Fixed Glory American Civil War system

The Glory series from GMT has 3 titles each covering several battles from the American civil war with brigade level units. Its BGG family page can be found here –

Glory family

It features a chit pull activation system in which full corps activate when their chit is pulled, then move each of their divisions in sequence.  Units are rated for strength (numbers) and morale aka quality level, the most important number, as well as type and the usual movement allowance.  The flip side of each unit shows it disrupted, and 2 disrupts without a rally between send a unit to the “regroup” box, where it will either be permanently eliminated or “reform” on its disordered side at the end of following game turn.

I like the system and it plays out a lot faster than the lower level simulation of the Great Battles of the American Civil War series.   However, between the original title – Glory – and Glory II, the designer Richard Berg tried to streamline the sequence of play to eliminate defensive and offensive fire phases, replacing them with a “morale  check before charge” as defensive fire, and melee aka charge as the only way phasing units can attack non-phasing units.  This completely broke the game, a fact not acknowledged by GMT, Berg, or even strange to say its players.  Those simply accepted the resulting huge “defense dominance” as normal or (they thought) realistic.  I doubt many ran the numbers on it in the first place.

How does the change break the game?  The first and easiest way to see is to notice that it makes a line of mounted cavalry completely invulnerable to an infantry line of battle, provided it is willing to give ground slowly.  It suffices to never declare a charge yourself to become immune to enemy infantry fire.  Since that can only attack you by charging, mounted cavalry’s ability to retreat before melee by simply giving up the hex puts the finishing touch on this invulnerability. Berg didn’t fix this because he is notoriously partial to hopelessly unrealistic, romantic depictions of mounted cavalry action in the ACW period.  Literally the only way to hit a cavalry unit is to fire at it with artillery, or to charge it with other mounted cavalry, as though we are fighting on the plains of Parthia and legionaires can’t catch mounted bowmen.

Beyond that most obvious hole, the change also makes for extreme defense dominance.  The melee combat system already makes the normal result for losing defenders retreat and morale check, vs disorder for marginally losing attackers.  Auto disrupts do occur but only for wins by 4 or more, basically, on the melee table.  Meanwhile the charging attackers, only, are subject to defensive fire as a morale check with DRMs.  If you tree out the typical “unit flips” expected on a 2 to 1 melee attack without terrain benefits to either side and typical morale ratings, you will find the defender expects to inflict over 3 times the losses the attack will inflict in that case, which is about as good as attackers can hope for .  This leads to slow indecisive “after you, Alphonse” stalls in which attacking is a mistake unless the enemy has already disordered himself by his own ill advised attacks on that part of the frontage.

Besides this key design error, the game also suffers from overmodeled artillery in the same fashion Berg has been guilty of since Terrible Swift Sword over 40 years ago.  Between its modifiers, rapid fire, ability to retreat in melee, effective invulnerability to enemy fire (from no offensive fire phase in the first place), the guns are shoved into the front line and are ridiculously survivable there.

All of these issues can be fixed with a unified fire combat system closer to the way artillery works in the later Glory II and III titles, and a sequence of play closer to that of the Glory original.  A few extreme consequences of very high morale ratings (8s for the best infantry, 7s for basically all artillery units) also need toning down.  For those who want it, one can also get a bit of a progressive exposure to fire system at the cost of a bit more bookkeeping counters.  Finally, a few items specific to the original Glory title need to be brought into line with the unified system.

With these changes, the games play out much more realistically and are a ton of fun.  I’ve played full Antietam from Glory III and First Bull Run / Manassas from Glory with these rules and there are no remaining playability or realism issues.

To begin with, here is the main new item, a unified fire CRT –


Note that this series using D10 for all combat resolutions and treats the “0” face of the die as 0, not as 10.  The CRT shows the to hit roll as the row and the attacking firepower as the column, with results of miss, morale check, or automatic disorder.  Two dice are always rolled together, with one the shooting side’s color and the other the target’s color.  The shooter’s color is the to-hit roll and the target’s color is any required morale check, which is the same for the whole targeted hex.  On miss and auto disrupt results the morale check die can be ignored. The DRMs on the right are to the die roll / row of the table, pegging at the last rows so less than 0 is 0, more than 9 is 9.  Note that 9s always miss and 0s are always causing at least a morale check.

The FP column is the total from all units firing at that hex in that phase, and consists of 2 FP per firing good order infantry or dismounted cavalry SP, and 1 FP per disordered infantry, mounted cavalry, or artillery “plus” factor.  Artillery also adds the worst range modifier for any of the firing artillery units, though +1 SP artillery (the smallest batteries) cannot earn a +2 range modifier, it pegs at +1 aka no more than double.  There is also a maximum of 4 SPs able to fire out of any given hex in one fire phase, which would give 8 FP for good order short range infantry.

