An Old Midlish Rhyme
The wind from the North sings of heroes of Olde
The wind from the East makes our blood run Cold
The wind from the South smells of Spices and Gold
But the wind from the West tells of warriors Bold.

New Morschauser based Gathering of Hosts Rules.

The Gathering of Hosts

Wargame Rules inspired by Joe Morchauser's Shock Rules 
6 Dec 2015

This is an early, incomplete draft of a set of rules for ancient, medieval and fantasy wargames. They are being developed by Ross Macfarlane based on Joe Morschauser's Shock Period rules published in 1962. The original idea stemmed from a plan by Rob for a massed fantasy battle convention wargame using only vintage 25mm fantasy figures available in the 1970's and a set of rules, other than Chainmail, using contemporary methods and suitable for what he had in mind. Since we have successfully used home rules based on Morschauser's 1962 book How to Play Wargames before that seemed like a good starting point.  Where it will goes now that I have grabbed one end remains to be seen.

The rules are still being developed and tested. More explanations etc will follow once the rules are set.

Each game should have some sort of situation and victory condition or goal other than killing the other guy. This may be a mission to be achieved before reaching army morale or control of terrain items may be incorporated into army morale.

Army Organization. Armies are composed of units and Characters. Units should normally be grouped into several Divisions (Medieval 'Battles': Vaward, Rearward etc) each consisting of 6 to 12 units commander by a Character. Not all characters need to be Commanders.

Strength Points. All units and character are rated as having strength points which indicate how much damage they can take. Normally Infantry and cavalry take 4 hits,  artillery take 2 hits. Elite units may be granted an extra SP, Levies may be given 1 less.  Characters normally have 1 or 2 which is added to their unit. One strength point is lost each time a unit or character is hit. 

Units consist of any number of figures on a 60mm wide base, usually square but using what fits and is available. The size of the bases reflects what we were already using and could as easily be 3" or 40 mm or 80mm.  Units have the following characteristics: Strength, Movement, Melee Power, Missile Range, Special. Each army should have a chart of its units. 

Generic Unit Capabilities

Knights. Heavily Armoured Shock Cavalry on barded horses. Move 12" Melee Defence 5/3, Missile Defence 6, SP4

Cavalry. Move 15", Melee Defence 4/3, Missile Defence 5,6, SP4 

Light Cavalry.  Move 18",  Range 9", Melee Defence 3/2, Missile Defence 5,6SP3 or SP4  (armouredMay move 9" and shoot or shoot then move 9".

Spearmen. Armoured infantry with polearms, spears or other melee weapons. Move 9", Melee Defence 5/3, SP4   

Infantry. Infantry equipped for hand to hand combat. Move 9", Melee Defence 4/2, SP4  

Crossbowmen. Armoured Crossbowmen with pavises.  Move 9", Range 18", Melee Defence 3/1, Missile Defence 6.  SP4 

Archers. Massed archers. Move 12" or Shoot, Range 18", Melee Defence 3/1, Missile Defence 5SP4.  Pavises provide cover to shooting from the front but reduce move to 9"

Light Infantry. Lightly armed infantry. Move 12", Range 12", Melee Defence 3/2 , May move 6" then shoot or shoot then move 6". SP4

Artillery. Move 6" or Shoot. May not attack.  Range 36. Melee Defence 2/1. Missile Defence 5. Hits all targets on 5,6. SP2

Great Beasts. Move 9" or 6" and Shoot or shoot then move 6". May shoot all around. Melee Defence 6/3. Missile Defence 6

Front/Flank. A unit's frontline is a line extending the front of its base indefinitely. Everything in the 180 degree arc beyond the line is to the unit's front, everything in the 180 degree arc behind the line is to it's flank.

 Play Sequence. Draw a card to determine who goes first. Moving player moves and/or shoots with his units and resolves melee one unit or 1 formed group at a time.
  • (Optional) Orders. At the start of a player's turn roll 1 d6 per commander to see how many groups and individual units that commander may move. 

  • A unit which is not attacking may move in any direction and change facing as desired. (must stay more than 1 length from enemy. A unit may only move into contact with an enemy that  was in its frontal arc at the start of the player turn. A unit may only move into contact with the flank of a unit if it began the turn at least partly behind its front line.

