Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Warlord rules question about proximity.

This is a Warlord rules (Black Powder, Pike and Shotte) question. I have also posted it on the Warlords forum.

Red is the Russian unit (in red uniform). Blue is the Prussian unit in blue uniform.

So the situation is this.

Blue is on the flank of A, having ordered a charge and come up short. Red is in blue's front quarter. Red can only move into its front or rear quarters because it is in proximity.

Now, red turns to face. Red rotates entirely in its front quarter to face blue. I know this is permitted. Red could do this under the initiative rule. Red's move would be legal because it was carried out entirely within its front quarter. 

However, let us assume that red had been more adventurous. Let us also assume that red has godlike foresight and knows he will roll a double one for any command roll.

The question is, rather than act on initiative, could red be given the order "turn to face blue and then, charge" ?

My question is aimed at what represents front and rear quarters under the proximity rule. Do the quarters that apply to the unit at the start of the turn apply to the unit for the whole turn (as per quarters for charge), or do front and rear quarters change with the moves carried out by the unit. If the former, the order is illegal; if the latter, the order is legal. 

BTW, I realise that red can never charge blue in the flank because it started the turn in blue's front quarter.

Opinions also welcome here.


Colin Ashton said...

A good question and one I'm sure Big Al will set you straight on.

Fire at Will said...

I would play it as you described. The proximity rule as written is a rule lawyers delight. The basic principle should be either to move closer into close combat (melee or fire) with the enemy unit or move away.

Steve said...

I would say yes to the move and to 'arcs' always being set by the units facing otherwise what else could the unit do ? If front/rear arc is set at the start of the move and does not change then due to proximity all the unit could do is march up and down in front of the enemy which would be bonkers. However, with arcs that change as unit turns etc then even subject to proximity rule they can turn to face and advance or even retreat as necessary and seems far more in keeping with the spirit of the proximity rule. My 2p anyway :-)

Phil Robinson said...

The rules say that the unit must move roughly "straight" forward or straight back and its ability to perform even the most basic manoeuvres is impaired.
To do what you are saying it would have to either wheel or turn about and form line, to me these are basic manoeuvres, and not moving straight forward or back.
Because of the free and easy movement in the rules, the proximity rule is there to stop you wiggling units about in the face of the enemy and attempting to avoid charging an enemy unit frontally, I don't think the writers have thought of it in this context, food for thought and disscussion. You have my view point anyway for what it's worth.

Phil Robinson said...

Have been looking at your post on the Warlord Forum and of course there is no wheeling in BP, forgot that, so there appears to be no problem with what you propose. It makes more sense in the situation too.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

If you read the rules literally it's like Phil says you can advance forwards or backwards and that's about it until out of proximity. However, I think I remember Rick Priestly mentioning somewhere that you could make a small wheel to contact the enemy to your front or wanting the unit to advance in the most direct way to contact or most direct route away from contact.

Personally I would play it however you wish. As stated by the author Black Powder rules are just a guideline and intended for players to adjust them to work how they see fit. I like to call the rules the ultimate silly putty rules in that they bend and twist to desire, but do not fall apart because of it. I play Black Powder with a set of additional house rules and quite enjoy them.

Good luck with whatever you decide!


Norm said...

This is opinion only - but I am wondering whether red can even turn and face the enemy in the first place?

The proximity rule (page 33) is certainly very limiting and sets out to be an exception to the easy movement fluidity previous rule paragraph (pages 32 / 33) and as such, I am of the school that limits the unit to moving generally forwards or backwards and in the circumstances of the example, one would imagine that red would want to pull back to frustrate blue and it's initiative movement allowance might be the preferred option to do that rather than taking a risky command roll.

Page 63 (response to charge - yes I am aware that our example here is not a completed charge) says that cavalry can turn to face a charge, which further suggest that the writers do not want to give formed infantry that kind of flexibility.

