After 26 months of development, Age of Rifles was released on August
In the next few days, I will make available several updated scenarios
files that improve on versions included with Rifles v1.0. The scenarios
include Point Isabel (hypothetical 1846), Buena Vista (1847),
Balaclava (1854), Spicheren (1870), and Omdurman (1898). In most
cases, the changes are only improvements in historical accuracy of
uniforms and maps. The exception is Point Isabel, which also has
improved play balance.
Some of these things won't mean anything to you until you are familiar
with the game, but the current complete list of command line
parameters for Rifles is:
"quiet": play with no sound (this session only).
"quick": Turn off all time delays (this session only). This is a
development option and isn't really intended for use during normal
play. See FAQ #3 for additional info.
"fastexit": Allows you to exit the game directly from the menu, without
having to pass through the "main" screen (this session only).
"debug": Please don't do this...
"mono": Monaural sound (this session only).
"reactions+": (Default) Allows longer (more interesting and realistic)
ranges for automatic reaction orders. This is a "sticky" parameter. You
only need to set it once and it becomes part of your standard game
"reactions-": Sets the documented (shorter, and according to some,
more playable) ranges for reaction orders. This is a "sticky" parameter.
You only need to set it once and it becomes part of your standard game
"reports+": Gives additional numerical information in some game
report screens. This is a "sticky" parameter. You only need to set it
once and it becomes part of your standard game configuration.
"reports-": (Default) Replaces some numerical information in game
report screens with verbal descriptions. This is a "sticky" parameter.
You only need to set it once and it becomes part of your standard game
"showmovecost+": When movement paths are shown, the projected
cost to enter each hex along the path is shown in the hex. This is a
"sticky" parameter. You only need to set it once and it becomes part of
your standard game configuration.
"showmovecost-": (Default) Do not show movement cost information
in movement path displays. This is a "sticky" parameter. You only
need to set it once and it becomes part of your standard game
Those waiting for German and French versions: Localization is in
progress. The German and French versions should be released by
Norm Koger 2.0
August 28th, 1996.
Modified September 5th, 1996.
Age of Rifles FAQ #2
This list is a more or less random selection of questions asked
and answered via email, CIS and the comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic
newsgroup. In some cases the writing is a bit unprofessional, but it
should get the job done. I have been known to answer my mail late at
>>This is a DOS only game. I have had no problems playing it under
WIN95 by simply booting to DOS.<<
You can also play from a desktop shortcut. Just be sure to set
the shortcut properties to "full screen", "close on exit", and disable the
screen saver. Rifles was actually developed under Win95 and runs
quite well from the desktop. Rebooting to DOS isn't necessary. In fact,
unless your real mode DOS drivers and memory management are very
well tuned the game will probably run more smoothly from the Win95
desktop than under any version of DOS.
>>One simple question re line of sight... I assume like most wargames
it's a "you see, they see" setting, in other words if I can't see them they
can't see me.<<
This is usually true, but there are exceptions. Small units can
be hidden, observing for other units (although in this time period there
is no battlefield indirect fire) or occasionally popping into view to
spring an ambush. Also, the field of view of a unit varies with its
altitude and movement status. Unmoved units can see further than
units which have moved. And units at higher elevations can see
further than units at lower elevations. Now, if one of these units
actually _fires_ on you, your unit can immediately see it and, orders
allowing, will return reaction fire even if it could not otherwise shoot.
So while there are potential asymmetries in fields of view, if one side
takes a shot the other side can immediately react.
>>Is there a quick check to see if a unit [can still fire]?<<
Run your mouse cursor over the unit in question and look
down at the unit panel. There is a row of icons just to the left of the
reaction orders button. A light indicates the overall capability of the
unit. If a "not" symbol (circle with diagonal slash) appears on the light
your unit has no remaining movement allowance. If your unit has
ammo a bullet will appear next to the light. And finally, if the unit can
still fire, a small crosshair appears next to the bullet.
