Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A 'Modern' version of Joseph Morschauser's FRONTIER wargames rules

I finally committed my ideas about a 'Modern' version of Joseph Morschauser's FRONTIER wargames rules to paper. They are still a work in progress, although each of the mechanisms has been tested separately ... and works. All I need now is enough time to play-test them ... but as it is extremely hot in my toy/wargames room at present, this might have to wait until the weather cools down a bit.

A 'Modern' version of Joseph Morschauser's FRONTIER wargames rules

Turn Sequence:
  1. At the start of each turn a playing card tile is picked out of the bag and placed FACE DOWN next to each unit on the tabletop.
  2. The Artillery Fire Phase takes place.
  3. Any artillery units (including AFV units and anti-tank gun units) that fire in the Artillery Fire Phase of the Turn Sequence have their playing card tile removed.
  4. Once the Artillery Fire Phase is completed, the playing card tiles are turned over and units are activated in turn. The order of activation is in ascending numerical/face value and suit order precedence (i.e. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King being the numerical/face values, and Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades the suit order precedence).
  5. When activated a unit can move or move and initiate a battle with an enemy unit. A unit may not initiate a battle with an enemy unit and then move unless it is an AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit that is advancing into a grid square that has been vacated by an enemy unit they have destroyed or forced to retreat.
  6. Once both sides have activated each of their units in turn – subject to any restrictions laid down in the rules – the turn is complete and the next turn can commence.
Artillery:
  • AFV guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Anti-tank guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Mortars: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Infantry guns: Range = 4 grid squares
  • Mountain artillery: Range = 6 grid squares
  • Light field artillery: Range = 6 grid squares
  • Field artillery: Range = 8 grid squares
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Range = 12 grid squares
  • Artillery fire is simultaneous; therefore if an artillery unit (including an AFV unit or an anti-tank gun unit) is destroyed, it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
  • With the exception of units with turreted AFVs, artillery fires within an arc-of-fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which it is facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
  • Units of turreted AFVs have an arc-of-fire of 360 degrees.
  • Artillery ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the grid squares).
  • Artillery units may only fire once each turn.
  • If an entire unit can be seen from an artillery unit that is firing at it, the artillery fire is direct fire; if an entire unit cannot be seen or it is in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood, the artillery fire is indirect fire. N.B. AFV units and anti-tank gun units may never fire at units they cannot see and therefore never fire indirectly, although enemy units that can be seen but are in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood are treated as if they are being fired at indirectly for the purposes of determining the effectiveness of the AFV units or anti-tank gun fire upon that target unit.
  • Before it fires, each artillery unit identifies the grid square it is firing at. They then throw a D6 die to see where their artillery fire will land:
    • Die score = 5 or 6: Artillery fire lands on the target grid square.
    • Die score = 1: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the left of the target grid square (i.e. at 9 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 2: Artillery fire lands in the grid square beyond the target grid square (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 3: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the right of the target grid square (i.e. at 3 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • Die score = 4: Artillery fire lands in the grid square before the target grid square (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
    • N.B. If the firing unit is an AFV unit or anti-tank gun unit, D6 die scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 are regarded as misses and are deemed not to have landed in a grid square.
  • If the artillery fire lands in a grid square occupied by a friendly unit, the opposing side’s commander throws the D6 die to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon that unit (see below).
  • A D6 die is then rolled to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon any unit that is in the grid square in which the artillery fire has landed.
    • Direct artillery fire: 5 or 6: Destroys a unit.
    • Indirect artillery fire: 6: Destroys a unit.
Movement:
  • Infantry: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Cavalry: Move = 2 grid squares
  • AFVs: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Machine guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Anti-tank guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Mortars: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Infantry guns: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Mountain artillery: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Light field artillery: Move = 2 grid squares
  • Field artillery: Move = 2 grid square
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Move = 1 grid square
  • All movement is measured orthogonally.
  • A unit may only move once each turn. Any artillery unit (including AFV or anti-tank gun units) that has fired during the Artillery Fire Phase at the beginning of this turn may not move.
  • A unit may move through grid squares that are adjacent to the flank or rear of enemy unit providing that the front of its own unit does not face the enemy unit during the move past the enemy unit.
  • A unit may not move through grid squares that are adjacent to the front of an enemy unit. It must stop as soon as it enters a grid square that is adjacent to the front of an enemy unit, face the enemy unit, and end its movement for that turn. If it moves into a grid square that is adjacent to the front of several enemy units it may choose which of the enemy units it will face; it then does battle with that enemy unit.
  • A unit that is facing or being faced by an enemy unit that is in an adjacent grid square at start of its move may break contact with that enemy unit and move away providing that it does not come into contact with any other enemy unit this turn as it breaks contact or after it has broken contact.
  • Infantry and cavalry units may move forward to replace an enemy unit after it has been successfully attacked and destroyed or forced to retreat; other units may not move forward in these circumstances.
Battles:
  • Infantry: Battle Power = 5
  • Cavalry: Battle Power = 5
  • AFVs: Battle Power = 7
  • Machine guns: Battle Power = 6
  • Anti-tank guns: Battle Power = 1
  • Mortars: Battle Power = 1
  • Infantry guns: Battle Power = 1
  • Mountain artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Light field artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Field artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Medium/Heavy artillery: Battle Power = 1
  • Battles are fought when a unit ends it move facing an enemy unit that is in an adjacent grid square.
  • Units may only attack once each turn but may defend themselves as often as may be necessary.
  • When a unit moves into contact with the flank or rear of an enemy unit the latter is turned to face to the attacker at once.
  • To determine the outcome of a battle, each unit throws a D6 die and adds the result to their Battle Power:
  • If the resulting amended dice scores are equal, the battle is a draw.
  • If one unit has a higher amended dice score than the other, it has won the battle. If the winner threw a 6, the losing unit is destroyed; if not, then the losing unit must retreat one grid square immediately. Any unit that is unable to retreat is destroyed.
  • If the unit that won the battle is an AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit it may move into the newly empty grid square. If this results in that AFV, infantry, or cavalry unit coming into contact with the enemy unit that they have just beaten or another enemy unit, the AFV, infantry, or cavalry may not attack the enemy unit this turn.
  • No unit’s Battle Power may drop below 1.
  • A unit that is in cover (built-up areas, woods) increases its Battle Power by 1.
  • A unit that is in fortifications (trenches, pillboxes) increases its Battle Power by 2.
  • Poor quality infantry or cavalry units (e.g. Militia) reduce their battle Power by 1.
Special Rules:
  • Hills:
    • Infantry units may move up or down one or two hill contours.
    • AFV, cavalry, machine gun, and field artillery units may only move up or down one hill contour.
    • A unit that is battling an enemy unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Battle Power by 1.
    • A unit that is battling an enemy unit that is two hill contours above it reduces its Battle Power by 2.
    • A unit that is battling against an enemy unit that is one or two hill contours below it increases its Battle Power by 1.
  • Roads:
    • Each grid square of movement made along a road by a unit uses up only half a grid square of movement.
    • If a unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-grid squares of movement are lost.
    • Towns and built-up areas count as roads.
  • Rivers:
    • It costs two grid squares of movement for a unit to cross a grid square with a river in it.
    • A unit that is in a grid square with a river in it and is attacking an enemy unit reduces its Battle Power by 1.
    • Units from opposing sides that are in adjacent grid squares with a river between them may be in contact with each other if the attacking side decides that they are.