Interestingly, in Hail Caesar, proximity is triggered when an enemy is to the units front, while in Black Powder, it is triggered when an enemy is anywhere within 12", which further suggest to me that in BP, the authors really did intend that a unit should only move forwards or backwards once proximity is triggered.

I am of course as eager as everyone else to find out what the real answer is :-)

Jason said...

No you can't charge as initially the blue unit is outside of the red units front quarter. The front quarter doesn't move, that's why it says move must be entirely within your front quarter.

Jason said...

Actually that might be hail Caesar...


Thanks, guys.

Hi Jason,

Proximity is different in Hail Caesar because proximity only becomes applicable if you have units to your front. Was Hail Caesar the later rule book by any chance?

In P&S it says you can't charge something you can't see, and visibility is 180 degrees to the front edge of the unit, so I think a charge can be ordered. The rule about position only talks about the quarter of the target you can order a charge against (by initiative or command) at the start of your turn. In this case, red can see blue, so an order to charge can be issued. The charge must be ordered against blues front because red lies within blues front quarter at the start of the turn.

I'm still not 100% sure I'm right about the proximity rule because, if red can turn within proximity and change its front quarter, with multiple moves red could get onto blue's flank to deliver fire (a charge onto the flank would still be illegal, see p.60) and that does seem to go against the 'no fancy manoeuvres' sentiment. Having said that, turning to face in this case would seem logical, so perhaps that is where the turn should end for red. Moving straight forwards (perhaps obliquely in the front quarter), or straight back, somehow doesn't look right either.

Perhaps proximity should only count if a unit has enemy within proximity to its (as per Hail Caesar). If this were the case, this move would be perfectly acceptable because red didn't start with blue in its front quarter but, having turned blue would be, so it would be straight forward / back thereafter. This would keep within the spirit, the logic and the law.

Having gone through that thought process as I've written it, I think that this is the way I'll go. Hail Caesar. Did you see what I did there?

Michael said...

Hi James, one can only charge what lies in the front quarter - at the beginning of the movement. If you wheel, squiggle, sneeze or anything that has to do with movement, its not the beginning of the movement. Therefore you can't charge. All the other rules would allow it ... BUT blue is not in YOUR front quarter at the beginning of (any, initial or ordered) movement. Otherwise anybody could charge anything as long as its got enough movement and units would have movability as Kung-fu characters in bad martial art movies.

Of course red can fire, if you play the original sequence that is. But that is precisely why some of us at the SESWC changed the sequence to orders, fire and then move/combat - to prevent super quick movements PLUS and initial fire sequence almost in all cases from close fire distance, which would lead to who first moves wins.

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Based on Hail Caesar rules, proximity is not restricted to the front - it’s for any unit within 12 inches. Facing is the rule which applies only to the front of a unit - when the unit commander is directly in front of an opposing unit, then the unit can only move to the front or the back.

For the example here, two moves would be needed for Red to charge. One move to change facing. A second move to execute the charge.


Hi Michael,

I can't find any mention of target units having to be in the front quarter of the charger for the unit to charge. Unless I'm missing something:

The rule dealing with what can be charged says "In order to complete a charge home upon the enemy, the unit's leader must be able to see the enemy being charged - remember it is only the final move to contact that is counted as the charge move." (page 59 under "Measuring the

The visibility rule (what the leader can see) is described on page 44 and 45. The diagramme clearly shows that it is a 180 arc in front of the front base edge of the unit.

Going further, as it says on p. 59, the unit does not even have to be able to see the target when the charge is ordered, only that the target must be in sight at the start of the last move that turn. This is confirmed on p. 33.

Michael, if you can tell me where you've read that a charge must be carried out in the front quarter of the charger at the start of the move, I'd appreciate it. Remember that the unit might start it's move outside of proximity.

As far as I can see the 'quarters rule' for charges only counts for proximity and where you start your charge in relation to the enemy to determine if you charge the targets front, flank or rear. There is a fire arc, but as far as I can see there is not a 'charge arc' as such. See p. 60 Position of the Charger.