>>...is there another quick check to see who and where a unit's
There are a number of ways to get this info. If you look in the
microview you will see that some of the units in it are blinking. All of
these are assigned to the current command. You can also turn on the
map icon formation indicators by pressing the "y" key on your
keyboard. Non miniatures style unit map icons have command
symbols on them. You can also use the next and previous unit buttons
to cycle through all units of the current command. Finally, you can
click on the command details button which will bring up a display of
>>Can artillery do indirect fire?<<
No, but you can usually find a rise somewhere that will allow
you to fire over the heads of your troops. Except for mortars in siege
situations (which Rifles wasn't really designed to handle) indirect fire
was a pretty rare thing in the 1840-1905 time frame.
>>Is there a stacking limit? Can you stack [units] from different
[commands]? Is there a disadvantage (easier to be shot at?)?<<
You can put only two units in a hex. They can be from
different commands, but you generally can't move such stacks around
except as separate units. There are two possible disadvantages: 1) With
two units in the hex, they share the available frontage. This can lead to
inefficiencies since stacking two large units in the same hex can result
in many weapons being unable to fire. 2) All fire is resolved as an area
effect in the target hex, so the more troops in the hex, the more troops
are exposed to any particular fire effect.
>>If you [order] melee for an entire command, will only the units
adjacent to the target hex participate in the attack?<<
>>First, while the manual states that units resting in disordered
formation will recover from fatigue more quickly, I don't recall any
hints on how to recover from deteriorated morale.<<
Once you've lost morale, it is difficult to recover. There are
only two ways:
1) Your unit can witness something unpleasant happening to the bad
guys. That's right, there is an immediate morale bonus for any friendly
unit that sees the bad guys rout or otherwise fail in a big way. The
morale bonus is even greater if they actually participate in the event.
On the other hand, you don't want your units to see friendlies rout
2) There is a slight increase to morale each turn if the unit is more
than 10 points below the national default. The increase is random from
1 to (1+(unit vitality/10)). (An eligible unit with a vitality of 70 would
gain between 1 and 8 morale points.) So the better the vitality of your
units, the better their morale.
>>...how about coming clean on the effects of the various AI levels?
While this is purely a subjective impression and may be pure BS, it
does seem to me that computer controlled units do more damage in
equivalent situations at the higher difficulty levels.<<
Unlike TANKS, Rifles does "enhance" (to use a euphemism)
programmed opponent unit performance. (At levels 1 and 2, the
programmed opponents are actually penalized.) There isn't just one
effect. It's 1% increase here, 2% there - that kind of thing. Enough to
have an effect, but subtle enough that it doesn't confer a crushing
advantage even at higher levels. In the near term, the effect is
negligible. The main effect is increased overall "staying power" at the
highest levels of play.
>>I can set my infantry to react at range 5. Why is this even an option
if the range of their weapons is only three?<<
The feedback prompts showing the ranges you select are
based upon the max theoretical range of the weapons assigned to the
unit. If for some reason your unit can't actually direct significant fire to
this full range (at the current time) it is possible you might see a
greater range than your unit's current effective range.
Think of the ranges given in the feedback prompt as max
ranges, but keep in mind that for any number of reasons your unit
might not actually be able to fire to that range at any particular time.
On the other hand, if through some change of circumstance your unit
becomes able to fire at its max range, it will react at that range.
>>I have cavalry with extra movement left over after their turn. I want
them to fire at range 2 while remaining in place. Do they have to be
dismounted to hold them in place, but yet allow them to react with fire
of their own?<<
It all depends upon the mission you have in mind for the
If you want them to react by charging the bad guys (generally
the case except for ACW cavalry) leave them mounted. Typically, you
might place the mounted cav in attack column next to an artillery
battery or open flank and give them a fairly short leash (1 hex) just to
keep the bad guys honest.
If you want your cav to react by fire, dismount them. Believe
me, you don't want mounted troops initiating fire combat. Remember
that one very likely result of your reaction fire is returned fire from
the bad guys, who probably aren't carrying carbines. And there your
troops are, sitting a few feet in the air, looking a bit like targets on a
modern military small arms range... So I've disallowed the option to
set your cav to automatically commit seppuku by fire.
If you don't believe me you can see what I'm talking about by
ordering a mounted cav unit to fire on a nearby bad guy during your
turn. One picture is worth a thousand words .
>>It appears to me that allowing cavalry to have a reaction range
makes them vulnerable to leaving any kind of cover or advantageous
You could say that . Try to limit the range at which
mounted cav will react if there is a significant chance that they might
draw effective fire during their reaction.
