Shako House Rules for the First Carlist War (Boina)

Boina is the name I’ve given my Shako variant for the First Carlist War.

Carlist Command

There are some differences to normal Napoleonic wargaming, and these differences dictate some changes to Shako. In addition I’ve made some tweaks to the rules of Shako for reasons that are unrelated to the First Carlist War, e.g. Cavalry frontages. The heading numbers are those from Shako version 1.

1.2 Figure basing scale

You can have a look at the basing page if you want all the gory details, but there were really only two important differences from Shako.


I’ve based my Artillery on a narrower frontage than Shako suggests. I had several motivations for this:

  • To make it consistent with the infantry frontage (too much DBM I suppose).
  • To make it consistent with other rule sets (don’t ask me why).
  • There was far less artillery in the First Carlist War than in the Napoleonic Wars, so it would be hard to find the 6-8 guns necessary for a normal Shako battery, so my batteries represent 3-4 guns, thus giving me more batteries to field.

All guns are on a stand 30 mm wide by 40 mm deep.

Despite representing less real guns all artillery stands are treated as normal under Shako.

Guipuzcoan Cavalry


Like the artillery I’ve also based my cavalry on a narrower frontage than Shako suggests, and for the same sort of reasons:

  • To make it consistent with the infantry frontage.
  • To make it consistent with other rule sets.
  • To make a cavalry column look like a column.
  • Because during the First Carlist War Cavalry typically operated in Squadrons not Regiments, so I wanted more stands to give me the option of using them separately.

Each Regiment has 3 elements (30 mm wide by 30 mm deep) of 2 figures each.

This does, however, requires a minor rule clarification:

  • Cavalry still get the Cavalry Wider +1 in melee (Shako 11.2.3, p. 20) when fighting Infantry columns.

Carlist Foot Gun

2.0 Unit Types


Both belligerents used traditional Heavy, Foot and Horse batteries, but also used Mountain Batteries and the Cristinos also used Rocket troops. The main advantage of the Mountain batteries and Rocket troops is that they were transported by mules hence could go where other artillery could not.

6.0 Divisions and Brigade Composition

Based on a glance at the OB in the back of the rule book Shako is intended for battles involving at least 26 infantry battalions, 4 cavalry regiments, and 4 artillery batteries (but they can go up considerably from this). Well, frankly, the Carlist War does not have many battles of that scale. At Oriamendi – the largest battle I have detailed numbers for – the Carlists fielded 19 battalions, 1 under strength cavalry regiment and the equivalent of 1 artillery battery. This is not such a problem itself however in standard shako the units are also organised into Divisions of 6-12 Battalions or 3-8 Cavalry Regiments with options for mixed Divisions and for smaller Guards Divisions. That would mean your average Carlist War army would have only one or two divisions. In fact most troops weren’t organised into Divisions at all, but formed independent Brigades instead. From what I can tell only the Cristinos used Divisions for their Spanish troops, whereas the Carlists and British were formed into Brigades. Even the Cristino Divisions were typically two Brigades. All of which leads me to the belief that Brigades have to be represented in Shako – at least the independent Brigades. .

That means units can be organised either into Divisions or Independent Brigades at the player’s discretion.

Carlist Brigade

Brigades whether Infantry, Cavalry and Mixed

Treat Independent Brigades like Shako Divisions except:

  • Independent Brigades can have 2-5 Battalions and/or Regiments.
  • Elite or Guards Brigades can have 1-5 Battalions and/or Regiments.
  • Carlist Guards (e.g. the Granaderos del Ejército) can be included in non-Elite/Guards Brigades; this does not apply for Cristino Guards. .

This would mean the Carlist army at Oriamendi would have 8 Brigades, and their Cristino opponents either 4 British Brigades and 2 Spanish Divisions or 8 Brigades depending on how you look at it.

7.3.2, 14.0 Flank marches

Carlist Officer

Shako includes rules for flank marches for the French (section 7.3.2) and optionally for the Allies (section 14.0). Carlists can perform flank marches like the French. Cristinos like the Allies.

8.1.2 Flank Support and tactical Doctrine

Flank support for foot is determined by the tactical Doctrine adopted. A Division/Brigade including any British Infantry uses Linear Doctrine. Other Divisions/Brigades, whether Cristino or Carlist, use French Doctrine.

8.2.1 Light Infantry and Skirmishers

A variety of infantry units are considered Light Infantry in Shako terms:

  • Cristino Spanish Light Infantry Regiments
  • Cristino Volunteer units fighting in Carlist style, e.g. Chapelgorris.
  • British Auxiliary Legion Rifles Regiment
  • Carlist “Guías” battalions, including the Guías de Navarra and the Guías de Alava.

Carlist Skirmishers

From what I can tell the “Light” regiments of the British Auxiliary Legion fought in the same manner as the other regiments, so I do not count them as Light Infantry in Shako.

8.2.1a Formed to Skirmisher Formation

All Light Infantry, whether Carlist, Cristino, British, or French, must remain either Formed or in skirmisher based upon their original formational deployments.

Carlist Line Infantry Skirmishers

Carlist Line Infantry have the option of fighting either formed or as skirmishers like early Napoleonic French Infantry Regiments. Any Carlist Regular or Second Rate infantry battalion is permitted to deploy as skirmishers, to a maximum number of battalions not to exceed 1/3 the total number of battalions.

8.5 Artillery movement

Mountain batteries and Rocket troops move like Foot batteries (see “Light foot guns” in Shako’s Great Britain OB).

8.12, 13.1 Terrain Effects Chart

Agile Infantry

Agile Infantry are all Carlist Infantry and Cristino infantry that fought in the same manner, e.g. the Chapelgorris. Agility applies whether formed or skirmishing. Movement of Agile units is not reduced by Steep Hills, Woods, and Rough Ground; Agile units can move across these terrain types at full speed – a change to the Terrain Effects Chart (section 8.12 and 13.1). Agile units are affected normally by other terrain types.


