The Basics

This game represents an easy yet historically realistic method for simulating 18th century skirmishes.Consequently, all figures should be mounted individually. I use 1x1 inch stands for 25 mm figures. A number of markers are necessary to play La Petite Guerre (I use plastic beads, although cardboard chits would work just as well). You will need markers to distinguish light wounds (blue), severe wounds (black), panicked (yellow), misfires (cotton puff), pinned (purple) and prone (green) as well as markers or a deck of cards to determine the active player. The game tables are the heart of this game. Buck and Ball is for shooting; War Club and Musket Butt is for melee. Morale and Movement charts also are included. This page contains definitions and brief explanations of how to play the game. If in doubt, use common sense.


Each turn consists of a number of phases. The number of phases in a turn is equal to 75% of the number of units on the larger side in the game. Count the number of units on the smaller side. Put this number of markers in a container for each side. (I typically use white beads for the French player and red for the British.) To determine which player gets to activate a unit during a phase, draw a single marker from the container. The color of the marker will determine which player gets to activate a unit. Each figure in one of that player's units may now perform one action. This concludes the phase. Each unit may be activated twice in one turn. Some units may not be activated at all. Continue activating units until the number of markers drawn from the container (i.e., the number of phases completed) equals 75% of the number of units in the larger side. Once this number of phases has been completed, replace the markers in the container and begin the next turn. During the course of the turn as the markers are drawn, both players have the option of holding 1 marker per turn to use for a react phase. Any unit that has not already performed 2 actions may use this marker to react when an enemy atttempts to close for hand to hand combat. This marker is placed in the container with the others at the end of the turn. Note that all shooting, movement , melee, spotting, etc., is resolved as figures perform their actions, hence, there are no separate melee, firing or movement phases.

Some figures are limited in their actions according to their training and discipline. Troop types are: Line troops (which include Regulars, Lights, Grenadiers, Troops de la Marine, Rangers, and Scots), Indians, Militia, Frontiersmen, Courier du Bois and Civilians. If a troop type is not specifically listed as having a modifier, then there is no modifier for that type. Line troops are the only type that may combine units during the game. However, to combine units they must form up and remain in line or column formation and must have an officer present for every twelve figures. Formations

Formed: Troops in Line or Column formation. Regulars, Militia & Civilians are unformed if not in Line or Column. Bases must be side to side or front to back. Furthermore, there must be at least four figures of the same type together to received any benefits from being formed.

Skirmish: Troops in open order. Only Indians, British Lights, British or French Grenadiers, Rangers, Courier de Bois and Frontiersmen may use skirmish order. Stands must not be touching, ideally, figures will be 1-2 inches away from each other. Figures must be in skirmish line or skirmish column. Figures in a loose random formation are considered unformed.

Mass: Indians may only use Mass and Skirmish formations. In Mass formation, the stands should be touching but not as neatly as a column or line formation. Indians are the only troops who may use Mass formation.

Unformed: Troops not in an allowable formation are unformed.


A figure can perform up to two actions each turn. An action can be: Fire, Move, Load Rifle or Artillery, Charge, Morale Check, Clear Misfire, or Spot. The figures of a single unit (usually 6 figures) will perform their actions simultaneously, but not all figures in the unit need to perform the same action (except in a charge or in spotting). For example, in a unit of 6 figures 3 figures may fire while 1 clears a misfire and reloads, 1 checks his morale and yet another moves up to join his companions. If a figure does not perform an action when the rest of its unit does, it is out of luck. Being charged gives a unit the option of using an action to fire upon the charging figures. (see Charge for more information).

Fighting in melee is not consdered to be an action. It takes place any time two figures are in contact and either player wishes to fight.

