ADVANCED RULES FOR THE ALAMO
Alan R. Arvold
This article, in its final form after the editor got hold of
it, was published in MOVES #92. Unfortunately it was severely cut
back in length in order for it to fit into its allotted space in
the magazine. Here is the original article as it was submitted.
In Fire & Movement #105 the game THE ALAMO (Decision Games)
was reviewed by David Newport and he gave it an overall grade of
C+. The thing that said it all was that the game was fun to play
a few times and after that it becomes stale. I could not agree
with him more. Many things out were left out for ease of play and
simplicity. Because of this it is an introductory game and
nothing more. But I wish to make something more of it. The
following advanced rules are designed to bring THE ALAMO to a
more sofisticated level and make it more of a challenge to play.
Many of the things introduced in this article are historical in
nature with an occasional item of cinematic effect for a little
bit of chrome. Through out this article there will be references
to certain types of counters which are not included in the game.
Players will have to craft them for themselves.
Historically the Texans in the Alamo were an overarmed bunch.
Weapons seized from the Mexican garrison during the taking of the
Alamo and San Antonio the previous year were stockpiled in the
Alamo and used by the Texans during the siege. There were 300-400
extra muskets, 100+ pistols, and numerous swords and lances which
meant that many defenders which were not manning a cannon had
three or four loaded weapons at their positions. This allowed the
Texans to lay down a devastating defensive fire during the
opening volleys of the assault. However after the initial volleys
were fired the Mexicans were at the foot of the outside walls and
the Texans were so busy trying to keep them from climbing the
walls that they rarely had time to reload more than one weapon
before having to fire again. Thus the firepower advantage the
Texans had over the Mexicans was gone after a few minutes. To
simulate this intensive firepower use the following rules:
1. After the Texan player has set up all of his units but before
the Mexican player places his units, the Texan player chooses
ten of his infantry counters to have an intensive firepower
advantage. He writes down their designation and hex location
on a spare sheet of paper for record purposes.
2. A Texan infantry unit with an intensive firepower advantage
may fire twice during the Texan Combat Phase during any turn
in the game. It may only do this once per game. During the
turn which it uses intensive fire it may fire twice at the
same Mexican unit or fire at two different Mexican units.
3. A Texan player may not choose any Texan infantry unit from
Tennessee or Kentucky to have the intensive fire advantage.
(These men were armed with rifles not muskets. These weapons
took longer to reload and there were a limited supply of them,
thus they were not given extra muskets.)
4. A Texan infantry unit which has the intensive firepower
advantage which moves from its initial location before using
this advantage loses it for the rest of the game. (During the
battle when the Texans abandoned their initial positions they
were usually in a hurry and did not have time to pick up their
Although this firepower advantage will usually be used in the
first turn by most players, some players may want to withhold
using it with some of his units until later in the game when the
situation gets desperate.
ADDITIONAL ARTILLERY MARKER LOCATIONS
Different authorities on the Alamo do not totally agree on the
location of all of the Texan cannons. The Artillery Set Up Hexes
on the map are what most authorities agree on. However to give
the Texan player more variety in his choice of where to put his
artillery add the following hexes to the Texan player's list of
where to place his artillery markers.
The Texan player is not required to put his artillery markers in
these hexes but he may if he wants to.
1. On the North Wall, a row of hexes from hex 0509 to 1106, the
Texan player must place at least four and no more than five
2. At least one artillery marker must be set up in the artillery
positions in the rear of the Church. Should one or two
artillery markers be placed in the rear of the Church the
infantry markers manning them may freely move them one hex
each turn within the limits of the three hex platform that
they are on. This is in exception to rule 10.2. (The artilley
crews in the rear of the Church were pretty well protected and
isolated from the fighting that they were able to do this.)
3. At least two artillery markers must be set up in the hexrow
from hex 1321 to hex 1619. (Hex 1321 really should be down in
the Cemetary with the other three Artillery Set Up Hexes as
some sources have four cannons behind the wooden palisade
between the Church and the Low Barracks. However the hex
arrangement of the map does not allow this. Besides several
movies about the Alamo have a cannon in this location on top
of the Low Barracks.)
4. The Texan player may place up to three artillery markers
outside the Main Gate in hexes 0924, 1023, or 1123. He may
also choose not to put any artillery markers outside the main
gate. However if he places any artillery markers in these
hexes the first one must be placed in hex 1023 in order to
guard the Main Gate. The Wooden Wall protecting hex 1023 is
presumed to be extended to protect the second and third
artillery markers should they be placed in the other two
hexes. If no artillery markers are placed in any of those
three hexes then the Wooden Wall is presumed to not exist for
that game.(Sources disagree as to how many cannon were
positioned outside the Main Gate, the numbers ranging from
zero to three.)
VARIABLE NUMBER OF CANNONS
Again different authorities disagree as the number and types
of cannons that were in the Alamo during the siege. The numbers
range from 11 to 21. Most experts agree on 17-18 cannons. Again
to give more variety to the Texan set up the Texan player must
roll on the table below to see how many and what type of
artillery marker he gets for the game. He rolls two dice and
consults the table before placing his artillery markers during
the setting up of the game.
Dice Roll Number and Type of Artillery Markers
2 1 18pdr, 2 12pdr, 4 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 2 4pdr
3 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 4 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 2 4pdr
4 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 4 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 3 4pdr
5 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 4 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 4 4pdr
6-8 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 7 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 4 4pdr
9 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 7 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 5 4pdr
10 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 7 8pdr, 2 6pdr, 6 4pdr
11 1 18pdr, 3 12pdr, 7 8pdr, 3 6pdr, 6 4pdr
12 1 18pdr, 4 12pdr, 7 8pdr, 3 6pdr, 6 4pdr
Players will have to craft their own extra artillery markers
for this rule. Players may place their artillery markers in any
of the printed and/or additional artillery set up hexes subject
to the restrictions listed in the previous section.
Most modern historians agree that Bowie who was terminally ill
with tuberculosis spent the final battle in his bed most likely
in a coma thereby contributing nothing to his own defence, let
alone that of the Alamo. Thus when the Mexican soldiers stormed
into his room they used his body for bayonet and target practice
before going on to look for other defenders. Traditionalists
however insist that Bowie though bedridden was awake and shot two
Mexicans with his pistols and skewered another with his knife
before succumbing to bayonets. Hollywood has further hyped the
legend, most notably in the movies "Last Command" and "Thirteen
Days to Glory", by having Bowie strong enough to get out of bed
and tackling a dozen Mexicans before finally dieing. If that is
not bad enough, in the John Wayne movie "The Alamo" Bowie is
strong enough to take his place outside defending his position on
the wall at the start of the final battle. Thus there are many
versions, both real and fictional, of Bowie's final minutes. In
this rule the Texan gets to determine which version Bowie's end
finally takes before the start of the game.
Before setting up the Texan counters the Texan player rolls
two dice and takes the result and consults the following table to
see what Bowie's status is in the game to be played. The last two
results on the table are admittedly a bit of Hollywood chrome but
are designed to give a little more variety to the Texan player.
Dice Roll Bowie's Status
2-3 Bowie is lying in his bed unconscious (if not dead
already) and does not awaken during the entire
battle. Follow the normal rules for Bowie. For
this game Bowie has a leadership rating of zero.
4-8 Bowie though bedridden is awake and at least able
to give good account of himself when he is killed.
Follow the normal rules for Bowie. In this game he
has his normal leadership rating of one.
9-11 Bowie though confined to his quarters due to his
illness is able to get out of his bed and give an
even better account of himself when he is killed.
Follow the normal rules for Bowie except that he
may set in either hex 1717 or hex 1321 inside the
building. (Hex 1321 was Bowie's normal quarters
during most of the siege before he was moved to
the Church.) In this game he has a leadership
rating of two.
12 Not only is Bowie well enough to take his position
outside on the wall, he is even armed with that
fancy seven barrel shotgun he had in the John
Wayne movie. Bowie may set up anywhere in the
Alamo and follows the same rules as the other
Texan leaders. In this game he has a leadership
rating of three.
During the assault on the Alamo, Mexican units used ladders to
climb the outside walls to get to the roofs and firing platforms
on top. This is reflected in the +4 movement point cost to cross
an Outer Wall hexside. However in the first half hour of the
assault the Mexicans were unable to climb the walls as Texan
gunners were aiming for the soldiers who were carrying the
ladders in the assault columns. It was not until Mexican musket
volleys from the foot of the outside walls suppressed the Texan
gunners that they were able to send soldier back to get the
ladders from their dead comrades. To reflect this situation use
the following rules:
1. When a Mexican unit attempts to cross an Outer Wall hexside
and any unit(s) in its column have been fired at on this turn
while it is still outside of the Alamo (not necessarily the
unit attempting to cross), the Mexican player first rolls one
die and takes the result and consults the table below.
Die Roll Result
1-2 Unit successfully crosses the hexside.
3-4 Unit does not cross the hexside and is considered
to have expended 4 movement points for its
efforts. (Time wasted waiting for the ladders to
show up.) It may continue its movement elsewhere
if it has movement points left.
5-6 Unit does not cross the hexside and remains in
the hex it attempted to cross the Outer Wall
hexside from. (Troops are hiding from Texan
gunners in the deadspace at the foot of the
2. When a Mexican unit successfully crosses an Outer Wall hexside
the Mexican player places a ladder counter on that hexside.
Any Mexican unit may now cross that hexside without having to
roll on the above table. A Texan unit that moves or remains
adjacent to that hexside may not remove that ladder counter.
(Yes the Texans would push the ladders off the wall but then
the ladders would be lying at the foot of the outer wall for
the next Mexican unit to come up and use them.)
3. This ladder rules is not used on any other type of wall
hexside. (The Church Walls are too high, the Wooden and Stone
Walls can easily be climbed over, and the Mexicans would use
the ladders, stairs, and ramps that are an inherent part of
the Inner Walls to cross them.)
Normally the doorways to the rooms in the Alamo were either
open or unlocked. However the doorways to the rooms that faced
the interior of the Alamo were specially prepared so that they
could be locked and barricaded in case the Texans retreated to
these rooms to make last stands in case the Mexicans had stormed
the outer walls. General Santa Anna anticipated this and insured
that all assault columns were each equipped with several crowbars
and axes in order to break through them. When the Texans did
indeed retreat to the rooms several Mexican units tried to break
through the doors. While a couple did succeed in breaking in,
most quickly gave up as musket fire was decimating the troops
working on the doors and the Mexicans started using the captured
cannons to blast the doors in instead. To recreate this situation
use the following rules:
1. Doorways are normally considered to be open and the +1
movement point cost applies when crossing an open doorway
hexside. However when a Texan unit crosses a doorway hexside
into a room inside a building the Texan player may declare
that doorway just crossed to be closed and mark that doorway
with a closed counter to indicate that. The Texan player must
declare this at the time the hexside is crossed, he can't wait
until later in the turn to declare it just to see what happens
outside. A Texan unit is not required to close the door if the
Texan player does not want it to. Mexican units may not close
2. No unit may cross a closed door hexside to an inside room and
Zones of Control do not extend across into the room either.
3. A Mexican unit which starts the Mexican movement phase
adjacent to or moves adjacent to a closed doorway may attempt
to break it down. To do so it expends two movement points and
rolls one die. If the result is 1-2 the doorway has been
broken through and the door is permanently open for the
remainder of the game. Any other result means that they failed
to break it down. If there is a Texan infantry unit inside the
room adjacent to the doorway add one to the die roll. A
Mexican unit may repeat this operation as many times in a turn
as it has movement points to expend to do so.
4. When the doorway is again open Zones of Control again extend
across it and units may again cross the doorway hexside. The
Mexican unit which breaks down the door would still have to
expend the +1 movement cost to cross the doorway it just broke
down if it moved into the room directly afterward.
5. If a Mexican shoots a cannon against a closed doorway and the
shot succeeds, the hexside becomes a clear hexside.
6. A Texan unit which routs through a doorway hexside may cause
that doorway to be closed. If a Texan unit routs out of a room
through a closed door, the doorway again becomes open if there
are no Texan units remaining in the room.
Main Gate: The doorway in hexside 1022/1023 is the main gate to
the Alamo. The Texan player must declare at the beginning of the
game after setting up his units whether this doorway is open or
closed. If the doorway is closed any Texan units outside the gate
manning the artillery markers can not go through the doorway if
they want to get inside the Alamo. They will have to climb over
the wall. A Mexican unit which tries to break through the gate
must roll a one in order to break it down and automatically fail
if there is a Texan unit inside the room behind the gate. A
Mexican unit which enters the room behind the gate from the other
doorway may open the closed gate by expending two movement points
to do so. (The main gate was of a sturdier construction than the
doorways to the rooms in the Alamo.)
Church: The doorway in hexside 1618/1718, like the main gate, is
of sturdier construction than all of the other doors. Thus when
it closed the Mexicans must roll a one in order to break it down
and may not break it down if there is a Texan unit directly
behind it. The three doorways to the rooms inside the Church are
always considered to be open. They may never be closed. (These
rooms were not prepared for last stands like the rest of the
rooms in the Alamo were.)
During the final assault on the Alamo the Mexicans set fire to
two of the rooms on the West Wall. They did this by having a
soldier throw in through a window a small incendiary device while
the other Mexican soldiers gave him covering fire against the
Texans in the room. (Thus the infamous hand grenade scene from
the John Wayne movie is not a bunch of Hollywood hype, it really
happened.) Like breaking down doorways however, the Mexican units
started taking casualties while performing this operation and
soon reverted to using cannons. To recreate this situation use
the following rules:
1. Only the three Mexican units of the Zapadores battalion in the
Reserve Column may perform this operation.
2. To perform this operation a Mexican unit must start the
Mexican combat phase adjacent to a gunslit or open doorway
hexside of the room to be firebombed. After resolving combat
with that unit against the Texan unit inside the Mexican
player may make an additional die roll with one die. A result
of 1-3 means that a fire has started in the room in question
and a result of 4-6 means that a fire failed to start. If a
fire has started the Mexican player places a fire marker in
the room hex directly behind the gunslit or doorway hexside he
3. When a fire starts inside a room all Texan units inside that
room immediately make a Damage Check. A Texan unit in the
same hex and the fire marker adds one to the dice roll of the
Damage Check. Results are applied immediately.
4. At the beginning of each Mexican combat phase of all following
turns the fire spreads to adjacent inside room hexes of the
same room. Place fire markers in the effected hexes. All Texan
units still inside the room on fire take another Damage Check,
applying the results immediately before any Mexican units
conduct combat. A fire does not spread beyond the confines of
the room it started in.
5. No unit may enter into a room hex with a fire marker in it. A
unit that starts it movement phase in a hex with a fire marker
in it must leave that hex during that movement phase. If it
can not move out of the hex that unit is eliminated.
6. Fires may not be started inside rooms that have no Texan units
in them. Fires may not be started in any hex in the Church.
The Texans had an armory set up in one of the rooms to store
extra weapons that were not issued out to the troops on the
walls. (These weapons were in addition to the extra ones used in
the Intensive Fire rule.) There was also some extra small arms
ammunition and powder stored there as well. Historically the
armory was located in hex 1414. During the assault about 15
Texans held out in there for about 45 minutes and it was the last
room to be cleared by Mexican troops who took about 50 casualties
in doing so. To recreate this situation use the following rules:
1. Before setting up his counters the Texan player may secretly
record the location of the Alamo armory. It may be located
inside a room in either the Long Barracks, the Short Barracks,
or the West Wall. It may not be located in the Church. When
Mexican units first attack Texan units which are located in
the room where the armory is located or move through the
armory location hex, whichever occurs first, the Texan player
announces that the armory is there.
2. Texan units which are in the same room as where the armory is
located have the following advantages:
a. They subtract one from dice rolls when making a Damage
Check on themselves. This is in addition to all other
b. They each add one to their Fire and Melee strengths.
c. They may go berserk and perform a ferocious counterattack
without being stacked with a leader. They are each
considered to have a leadership rating of three when
checking for the ferocious counterattack.
3. These advantages last only as long as the Texan units stay in
4. When Mexican units moves through the room or a fire has
consumed the whole room or the Mexicans have cleared all Texan
units from the room then the armory has been destroyed and any
Texan units which should later move into the room do not
receive any benefits from the now destroyed armory.
The Alamo's powder magazine, which is located in hex 1816, was
where most of the gunpowder which was not being used was stored.
Most of this gunpowder was of Mexican manufacture and thus of
inferior quality which the Texans refused to use unless the rest
of their good powder ran out. Several movies depict the magazine
exploding from a lighted torch being thrown in there by a dieing
Davy Crockett. Historically the magazine did not explode (and
Davy Crockett never tried to blow it up) although one Texan named
Robert Evans did make a mad dash with a lighted torch to reach
the magazine room and throw in the torch. While he did manage to
get to the Church from the West Wall running by many Mexican
soldiers before they knew was happenning, he was gunned down by
Mexican soldiers guarding the magazine before he could throw in
Granted a rule for this event seems to be more chrome than
anything else but an attempt was made and the Texan player in
this game should be given the same chance as his historical
counterpart had. Use the following rules:
1. In the Texan player turn after the Mexicans have eliminated
the last Texan unit from inside the Church the Texan may
attempt the blow up the magazine.
