Although Tilly’s Very Bad Day is for the Thirty Years War, I’m thinking of expanding the system into other periods. The Ancients, Medieval, and Gunpowder settings all look suitable. I’ve already experimented in the South American Wars of Independence with Bolivar’s Very Bad Day. I’m looking for inspiration so in this post I explore the attributes assigned to units in Tilly’s Very Bad Day.
Unit Types in Tilly’s Very Bad Day
There are eight Unit Types: Commander, Horse, Light Horse, Dragoons, Pike+Shot, Shot, Rabble, and Cannon. Pike+Shot, Shot, Dragoons and Rabble are infantry and fight on foot. Dragoons are mounted infantry so move like cavalry although they generally fight on foot. Horse and Light Horse are cavalry and fight mounted. Mounted units include Horse, Light Horse, and Dragoons.
Unit types in Tilly’s Very Bad Day have different attributes. Put another way the attributes of a unit are mostly dictated by the unit type.
The table below has all the attributes I could think of.
|Starting resolve||4 for foot; 3 for mounted; 2 for artillery|
|Troop quality||+1 Resolve for Superior, 0 for Ordinary, -1 for Inferior, -2 for Rabble|
|Big Unit||2 bases in deep column, each base with full resolve|
|Move (TUM)||3 TUM Normal / Foot and Limbered Cannon; 6 TUM Fast / Mounted; 8 TUM Very fast / command; 0 TUM Immobile / Unlimbered Cannon|
|Charge Move (TUM)||3 TUM|
|Move in difficult (TUM)||Unlimbered Cannon cannot move and otherwise 3 TUM for All combat units|
|Move in impassable (TUM)||0 TUM|
|Move backward (TUM)||1 TUM Normal / Foot; 3 TUM Fast / Mounted|
|Unlimited change of direction||Generals are unrestricted in movement|
|Wheel||All combat units. Only change of direction allowed to Rabble|
|About face and move||All combat units except Rabble|
|Oblique move||All combat units except Rabble|
|Right/Left Turn||All combat units except Rabble|
|Sideways move||All combat units except Rabble|
|Backwards||All combat units except Rabble|
|Pivot instead of move||Unlimbered Cannon can pivot but cannot otherwise move|
|Unlimber||Cannon can unlimber but once unlimbered cannot limber again|
|Range (TUM)||2 TUM for Pistols (Horse, Light Horse); 4 TUM for Muskets (Shot, Pike+Shot, Dragoons); Artillery unlimited|
|Shooting to hit||6 for all combat units that shoot (Horse, Light Horse, Dragoons, Pike+Shot, Shot, Cannon)|
|Shooting in difficult||-1d6 modifier when Horse in Difficult Terrain are Shooting|
|Cover in difficult||-1d6 shooting at Dragoons or Shot in difficult terrain|
|Melee to hit (except below)||4-6 Commander; 5-6 Horse, Pike+Shot; 6 Light Horse, Shot, Rabble|
|Melee to hit in difficult terrain||6 Horse, Pike+Shot|
|Melee dice in difficult terrain||-1d6 when Horse in Difficult Terrain|
|Melee to hit charging in open terrain||4-6 Horse|
|Melee to hit when charging pikes to front1||5-6 Horse|
|Melee to hit charging behind-flank or to-rear||4-6 Light horse|
|Melee to hit charging unit with resolve of 1||4-6 Light horse|
|Infantry with long pointy weapons reduce enemy melee to hit when charged to front1||5-6 Horse get, rather than 4-6, when charging Pike+Shot frontally|
|Infantry reduce enemy melee to hit when defending up hill||-1d6 when Charge at Infantry (Dragoons, Pike+Shot, Shot, or Rabble) in favourable terrain (e.g. uphill)|
|Infantry Support||Infantry support infantry in melee|
|Cavalry Support||Cavalry support cavalry in melee|
(1) These are the same attribute, but from the perspective of the attacker and defender.
