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A Good Day To Die (2nd. Ed.)

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TITLE:  A Good Day To Die: Skirmish Wargames Rules for the ‘Old West’ and OtherHLBS-1056 19th & Early 20th Century Conflicts and Adventures 2nd. Ed.

AUTHOR: Chris Peers

PUBLISHER: Honorable Lead Boiler Suit Company (HLBS)



    Player support

PRICE (with date): $21.50 (in 2008)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: 1850 - 1920


A Good Day To Die (AGDTD)is a slim comb bound booklet of 35 pages. It has a color cover with black and white interior.

SCOPE: A Good Day To Die (AGDTD) is aimed at small skirmish actions in which each player has one figure with a handful of followers.

ARMY SIZE: In general each player will need between 1 and perhaps a dozen figures.

BASE UNIT: Each figure in the game represents one man. These are grouped into “units” of roughly 6-12 figures. In some cases a unit may be comprised of a single figure.


  • Ground Scale: Not stated - the author’s goal is “what matters most to us is the ‘feel’ and balance of the game...”
  • Time Scale: Not stated - it is merely described as being “quite a brief period of time.”
  • Figure/Base Ratio 1 figure = 1 man
  • Recommended Figure Size: 25mm but conversion for 15mm and other scales is covered.
  • Table Size: A 4’ x 6’ table gives plenty of space but bigger tables are better.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening


AGDTD does not require any specific basing. Measurement is from figure to figure and bases are therefore strictly for functional and aesthetic purposes.


AGDTD features two distinct turn sequences. The first is for those games with a clearly defined Side A and Side B. The second option is for those games in which there are multiple sides, the sides are not clear, free-for-alls, etc.

Turn Sequence 1 (Side A vs Side B):

  1. Both sides roll to remove pinned markers.
  2. Players alternate moving units. A unit may remain stationary but this counts as that unit’s move for the turn.
  3. Any challenges to duel are now issued.
  4. Shooting is resolved in this order: Killers, Warriors, Soldiers, Civilians, Rabble.
  5. Hand-to-hand combat is now resolved.
  6. Both sides take any necessary morale tests.
  7. Both sides attempt to rally units which have Morale Failure markers.

Turn Sequence 2 (Free-For-All)

  1. All players roll to remove pinned markers.
  2. Each player rolls a number of dice depending on the morale of his unit. The highest scorer then declares which unit must move first. The second highest roller chooses the second unit and so on. When it is a player’s turn to choose the unit he may choose his own or someone else’s unit. No unit may be chosen to move more than once so each unit will eventually get a chance to move. Prior to moving his unit a player must issue any challenges to duel.
  3. Shooting is resolved in this order: Killers, Warriors, Soldiers, Civilians, Rabble.
  4. Hand-to-hand combat is now resolved.
  5. Both sides take any necessary morale tests.
  6. Both sides attempt to rally units which have Morale Failure markers.


Movement: In AGDTD there are four movement modes: Stealthy; Manoeuvre; Rush; and Assault. Movement rates are partially random determined by the roll of the dice. For example, a foot figure in “Rush” movement 2D6 plus 3” while a mounted figure would cover 4D6 plus 8”. There are restrictions as to what may use each mode of movement. Mounted figures, for example, may not use Rush in rough or difficult terrain.

Morale Rating: The combat effectiveness of each figure in AGDTD is determined by the figure’s morale. The morale levels - from highest to lowest - are Killers; Warriors; Soldiers, Civilians and Rabble. In addition to better combat skills, note that higher morale figures fire prior to lower morale ones. This means a Killer may shoot and kill a Soldier before that Soldier has fired. Fire is simultaneous within morale levels, but between them.

Visibility: In AGDTD enemy figures must first be spotted before they can be fired on. In general, spotting is automatic unless there are mitigating factors such as darkness, target is moving stealthily, or is in cover/concealment. In these cases spotting has a maximum range and requires a die roll. For example, in heavy rain or twilight spotting is limited to 48”. Halted foot targets, or foot targets moving stealthily, can only be spotted within 4” (12” if firing). Spotting is a simple D6. Killer and Warriors post on a 4+, Soldiers on a 5+ all others on a 6 only.

