General Staff Black Powder Wargaming System Wiki

Army Editor Tutorial

A tutorial for using the General Staff Wargaming System Black Powder Army Editor

Army Editor Overview[]

The General Staff Army Editor is an easy to use application for creating armies for use in the General Staff Wargaming System. In creating an army you will fill in an Order of Battle (OOB) Table showing all the units in the army as well as the command structure of the army. OOBs are a standard military device for displaying units and command structures.

The Confederate Order of Battle Table of the Army of the Shenandoah from the battle of First Bull Run. Click on the image to go to the Wikipedia article.

In the above OOB we see that there are three levels of command:

  • The Army Commander
  • The Brigades
  • The individual units

The General Staff Wargaming System also uses three levels of command. In fact all armies used with General Staff must have three and only three levels of command. When you have created and saved an army you will be able to use the army in a scenario in the General Staff Scenario Editor.

The Menus[]

There are three menus (File, Preferences and Help):

Menu 1.jpg

There are shortcut of "hot" keys set up for all these options using the Alt key in combination with a letter. This mechanism conforms to windows standards so should be reasonably familiar to users of office, paint, notepad etc.

As you hold the Alt key down you will see letters underlined on the menu options.

For file this is the F.

If you press F at the same time the alt key is held down (Alt+F) then the File menu will drop down.

The File Menu[]

If you drop down the File option, you will see:

File Menu picture

New Army[]

Select the New Army menu item under the File menu to create a new army. After selecting New Army the first unit in your army - the Commanding HQ unit - will automatically appear. Click on the 'Overtype with Army Name' at the top of the OOB window and enter a name for the Army that you are creating:


Type in the name for your new army. It will look like this:

Army of the North.jpg

Open Army File[]

This will cause a File Open dialog box to appear to select a previously created army for editing.

Save Army File[]

This will automatically save the OOB that you're working on with the previously saved filename.

Save Army File As[]

This will cause a File Save dialog box to appear. Type in the filename for the army and select Save.

Renumber IDs[]

Under some rare circumstances it may be necessary to manually renumber the ID numbers of the units in the Order of Battle Table. You won't need to worry about this unless you want to use the ID externally or you've done a huge number of adds and deletes and want to avoid clocking the number. The max is something in the order of 33,000.


Selecting the Exit menu item will exit the program and return the user to the desktop.

The Preferences Menu[]

The Preferences Menu contains two menu items:



The styling menu allows you to select what style of typeface will be displayed. There are three styles of typography.

A number of different fonts are used throughout the suite for each of these styles. When you change your preference you change it for all apps in the suite.

An example of styling choice:


Victorian type.jpg


Fancy type.jpg


Plain type.jpg

Paste Names[]

Paste Name Pref.jpg

The Paste Names option includes two check boxes: one for HQs and one for Units. When an HQ or a Unit is copied and pasted (see below) you have the option of specifying if the Name of the unit or HQ is also copied. The default is that the name is not copied with the other information.


Selecting the Accuracies menu item will cause an Open File dialog to appear from which you can select a number of pre-designed Range of Weapons / Distance accuracy curves. See section 3.??? below for details.


Under the Help menu you will find information about the program.

About the Typography[]

Selecting this menu item will show information about the Victorian typography used in the program and a link to The Walden Font Company who provide these.

About the General Staff Army Design Module[]

Selecting this menu item will display the online documentation for the program.

Creating Order of Battle Tables[]

An Order of Battle (OOB) Table is the structure of an army. This is hierarchical with the general commanding at the head of the structure - and hence top of the list. The Army Editor window is divided into three sections. At the top is the name of the Army. On the left is the OOB structure. On the right is the Unit Editing Panel. The divider in between the OOB tree structure and the Unit Editing Pane can be adjusted. To do so, hover over the divide between the panels until you see a double headed arrow appear ( this can be a bit fiddly ). Hold the left mouse button down and drag to left or right to taste. This is a temporary change for your current run only so if you get it wrong somehow you can just shut the app down and re run.

In fact this is something to bear in mind generally if you make a mistake or hit some unexpected problem.

To begin creating an OOB select New Army from the File menu. The Army Editor will look like this:


Tip: Bear in mind no changes are permanent until you choose to save from the File menu.

Enter the Name of the Army[]

Begin by typing the name of the Army at the top of the OOB (where it says Overtype the Army Name). This should be the actual army name like The Army of Northern Virginia.

Edit the Army Commander's Data[]

Next click on the HQ icon text Overtype Unit Name. It will turn green and open an area on the right side of the screen where you can edit the Commander's name and assign his Leadership Value.

Your screen will look like this:


Click on the Overtype Unit Name text in the Unit Editing Pane and enter the Commanding General's Name. Next give the Commanding General a Leadership Value by clicking on the slider and moving it to the left or the right. The higher the number the greater the Leadership Value.

