Advisory Note

Please Note: This blog contains poorly painted toy soldiers that may offend those of an aesthetically sensitive disposition.

Heroic Encounters - A "Portable Wargame" Variant

This version of Bob Cordery's "Portable Wargame" (PW) is an attempt to make a fast(ish) play Skirmish game for any period set on a gridded playing surface.

Encounters take place between groups of Character and Non-Character figures.

Characters are Heroes (and Anti-Heroes) and their side-kicks.

Non-characters are their minions (cannon-fodder).

Characters are given Strength Points (SP) based on their prowess which are lost through attrition in the usual way.

Non-characters are subject to the Sudden-Death option in the PW rules.

Movement and firing ranges will depend on how figures are armed and mounted. The PW rules can be used as a guide but all qualities must be agreed before the game begins. Any bonuses should also be agreed and recorded - for example a Hero might be a Crack-shot and gain an extra +1 onto rolls for hits. 

A means of keeping a record of Characters' current SP will be required (eg a token placed next to a figure or a paper record.

The quality of Non-character figures is ranked as Tough, Average or Weak. This quality is used to determine how difficult they are to kill.

Roll to determine which side has initiative at the start of each turn.

Movement, firing and combat use the PW rules.

Resolving Hits

1. Hits on Characters

If a Character is hit use the table below to resolve it. If a Character is allowed to retreat but the square directly to his rear is occupied or contains impassable terrain then the Character must lose an SP.

2. Hits on Non-Characters

If a non-character figure is hit use the table below (based on which Quality the figure has) to resolve it. If a Character is allowed to retreat but the square directly to his rear is occupied or contains impassable terrain then the figure is killed.

Will to Fight

Heroes (being heroic) will fight to the bitter end if so directed by the Player, as will their Side-kicks. Non-characters, however, will start to waiver once half of their side has fallen. Once the 50% casualty figure has been reached, roll a dice for each Non-character each turn; a score of 4,5,6 means they fight on. Otherwise they prudently turn and move off the table at their normal movement rate. They may be shot in the back if the opposite player is a cad and/or bounder.

An Encounter involving a Hero (in the White Hat) and his Side-Kick fighting a number of Black-hatted minions.

Animals and Mythical Creatures can also be ranked as Characters or Non-characters in the same way. The following example of combat has an Old Knight (Character, Hero +1 combat bonus) and his Servant (Character, Side-Kick) fighting a Great Lizard (Non-character, Tough).

In the first round of combat the Old Knight (with the initiative) rolls a 3 (+1 bonus) = 4 which is a miss. The Great Lizard rolls a 6, a hit. The Old Knight resolves the hit; he rolls a 2 and takes 1SP damage.

In the second round the Old Knight (again with the initiative) rolls a 5 (+1 bonus) = 6, a hit. The Great Lizard throws a die to resolve the hit and gets a 1 and is killed.

Unfortunately, it transpires that what the Old Knight believed to be a lizard was in fact a cow.
The Old Knight and His Servant retreat in the face of some angry peasants...


  1. I'm very keen on The Portable Wargame, so was interested to see these rules for skirmishes - thanks for making them available.
    Personally, I prefer a little more information about the fates of the principal characters in a skirmish, to create a more detailed narrative of events, as much for my own involvement in the game as for purposes of an AAR. So, rather than just have a Character take a hit and lose 1SP, I'd want to dice to discover where he is hit and how severely - ranging from Flesh Wound/Scratch - the sort of injury Hollywood heroes just shrug off and suffer no apparent effects - to a Severe Wound which causes loss of mobility and reduces effectiveness in combat, and might result in further SP losses if the Character remains in action and does not receive medical attention (so might be necessary to increase a Character's SP to allow for this). Easy enough to add into the existing system by creating a different Hit Table for Characters, possibly combined with additional die rolls for wound location/severity.
    I'll jot down ideas and try them out; the trick will be to keep the simplicity of the PW systems, but combine it with extra personal detail.
    Regards, Arthur

  2. Arthur
    Thanks for sharing you're take on my skirmish rules. I like your ideas on Characters' hits. These rules were designed to be for fast games, as I rarely have time for anything else, however I've been working on a more complicated version that includes the possibility of Characters increasing SP and/or bonus values through experience/success, a bit like in RPGs, and there would certainly be room for more complex hit calculations in this. Please do let me know your thoughts (Bob has my email address if you want to discuss them away from Blogger).
    Best wishes