>>Is the number of reactions you can make contingent on the amount
of movement left over on your turn? Or do you get only one reaction as
long as you have at least one movement point remaining?<<
Reaction fire (using the long range rules) eats up 1/4 turn
worth of fire (and movement points). So your units could reaction fire
up to four times (remaining movement allowance allowing) - more
than that if the bad guys get close enough to start triggering "frantic
fire". So a typical engagement sequence for a horde of angry fuzzy
wuzzies charging an unmoved British square with free fire orders
1) Move to 800 yards
2) Close to 600 yards
3) Close to 400 yards
4) Close to 200 yards
5) Close to melee
If you are using the short range rules, individual reaction fire
shots are 1/2 turn worth of fire. So individual shots are more powerful
and will eat up movement allowances more rapidly.
>>What is the alternate mouse interface?<<
Within the game, pull down the "Play" menu and select
"General Play Options". Now click on the mouse control option
button. This will enable the "alternate" mouse interface. Just left click
to order movement, or right click to fire (on an enemy unit) or select
another friendly unit. There is always a prompt at the bottom of the
screen telling you exactly what each mouse button will do.
>>How large are the largest scenarios in terms of number of units and
size of map?<<
The largest map is 50x50 hexes, at 100,200, or 400 yards per
hex. The greatest number of units is 300 per side.
>>Do units run out of ammo? What happens when they do?<<
Things get complicated.
Each unit tracks ammo in terms of "ammo points. An "ammo
point" is the amount of ammo required to fire every weapon in the unit
for 20 minutes. This is analogous to the modern military term "unit of
fire". In many cases (almost always for infantry) some weapons don't
fire, or don't fire for the full 20 minutes. The number of weapons
firing depends upon things like formation (line, supported line, attack
column, etc.), whether skirmishers are deployed, how much frontage
is available (you may be sharing frontage with another unit in the
same hex), and whether the fire is ordered or automatic (based upon
your specification of what the unit should do if the bad guys take some
If you deploy skirmishers from a typical formation
(appropriately sized for the scale) only a small percentage of your
weapons will be able to fire, so the unit will probably never run low on
ammo. On the other hand, if you have enough available frontage to put
every man on line, skirmishers "in", your infantry units can easily run
out of ammo in a single turn of fire. You can check to see how many
weapons will fire by examining the full unit report.
In some cases (artillery units with two gun types) two separate
ammo levels are maintained.
Even when units run out of ammo it's assumed that _some_
ammo is still available for "frantic fire" (shots at the bad guys as you
spot the whites of their eyes), but other than that the unit 1)can't fire
(even automatically) and 2) takes a small morale penalty.
Fortunately, you don't need to remember all this stuff. But it
_is_ happening "under the hood".
>>How are they resupplied?<<
It depends. Naval units can never be resupplied. Fortunately,
ships and gunboats tend to carry quite a bit of ammo around. And for
some reason, the bad guys generally tend to avoid them as much as
Artillery units also tend to carry a lot of ammo, although
lucky shots can detonate caissons.
All non naval units that can trace a traditional line of hexes
free of enemy units (and not adjacent, unless occupied by friendlies) to
a friendly supply point have a chance of being resupplied. The
resupply chance is based upon a supply rating maintained for each
formation. This chance for resupply declines with: distance from the
supply point, terrain density in the unit's hex, proximity to enemy
units, fire, and poor visibility (either due to precipitation or time of
day). The chance increases if the units are: in command control, at rest
(not recently moved), near or on a road, or in any kind of defensive
position. Essentially, anything that could conceivably affect resupply
probably does so.
There are also two special cases: 1) Units that are within 7
hexes of a friendly supply point, were not unsupplied the previous
turn, did not move or fire the previous turn, and are not adjacent to an
enemy unit automatically receive supply. 2) Any unit in or adjacent to
a friendly supply point is automatically supplied.
