The Mexican Revolution is an on-going phenomeneon, spanning the cultural, economic, social and military aspects of Mexican life. The latter, obviously, is our focus here. From a military perspective, the years 1910-1920 will be our subject. Totally neglected by wargamers, with the possible exception of Pershing's brief expedition across the border to pursue Pancho Villa, this is a fascinating period of history from a military perspective. There was an absolute wealth of brigade- and division-level actions that are perfect for simulation on a wargames table, and the understrength nature of the units means that a 1:10 figure ratio is perfect, allowing for 25mm representation.
In terms of military equipment and tactics, this period offers a real mix: mounted action (cavalry was very important in this war, given the high level of maneuver), machine guns, modern artillery (the French 75mm was the basic piece), the use of repeating firearms (Mausers and Winchesters), trenches, frontal assaults, etc. Trains were very important in terms of troop movements. The antagonists range from Pancho Villa, Zapata, and other "classic" Mexican revolutionaries to the more typically organized Carrancistas and Federalistas, to the U.S. troops that Pershing lead across the border and the U.S. marines that occupied Vera Cruz.
There are a wealth of figures available in 25mm: Old Glory makes American Civil War, Plains War, Boxer Rebellion, Spanish-American war, and Boer War figures that are very useful. There are several Wild West lines, notably Pass of the North, that have figures either explicitly for this period, or ones that make easy conversions. Frontier has some very useful figures, too. Wargames Foundry has a 25mm WWI line that has a French 75mm that is essential, as well as the basic British infantry in peaked cap that became increasingly used by the Federalistas. They also have some "peons" in their excellent wild west line, and some useful figures in their plains war line. Uniforms are discussed elsewhere on this website.
These rules are designed to be fast-playing and simple to learn, for use in club and convention settings. Note that all dice are ordinary six-sided dice, and that all measurements are given in inches.
All figures are 25mm; for smaller scales, put more figures on each base. Each figure is mounted separately, on a rectangular base large enough to accomodate the figure, without excess (approx. 1" square for infantry). Gunners and crew are mounted separately from their artillery pieces and machine guns.
Each figure represents 10 actual combatants. Average unit size is 10-20 figures for infantry or cavalry, 2 crew and an MG (representing 4 actual MGs), or 4 crew and an artillery piece (representing 4 actual guns). Each army should also have at least one general figure. Generals cannot be killed, and if contacted by enemy they get a free move "out of the way" (as if they had never been there).
The turn sequence is repeated until the game is over.
Figures may move or fire in a turn, unless they are in combat contact when the unit's move is taken. If movement is elected, roll the specified number of dice to determine the base movement rate in inches for those figures in the unit who choose to move (roll once for entire unit).
You may always elect to spend less than your full base movement. All figures must attempt to end the unit's movement within 1" of another figure in their unit. Facing changes may be made as desired, as part of movement.
At the end of a turn spent moving (that is, not manning a gun or firing), infantry and MG/artillery crewmen may "go prone." This makes them 1 pip harder to hit (see below), but means that they can neither fire nor move on the following turn: all they can do is rise from their prone position. A prone figure that is meleed will not strike back, but will simply rise if they survive - they are 1 pip easier to kill when prone.
Figures may elect to fire instead of moving, assuming they are not locked in melee when their unit's turn to move arrives. You may fire in a 360-degree arc, determined figure-by-figure, but may not fire "through" friendly figures, or any gap of less than 1/2". You can only fire at targets you can see, and that are within range (by weapon type). For infantry and cavalry, the fire procedure is simple: select a target, and roll one die to determine if the target is killed. Prone figures may not fire - an MG must have at least one non-prone gunner to fire.
MGs and artillery are handled differently:
MGs roll 1 die on every eligible figure within a 90 degree arc that extends from anywhere to the front out to the limit of their range. You can "fold" the 90-degree arc into two 45-degree arcs (roll twice on each eligible target), or into three 30-degree arcs (roll three times), or into four 15-degree arcs (roll four times). Kill rate is still 5/6, you simply roll multiple times.
For artillery, a still different system is employed. A toothpick is used to point the direction of fire to the front of the artillery unit. A range in inches is then stated - pre-measurement is not allowed! The range and direction are combined to determine a point of impact, and any figure within 3" of the point of impact (friend or foe) is rolled for, to determine if they are killed. Note that artillery can turn in place and fire in a single turn.
Mauser (standard infantry weapon): Range 18"/36"; base 5/6 to kill.
Other (earlier issue) rifles: Range 12"/24"; base 5/6 to kill.
Winchester (standard cavalry weapon): Range 9"/18", base 5/6 to kill.
MG: Range 12"/24", base 5/6 to kill.
Artillery: Range 48", base 4-6 to kill; mountain guns and revolutionary scratch-built guns have range of 36".
Whenever enemy figures come into base-to-base contact, a state of close combat exists. Note that artillery and MG crew figures may not initiate close combat. All members of an MG or artillery crew and/or the gun model must be locked in close combat to prevent the piece from firing; enemy figures in close combat are not eligible as targets for rifle and MG fire.
Each participant (infantry, cavalry, or crew figure) in a melee rolls one die, simultaneously. If a "kill" is scored, the enemy figure in contact is removed from play (at the rolling player's discretion if more than one). At the end of a turn spent moving (that is, not manning a gun or firing), infantry and MG/artillery crewmen may "go prone." A prone figure that is meleed will not strike back, but will simply rise if they survive.
Infantry kill on a 5 or 6; cavalry kill on a 3 to 6, except when in rough terrain or versus enemy in cover or hard cover (5/6); crew figures kill on a 6. Prone figures are 1 pip easier to kill.
A unit's morale is based on it's rate of casualties. A unit does not need to check morale unless it has taken at least one casualty in the preceding turn: otherwise, it will roll two dice according to the following scores, failing if it rolls below the number given.
Inferior morale: 7 or less
Average morale: 6 or less
Superior morale: 5 or less
For each 1/4 of unit lost as casualties: -1 to dice
General attached to the unit: +1 to dice
Unit is in hard cover, with no figures in close combat: +1
If a unit fails morale by more than two pips, all of it's figures are removed from play (not including attached generals). Otherwise, they simply go prone. The exception is units in combat contact, which are still removed from play, and units with 50% or greater casualties, which are also removed.
Any figures left in a unit when it breaks are put in a special box, as they are considered to be prisoners. When the game is over, each player takes each captured enemy figure and rolls one die:
1-4 The prisoners are shot.
5-6 The prisoners are hanged.
7+ The prisoners are spared.
Note: There are no modifiers to this die roll.
Orders are issued to each unit at the start of the game, and may be changed for any unit by a commanding general who is within 18" of the unit in question (or who has access by telegraph, as determined by scenario).
Orders are brief, unconditional statements that establish the position the unit should occupy, it's deployment, and any desired movements. Locations are expressed relative to battlefield topography, and not in relation to friendly or enemy units. No figures of a unit may move except in accordance with orders.
This period is full of trains, and there are a few special rules for using them. Train models can be in HO scale, but are better in the larger gauge - use a locomotive and a set of flat-bed cars, so that figures can be mounted on them. Trains move at 1 die the turn they start moving, and can increase or decrease by one die, up to a maximum of four dice per turn. Figures move onto a train, paying the final inch as if it was rough terrain. Moving off is the same - the first inch counts as rough. Figures may not board or debark from a train in a turn in which it moves. Trains may switch movement direction if they have stopped for a turn. The train is a separate unit from those riding on it - you can move the train and fire from it, with each unit acting separately at the appropriate time.
Figures on a train may shoot, however, from any point occupied by the train during it's move. Trains provide cover to units mounted in them.
Those equipped with explosives may plant them on the tracks (a full "move"), and explode them by simply being within 3" and not in close combat when the train goes by (another "move"). If the explosive is detonated, the train will wreck - roll a die for each passenger and for each artillery piece or MG: the chance of destruction is one pip per die of the train's speed, less one (no one gets hurt on a train crashing at a speed of one die). You can also remove a planted bomb by having a figure not in close combat spend an action at the place the bomb is planted. (Knowledge of the location of bombs and figures who are waiting to detonate them may be concealed, by scenario.) A wrecked train stays on the table to provide an obstacle and cover.
Another way to wreck a train is to make a direct hit with artillery. If you land the artillery shell on the train (and not just within 3"), then roll 1 die. On a 6, the train is wrecked, as per the above.
Movement through a train - wrecked or not - is only allowed when the train is stationary, and it counts as rough terrain for movement purposes. Figures may attempt to board a moving train by contacting it, and rolling one die: on a pip per die of the train's speed, the figure fails and is removed from play. Once aboard the train, movement, fire, and melee is as in rough terrain.
Terrain should be modelled as realistically as possible, and in scale with the figures. This allows line of sight to be determined using a piece of string or a laser pointer, simplifying play considerably. Everything blocks LOS (troops, trees, hills, buildings, trains), but note that figures in trenches are visible. Trenches and stone walls typically will not block LOS unless so stated by scenario.
After 1915, the Carrancistas are allowed to use barbed wire. This requires a full turn to cross.
It is suggested that battlefields be relatively open (most terrain in Mexico is), but that single-figure cover (bushes) be scattered around the battlefield.
When there is a situation in which a gun model could be destroyed, use the following guidelines:
You are allowed to crew artillery and machineguns with drafts from passing infantry or cavalry units. The drafted figure counts as a reduction (and addition) to total unit size(s), but not as a casualty for morale purposes. You must always have at least one real artillerist in an artillery crew, or you cannot fire the gun. Machineguns can be fired by crews totally composed of draftees. When a crew draftee joins a gun or machine-gun crew, they assume the prone status if the unit is currently prone.
There are two ways to set abuilding on fire:
Buildings will be evenly divided into a grid of squares, 1" on a side, as most regularly fits the floorplan of the building. Once lit on fire, the square inch of the building where the fire started becomes impassable. Thereafter, every square inch of the building in contact with burning sections will roll:
1-3: Not yet burning
4-5: Lit on fire
6: Lights explosively - roll for all adjacent squares immediately
Any figure inside a burning square will die on a 5-6 on one die. If they live, they must move to a non-burning area in their next move.