Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Morschauser ‘Modern’ Period Wargames Rules – Some thoughts on the recent play-test

Although the recent play-test went well, there was one aspect that did not seem to work for me – the ability of Tank Units to run down other Units and destroy them.

During the first Tank vs. Infantry encounters in World War I (and also during the early part of World War II) there were instances when the Infantry broke and ran, but once they had been trained how to deal with tanks at close-quarters the Infantry learned that staying and fighting was safer.

Morschauser’s rules do not seem allow this to happen. Furthermore, trying to explain the anomalies that arise in the rules as a result of Tank Units being the exception to the general Melee/Close Combat rules is adding a level of complication that could – and should – be avoided.

I have discussed this by email with Jim Wright, and I have decided that the next draft of the rules will reflect these changes:
  • AFV – Tanks will have a Close Combat Power = 2
  • AFV – Armoured Car will have a Close Combat Power = 3
  • Infantry – Rifles and Infantry – Submachine Gun Units will no longer have the option to use Antitank Grenades (they only had a range of 1 grid square, which is the same as the Close Combat range, and they are therefore subsumed into the Close Combat Power of the Infantry Units)
I am also thinking about introducing rules for minefields and barbed wire … but not until after the next play-test at the earliest.


  1. The odd thing about thetank over run is that he makes a comment earlier in the book about tanks relying on their guns and not crushing infantry, then he has this over run rule. In the basic rules, infantry in the open has 2 choices when tanks approach: move forward and attack them or run away. I was thinking in terms of not allowing tanks into woods, towns or entrenchments thus creating safe zones but replacing the AT grenades with melee makes good sense to me. The A/C may be a bit strong though at 3.

    As an aside, one thing I noticed a few years ago is that the simpler the rules are, once you are familiar with the mechanisms, one starts discovering/developing tactics based on basic principles, concentration of force, surprise etc. Things that sometimes get lost.

  2. Ross Mac,

    The more I think about it, the more getting rid of the run down rule makes sense. Likewise getting rid of the antitank grenades and replacing them with Melee/Close Combat.

    I am looking at how to introduce things like entrenchments (they count as cover unless the unit in them has fired this turn?), minefields, and barbed wire, but that is for the future.

    Not letting tanks through woods unless on roads make sense, and I take your point about the Armoured Car being 3; it should be 4 or 5 to encourage them to probe and retire rather than slug it out.

    You are quite right about simplicity; make the rules simple and people begin concentrating on tactics and logistics. We found this with Megablitz. The 'wargamers' (i.e. those who were concerned with the detail of which tank variant they were using, its range, its firepower etc.) never ever seemed to remember that they had to keep their front-line troops supplied. Too many times they would outrun their supply train or leave it parked at the edge of the table to give road space to more tanks ... and then find themselves cut off without fuel and ammo by their more plodding but supply-savy opponent. They usually only did this once!

    All the best,


  3. Bob,

    I agree with everything except the assigned melee powers. I think Armored Cars should be 5 and Tanks 3.

    Making a Tank a 2 makes it almost unbeatable. Lets make them a 3 and increase their fire numbers to 4, 5, 6, from 5, 6. These changes will encourage one to stand off an shoot, not try to drive over non-tank opponents. My two cents anyway.

    Other than that I like all the changes. Simpler is better.


  4. Jim,

    Whilst sitting in the traffic jam coming home tonight (it was 7.30pm and the roads were solid with traffic!) I came to the same conclusion that I had made them too invincible in Close Combat!

    Great minds, as they say ...

    All the best,


  5. It's been a while since I played a Morschauser modern game. I built a "by the book" (mostly) pair of armies a few years ago using the then available Matchbox vehicles and Italeri plastics in "green" and "brown" teams. I seem to recall concluding that tanks were not terribly efficient point-wise...but it's possible I wasn't playing the overrun rule correctly, or that, like Ross, my added cover rules advantaged the infantry enough to unbalance the points. My older son and sometimes Morschauser player will be home this weekend...maybe I'll try a game after we do our high priority chariot game.

  6. Rob Dean,

    I am very interested to hear about your experiences with the Morschauser rules. They are very simple, but the devil is in the simplicity. His rules are not written in the 'modern' style and are very individualistic in their approach, which is one reason why they are so appealing ... and sometimes difficult to understand. For example, I got the melee system completely wrong the first time I used it, and that was after I had read and re-read the section several times.

    It has been interesting to see the amount of interest my blog entries about Morschauser’s rules has generated, and I hope that by reminding people or making them aware of the work that he did, he will be come even better know to the wargaming public in general.

    If you do manage to play a game or two, let me know. I would be interested to hear how it goes.

    All the best,



Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.