"Times That Try Men's Souls"

American War of Independence rules. The title is taken from Thomas Paine's The American Crisis' 1776

The rules were derived from Too Fat Lardies excellent 'They Couldn't Hit an Elephant' rules for the American Civil War and heavily influenced by
Matthew H. Spring's excellent book 'With Zeal and with Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783'  (ISBN-10;
0806141522, published 2010).

There are numerous decent rules out there for gaming the war notably RFCM's "'Washington's Army" and the excellent "British Grenadier",
based upon the 'General de Brigade' model, so why another set?  Well we chose 'Elephant' as our base to develop TTTMS as we are all
unashamed fans of TFL card driven rules.  Infact, we seldom play any other rulesets now.  Great emphasis is placed upon what Clausewitz called
'Friction' and upon control and command all which fits in with our view of warfare.

'Elephant' is a set of rules where the player adopts the role of a Divisional commander.  The vast majority of actions in the American War of
Independence were of a similar size involving 3-10,000 per side.  We are also not huge fans of skirmish level games and wanted to play games
where the Battalion sized unit was the tactical building block.  Whilst TFL also produce the excellent 'Le Feu Sacre', which we use for our
Napoleonic games, these are aimed at Corps sized actions which were extremely few and far between in the AWI.  In addition A typical
'command' in 'Elephant' is a brigade of two or more regiments.  This is again is extremely suitable as a base for the AWI and with TTTMS each
command consists of roughly a brigade.

Base sizes in TTTMS are the same as 'Elephant' namely 1" x 1" for four Infantry or two mounted figures, 2" x 1" for four skirmisher figures, and
1"  wide for artillery per 2 actual guns the model represents.  For example a four gun battery will have a 2" frontage (2 x 1" per 2 guns).  Depth of
artillery is of little importance.   Mine are for aesthetic reasons are 2" depth, except for two-gun sections which I use 1" square bases.

Each base of figures = 100 men, and the ground scale is 1" = 25 yds.  One turn averages 10 minutes.

In the American Civil War troops manoeuvred in looser formations than in European warfare, another reason why Napoleonic rules are NOT
particularly good for using as a model for AWI rules.  This was largely due to the terrain that the conflict was fought over in the colonies was to a
great extent rolling hills and wooded countryside.  After 1775 British Regiments in the colonies also tended to fight in loose files.  Some troops,
notably early British and Hessians fought in closer formations and these move slower and their fire effect is slightly increased.  However, troops
firing at a denser target also receive a bonus so it is a double edged sword.

'Elephant' also has special rules for unit characteristics which can be deemed to be 'Cautious', 'Aggressive', 'Resolute' or those who may be
termed 'Marksmen'.  Again this all fits in with what we've read about American Militia, British bayonet charging Grenadiers, later Continental Line
regiments and the famous American riflemen armed with the long rifle.  Also certain personalities can be labelled as Inspirational and the units
they are attached to often perform acts above and beyond the call of duty upon which games can turn.  We like this sort of thing, the unexpected,
the thinking outside of the box.  All gamers are different but our group thrives on this sort of thing

As the majority of troops in the AWI were armed with smoothbore muskets we largely ignore the 8" range band in 'Elephant', excepting for units
armed with rifles, and so generally musket ranges are 4".  We also reduced the effectiveness of both musket and artillery on the fire effect table.  
As all artillery was smoothbore we also ignore the ACW rifled artillery.

There are many other tweaks here and there, dealing with skirmishers, Militia and Indians for example, that have been made to the rules all of
which need to be playtested by our group this year.  We also changed some of the terminology for example Raw troops are now Green, Average
are now Trained,  Political commanders are now Amateurs.  

Our main reservations in all this were that we may end up with a game which felt like a 19th century one and not have that feel of an 18th century
battle.  However, after our first two games we are relatively happy with how things played out to the extent that we have dropped lots of the
period chrome we had added as being not worth the hassle and over complicating things.   Others may disagree, but in our gaming group we are
all pretty satisfied so far.  We want a game that feels like how we imagine the conflict in the colonies played out, based upon our reading.  I'm
lucky in that I knew absolutely nothing about the period and so looked at it all with fresh and wide eyes.  I have devoured Spring and several
other works in the pursuit of knowledge plus Don Troiani's lovely artwork always helps with the immotive stuff.  

It is a fascinating and challenging period and if we can have some fun along the way then all the better.

I hope to add more game reports so you can follow the progress.

You can view my
British and Loyalists, Hessians, and Rebels

British Grenadier Game Reports

Pitzer's Crossing

'Times That Try Men's Souls'
After Action Reports

NEW Vandering's Mill, Germantown NEW

Burton's Hill


Chatterton's Hill, White Plains

Maxwell House (Freeman's Farm)

Bunker (Breed's) Hill


Bemis Heights


von Heister's Hessians at Long Island

Grant's Assault at Long Island

Fog and Friction - Greene's Assault at

Hold The Line - Pitzer's Crossing