This document provides an overview of the rules of Rolling of the Drums (ROTD), the land combat module of the Civil War OnLine (CWOL). It does not give the reader enough information to play ROTD, but provides a quick introduction to the game and how it is played. After reading this document, the reader will eventually want to consult the Full Rules prior to playing ROTD for the first time.
1. Strategic Map
ROTD is played on a strategic map of the eastern United States, containing 140 columns (labelled A0 through N9) and 120 rows (O0 through Z9). Each strategic square contains terrain, is part of a nation, and may contain a city, railroad, or units. Click to see a sample strategic map with units, or the full strategic map without any. (The full strategic map may take some time to download.) Clicking on a map icon will reveal information about the terrain, city, railroad, and/or units that are there.
2. Tactical Maps
Each strategic square on the ROTD map has an associated tactical map which shows details of the terrain in that square. Click to see a sample tactical map. Each tactical map has 15 rows and 15 columns, numbered 0 to 14. Each square on a tactical map has terrain and a defensive rating (0 to 4) and may contain units. Clicking on a unit icon will reveal the identities of the units that are there.
The basic unit in ROTD is the brigade. Each brigade has a nationality, a service arm (infantry, cavalry, field or horse artillery), and a number. For example, CS4CV is the Confederate Fourth Cavalry Brigade. Each brigade is composed of three or more regiments or batteries (e.g. 6th Wisconsin Infantry, 4th Regular Battery) but these are only used as components of the brigade to which they belong. There are also army and corps headquarters units. Each brigade is rated for strength, artillery batteries, quality, morale, experience, fatigue, and supplies and ammunition. Each brigade has a commander and a deputy commander; the deputy can send orders for the brigade if the commander does not.
Units can detect other units on the strategic map only if they are within detection range. Army headquarters can see friendly units up to 5 squares away; other types of units can see friendly units up to 3 squares away. Cavalry can see enemy units up to 3 squares away; other units can see enemy units only in the same or adjacent squares. On the tactical map, enemy units hidden behind other enemy units are not visible. A player can see only what his units can see; thus, what each player sees is different, and it is necessary to report what your units can see to your fellow players.
5. Turn Sequence
ROTD runs in turns. Players send orders for each of their units each turn. At the start of each turn, units receive supplies and ammunition if they can. Then, movement occurs on tactical maps and battles are fought in four phases, then movement occurs on the strategic map in six phases, following by railroad movement. There are two exceptions to this sequence. First, the first phase of strategic movement comes in the middle of tactical movement, so that units in adjacent strategic squares can join a battle in progress. Second, after strategic movement there is a final phase of tactical movement so that units can deploy prior to the start of the next turn. The full turn sequence is thus:
6. Submitting Orders
Players send orders to ROTD using the orders submission form. Players may submit orders on the form in any combinations they desire. If both the commander and the deputy send orders, the commander's are used; if a player sends more than one set of orders, the last set received is used.
7. Strategic Movement
Units can move across the strategic map, one square per phase of strategic movement. Infantry can move up to 3 strategic squares per turn, cavalry can move up to 4. Units can move one extra square if they force march, one less if they carry supplies with them, and one less if they are not in communications with army headquarters. To move strategically, a unit must have a clear path to the edge of its tactical map in the direction it wishes to move. Units can be ordered to halt on encountering the enemy, to pursue enemy units, or to march to the largest nearby battle. Units can specify the tactical square in which they will enter the tactical map of their new strategic square.
8. Rail Movement
Units can move by rail along friendly-controlled railroads, up to 40 squares per turn (no diagonal movement allowed). They cannot make both a strategic move and a rail move in the same turn.
9. Tactical Movement
Units can move across the tactical map, up to four squares per phase of tactical movement (six squares for cavalry and horse artillery). Units specify a destination and, optionally, a waypoint to move through en route to the destination if they wish to approach the destination from a particular angle, or if they need to cross a river or mountain ridge at a ford or pass. If a unit enters a square containing an enemy unit during its movement, a battle begins in that tactical square, and any unit that is in that square, or moves into it, joins the battle. Units can be ordered to engage the nearest enemy unit. They can also be ordered to intercept the movement of enemy units, or to move to support friendly troops fighting in nearby battle, or to move to the nearest city, or river ford or mountain pass square.
Combat occurs in a firing segment and a melee segment. Each unit in the battle may be ordered to fight in the front rank, second rank, or rear rank of the battle formation. In the firing phase, infantry in the front rank and artillery in the first two ranks fire at the enemy. In the melee phase, all units remaining in the battle after the firing phase fight for possession of the tactical square. The loser of the melee must retreat to an adjacent tactical square, or be forced to surrender. Units that take casualties in either segment take morale checks, and may retreat to a nearby tactical square, or rout to an adjacent strategic square, or surrender if their retreat or rout movement is blocked by enemy units.
11. Communications and Supply
To fight effectively, units must maintain lines of communication and supply. Communications lines begin at an army headquarters, and run through corps headquarters to individual units. A corps HQ must be within 5 squares of an army HQ to receive communications, and a unit must be within 2 squares of a corps HQ to receive communications (it cannot receive communications directly from an army HQ). A unit located in a friendly-controlled city can instead receive communications from that city. Supply lines begin at a city or supply depot which has supplies available, and run through corps HQs to individual units. A corps HQ must be within 4 squares of a supply depot to draw supply from that city, and a unit must be within 2 squares of a corps HQ to draw supplies from that corps HQ. If the corps HQ is carrying supplies, it can supply units from the supplies it is carrying as well as from a city. Units and CQs located in friendly-controlled cities can draw supply directly from the city if there are supplies located in the city. Units not in supply will suffer losses; units that can requisition supplies can reduce but not eliminate these losses. Units that run out of ammunition cannot fire and fight in melee at reduced strength. Units not in communications suffer a loss of strategic movement.