Cannonbelles - A W.I.P. Stuffing-Centric Tabletop Wargame

“Cannonbelles” is a work-in-progress tabletop wargame that pits armies of mercenaries over control of food to feed to their malevolent monarchs. It is intended to be played by two players but if you’ve got the available space, you can add as many armies as you want.

This was a little idea that I had left unfinished for the longest time but felt someone might get some fun out of it. Can’t say I’ve ever seen any fetish-oriented wargames, so this was an attempt to fill that niche. Anywho, I’m digressing… Here are the meat n’ potatoes, so to speak.

Note: Despite the stated distances required below, I imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to rescale it to fit on a small playing field. These are just suggestions from what I found works.

What you will need:

  • Troops (Will be provided once I’ve finished drawing them)

  • Sufficient floor/table space

  • An impromptu slingshot made from a heavy rubber band and a cork/foam/wadded paper projectile “Gonna shoot somebody’s eye out with that!” - A pop-gun would work just as well, if not better.

  • Terrain/Scenery Pieces

  • Food Tokens (See Troops)

  • 6-sided Dice

  • Timer

  • Markers for battlefield limits (ie. chalk, pinned string, table edge, etc.)

  • Everclear and beer cheese pretzels (Absolutely not necessary to play)

  • Imagination


  • Set-Up:
    “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And a lot of bitching.”

A suitable playing area can be any space larger than or equal to 4 or 5 feet (1.22m - 1.52m) distance between the players’ “Back Line” from which they start. Smaller playing areas should field fewer troops whereas larger areas can accommodate many more.

The players will decide, in any manner they feel is best, who will arrange the “battlefield”, that is to say, the playing field. The chosen player will scatter about the terrain, scenery, and Food Tokens that they feel are appropriate and/or suites their particular flavor of gameplay. Once the battlefield is set up and ready to be bickered over by hungry monarchs, the other player will choose their starting position.

Any terrain/scenery that is disturbed must be replaced where it was ASAP.

  • Troop Composition:
    “Draft beer, not people.”

The player to deploy their troops first will be decided via a die toss and referred to in these rules as the “First Player”. If possible, use a curtain to hide the placement of each other’s troops. But, if a sheet is unavailable, the First Player should set up their soldiers, then the Second Player. Troops are placed on the “Back Line”, an area furthest from the enemy on opposite sides of the battlefield.

The number and value of troops should be similar in composition, with some slight deviations from the players’ preferences. The best composition of troops is to use small bodies of Infantry and Cavalry per Cannon. Each player is given a Troop Capacity of 75 points; Infantry costing 1 point per soldier, Cavalry costing 5 points per soldier, and Cannons costing 10 points per gun (with a maximum of 3 being fielded). Monarchs do not cost any points and must be deployed.

  • Moving:
    “Bring a compass. It’s awkward to explain why you had to eat your friends.”

Each player’s turn will be timed according to the composition of their army. Each Cannon is worth 1 minute and another minute for every 30 Infantry and/or Cavalry. Warnings must be given when there are 2 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds left accordingly. A brief interval will be given between turns to replace any disturbed terrain pieces or defeated soldiers. Cannons cannot fire before the second movement of the First Player.

NOTE: Players can decide to eliminate the time limit of turns if they prefer.

In short: First Player deploys troops, Second Player deploys troops, First Player moves, Second Player moves, and the two armies should come into effective range of each other.

With each move, the player will either move or fire their Cannons before positioning their Infantry and Cavalry. For a Cannon to move, it requires at least 4 Infantry or Cavalry within 6 inches (0.15m) of the Cannon. If there are 4 Infantry, the Cannon can be moved 1 foot (0.30m) distance, 4 Cavalry, 2 feet (0.61m) distance. Any mixed number of Infantry and Cavalry can move the Cannon 1 foot, 6 inches (0.46m). Monarchs cannot interact with Cannons.

Infantry can move 1 foot (0.30m), Cavalry can move 2 feet (0.61m), and Monarchs can move 1 foot, 6 inches (0.46m)

  • Cannon Combat:
    “Artillery is the King of the Battlefield!.. The king, however, cannot swim.”

The player can attack with their Cannons 3 times per turn but only against targets within 4 feet (0.91m) of the cannon. Infantry and Cavalry that are knocked over by a projectile are presumed “Defeated” and removed from the battlefield after the player’s turn is up. “Firing” a cannon is done with the slingshot from behind the player’s Back Line.

