Monday, 3 May 2010

Interbellum rules

Despite a couple of unavoidable interruptions and diversions, I finally managed to finish writing what I am now calling my Interbellum Rules. Although they are fairly generic, and can be used for almost any wargame set in the 'modern' era (i.e. 1914 to 1960), it is my intention to use them to fight battles set in the interwar era. The rules are heavily based on previous versions of my re-working of Joseph Morschauser's 'Modern' period wargames rules, but as a result of some ideas that I have had there are some slight differences.

The main points of the rules are:
  • They use multi-figure bases.
    I had considered single figure bases, and may well use them in later versions, but for the present I am using multi-figure bases because that is what I have most of.
  • I have re-written certain sections of the rules in the hope that they are less wordy and somewhat easier to understand.
    Some of the rules were beginning to sound like they had been written in some sort of wargaming legalese, which made them somewhat less than player friendly.
  • I have included Command Units, and given them the ability to support other Units during Close Combat.
  • I have used the card-driven turn sequence I had previously developed but I have restricted the number of cards each side has to twelve.
    I originally gave each side one card per unit, but this gave large armies led by 'Poor' commanders an advantage over small armies led by 'Good' commanders. In the end, after much soul searching and experimentation, I decided that twelve was the maximum number of Units I wanted a commander to be able to activate during each turn.
  • I have added an additional type of Unit, a Tank Unit that is armed with a Machine Gun.
    During the interwar era many countries used tanks that had machine guns as their main armament (e.g. FT17, Pzkpfw I) and I wanted the rules to reflect this.
  • I have replaced the Antitank Rocket Unit with an Antitank Rifle Unit.
    This is also more in keeping with the interwar era. Many countries deployed Antitank Rifles even though their effectiveness in countering Armoured Fighting Vehicle is sometimes regarded by modern pundits as having been rather poor. In the absence of any other weapon, they were better than nothing.
  • I have simplified some of the Special Rules in the light of previous play-tests.
    I found that some of the changes to the Close Combat Power required under the original rules were too often forgotten during the play-test battles, and their non-use did not seem to have any major impact on the battles. Using the basic philosophy that a rule that players don't use is usually superfluous, I removed them. I made a similar decision about the Special Rule that applied to barbed wire. Now it stops all but Tank Units and Self-propelled Gun Units, and stopped Units can remove the barbed wire when they are next activated.
All I need to do now is to proof read the draft, and then I will make it available in PDF format.


  1. Most interesting - I await the pdf with enthusiasm.

  2. Tradgardmastare,

    They are a very simple set of rules that use hexes for movement and simple D6 dice throws to determine the outcomes of Fire and Close Combat.

    I have been developing them from Joseph Morscahuser's original ideas for some time, and feel that I have just about got them right for my taste. They will not satisfy the taste of a large number of wargamers (they are far to 'simple' and lacking in 'detail'), but they will allow players to fight a battle solo or face-to-face to a conclusion in less than two hours.

    I hope to have the PDF available either tomorrow morning or Wednesday night. The timing will depend upon how much work I can get done tomorrow.

    All the best,


  3. If I can offer some constructive criticism... and I appreciate you are trying to keep the rules as straightforward as possible;

    I'd be tempted myself to dispense with the good, poor etc, grading for the commander. If he's meant to be our alter-ego, then whatever decisions we make will determine the commander's quality as such. By all means allow him to apply a modifier to a unit's roll (for anything)if he's within a certain distance.

    Instead apply the quality ratings to the troops, making certain units more/less effective in a fire-fight, or easier/harder to motivate etc. A +/-1 to all dice rolls as appropriate should suffice for this.

    I think you might find it will tax your commander far more as he needs to decide where the best place to be is.

    If you want to ensure a set number of turns, reduce the number of cards in the deck evenly. You might even throw in the Jokers to bring an abrupt end to a turn too, that will cause some well laid plans to come unravelled.

    You might consider adding some chance events tied to specific picture cards too. Ammo shortage, fuel shortage, or whatever your mind can dream up.

    The only other suggestion is the return of the 'bound stick' for those of us who don't use hexes or squares. A piece of dowel with 4" bands of colour shouldn't be beyond most folk.

    It's good to see some 'old school' rules get a dusting off though.

  4. Jim Hale,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Whilst I take your point about the commander grading system, the rules were written with solo play in mind (where this can have an influence), but with the option to use them in face-to-face battles if an opponent was available.

    I have used Jokers to end turns in some of my other rules, and did experiment with their use in earlier versions of these rules, but in the end I decided to go with the present game mechanisms.

    I like the idea of using a bound stick. It would certainly make it possible to use the rules without hexes ... but I am tied into area movement because I have invested so heavily in hexed and squared terrain.

    I have also used 'chance' cards in some of my other rules, and may well include them in later versions of these rules. My rules tend to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and I like to include elements of the unexpected in my solo games, so ‘chance’ cards are a definite possibility for the future.

    All the best,


  5. I wouldn't suggest you drop the hex/square, it has its uses! It's just that for supposedly intelligent people, many wargamers disregard a set of rules because of them, or all their figures are based 'wrong', or there's a 'Y' in the day, or something... So you might need to point out the obvious.

    Take a trip over to the Empress website when you can, there was a set of rules for VBCW, based on the old Charles Grant rules, which I believe are still on there somewhere. They might give you some sort of inspiration, or just provide a good read.

    I'm all for evolution, or in this case devolution - a sort of going back into the trees hobby-wise. I shudder when I recall some of the hyper-complex rule sets I've used in the past. You've got a solid base though I think and I look forwards to seeing where you are going with them!

  6. Jim Hale,

    You summed it up with the expression 'for supposedly intelligent people' when referring to some wargamers. I despair at times at some of the things I hear fellow wargamers say or do. For example, not so long ago I published a set of colonial rules via my website and got an email from someone who did not like them. I have no objection to this; he has the right to his opinion. It was when he started to tell me that some of game mechanisms did not make sense that I began to become concerned.

    So I re-read the sections he queried. I could see nothing wrong with them. I asked another wargamer I know to read them; he said that they made sense to him. I emailed back to my critic and asked him to be specific about the problems he had … and he was very specific.

    He did not like the font I had used. I had not used the turn sequence used in his favourite rules. I used metric rather than imperial measurement. I had not added an army list for the specific colonial war he was interested in. I used D6s when he thought I should have used D10s. The rules were not laid out in the way he thought they should be.

    I emailed him back and asked what was wrong with the game mechanisms. His reply was that he had not actually read the rules; he had skimmed through them and did not like what he saw. He then complained that people like me were making it difficult for ‘professional’ wargames designers to make a living because I gave my rules away for free!

    At that point I ended the discussion.

    Enough of grumbling! I assume that the Charles Grant rules that you are referring to are the ones published back 1970 entitled BATTLE: PRACTICAL WARGAMING. I bought my copy when they first came out, and used them for quite few years. They are an excellent set of rules, and I still take them down from the bookshelf and re-read them every so often. Perhaps it is about time that I did that again.

    By the way, have you looked at any of my other rules? My colonial ones are downloadable via my Colonial Wargaming website and my others can be found on the Red Hex Wargames website.

    All the best,


  7. Bob, If you're sure I'll be happy with the font, I may well do that.

  8. Jim Hale,

    We try to please ...

    Yesterday was a BAD day at work. The hours were too long, a colleague made a serious mistake ... which I had to sort out ... and then I got stuck in a major traffic jam that was a result of a fatal shooting near where I work.

    Because of all of this 'problems' I was probably a little grumpy yesterday when I sat down at my computer ... I hope that it was not too obvious from my reply. If I sounded a bit rude, it was not intended, and I would like to apologise.

    In all honesty, give the rules on my websites the once over if you get a chance. I think that you might enjoy reading some of them, and may actually want to use them.

    All the best,


  9. It didn't come across as rude Bob, so no apology necessary. That being said, I don't take offence easily either, so grumpy may have passed me by completely anyway.

    An apology on the internet is a rare event however. I may print it off and frame it, what do you think it will fetch on e-bay? ;-)

  10. Jim Hale,

    What would the Mastercard advert say? 'An apology on the Internet ... Priceless.'

    All the best,



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