This is why I'm struggling so much with the proximity rule!



Hi Michael,

".....Michael, if you can tell me where you've read that a charge must be carried out in the front quarter of the charger at the start of the move, I'd appreciate it......"

Should read:

".....Michael, if you can tell me where you've read that a charge must be carried out in the front quarter of the charger at the start of the TURN, I'd appreciate it......"

Turn not move.

Obviously units can't charge sideways (like a crab) into something, but a light cavalry unit could charge a target three moves (36") away behind it's flank (even though it can't even see it there). It could wheel about (to face it) and move 12", then charge 24" straight ahead into the target. I can't find one line in the rules that would stop that. If you can, I really would appreciate you telling me where it is.

Michael said...

Hi James, sorry for the confusion. It is nowhere explicitly written down (blame the authors of the book(s),haha ) that it must be the front. It is just logically implicating from that p 60 diagram.

It is the position of the charger that counts before any movements are made. (p 60 "... If a charging unit is positioned within its target‘s front quarter when the order was received ...

(that is usually at the start of the turn or at least at the start of the movement - depending how you play it)

.. then is must attempt to make its charge to the target‘s front ..." and so forth.

Therefore where you stand in relation to the target you can charge. If you do not stand to its front quarter at the beginning then you cannot charge its front quarter even if you could theoretically reach it (say with 3 moves).

But you can choose the order of the movements (and combats) apparently if you wish.

As an umpire, I would just allow your described light cavalry move if the target is otherwise occupied or at least disordered.

Dwarfy Mcgee said...

My group would probably rule that you can issue a charge and succeed with two moves like you described.

Pike and Shotte is vague on purpose. It's more like a framework for your group to pick and choose from. However, if you want to ignore that fact issue a charge and carry it out thusly: Red moves into its own rear quarter until such a time that blue is in red's front quarter and a valid charge target. Any remaining movement is used to attempt to carry out the charge. Remember, while declared as an order, the charge is the move action that brings a unit into contact with the enemy.

There is a gap in the market for a tightly worded Pike and Shotte ruleset. With a basing standard.

Norm said...

Yes, there is a subtle but important and seemingly deliberate difference in the way the that the rules use the terms TURN and MOVE.


Hi Michael,

The rule on P.60 is to stop multiple moves being used (in a sneaky fashion) to get around onto flanks. The diagram only relates, in the text, to position in relation to the target for determining which quarter of the target is charged in the final charge move. I know it sounds like a free for all, but I think the rule was written the way it was to allow a unit to turn and charge.


A unit of heavy cavalry has a sneaky enemy come up behind it 11" away, it is inside initiative / proximity distance so the cavalry could use initiative to turn and move towards the enemy, but it couldn't charge home because it is out outside move distance. If it were a unit of light cavalry, which could reach it still couldn't charge because: "In order to complete a charge home upon the enemy, the unit's leader must be able to see the enemy being charged - remember it is only the final move to contact that is counted as the charge move."

But, the player could risk a command to charge, but would need at least two moves to do it one to turn and move towards the target (giving the unit commander a view of the target and bringing it within reach) then a second move to charge home. If the command was failed the unit would be sat there with its backside hanging out in the wind.


Chicago T F,

You said: "Based on Hail Caesar rules, proximity is not restricted to the front - it’s for any unit within 12 inches."

Sorry, but I think you have that wrong. HC is very different to BP and P&S. The proximity rule in Hail Caesar specifically refers to front quarters only. First paragraph:

"In most cases, once a unit has visible enemy to its front we oblige it to face the foe. We call this the proximity rule or 12" rule."

The book then defines this basic statement:

"A unit is said to be facing its enemy if at least part of the enemy unit lies directly in front of the unit's centre front or leader position." [The diagram shows a line coming out of the front centre of the unit, at right angles to it. There are no quarters shown.] "If a unit is facing an enemy unit within 12" the unit can only move either towards it or away from it whilst continuing to face towards it."

