much less busy then Shako II.

I have to say though that Shako II has some intriguing C2 rules at which I will be having a careful look.


archdukek31 Mar 2013 3:21 p.m. PST

Hi John, we have found that Rank and File always produces an interesting and enjoyable game which is pretty well guaranteed to end within 3 hours. It's our rules of choice when playing pick up games on a Friday night.

Much of that is down to the D6 based morale system which does see units fail morale quite regularly, fall back creating gaps for your opponent to exploit if you don't keep reserves, and eventually rout. Especially if a unit has only 4 bases.
This is fine for an encounter battle but causes more difficulty in an attack/defence scenario were the attacker struggles to maintain momentum.

We found that a simple switch to a D8 for morale tests gave the attackers more staying power. Albeit increasing the likelihood of longer games as units can rally more easily after an initial failure.

As for elite units, it is up to you who you want to define in that category and whether you want to make them shock troops as well. Having both a re-roll and shock status makes them quite dangerous if handled well.

Basic Rank and File is very light on Command & Control. I would recommend adopting the amended C&C rules from the ACW supplement to give your generals more to do. Again this will increasie units staying power so be careful with the number of subordinate generals you allow if you want a quick game.
Look forward to reading your review.

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP31 Mar 2013 6:33 p.m. PST

Must be a John or Jon thing to like rank and file!

Elite troops are shock troops in the horse and musket period bracket within the rules. Other than that and the reroll there are no other bonuses.

Units are between 4-10 stands, not 9, whether infantry or cavalry. You can split a 10 stand unit if you choose but it stays split.

The option to ignore the modifiers for large units is in the ACW supplement. In general games, a good use of officers helps with morale.

Keep the 50% as is. I think it reflects unit status well, but you can change army break point around if you want. Having said that though I don't know how you'd rate Paraguayan infantry in the WTA as they fought down to the last man. I think they're an exception though!

I agree with John that the C and C is light in the main set but good in the ACW supplement. However the author freely admits that this is deliberate as the rules are an easy play fast set. They do have some good mechanics and reflect different periods quite well.


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