Allowable Actions

each figure can perform 1 action per phase/limited to 2 phases per turn

Fire: may stand up or go prone [not both] and fire but may not change facing.
Move: (includes turning in place) may stand up and move or move and go prone. Roll movement dice for unit as a whole.
Load: artillery and rifles must use an action to load. Muskets do not need to expend an action to do this.
Charge: 4 figures minimum in line or column formation. Figures receive +1 in first round of combat in addition to bonuses for being formed. Only line troops in formation at the beginning of the phase may perform a charge. Severely wounded, pinned and panicked figures cannot be included in a charge. A charge is a deliberate advance of formed troops who intend to fight with the bayonet. Charges must be declared when the action is started. All figures in a unit must charge at the same time (and there must be a minimum of four figures including an officer in line formation) to receive a charge bonus. Movement is straight ahead, with no change in direction and through open terrain. Charging gives a +1 in the first round of melee. A unit that is being charged from the front has the option of using an action (remember to remove the appropriate marker from the container) to make a morale check. If the check is successful the unit may fire at the charging unit. If the check is unsuccessful, the defender will melee with a -1 for the first round of melee. This option is not available if the unit has already performed 2 actions this turn.
Morale Check: individual checks to remove pinned or panicked status.
Clear Misfire: must be performed before firing again. Rifles and artillery must still load after clearing misfire.
Spot Hidden Figures: must roll distance or greater on 3d6. 1 roll per spotting unit when in line or column.
Spotting Hidden Figures: It takes an action to try and spot a hidden unit. Non-spotted troops may be represented by three or more dummy markers, only one of which represents the true location of the unit. To successfully spot a unit a player must roll greater than the distance between the spotting figure and the hidden unit on 3d6. Spotted troops are placed on the game table. A unit in line or column formation receives only one spotting roll.

Buck and Ball

When a figure fires at a target, the player rolls 2 dice. Natural doubles on the "to hit" roll is a misfire. Mark the figure with a "puff" of smoke. It will take an action to clear the gun. If the roll is not a natural double, it is modified according to the troop type and situation. Note that only the best positive and the worst negative situational modifiers are applied to this roll. If the modified roll equals 8 or more a hit is scored. Note that scoring a hit does not guarantee affecting the target.

Shooting Modifiers
Must roll modified 8 or greater on 2d6 to hit declared target

Troop Type Modifiers(use all that apply) Situational Modifiers(use greatest positive and greatest negative modifier)
  • Line Troops +1
  • Civilian & Militia -1
  • Armed w/rifle +1
  • Armed w/pistol -1
  • Artillery: Canister +2
  • Artillery: Ball -2
  • Target at extreme range (over 36") -5
  • Target in building/rampart -3
  • Volley blind fire (target not spotted) -3
  • Firer is severely wounded -3
  • Target is in 1/2 cover -2
  • Long range (over 18" (musket) or 24" (rifle)) -2
  • Firer is pinned -2
  • Firer is lightly wounded/prone -1
  • Target is prone/pinned or beyond natural cover -1
  • Regulars volleying +3
  • Target is in line, column or mass +2
  • Initial shot +2
  • Militia volley +2
  • Firer is not spotted (yet!) +1
  • Firer is behind fortifications +1

Once a hit is scored, the target player rolls 2 dice to determine the result of the hit. If natural doubles are rolled, the target is killed, no appeal. If the character is not instantly killed, the roll is modified according to the troop type of the target figure.

Results of Being Hit 2d6 rolled and modified by target player
Unmodified doubles = killed. Two wounds of any type = death
Troop Type Modifiers to die roll Modified Roll = Result
  • Regulars -1
  • Grenadiers -1
  • Light Infantry -1
  • Indians +1
  • Frontiersmen +1
  • Courier du Bois +1
  • Militia +2
  • Civilians +2
1 = Pinned
2 = Pinned
3 = Light wound
4 = Flee 6" towards cover
5 = No effect
6 = Light wound
7 = Severe wound
8 = Light wound
9 = No effect
10 = Pinned
11 = Light wound
12 = Flee 6" towards cover
13 = Flee 6" towards cover
Explaination of Results

Pinned: A pinned figure has gone to ground to save his skin. Too scared to do what he's been ordered but not so scared as to run away. Pinned status gives a -2 to shoot (and a -1 to be hit), -2 to melee and a -2 in morale checks. Pinned figures may not be moved without passing a morale check first (this morale check must be an action).

Flee: A figure has been scared enough to try and get out of the line of fire. He will immediately move up to 6" (not towards the shooter) to get into cover. If in Natural cover he will flee 6" inches away from the shooter. If in defensive works or a building, he will go prone.

Wounded: There are two types of wounds: light and severe. Light wounds give a -1 to shoot, a -2 to fight and a -1 to morale. A severe wound gives a -3 to shooting, a -3 to fighting and a -3 to morale and reduces movement by . (It takes 2 lightly wounded or healthy figures to carry a severely wounded figure at normal speed.) Two wounds of any type will kill a figure. Any figure which receives a wound must instantly take a morale check.

Special Considerations

Natural Cover: Natural cover is cover which obstructs the view of a target. It does not deflect the bullet, but it does prevent the shooter from accurately sighting.

Cover: If a target is protected by a substance that would stop a bullet (e.g., part of a wall, tree, or embankment) then the figure receives the benefit of cover. Examples would be someone shooting out of a window or standing up but hiding behind a tree.

Pass-Through Fire: Whenever an shooter misses his declared target there is a chance that the ball hit another target. Each figure in line with the shot (e.g., if any part of its base falls beneath a line drawn from the shooter's head to 3" beyond the original target's head) is a possible casualty. Starting with the figure closest to the firer (friend or foe), including any figures between the firer and the target, roll to see if the figure was hit. Each potential target will get any situational modifiers that apply to its individual situation. Once one figure is hit the bullet is stopped and no other figures need to be checked. Pass-through fire is the real benefit of obtaining an enfilade position: if you are firing directly down a line of troops there is a considerably greater chance of getting a hit.

Volley Fire: Formed line troops and militia may issue volley fire. They must be in formation (line or column) and have an officer present. All targets must be within 6" of all other targets. Volley fire gives a +3 if issued by line troops, and a +2 if issued by Militia.

Warclub and Musket Butt

Highest modified die roll (on 1d6) wins hand to hand combat

Melee is hand to hand combat between figures in base to base contact. The players match up their figures. The player with the greater number of figures may gang up on the enemy but no more than 3 of one player's figures may melee with a single figure of the other player. One die is rolled for each figure in combat (note that it is possible for the attacker to roll 3 dice to the defender's 1). The die roll is modified by applying appropriate troop type and situational modifiers. The differences of the modified die rolls are referenced on the melee results chart. Note that an outnumbered figure may defeat one enemy while being vanquished by another in the same round. It is possible, though unlikely, that an outnumbered figure will emerge victorious over all or some of his adversaries.

Melee Modifiers
Troop Type Modifiers(if not listed, then no troop modifiers are used) Situational Modifiers(use all that apply)
  • Indians +2
  • Grenadiers/Scots +2
  • Regulars +1
  • Rangers/Courier du Bois +1
  • Militia -1
  • Civilians -2
  • Panicked -4
  • In water -3
  • Severely wounded -3
  • Outnumbered (-1 per figure) Max -2
  • Lightly wounded, pinned or prone -2
  • Surprised (unspotted attacker)or used defensive fire -1
  • Defending doorway or window +4
  • Defending fortifications +3
  • Charging +1
  • Formed +2
  • Using sword +2
  • Fighting uphill of opponent +1
Melee Results Table
Winner Wins by: Result to Losermorale checks as a result of combat are not considered to be actions
0 Both combatants take morale test. If both stay procedure is immediately repeated.
1 or 2 Flee (1d6 directly away from opponent, take immediate morale test) The figure has been battered enough to believe he will not survive the fight. He will immediately move up to 6" directly away from his attacker and then take a morale check.
3 Light Wound (take immediate morale test)Light wounds give a -1 to shoot, a -2 to fight and a -1 to morale. Two wounds of any type will kill a figure. Any figure which receives a wound must instantly take a morale check.
4 Severe Wound (take immediate morale test)A severe wound gives a -3 to shooting, a -3 to fighting and a -3 to morale and reduces movement by . (It takes 2 lightly wounded or healthy figures to carry a severely wounded figure at normal speed.) Two wounds of any type will kill a figure. Any figure which receives a wound must instantly take a morale check.
5 CapturedMelee may result in capture. Any non-severely wounded figure can control up to 4 prisoners. The prisoners must stay within 4" of the guard. If the guard is killed, severely wounded or captured, then the prisoners will become panicked and move appropriately. Only Indians, Courier de Bois and Frontiersmen may voluntarily kill their captives. However, if they do this they must spend their next action scalping the slain.
6 Killed--self explanatory


Movement Rates
Line 2d6" Indians 3d6"
Skirmish 3d6" Unspotted 6"
Unformed 2d6" Canoe 1d6"/2 men
Column 3d6" Bateaux 1d6"/3 men

Movement Modifiers

Severely Wounded: reduced to movement.

Water Movement: Canoes move 1d6 for every 2 figures the canoe carries. Bateaux move 1d6 per 3 figures . Both craft get plus or minus the current of the stream.

Rough Terrain: line or column formation loses high die roll.*

Linear Obstacle: lose low die.* Linear obstacles are small, easily overcome obstructions to movement. Ditches, fences, small streams and the smaller varieties of fallen logs are examples.

Major Obstacle: full turn to cross; disrupts formations; may not charge or attack across. Major obstacles are naturally occurring or man made impediments to movement. It takes one full turn for any figure to c

ross an obstacle. Steep bluffs, boulders or abatis are examples of major obstacles. Formed troops are considered unformed upon crossing an obstacle. No figures may charge or attack across obstacles.

Charging: all figures in a unit must charge together and the unit must be at least four figures. Charging figures may not be severely wounded, pinned or panicked. A Unit may not charge or rush 2 turns in a row.

Hidden Movement: Unspotted Indian, Ranger, Courier du Bois, and Frontiersmen units may be represented by up to 3 markers on the gaming table. One of the markers will be determined beforehand as representing the true location of the unit. Unspotted unit markers may be moved 6 inches as an action or at the end of the turn (i.e., when all the movement chits are replaced in the cup). If an unspotted unit marker is to be moved more than 6 inches as an action, it may do so by rolling the appropriate number of movement dice. However, the player must then roll 3d6. If this roll is less than the number of inches the unit moved then the actual unit must be placed on the table and the dummy markers removed.

*If the loss of a movement die prevents reaching a terrain feature, the figure will stop at the edge of the terrain feature.


Must roll modified 8 or greater on 2d6 to pass morale check When to Check Morale
Mandatory Morale Checks(no action necessary)
  • When individual receives a wound
  • When individual modified melee rolls are equal
  • Before frontally charging or attacking line formation*
  • Before frontally charging or attacking artillery/defensive works*

*Do not retreat if fail. Unit may move as normal (but not toward the enemy) or fire at effect.

Mandatory Morale Checks(all potential targets, no action necessary)
  • After receiving volley fire
  • After Indians/Militia/Frontiersmen/Courier du Bois or Civilians are shot at by artillery
Optional Morale Checks (takes an action)
  • To receive a charge with gun fire
  • To un-pin a pinned figure
  • To stop a panicked figure from fleeing

How to Check Morale

Roll 2d6. If the modified roll =8 or greater the figure passes the check. If the modified roll is less than 8 the figure retreats 2d6" away from the enemy. If the figure fails 2 morale rolls during a turn he becomes panicked. These rolls can be mandatory or voluntary morale checks. A panicked figure is scared out of its wits and only wants to go home. The figure will move at a rate of 2d6 directly away from the last enemy figure it saw. This flight will continue at the end of each phase (i.e., twice per turn) until the figure passes a morale test or exits the gaming table.

Morale Situational Modifiers Morale Troop Type Modifiers
  • Indians charging an unformed unit +3
  • Within held fortifications +3
  • No enemy within 24" +3
  • In formed unit +2
  • Indians charging or attacking from hiding +2
  • Officer within 6" +v
  • Out-numbered in melee -1
  • Lightly wounded -1
  • Pinned or panicked -2
  • Severely wounded -3
  • Indians/Civilians/Militia hit by artillery -3
  • Indians frontally charging or attacking formed troops, fortifications, or artillery -3
  • Rangers/Courier du Bois +2
  • Grenadiers/Scots +2
  • Civilians -2
Jeff Koppe,
Jun 15, 2010, 4:57 AM