For Whom The Dice Rolls


"For Whom The Dice Rolls" is a set of table top wargame rules for fighting Brigade-Divisional level actions in the Spanish Civil War. The rules were originally developed to cover the early mobile column warfare, with their colourful, mixed up units, commandeering any available truck to get them about, but they are suitable for the whole conflict.

Army Sizes and Figures
The rules were written for 15mm figures*, based on 30mm x 30mm bases, but anything similar will do. A standard infantry battalion consists of 4 companies of 2 bases and a command base. Normally one company will be a MG company. Each unit is therefore 18 small arms figures, 2 MGs and crew and a couple of command figures. 2-4 battalions make up a brigade or regiment,  which may have further assets, such as heavy mortars or infantry guns. Brigades may be accompanied by artillery batteries ("Grupos") consisting of two bases of field guns or howitzers. If lucky an armoured company of 3 sections (each of one model) may be to hand. Aircraft and heavy artillery are handled by an off table mechanism, so it isn't necessary to have the models (although the author does).

A typical table top force for each army will therefore consist of  6-8 infantry battalions, plus one or two Grupos and maybe an armour section or two.

Troop Classifications
To simulate the wide range of forces present in the conflict, troops can be militia, paramilitaries or regulars. Within each category they can be Untrained, Trained or Experienced, and in addition they will be Reluctant, Committed or Fanatical. This enables the enthusiastic but woefully under prepared union militias to be modelled, as well as the trained, but rather-be-somewhere-else Italians. The combination of the two classifications gives a "Will To Combat" rating, that summarises the unit's morale state at the start of the battle. This solution was arrived at when it became clear that simply dividing troops into Raw, Average and Veteran/Elite was insufficient.

Style of Play
The system is an integrated IGO-UGO. Within each turn players activate units and perform a range of actions with them in any sequence they want, - firing before movement, or vice versa, reorganising to manage casualties or order a close assault. Players are limited to a maximum number of actions per unit per turn, and each "impulse" of action requires the playing of conventional playing cards of the correct suit, up to a maximum allowable by the efficiency of the army's command structure. This may be only 2 for a rag-tag bunch of squabbling militias (not recommended for the inexperienced or faint hearted), up to 6 for an integrated column of Foreign Legionnaires and their Moroccan auxiliaries.

The effective co-ordination of all arms, and the correct use of each weapon system is rewarded, but by no means easy to achieve, as tanks out run their support, or infantry become stranded as their armour doesn't quite make it

Airstrikes and corps level heavy artillery turn up when a joker is played, although exactly what you get and how much is randomised to some extent. 

Combat Systems - Firing
Each small arms base rolls a number of dice depending upon the range, and this number is modified by factors relating to formation, cover and so on in a non-linear relationship. Hits are caused by rolling 6 or more, but the type of dice varies based on the training quality of the troops, with the worst rolling d6s and the best d10s.

Artillery bombardments work in a different way. Targets have the amount of fire at them recorded, but the outcome isn't known until the unit is activated or attacked. You may think you've shelled those militia into oblivion, but when your Bandera charges home, they may well all emerge from the cellars and ruins ready for action.

Armour combat includes close assaulting tanks with infantry armed with improvised weapons, and a step damage system that steadily degrades bases representing more than one vehicle, so not every hit destroys the target completely, but sometimes they do. 

Combat Systems - Close Assault
The Close Assault system is similar in operation to other WGFGU rules, in that each round is a simple dice roll and calculation that always gives a clear outcome, with one side or the other forced to retreat with the losing side taking the greater casualties. Defenders in cover are forced back from position to position, and attackers have to weigh carefully the decision whether to press on, or consolidate on the position they have won.

Morale is embedded into the Close Assault and firing systems, together with specific "Terror Tests" if confronted with "modern" weapons like tanks or aircraft. Use is also made of what are known as "It Tolls For Thee" tests, which see whether or not a unit is broken due to the damage it has taken. Players must husband their troops carefully, making sure they reorganise and clear casualties on a regular basis to ensure units do not become overwhelmed with disorder and cease to function.

The rule book has the normal WGFGU QRS on the back cover, but due to the complexity of modern warfare there's a second page at the end of the rules as well. These two sheets should be all you need to play the game once you've had a read through of the rules.

Troop Organisations and Orbats
The rule book concludes with 16 pages of information to help you organise your figures. These cover:

  • Army of Africa
  • Corpo Truppo Voluntarie (CTV)
  • Euzko Gudarostea (Basque Army)
  • International Brigade
  • Nationalist Regular Army
  • Peninsula Army
  • Police
  • Political Party and Trade Union Forces and Militias
  • Republican People’s Army/Popular Army

Specific higher level organisation charts are given for:

  • CTV Littorio Division - March 1937
  • Legion Column - November 1936
  • Nationalist Brigade - Basque 1937
  • Nationalist Column - Early 1936
  • Nationalist Division - Late 1936 onwards
  • Republican Column - Early 1936
  • Republican Militia Column - 1936
  • Republican Mixed Brigade - Late 1936 onwards

Resources Pack
The rules are supported by a downloadable resources pack. This includes markers suitable for recording unit statuses, as well as the potential hits from artillery and bombardment markers so you can keep track of who is firing at what. The pack also includes a scenario with sample forces.

Bob Cordery, author of "La Ultima Cruzada" has written a review/overview here.
Caesar award nominee Jon Freitag has published initial thoughts here, and then a detailed look at the command and control system here. Apparently, according to Jon "FWTDR offers a multi-dimensional and non-linear approach to turn sequencing and process control.  In addition, FWTDR presents many opportunities for nuanced, optimized play.  Clever."
A blog post with tactical advice and comments can be found here.
Someone has written about their experiences using the rules with 6mm figures here.
A discussion about the rules can be found on the Lead Adventure Forum. The author monitors the discussion and responds to questions.

Hardcopy in format, in either soft or hard back worldwide via Amazon, or direct from publisher for UK sales. Or you can download the PDF from Wargame Vault.

*But here's a blog post about a 28mm game: link


  1. Look forward to receiving them and giving them a bash. Sorry, giving the Francoist forces of reaction a bash I mean.

    1. Great. Enjoy them, and let me know what you think.

  2. These sound really interesting...I'll have to take a closer look. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    1. You're welcome. It seems only fair to describe what's going on before asking people to part with money. I need to do a page for each of my other rules, too.

  3. This all sounds very interesting. It's a period I've always had some interest in but not enough to take the plunge.

    What would be the minimum number of units per side for a game?

    1. You can play with 3 or 4 infantry battalions, plus an artillery battery and or support weapons. That's about a brigade. I usually play with a couple of brigades a side, however, as I bought and painted all the toys and want to use them!

  4. Hello Graham I following your blog for a few years now , sharing with you an interest about the RCW and SCW. I'm really interested with FWTDR - is already in the amazon basket waiting for a click -
    I've got already based some 15mm SCW EPR & Asaltos (5 miniatures on FOW Bases). If I understood your system is base "agnostic" and I almost decided to switch to the recommended basing in your rules: 3 miniatures on 3x3 cm bases to get a higher number of units on the table. There's any issue with the rules if the bases are round for the infantry? I will post in my blog a few pictures of my collection with FOW basing.



    1. The only issue you may encounter with round bases is that range and arc is measured from the centre of the front face of the firing base. However, if you are playing with friends, and it is clear which direction each base is supposed to be pointing then it shouldn't matter, as long as everyone knows at the start of the game what is expected. I have, with other periods, reduced the number of figures on bases to increase the number of units available to me. I have no objection to anyone who buys the rules playing about with the mechanisms to suit themselves. It's what I do to other people's rules.

      And I've just had a look at your blog. Fine work on those 1/72nd plastic men. As you will know I am also a fan on them.

    2. Graham,
      Thanks a lot for your fast answer it prompt me to click, I confirmed the order. As I have to build-up both sides ( I amassed a large amount of miniatures) I think I will switch for the square bases for ease of play.

      Regards Alberto

    3. Thanks for ordering the rules. I like square bases. The figures fit in the boxes better. Any questions, please email me at the address in the rules.

  5. "Apparently, according to Jon, FWTDR offers a multi-dimensional and non-linear approach to turn sequencing and process control. In addition, FWTDR presents many opportunities for nuanced, optimized play. Clever."

    -- do you think I am wrong?

    1. No. I just hadn't thought of it in that way.

  6. Good Evening Graham,

    I was browsing a recent issue of the Peter Pig online magazine 'The Mill' and there was a feature of a gamer's very nicely painted SCW army. I have long been tempted by this period and this feature finally encouraged me to take the plunge. But first I had to find a suitable ruleset - like you I wanted something that captured the particular character of the conflict rather than a generic WW1/WW2 ruleset. Google led me to your blog, and it was with delight that I saw you not only had produced a ruleset but also gamed in 15mm with Peter Pig miniatures! So I am now the very impressed and happy owner of FWTDR and am slowly working my way through the PP figures I have ordered. I am really looking forward to playing a game and just wanted to say a big thank yo - for someone who knows very little about the war and how the armies fought, your ruleset and blog are most informative.
    All the best,

    1. Peter,

      Thanks for getting in touch, and for buying the rules. I hope you enjoy playing the game, and if you have any issues please email me at the address in the rule book and I'll see what I can do. Would also love to see pictures of your figures, especially if they're being used in a game of FWTDR. Have you downloaded the resources pack?


  7. I don't have a large space for gaming, so I plan to use single stand companies and 3'x2' battlefields. Anything to consider with this adaptation, el Jeffe Trebian?

    1. The obvious idea is to use centimetres instead of inches. Halving the unit sizes including artillery should mean everything is in proportion, except for the infantry/armour interface. Armour units are now much more resilient and powerful relative to infantry, and an attack with an infantry base on armour now costs you a company, rather than half of one. Perhaps allocate a hit, and retreat the base to starting position? My main suggestion is to start simple, and be considerate with yourself, your opponent and the game system. The problems you will have will become obvious soon enough as you play. Find the solution from within the existing mechanisms rather than invent something new.


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