OMMS - On Map Military Strategy

Outline of play

The game is played using a board, counters, cards, matches, paper and dice readily available in most households. The board is simple ordnance survey map (1:250 000 scale), counters are coins, the cards are a number of standard 54 pack playing cards (with two jokers), and four standard 6-sided dice are required.
The aim for each player is to conquer their opponents before they can reciprocate. Each player starts by placing a base in one village, town or city on the map, then take turns to spread their armies to other settlements, spreading in influence, and attempting to win opponents' settlements for themselves.
Players use the playing cards to place new units and strengthen military strongholds, and to aid their expansion in the game.

Starting the game

The map is spread out as the board, with the players seated around it. Each player starts the game with three food tokens (matchsticks) and a hand of five cards.
Each player chooses a colour at the beginning of the game, and sticks a small piece of coloured paper to their counters (coins) using blue-tack to denote this. Small coloured sticky dots can also be used.
The players take turns to place one Fortification (two-pence piece) anywhere on the board, so long as it is on an exisiting town, city or village (see details below in the Settlements section). This will be their base, and will remain so until it is destroyed and taken over by an opponent.
The players then take turns to build, move and attack:

Turn Sequence

Each player's turn consists of a sequence of actions:

1. The player throws the dice and draws that number of cards from the top of the pile.
2. The player uses this and other cards in his or her hand to build, train units, and grow food, stored in piles in front of him. He or she also moves each of his units once, choosing not to move some units if so desired. Players can also trade any of their cards with other players.
3. The player can use any units who are within the breadth of one playing card from an enemy unit to attack that unit. They must have a direct path within their movement radius to the defending unit (i.e. there must not be a unit in the way, and there must be a road directly to the defending unit or settlement). If there is more than one defending unit together, either in the settlement or placed together (units from the same army can be placed 'on top of each other'), the unit with the highest defence is attacked.


A basic settlement is denoted by a one-penny coin placed on the map on a town, city or village. A settlement must be an existing place on the map, and must fall on a major M, A or B road. Unlabeled 'white' roads are not useable in OMMS. Minor suburbs cannot be built on, but major suburbs can, so long as they do not overlap with a neighbouring settlement coin. A settlement must be defended by units if it is not to fall into enemy hands. A settlement can be improved by building a fortification, at which point the one-penny piece is replaced with a two-pence piece. No player is allowed to build a settlement which is within a 10p diameter of any other settlement. This is to stop the creation of unsiegeable 'super-settlements', and also to stop dirty tactics of building right next to an opponent.


There are three units available in OMMS, the Scout, the Guard, and the Invader. The Scout is formed from a Jack in the deck, the Guard from a Queen, and the Invader from a King. In addition, new units can be created by amassing enough club (military) cards.
The Scout is denoted by the five-pence piece, the Guard by the ten-pence piece, and the Invader by the twenty pence piece. Again, the appropriate player colour is stuck to the coins.


Scouts have the advantage that they can move speedily, anywhere on the board. On every turn, each Scout can move in any direction up to the length of one playing card if they are on roads, and the width of one playing card if they are off road (use the joker cards for measurement). Guards and Invaders are slower, so they can move only up to the length of one side of a playing card, and can only move on roads.
If a unit is moving down a motorway, it has the advantage that it can move twice its usual road distance (perform one 'move', then a second). This is only the case if the unit starts and finishes its move on the motorway. In other words, if it started near a motor way, and moves onto it, it does not receive its second move. If it starts on a motorway and would reach past the end of the motorway in its two moves, it cannot travel past the end of the motorway and finishes its turn there.
On a road, the moving unit does so with two provisos.
1. The unit must finish on a major (M,A or B) road or a friendly settlement.
2. The unit must have a direct path within the radius of its moving space (the length or breadth of the card, depending on the unit) from its start point to its finish point. For example, if an opponent has a unit, settlement or fortress on a road blocking a direct path, and there is no other road within the movement radius that leads to the desired destination, the unit cannot move there.
(NB: 'Blocking' a path is defined by the size of the coin on the map. If a road bypasses an actual settlement on the map, but this is covered by the blocking coin, the travelling unit is still blocked. As a result, fortifying a settlement can sometimes increase its use as it covers a larger area on the map.)
To move a scout off road, simply measure use the width of the card, and move the scout anywhere on land on the map.

Attack and Defence

Each unit has an attack and defence strength. These can be seen on the table below:

Attack StrengthDefence Strength

Any unit can attack any enemy unit. The attacker rolls the number of dice corresponding to the attack strength of the attacking unit, and the defender rolls the number of dice corresponding to the defence strength of the defending unit. For example, if a scout is attacking an invader, both players roll one dice. If an invader is attacking a guard, both players roll two dice. If a scout attacks a guard, the attacking player throws one dice, and the defending two.
Each player then chooses the highest roll of all his or her dice. Whoever has the lowest of these loses his or her unit. If the numbers are equal, it is a stand-off, and both units survive.
Each unit can only attack once per turn. Units can defend as many times as they are attacked.

Additional Defence

In addition to the basic defence strength, up to two extra dice can be rolled by the defender. If the defending unit is on a basic settlement (one-penny piece) which is placed on a village, one extra die is thrown. If it is a fortification (denoted by the two-pence piece), two extra dice are thrown.

Defeating a settlement

If an attacking unit destroys the last defending unit in a settlement, the defending player forfeits that settlement and it is replaced by a basic settlement of the attacking player (regardless of whether the destroyed settlement was a basic settlement or fortress).
A settlement with no occupying units can be taken at any time by an enemy unit within the attack radius of that settlement.
If the defeated settlement is the defending player's base, he or she must choose a new base from one of his existing settlements. He then places in the discard pile any food tokens (matches) which are superfluous to the settlements he currently has.
If the player has no remaining settlements or units, he or she is out of the game. If he or she still has active units, then these must be used to try and attack and win back a settlement.


A settlement is under siege if all road access to that settlement is blocked by enemy units who are within attack distance of that settlement. This includes units inside an enemy settlement, if it is built within attack radius. If a settlement remains under siege for a whole round (every player having one turn, with the siege starting from when the last road is blocked), then one unit in the sieged settlement or fort is destroyed, unless there is only one unit left (this unit must be destroyed by traditional means!). Both the defender and the attacker roll a dice (if there is more than one player sieging, they decide between themselves who will roll). If the attacking player has a higher roll, they get to choose which defending unit is destroyed. Otherwise, the sieged player chooses one of his units in that settlement to be destroyed. Sieges can continue indefinitely.


Altogether, the number of packs of cards used corresponds to the number of players taking part in the game. All cards are shuffled together at the beginning of the game, and each player is given five cards, and the rest placed in an accessible 'pile'. At the beginning of his or her turn, the player draws one card from the top of the pile and continues his or her turn.
A player can also 'steal' a card - if he successfully attacks and destroys an opponent's unit - from the defeated player. If that player has no cards, the successful attacker does not gain a card. If a defending unit successfully defeats the attacking unit, he or she does not get to 'steal' a card.

Cards are played by discarding them into the central discard pile, or placing the cards in front of his or herself.
If the player draws a royal card, he can place the corresponding unit in any of his settlements or fortresses.

The remaining cards are used depending on which suit they are:

Clubs: These are military cards.
Spades: These are construction cards.
Hearts: These are food cards.
Diamonds: These are resource cards.

Creation Total

To use these cards, the player must have enough cards of one suit to reach his or her Creation Total. The Creation Total for each player is 15 at the start of the game, but can be reduced throughout the game.

For example, to construct a new basic settlement at the beginning of the game, a player must have 15 or more spades, which could comprise of the ten and five of spades, or the three, six and seven of spades. Spades which count above the Creation Total of 15 do not gain the player anything.

A player's Creation Total depends on the number of settlements they have, expressed in 'settlement points', counting forts as 2, and basic settlements as 1. As a player builds and fortifies settlements his or her Creation total is reduced according to the table below:

Settlement pointsCreation Total
14 or more6

For example, if I have two forts and three basic settlements, my settlement points are (2 x 2) + (3 x 1) = 7, corresponding to a Creation Total of 13. If I were to build a fourth basic settlement, my settlement points would be (2 x 2) + (4 x 1) = 8, lowering my Creation Total to 12.

Using the cards

Military Cards:
A player who has enough clubs (military cards) to reach the Creation Total can place all these cards in the discard pile and then place a new unit in any of his town or city settlements, just as if he had drawn a royal card. The player is free to choose what type of unit is created, be it scout, guard, or invader.

Construction Cards:
A player who has enough spades (construction cards) to reach the Creation Total can place all these cards in the discard pile and then place a new construction. This can be one of the following:
> A new settlement. In order to do this, the player must have a unit in a viable city, town or village that has not yet been built upon. The player must also have enough food available to construct the settlement. The player places a penny under the occupying unit.
> A fortification. The player swaps a penny for a two-pence piece on one of his or her occupied settlements. This fortified settlement also requires one additional food, so the player must have enough food available.

Food Cards:
In order to expand (create new settlements and fortify them) he must have enough food to do so. Each settlement costs one food, and each fortification costs two food. Thus, if a player has two fortifications and one settlement, but only five food piles in front of him, he must wait until he gains a sixth, at which point he can then fortify his settlement or build a new one (so long as he has the correct construction cards). Defeating a settlement does not mean that the attacking player gains food cards; nor does the defending player lose them, so the aggressor must amass enough food cards to support his or her military advance, if he or she wants to build settlements as well as invade them.
A player who has enough hearts (food cards) to reach the Creation Total can place all these cards in the discard pile and take a matchstick (food token) and place it in front of him. This counts for one food.

It is useful to be able to see at a glance how many settlement points a player has, since this determines his or her Creation Total. It is inconvenient to count the player's basic settlements and fortifications each time, so it is customary to orientate the matchsticks as shown in the above picture to distinguish between (A) the food points that are sustaining settlements and (B) those that are surplus.

Resource Cards:
Resource cards (diamonds) allow you to do a variety of things.
> A resource card and any non-royal heart, club or spade can be discarded for a two new cards drawn from the top of the pile.
> A number of resource cards whose combined value is equal to or greater than that player's Creation Total can be discarded, adding one attack roll to any of his or her attacking units that turn. If the player has enough cards, this can be repeated until up to four dice are being thrown.
> A resource card is worth half its face value of any clubs, spades or hearts and can be used with these cards to be spent on construction, units or food. If its value is odd, the remainder is ignored.

Trading cards

During his or her turn, a player can trade any of his or her cards for another player's cards. Both players agree terms, and then swap the cards in question. There are no trade regulations in OMMS: the only qualification is that both players agree.

Additional Optional Rules

In addition to the basic rules explained above, other rules can be added to the gamers' tastes. These are outlined below.

Various Map Scales:
Because different maps of different scales are available, often gamers will need to adapt the rules (such as which roads can be used, what counts as a 'motorway', what counts as a city/town or village etc.). In this event, make sure you all decide together on the details of the rules before you begin play!

Many gamers may want to experience the excitement of OMMS on a map of the Scottish isles, but find that they cannot, due to the different islands not being connected by bridges. In this case, a fourth construction option can be added in the form of a Ship. This costs the usual Creation Total of Construction Cards (spades). Once built, the player places the Ship (denoted by a fifty-pence piece with their colour sticker) by a port settlement (the player must own a settlement by the sea). Ships have attack and defence strengths of 1, but a ship in harbour gains an extra defence roll if being attacked. Each ship can also carry up to three units. A ship can go anywhere at sea or up a river, but can obviously not go on land. A ship carrying units moves the same distance as a Guard or Invader, and an empty ship moves the distance of a scout. Ships are useful because they can help you spread to new islands, and launch offences on other players' islands. Ports also become key, since you can 'siege' a player by capturing all his or her ports. Units on board a ship cannot attack or defend against an enemy ship: only ships can attack ships. If a ship is attacked and loses the battle it is sunk, and any units therein are lost. If the attack fails, however, the attacker returns to his or her nearest port, though any units it is carrying are destroyed. If the player has no ports the ship is lost.

The otherwise fairly useless aces in the pack are transformed with this modification! Drawing an ace allows you to place a pound coin of your colour in your base. This unit has an attack value of 3, defence value of 2, can move as fast as a Scout, and given the right conditions can wreak havoc in enemy territory!

Ways to win:
For shorter games, or games with different tactics, the game can be adapted accordingly. One way is that the winner is the first to reach a set number of settlement points (for example, the winner is the first to reach 20 points. Another way to play is that the winner is the first to take the opponent's base (or a certain number of bases depending on how many players are taking part). Often, the rules you choose will depend on the map you are playing on.

Rules are copyright (c) 2005 weloveperry.com.