Soldiers struck by the projectile but still standing are not defeated. If the projectile rebounds into another group of soldiers knocking them over, those soldiers are also defeated. If a soldier that would otherwise have fallen if not for an object holding it upright, that soldier is also defeated. The player should be cautioned that should they miss and hit their own troops by mistake, those troops are defeated. However, any allied troops hit behind the cannon are unaffected and it is simply implied that the cannon misfired (ie. still losing that shot).

Cannons are inoperable if there are not 4 soldiers within a 6-inch (0.15m) radius. It cannot fire and it cannot be moved unless there are 4 soldiers present. Soldiers can capture enemy Cannons if they have 4 soldiers within that 6-inch (0.15m) radius. Once captured, the conqueror can play it like any other Cannon within their army (stacks atop their already existing number of cannons)

Cannons that are struck by an enemy projectile (without rebounding off another surface first) are defeated and any enemy soldiers within a 4-inch (0.10m) radius of the gun are also defeated in the resultant “explosion”.

Monarchs are invulnerable to Cannon projectiles.

  • Melee Combat:
    “The best armor is staying out of harm’s way.”

When soldiers reach within 1 inch (0.03m) of each other, the moving troops must wait for the next turn. Any side that is within melee distance (1 inch (0.03m)) at the beginning of their turn will engage in melee combat. Any other units within a 6-inch (0.46m) distance are also involved in the melee.
If the numerical value of troops is equal then both sides are defeated.

If the numerical value of troops is unequal, then the die is cast. If the die is equal to or lower than 3, then the numerically inferior force is “Isolated”. If so, as many men become prisoners as the inferior force is less in number than the superior force.

Eg. Ten Infantry engage a smaller isolated force of 6 Infantry. The superior force loses 6 of their Infantry and takes 4 Prisoners.

To capture prisoners, they must be escorted back to the Back Line by 1 Infantry or 1 Cavalry. Each prisoner taken will increase the player’s end-game score and cannot be revived/deployed by the enemy. Prisoners are unarmed and cannot fight, however, they can be freed if their guard is defeated by an ally. When freed, the prisoners must return to their own Back Line before they can be returned to the battlefield. If a soldier reaches within melee distance of any escaped prisoners, they are taken into captivity once more. If there are 4 prisoners within 6 inches (0.46m) of an enemy Cannon, they can capture it and use it against the enemy without having to resupply at their friendly Back Line.

If the numerically inferior force is not “Isolated” then equal numbers of soldiers are lost.

Eg. 10 Infantry and 4 Cavalry engage a smaller isolated force of 8 Infantry and 2 Cavalry. The Superior Force loses 8 Infantry and 2 Cavalry and the inferior force loses all their troops.

The player who has just completed his move, the one who initiated the charge, decides which soldiers in the melee, both those of his opponent and himself, shall be defeated and which shall become prisoners.

Monarchs cannot engage in melee combat but they can be captured. If an enemy Monarch is captured and returned to the player’s Back Line, the enemy is denied any chance of reviving their fallen troops unless they can recapture her from the opponent’s Back Line.

  • Deploying Additional Troops and Reviving Defeated Troops:
    “Always remember to pillage BEFORE you burn!”

Food Tokens are another source of increasing the player’s end-game score. Soldiers that come within 1 inch (0.03m) of a Food Token can capture it. Soldiers in possession of a Food Token cannot engage in combat and must return it to the Monarch. Every Food Token is worth 10 points and can be used to deploy/revive defeated soldiers equal to their numerical value. Unused points cannot be stacked.

Eg. 10 Infantry, 2 Cavalry, or 1 Cannoneer. Or a mixture of Infantry and Cavalry (5 Infantry + 1 Cavalry).

However, the Monarch can only capture up to 5 Tokens before she must be carried to the Back Line and wait for two turns to digest (movement the same as a Cannon requiring 4 soldiers). By the third turn, the Monarch can return to the battlefield and ingest more Food Tokens.

Alternatively, you may also use captured Food Tokens against your enemy by forcing an enemy Monarch to eat them. This will reward the player with additional end-game points and simultaneously deprive the enemy of an opportunity to revive their fallen troops. If an enemy Monarch is stuffed full, they will be forced to return her to their Back Line and have her digest it before redeploying her into the battlefield.

Food Tokens, once used, will be returned to the battlefield where they were first recovered from.

NOTE: To keep it easy to remember, I suggest making a recognizable terrain piece like a stack of ration crates or an outdoor bakery.