>>I took the 13th Prussian Division & checked on each individual
unit. The last line stated "unit is unsupplied". Went to the
"Command Details" for the division and found "Supply level is
The _command_ supply level is excellent, meaning that units
of the command have an excellent chance to be resupplied on any
given turn. But other factors (see above) have a strong impact on the
>>Throughout the scenario I found that most of my units were listed
as "unsupplied" but this did not seem to materially hamper
On this scale resupply affects only ammo levels. It sounds as
though enough supply was intermittently getting through to your units
to maintain your ammo levels.
>>I also found the Prussian artillery units panicked out of the game
without receiving fire.<<
Or perhaps not...
Artillery units usually don't run out of ammo. But if they do
they tend to pull up stakes and head for a supply source. Guns were
particularly valuable in the 19th century, and they tended to skeedadle
if they couldn't get ammo resupply.
>>What about Command and Control? What happens to isolated
Command radius from command leaders is 5 hexes, 3 for sub
leaders. This radius can be modified (in the obvious direction) by time
of day, movement status, weather, terrain density, etc. Outside of this
radius, there is a increasing chance (100% beyond 4x radius) that units
will be isolated. Isolation has a strong impact on resupply,
replacements (by straggler reintegration) and movement allowance for
your units. In good weather and open terrain you can spread out a bit.
At night, moving, in the woods, in the rain, well...
Isolated units _can_ move, but they won't go anywhere fast.
Finally, if a formation is really beaten up, you may find that it
"reorganizes", making it completely unavailable for as long as it takes
to regain control. This is particularly likely to happen if you lose a lot
of leaders in a hurry.
Norm Koger 2.0
September 11th, 1996
Age of Rifles FAQ #3
This document will probably be expanded in the near future.
A FEW GUIDELINES FOR SCENARIO CREATION
As anyone who has designed historical scenarios can tell you,
a battle sometimes isn't as interesting when you finish a scenario as
when you conceptualized it. Just because a situation has already been
modeled in an existing scenario doesn't mean someone else can't
tackle it again. You might be able to do a better job than the other
Orders and Objectives
Definition: All objectives except for the final (highest numbered)
assigned to any particular command are referred to as intermediate
objectives. Intermediate objectives are useful for refining the
action of the programmed opponent, but have no direct effect upon play.
Units assigned to "attacking" commands will attempt to pass
through lowest numbered to highest numbered objectives while
advancing on their final objective. In many cases it is not necessary to
specify a particular path for an attacking command, since the
programmed opponent does a pretty good job of picking a good path
the command. There are two exceptions though: 1) If there is a
significant obstacle, such as a river, it can be helpful to place
intermediate objectives in such a way as to create a "path" for advance.
2) If many commands will be advancing on the same objective it can
be helpful to use intermediate objectives for each command to avoid
traffic jams. Otherwise, since the programmed opponent will tend to
take the easiest path when moving its units, you may find your
commands bunching up near roads or passes through dense terrain.
Defending commands will stay in place unless an enemy unit
occupies one of their objectives. In many cases this is what you want.
But you can also use intermediate objectives to set up "tripwires". For
example, a cavalry command can be placed behind a hill out of enemy
view. Its final objective might be in a village located behind the
command. This ensures that the village will be defended if approached
by the enemy. But you could also set an intermediate objective on one
side of a bridge in front of the hill. When the enemy advances across
the bridge your command would ride out to attack, but if other enemy
forces threatened your command's final objective it would pull out to
defend the village. By clever use of intermediate objectives you can set
up a very active defense.
To begin with, set all of your command orders to "normal"
emphasis. You can adjust up (all costs) or down (cautious) when you
start testing for historical accuracy and play balance.
Leaders have a very strong effect on game play. It is easy to
forget to set leaders away from national defaults, but the results can be
worth it. Private soldiers in many 19th century armies were quite
professional, but their officers were sometimes political appointees. In
some cases, the better leaders have become legendary figures. You can
reflect this by setting commander values as appropriate.
Unit names are limited to 16 characters, but you can get
additional mileage out of unit names in many game displays by using
the following abbreviations (spaces are significant). This also gets
around spelling problems:
" Hsr" >>> " Hussar"
" Fslr" >>> " Fusilier"
" Drgn" >>> " Dragoon"
" Gndr" >>> " Grenadier"
" Jgrs" >>> " Jaegers"
"Hlndr" >>> "Highlander"
" Arty" >>> " Artillery"
" Bn" >>> " Battalion"
" dA" >>> " d'Afrique"
"Hvy" >>> "Heavy"
"Lt" >>> "Light"
" Rgt" >>> " Regiment"
" Bde" >>> " Brigade"
"Mtd" >>> "Mounted"
"Gren " >>> "Grenadier "
"Gd" >>> "Guard"
"Irsh" >>> "Irish"
"Fld" >>> "Field"
" Bodygd" >>> " Bodyguard"
" Div " >>> " Division "
"W'phln" >>> "Westphalian"
"B'burg" >>> "Brandenburg"
"Lwr " >>> "Lower "
"E.Pru" >>> "East Pru"
"Sfrth" >>> " Seaforth "
"Camrn" >>> " Cameron "
"Ryl" >>> "Royal"
"Bty" >>> "Battery"
" Tex." >>> " Texas"
" Ark." >>> " Arkansas"
" Lou." >>> " Louisiana"
" Miss." >>> " Mississippi"
" Tenn." >>> " Tennessee"
" Ala." >>> " Alabama"
" Fla." >>> " Florida"
" Ga." >>> " Georgia"
" S.C." >>> " South Carolina"
" N.C." >>> " North Carolina"
" Ky." >>> " Kentucky"
" Va." >>> " Virginia"
" Md." >>> " Maryland"
" Penn." >>> " Pennsylvania"
" Del." >>> " Delaware"
" Ia." >>> " Indiana"
" Ill." >>> " Illinois"
" N.J." >>> " New Jersey"
" N.Y." >>> " New York"
" Conn." >>> " Connecticut"
" Mass." >>> " Massachusetts"
" Vt." >>> " Vermont"
" N.H." >>> " New Hampshire"
" Me." >>> " Maine"
" W." >>> " West"
" Vol." >>> " Volunteer"
" Vols." >>> " Volunteers"
" S.S." >>> " Sharpshooters"
Example: If you name a unit "1st B'burg Jgrs", it will display
in the game as "1st Brandenburg Jaegers" if space allows.
You can do interesting things with some unit and command
parameters. For example, if you look closely at Buena Vista you will
find that the Mexican army arrives on the map in an exhausted state.
This strongly encourages the Mexican player to do what Santa Anna
did historically - probe the pass then set up camp for the night. You
can also set the ammo levels of individual units very low while setting
their parent command supply ratings much higher. The units would
start off with very little ammo but would rapidly resupply. Or you can
do the reverse, if you want to recreate the legendary "quartermaster
effect" at Isandlwana.
If you are designing an historical scenario, try to get
historical results by selecting objectives and command orders. Don't
worry about play balance until you are satisfied with the feel of the
scenario. Once you have done this, you can manually modify the
values of the objectives to achieve play balance.
The best way to test for rough balance in your scenarios is to
launch them in a computer vs. computer play mode. You can speed
this up by using the "quick" command line parameter (which was
specifically designed for this very purpose. See Rifles FAQ #1). The
"quick" parameter will cut all delays to a minimum, which will allow
for the most rapid possible test of the scenario. It comes with a cost
though: The game will play so rapidly that you won't easily be
able to follow the action.
A FEW GUIDELINES FOR CAMPAIGN CREATION
Make sure that you don't change sides with the forces from
one scenario to the next. That is, if the first force in the OOB (order of
battle) is Allied in scenario 1, make sure it remains the first force in
all subsequent scenarios. Also, keep _exactly_ the same names for any
units that carry over from scenario to scenario. Any change in the
name, even one character, and the unit will not get any experience
benefit for serving in previous battles. If you swap sides for your
forces from scenario to scenario, anyone playing the campaign will
experience a side swap when they make the transition to the side
I recommend the following: Create one master order of battle,
with all units from both sides for all scenarios. Then save this OOB
and use it as a template, loading it as necessary when creating
scenarios. Create the individual scenario orders of battle by _deleting_
units not needed for the specific scenario. This guarantees consistency
and ensures that you won't have to worry about any of the points
mentioned in the paragraph above.
Be sure to edit the transition text when you set up the scenario
linkages. The automatic display of this information between scenarios
will make your campaigns look more professional.
Norm Koger 2.0
September 11th, 1996