Shooting: Ranged combat comes in two varieties: Aimed and Unaimed. Both kinds of shooting are resolved using D20s.

With Aimed fire, each weapon has a rating which indicates how many D20s are rolled. A roll of 18-20 kills the target, while a 15-17 pins it. Each die is subject to a number of modifiers. These cover the firing figure’s morale (Killers and Warriors get a +3, Civilians a -1), cover, target’s movement mode, concealment, etc. Regardless of the number of dice rolled, a single weapon can only ever inflict one hit on a target.

With Unaimed fire, targets may either be pinned or unaffected. As with Aimed fire, the firing figure rolls a number of D20 based on his weapon. He compares the roll against the morale of the target. Rabble are pinned on a 10+, Civilians on a 14+, Warriors or Soldiers on a 16+ and Killers on a 19+ With Unaimed fore there are only two die roll modifiers: one of the target is in cover, and one if a scatter or automatic weapon is being fired.

Since there are restrictions on using Aimed fire the game emphasizes maneuver rather than static fire fights. You cannot, for example, use Aimed fire unless your target is not yet spotted or if you moved during the turn.

If a target is hit it is either pinned or killed. If killed it is assumed to have been wounded seriously enough to no longer have a part in the fight. Exception: Warriors and Killers have a saving throw. If they are “killed” they roll a D6. On a 4+ they are simply wounded and may fight on, although they may not use Rush movement and suffer penalties in combat.

Pinned figures must take cover if there is any available close at hand. Otherwise they fall to the ground. Figures may be pinned more than once. Each pin must be recovered from separately. Pinned units may not move or fight until they recover. To recover a 5 or 6 on a D6 is required. Killers roll four dice, Soldiers and Warriors 2, all others one.

Duels: In these settings, enemy leaders would often settle things one-on-one. In AGDTD a leader may challenge another to a duel. If the duel is accepted, they fight either by shooting or hand to hand using the normal rules with a slight change. If shooting, each figure is given duel points based on his morale. He must divide these (in writing) between Speed and Deliberation. The player with the higher Speed fires first. Figures with equal speed fire simultaneously. Points allocated to Deliberation are added to the first shot of the firer. In the first turn of a duel, pinning is ignored. Duels can continue on into the next turn, but in subsequent turns pinning is used.

Hand To Hand Combat: Hand-to-hand is resolved with a simple opposed die roll. Each figure rolls a D6 subject to modifiers for morale, weapon type, armor, etc. If the rolls are equal or the lower is only one lower than the higher, the fight is inconclusive. If the lower roll is 2 lower, he is wounded (if a Killer or Warrior) or killed. If the lower roll is 3 less, the loser is killed regardless of morale.

Motivation and Leadership: In general each unit has a single leader. Figures in the unit are considered motivated if they are within the command radii of the leader. Units not within command radii cannot use aimed fore or move towards a visible enemy.

As they suffer casualties, units must check morale. A unit must make one morale check for every one of the following: each figure from the unit lost; or each friendly leader killed within 18” of the unit. Each failure means the unit acquires one Morale Failure marker. With one marker the unit continues to function. With two each figure in the unit is given a pinned marker which they must recover from. With three the unit routs. If a unit halts for a turn and is not under Aimed fore from the enemy it may rally. Note that Killers never check morale!


There are no army lists or scenarios included. There is a weapon table covering most all weapon types of the period (which are kept deliberately broad) but gamers will need to flesh to their forces on their own.


A Good Day To Die is a brief set of rules. And while I think the overall intent is quite clear, it leaves quite a bit up to the players to decide themselves. There are no hard definitions for cover, for example. Pinned units may take cover if it is “close” but there is no “within 2”” type rule.


Not played.

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