Notes on Red Actions! Cards

The original sets of Red Actions cards cover the whole range of the Pygmy Wars in a smallish set, so inevitably have some generalisations. Generally my expanded set just adds other units or applies to certain more specific circumstances.

On a couple of matters, mainly relating to cavalry, I have changed the original cards but that is only my take on the troops, not the final word. If you disagree, don't use them.

Amending my cards to your own taste is a simple matter of cutting and pasting in a drawing program.


All standard Red Actions! field guns have the same statistics for fire-power. I have amended many of them downwards, to reflect a variety of different factors. The main reason is that most armies struggled to find adequately trained gun commanders, and particularly the armies which discriminated against the bourgeoisie, which is the class most artillery officers belonged to. Early in the war some armies struggled to get adequate equipment or were not adequately trained on unfamiliar material supplied by the Allies. Note that downgrading the Fire statistic says nothing about the bravery or dedication of the crews, it is merely a technical assessment.

NB: normal Red Actions does not give different results for Fire of 16 and 18.

Formed cavalry

While I believe that Red Cavalry was willing and capable of frontally charging the enemy, I think that it lacked the officers and training to do it in the classic knee-to-knee style. Apparently even the Whites had problems getting their Cossacks to charge in close formation, so strong was their preference for the loose-formation lava. Therefore I consider that Red cavalry not be allowed to be Formed.

Not that this should be considered a slight against Red cavalry, who were considerably better quality than most of their opposition. In fact only the Whites, Cossacks, Reds, Poles and Makhnovists can be considered charging cavalry in any sense – the Ukrainian, Baltic States, Freikorps and normal partisan cavalry should not be charging frontally at all, let alone in close formation. I consider that the White and Polish cavalrys strength was with a sabre or lance in hand, while the Red cavalrys strengths tended to be in flexibility and tenacity.

Note that many of the documents on which I formed this opinion can be found on this site – articles by Shinkarenko and Moslard, in particular. It was also the firm opinion of the Makhnovists that White cavalry was a much more formidable opponent in hand-to-hand combat than any Red cavalry (and they fought the Konnarmiya).

Fire values for charging cavalry

Those units which retain the formed ability did so because they preferred sabres and lances to carbines, whether for reasons of chosen doctrine or forced onto them by ammunition shortages. Thus my White, Cossack and Polish cavalry cards all have their Fire statistic lowered.

Cossack cavalry

Cossack cavalry was rightly admired for its horsemanship, but there is a lot more to being good cavalry than the ability to ride a horse. During the Russian Civil War the Cossacks performed quite differently at different times and for different armies. Often they struggled for officers as the higher grades tended to sympathise with, and fight for, the main White armies.

The original set of RA cards has very high values for the Cossack Cavalry. I feel that this represents them well when their morale was high and they were fighting for their own Host, except that I trim the fire statistic.

However, frequently they were not fighting for their own Host but were more or less forcibly drafted into forces with who they had serious political disagreements. Therefore I have made another card which I apply as the default value for Cossacks fighting for other non-Bolshevik armies. This lower set of values is also useful for the many occasions when the Cossack morale slumped badly. It was not unusual for whole regiments to desert the front, or even to cross over as a body to the enemy at bad times. In my view both these situations are inconsistent with the higher card.

Their morale was even lower when fighting for the Soviets – whole units were still deserting to fight for the enemy until the very end of the RCW. As well as many of them having an aversion to losing their privileges under Communist rule, the Red Cossacks also lacked the trained commanders that made them more formidable when fighting in WWI or for the Whites. My card follows the original, except that I do not allow them to charge formed and have once again trimmed the fire-power statistic.

Cossack plastoons (i.e. infantry)

The Host armies do not seem to have regarded fighting on foot as suitable for a Cossack. There were severe shortages of officers as well, since previously they would have been led by men who were not Cossacks. Therefore I use the original Plastoon card for the Cossack-based armies. What I call my Host plastoon card has values of: 6 · 5 · 7 · 7 + 4 / 3.

However, when fighting for the main White armies many of their weaknesses were resolved. Fighting on foot was not disdained, there were properly trained officers available and supply was often better (especially when the VA could supply them with Lewis guns etc). Therefore I have added a card for when fighting for the VA and similar situations.My non-Host Plastoon card has values: 6 · 6 · 7 · 7 + 5/3.

I have also added a lower card for poor Cossack foot, identical in values to the ordinary White Conscripts card. The Conscript Plastoons card has values: 6 · 6 · 6 · 6 + 4 / 3 with mob.


In the first edition of Red Actions! the tachanka cards had Fire = 18, to match the machine-gun cards. This was subsequently lowered to 12. I have retained the value of 18 because I do not allow tachankas to move and fire in my games (based on the difficulty of hitting anything from a moving cart) and this reduces their fire effectiveness considerably.

If you do allow them to move and fire, then use the cards with factor 12, which are found in the "vehicles" set.

Fire values of 6

In the first edition of Red Actions! a couple of élite infantry types had Fire = 6. This was subsequently lowered to 5 in all cases. I prefer the higher value in certain circumstances, but use both.

Often the high value reflects the presence of LMGs (particularly Lewises) in the units involved. Thus, even as the quality of the coloured infantry fell, their firepower increased as British supply came through.

MG cards with ±

The basic system in Red Actions is that MGs have no Charge statistic, a Fear value one lower than the equivalent infantry, a Serious value the same as the equivalent infantry and no Rally value. Tachankas work the same way but add the Rally value of their cavalry equivalent.

The original Red Actions set did not have cards for each type of MG and tachanka, which meant that the better troops had MGs worse than they should be. Rather than prepare a separate card for every troop type, I have amended some with a ±to indicate that their values may alter.

Amended characteristics

The mob characteristic is added to all troops which represent conscripts. Generally that will be the standard for that troop type, but not necessarily. In particular, Polish Conscripts would normally be Upgraded Conscripts and not use the mob.

Some MG and artillery cards have characteristics added, such as Storm or Mob. These have no effect in standard Red Actions, but have been added for my house rules.