Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jim's Rule of Fours Revisited

An example of "Jim's Rules of Four" -- two Prussian infantry brigades of four battalions. Minden Miniatures. Click picture to enlarge the view.
Many years ago I wrote an article in the old "Historical Gamer" magazine about my thoughts on how many units or maneuver elements that the average player could handle in any type of a Wargame . My hypothesis was that four was the magic number (plus a battery of artillery )

An army general might be able to handle four corps without getting overwhelmed; a corps commander could handle up to four divisions; a division commander could handle maybe three brigades plus his divisional artillery; a brigade commander could handle four regiments. So whenever I design Wargame scenarios for convention play, I tend to limit the players to four maneuver elements and I try to target four players per side . Anymore than that and the players and the game judge have too much going on in order to keep things tight and under control through out the game.

Last evening, I happened to be reading Charles S. Grant's "The Wargame Companion" and he set out his thoughts as to what constituted the ideal Wargame army:

8 battalions of line infantry
1 battalion of light infantry

3 heavy or medium cavalry regiments (dragoons or cuirassiers)
1 light cavalry regiment

2 artillery pieces

3 battalion generals and 1 army commander

This is Jim's Rule of Fours in practice! You divide all the infantry into two brigades of 4 battalions, there are four cavalry regiments and it all boils down to having three commands in this typical army. One of the infantry players can also command the artillery whilst the other takes the jaegers to augment their commands.

I find that I frequently consult the "Wargame Companion" for ideas and inspiration and recommend that you should too.


  1. Jim,

    Might it be possible to get hold of that article today? I'd be very interested in reading it.

    Best Regards,


  2. I'm with Stokes on this one. Is the original article still available?

  3. You need at least TWO Light Cavalry regiments. Otherwise, what would you do when presented with a valley of Death?

  4. I think that I might update the article for publication in Henry Hyde's new Miniature Wargames magazine as I know that he needs a lot of content, and fast.

    SAROE: better yet, create a light cavalry brigade and add a fourth command to the game.

  5. Jim,

    When I was in the Army, it was common to accept that a commander could adequately control no more than five subordinate units. This fits well with your "Rule of Fours" since the fifth unit in a brigade would be an artillery battery.