Adding a Subordinate Commander[]

At the bottom of the Unit Editing Pane are three buttons: Add Subordinate, Paste and Delete. Paste allows the user to copy and paste similar units. Delete will delete the unit. Select Add Subordinate. The OOB pane will now look like this:


Note the addition of the subordinate HQ and the addition of a black pointing finger. Clicking on the finger will collapse the OOB showing on the Army Commanding General and the pointing finger now turns to white indicating that there are subordinate units that will be displayed when you click on the pointing finger.

Click on the Overtype Unit Name as before and enter the name of the Subordinate Commander. Then set the Leadership Value as before by clicking on the slider and moving the cursor to the right or left.

When you are done click on the Add Subordinate button again.

Adding Combat Units[]

After clicking on the Add Subordinate button on the previous screen we have now created three levels of our OOB. The OOB pane will now look something like this:OOB4.jpg

Note: there are now three levels of command: The Army Commanding General, the Subordinate Commander and an actual fighting unit (for now it defaults to display the NATO 2525B Symbol for infantry).

Editing Combat Units[]

The unit edit panel looks like this:


The following variables are stored for every combat unit:

Unit Name[]

Click on the Unit Name and enter an appropriate name for this unit. When working from historical OOBs it is suggested to use descriptive names like "Colborne's Brigade" rather than "1st Brigade, 1st Division". It is entirely up to you what you call units but bear in mind that the name should be unique so when you see a message appear about a particular unit you know which one is referred to.

Unit Type[]

There are eight unit types but you cannot select HQ for a Combat Unit type. The available Unit Types are:

  • Infantry
  • Light Infantry
  • Cavalry
  • Light Cavalry
  • Artillery
  • Horse Artillery
  • Supply Wagons


Units can be set to one of three skirmishing alternatives:

  • Never
  • Optional
  • Always

For example, artillery should be set to 'Never'. Artillery units, historically, cannot skirmish. Infantry or cavalry units should probably be set to Optional to indicate that assigning these units to skirmish is a possibility. Certain light infantry units are always used as skirmishers.


This is the actual number of troops in the unit.

Game Strength[]

The Game Strength of a unit is a number between 1 and 4 and represents the strength of the unit in the Game mode game. See the Game mode page for details about this game variation.

Shooting Effect[]

The Shooting Effect for a unit is a combat equation modifier used in Simulation mode. It indicates how effective the unit's firepower is. For example, a 12 pound Napoleon cannon has a much higher Shooting Effect than a smoothbore musket.


A unit's accuracy is a curve indicating the unit's accuracy over range (A/R). You can select from a number of pre-drawn accuracy curves from the drop down list or click the pencil and edit a custom curve.

Like any combobox, you click the little arrow to drop down a list of options and click an entry or arrow down/up and hit return to pick one of the pre built curves.

You're not setting the unit to have Muskets or Pistols, you're copying the values from that entry ( file ) you pick. This then allows you to edit the values for a specific unit if you really wanted to. It also means units and accuracy files are totally separate. Someone else you give an army file does not need the various accuracy files you used to create it.

Any files in the


folder with the .txt extension are read in and used for the combobox options. One file with "Musket" somewhere in it's name is expected to be there and will be used as the default. If you change the names and there's no such file or more than one matches then unexpected behaviour might occur.

Edit Accuracy.jpg

There are a 100 entries for accuracy, each representing a factor ( 0 through 1 ) per percentage range to target. 100% range is over on the right of the above curve and therefore going to approach 0 whilst 1% is over on the left and the factor is approaching 1 or full effect.

Each "slice" is a vertical slider which works very much like the slider you may be familiar with on the right of a web browser window. Except of course these look different.

To edit one you can either:

Click and drag the dark X like shape up or down.


Click above or below the X. If you click and hold in either area the X will continue moving up or down until you let go of the mouse button.

Once you're happy with the new look of your curve, click Save to save the new Accuracy / Range curve or Close to discard your changes.

This is quite a fiddly process. The ultimate level of detail means you have great flexibility BUT you also have a lot of work if you want to go to town on editing every unit's values.

The assumption is that you will not really want a different curve per unit. In reality one musket is pretty much the same as another. Any given rifle is usually limited by it's battlefield user to the same effectiveness as another.

Bear in mind you can copy the accuracy txt files used and edit them in this app or separately. Hence if you prefer more or different the curves then you can create ones more to your taste and use these instead.

The files themselves are edited using a similar form available from

Preferences > Accuracies.

These are just txt files so you could potentially edit them externally. Perhaps in an excel spreadsheet which you then cut and paste a column into a txt file.


When editing an accuracy file you can draw a new curve.

Load the file, click draw and draw a new line to your preference.

Maybe I'm just mouse-drawing challenged but I find it very difficult to draw a smooth curve in this way. I then need to fiddle about adjusting each slice.

This ONLY works with an existing file. Copy and paste one if you want to add an entirely new category.