2. To do so the Texan player must have a leader counter still on
the board. The Texan player can not use the Bowie leader
counter unless Bowie has a leadership of three for that game.
If there are no Texan leader counters left on the board or if
only Bowie is left and stuck in his room then the Texan may
not attempt to blow up the magazine.
3. To blow up the magazine the Texan must move the closest Texan
leader counter from where ever it is to the magazine hex by
the shortest possible route that it can legally move by the
rules. In this case the leader counter is considered to have
an unlimited amount of movement points with which to make his
move. The Texan leader counter must move through hexes
containing Mexican units and/or their Zones of Control if
these hexes constitute the shortest route. If the Texan leader
counter reaches the hex where the magazine is located then the
magazine blows up.
4. Each time the Texan leader counter enters a hex containing a
Mexican unit and/or its Zone of Control that Mexican unit may
fire at the Texan Leader counter. This includes a Mexican
unit in the same hex as the magazine. Each Mexican unit which
does this may only fire once no matter how many hexes under
that unit's control or occupation the Texan leader counter
enters. The fire attack is treated as a normal fire attack.
The Texan leader counter is considered to have a Morale Rating
of 10 and may not use its leadership Rating to modify the
Damage Check dice roll. When a Damage Check dice roll exceeds
ten (after all modifications) the Texan leader counter is
killed and the attempt to blow the magazine fails. A Mexican
unit which fires at the Texan leader counter may still fire
during its normal Combat Phase for that turn.
5. When the magazine blows up all units and artillery markers in
that hex and all adjacent hexes are eliminated. In addition
all wall hexides in the seven effected hexes are destroyed and
considered to be clear hexsides for rest of the game. (If this
does not seem a powerful enough blast for some players
remember that this was Mexican gunpowder which was not very
powerful in the first place.)
On the map the Wooden Wall that runs between the Long Barracks
and North Wall is not high enough. Many authorites agree that the
wall was as high as the Outer Wall. However this wall was a hasty
repair job to seal a breach in the wall that existed since the
previous year. The wooden slates in the wall had spaces between
them that allowed Mexican troops to climb the wall like a ladder
during the final assault. Thus the Mexican units should not be
able to cross these Wooden Wall hexsides as fast as the normal
game allows. To remedy this situation use the follwing rules:
1. The wooden wall in hexsides 1304/1305, 1204/1305, 1204/1205,
and 1105/1205 are now considered to be Outer Wall hexes. This
means that it now costs +4 movement points to cross those
hexsides. However due to the construction of the wall, Mexican
units do not have to roll to see if they have any ladders in
order to climb the wall, they may cross at will.
2. There are no Inner Wall hexsides or Rooftop hexes behind this
wall. However Mexican units may still enter the hexes behind
the wall. (There was an earthen berm behind the wall
reinforcing it which the Mexicans used to come down off the
wall.) Mexican units must still pay the +2 movement points to
cross the Inner Wall hexsides adjacent to these hexes if they
want to move to the Level 2 hexes adjacent to them.
EXTENDED GAME LENGTH
The current twelve turns represents an hour of real time.
Since the final assault lasted 90 minutes the Mexicans are
getting short changed in terms of time. Granted after an hour the
issue was no longer in doubt but the game's victory conditions
are based on how well the Texans do versus their real life
counterparts. With all of the advanced rules in this article the
Mexican player will be hard pressed to win in twelve turns,
considering that many of these rules favor the Texans. Thus it
seems only fair to give the Mexicans all of the time that they
had historically in order to complete their mission.
1. The game now lasts until turn 18.
2. Rule 16.6 is changed to read as follows: The Texan player wins
automatically if he has any combat units or leaders alive at
the end of game turn 18.
3. Rule 16.5 Victory Point Schedule is changed to read as
Texan VPS Level of Victory
17 or fewer Decisive Mexican Victory
18 Substantial Mexican Victory
19 Marginal Mexican Victory
20 Marginal Texan Victory
21 Substantial Texan Victory
22 or more Decisive Texan Victory
4. All other rules in Rules Section 16.0 remained unchanged.
It is my hope that these rules increase the game's level of
sofistication and the players' enjoyment of it too.