States of Battle: a fan-made ruleset for your favourite fantasy wargame!

War machines fire at will, crushing the enemy with rocks and brimstone.

Generals send secret, devilish stratagems to their vanguard.

Acts of brash heroism are rewarded – and blunders punished.

With the next move just minutes away, twiddling your thumbs isn’t an option…

States of Battle is a custom ruleset that improves the pace, realism and “Generalship” of your favourite rank and flank wargame. It combines elements of the Piquet system with a home-brew of deck building and board game mechanics.

The result is something granular, variable and unpredictable that better reflects the carnage of battle.

States of Battle is for you to play with. As a standalone game it offers a radical alternative to the “you go, I go” turn order. Besides this, there’s plenty of scope for house rules that encourage thematic, army-specific or asymmetric play styles. Try it with your favourite wargame and see what you think!

birds eye view of a battlefield

Credit where it’s due

The original inspiration for this manual was Hostile Realms, a variant of the Piquet wargaming ruleset. Although States of Battle has evolved from this, it nonetheless owes a huge debt the Piquet system. Please visit their website to find out more about this excellent variant on wargaming rules.

(We should also point out that the creators of Piquet had no involvement in developing States of Battle, nor do they receive any income from it – past, present or future. States of Battle is a non-profit ruleset made for entertainment purposes only)


Put simply, States of Battle alters the turn sequence and victory conditions while keeping the core mechanics of your preferred wargame.

Alternating Activations

States of Battle replaces the rigid “I go, you go” turn sequence with “alternating activations”. This is driven by cards that represent individual unit actions rather than sweeping army-wide movements.

Essentially, these cards merge Movement, Shooting, Spells and Combat into an ongoing, frenetic rally. Soldiers charge out of sequence, command units embolden their nearest allies, and archers fire whenever they damn well please*.

*(sort of!)

States of Battle sequence deck
Events (in yellow) affect things outside your control. Orders (pink) activate single units. Players pick Orders that best suit their army, encouraging themed and often asymmetric battles.

Army Morale

States of Battle uses a currency that depicts army morale. Army morale:

  • Affects victory conditions: rather than rely on an arbitrary timeframe, victories can be achieved by visibly breaking your enemy’s courage.
  • Allows critical calls: generals can sacrifice morale to make emergency vetoes and risky one-off manoeuvres.
  • Creates custom triggers: the “State of Battle” chart (below) lends itself to a plethora of possibilities. Buffs, reinforcements or army-specific rules can be triggered when an army’s morale hits a certain ‘state’.
States of Battle diagram with Morale Counters
Example: as they stare into the face of defeat, a horde of bloodthirsty demons are granted buffs when their army becomes ‘Bloodied’.

What this isn’t

States of Battle alters the pace and tone of the game. It doesn’t mess with the “on the ground” rules of any edition: unit stats, points values, combat resolutions, leadership checks, psychology, charges etc. Think of it as a reshuffle, not a rewrite.

The full PDF can be downloaded below. The game has been rigorously tested over lockdown and we’ll continue to tweak and add new features to this page. For now, have a go and let us know what you think!

Playing Cards

These can be printed at home using Avery LL18 templates. Alternatively, you can get yourself a set of readymade Hostile Realms cards that contain similar card titles.

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