This is the number of times the unit can fire without resupply. When this value reaches '0' the unit cannot fire long range weapons and can only engage in Close (melee) combat.

Note that for some units this might not just be one round fired.


This is the time, in seconds, it takes to reload.


This is the maximum battlefield effective range in meters of the unit's primary missile weapon (muskets, rifles, artillery, etc.) For muskets this should be around 200m. For most units using Rifles - between 200 and 300m. Only very unusual sharpshooting units should have a range approaching theoretical effect whilst on the battlefield.

Close Combat[]

This is a modifier for Close Combat used only in Simulation mode.

Leadership Value[]

This is the value for this unit's commander's leadership values. Units with greater leadership are more likely to be successful in combat, respond faster to orders and fatigue at a slower rate. Only used in Simulation mode.

Unit Quality[]

This is the value of the unit's quality (Veteran, Elite, Conscripts, etc). Units with greater quality are more likely to be successful in combat and fatigue at a slower rate. Only used in Simulation mode.

Unit Morale[]

This is the value of the unit's morale.Morale changes during battle as the result of combat. Units with greater morale  are more likely to be successful in combat and fatigue at a slower rate. Only used in Simulation mode.

Copying and Pasting a Unit[]

Units can be copied and pasted in the OOB. This is a great timesaver when creating large OOBs with similar units.

The process copies the data for a unit to another one ( which you must have added ). Part of the data copied can be subordinate combat units for a HQ.

To copy a unit click on the clip board icon that is located at the extreme right of the unit in the OOB panel. For example: click on an HQ unit that has multiple units underneath it. Click on the clipboard icon. Now click on another HQ unit and select Paste. It will copy the Leadership value and OOB structure from the first HQ unit to the second HQ unit. This process adds units rather than over-writing any you already have as subordinates for a HQ.

If you choose a combat unit to copy then that will only paste to another combat unit. Combat units have much more attributes than HQ units. All this data is copied over whatever you have in the combat you're pasting to.

The values copied optionally include name. You can decide whether to include name for HQ or unit separately from the Preferences Menu.

Deleting a Unit[]

Click on the Delete button to delete the unit from the OOB. Like all changes, this is an in memory change until you save the file to disk. Therefore if you delete the "wrong" unit you can just reload the original file and it'll still be there.

Design Notes[]

This part of the wiki explains the thought process behind some of the functionality.

Battlefield Rifle Fire Effectiveness[]

When militaries changed from muzzle loading smoothbore musket to rifled weapons they expected to see much greater lethality on the battlefield. They studied the effectiveness of their weapons on mock targets and looked at the casualties inflicted on the battlefield. There was ( and still is ) a huge discrepancy between shooting paper and people.

There is disagreement about exactly why this is the case. Grossman would point to a reluctance to kill. Others point to the stress of combat and fatigue of campaign. Wigram's studies of ww2 British assaults seem to indicate most soldiers are unenthusiastic participants.

Whatever the reason, 99% of riflemen can't hit pretty much anything over 100 yards away. They perform to some tiny percentage of their target range capability. Roughly 1% perform somewhere near to range ability on the battlefield and achieve most of the rifle kills.

If you really want to kill the enemy then you want a crew served weapon such as mortar, artillery or machine gun. If you cannot bring one of these to bear then you need to somehow deliver a fresh unit to close range on a suppressed enemy unit. The blade of increasing casualties cuts both ways though. Close range combat is a particular characteristic of combat in a built up area and likely to be quite risky. In Iraq the US military went from close assaulting buildings to blowing them up with tank fire or explosives due to the casualties they were taking.

The Accuracy Curves and Range[]

There is much less practical difference between one rifle and another in fire effect than performance on a shooting targets would indicate.

In reality, rate of fire and reload differ. Battlefield effective range ( 50% hits ) should be roughly 50 yards for pretty much anything so long as this is a regular unit. Some rare very highly trained or proficient units will be better than that.

Let's consider one notable exception in practice that was to change the British army training radically.

Just at the end of our period Boer riflemen managed to perform extremely well at range which militaries of the time would have dreamed of. How did they do that then?

These are men who routinely hunted game at long range and learnt to shoot from maybe age 6. After 30 years or so of practice they were very good shots. Maybe also the fact they were used to the process of killing (game) meant they were OK with the process of killing itself. This was their home ground and the notable performance was delivered whilst unfatigued using rested rifles, unseen by their enemy and from the safety of trenches. These guys ticked all the boxes of almost all the possible explanations of why some people fall in that 1%. They were used to killing, highly motivated, rested, shooting optimally and with no likelihood of effective return fire meaning greatly reduced or no stress.

Hence such a Boer unit should be using the exceptional marksman curve with a good range. Their fire effect should be lower than the British they face, as should their Quality. They had no NCOs and very brittle morale.

Most regular units should hit 50% at round about 50 yards and have roughly the same range. You should therefore be setting Range to a value between 200 and 300 metres.