Carlist Mountain Gun


The main advantage of the Mountain batteries and Rocket troops is that they were transported by mules hence could go where other artillery could not. In Shako this means a change to the Terrain Effects Chart (section 8.12 and 13.1). Heavy, Foot and Horse batteries can not move on Steep Hills, but Mountain batteries and Rocket troops can at 2/3 sp.

9.1 Battery types

Two extra battery types:

Mountain batteries

Mostly four pounders

Rocket troops

Congreve rockets

9.2 Round Types

British Heavy Foot, Foot, and Mountain batteries, but not Rocket troops, can fire a third round type: spherical case shot. This gave them a considerable advantage over the Spanish artillery as the spherical case shot could explode over Carlist positions – the only way the Carlists could be harmed in their trenches. In general Spherical Case Shot is treated like Ballshot, however, the variations are mentioned below. (Note, spherical case shot was used by the British during the Napoleonic Wars; Wellington, for example, was very impressed by it at Busaco.)

Rockets are a a forth round type; fired, not surprisingly, by Rocket troops. Rocket Troops can not fire other round types. In general Rockets are treated like Ballshot, however, the variations are mentioned below.

Artillery Beaten Zone

Mountain batteries have the same ranges as Horse batteries.

Rocket troops have the same ranges as Horse batteries, but have the added limitation that they can not fire canister, and hence can not fire at targets within the canister range.

Spherical Case Shot has the same ranges as Ballshot.

9.4 Artillery Effects

Spherical Case Shot firing procedure

As per Ballshot, but only the first target unit can be harmed. Subsequent units are not attacked.

Rockets firing procedure

As per Ballshot, but only the first target unit can be harmed. Subsequent units are not attacked.



Rocket Troops can not fire canister.

Artillery Effects

Mountain Batteries and Rocket Troops fire as 4 lbers, i.e. like Horse Batteries.

Artillery Fire Modifiers for Spherical Case Shot

  • Artillery firing Spherical Case Shot get the +1 against columns and squares.
  • Artillery firing Spherical Case Shot at troops in redoubts and woods ignore the defensive benefit of the terrain (Shako 13.4.1, p. 26; 13.9, p. 27). Other cover continues to provide a defensive benefit e.g. towns.

10.2 Carlist Shortage of Ammunition

The Carlists Infantry suffered a shortage of ammunition – typically each man would only carry four
rounds – so like the Confederates in the American Civil War the Carlists relied instead on bayonet
charges. The Cristinos did not suffer this limitation. In Shako this limitation does not apply when the Carlists are defending fixed positions, it being assumed there are sufficient ammunition stocks when the men are in their trenches. In other games, however, a volley firing Carlist Infantry unit that scores 2 kills on a target also becomes short of ammunition itself, which means it becomes staggered. Just to accentuate this I use a guy loading his musket as my Staggered marker for Carlist units.

Guipuzcoan Infantry

13.2 Terrain Generation

Terrain Generation System isn’t quite right for the Carlist War.

The system lumps all of Spain together under “Hilly (Spain)”. I’d suggest dividing Spain into two category “Mountainous” to represent the mountainous Basque provinces and Aragon, and the “Hilly” rest including provinces such as Old Castile, Andalusia or Valencia.

Shako suggests 4 terrain pieces per player, but 6 for British. 6 per player seems more appropriate for this war.

The Terrain Generation Chart chart needs a wee tweak too.

Die Hilly Mountainous
1 Open Open
2 Gentle Slope Gentle Slope
3 Gentle Slope Steep Hill
4 Steep Hill Steep Hill
5 Roll again: 1-2 Rough Ground; 3-4 Orchard; 5-6 Wood Roll again: 1-2 Rough Ground; 3-4 Orchard; 5-6 Wood
6 Town. Roll again: 1-2 two sector town; 3-4 three sectors; 5-6 four sectors. Town. Roll again: 1-2 one sector farm complex; 3-4 two sectors; 5 three sectors, 6 four sectors.

13.4.1 Woods & Movement

Woods and Artillery/Musketry Fire

Artillery firing Spherical Case Shot at troops in woods ignore the defensive benefit of the terrain.

13.5 Rough Ground/Other Terrain

Rockets and Spherical Case Shot are unaffected by rough ground (whereas ball shot is stopped at the edge).

Stone walls were a feature of many battles during the Carlist Wars. Stone walls provide shooting cover and melee benefits to stationary infantry. Infantry lose 2″ (in 15mm scale) from their movement when crossing the walls; cavalry and artillery may not traverse them.

13.9 Redoubts

Both sides made much use of field fortifications, including redoubts, emplaced batteries, trenches, and fortified villages and houses. Treat all such fortifications as Redoubts. Artillery firing Spherical Case Shot at troops in redoubts ignore the defensive benefit of the terrain.

14.0 Weather

Shako includes optional rules for weather and these are recommended for winter campaigns.

17.0 Orders of Battle

I have some Orders of Battle for pick up battles.

Carlist Skirmishers

17.2 Skirmishers Organic to Line Battalions

The Cristino Spanish and Carlists each receive one Skirmisher unit for every four Elite Line, Regular Line, or Second Rate infantry battalions.

The British Auxiliary Legion receives one skirmisher unit for every four Regular Line battalions.

The French Foreign Legion has a single skirmisher unit.

In general units without flank companies (eg Cristino Guards, Cristino Marines, British Royal Marines, British Auxiliary Legion Rifles; Carlist Granaderos del Ejrcito) do not contribute skirmishers.

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