Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tanks!: Some simple rules for tank combat

Yesterday Alan Abbey – a former pupil of mine from many years ago (more than either of us would care to mention!) and now a leading light in The Milton Hundred Wargames Club – sent me a draft copy of some very simple tank combat rules that he has written.

It appears that Alan had been talking to Tracy at Armourfast about the lack of suitable wargames rules for young people. She was eager to spread the word about the benefits of wargaming as an educational tool (she is a school governor when she is not running Armourfast) as she thought that it had applications in Art, Maths, English, and History. She also felt that it was useful for developing reading and inter-personal skills.

As a result of this conversation Alan was inspired to write a set of rules that children could use to fight battles with their model tanks. Tracy has now tested the rules out with a class of children from the school where she is head of the governing body, and they were so successful that she now intends to give them away at wargames shows to any children who express an interest.

The rules are entitled TANKS! and are actually quite simple and sophisticated at the same time. Measurement for movement and weapon range is done using the top of the box that the Armourfast model comes in. Each tank’s movement is measured in multiples of short box-top edges and its firing range is measured in multiple of long box-top edges. (I thought that this was a very simple but effective method; no rulers are required!) Each tank type has a different value (e.g. A basic Sherman can move and fire five box-top edges but a Pzkpfw IV can move and fire six box-top edges) and the firing rules use a D6 die to determine whether or not a target has been ‘hit’. The rules take into account target visibility and the range at which the tank is firing at the target.

Once a target is ‘hit’ its destruction is determined by both players throwing the same number of dice as their tank can fire in box-top edges. Each player then lines up their dice in order of dice score, and the two lines of dice are compared. The highest dice score in each pair of dice is the winner, and if the firing side wins more pairs than the target side the target is destroyed. If the target side wins or it is a draw, the target tank survives the ‘hit’ and can continue to fight on.

The rules also contain some ideas for more experienced players to use. These include rules for firing at side armour rather than frontal armour and for damaging tanks that are ‘hit’ but not destroyed.

I think that these rules are an excellent starting point for youngsters who show an interest in wargaming, and both Alan and Tracy are to be commended for this initiative.

Well done to both of you!

PS. I understand that Alan’s late eighteenth/early nineteenth century naval wargames rules – BLOOD, BILGE AND IRON BALLS – are due for publication before Christmas. As soon as I get any further information I will mention it in a blog entry.

Note: The illustrations shown above are all taken from the Armourfast website and are © Armourfast.


  1. September 1977 or 78, not sure which but it was a loooong time ago either way!
    thanks for the great review. I am not sure what armourfast's position on sales will be at this time, I am just happy to be able to support the idea of young gamers being given a helping hand, as I was all those years ago. Thanks for everything Bob, you helped make me who I am today. The wife has been looking for someone to blame!

  2. Leofwine Wargamerson (Alan),

    Was it really that long ago?

    I think the concept of giving free rules away to children is an excellent one, and I wish other manufacturers and retailers would follow this example.

    So I made you are what you are today? What an indictment!

    All the best,


  3. very cool and a wonderful idea to give the rules free to kids

    I've been playing around (just mentally so far) with a similar idea for movement and firing for other eras and troops, using something like index cards or playing cards (based on the little plastic card pirate ships and the rules included with those, and also the Song of Blades rules, which use 3 different lengths of sticks for measurement). It would be easy enough to change the size of cards used based on table size, miniature scale, etc. So I might try 3 by 5 inch index cards, or half-size ones that I bought a pack of for other purposes. My ideas include things like only being able to move in a straight line with any given card, using the short side when moving in rough terrain, a card ends at a feature like a river or fence or rough terrain and if another card remains the unit can move further, maybe letting some unit types fire in between cards, expending cards for other reasons (like reloading, or maybe some special event or action depending on scenario).

  4. Fitz-Badger,

    I must admit that were I not wedded to the idea of using hexes/squares for movement and firing, I would be seriously thinking of using this concept myself for a set of rules.

    I like the simplicity of the system and I look forward to hearing how your ideas develop.

    All the bet,


  5. I'm always on the lookout for rules that kids can enjoy. Are these available anywhere? (They don'y seem to be on the Armourfast site).

    Best regards,


  6. Chris,

    They are not available yet. If and when they are I will mention it on my blog.

    All the best,