Rules for the Pygmy Wars

Although many of the rules listed below are WWI specific, I am extremely reluctant to endorse the idea that because the Pygmy Wars took place directly after the Great War that rules for one automatically cover the other. I consider that period specific rules are much better.

Principles of War "Waterloo to Mons"

I initially decided I would use this set for the period. If you strip out all the bits not relevant to the Pygmy Wars (i.e. all the colonial bits, and all the older weapons) you end up with a fairly small set of rules – and I still think they give a good game. A bit on the "vanilla" side perhaps, but good if your main period is late 19th Century.

I find their army lists for this period so embarrassingly bad that it makes me almost cry to read them, and I feel they should be avoided at all costs.

External link: Principles of War at North Star

Command Decision

The Command Decision WWI set "Over the Top" is getting old now and doesn't seem to be played much. The much more recent Command Decision III can be converted – it needs suitable rules for cavalry and shrapnel in particular – and I know people who play it. It would be attractive to me only if I played WWII and then only if I mostly played the Pygmy Wars theatres without charging cavalry (i.e. pretty much all the Baltic and northern campaigns).

External link: Command Decision site

Great War Spearhead

Many people like the SH system, and they certainly look attractive. Again, for me they would only apply if I used the main set for another period, either WWI or WWII.

External link: Richard Sutton's Great War site discusses the use of these rules.

Piquet: Barrage

"Barrage" is dedicated to WWI, with a special RCW clip-on and a few dedicated followers. I decided that since I was likely to have an uphill struggle trying to find opponents as it was that I was best not to push my luck by trying to use Piquet as well (I have no idea how they play, but they sure do raise hackles in an awful lot of wargamers).

Bloody Picnic

I know very little about these rules, other than that they are for WWI and operate at what I consider is the appropriate level for the Pygmy Wars.

The author writes: "One of the prime influences on these rules was the General de Brigade set created by Dave Brown. The chapter sequence follows that used in GdB where possible and much of the Command and Control chapter will be familiar."

"There are two battle scales within these rules, Brigade and Division level. The number of figures required for the different scales is roughly the same. Looking at divisions, those of most of the major powers contained approximately twelve to eighteen battalions organised into two or three brigades along with field artillery and possibly some heavier batteries. Battles using these sized forces should be able to be completed in about three hours."

External Link: They can be bought at Partizan Press.

Contemptible Little Armies

I loathe this set, not least because they are so unhistorical and yet bland at the same time. I could go into quite an extended rant about how awful they are but that might be poor taste, so I will leave the matter with my recommendation to use another set. The matching army lists contain much that is fictional, but are generally only used by the Back of Beyond gamers anyway.

Square Bashing

The Peter Pig house rules, these give excellent WWI games – especially if you want to play the "Big Push" level. But, I feel that their "Proletarian to Horse" fails to make the grade as a RCW set. It makes incorrect assumptions about a whole raft of things (most especially artillery) and the games don't have a feeling of space and movement, since it is basically impossible with their grid system to find a hole in your opponent's line. Perhaps if I wanted to play the really big battles like Tsaaritsyn from the viewpoint of the army commanders, especially the assaults of fortified areas, where other rules bog down in too much detail. Otherwise, it would seem to me that playing these just gives you WWI games with RCW figures. You would be better off playing early 1914 Eastern Front, for which these rules would seem very appropriate.

External link: Peter Pig site

Triumph of the Will

By the TooFatLardies, who specialise in fun, yet realistic, games. I would rate them over all the sets listed above for representing the Pygmy Wars, particularly if one is into gaming the "inter-war" period as a whole.

Unlike most of their rules, these are not designed to be card driven (indeed they are basically I-Go-You-Go) and are not skirmish scale, but use the company as the manoeuvre element.

Recommendation: well worth a look.

External link: Triumph of the Will details at the TooFatLardies' site.

(The Lardies also have a few RCW scenarios in their booklets.)

Triumph of the Will cover

Price of Glory

Skirmish level. I know nothing about them, but their WWII rules seem very popular.

External link: Iron Ivan Games

Warhammer Great War

A low level game, using individual figures. This would be the ruleset I would use for gaming at the level of platoons. One great advantage of using these will be the number of people who are already familiar with the mechanisms, which are those of the old Warhammer 40K.

They no longer support it, but copies of the rules are still around.

Free rules available on-line

Red Army - White Guards

External link: Wargames Developments

Red & White

External link: Jackson Gamers

Ten Rounds Rapid - Red General / Ten Rounds Rapid - White General

External link: free wargamesRules

Red Hordes

External link: WebArchive

Triumph and Tragedy

The Osprey Publishing set of rules. Some people seem to like them.

External link: Triumph and Tragedy

Red Actions!

This is my ultimate set of RCW rules. RA! are simple and quick: good for introducing people to the period (partly because the values for the units are on cards), easy to work casualty calculations and, best of all, what I felt were really realistic results.

I find that they are excellent for solo play, at least partly because they avoid the I-go-you-go mechanism, and I hardly ever have to refer anything other than the quick reference sheet.

They are designed very much for smaller level games, with the base unit being a company or squadron, which suits the smaller actions of the Pygmy Wars. I have used them successfully for larger games, but while the basic mechanisms stand the test very well I feel that if you go over a 6' by 4' table and a dozen units that some sort of command structure is required. I would not recommend them for recreating the very biggest battles of the era, since they operate at too low a scale. But large battles were a rarity in the Pygmy Wars, and they do a fantastic job of the brigade level actions that dominated the period.

The graphics are excellent, and my unit cards (printed on a colour laser printer and then laminated) look fabulous. There is no paperwork in playing them, but they do require units to have a small trail of chits and markers (which some gamers seem to find irritating).

Since they are free to download (although the authors ask that you make a donation to charity, and given the work put into them, you really should if you like them) you too can try them out here. They even come with some counters you can use until you get your figures painted.

There is a dedicated discussion group here and the authors are very welcoming about others adding extensions to the original set. For example, some people have added troop types for the "Back of Beyond" era (which I feel is a huge improvement over the rules generally used for that).

To me their only weakness as a simulation of history is in the area of command – this is a set with "helicopter generals", telepathic communication and total lack of orders. But they suit what I play, in which this lack of C3 is irrelevant – quick fun games, solo games and e-mail kriegsspiels. (Some command rules have been written, but not yet integrated fully into the system.)

External link: Red Actions! rules at the Perfect Captain's site.

My version, which is written out somewhat more conventionally, is here.