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Dazzle Pattern Design

Object > Pattern > Objects to Pattern

NOT MY WORDS, Borrowing for notes.

SHAMBATTLE was devised during the mid 1920s by Lieutenant Harry G Dowdall (US Army) and Joseph H Gleason and was published in 1929. The full title of the book was SHAMBATTLE: HOW TO PLAY WITH TOY SOLDIERS and it was divided into eleven chapters. The first was a general introduction to the game; the next three described the Lieutenant’s Game (which was aimed at players who were 8 years old or older); the following three explained the Captain’s Game (which was aimed at players who were 10 years old or older); and the final three dealt with the General’s Game (which was aimed at players who were 12 years old or older).

Players were expected to start with the first of the Games, and once they had mastered the rules and the relevant tactics and strategies, they moved on to the next level, with each level having increasingly complex rules and a more detailed playing map. (Players were expected to draw the maps out on paper. In the case of the General’s Game, this was 3′ x 5′.)

The rules for the most complex game – the General’s Game – were relatively simple by modern standards and a synopsis is shown below.


The map or battlefield

The map or battlefield is drawn onto a 3′ x 5′ piece of paper. Each side (Bluvia and Redina) has three cities that are connected by roads.

A river marks the border between the two countries, and it is crossed by three bridges. There are also a number of hills, forests, and marshes.

The troops and where to place them

Both sides should have equal numbers of infantry and cavalry (a total of approximately forty infantry and cavalry), six medical personnel, a cannon, two machine guns, and three hospitals, two of which should be field hospitals.

They should be deployed as follows:

  • At least half of the soldiers should be stationed in cities, with each city having a third of the soldiers deployed in the cities.
  • The location of the permanent hospital must be fixed before the battle begins but the field hospital can be deployed anywhere.
  • Each player identifies a single solder to represent themselves on the battlefield.
  • Each player secretly choses a single soldier on the opposing side to be their spy.
  • Players are only allowed ten minutes to set up their armies on the battlefield.

Turn sequence

Players take alternate turns and only five minutes is allowed per turn. During a player’s turn they may move all their troop and then resolve any combats. There individual player’s turn sequence is as follows:

  • Movement of troops
  • Bayonet combats/melees
  • Machine gun fire
  • Cannon fire


Movement distances are:

  • Full move (6-inches): Troops on a road in the open
  • Part move (4-inches): Troops in the open or on a road on a hill
  • Half move (3-inches): Troops in forests or on hills
  • Short move (2-inches): Troops in forests on hills

Troops move at the slowest speed set by the terrain they cross.

The cannon must have two crew who are touching it to move, and it moves at the same speed as those crew would move. The machine gun has to have a crewman who is touching it to move, and moves at the speed that the crewman would move. Two medical personnel are required to move a field hospital until it is deployed.

Bayonet combat/melees

Bayonet combat/melees take place when the bases of opposing soldiers are touching. Each player rolls a D6 die for each of their soldiers and the results are as follows:

  • 1 or 2: The player’s soldier is a casualty (killed and removed from the battlefield).
  • 3 or 4: The player’s soldier is a partial casualty (wounded and laid down).
  • 5 or 6: The player’s casualty is uninjured.

If any soldiers are still touching after this fighting, the opposing general can continue the fighting during their turn or move their troops away.

Medical personnel may not take part in fighting.

Partial casualties cannot move or fight until they have been treated in a hospital.

Cannon and machine gun fire

Cannons and machine guns can only fire once each turn.

The cannons require two crew who are touching it to fire and can fire at any location on the battlefield with the exception of hospitals and medical personnel. The firing procedure is as follows:

  • A square cutout template that is three-inches square is placed over the target location.
  • A D6 die is thrown for any soldiers inside the cutout.
    • If the soldier is in the open, they are a casualty if the D6 die score is 1.
    • If the soldier in in a city or a forest, they are a partial casualty if the D6 die score is 1.
    • If the D6 die score is 2 or more, the soldier is unharmed.

The machine guns require one crewman who is touching it to fire. The firing procedure is as follows:

  • An inverted triangular cutout template that is two-inches high and one-and-a-half-inches across is placed with its point or apex at the base of the machine gun, pointing in the direction that the machine gun is facing.
  • A D6 die is thrown for any soldiers inside the cutout, and the results are as per cannon fire.

Enemy cannons and machine guns can be captured if they are uncrewed.


Once a permanent or field hospital is deployed, one of that side’s medical personnel must stay with it. The remaining medical personnel can be used to carry partial casualties to a hospital for treatment.

The medical personnel move partial casualties in the same way that a machine un crewman moves their machine gun.

Once a partial casualty arrives at a hospital, they can be treated by the medical personnel at the hospital but only two partial casualties can be treated during any one turn.

Once the partial casualty has been treated, they may move out of the hospital.


The identity of a side’s spy is written down on a piece of paper and this are placed in one of that side’s border cities.

This piece of paper can be moved by a friendly soldier in the same way that a machine gun can be moved.

At any point during the battle, a player may identify their spy, and the spy then begin to fight against the side they originally belonged to.

The piece of paper can be captured in the same way that a machine gun can be captured.

If the piece of paper is captured before the identity of the spy is revealed, the spy is unmasked and immediately removed from the battlefield.

I think that the idea of combining certain aspects of SHAMBATTLE and the PORTABLE WARGAME has some merit, and I will be exploring this idea further … starting with the map/battlefield.

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