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A Nation On Trial (1997)

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TITLE (YEAR): A Nation On Trial (1997)Nation On Trial

AUTHOR: Jim Dietz

PUBLISHER: Jolly Rogers Games



  • None known.

PRICE (with date): $20.00 (in 1997)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin


  • American Civil War (1861-65)


A Nation On Trial (ANoT) is a bound paperback book. It has a color cover with black and white interior. It is 74 pages in length including several pages of charts and one scenario. There is a brief table of contents but no index.


A Nation on Trial is a Grand Tactical/Operational level rule set. It is designed to recreate major battles of the Civil War on a medium sized table in an afternoon.


Armies required will vary with the scenario, but the rules provide the following counts for the included Gettysbrug scenario:

  • Meade's Army of the Potomac will require 31 officers, 47 guns, 94 artillery crew, 99 cavalry and 750 infantry.
  • Lee's Army of Northern Virginia will require 14 officers, 42 guns, 84 artillery crew, 66 cavalry and 545 infantry.

The base unit is a brigade of 3-8 stand where each stand is a regiment.


  • Ground Scale 1” = 200 yards
  • Time Scale 1 Turn = 1 hour
  • Figure/Base Ratio: 1 figure = 100 soldiers
  • Recommended Figure: 15/20mm with conversion charts for both 25mm and 54mm
  • Table Size: 4’ x 8’ will give allow you to refight Gettysburg
  • Game Length: Not Known


  • Infantry: 1” x 1”
  • Cavalry: 2" x 1.5"
  • Artillery: 1" x 1"

The basing is specifically designed to be consistent with Johnny Reb.


  • Step 1 Write Orders
  • Step 2 Concentrated Fire
  • Step 3 Planned Charges: Charging units are declared and roll a D10 to determine the charge movement bonus. Units must move the full amount,
  • unless the target is a specific terrain feature in which case they may halt there.
  • Step 4 Movement
  • Step 4a Routing Unit Movement
  • Step 4b Opportunity Charges
  • Step 5 Fire Phase
  • Step 6 Officer Casualties
  • Step 7 Rally Phase


The game mechanics are all simple and easy to grasp. They all use a D100 system with appropriate modifiers. The game only uses ten sided dice.

Movement: The only unusual aspect to the movement rules is the requirement to detail wheels and facing changes in the written rules. Otherwise they have the usual detail of formation, terrain costs etc.

Fire Combat: Fire Combat uses a familiar fire chart. Cross index Fire Factors with a die roll and the result indicates the number of casualties caused. An asterisk means a leader has also been wounded. One unusual twist to ANoT is how Fire Factors are calculated. There are a number of modifier to the basic 1 figure = 1 Fire Factor. Elite units have a x1.5 modifier. So an elite unit of 20 figures has 30 Fire Factors. But these modifiers are cumulative. So a 20 figure unit (x1=20 FF) that is elite (x1.5=30FF) and is also on a hill (x1.5=45FF) will have 45 Fire Factors. Units that lose a stand must then take a morale check. Fire is considered to be simultaneous. Modifiers for target formation, terrain, and "massed targets" are included.

Concentrated Fire happens in a separate phase. It occurs prior to movement and units that fire in this phase may take no further actions during the turn. These units receive a +20 die roll modifier. Interestingly, the rules also include a simple Opportunity Fire rule.

Close Combat: Melee precedes close combat and represents a short range firefight and test of wills. Melee is resolved by opposed die rolls (again, D100) with modifiers for the usual reasons: terrain, presence of leaders, formation etc. If the modified rolls are with 10 of each other Close Combat ensues. Otherwise the high roller has won. The loser retreats and the winner continues his charge. If the winner contacts the loser again, close combat immediately ensues. Close combat is identical to Fire Combat but uses different Fire Factor and die roll modifiers. Up to two rounds of Close Combat may be fought in one turn.

Morale: Units may be Elite, Veteran, Raw or Militia. All units are also in either Good, Steady, Shaken or Routed status. The morale level determines what they need to roll during a morale check. Elite units, for example, have a base morale of 10 (the number they must exceed on the roll of a D10). But if shaken, it must add 15 to the base morale. When called on to make a morale check, first modify the Base Morale. Then roll the D100. If it fails the unit drops one status - from Good to Steady or from Shaken to Routed. Units that rout may be rallied if they get to the rear and defensible terrain.

Officers: Each officer has a Die Roll Modifier which it may use once per turn. So, for example, it may affect the Melee die roll of a subordinate unit. Leaders may only affect units under their command, and they must be within 3" or 6" of the unit (depending on the officer). However, any time they use this ability they stand an increased chance of becoming a casualty. When officers are killed their subordinate units make an immediate morale check. Officers also have a limited opportunity to change a unit's orders during the turn.

Charges: ANoT includes rules for both Declared Charges and Opportunity Charges. Both are resolved basically the same way. The charging unit is moved and, if it contacts an enemy unit, melee results. If there is no winner of the melee, Close Combat ensues. Opportunity charges may only be taken if an enemy unit presents a flank or rear to the charging unit. And in an opportunity charge, the charging unit receives no movement bonus.

The rule book also includes a substantial set of campaign rules which cover fortifications, straggler recovery, forced marches and much more.


The rulebook includes one scenario: Gettysburg. A brief list of Officer values is also included.


Overall I found the rules reasonably well written. There were several examples but no diagrams. The charts are simple enough and charts are provided for 15mm, 25mm and 54mm figures. Despite the fact that these are long out of print, I think they offer a nice way to fight larger battles without resorting to the basing style of Volley & Bayonet (which uses 3" square bases and no formations). They are not for the gamer who likes his charts to distinguish very model of musket or carbine. But if you want to fight an entire battle, and think Johnny Reb might be a bit too much, you might try and track these down.

The game does call for a lot of figures, and several markers. Each unit must be marked with Status (Shaken, routed) as well as casualties (using pipe cleaners ala Johnny Reb) so I would prefer to us a roster system. But this would certainly be easy enough to do.


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