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The Repique System: Zouave

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TITLE:  The Repique System: Zouave - Wargame Rules for Warfare in the Age of Zouave02Transition 1861-1871

AUTHOR: Bob Jones

PUBLISHER: Repique Rules



    Player support can be obtained on the Repique Yahoo group.

    Repique Rules also maintains their web site with supporting material and more product details.

PRICE (with date): $29.95 (in 2010)

REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin

PERIOD COVERED: The latter part of the 19th century from the American Civil War through the Franco-Prussian War.


Zouave is a 72 page saddle-stitched booklet. It has a color cover with a B&W interior. The main rules take up pages 13-40. The book includes a detailed, four-page example of play, plus addenda with specific rules, formations, unit ratings etc. The addenda cover the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War and the Maximilian Intervention (the French in Mexico in the 1860s).

SCOPE: Zouave is a grand tactical game.

ARMY SIZE: Given the basing (brigades are just 3 stands) armies will be fairly modest in terms of how many figures will be required.


  • While the unit varies from period to period, in general a brigade is the standard maneuver element, and is made up of three stands.


  • Ground Scale: 1” = 50 Yards (25 Yards for the Mexican Intervention)
  • Time scale 1 turn = 10-15 minutes
  • Figure/Base Ratio: Not stated
  • Recommended Figure Size: 10 mm but conversion for 15 mm and other scales is possible.
  • Table Size: 4 x 8’ gives a good sized battle field.
  • Game Length: Most games should be playable in one evening


Basing is somewhat flexible in Zouave. The author, using 10 mm figures uses the following:

  • Infantry: 2x1” rectangle
  • Irregular infantry: 2x1” oval
  • Heavy cavalry: 2x2” square
  • Light cavalry: 2x1” rectangle
  • Field artillery: 1” hexagonal base
  • Command stands: Round bases between 1 and 2” in diameter


Zouave does not have a standard turn sequence. Instead it uses a deck of playing cards. The turn of the cards dictates which side’s units may perform which actions. Cards come in two varieties: command cards and action cards. The deck may contain more or less of any given card type depending on the quality of the army and its commanders. Better armies get more action and/or command cards. The deck uses jokers to end the turn.


Quality Dice: Throughout Zouave, various unit capabilities are modeled by the use of quality dice. In essence better units or leaders roll “larger” dice. These dice range from a 12-sided (best) to a four-sided (worst). So a really good leader might roll a ten-sided looking to beat a 6, while a poor leader rolling a four-sided has no chance (without some really helpful DRMs of course).

This is especially important in combat because Zouave uses opposed die rolls.

Command Points: There are two kinds of points in Zouave: command points and action points. You get command points by the draw of the cards. If a card drawn is your command suit (diamonds for the red player, spades for his opponent) you get the number of points shown on the card. So drawing the 6 of diamonds means you get 6 command points to spend. You may save command points from turn to turn.

With a command point you may:

  • Attempt to rally units
  • Move command stands
  • Order an independent move (only certain units, such as light infantry) may do so
  • Allocate command points to subordinate divisions to order either divisional moves or regimental/brigade moves

Action Points: Unlike command points, action points may not be saved - use ‘em or lose ‘em. As with command points, it is the turn of the card that gives you the points. A card draw of the eight of clubs means the black player get 8 action points.

With an action point you may:

  • Move a regiment
  • Change the facing or formation of a unit
  • Establish fire discipline (see ranged combat, below)
  • Perform various engineering tasks
  • Enter close combat

Movement: Movement in Zouave is much less predictable than in most games. Some kinds of movement require command points, some require action points. And in both cases the distance a unit may move is variable. But even then, the variability is dependent on the way in which the unit was activated. units may move in one of three way: Independent moves; divisional moves or regimental moves.

Divisional moves allow an entire division to move for a single command point. But the units of the division may not change formation or facing. The distance moved is determined by the commander’s quality die. Roll the die and double the result - the division may move that far in inches. HOWEVER, a division may move more than once - provided you have enough command points you may move it several times. If you roll a 1 on the commander’s die, however, the division may move 2” but cannot move again that turn.

Regimental/Brigade moves require both an action point and a command point, and may only occur when an action card has been drawn. The roll of the commander’s die indicates how many units in the brigade may move. How far they move is determined by a table (rows are unit type, columns are formation and terrain). Read the table and roll the indicated dice. Your unit may move that far. Thus infantry in line moves 2xD12.

Terrain affects the dice thrown for movement (commander’s die for divisional moves, unit dice for brigade moves). Thus a commander might normally roll a D10 but he will roll one quality doe “lower” because of terrain - in this case a D8.

Fire Combat: Fire combat is resolved by opposed die roll. The attacking unit rolls its weapon die and the defender rolls his unit defense die. the attacker’s die is determined by his weapon and range, the defender’s die is basically determined by his unit quality. These are modified in various ways, as determined by the Advantage Table. There is one such for the attacker and another for the defender. You add up the attacker’s advantages, then the defenders. Depending on who has the net advantage, he may shift his die up one type, or be allowed to call for a re-roll.

Compare the two die rolls. The higher roll wins the combat, and inflicts one “burden” on the enemy (two if he doubles the opponents die roll, and three if he triples it). Burdens accumulate from turn to turn. As units acquire burdens their performance degrades. Burdens make it harder to pass morale checks. A unit with four burdens failing a morale check may be removed from the game.

One interesting mechanism in Zouave is that units may fire as often as they like, at any time. It requires neither a command point nor an action point. However, each time a unit fires it is marked with a cotton ball. Every such marker degrades further fire effectiveness until the units commanders “restore fire discipline” with an action point. After three markers are accumulated the unit may not fire at all. Thus you are free to blaze away at 1000 yards of you really want to, but you have to hope to hell you don’t get caught without an action point if the enemy get close!

Melee: Melee is resolved as ranged combat but with both units using their quality die. Melee continues until one side has acquired a total of four burdens. The advantage tables are used but with different modifiers. Losers of melee retreat and may be pursued by the victors.

Morale: Morale could not be simpler. Roll your unit’s quality die. If you roll a six or higher you pass. There are some modifiers but that’s about it. Using a command point to perform a rally removes one burden for each successful rally.


The rule book includes three addenda. The addenda include army lists, ratings, special rules and formations, etc. The addenda cover the American Civil War, the Franco Prussian War and the Maximilian Intervention.


Overall I found Zouave easy to read and follow. It has a few minor editing issues (primarily where cross references are incorrect or missing) but nothing that inhibits understanding of the rules or concepts. My major concern from reading the rules would be taking care to get the cards and actions right. This is nothing a little care and careful reading won’t solve, but it did strike me as the place where gamers are most likely to go wrong.


Not played.

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