Artillery fires at the start of the activation of its division, and may not move if it fires.  Infantry and cavalry fire in the offensive fire phase after movement and defensive fire.  Non-phasing units can fire at any activated enemies that are in their front hexes during the defensive fire phase, after all movement and before offensive fire.  There are no modifiers for offensive fire or moving, it is enough that the defenders get to fire first and may disrupted active units before they get their own chance to shoot. After offensive fire, the phasing player may melee with good order adjacent units only, if he chooses.  He is never required to melee attack.  Since the stacking limit is 2 units, no more than 2 units may attempt to melee one defending hex.  No hex can be fired at more than once per phase – all fire is combined into one attack – nor may any hex be melee’d more than once per phase.

The thread where this was all first proposed can be found on the Glory III game page, here –

BGG proposal thread

Here are the rules as given there, in more detail

All non-phasing units adjacent to activated enemy units may fire in their defensive fire phase. No charge designations are involved. Units not adjacent may not fire at this time. Each enemy hex may be fired at only once and all fire against that hex is combined into a single fire attack. Fire must be conducted from one end of the line to the other. Each firing hex may designate only one enemy target; neither stacks nor units may split fire.

There is no withdrawal fire for leaving contact during an activation, so the active player will control his exposure to defensive fire; he is only susceptible where an activated unit chooses to enter or remain adjacent to enemy units.

After all defensive fire has been conducted, the phasing player may conduct offensive fire will all his phasing infantry and cavalry units (his artillery fires at the start of his activation before movement or it doesn’t fire). Such fire is only against adjacent enemy units. It most be conducted from one end of the line to the other and all fire at the same enemy occupied hex is combined into one shot at them that phase. Again each firing hex hits only 1 enemy hex, no splitting fire of stacks or units.

After all such offensive fire, the phasing player may choose melees where he likes and resolve each as in the original system. There is no defensive fire step at this point; it has already occurred. Mounted cavalry may withdraw before this melee step but it will already have been subject to offensive fire in the previous one; it has no ability to withdraw before fire, only before melee.

Unlimbered artillery that loses any melee / is forced to retreat is eliminated and may not regroup. Artillery never regroups, in fact.

Those are all of the phasing changes needed. Now to the unified fire system, which replaces both the pre charge defensive fire mechanic and the artillery fire mechanic.

The +1 artillery rating designates the number of artillery SPs in that artillery unit. Infantry and cavalry printed strength numbers are also SPs in this sense. The maximum SPs that may fire out of a hex is 4, regardless of type, stacking, etc.

Artillery’s firepower is the number of SPs firing plus the range modifier for that gun type, except that M gun type cannot earn the full +2 range 1 modifier unless it has at least 2 gun points. That is, the range table never more than doubles gun SPs. This is assuming good order; disordered artillery may not fire.

Artillery fire at range may combine not only when stacked but also when adjacent and from the same activated formation. Note that only activated artillery units may engage in ranged fire, only in their bombardment step before movement. Ignore the +2 stacked clause and just total the artillery SPs in the hex to a maximum of 4 per hex. Add worst range modifier for any gun type in the hex to get the artillery firepower of that hex. Add together all hexes firing together into a single artillery fire attack on the enemy target hex; only one fire resolution per target hex per phase.

Good order infantry or dismounted cavalry can fire at range 1 only and always does so with 2 firepower per SP, up to the 4 SP limit. (Exception for town terrain see next).

Disordered infantry or good order mounted cavalry always fires with 1 firepower per SP. Disordered mounted cavalry is halved again to 1/2 firepower per SP fractions round up. From town terrain infantry and dismounted cavalry always fires as those are disordered (you can’t keep an ordered firing ranks formation in town terrain).

The maximum firepower that can hit any hex is 24; ignore anything over that. Note that this is the FP from 3 hexes of good order infantry or dismounted cavalry with 4+ SPs from each hex.

The basic fire procedure is that both colored d10 are rolled, and the side firing’s color is to to hit die, the side being shot at’s color is the morale check die. The to hit die is modified by any terrain effects, and then compared to the fire attack’s total firepower.

A modified roll of “9” on the to hit die is always a miss.

Otherwise, a modified roll less than or equal to the total firepower is a morale check.

If the modified roll is than (firepower minus 12) / 3 round down, the target is automatically disordered instead.

Example – a single good order infantry unit with 4 or more SPs fires at a single hex opposite. It has 8 FP, so a roll of 8 or less is a morale check. This is pretty much like always checking morale to charge, the only difference is that a 9 on the to-hit die is a miss / no check needed.

Example – 2 such hexes fire at one enemy hex. The total firepower is 16, (16-12)/3 is 1.33 rounds to 1. On a 0-1 roll the target is auto disordered, on a 2-8 the target checks morale looking at the other die, and a 9 is a miss.

(Note – with no cover, expected flips are increasing about linearly in applied FP for a QL 6 target across those two cases, 24% to 41%).

Example – just like the previous but the target has 1 DRM terrain cover (from being in a town, up slope, or sunken road e.g). Only rolls of 0 will now auto DG and rolls of 8-9 will become misses. 1-7 are morale checks.

