Wooden Wars: Wooden Soldier Project - Part 9: Cannonade, Casualties, and Rallying!

"Heads up, by God! Those are bullets, not turds!"
                                                                                 Attributed to Baron Lepic- Battle of Eylau
Grenadiers in Column march towards an objective

Today, for your review, I have formed up artillery batteries and a unit of "Guard" Grenadiers.  All part of the troop buildup for the games I'll be running at GenCon and Pacificon!  These painted units will also be part of the rewards system for my upcoming  Kickstarter program! But for now, let's put them through their paces. 

I painted the musician in opposite colors, because I am a cavalry man at heart.

The grenadier unit is sporting the new prototype drum and flag arms. The flag shown is hand painted on paper printed with my skull and crown logo. Once I get my website up, I'll have color as well as black and white versions of flags you can download for use. 
3 gun battery. This takes up as much space as a 20 man unit.
proper layout of a gun battery. note touching stands between guns.

Cannon make body counts count!
In Wooden Wars, casualties can pile up quickly. Field tests at the Fossling Proving Grounds have shown a single ball can knock down anywhere from 0-10 models , with the average being about 4.  As mentioned in a  previous posting, when a battery of cannon fires, players toss one ball per gun. All balls must be tossed simultaneously at the same target (smaller folks may use both hands for the toss).  Like real cannon, a unit getting hit by a battery can suffer major casualties!   It's very cool to witness - the still photo's just don't do it justice!

Battery of guns wreaking havoc across the battle field!

Counter battery fire puts paid to the oppositions guns.

Gun batteries range from 1 to 4 guns.  It's really up to the players or the scenario as to how they want to set them up.  We have found that "min-maxers" who think it best to spread out three guns so each gets to fire at a different target always lose crew too quickly, are out gunned by counter battery fire, or are easily overrun by cavalry. I love it when that happens! I'll get into more detail about this in a subsequent melee segment.

Tactical rules note: When an infantry or cavalry unit is under strength (i.e. down to half the figures it started with), the controlling player of that unit must now use their opposite hand when firing. This is never true with cannons. As long as there is even one crew left the gun can fire normally. This means if a battery of 3 guns, which started with 4 crew per gun, has 9 crew left all three guns are still functional! 

 Officers, Dodge Ball and Rallying
 In Wooden Wars, when all the moving, firing and melee for a turn is complete the final phase of the turn is the rally phase.  During the rally phase, officer rallies and dodge-ball-saves come into play.
 Officers can:
·         Rally Troops: When the officer is touching a unit, it can rally one soldier per turn.  This means one knocked over soldier is automatically returned to the ranks (stood up) at the end of the turn. 
o   Note: a unit that is completely knocked over, including the officer, cannot be rallied.
·         Dodge-Ball-Save: If an officer becomes a casualty (ie: is knocked over) then he is given the opportunity to dodge the shot, and remain standing.    Using a D6 (six sided die) a successful dodge for a foot officer requires rolling a 5 or 6, or a 4, 5, or 6 for a mounted officer. 
Note ball just below and next to another lucky officer...

Elites  and Guard Troops
"Elite" and "guard" are names used to describe battle hardened troops, ie: the grizzled veteran soldiers who are accustomed to being knocked around by balls, and as such are not always knocked over by them. In Wooden Wars, all troops wearing bearskin hats or heavy cavalry units, such as those wearing breastplates, are considered to be "elite" or "guard" units. My guard units today are my Grenadiers.

·         Any elite/guard infantry, cavalry or artillery knocked down during the firing phase ( IE hit by a rubber ball) may make a dodge-ball-save by rolling a 6 on a six sided die. If a 6 is rolled, they are considered unharmed and the controlling player may stand them back up.
·         Once a unit has been completely knocked down, it may no longer use its saves.  They are soldiers, not zombies . . . unless of course they are zombies, in which case you may ignore this rule.

 Dodge-ball-saves are done after the officer rallies a model. Players have to commit their officer rallies before tossing the dice! 
A ball hits the rear of the column, knocking over 4 grenadiers.
During the rally phase, the officer automatically rallies one fellow.  
The other three roll their dodge ball save needing a 6. One will get back up.

