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"Rules for rockets? " Topic

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718 hits since 10 Feb 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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4th Cuirassier10 Feb 2017 5:39 a.m. PST

How do your treat Congreve rockets in your rules?

I've just bought a HaT pack of these, because why not, and the only thing I know of them is Mercer's account of Whinyates' troop in action at Genappe.

I am sure I once read of an approach where you divide the range to the intended target into quarters, and at the end of each quarter, you roll a D6 so that the rockets turn left, right or go ahead. Wherever they end up, you then resolve them as a howitzer attack against whatever's there. If they end up over empty table, or a friendly unit, or back over yourself, too bad.

Does anyone do anything else creative? They were said to panic horses; does anyone model that?

Why did nobody think to put fins on the blasted things?!

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2017 6:18 a.m. PST

I use the GW directional dice.


A bit of fun, really. I have seen rules that have the effect of rockets purely on morale which may well be more accurate (& doesn't need fins).

Sysiphus Inactive Member10 Feb 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

For 18th and 19 th cent. rockets I make up and label ( 2 thru 11) 10 wires as long as the effective range. Take half and bend into erratic shapes. Roll 2d6 and use the corresponding wire, on a 12 the rocket malfunctions.
I usually have horses and "natives" the rocket passes over take a morale check, point if impact causes damage.

AOORHB6 Inactive Member10 Feb 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

Trying a few different things. Here are my latest;
Are very erratic and dangerous to friend and foe. Thus they are great fun! Use range for medium artillery. Point out target and roll two D6.

11 – 12. Hit.

9 – 10. Roll 1 d6. Rockets hit that many inches to right of target.

7 – 8. Roll 1 d6. Rockets hit that many inches to left of target.

5 – 6. Roll 2 d6. Rockets hit that many inches to right of target.

3 – 4. Roll 2 d6. Rockets hit that many inches to left of target.

2. Rocket double backs and hits itself! Rocket battery destroyed!

Trace path of rocket to target. Any class 3, 4 or 5 units it passes over takes 2DP.

Treat all hits as short range artillery hits. Roll one D6; inflict 1 DP for total of 1 or 2, inflict 2 DP's for total of 3 or 4, inflict 1 DP and 1 Casualty for total of 5 or 6.

Rod MacArthur10 Feb 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

4th Cuirassier,

I would just mention that the Hat model is inaccurate in that it portrays the Rocket Car as a simple open cart, but it was much more sophisticated than that.

There is a true representation of it, and a bit more detail, in my blog:


You need to scroll down through the page in order to reach the Rocket Troop bit.


Murvihill10 Feb 2017 10:42 a.m. PST

In CLS you had a template and rolled 2d6. On a 7 the rocket went where you aimed, low enough to force a morale check on every unit it passed over and blew up on the end. The further you deviated from 7 the further astray it went, randomly high or low. I you rolled a 2 the rocket blew up on the launcher, on a 12 the rocket reversed itself, turn the template 180 degrees and roll again. The only good news was you could fire six shots in one round, so put it out in the open, empty the magazine and bug out so the real battle could start.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

I use the General de Brigade rules table for rockets, which are based on 2D6.

Simple but elegant and similar to what is indicated by AAOORHB6.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member10 Feb 2017 12:29 p.m. PST

I think I recall that finned rockets were used by the Chinese and Japanese as early as the 16th century, but Congreve simply adapted the war rockets the British encountered in India, which just had the sticks. It does seem odd that Europeans did not think of using fins much earlier to impart directional stability; after all, that is basically just the same principal as that of the fletching on arrows.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

Would spin have worked? I seriously have no idea……

Why not put the fins on at a slight angle?

I recall the early NASA launches…I am 63…and they put fins on the Redstone and Mercury rockets. I admit the problem was that they blew up…but only after flying a few feet in a straight line I will concede

leidang10 Feb 2017 1:24 p.m. PST

I use the old Epic rules for Ork Pulsa rockets. You determine a number of six sided dice to roll and a direction. You roll the dice and add them up. That's how far it goes. Then I use the GW directional dice like Ochoin to deviate from that point.

14Bore10 Feb 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

Will need rocket rules someday as Empire doesnt use them for causalities which are not to my desire.

evilgong10 Feb 2017 5:03 p.m. PST

Any sign of a translation of Tippoo Sultan's treatise on rockets?

Lion in the Stars10 Feb 2017 8:29 p.m. PST

Given the (lack of) accuracy of rockets, I'm generally happy with a morale effect on everything under the flight path. Including friendly troops.

Auld Minis ter Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member10 Feb 2017 11:38 p.m. PST

I am in agreement with "Lion…"
Rockets were not casualty making but morale test inducing
Friend or foe it does not matter. Fire at your own peril.

The rules I created have the darn things fly straight on a 2-5 (1d6) 1 going left, 6 going right. The player will state, upon firing, how many times he will roll, each roll moving the rocket 6 inches. Thus the further the distance the further rolls will be made with the corresponding chance of it moving "off line"
Many a time the rocket – read the player, usually me -rolling consecutive 1's for the missile to come back around and scare the firing crew! Or indeed cause a morale check on a friendly unit. But such is the fun of rockets!

4th Cuirassier11 Feb 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

@ Rod

Good info. Thank you.

@ deadhead: spin? I am not sure. I'm thinking you need spin or fins but not both.

If taking a morale check what penalty do you apply?

Lion in the Stars11 Feb 2017 8:50 p.m. PST

You can have fins that induce spin, it's called helical fletching in archery.

GreenLeader11 Feb 2017 10:08 p.m. PST

Just wondering: do we wargamers tend to over-play the inaccuracy of rockets? Making them almost as dangerous to friend as to foe would seem (to my unschooled mind) a little extreme were they really that bad?

I can understand that they were not exactly renowned for their accuracy, but would anyone have used them (and for as long as they did) if they really were so utterly useless?

Perhaps it a little like the desire to include a jamming rule whenever a Gatling is involved in a Colonial game: we have all heard that these occasionally jammed, so many want to include the chance that that might happen, even if the result ends up being somewhat 'stylised'.

It might make more sense in a skirmish game when one turn is one minute (for example) and one 'shot' of the rocket is indeed just one rocket being fired but in a game where a turn is 15 or 30 minutes, it seems a little extreme that ALL the rockets fired by a battery in that period would go haywire (and all in the same direction)?

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Feb 2017 8:09 p.m. PST

Here's an article on the Rocket Brigade at Leipzeig, which goes into greater (and far more positive) detail than Mercer does in his account of them in the Waterloo campaign:-


No mention of rockets turning on their owners! I wonder if Mercer was just a little jealous of Whinyates disobeying the Duke's order to leave his rockets behind?

Guthroth14 Feb 2017 12:14 a.m. PST

Thanks SM, that's a very interesting piece.

evilgong14 Feb 2017 6:13 p.m. PST

Hi there

Sgt Thomas Morris also recounts the battle of Gohrde that is mentioned in SM's linked article.


"The square of French infantry [possibly more than a battalion in square is intended – DB] on the left, which I have before alluded to, were still firm; but there happened to be two or three of the Rocket Brigade in the field, and the first rocket fired, fell directly in the square, putting them in the greatest confusion; and while they were so, the German Hussars, who had been previously repulsed, charged them again, and influenced by feelings of revenge cut among them, right and left, giving no quarter.

'The French were now defeated at all points…'


Straight from the handbook, hit squares with artillery, disorder them and charge home with cavalry.


David F Brown

GreenLeader15 Feb 2017 10:06 p.m. PST

Supercilius Maximus

Many thanks for a truly fascinating article.

Are there any accounts of a rocket which was fired, then turned round and destroyed its own launch team? Someone posted an example (from Mercer) where the launch team ran away / scattered when this looked likely, but did a rocket ever actually kill the men who launched it?

If not, and the worst that happened is one example (so far) of a launch team scattering, perhaps we wargamers are being a little over-zealous in their dealings with the inaccuracy of rockets? How many bullets are fired (or bombs dropped) which miss their target / hit something else?

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member16 Feb 2017 3:27 a.m. PST

You're welcome. There's an interesting thread here on TMP about other (ie non-British) rocket systems developed during the Napoleonic Wars:-

TMP link

As regards Mercer's account, was this a ground-launched rocket or one fired from a carriage? If it was the former, I wonder if the thickness and/or height of the crops had any influence on its course? As someone has said, any defect will produce an "arc of travel" which will eventually describe a full circle, bringing the rocket back to its starting point; presumably the limited range, obstacles, and gravity prevented the rocket travelling far enough horizontally for this to happen in the overwhelming majority of casess (again, I wonder if the [trampled?] nature of the crops kept the rocket skipping along the ground?).

Chouan Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 2:18 a.m. PST

Rockets were introduced to the Madras and Bengal Presidency armies of the HEIC, and were used effectively in the Sikh war. The Navy used them throughout the early part of the 19th century, both from boats and by landing parties. They were used in New Zealand as artillery support against the Maoris. I can't remember any suggestions of them being ineffective. Indeed, it was the effectiveness of rockets being used by Indian armies, like that of Tippoo Sultan, that led to the being introduced to the British army.
Whinyates' experience, as described by Mercer, seems to be about the only case that I can find of such an event.

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