  • Calculating the Winner:
    “Lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.”

The game comes to a close at the end of a predetermined time limit, elimination of all enemy troops, the capture of an opponent’s Back Line with at least a force value equal to or more than 30 points, or otherwise drawn to a close by the players. Points are added up including values for enemy troops defeated, captured prisoners of war, (if applicable) captured objectives, and stuffed monarchs. Even if an entire army was destroyed, the disarmed player may still emerge victorious.

Numerical values are:
Defeated Infantry = 1 Point / Captured Infantry = 3 Point
Defeated Cavalry = 5 Points / Captured Cavalry = 8 Points
Defeated Cannons = 10 Points / Captured Cannons do not reward the player with points
Conquered Objectives = 30 Points
Stuffed Ally Monarchs = 10 Points / Stuffed Enemy Monarchs = 20

The player with the highest score is declared the winner.

  • Lore:
    “We could make a religion out of this…”

The center of the conflict lies within the so-called “Fertile Valley” which was claimed to have been blessed by the Goddess of Fertility, Hearthia. It is a land so blessed that any crop known to mankind can be grown and cultivated. According to the oral legend of the valley’s original inhabitants, a great star fell from the heavens covering the valley in a cloud of fine golden dust. The goddess Hearthia herself appeared before the stunned onlookers informing them that this land shall not be infringed upon by any known nation. So long as the land is free of ownership, the crops will grow unhindered. But, if any ruler became too greedy and attempted to take it for themselves, the fields shall become lifeless and baren.

The “Fertile Valley Concordat” was signed by the ruling monarchs of the surrounding regions; The Kingdom of Oignon in the west, the Kartoffel Confederation in the north, the Free Cities of Pomodoro & Aglio in the south, and the Mrkev Republic in the east. Four great rulers, known as the Monarchs, would decide the future of the region. The fields had provided an opportunity to heal old wounds between the old regimes and bring their peoples closer together. Peace, it was believed, would endure forever.

The peace did not last. Some writers of the time exaggeratedly claimed that the war began only hours after the Fertile Valley Concordat was signed. It was far too tempting for the greed of their rulers. Unlike the commoners, the Monarchs worshipped a different god; Vorax, God of Plenty, was a symbol of incredible wealth and undisputed power. As the worship of Vorax intensified, so too did their desire for territorial expansion. In the minds of the Monarchs, there was only one thing left to do.

Conquer the Fertile Valley by any means possible.

But therein lies the problem. It was strictly forbidden for any national army to trod in the valley without attracting the ire of the Goddess Herthia. What use was a field if no crops could be grown? And surely the Commoners would not wage war against their neighbors who toiled in the same fields. There just had to be a way!

The conflict finally erupted when a loophole was discovered; national armies cannot march into the Fertile Valley, but there were no stipulations about the use of mercenaries. The four nations hurriedly mobilized huge armies of sell-swords in preparation for wresting control of the Fertile Valley before the others do. Mercenary regiments from all across the continent gathered to wage war over vegetables and fruit. There was a fortune to be made if the regiment was brave enough to dare.

In a world accustomed to crop failures and plagues, the most obvious sign of wealth was a burgeoning waistline. Vorax was attracted by powerful individuals, particularly young maidens. A shameless flirt and womanizer, it was expected that Vorax would appear before the ruler of the Fertile Valley to bestow his gifts upon them. That is if Herthia didn’t get to them first.

It was unlikely to work, but in the Fertile Valley, anything goes.

  • Game Pieces/Tokens:
    “Don’t tell mom I’m an artist, she thinks I chase girls in a bordello!”

I will be including the completed drawings when they are completed, including blank slates so that the player’s may fashion together their own custom mercenary regiments. As of right now, all I have is some rough sketches and if things proceed accordingly, these game pieces should be available by the end of August.

  • Closing Notes:
    “Catapultam habeo! Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.”
    T/L: I have a catapult! Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.

8/17/2022: Been neglecting this project for awhile… I had some personal matters come up that demanded my full attention attention. The project is still chugging along, albeit slowly. I’ve been testing the possibility of including several new units for a more “tactical” approach to the game, should the player prefer. Ideally, I’d like to include Arquebusiers, Drummers, Standard Bearers, Hand-Maidens, and Priests/Priestesses.

I did a once over with the information available fixing the numerous grammatical errors. In hindsight, that should have been a higher priority. Oh well, live and learn.