Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Battle of White Tunis 310BC using Ancient Battelines Clash

This is game 32 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books. However, I sometimes play some battles not in the books. The Battle of White Tunis in one of them and is from Phil Sabin's Lost Battles. ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.  This is the first time I am using version 3 of the rules, these have undergone some changes from version 2 (last updated and played in late 2016).  Version 3 has been posted to the ABC rules page.

Battle of White Tunis
Syracuse was besieged by Carthage. Rather than fight the besiegers, the Tyrant of Syracuse, Agathocles, led an army into Libya. The Carthaginians chose two rivals - Hanno and Bomilcar - to lead the army to attack Agathocles.

Very little on the internet but here is an article of interest:

Wikipedia article 

I used the Lost Battles information for this scenario.



Carthaginians (Hanno and Bomilcar)
2 Chariots, Medium chariots
1 Heavy Cavalry, Medium cavalry, low fortitude
1 Sacred Band, Heavy infantry, phalanx, high fortitude, some missile protection
3 Foot Troops, Heavy infantry
3 Poor Foot troops, Heavy infantry, low fortitude
2 Skirmishers, Skirmish infantry, short missile
1 General with Sacred Band


Syracusans (Agathocles)


1 Veterans, Heavy infantry, phalanx, high fortitude, some missile protection
4 Hoplites, Heavy infantry, phalanx, some missile protection
2 Allied infantry, Heavy infantry
2 Gallic allies, Heavy infantry, warband
1 Peltasts, Medium infantry
2 Skirmishers, Skirmish infantry, short or long missile
1 General with Veterans
Army Command ability +1 to reflect both Agathocles and the poor showing of Hanno and Bomilcar.

Breakpoint: 10



The Game
The Carthaginians advance but the lone Medium Chariot on the left does not move (fails movement role for being a single unit and so far away from the leader).

Syracusans advances all along the line.

Both sides advance.

The Chariot and Cavalry on the Carthaginian left flank charge into the Syracusan allied warbands.

First combat on the Carthaginian right flank.
The screening skirmisher infantry fire and retreat, the Carthaginian cavalry is pushed back and disordered.  The warband opposite the chariot charges (this was actually a good move on the Chariots side as It stopped within the Warband zone of control and forces the warband to charge out from it supporting units and be single unit.  A single unit is -1 in melee).  In the subsequent melee both units are disordered.

First melee sees a skirmisher lost and a few disorders (grey javelins).

The Carthaginian left flank chariot moves.  The opposing Syracusan right flank does not move – it may be better to stay on the defensive here,  the Chariot may win Vs the Peltasts and the allied infantry are a good deterrent for the end of the main Carthaginian line.

The Syracusan  battleline advances and clears the lone skirmisher.  The Hoplite opposing the skirmisher continue into the main Carthaginian line.  The rest of the Syracusan hoplites moved as far as they could but just not into contact.  However they still maintain contact with the lone meleeing hoplite so it is not a single unit.

Centre lines nearly in contact - one Syracusan hoplite is in melee on the left.

The result is all units in melee are disordered.

The Syracusan Veterans charge into the Carthaginian Skirmishers in front of Sacred Band and the adjacent Syracusan warband moves into the heavy cavalry.

The Carthaginian right flank sees more contacts and all disordered. At the top the two leader units are about to enter melee.
The Veterans Vs Sacred Band - both disordered.
Warband Vs Cavalry – Warband disordered, the cavalry stays disordered
Warband Vs Chariot - Warband disordered, chariot stays disordered.

Overview at mid game.

The Carthaginian turn sees no change along the line.  They don’t charge in the centre as the Syracusan battleline is better.  The Carthaginian left flank chariot does advance a bit to be able to charge the Syracusan peltasts next turn.

Syracusan hoplites charge the centre line.  A Carthaginian low fortitude heavy infantry is routed.  Bad news also for the Syracusan Veterans as they are routed, along with Agathocles.  A blow to history.  It was inevitable with the way I had set it up as Agathocles ended up being at a disadvantage for being a single unit.  There was a 1 in 6 chance of being routed.  To make up for this the Syracusan warband routs the Carthaginian heavy cavalry.

Battlelines clash and is quite a bloody turn.  Carthaginians lose a heavy infantry and cavalry, Syracusans lose the Veterans and Agathocles.

The Carthaginian main leader wheels to flank the Syracusan infantry next turn.  Another heavy infantry unit lost to the Carthaginians.  The Carthaginian left flank chariot charges the Syracusan peltasts and both are disordered. The Syracusan Allied infantry charges into the tail end of the battleline.  Both units in the resulting melee are disordered.

The Syracusan right flank infantry charges the opposing allied infantry.

Another Carthaginian low fortitude heavy infantry unit lost. And then the Carthaginian chariot loses its battle with the Syracusan Warband. The Carthaginian side  reaches their breakpoint and loses the battle.  Victory to Syracuse.

The Syracusan left flank has a few warbands. The Sacred Band is ready to flank the Syracusan heavy infantry line but is thwarted when they lose another heavy infantry and reach their breakpoint.

Overview at the end of the game.

Two years is a long time but I really enjoyed the game.  My solo mojo, lost for the last year or so, may be coming back. Maybe not and maybe it has just been so long it was like a fresh game!  Anyway the new rules went very smoothly.  The biggest change from the previous version to this one is that both units are adversely affected on a 0-1 or a 6-7 on the die roll (previously  just one side is depleted; now one side is depleted, the other is disordered).  This  came about due to the fact that disorder is -1 on the die roll – if a side was disordered and not the other, the -1 was a huge advantage and meant the disordered side was unlikely to ever win, if though the odds at the start were the same.