Then the rule goes on to proximity for other units within 12". This is the front quarter bit, and it only applies to units in the front quarter:

"If a unit is not facing an enemy at the start of a move, as described above, but has an enemy within 12" and to the front, even if partially so, then the unit must face towards an enemy to its front and within no more than three moves distance as it moves. For example, an infantry unit must face towards an enemy within 18", and a heavy cavalry unit must face towards an enemy within 27"." [The diagram shows a unit with an enemy unit not directly ahead but in the front quarter (the front quarter lines are shown) and two, more distant, enemy targets to its front.]

Basically, the rule says that if an enemy target is not in your front quarter, even if it is 1" away, you can ignore it entirely. Of course, if you turn you might bring it within the HC proximity arc. I think this is probably what the proximity rule was supposed to be all of the time, otherwise the straight forwards / backwards thing makes no sense at all. This is the rule I'll be using from now on.

Michael said...

Morning James,

now you confused me :)
I guess it boils down to, as the BP P&S and HC rules are a bit cloudily written, they leave room for interpretation. Mixing them, if it suits your purposes, I guess its fine. Bill did this once with the break table from HC and introduced them into BP, for example.

On my part (personal preference though not based on explicit rule back up) the cavalry example you‘ve given, I wouldn‘t allow a charge. They can face the enemy to be able to countercharge if attacked next OR they need to move/flee to another better position. If a player "sneaked upon" a cav unit he must be pretty good and I would not want to take away his manouvre achievement.

Norm said...

Does your example create a case of Traversing Target(page 52) when red first rotates in front of blue, triggering closing fire by blue?

I am still not convinced that red can rotate as it's first move, as the proximity rule appears conceived to prevent fancy footwork. It has been caught on the hop by blue. Is there anywhere in the rule book that says this first move (rotation) can occur? I am stuggling to find it, but may be not seeing what may be obviously in front of me. Norm.

Norm said...

you know the more I look at this, the more I think it is really simple. Moving Units (page 32) allows all sorts of fancy footwork and covers the change of facing etc. The next rule Proximity of Enemy, absolutely screws the previous rule right down to 'must move roughly straight forward or straight back'. I just don't see any leeway to do anything outside of this clearly strict guidance!


Hi Norm,

That is why I'm going to use the HC proximity rule. The 'straight forward or back' rule makes no sense at all for the red unit in the blog example.

With an enemy on your flank why on earth would you go forwards or backwards. The most likely action the unit would take would be to turn and present its front to the enemy.

Under the proximity rule in HC, red can ignore blue or turn to face. If red did the latter this it would trigger proximity because on presenting its front quarter blue would come into proximity and from that point on, straight forwards backwards facing the enemy makes sense.

Everything makes sense under the HC rule, and no sense under the BP and P&S rule. I do have more than a suspicion that the HC rule is what the original thinking behind proximity was all about but it took HC to have it written down in a sensible fashion.


P.S. Today I photocopied the proximity rule in Hail Caesar and sellotaped it into the back of my copies of Black Powder and Pike and Shotte.

Job done!


Someone just pointed me to the Black Powder FAQ page on the Warlords web site. I think it pretty much answers the question.

Once enemy are within 12" units are only allowed to move into their front or rear quarters – not into their side quarters. However, does this restriction allow the unit to change its orientation, or does it have to remain facing the same way as it moves? We ask because our players automatically assumed the latter, arguing that otherwise it is too easy to move round flanks or between enemy units.

There is no further restriction intended – so long as the unit finishes its move wholly within its own front or rear quarter then it can move anyway you wish. We’ve never had the problem you suggest – although were we to do so I would say that your alternative is a good response. You would then have to allow for a separate order to change facing – as otherwise it would be altogether impossible to move round an exposed flank.


That's Rick Priestly's response, BTW.

harada57 said...
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