Example – a +3 rated artillery M type unit fires at an adjacent hex. It has 5 firepower, and the target checks morale on a roll of 0-5, otherwise no effect. (This is deliberately less deadly than the original treatment of artillery at close range).

The fire effect is always applied to *all* units in the target hex; ignore all clauses about stacking order or top unit etc. The same morale check die is applied to all units present when the hex checks morale, but some may disorder while others pass if they have different QL ratings.

That’s it. All you need to remember, really, is that 9+ always misses *after* terrain DRMs, that “normally” each FP is 10% chance of a morale check, and the auto disorder formula is (FP-12)/3 or less. Auto DG first becomes possible at 12 FP, needing a 0 in that case, and at the maximum 24 FP it needs a 0-4. Then just remember that infantry is 2 FP per SP in good order and 1 FP disordered, arty is SPs plus its range modifier, and no more than 4 SPs fire from a hex.

I’ll provide a full fire table below for those who don’t want to do math.

Terrain DRMs to all fire are –

-1 mounted cavalry target
+1 for woods, up slope, sunken road, breastwork, town
+2 for up steep slope or across a stone wall

There are no favorable DRMs for guns being on higher ground. However, firing artillery on higher ground at range 2 and longer may subtract the height difference from the hex range, to a minimum of 2 hex range, to determine the range modifier applied to its shot. And yes this can extend their maximum firing range.

Extra melee DRMs –
-1 if all attackers in open ground
-1 for any attackers crossing a bridge
(These replace the “open ground penalty” rules tied to defensive fire).

Also, for melee, artillery charged through a rear hexside or while disorganized has only “1” SP strength for melee odds determination purposes. If charged through a front hexside while in good order, determine its firepower as above and divide by two, rounding fractions upward. That is the artillery’s SP strength for melee odds purposes.

Example – a +1 rated battery is charged from the front. Its FP is 2, so its SP strength for melee is 1. A +3 M battery is charged from the front. Its FP is 3+2=5, so its melee strength for odds purposes is 3 (2.5 rounded up).

Antietam scenario special rules –

Only 1 Stuart and Union cavalry activation marker in the mix. These formations never activate twice a turn.

Ignore the clause for the Mac Union AM rule that allows their number of AMs to decrease if they roll a “0”. It is way too powerful an effect if it happens early, taking multiple turns to recover from on average etc. Instead, low rolls are no effect and high rolls after modifiers instead the number of Union AMs per turn as described into the scenario special rules.

Ignore the clauses about Union reserves other than V corps. V corps may not cross Antietam creek until the Union has 6 VPs, otherwise it is a normal Union corps and its AMs may be chosen normally etc.

Add an “all others” Union AM to the AM mix. When it is drawn, any Union reinforcements for that turn may activate and move, and units on the Union side of Antietam creek may move about without engaging in combat, including artillery bombardment, and without moving adjacent to any confederate unit, nor crossing the creek. This chit does not count against the Union AM marker count, it is always present in addition. Once all Union AMs can be placed in the cup, remove this one, as it won’t activate anyone.

Inactive Union units out of contact / not adjacent to any confederate units *may* rally (only, in place) when the “all others” chit is drawn, even if not otherwise eligible for activation. However, any forces on the rebel side of Antietam creek must wait for their own AM to rally; the “free rally” for otherwise inactive forces is only allowed on the Union side of Antietam creek.

Note, this allows a corps that has sustained losses to receive units from regroup and to rally them without / before its AM is returned to the Union active AM group. The active AM limit is meant for units being committed to action, not to formations just rallying and regrouping.

That is all that is required in terms of scenario special rule “amendments” or fixes.

Glory (original game) special rules –

Good order infantry and cavalry, increase game FP ratings by 1/3rd, round fractions down, to get new FP.

Disordered infantry and cavalry, use 2/3rds game printed FP rating instead.

Artillery, use 2/3rds game print FP rating, plus range modifiers for S batteries for the short range batteries, range modifiers for M batteries for the field batteries.

Infantry melee values use the counters as printed, including the higher melee values for large brigades.

No stacking infantry units, as in the original Glory I. Also, melee is limited to from two hexes vs any one target hex, highest morale attacker must take the hex if it is cleared of defenders.

Artillery frontal melee use the printed FP rating plus range 1 modifier (+1 short, +2 field) divided by 2, for good order front arc melees only. Flank or disordered, 1 per battery melee strength.

Notice this puts the Glory I RAW standard of max 6 FP out of a hex on the same basis as the later games, 8 from a full line of battle, 4 from a disordered one.

Adjust battery morales as in the post above (6 max) and treat any 8s as 7s (e.g. US 1st Sharpshooters).

Ignore Glory I rout rules, replace with the Withdrawn system of the later games.

That should be all that is needed to us Glory I components to fight 1st and 2nd Manassas and Chickamaga using the system described here.