Minor rules change (back to old rules for victory)
Other things I have to reflect on is I have changed the the 6 turn limit for victory conditions -  this is now optional. The 6 turns and victory point calculation was the default with an option for a quicker game for simply when breakpoint is reached.  This breakpoint rule was the only victory conditions in the previous rules.  I have reinstated the breakpoint reached as the default and optionally the victory points calculation.  I prefer the breakpoints and it also guarantees a winner.  The 6 turn limit and victory points is still good for games in a campaign (which is where it came from – I was using the other rules in a campaign game).

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Battle of Heraclea 280BC using an combination of Ancient Battlelines Clash and when Warriors Collide

This is game 31 (take 2) in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 2'x2' table.

I actually played this battle a year before this post (about January 2018 I think).  I had the draft post without the images ready to go and have forgotten all about it! Anyway,originally this was not a battle I was going to play.  I played the battler in late 2017 using a new homegrown set - When Warriors Collide (based on my grid-based rules but without grids). But I did yet another pivot with my rules.  The rules are a mashup of all the good bits of the Ancient Battlelines Clash (ABC) revised with some concepts from Warriors Collide.  The ABC rules changed a lot or a little and the intention was to move forwards with these rules as the new version of Ancient Battlelines Clash.  But after playing one game the concept was good but the rules were not as solo friendly as Ancient Battlelines Clash.  Mainly a lot of the reactions and movement was deterministic (not rolled for) and so the unpredictability was gone.  So while a OK ruleset, not for me.

The mashup of Ancient Battlelines Clash and When Warriors Collide (for interest)
When Warriors Collide (WWC) was mashup of applying Ancient Battlelines Clash concepts to Bill Banks Ancients (BBA). So the troop types align to BBA, combat was based on force ratios and rolling multiple dice.  I still think the rules have value but I strayed to far from where I wanted to take Ancient Battlelines Clash. I reread some secondary sources and looked closely about what I still thought needed improvement in ABC, most of which was in WWC. Hopefully it reduces some of the dice rolling where it was adding little value, but still just as mush decision making and just as much randomness - important for solo play.  It should also be faster!  The rules changes in ABC are:
  • Movement is like WWC where a unit can only face one of four directions.
  • Gone is rolling for orders - army is split into three divisions and one move/rally per division.
  • Combat is streamlined with less modifiers.  It is still 1d6 but now shock and flank attacks are built into the results (get 6+ for a shock/flank attack and defender routs).  And also results of defender depletion also cause disorder for the attacker.
  • Disorder is no longer a negative modifier to many of the tests (only melee)
  • Phalanx rules have been modified to make them less fragile when disordered.
  • Peltast-type infantry now have short missile ability,
  • Reaction to charging and missile fire are automatic rather than rolled for.  This also allowed for a streamlined missile system and a fire contest to occur immediately rather than do a two misses duel first (this last bit was from WWC).  It is also harder to rout units just by missiles
  • Victory is not when you break the enemy, although it will likely; there are victory points for breaking enemy, routing enemy leader, looting camp, having units left on the table at the end of 6 turns.
I have written up these rules and have posted them for historical purposes.  The automatic reactions and not rolling for movement I did not like as mush as I thought but did incorporate some changes from When Warriors Collide into Ancient Battlelines Clash to create a new version that is  mostly the same as ABC v2.5 but has some streamlining.  Expect to see the new ABC version 3 rules posted in 2019 followed by some games with the new version.

Battle of Heraclea
Pyrrhus comes to Italy to assist the Greek cities their against the Roman aggressors.  For more detail on the battle and the units see this blog post I did prior to my replays: Heraclea deployment and background.


Pyrrhic army

1 Agema, Medium Cavalry, high fortitude, impetuous
1 Elephant, Elephant
1 Hoplites, Heavy Infantry, phalanx, some MP (missile protection)
3 Phalangites, Heavy Infantry, phalanx
1 Hydaspists, Heavy Infantry, phalanx, high fortitude
1 Peltasts, Medium Infantry, short missile
1 Light cavalry, Skirmish Cavalry, short missile
2 Skirmishers, Skirmish Infantry
1 Leader with the Agema

Breakpoint: 8

The Romans

2 Cavalry, Medium Cavalry
4 Leves, Skirmish Infantry
4 Hastati/Principes, Heavy Infantry, line relief, some MP (missile protection)
2 Triarii, Heavy Infantry, high fortitude, drilled
1 Light Infantry, Medium Infantry, short missile
1 Light cavalry, Skirmish Cavalry, short missile
1 Leader with one of the legions

Breakpoint: 9

As per Heraclea deployment and background

Deployment - Pyrrhus to the left, Romans on the right

The Game
Both centre battlelines advance.  The Elephant and the Agema advance but not too far so they do not have to charge the Roman cavalry.  The skirmish and light cavalry of each side advance but not to within missile range.

Both centres advance, as does most of the flanks. Roman cavalry bottom right does not move as they are outclassed on that flank.

Pyrrhic infantry battleline advances slightly to bring skirmishers into range, but not the phalangites.  On The Roman's turn, the skirmishers fire - all Pyrrhic skirmishers gone, one Roman Leves lost.

Centre infantry is close and the skirmisher screens interact with the Pyrrhic skirmishers gone and one Roman Leves lost.