    A unit may not move through another unit of either side. Flyers may of course fly over them.

    Shooting. Only units not in melee may shoot or be shot at. Massed Archers and artillery may either shoot OR move. Light Cavalry and Light Infantry may move a half move then shoot or shoot then move a half move.  They may not shoot and then move into melee but horse archers may retreat from melee and then shoot. Horse archers shoot all around, all others shoot to their front only.
    1. Range: Artillery 12, Archers and Light cavalry 6, Cavalry and Light Infantry. 4 
    2. Dice: Each unit rolls dice= remaining SP when shooting. Roll enemy Missile Defence or higher to hit. Troops in cover have their defence raised to 6.Arty always hits on 5,6.
    3. Limits. Must have line of sight. May not shoot if fording. May not shoot if self or target is in melee. LOS in woods is 3"  Archers and artillery on a hill may shoot over an intervening unit on lower ground as long as there is a gap of at least 3" on either side but only 6's hit regardless of the shooter or target. 
    Melee. Units in contact must resolve Melee, 1 unit vs 1 unit. If an active unit is in contact with more than 1 enemy unit it may choose which to fight.  A unit on the inactive side will fight back as often as it is attacked.  A unit contacted in the flank will use its flank factor against that enemy. 
    Dice: For each melee combat roll  dice equal to the weaker unit's remaining SP's. Units may be given bonus dice by characters or the tactical situation. Units must roll the enemy's Melee Defense Strength or higher to score a hit. Some units may get a Melee bonus in some situations  or scenarios.

    • Fording. A unit must stop when entering a ford or stream. It may not shoot when fording and suffers a reduction of 1 to its melee defence if in melee while fording.  
    • Woods. Woods provide cover against shooting from the outside. There is no shooting within woods. Movement by Light infantry and Archers is not affected by woods.  Other infantry and great beasts may only move 1/3 speed and reduce their Melee Defence by l. Artillery and mounted units may not enter woods.
    • Hills and Obstacles. Troops lose 3" when climbing hills or crossing minor obstacles such as fences. Troops attacking uphill or across an obstacle decrease their Melee Defence by 1 except that Melee defence may never be less than 2.
    • Buildings. Dismounted troops take a whole turn to occupy or leave a building. Mounted troops and artillery may not occupy buildings during a game but artillery may start a game in fortifications. Only dismounted troops may attack buildings and they lose 1 from their Melee Defence.

  • Army  Morale. An army's morale level is equal to 1/2 the number of units it begins the game with. This may be increased by reinforcements and by bonuses given for the scenario. Its morale level is reduced by 1 for each unit or leader that it losses and by the value of any objectives held or achieved by the enemy  When an army's morale level reaches 0 it is defeated and must concede. 

  • (Optional) Loss of General. If the General is killed all units must test:  5,6 carry on, 3,4 retreat a full move, 1,2 Rout.   +1 if Knights or Guards  -1 if Levies.

  • _______________________________________________________________________

    Proposed Character Rules for Gathering of Hosts.

    1. Characters may be of 2 types: integral or independent. An integral character is based with  a unit, may not leave it and may not influence other units.If the unit is destroyed, he is destroyed as well. Independent characters may move from unit to unit or act on their own and may use their influence on any unit they have joined or at such distance as is specified for their ability.