10 comments:

  1. A question - I may have missed something obvious, but what is the actual difference between Infantry and Cavalry? They move the same and they fight the same.

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  2. Hi Bob,
    Looks like a good start. I have a few observations, but let me premise them by acknowledging how difficult it is to design simple generic rules for the WWII era. I think you are better off to divorce yourself from any concept of scale and make it completely abstract; i.e., make it a toy soldier game and concentrate on what is fun and feels right.

    1. Stacking
    It needs to be explicit that only one unit can be in a square, that you can't enter a square containing an enemy unit, and whether or not it is permissible to move through a friendly unit as long as you don't stop in the same square.

    2. Artillery Fire Phase
    Since this is not performed in card sequence, what is the sequence? Do you have to pre-allocate all firing units before commencing? If not, you can wait to see if your artillery unit is destroyed before deciding to fire it this turn; and you can also keep firing one unit at a time at a particular target until you get it, then switch targets.

    3. Movement
    RE: Moving forward to replace a destroyed enemy unit. Does this occur immediately the enemy is destroyed? If immediate, does it count as that units activation for the turn; and are they eligible to battle immediately? If not immediate, how do you remember that your unit is eligible to perform the replacement move when their activation comes up?
    I would remove this rule; if the square is empty at the time your unit is activated, move into it, same as any other movement. You already have the advance after combat covered in the Battle rules.

    I have struggled with such rules for years myself, Bob, so I am familiar with how difficult it is to simplify such a complex period of warfare. Personally I always choke when I see a Tiger granted the same offensive and defensive values as a BT7, but I am a treadhead from waaaaay back. Kudos for these and for the portable wargame concept as a whole. Our strange little hobby has benefitted from your efforts.

    Thanks and regards,
    John

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  3. Kaptain Kobold,

    You are right. There was no different between Infantry and Cavalry in the original rules ... and I have left that unchanged ... for the moment. My personal thinking is to give cavalry a 3 grid square movement rate ... but I want to play-test the rules as they are before making any more changes.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. The Ferrymen (John),

    Thanks for your very interesting comments. I hope that the following reply makes sense.

    Firstly you are right about this being very much a fun warGAME rather than a serious simulation … and that is why I have not stipulated what a unit represents.

    1. Stacking
    I take your point, and will make this clearer in the next draft. The intention is that only one unit can be in a square at any time; thus units are not allowed to ‘pass through’ friendly units.

    2. Artillery Fire Phase
    I took this from Morschauser’s original rules … and he does not make the sequence clear. My feeling is that you should decide beforehand what Artillery units you want to fire with and then declare targets before any firing take place… but as I will be using these rules solo the problem does not arise.

    3. Movement
    The intention regarding moving forward into vacant grid squares is that this would only happen when a unit had been activated, it had won a battle, and its opponent had been destroyed or forced back. As it appears at the moment it is supposed to be nothing more than a restatement of the rule that is in the Battle section of the rules; In fact it is superfluous and can be removed as you suggest.

    I do take your point about not all tanks being of the same quality … and I would like to make it possible to differentiate between different types … but that will only happen once I get the core rules to work as well as I can. If pushed, I would go for simplicity before accuracy … but that is just my personal prejudice showing!

    Thanks very much for your last comment. I just do my best and hope that others will appreciate my efforts. Not many people say so … and it makes me feel that everything is worthwhile when someone like you states it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Just a suggestion about what numerical values represent what with artillery fire. I tend to like 'centric' numbers to represent close to the Point Of Aim, and 'eccentric' to represent depsrtures from same. I find that once one becomes accustomed to the convention, the thing is easier to remember.

    So:
    1 = under
    2 = left
    3 = on target
    4 = on target
    5 = right
    6 = over.

    The other reason I like this convention is that a roll other than a 6 is a good roll... :-)

    Just a thought...
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  6. Archduke Piccolo,

    I like the concept ... but I think that I will stick with Joseph Morschauser's original design ... for the moment.

    He - and I - are very much of the '6 is good, 1 is bad' school of wargame design ... but I know that 'anything but a 6' is almost as equally popular.

    It is just a simple matter of choice.

    However it would be quite simple to change the existing mechanism so that it looked like this:

    Die score = 1: Artillery fire lands in the grid square beyond the target grid square (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target grid square).

    Die score = 2: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the right of the target grid square (i.e. at 3 o’clock relative to the target grid square).

    Die score = 3: Artillery fire lands in the grid square before the target grid square (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target grid square).

    Die score = 4: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the left of the target grid square (i.e. at 9 o’clock relative to the target grid square).

    Die score = 5 or 6: Artillery fire lands on the target grid square.

    This combines your centric idea with my '6 is good, 1 is bad' design preference ... and because it follows the 'clock face' layout it should make it easier to remember.

    In fact I like it so much that I may well change my mind and use it instead of sticking with Morschauser's original!

    Thanks for the idea; it has sparked of what I hope will be a very positive change!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. "He - and I - are very much of the '6 is good, 1 is bad' school of wargame design ... but I know that 'anything but a 6' is almost as equally popular."

    I like to mix it up in a set of rules - sometimes high is good and sometimes low. That way, a dice that is particularly 'lucky (or 'unlucky') is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.

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  8. Kaptain Kobold,

    Over the years I have tried having mixture of 'high is good, low is bad' and 'low is good, high is bad' results in rules, but as I have got older I have opted for a consistent 'high is good, low is bad' series of mechanisms as I find them easier to remember!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Woods seen to affect LOS but not movement, have I overlooked something or was this intentional. I would be tempted to allow a unit to move through another unit if the latter was stationary (removing its card in the process as a reminder)and treating the square moved through as 'difficult terrain'.

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  10. Nigel Drury,

    As things stand at the moment, woods do not impose a movement penalty. I may change that in due course, but I want to play-test the rules 'as is' before making any more changes.

    I like your idea for allowing units to pass through each other and may well adopt something very like it in the next draft of the rules.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete