Pony Wars, or B-Troop ain’t coming back

Wargame Rules Review

Pony Wars – or «B» Troop ain’t coming back.

The grizzled sergeant turns to the young rookie, "Listen"! the rookie cocks his head to one side "I can’t hear anything, Sarge", "That’s just it" came the reply, "It’s quiet, too damn quiet". THUNK! The arrow comes hurtling out of the dark and the sergeant is bowled over backwards by the impact.

But don’t worry folks! Thes arrow is usually stopped by the sergeants pocket book / water canteen / photograph of his mother. This is surely the stuff that the Hollywood western is made of – And we hope that this it what "Pony Wars" is also made of!

Forget Realism! Throw accuracy to the four winds! We’re not playing «Once Upon a Time in the West» now! Just put on yer yellow neckerchief, mosey out in yer yellow striped trousers, boot yer Winchester and climb into the saddle. Raise yer hand and bring it down, pointing forward, at the same time yelling: "Column of Two’s – Forward, Yo!" The entire 7th cavalry will ride out of Fort Laramie behind you (Probably to the strains of «Gary Owen»). This is hollywood: Everyone’s a hero and there’s legends to be made. The Sioux are on the warpath and there’s white folks out there! As our grizzled sergeant would say: "The only good injun’s a dead injun".

If your idea of a wargame is to spend time choosing a suitably «rigged» army and playing with a set of rules which you can corrupt, by pointing out the intricacies of the grammer, with the intention of winning at all costs then, please, put this volume back where you found it and go and find a nice national convention somewhere.
This game is intended for «FUN» (remember the word? We used it quite a lot before wargaming became serious). The rules are not legally binding, merely suggestions and you won’t find every single situation that may occur covered in this volume. You may have to make a few decisions yourself. If you don’t like the result the rules are giving then change them – we don’t mind. The idea is to enjoy yourself – do what you will.

The basic concept behind the game is to allow an unspecified number of wargamers (from one upwards) to fight a battle WITH ALL WARGAMERS BEING ON THE SAME SIDE (as officers of the U.S. Army). Your opponents, the Sioux nation, will look after themselves. The game is ideally suitable for use at conventions where experienced players can teach the rookies (either gamers or the public) the basic rules without any concealed motives – They’re on the same side! Each new command arriving would be allocated to a person picked from the observers, that person taking the name and rank as appropriate to the command. If the character is killed then the player leaves the game. Thus a continually varying clientel is established.

Alternatively, a small group of wargamers can have a great game. Each takes the name and rank of a number of officers. Any newcoming commands are either given to new players (if available) or allocated to one of the existing players. There again, «Pony Wars» makes a great SOLO GAME! We provide suggestions – you do what you want!

The game is designed for an eight foot by six foot table and uses 15mm figures. There is no reason what so ever why the game should not be adapted for a different size of table, but you will have to do a little calculator work if you want to. Later in the rules you will find details of the figures and equipment we use. This is all for our original set-up and it cost us some money – but don’t despair! During the three years developing this game, we used our 15mm medieval knights as Sioux and cavalry; Silly at first, but you get used to it. So don’t be frightened about using Polish lancers as native cavalry scouts or Persion immortals as settlers! Also, don’t be frightened about using 25mm figures, or screws, or counters, or blocks of wood (It works in D&D – try using it here!). But, please, if you don’t use the right figures – do so in the privacy of your own home – leave the public shows to us! --Ian Beck


  • Title: Pony War – B-Troop ain’t coming back!
  • Period: American Plains Wars
  • Type: Operational Level Skirmish Wargame
  • Time Scale: none given
  • Ground Scale: none given
  • Troop Scale: 1 figure = 3 men
  • Basing: 15 × 30 mm mounted, and 15 × 15 mm dismounted figure bases
  • Author: Ian S. Beck
  • Format: 33-page rule book
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tabletop Games
  • Published: 1980


  1. Introduction
  2. Basic Commands and Troops Types
  3. Move Sequence
  4. Movement
  5. Visibility and Hearing
  6. Firing
  7. Ammunition
  8. Dicing for Position of New Troops
  9. Melees
  10. Saving Throws
  11. Saving the Last Bullet
  12. Indian Reactions
  13. Personal Combat, Dando vs. Chiefs
  14. Civilian Reaction
  15. Ambushes
  16. The Cards
  17. Buildings
  18. The Fort
  19. The Sioux Village
  20. The Games
  21. The Board
  22. Troops Used

Quick Reference Charts

  • Pony Wars Quick Reference Sheet
  • Statistical Charts
  • Ammunition Charts

The Pony Wars game provides players with all the visual appeal, suspense and drama of a Hollywood movie. It’s a tough fight, offering plenty of opportunity for heroic last stands, from which some lucky officers of the 7th U.S. Cavalry will return as heros.

The complete convention game of Pony Wars is played with 240 US Cavalry figures, 80 dismounted troopers, horse holders, eight 12-pdrs and two Gatling guns with limbers and crews, 20 Indian Scouts, 20 Volunteer Scouts, 40 US Infantry figures, 2 gun crews and 10 infantry figures for the fort, the «Dando» figure, three wagon trains of three wagons each, five farm wagons, 70 dismounted and 20 mounted civilians, the gun-runner wagon, stagecoach, war wagon, character figures of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and 30 Longhorn cattle. The Sioux nation is represented by 600 mounted and 100 dismounted braves, 50 assorted squaws and villagers, 2 model smoke signals, and 30 Buffalo (one white). If fewer figures are available for play, the missing troops are easily represented by counters or by using a roster system. Pony Wars can be played as a garden wargame, using popular 1:32 scale Timpo, Airfix, Marx, or even Playmobil figures on a proportionally larger playing surface.

A cavalry troops consists of two officers, two NCOs, and 16 troopers organized in four sections of one section commander and four troopers each. Sections may act independently of the troop, but sections led by NCOs are limited to non-initiative actions like holding a position or escorting civilians back to the fort, then returning to their troop. The rules are fun to read, easy to learn, and difficult to master.

Some troops and civilians are deployed on the table before the game starts. Bands of hostiles, U.S. reinforcements, wagon trains, cowboys, gun runners, and other liabilities appear during the fight, when reinforcement cards are drawn at the beginning of an hourly game turn. The 7th Cavalry is notoriously over-stretched as it attempts to protect the stagecoach, defend settlements, escort civilians back to the fort, prevent gun runners from reaching the Sioux, and keep its troopers supplied with ammunition.

Wargame Rules