      (Note: although this is a battle game there is no fixed scale, units might be a score of men or 100 or 500. In a big battle an independent character might represent a main character with sidekicks, hearthguard, acolytes etc or just be a really BIG DAMNED HERO! )
    2.  Stats. Each character must have a set of stats defined at the start of a game. These may be recorded on a card for each character or be collected on a reference sheet. They will each have the same stats as a unit: movement, armour etc but will also have a list of special abilities. If these abilities are not standard ones from the rules then they need to be explained. Each character normally has 1 strength point but exceptional characters may have 2.
    3. Characters and Units. If a character is an integral  part of a unit he may not leave it otherwise they are treated as any other character. A character may pass through freindly units and vice versa but if they end the move touching then the character has joined the unit. A character may not join more than 1 unit per turn.  A character who is joined to a unit may move away during normal movement or may move with the unit. When joined to a unit a character may use their special abilities and must fight in melee. If a character is joined to a unit which is destroyed by enemy shooting or in melee, any excess hits will go against the character (and may be saved). If after all melee is resolved a character is still alive and is in contact with an enemy then each side rolls a die. If the enemy roll is higher the character is overwhelmed and captured otherwise it may immediately move away.
    4. Magic: Magicians (witches etc etc) are given a list of spells that they are capable of performing. Powerful spells should be limited to 1 use each but a magician may have more than 1 copy of the spell. Lesser spells may be used as often as desired but only once per turn.  A magician may not move and cast a spell and may not cast a spell if in melee. Spells have the same range as bows. Here are some sample spells, other spells may be added by a GM or by agreement before a game and these may be changed or ommitted: 
      1. Restore. (single use) The magician selects a unit and throws 4 dice. For each 5,6 1 lost strength point is recovered. 
      2. Ward: (single use) The magician rolls 1 d6/2 The result is how long the spell lasts. While in effect the unit adds 1 to their saving throw.
      3. Hurry. (single use) The magician rolls 1 d6/2 The result is how long the spell lasts. While the spell is in effect the unit moves double. 
      4. Frenzy. (single use) The magician rolls 1d6/2. The result is how long the spell lasts. While the spell is in effect the unit receives a +1 to its Melee Power but this may never be more than 5.
      5. Summon. (single use) The magician rolls 1d6. On a score of 4,5,6 a monster is called into play (must be pre arranged).   
      6. Heal: (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled 1 lost strength point is recovered.
      7. Obscure (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point. On a roll of 5,6 the target unit is enveloped in mist and counts as in cover to enemy shooting and melee (note note cumulative with actual cover)
      8. Hasten. (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled the unit may add 1 extra movement increment. 
      9. Rage (multiple use) The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and for each 5,6 rolled the unit rolls 1 extra die in combat.
      10. Confound or Fear (multiple use)The magician rolls 1 die per strength point and if any 5 or 6 is rolled the target unit loses 1 increment of movement on its next turn and will fight and shoot with 1 die less than normal on this turn and on its turn.
      11. Raise the Dead. (Single use) The magician rolls 1d6/2. The result is how many dead units within 6 lengths may be called back to life as Levy Infantry (regardless of what they were). The dead units may have been from either side.  They will treat the Wizard that raised them as their Commander.
      12. Terror. (Single use) The magician rolls 1d6/2. The result is how many units within 6 lengths must test morale as if their General had just been killed. If there are insufficient enemy units then friendly units must fill the quota.
    5. Special abilities. Characters may have special abilities which may be applied to a unit that the character has joined only while he is joined. Others only apply to the character. Here are some examples, others may be added by a GM or by agreement before a game and these need not be used: 
      1. Inspire. The unit gains 1 increment of movement.
      2. Cunning. The unit adds 1 to its Melee Power but this may never exceed 5.
      3. Prepared. The unit adds 1 to its armour save.
      4. Stealth. The character may pass through any enemy unit and may force an opposing character to accept a challenge.
      5. Guile. The character may wear a disguise and join an enemy unit. Each side rolls a die. If the unit rolls higher than the ruse fails and the character must resolve melee with the unit and if he lives must roll for capture as usual otherwise the ruse works and the character may then move the unit. He may not attack with the unit but may retreat and will prevent it from shooting or attacking. If the character stays with the unit then the roll off must be repeated each turn.  
      6. Strategem. The melee power of any enemy attacking the unit in melee is reduced by 1 but never to less than 1.
    6. Challenges. If  characters are joined to units which are opposing each other in melee then on his turn a character can challenge an opponent to single combat. The 2 characters then fight one round of melee against each other before the unit's fight. If they survive they may fight again as normal with their unit. If a character declines combat then he may not fight in melee or use any special abilities. If the unit is destroyed the character may be killed or captured as normal.


    1. Thanks for your rules;
      1. is a melee battled to the end in the initial contact turn (so till elimination own/enemy unit or withdraw) or continued in the next turn(s).
      2. concerning shooting: number of shooting dice: how many and any difference bows and artillery?
      Greetings. Alex

      1. Alex I apologise, I had forgotten to turn on notification of comments and didn't see this till today.
        Only 1 round of melee is fought unless 1 of the units is destroyed. On the next turn a unit may withdraw may retreat or may fight again.
        At the moment all units shoot with 2 dice. (and you didn't miss that, it wasn't there)