Pyrrhic line advances into the levies - all retire but do disorder one opposing pike unit.  The pikes and legions clash.  Orders phalanxes are +1 (disordered get no bonus so a disordered phalanx has same combat value as a legion).  To lucky rolls see two legions retreat and all are disordered (change in rules - previously only defender would be disordered on a roll of 6).  The hoplites and a pike unit pursue (another change - pursuit is automatic for heavy infantry).  In the subsequent melee the hoplites are routed.  The other two melees see all four combatants disordered.  The Hydaspists cannot move - they already did this turn.  In hindsight maybe should have moved them into melee.

Battlelines clash, Pyrrhic hoplites routed.

The Elephant and Pyrrhus move as far as they can.  Should have really done this last turn, I am forgetting that there is a time limit in these games now!  Roman cavalry do not react.

The Elephants and Pyrrhus advance..

In the centre, a roman legion is destroyed and the opposing phalanx advances.  Hypaspists advance and rout the opposing legion and are themselves disordered. They also pursue.

Two more Roman legions lost in the centre. 

The Romans advance the Triarii towards to now open right centreline.  Triarii are drilled so may wheel and move. A phalangite is routed (far left).

On the left a  Phalangite unit is routed.  The Triarii, bottom right, is coming to help on the right.

The elephant and Pyrrhus slam into the Roman Cavalry. Pyrrhus rolls a 6 and forces the roman Cavalry to retreat with no adverse effect to the Agema.  Pyrrhus pursues and rolls another 6 for melee and routs the opposing cavalry. Very lucky with both rolls.  Pyrrhus pursues nearly off the edge.  Meanwhile, the elephant forces the opposing cavalry to become disordered and they retreat; the elephant fails to pursue.

One Roman cavalry unit routs off the field of battle; the other retreats from battling the elephant.

The lone centre battleline phalangite that has been hanging back manages to rejoin the main battleline.  The Triarii wheel and advance into the line.  The heavy infantry line is looking like a proper battleline again. The resulting combat was not decisive for any side - all units were disordered but no routs.

Triarii join the line and battle continues along the centre heavy infantry clash.  The resulting combat saw all units disordered. 
Last turn Pyrrhus was not disordered.  This will help do a complex move, but the Agema heavy cavalry simply does not have the movement capability to be able to wheel sufficiently large and then charge the remaining Roman cavalry.   So, as the next best option, the Elephant does instead.

... and rolls a 1 for melee; anything else would have routed the roman cavalry.

The elephant have a 5 in 6 chance of routing the Roman Cavalry.  It rolled the 1 in 6 result!

In the centre battleline a Pyrrhic phalangite is lost.

A Pyrrhic phalangite is lost. in the centre.

The game now lasts 6 turns.  It is the end of turn 6 and the last die roll of the game is the roman cavalry melee with the Elephant - the cavalry rolls badly and routs.  Elephant does pursue this time.

The game is a draw - neither side panicked (reached their breakpoint) and neither side has lost two times the units of the other.

End game - Pyrrhic units on the left of the white line, Romans on the right.

I like the rules, even after one game.  The reactions system flowed faster as it no longer needs dice rolls, phalanxes are not so easily defeated and the revised combat table (where if one side is depleted, the other will tend to be disordered) seems to better balance battleline clashes.  Less modifiers also helps.
But it is a step too far - some of the rules changes I liked, but the rolls in reactions helped with solo play by adding in some uncertainty.
I have revised Ancient Battlelines Clash into version 3 with some minor changes to fix some of the niggling issues I had with the existing rules that led me to create this mashup of rules. So not wasted as helped me shape what ABC version 3 should be. I am hoping to post the ABC Version 3 rules in 2019 and play some games.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

WW2 6mm gaming on a 24cmx24cm gridded table - a full game battle report

I have been testing out some WW2 grid based rules to play on a 24cm x 24cm table with some 6mm bases.  The journey on why I created these rules and some initial testing is in this blog post.
This post is a full battle report using the latest rules that are available here.

Note: The Scenario and Troop section are identical to that in the previous blog post so if coming from there just skip to the Game section.

It is not historical and I came up with it quite quickly. I decided it would be 1943 and I would have a road with a village defended by the Germans.  And some wheatfields.  This is what ended up as the battlefield.  There are not really hedges in Russia so even though they are hedges on the table, think of them as some sort of cover – ditches, rocks etc.
Each square is about 30mx30m so the whole board is 360mx360m.

Setup - Russians attacking from the left, Germans defending on the right.
Objective: Soviets need to clear the village of Germans.

Germans (Regular)
1 MMG team
1 Gruppe with Zug leader
2 Gruppe

Soviets (Regular)
1 HQ squad (with leader)
1 MMG team (Maxim)
5 Squads

The Germans have the edge in command structure but morale wise they are equivalent.

The Game
This time I am going to focus on the middle and right flank to push through and hopefully take out the village from that side.  The plan starts off well with 2 activations for the Russians so advance all the bases in the centre and the right flank.

Moving up the centre and right flank Russians.

Whenever one side gets activations the other side then gets to activate.  In this case the MMG spots the advancing centre sections and fires. The MG fires misses them entirely (zero successes on 2 dice and also on the 1 die at the adjacent section).

German MG fires at the advancing Russians for no effect whatsoever.

A random event sees a Russian sniper line up a German section (snipers are 2 dice rolled against a random base).  And misses....
The Russians activate again and move up the units on the left flank.  They spot the guarding German Gruppe and fire and pin it.  Pinning means the unit can either half-move OR fire at closest target until rallied.
The Russians are going to attempt to apply pressure everywhere and then focus their efforts on where a weakness is exposed.

Left flank platoon (of two sections) advances and pins the defending Gruppe at top right.

The Germans get an activation and fire again with the MG.  This time they manage to pin the central advancing MG.

The Russian MG is pinned (brown marker)..

The Russians put the pressure on the left flank Gruppe, but all they do it continue to pin it.

Russian left flank continues to pin the defender.

The Russians also activate their pinned MG and fire on the Zug HQ Gruppe in the building, suppressing them.  Suppression means no firing or moving until rallied, and rallying from suppression carries a small chance of routing.

The Russian MG manages to suppress the Zug HQ Gruppe (green marker = suppression).

The Germans return fire with the MG and destroy the Russian MG! First kill to the Germans.

The Russian is destroyed. 

Germans activate again and successfully rally the HQ Gruppe.  Germans losses: 0 Russian losses 1.  but it is about to get interesting...

German HQ section rallied.

The Russians activate two sections (including the HQ section) on the right flank and charge the German Gruppe in the woods.  The German section does not get to fire back as the Russians charge in - the Russians are known units and the Germans should have fired at them when activated if they wanted to stop them!  Anyway, the close combat results in a tie so all units are locked in melee (Germans rolled two dice and Russians three and all dice showed zero successes).  An activation is needed to perform another close combat, there is no specific "close combat phase" each turn.

Right flank Russian sections charge the German Gruppe in the woods.

The following German activation sees the MG continue to focus on the centre Russian sections, pinning them both.

German MG pins both centre Russian sections, the melee from the previous activation can be seen at the top right.
The Russians activate the close combat and rout the opposing Gruppe.  Winners can advance 2 squares and do so - straight into close combat with an occupied house of the village.  It is a tie and so locked in melee.

Note: I forgot, but the winner of close combat is supposed to lose a base to represent casualties..  I did not do this and so the Russians had both their sections available for the close combat on the house when it should have been one left for the advance. 

Russians win the melee with the Germans in the woods and then advance into melee with the Germans in the village.

The German MG continues its unrelenting firing on the centre sections.  Nothing like someone with focus!  Another Russian section is routed.

Another Russian section routed by German MG fire.
The Germans get an activation..Cannot activate the same base twice in a row so fire at the Russian units advancing on the other flank and routs one (about a 1 in 7 chance)

The forgotten flank sees one Russian section routed.

A random event sees a German base activate as a Veteran unit.  The random base happens to be the one that just fired.  It fires again.  Acting as a Vet it gets one more dice to roll that is enough to rout the other, and last, Russian section on that flank.  That flank is clear, the centre is nearly free of Russians and it is only on the Russian right flank they are making a bit of progress.  Things are not really looking great for the Russians.

...followed shortly after by the other one.

The Russians continue with the close combat in the village. It was not to be (at least for the Russians).  They only just lost and are forced to retreat 2 squares and are suppressed.  Note: one Russian section should have been routed but forgot this rule too.  Surprising I cannot remember the close combat rules about winners and losers removing a base - my close combat rules have been unchanged for 6 years and are lifted from Take Cover!! that I used to play for 10 years prior to that! 

Russians lose the melee in the village and retreat suppressed (the green marker = suppression)

The German HQ, fresh from victory in the close combat can advance 2 squares which they do to enter into close combat with the Russian section with the Company leader.  They are successful.  They decide not to advance as they would be close to the other suppressed unit and their luck may not hold out to another close combat.

German HQ Gruppe advances and successfully routs the Russian  section and leader in close combat. 

This is an example of a close combat roll - top is the 3 white dice for the Germans (1 for the section, 1 for charging, 1 for leader) Vs 1 red dice for the Russians (1 for base, 1 for leader, -1 suppressed).  The dice are a special order arranged by the author of the Goal System series of rules..
The Russians have lost over 50% of their bases and so need to check force morale.  They roll 2 dice instead of 3 as the overall force commander is lost. They roll 2 successes means all units are pinned and must also all retreat 2 squares.  I call the game at this time as a win for the Germans - the Russians are not going to really be able to take the village with the couple of sections remaining.

Russian force morale roll

That was very fast, the whole game was about 5 turns.  For these games with only a small number of bases on each side, I am finding the dice based activation quite good (after tweaking it 4 times over 5 games!), at least compared to my favourite of card based activation.  I think for these rules I will keep using the dice based activation and leave the card based to games with more bases/figures.
I know at the end of the last post on the rules I was talking about going 8x8 etc. but during the last week I am inspired to not only get back to my 15mm ancient games, but also play a few more of these 12x12 WW2 gridded games with these rules.  On Friday I spent my lunchtime modifying my half-baked company battle generation spreadsheet (based on Platoon Forward).  It hangs together just and will now generate some games for East Front for these rules.  So hopefully you will see a few more battle reports based on these rules.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

WW2 6mm gaming on a 24cmx24cm gridded table - the rules journey and brief AARs

The one liner: Playing a game with 6mm miniatures on a small table leads to a rules revisions and introduces a grid.

This very long post describes me replaying a small scenario a number of times as I revise the rules after each play.  The post is mostly about the rules journey but does provide 4 short battle reports with another post to provide a complete AAR for the last game.  The latest rules are here.

This post is split into the following sections to make it easy to ignore those you are not interested in:
  • From Ancients to grids to WW2 – explaining the journey that got me to a gridded WW2 game on a small board.  It is likely more interest to those that tinker or write rules, or at least interested in such stuff!
  • WW2 scenario overview
  • WW2 grid rules overview
  • WW2 game 1 – the first outing with the new rules that highlighted the need for activation and firing revisions.
  • WW2 game 2 – the revisions are working but clarifications needed for grouped bases as firers or targets.
  • WW2 game 3 – it mostly comes together but rallying from pinned and suppressed still needs work, and still more on grouped bases.
  • WW2 game 4 – The game played OK but still not happy with activation and tracking of activations.
  • WW2 game 5 (next post not this one) – it comes together, I am happy and no rules changes as a result (this is in a subsequent post and will provide a link when posted)
From Ancients to grids to WW2
I have no time for gaming as the focus of my life outside work has been on the major renovations to a house we are moving into later this year.  I was wondering how to try and fit in some gaming time around this and hit on the idea of playing some games during lunchtime.  I have a portable 6mm WW2 game that plays well on a A4 page but was thinking of ancients.  I have been revising my Ancient Battlefields Clash rules document to version 3 and they need more testing so I thought I could scale down to 6mm with 20mm wide bases rather than 40mm wide bases.  This would mean instead of the 60cmx60cm table, I could get away with using a 30cmx30cm board.  Two things drove me to using a 24cmx24cm board  - I actually am leaning towards that the 60cmx60cm is just a bit too large for the game (or the number of units need to increase slightly), and I had recently bought about 15 24cmx24cm felt covered gaming boards for $10 and was looking at how to use them.  So I created some 20mm wide bases out of the unbased ancient 6mm figures I had and took the board and the figures to work.  The first time I went to play I forgot I would need something to measure distances; the second I forgot I should pack dice (thought about using the phone to roll dice but too lazy); the third I forgot some reading glasses that I need to be able to make out the 6mm figures well.  The fourth attempt was a success!

Setup for an ancients game at lunch in the park - the fourth time.
Or at least a success in proving that it was not the right format.  20mm bases are very fiddly.  Just to repeat, 20mm bases are very fiddly.  I found it too hard to measure the small distances and then move the bases without them getting out of alignment (so they ended up facing in not quite the right direction). No problems – an opportunity to write some grid rules based on ABCv3! With grids the facing would not be fiddly and measuring distances is not an issue.  Why a grid and not hexes?  I have covered this in previous posts but it really boils down to I associate hexes with boardgames and grids/measuring with miniatures.  It would be a side project but may help inform the non-gridded ABCv3 rules.  I already have some grid rules for Ancients that are a version of Bill Banks Ancients to allow me to play battles generated by his Imperator game.  They use his defined unit types and is for quite small forces and works on an 8x8 grid.  I was not planning on using those.

So I wrote a version of ABCv3 that would work on a 12x12 grid.  12x12 as that allows for 20mm squares (to fit with the 20mm based 6mm figures) on the 24x24cm board and would be equivalent to 48x48cm board with the ABC rules with 40mm bases. Close enough it would play similarly.  I played these twice but decided not to continue with playtesting another ancient ruleset.  ABC does not have bases lining up so frontally 2 bases can be attacking one base.  On a gridded table they are lined up.  Some of the ABC rules interactions and outcomes are based on local superiority of two bases on one.  So how to carry that over to a square based game? Hmm.  It got too hard.  I went around and around with only allowing one on one.  Allowing three on 1; allowing 1 on one but cannot move down the side of a unit.  It was getting taxing for my poor brain and I was looking for a way to test out the ABCv3 rules, not create a new ruleset!  So rather than keep testing a gridded version of ABC that would play differently to the non-gridded ABC, my thoughts turned to reusing the grid with  the other 6mm figures I have – WW2.  Note I also considered branching out and playing some more Medieval naval games but decided I would stick with the green grid to get some use out of it.

WW2 scenario overview
I have a draft excel spreadsheet based on Platoon Forward (plug: excellent campaign generator – everybody should get it!).  It only works for Brits as the player and it is a bit (i.e. a lot) clunky.  I thought I could use this as an opportunity to fix it up and add in some other nationalities.  Especially as I wanted to do some East Front rather than West Front.  I spent about an hour on it and then thought – hey, I should be writing the rules and playing rather than automating a campaign generator!  And I could always look at scenarios.  But in the end I just grabbed some terrain and set it up in about 2 minutes.  I decided I would have a road with a village defended by the Germans.  And some wheatfields.  This is what ended up as the battlefield.  There are not really hedges in Russia so even though they are hedges on the table, think of them as some sort of cover – ditches, rocks etc.

Setup - Russians attacking from the left, Germans defending on the right.
I set it in 1943 with Regular German and Russian units.
Objective: Soviets need to clear the village of Germans.

Regular army
1 MMG team
1 Gruppe with Zug leader
2 Gruppe

1 HQ squad (with leader)
1 MMG team (Maxim)
5 Squads

The Germans have the edge in command structure but morale wise they are equivalent.

WW2 grid game overview
I had already marked the board as 20mm squares and my 6mm WW2 bases would fit into them.  But what scale?  Six months ago, my idea to get back into WW2 was to play a few more 20mm skirmish games on a 2’x2’ table, using either single figures or using my company rules with 3 figures representing a company.   I was not going to use single 6mm figures as I would not be able to differentiate them enough to know who was who – although it would look pretty good!  So I will use 1 base (with 3-4 figures) = 1 section/squad.  Looking at having about 10 bases at most of the table, that is a game with a company on the table. A company has an attack frontage about 300-500m, my 20mm reinforced rules use a scale of 1:450 on half a table tennis table so I crunched some numbers and 1:1500 is where I ended up.  So figure to ground scale is 1:5 which is not too bad (I have found I can cope up to about 1:8).  This gives each square representing 30 metres and the 24cm square table of 12x12 20mm squares being 360mx360m that lends itself well to company level encounters.  I wanted a fairly dynamic game so brushed off my latest not very well tested skirmish rules, changed the activation and created the rules on a one-page QRS.  The rules actually are only the QRS – I do need to flesh them out with the actual rules themselves!

The rules have been fleshed out and are here.

The one page QRS has the rules for activation, spotting, close combat, firing, Calling indirect HE, fire results, weapon stats (infantry and artillery only), rally and force morale:

First draft of the QRS that is also all I wrote of the rules.

The rules that changed a lot between games were activation and weapon stats. Less so were the modifiers for firing and rally.  I will follow and discuss the changes made to these areas as I go through the games.

Following are the main rules used for the first game:


Event (effects side just activated)
Allies receive 1 activation
Allies receive 2 activations
Axis receive 1 activation
Axis receive 2 activations
Side with better command receives 1 activation.
Cannot activate a stand in two consecutive activations

Note: By end of game 4 the opposing side received an single post-activation on rolls 2-6

Firing (including weapon stats):

Infantry to hit: 1d/2d/3d - hard/soft/open
Pinned and suppressed count minimum as soft cover
Infantry clustered (2+ in contact)
Firer moved or pinned
Target within 2g (not direct HE)
Target more than 12g
Modifiers to vehicle defence #d
Vehicle target pinned, suppressed, immobilised
Bazooka etc. V Shurtzen
Optional: Allied sandbags etc.

If firing at grouped bases(i.e. adjacent), roll a separate 1d per adjacent base if rolling

Note: by game 4 the firing at grouped bases rules had gone and the +1d for clustered firers was modified to a single 1d extra attack per adjacent firer.
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Target pinned; move 6 not in cover/enemy in 12.
Target suppressed.
Pinned; Damaged
1 target destroyed/KO; adjacent pinned
1 target destroyed, rest pinned (5 = suppressed)
Pinned: ½ move (in cover or out of LOS) or fire -1d
Suppressed – no move or fire
Soft/transport vehicles” pinned/damaged = KO
Vehicle 2 x damaged = KO

SMG infantry
50-60mm mortars
PIAT, Bazooka
LMG (German)
x2 (x3)
MMG (German)
x3 (x4)
x1 0g-4g

Note: by end of game 4 the infantry target dice rolls for most auto weapons had changed.


pinned auto-rally at end of activation
+1d leader within 3” OR unpinned/ unsuppressed base adjacent.
Note that an activated base can move (not double move) and attempt to rally an adjacent base.
Maximum of 3d can be rolled for rally.
1d  Green
2d Regular
3d Veteran
1+ Success:  suppressed becomes pinned
Failure: rout

Note: by game 4 there was no auto-rally for pinned (had to roll to rally from pinned) , a rallied unit could immediately move/fire and the +1 for leader/adjacent base became a -1 modifier if there was no leader/adjacent base.

WW2 game 1
The game was over very quickly.  The centre 2 squads and the Maxim moved up to the hedge in the centre and were promptly decimated by fire from the village.  Other squads moving up on either flank were also suppressed or routed whenever they appeared.  The German troops were untouched.  The Soviets lost so quickly due to the firing rules.

Game setup - Germans on the left defending the village, Russians at right attacking.

The centre platoon moves up.  The plan is to lead with the centre and figure out which is the better flank to us to assist.  The platoon immediately come under fire from the German MG and all the sections are suppressed (indicated by the green bushes behind them).  
The centre platoon rallies off the suppression but lose a section to MG fire

And the centre platoon is no more, succumbing to intense MG fire.  This is when I began to think that maybe my MG rules may be a little too powerful.

Apologies for the shadows on the table - the downside to playing outside in the park.  Anyway the two Russian flanks have both advanced.  The left flank is in close combat with the lone German section guarding that side of the village.  The right flank, with the company commander, has advanced into the woods.  Hopefully this flank will manage to cross the field and attack the Germans in the woods on that side.

The right flank has been spotted by the German MG and loses a squad. 

A wider shot to show that the wind has picked up and the paper houses are in trouble!  This shows that I have created a wind break using my sandwich container and a mandarin.  I am also using the top of the sandwich container as a dice tray.  In the game itself, the left flank wins the close combat and advances closer to the village.

The Russians get a section as a reinforcement (random event).  The left flank is in trouble as it loses a section to the German MG.  The right flank is also wiped out with the remaining section and company commander routed.

The Russians have lost a fair amount of bases so I roll for a force morale check. The Russians fail and so retreat off the battlefield without getting very close to achieving their objective.

Just a quick picture of the figures box.  This contains a bunch on 6mm ancients (on the left) with the small terrain, markers, bases and some dice taking up the rest of the space. 
Changes post game
MGs: The way I had it is that an MMG rolls twice the number of dice that a rifle squad would roll.  So a rifle squad would roll 2d against a squad in soft cover, and also 1d for adjacent squads.  Therefore an MMG would be rolling 4d against its primary target, and 2d against adjacent targets in soft cover.  4d gives a good chance of a rout, and almost certainly suppression. 2d has a small chance of a rout but a reasonable chance of suppression.  So anything the MG fired at was bound to rout or be suppressed. I had a massive rethink after this and decided that it should not really be x2 a squad and be the same as a squad (which aligns to the strength I give it in my other rules so the x2 was really an anomaly).   So MGs fire at a primary target with the same dice as a rifle squad and up to 2 adjacent targets with 1d.  Much better.

MMG team
x1 +1+1
0-4g: x1

Activation: Activation, where to start?  Rolling every turn for 1-2 activations was just too much die rolling, and also one side got a lot of activations in a row (the Germans who rolled 2 5s and so got 4 activations with no Soviet response).  I am moving from cards in these rules for portability reasons, although I have dabbled in other dice activation systems – notably the WW2 rules on a 4x3 grid but with only 12 squares it seemed to work.  I found that it was a chore to roll to get an activation, and then roll again for another one.  So I have made a slight change – on rolls 3 and 5 when a side gets two activations, the other side then automatically gets 1, and on a 6 if there is no better side them each side gets one activation.  This will mean less rolling for activation, and less chance of a sequence of activations by only one side.

Event (effects side just activated)
Allies 1 activation
Allies 2 activations then. Axis 1
Axis 1 activation
Axis 2 activations then Allies 1
Side with better command receives 1 activation else 1 each, starting with non-previous.

Lastly, I forgot a rule I had that if you missed in firing and if there was an unsuppressed base that could fire back at you, roll 1d and apply the result to the firing base (to simulate reactive fire).  I completely forgot this, although the Germans never missed.

WW2 game 2
A completely different game to the first one but still not very satisfying.  The game went for a very long time due to the harder to kill change.  So that bit was good.  But what happened now was that a unit was pinned or suppressed, next activation was rallied and then it was back to the other side that then pinned/suppressed them again!  The entire game was spent by firing to pin/suppress and then rallying only to be pinned/suppressed again. A very static game. So while this may or may not be realistic, it certainly is not fun.  It is spending the game constantly pinning and suppressing and hoping that a failed rally causes a base to rout – a very slow game.  While this may be how it goes in real life I wanted to compress this so that the game was not so long and offered up some tactical decisions quicker, rather than waiting for a failed dice roll.

The setup if you are not familiar with it by now.  Russians below, Germans defending the village at top.

Russians advancing up the left flank.  One section lost already, the other suppressed.

A Russian roll no-one like to see - 4 dice all blank - 1 in 16 chance.

The Russian squad on the left flank recovers and charges the German defenders.
...and is destroyed. Have no idea why the brightness was turned up on this shot.

Time to try the right flank.  The Russians advance to the woods and the edge of the field.  There is a 1 in 6 chance on an event and then a 1 in 12 chance of a reinforcement.  Counting carefully you can see the Russians received an extra squad.  This happened twice more.  Very rare!  Spoiler: did not help. 

Lots of firing but then easy Russian recovery.  Another Russian section shows up as a reinforcement. 

More Russians move up, get suppressed/pinned and then recover.  The game is becoming a game of fire and recovery.
End game.  Russians have actually been routed and they fail their force morale after making little to no headway against the Germans.

Changes post game

Pinning: The initial rules had pinned units fire with one less die.  Firing at bases in hard cover is normally one die so a pinned unit cannot do any damage to bases in hard cover.  Pinned units have hit the dirt but not really would suffer to much reduction in fire so I removed the constraint of reduced fire but did add the constraint that they had to fire at the closest known enemy unit.  This also made only three modifiers to worry about when firing at infantry.

Firer moved
Target within 2g (not direct HE) or infantry AT
Target greater than 12g

Rally: To speed up play, if successfully rallied from pinned or suppressed you can then move and/or fire.

pinned auto-rally at end activation
+1d leader within 1g.
Note that an activated base can move (not double move) and attempt to rally an adjacent base.
Maximum of 3d can be rolled for rally.
1d  Green
2d Regular
3d Veteran
1+ Success:  suppressed: now pinned and can move/fire
Failure: rout (option: rout if on failure another 1d =0s)

WW2 Game 3
Not many pictures in this game.  I think I was too busy playing.  This game was quite fast and once again the Russians failed to make it into the village.  However, for the first time they did a fair bit of damage to the Germans.  I think the rules are getting closer to where I want them to be.

The Russians with some great activation and firing dice have managed to rout the German guarding the left flank and actually advance to the middle of the table.  

The Russians manage to successfully assault the Germans in the woods but are forced back due to fire from the adjoining houses.  The MMG is whittling down the Russians sections/
End Game.  The Russians have got the Germans down to 1 section but they themselves are down to three sections when a force morale check sees them withdraw.

Changes post game

Pinned was auto-rally at end of activation (i.e. remove pin) so during activation could only fire but not move. A successful rally roll for suppression could see the base move and fire in that activation.  I had it so you could roll for rallying from pinned as well and then move and fire.  But if unsuccessful a pinned unit was rallied anyway.  This was too much  difference in how rallying worked for me.  The aim was to have streamlined rules.  One thought was to make a successful rally from suppression see the unit pinned for that activation. A pinned unit is automatically rallied at the end of activation.  But then would need to keep track of pinned units that were suppressed as they should not automatically rally at the end of the activation (or should they? – this would mean a rallied suppressed base’s only limitation is it cannot move. Hmm.) Very tempting but that would increase game time as the pinned unit cannot move forwards. So a suppressed unit would wait at least two activations before moving.  So I streamlined the rally mechanism: A pinned or suppressed must rally to improve, a unit cannot rally immediately after being pinned/suppressed, a rallied unit can move/fire as normal.  This way the pin/suppress effect will last at least one enemy turn. and an enemy can keep suppressing a unit.

Rally: I think rallying from pinning and suppression is still too easy – for regulars there is only a 25% chance of failure.  So made it harder with a -1 dice rolled for various conditions (no leader or no adjacent base).

1+ Success:  unsuppress/unpin & move/fire
-1 if checking suppressed and no leader in 1g or no adjacent unsuppressed base.
Note that an activated base can move (not double move) and attempt to rally an adjacent base.
Maximum of 3d can be rolled for rally.
1d Green
2d Regular
3d Veteran

Suppression failure: rout if on failure another 1d =0s

Firing: Got rid of the firing at grouped targets – I had it that if the a base had directly adjacent bases, you could fire 1d at an adjacent base, on top of any other firing at the main target or that adjacent base.  This was designed to incur a penalty for adjacency to offset the bonus you got form adjacency; the bonus being that you could move together and an adjacent base got to fire as well.  I have not got any artillery or mortars in these test games and indirect HE is going to affect a square area so in if indirect HW was in the game, there certainly is a penalty for being adjacent.  After these few games, I do not think there needs to be a penalty for being adjacent (other than better artillery targets!).

WW2 Game 4
Seems much better.  I was still confused on exactly what you could and couldn't do when pinned/suppressed and when you could do something. And I wrote the rules! More of making sure what I write is what I meant.  I also thought I was rolling a lot for activation.  I prefer flipping cards to determine what side may activate a unit but I am trying to use dice based activation and I have to roll them so much!  I had a plan to add a single auto-activation after one side rolled for activation. This also stopped long runs of activation for one side (that happened in this game).
On the game itself, it went quite well.  The Russians got a lot closer to the village objective and I felt to rules were creating a smother game.

The Russians advance on both flanks.

Continuing to keep getting activated a lot, the Russians also advance in the centre.

The Russian left flank has advanced into close combat with a defending German Gruppe.  Will they be successful for the first time in the replays? 

The left flank Russian sections rout the German defender and continue advancing to the village.

On the right, the Russians manage to advance into close combat with the German Gruppe in the woods!

There is a blurry photo I did not use showing the right flank Russian sections eliminate the Germans and advance into the woods.  We rejoin with this photo where fire from the village routs one section and forces the other out of the woods.  This loss,  combined with a loss from fire on the left flank and the centre taking its usual heavy beating, sees a failed force morale check by the Russians.  So close though!
Changes post game

Activation: Still unhappy with rolling too much for activation so added in the other side getting 1 activation after on a roll of 2 and 4 (so a roll of 2 and 4 has 1 activation for one side, followed by 1 activation from the other).

An I absolutely clarified activation and what it meant by not activating twice in a row – this was causing me a bit of a head spin – does rally count? Can you not rally twice in a row?  What about if you are suppressed in the enemy turn? In your turn? What happens if you get an activation opportunity twice in a row?  The other side does? So the clarification was more for me to just write in very simple terms what “a base cannot activate two turns in a row” actually means.

Activation (1d6)
Event (effects side just activated)
Allies 1 activation then Axis 1 activation
Allies 2 activations, then Axis 1 activation
Axis 1 activation then Allies 1 activation
Axis 2 activations, then Allies 1 activation
Better command (or non-previous if same) gets 1 activation then the other gets 1 activation.

Cannot activate a stand in two consecutive activations unless rallying from suppressed - this can be done each subsequent turn unsuccessful.

Who goes first? Do you roll for first activation?  So I clarified that the attacker goes first and 50% chance of 2 activations and 50% chance of 1 activation.

What happens if two events are rolled for in a row?  This happened (actually rolled aa 1 four times in a row).  So now the first event is for the previous activated side, the next one is for the other and subsequent events are ignored until at least an activation occurs.

Events: Increased events from 10 to 12 and added in 2 “good” events – there were 3 that affected any side, 1 good one and 6 bad ones.  This evened it up.

Overwatch: With card based activation I had it so a base could keep a card and then activate at any time, a form of overwatch.  I don’t have this here.  I grappled with allowing reactive fire but did not want to go down that route.  But what I did do was explicitly state that if an unknown enemy charged you to the front, or moved across your front from out of line of sight to another location that was out of line of sight and within 8 squares (about 250 metres), you could fire with 1d.  Unknown is unspotted and also has not moved or fired in your line of sight prior. This is mainly to slow down charging out of the middle of woods into the enemy, or dashing from cover across a road and into cover with no chance for the enemy to fire.

Game 5 (report in a soon to be posted blog post)
Yes! It all came together.  Well, at least a subset of the infantry rules anyway. It played how I wanted it to play.   Game report will follow in a subsequent blog post.

Well, that was interesting.  I thought it would not be too difficult to covert my existing rules to a 12x12 grid for fewer troops and also replace card activation with dice.  Little did I know how different it would be!  The first issue was the lethality of the system. My normal rules have 3 “hit points” per base so each base is rolling the number of dice equal to its hit points.  Too lethal when making a base 1 hit point but rolling 2-3 dice on firing.  This required a huge shift in weapon firing factors and reducing the impact of modifiers.  I think it will really help in shaping the main ruleset I am working on.

I still prefer cards for activation.  I have tried a few different dice based activation methods for my various WW2 rules but I still find card based works best for me.  For portable game though, dice are easier than cards.

I am easily distracted and am considering using these rules on 8x8 with card based activation.  I am also thinking this leads to madness - I am beginning to have this dream of only ever gaming in 8x8 grids!  So I need to stop that now :-) I will try and remain sane and stick to 12x12 for grids and also try and get back to gridless gaming (I sure that is a thing - it has been so long!) I will attempt to avoid any dabbling into 8x8.  For the 12x12, I may even take it all the way up to a 30cm by 30cm board with 2.5cm grids rather than 2cm grids but still have it representing about 260m x360m so the distance scale is reduced compared to figure scale.  It should look a little better too.  Yeah, I know, radical thoughts to go *so* much bigger!