Reinforcement happens at the end of the rally phase after all dodge-ball-saves are attempted.   Firstly, the Commander moves towards units that may need his help so he can use his reinforcement coins to "buy back" troops into units that are under strength.  A commander has to be within two batons (2 feet) of a unit in order to reinforce it, which is usually not a problem as he can move 3 batons. It does mean though, that if he wants to reinforce a unit that has advanced far out in the battlefield, he will have to expose himself. 

Commander and ADC with smart looking reinforcement coins.

Counting the Cost...
 Army Commanders begin the game with 2 reinforcement coins per unit, based on the largest army. This means if you have 4 units, and your opponent has 6, you would each get 12 reinforcement coins.
Although this may not be the best ground leveler, we have found it works pretty well.  I have also noted, through play testing, that armies that choose to be most or all guard may be scary at first, but once they require reinforcing, man, they dwindle quickly.
The cost of reinforcements varies per troop type :
·         1 coin: regular soldiers
·         2 coins: elite/guard infantry and gun crew
·         3 coins: light cavalry
·         4 coins: elite/guard cavalry
·         note: guns and officers cannot be bought back during a battle.   
This system so far has been easy for players to remember, fun to see who gets the coins (aka: watching officers plead their case to the Commander), and works very well tactically. 

To the last gunner! Prince Fossling's single cannon bravely defends the fort.

La Haye Bloque- that is the key!
Rally coins are often placed with battlefield objectives.  When captured they go into that Commander's pool.   If the Army Commander is knocked over, the coins are either lost, or half are lost and the remaining goes to an officer on the battlefield closest to the knocked over commander.   We're still play testing this...  Your thoughts? 

Okay- well, I probably should have broken this into two segments, but there ya go. Tune in next time when we'll  review some cavalry units and talk about melee!


  1. I like your Guard & Rules. I was expecting that Guard units would be allowed to put their bases on backwards so they'd be hard to knock over.

    I didn't understand the difference between the 1st 2 bullets in the Guard Troop section.

  2. Black Cavalier- That is because they were redundant. I was working out different wordage, and it being very late when I posted, you got both versions! Fixed now, thanks for the catch!

    Guard having the dodge ball save makes them tough enough!

  3. I'm putting all my bases on backwards! Looking forward to the bug showcase games. What's the status in your kickstarter kickoff?

    1. Obviously that should be big showcase not bug showcase. Sigh...

  4. I´ve never seen anything like this. I´ve just had a good browse through your wooden wars and wooden soldiers sections and I´m amazed. Not only painted by you but designed as well!!
    Exceptional skill!!

  5. Aron BC- if you put your bases backwards, your poor troops will always move away from battle :) Kickstarter status is that I am working out all the cool rewards that I can give out, and have shot half the video. Target time for launch is the week before GenCon, so stay tuned!

    Paul- very kind of you. I hadn't seen anything like them either, thus the reason I am making them!


  6. Thomas, your work is excellent..to put so much detail in a flat surface of wood is just amazing. It is an excellent idea, don't know why no one else has done it.

  7. Cap'n R-
    I have spent a year prototyping (and getting pat pending) on these guys, so although the idea is a no brainer, I think I know why no one else has been crazy enough to do it!

    That being said, I think I have the system down, and am still as excited about my toys as the first day I hand cut them out of wood.

    Thanks very much for the kind words!

  8. Thomas,

    A Twiningham from TMP here. I saw your kind offer, but I can't PM there and the Yahoo address bounced. Can you contact me at tobul dot pitt dot edu if you have a chance? I think I might be able to help you out a bit as well.


    1. Aron- your email bounced as well- lol. Let's try this without the (dot) stuff.
      get me at

      so many ways to communicate, but not actually get ahold.The pros and cons of the 21st Century, I reckon.

    2. Thanks. At least it hasn't immediately bounced this time. I'll aquire a homing pigeon just in case, though.


  9. Directed here by a recent posting on another blog, I came, I saw, and I was blown away! Amazing stuff!

  10. Great stuff Thomas!

    Drop me a line when you have a mo' to bring me up on production. I have an idea for Christmas... :)

    Cheers mate!

    - Rod

  11. Arch Duke- super kind of you. Your blog is likewise amazing!

    Rod- whatever it is, I'm game!


  12. Tom, this is Ken Cliffe at All the King's Men Toy Soldiers. I recently discovered Wooden Wars and am blown away by the ingenuity of your figures and rules. This is what young and young-at-heart wargaming should be. I'd like to share further thoughts and possibilities via email if you're interested. Feel free to contact me at: