Charge sequence in Johnny Reb 3

officer.jpgThis past weekend, I had the privilege of hosting a JR3 game at Patriot Point on Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg. During the wargame (which was of Cemetery Hill), I had a chance to chat with fellow gamer Bob Johnson regarding the rules and sequence for conducting and resolving charges in Johnny Reb 3.  In a specific instance, one regiment of the Louisiana Tigers, supported by 3 other regiments, charged a portion of Ames’ Brigade along hasty works on the northern slope of Cemetery Hill. The Tigers were hit at normal range with musketry, inflicting 3 casualties on a 4-figure stand. The Rebs passed their check, came storming in, easily won the dice down for impact, and the Yankees rolled a 10 and routed off the position. My colleague’s opinion was that there should be more of a modifier for losses on an incoming regiment. In this case, losing 20% of the regiment as it came in was not enough of a deterrent to stymie the attack, and the chargers swept that portion of the hill (they were repulsed a couple of turns later and the Yankees won the game).

 The question got me thinking about how fickle and die-roll oriented the charge sequence is. It is perhaps as good as it can get (although I do like P.J. O’Neill’s differential table). What is your opinion on the charge sequence? So many folks who don’t like JR3 point specifically to the cumbersome charge system as the major drawback of the rules system. Your thoughts?

Categories: Civil War wargaming, Johnny Reb 3 | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Post navigation

6 thoughts on “Charge sequence in Johnny Reb 3

  1. Great to see you doing this Scott.

    Yes, people do find the charge concept a bit tricky, especially when they have played other rules but the charge sequence defines JR.

    I believe that the charge sequence is the most dynamic part of the game. Gamblers can get lucky but unless the target of the charge is weakened and/or the regiment is well supported, the charge will often fail.

    Casualties are often high in terms of figures but this should be seen as the disintegration of the unit under the stress of combat so often reported on by combatants at the sharp end.

  2. Paul,

    Thanks for your comment! I do believe that the charge sequence is the most critical factor in JR3 success or failure. In my Cemetery Hill demonstration game in Gettysburg last weekend, I timed my charges (I was the Rebels) so that I applied pressure from both the east and the west simultaneously. With my charge bonuses, my troops would have met in the middle of the cemetery with the Yankees routing. However, Rodes’ attack failed and was pushed back, whereas the Louisiana Tigers managed to crack the first Yankee line and drive back Ames’ division.

    I have played a lot of other rules sets, and they all treat charges quite differently. Some are good; some are bad. JR is a little tricky, but it (to me) captures the essence of the charge strategy.


  3. Michael Wedding

    I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about the charge sequence, but no one has seemed to offer something better. I don’t know how it could be any different other than using the alternate table that O’Neill made (which I like to use). It does take time when you have multiple charges in a large game but other than that…. One thing I really like about it is the die roll for charge distance…you never know how far you will go or if you’ll fall short. If someone has a better idea…lets hear it! As of yet…I don’t know how you can make it any simpler; morale +/- modifiers, die roll, impact results, done! And once in a while melee!

  4. Bob Johnson

    Hi – Scott pretty well knows my opinion of JRIII Charge rules. I do not like them, because there is no historic validity to their extreme randomness. The charge is perhaps the hardest thing to understand about ACW combat and, frankly, I have not found an acceptable theory of charge success other than to say that it differs from theater to theater and year to year, maybe even battle to battle.
    In JRIII, my opinion is that you best charge every chance you get and hope you are lucky in your die rolls. It takes little tactical effort to achieve victory and one might as well go to a casino play craps.
    I also do not like the vague and poorly abstracted time and space ratios.

  5. Todd Shipley

    On the whole I like jriii a lot. The charge sequence is everyone’s least favorite. My two biggest complaints are the distances a charging unit can go on the table and huge randomness of whither or not a charge will succeed.

    An average charge in line in the open will go 750 to 900 yards with a max of ¾ of a mile. I’m not an authority on the civil war but I’d think they’d march up and only run the last part of the charge. We are thinking of cutting the charge bonus roll back to 2 die in open/broken. Charging half way across a 4 foot table just looks a little odd for playability.

    Charges of unprepped defenses are too often successful with huge potential gains and not a lot of risk. It only hurts if you lose a stand to fire. Maybe the attacker should take a +1 for dice down for each casualty taken by fire? On the other hand a small unit has a 50/50 chance of holding off a charge by a large unit. There is no factor for shear weight of numbers. Maybe the defender/attacker adds +1 for dice down if the other side is 50% larger, +2 if twice as large?

    We tried P.J. O’Neill’s differential table at our Brimfrost convention here in Anchorage. It is a good idea and it helped speed play but it is heavy on routing. Both attacker and defender rout with only a differential of 6 on the dice down. Why would an attacker rout unless counter-charged? I could see the attacker fall back shaken and not want to charge again. And defender routs shouldn’t happen unless you win by 10 or more. Also, a dice down difference of plus or minus 1 or 2 indicates that the attacker stopped and engaged in a shooting contest with the defenders. Hence, both sides should take a casualty or two.

    So I like the charge sequence as a whole. I’d vote to tweak it a bit to make it play better on the table and encourage better tactics by using O’neill’s chart with revisions to encourage the attacker to prep the position before charging.

  6. I too like, and prefer O’Neal’s differential table for charge results.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: