The Rules Directory:
Ambush Alley

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TITLE (YEAR): Ambush Alley (2007)Ambush Alley Cover

AUTHOR: Shawn Carpenter, Robby Carpenter, Dave Phipps

PUBLISHER: Ambush Alley Games



PRICE (with date):

  • $20.00 for .PDF (in 2008)
  • $25.00 for print copy (in 2008)

REVIEWED BY: Shawn Carpenter (Author)

PERIOD COVERED: Contemporary (1993 – Today)


Ambush Alley is available in both PDF and printed versions. Customers who purchase the printed version may receive a PDF copy upon request. The rule book has full color covers and a black and white interior. The print version is spiral bound.  Both versions are 73 pages long, including a table of contents, full index and Quick Reference Sheets. Fog of War and Asset Cards are included along with ten scenarios.


Ambush Alley is a fire-team level game intended to recreate the sort of nasty, brutal and short firefights that have become a defining feature of counter-insurgency operations, especially those in an urban environment.


The number of figures required varies from scenario to scenario, but in general Ambush Alley is playable with approximately 12 “regular” figures and 24 “insurgent” figures.


The base unit is a fire-team, usually consisting of 4 individually mounted figures.


  • Ground and Time Scale are purposefully abstract and are not defined.
  • Figure/Base Ratio: 1 figure = 1man
  • Recommended Figure: Ambush Alley is playable with figures of any scale using the range and movement notes included in the rules
  • Table Size: 2’x2’ for 15mm, 4’x4’ for 20mm and larger.
  • Game Length: Generally less than 1 hour per scenario


  • Infantry: For 15mm, a penny or similar sized coin or washer – ” or so will do. For larger scales, mount as seems aesthetically pleasing to the player.


  • Choose a Scenario
  • Draw Fog of War Cards as dictated by the scenario
  • Draw any Asset Cards designated by the Scenario
  • Set up the table per the Scenario
  • Place Insurgent Hot Spots
  • Set up the Regular units on the Table per the Scenario
  • Set up Insurgent units on the Table according to the Scenario
  • On turns AFTER the first, Insurgent Player rolls against Insurgency Level to determine arrival of new units
  • Regular Player activates his first unit
  • Insurgent units may Interrupt
  • Repeat steps 9 & 10 until all Regular units have been activated
  • Once all Regular units have been Activated, the Insurgent player may move any Insurgent units that haven’t Reacted.
  • Repeat Steps 8 through 12 until one side has met the Scenario Victory Conditions


Ambush Alley’s mechanics revolve around a simple “nearly –universal mechanic:” Roll a 4 or better AND higher than your opponent’s roll to succeed. This simple mechanic is the engine behind fire combat, close assaults, morale, and vehicle combat, making the rule system very accessible and quick to learn. There are very few die-roll modifiers, although some situations may call for a player to roll more or less dice than he normally would.

Movement: Movement rates in Ambush Alley sometimes excite comment as they are much longer than that found in many similar games. A fireteam may move cautiously up to 6” but can run 12.” Units moving cautiously have a better chance to react to enemy actions. These movement rates work well with the game’s “WYSIWYG” scale. Units appear to be moving a realistic distance compared to the size of the table and the scenery on it.

Fire Combat: Basic fire combat resolution is pretty straight-forward. Each unit has a “Firepower” rating that equates to a number of dice equal to the number of figures in the unit. If the unit possesses support weapons such as SAWs or RPGs, they may receive extra Firepower dice. Each unit also has a “Defense” that is equal to its number of figures. The unit may receive extra Defense dice if it is in cover, possesses body armor, etc.

When a unit fires at an opposing unit, it throws a number of Troop Quality dice equal to its Firepower. The Defending unit throws a number of Troop Quality dice equal to its Defense. Both sides discard any dice with a score of less than 4. The defender places his remaining Defense dice against the attacker’s Firepower dice – Defense dice equal to or greater than a Firepower die indicate no hits. Any Firepower die that cannot be matched or bettered with Defense die is a hit and causes a casualty.

Troop Quality dice range from D6 to D12, with the larger dice indicating a higher quality unit.  Most Ambush Alley scenarios use troops with Troop Qualities of D6 to D8.

Close Combat: Melee is resolved in much the same way as fire combat above, although allowances are made for final defensive fire depending on how well the defending unit’s nerve holds.

Morale: Just as a unit’s troop quality may range from D6 to D12, so may their Morale. Morale functions differently for “regular” units (trained soldiers with an ingrained sense of unit cohesion) and “insurgent” units (ad hoc groups of combatants who may or may not have ever trained together). Insurgent units are more likely to flee when their nerve fails and may lose a member or two even when their morale holds (“These guys seem to have the situation in hand – I think this is a good time to make sure I remembered to turn the fire out under the teapot.”).

Officers:  Leaders in Ambush Alley are not super-heroes and have no additional combat ability beyond that of the troops they lead. Most Regular units have a well-defined chain of command, so that if a leader is lost, he is immediately replaced by his immediate subordinate. Insurgent units, on the other hand, tend to rely heavily on the direction of a single charismatic leader and are likely to hunker down in place or dissolve altogether if a new leader doesn’t appear soon.

Some leaders are inspirational and their presence alleviates the effects of combat stress.


Ambush Alley contains Orders of Battle describing forces from platoon down to Fireteam level. ORBATS are included for the following forces:

  • Australian RAR (Royal Australian Regiment)
  • British Army
  • British Royal Marines
  • United States Marine Corps
  • United States Army Light Infantry
  • United States Army Rangers
  • Note that Insurgent units do not use a specified order of battle.

Ambush Alley also contains 5 scenarios set during the march up to Baghdad and the early days of the occupation.


Ambush Alley is a modern miniature war game that allows players to recreate the intense counter-insurgency actions in an urban environment that have become the hallmark of 21st century warfare. The rules revolve around a universal mechanic that is easy to grasp but supports a high level of detail and rewards sound tactical play. The game’s dynamic turn sequence captures the turmoil of the modern city fight and integrated “fog of war” keeps things chaotic and unpredictable!

Ambush Alley contains complete rules for all the key elements of modern counter-insurgency and street-fighting, including:

  • Civilians on the Battlefield Full Vehicle Rules
  • Special Assets and Off-Board Support
  • Night Fighting
  • UAVs
  • IEDs & VBIEDs
  • Building Clearing
  • And MUCH MORE!

Ambush Alley includes five scenarios and sample organizational charts for US, British, and Australian forces. The game can be played at any scale from 15mm up. 15mm scenarios call for a 2’x2’ table, while 28mm games only require a 4’x4’ table. Ambush Alley is easy on the pocketbook where miniatures are concerned. Few scenarios require more than ten figures for the Regular force and a dozen or so for the Insurgents.

Ambush Alley can be played head-to-head between two or more players, but also offers full solo-play rules, so players can still have fun pushing their figures around the table even when a flesh and blood opponent isn’t available! The solo rules also support Co-Op Play, in which multiple Regular players cooperate in the face of a “programmed” Insurgent force.


Ambush Alley has received rave reviews on the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast, found at http://www.meeplesandminiatures.co.uk/ and in a review for Wargames Journal, found at http://www.rebelpublishing.net/content/Ambush_Alley_Review.pdf

“After much searching around for set of modern rules to use with all the 20mm stuff we keep producing {Britannia} I recently took the plunge an bought the AA Rule bundle etc. After spending an evening’s reading we then tried out 2 small games to get the feel of the rules.
Surprise , surprise! Usually we find that rules just don't work the way the designer had intended or the hype doesn't match the result. This time around it actually did what it said on the box. We were really impressed and had no real difficulty getting our heads around the mechanisms I think the designers have done a cracking job on a very difficult subject.”

- Dave Howitt, Britannia Miniatures

“Ran the AA game at Historicon. We had room for six, and ran with 9 people to a great success!!! AA worked well as I had expected. Fast paced, everyone involved, and the players running the game after the third turn!!”

- Kevin Lepley

“I spent last night printing the rules, and I must say i like them a lot. I`m more of a detailed weapons guy, but yourrules do seem to hit the spot, also nice to play solo, and when my
friend visits me, we can work together on the same side, something 99% of games don`t have...”

-Alan Sowle

“I bought the Ambush Alley game plus the supplements yesterday. Had a quick read-through last night. Reads well. I'm impressed. Well done Shawn! Just by reading they seem to be fun. Not the sort of rules where one gets the feeling this was a waste of money. Emphasis is on gaming, playability. The rules seem to ensure loads of gaming fun. That's what I'm after.”

-James Field

“We tried our first scenario with Ambush Alley. We were impressed! Decisive combat, very fast paced. We had a couple of discussions on Overwatch fires, but resolved them rather easily.”

-Jim French

“As I stated before, the winner is the game system, as people want a fast but reliable system to play situations they read about or see on the news, and AA delivers that.”

-Jose Ventura

“I will be spreading the word too - this has got me gaming again rather than wistfully planning games that I know I won't get around to playing. My redcoats and khakis will be off to the Sudan and South Africa after the North West Frontier. I love that your rules can re-create these small actions that can be so hard to generate the feel of. It gives the solo gamer a great game too with all the uncertainties.”

-Charley, on using Ambush Alley for British Colonial games.

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