Saturday, 24 November 2012

Alternative Close Combat Mechanisms for the Portable Wargame … second attempt!

Just over a week ago I tried to devise alternative Close Combat mechanisms for my PORTABLE WARGAME rules... and was not as successful as I had hoped I would be.

After a couple more attempts – one of which ended up with a huge matrix that I could not fit onto a single page – I went back to my original alternative Close Combat mechanisms, corrected the mistake that I had inadvertently included, and re-worded the instructions. The latter are now about as unambiguous as I can make them.

The new alternative Close Combat mechanisms can be downloaded from the Downloads page of the PORTABLE WARGAME website or via the following links:
I am actually quite pleased with the new alternate Close Combat mechanisms (it is surprising what a difference a few extra words can make!) and I am now giving serious thought to using them myself in future.


  1. Well, that seems clear enough for anybody (except DBA competition players!). I must try them ASP.

  2. BC,

    I hope so ... I really hope so ,,,

    All the best,


  3. Hmm, I'm not a DBA competition player but I'm afraid I don't get it. Perhaps if you have time you could give some examples?

    Here's how it looks to me. I'll stick with 2 troop types. Cavalry and MG
    Unit type Unit is
    front flank or rear
    on to the enemy

    Mounted Cavalry 6 4,5,6
    Machine Guns 5,6 3,4,5 6

    Ist case. A cavalry unit attacks an entrenched MG frontally ala Beersheeba. The cavalry is front on to the MG so would normally hit on a 6 but since the enemy is in cover they have no chance of causing a hit. The MG will cause a hit on a 5,6

    2nd case, the cavalry has manouvered to hit the Mg in the flank. The score for the cavalry to hit does not change since it is still face on to the enemy but the MG fighting to the flank will now hit on a 3,4,5,6 instead of 5,6?

    Are the columns supposed to be if the enemy is front on/flank on to the unit? Or am I just not reading the chart right? (its been that kind of week here) or am I maybe getting a cached version?


  4. I believe it which part of the enemy unit is facing you.

    So in your second example the cavalry will get a hit on the MG 4,5,6 because the cavalry is on the MG's flank. Since the MG is to the front of the cavalry, the cav will only receive a hit on 5,6.

    I think. I have played a lot of DBA & HoTTs. But I had to retire after making a six year-old girl cry...

  5. Ross Mac,

    I understand that people who take part in DBA competitions are notorious for trying to find loopholes in the rules that they can exploit.

    The problem you have flagged up is how one interprets the meaning of 'flank or rear on'. I meant to convey that your Unit was on the flank or rear of the enemy Unit ... but reading it again I can see why you have read it to mean the opposite of what I intended.

    Your first example is correct (I assume that no one in their right mind would attack entrenched Machine Guns head on with Mounted Cavalry), but in the second example the Cavalry Unit should 'hit' the Machine Gun Unit on a score of 3, 4, 5, or 6 (with the D6 score reduced by 1 as they are entrenched) and the Machine Gun Unit should 'hit' the Cavalry Unit on a score of 5 or 6.

    Re-reading the whole thing makes me realise that it is still not as clear as I would like it to be ... so it is back to the drawing board again I suppose.

    All the best,


  6. SAROE,

    You are reading the rules in the way I intended them to be read ... but they do need to be made clearer and easier to understand.

    I will have another attempt at redrafting them as soon as I can.

    All the best,


  7. Hi Bob,
    For the sake of the KISS principle, how much would it really affect the outcome if you just had one column of die rolls to hit for each unit type, and then a universal modifier for attacking the flank/rear?
    It could either a single (+1 or +2) modifier for attacking the flank/rear, or a +1 modifier for attacking the flank and a +2 modifier for attacking the rear.

    It would certainly be easier to commit to memory, and I'm not convinced an extra hit # here or there on the chart adds that much to the game overall, aside from a pause to look it up on the chart.

    And I have never played DBA. ;) But I do thoroughly enjoy being able to watch rules evolve -- rules that I intend to use -- and actually be able to provide feedback and get answers to questions. Thanks for that.

  8. The Ferrymen (John),

    What an excellent idea! It should not only make the mechanisms easier to understand but it would also simplify the layout. I will certainly look at incorporating your idea in the next redraft.

    I know that DBA has its adherents (and a few fanatical supporters) but I have only played it a couple of times. HOTT – which has a lot of commonality with DBA – has always been a more attractive set of rules, and I have based some of my earlier efforts on them.

    Devising a set of wargames rules can be a trying and time-consuming business, but using my blog to record the process has helped me no end and allowed very valuable and helpful input from possible end-users. I hope all the effort will be worth it in the end!

    All the best (and thanks again for your support and ideas),


  9. I thought unit is flank on to the enemy might have referred to the enemy unit but it seemed counter th the rest of the wording.

    Anyway, the frontal cavalry charge on machine guns entrenched or in cover worked at the very least at Huj, Beersheba and the Bois de Mureuil during WWI so I figure some chance should be allowed. Obviously not the ideal situation for the cavalry or casualties and VC's would not have been so numerous!

  10. Ross Mac,

    The wording does need some more work to remove the ambiguities that currently exist. I don't know when I will get around to it, but it will be as soon as I can.

    Your point about Cavalry charges against Machine Guns is well made, and I shall take it into account when I redraft the rules.

    All the best,