Some of the attributes are relate to combat modifiers, which I repeat here for clarity:
1d6 if Secondary Shooter
1d6 if Primary Shooter at enemy To-Flank
Unit’s Resolve if Primary Shooter at enemy To-Front:
-1d6 modifier when Horse in Difficult Terrain are Shooting
-1d6 modifier when Shooting at Dragoons or Shot in Difficult Terrain
-1d6 modifier when Shooting at Dragoons, Pike+Shot, Shot, Rabble or Cannon in Field Fortifications
1d6 if attached Commander
0d6 if a Combat Unit in Melee with any enemy To-Rear (whether Primary Fighter or Secondary Fighter)
1d6 if a Secondary Fighter in Melee with any enemy To-Front or To-Flank (none To-Rear)
1d6 if Primary Fighter in Melee with any enemy Behind-Flank (none To-Rear)
Unit’s Resolve if the Primary Fighter in Melee with enemy To-Front or To-Front-Flank (none Behind-Flank or To-Rear):
-1d6 when Horse in Difficult Terrain
-1d6 when Charge at Infantry (Dragoons, Pike+Shot, Shot, or Rabble) in favourable terrain (e.g. uphill)
-1d6 when Unit is Unsupported
We find the support rules encourage chequerboard for infantry but encourage blocks for cavalry.
Infantry Support: Infantry (Pike+Shot, Shot, Dragoons, Rabble) are supported when both these criteria apply:
No enemy Unit To-Rear within 4 TUM
At least one friendly Infantry Unit To-Rear within 4 TUM
Cavalry Support: Cavalry (Horse, Light horse) are supported when both these criteria apply:
No enemy Unit To-Rear within 4 TUM
At least one friendly Cavalry Unit To-Rear within 4 TUM
Unit quality is a different dimension to unit type. Historical units ranged from inexperienced recruits to hardened veterans. In Tilly’s Very Bad Day unit quality is defined as one of raw, inferior, ordinary, or superior. Ordinary is the default and the only unit quality in the basic game. Superior, inferior and raw units differ in resolve, ability to conduct changes of direction, and unit cost.
Superior: Superior units were viewed by both themselves and their contemporaries as significantly better quality than others of their troop type e.g. veteran Spanish tercios, veteran German Cuirassiers, and the Swedish Yellow brigade. Being superior is about attitude not equipment. However some superior units would also have had better quality arms and armour than their counterparts. In game terms:
- Increase the starting resolve of superior units by one.
- Superior units cost 5 coins
Ordinary: By default all units are ordinary. Commanders are always ordinary. In game terms:
- Normal starting resolve
- Ordinary units cost 4 coins
Inferior: Inferior units are poorly trained troops and/or those affected by adverse campaign conditions. In game terms:
- Deduct one from the resolve of inferior units
- Inferior units can wheel, about face, turn, and rally back as normal
- Inferior units cannot use oblique, sideways, or backwards movement (except to rally back)
- Inferior units cost 3 coins
Raw: Rabble and Cannon are raw. Rabble are i.e. peasants with improvised weapons, and the most raw of recruits regardless of weapon type. Cannon were generally manned by civilians with little staying power so considered comparable to the peasants. In game terms:
- They only have 2 resolve
- Changes of direction are restricted to wheel
- They cost 2 coins
In standard Tilly’s Very Bad Day all units are one stand. But there is an advanced rule for Large Pike+Shot such as Imperial Tercios and Swedish Brigades.
A Large Pike+Shot unit:
- Has a double depth, perhaps created by putting two normal Pike+Shot bases together
- Counts as two units for Recruiting the army and for unit losses / army morale
- Has a high starting resolve: 8
- If resolve is 4 or more, the unit has 4d6, rather than resolve, for shooting dice as primary shooter and also for melee dice as primary fighter to-front (before combat modifiers)
- If resolve is 2 or more, the unit has 2d6, rather than 1d6, for shooting dice to-flank and melee dice to-flank; in addition their flank will be bigger given the unit is deeper
- Remains a Large Pike+Shot unit even when resolve drops to 4 or below
- Otherwise all other rules apply
The unit types get a lot of variation via the attributes, e.g. moving faster/slower, getting cover from terrain or not, what they get support from, etc. Although unit quality has an impact on some unit attributes, e.g. Raw Rabble can only wheel, mostly quality impacts combat ability and morale via higher/lower resolve.
I think this gives me a rich set of options for creating new unit types for other genres and periods.
I’m tempted to give each of these attributes a name. For example, the “Shock” attribute which gives the unit a to hit of 4-6. “Mobile” could be the ability to move 6 TUM not 3. “Fast” bumps that to 8 or 9 TUM. “Dispersed” units could benefit from cover in difficult terrain. Etc, etc.
Unit size only comes in as a special rule for big unwieldy units, but even this hints at possibilities for two stand units.
Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day
Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for download as a PDF: