Monday 29 February 2016

I have been to ... Cavalier

I had several good reasons to go to CAVALIER this year, foremost amongst which was to meet and chat with David Crook who writes the 'A Wargaming Odyssey' blog.

As usual the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society organised the show, and the venue was the Angel Centre in the centre of Tonbridge, Kent. Parking was not too much of a problem, and I was inside the venue by just after 10.00am.

There were already quite a few people inside, and I decided to start with a quick look around the main hall.

I then made my way towards the smaller hall where the 'bring-and-buy' and several participation wargames were taking place. To get there I had to pass through a lobby area ...

... which is where I met up with David Crook. We were able to exchange a few items that were had planned to swap (a box of books for two boxes of Hexon II blue hexes ... a very fair exchange in my opinion!) and to have a quick chat about his plans for a Madasahatta-type campaign set in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula.

Whilst we were there we were joined by Alan Abbey (the creator of the BLOOD, BILGE AND IRON BALLS naval wargame rules and the organiser of the annual 'Broadside' wargames show that take place in Sittingbourne), who has a new set of American War of Independence rules in the final stages of development.

I then paid a visit to the smaller hall ...

... and spent some time looking at the various games that were in progress.

SEEMS (South East Essex Military Society)

Staines Wargamers: HOTT (Hordes of the Things) demonstration/participation games

Maidstone Wargames Society: Road to Homs 1982

North London Wargames Group: Monoontour 1569

Gravesend Gamers Guild: Warmachine

Southend Wargames Club: Helmand Rescue

Tonbridge Wargames Club: Chickamauga Day 2

This game used the latest version of Richard Borg's BATTLE CRY rules, Hexon II hexed terrain tiles, and 10mm-scale figures.

In a small room adjoining the smaller hall was the ...

Society of Ancients: Battle of Trebia 218 BC

... game being run - as usual - by Professor Phil Sabin and ...

The League of Gentlemen Anti-Alchemists: Rommel: Our part in his downfall

On my return to the main hall I met up with a group of well-known wargamers and bloggers. (Left to right: David Crook, Postie, Clint, Big Lee, Henry Hyde, and Ray Rousell.)

Inside the main hall there were also several wargames in progress.

Friday Night Fire Fight: Zulu! 1879

Peter Pig: Hammerin' Iron

Hailsham Wargames Club: Malplaquet 1709

This wargame was staged using hundreds of Les Higgins 20mm-scale figures ... and was very impressive!

Deal Wargames Society: Prison Break! Los Banos, the Philippines, 1945

Crawley War Games Club: Trench Raid

This was - as usual - a great little wargames show.

Sunday 28 February 2016

German Commerce Raiders 1914-18

The local branch of Waterstones must have recently had a big delivery of books from Osprey as I found yet another book to buy during my latest visit. It was GERMAN COMMERCE RAIDERS 1914-18, and was written by Ryan K Noppen and illustrated by Paul Wright.

The book was published last year as No.228 of the 'New Vanguard' series (ISBN 978 1 4728 0950 6) and covers the cruisers, liners, and freighters used by the Imperial German Navy to disrupt sea-borne supplies to Europe by capturing and destroying Allied shipping. The ships covered include:
  • Cruisers
    • SMS Dresden
    • SMS Emden
    • SMS Karksruhe
    • SMS Konigsberg
    • SMS Leipzig
  • Liners
    • SMS Berlin
    • SMS Cap Trafalgar
    • SMS Cormoran
    • SMS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
    • SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm
    • SMS Priz Eitel Friedrich
  • Freighters
    • SMS Mowe
    • SMS Wolf
    • SMS Seeadler

Saturday 27 February 2016

Nugget 288

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N288) from the printer yesterday, and I intend to post it out to members of Wargame Developments later today.

By the time that this blog entry appears, I will have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and both should now be available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Just a few more hexes ...

Just over a week ago I ordered a batch of single Hexon II hex terrain tiles from Kallistra, and they were delivered this morning.

I ordered:
  • 10 x Blue single hex terrain tiles
  • 10 x Green flocked single hex terrain tiles
  • 10 x Desert flocked single hex terrain tiles
  • 30 x Desert Transitional flocked single hex terrain tiles

When added to my existing collection, I now have:
  • 30 x Blue single hex terrain tiles
  • 30 x Green flocked single hex terrain tiles
  • 30 x Desert flocked single hex terrain tiles
  • 30 x Desert Transitional flocked single hex terrain tiles
  • 10 x Marsh single hex terrain tiles
This is more than enough to enable me to stage battles on my mini-campaign board as well as being very useful adjuncts to my collection of 6-hex Hexon II terrain tiles.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Shuffle Battleships

Whilst I was in Waterstones a few days ago, I bought a card game entitled BATTLESHIP.

It appeared to be a card-based version of the traditional paper-and-pencil game and although I could not imagine when I might use it, I thought that the component parts might be of use.

Inside the box were eighty eight playing cards split into two colours, red and blue. Each colour has:
  • Twelve coordinate cards (five are ships cards [an aircraft carrier, a battleship, a destroyer, a motor torpedo boat, and a submarine] and seven are 'miss' cards)
  • Thirty destruction cards (ten white 'peg' cards, twelve red 'peg' cards [seven with one 'peg', four with two 'pegs', and one with four 'pegs'], and eight 'power' cards), and
  • Two reference cards.
Play appears to be quite simple. Before the game starts each player chooses a colour, and then separates their coordinate cards and destruction cards into two separate decks. Each deck is then shuffled, and the coordinate cards are placed face down in a 3 x 4 grid in front of them. They then take the top five cards from their destruction card deck ... which is shown below with the portentous name 'Deck of Destruction'!

One player goes first. (The rules state that this should be the youngest ... but as an aged curmudgeon I object to this sort of ageist tosh!). They select a card from their hand and play it. Once the card is played a replacement card is taken from the top of their destruction deck, and the used card is placed in a discard pile.

Players can use white 'peg' cards to search for enemy ships. They choose which of the enemy coordinate cards they wish to turn over, play the white 'peg' card, and the enemy's card is turned over to reveal what is there. A white 'peg' card cannot normally do any damage to an enemy ship unless it is a submarine, in which case the 'peg' card is placed under the coordinate card and not onto the discard pile.

Red 'peg' cards can be used to search for enemy ships and to damage them. It is played in exactly the same way as a white 'peg' card except that if an enemy ship is revealed, damage is caused and the 'peg' card is placed under the coordinate card and not onto the discard pile. Once an enemy ship is revealed, further red 'peg' cards can be played in future turns to sink it. (The number of 'peg' cards required to sink a ship are shown on its ship card.)

Players can use 'power' cards to:
  • 'Shield' a ship (i.e. help prevent further damage to an already damaged ship)
  • Discard a white 'peg' card from their hand so that they can draw another card from their destruction deck or play two more cards this turn
  • Repair a ship (i.e. remove a 'peg' card from one of their damaged ships) and play another card from their hand this turn or draw three more cards from their destruction deck (thus increasing the size of their hand) of which they must play one.
Each type of ship has special powers as well. For example once a player's destroyer is revealed, all further white 'peg' cards that player uses can cause damage to enemy ships in the same way that red 'peg' cards do.

I suspect that the game will prove to be quite subtle when played and not quite as simplistic as it at first appears to be. As to the components ... well I suspect that they might well have their uses.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Confused? I certainly was!

As I get older, I get more confused ... and is doesn't help when a publisher appears to publish different books with the same title!

Yesterday during a visit to the local branch of Waterstones I saw a book on the Osprey display stand that confused me. It was a recently published book in their 'Campaign' series entitled KURSK 1943. Now I knew that I already had a book with that title and published by Osprey on my bookshelves ... but I also knew that I bought it quite a long time ago. Being intrigued - and a little bit confused - I bought it ... and when I got home I discovered that it was in fact a completely new book.

My original book is actually entitled KURSK 1943: THE TIDE TURNS IN THE EAST. It was written by Mark Healy and was published by Qsprey Publishing in May 1992 as 'Campaign No.16' (ISBN 978 1 85532 211 0).

It contains chapters entitled:
  • The Origins of the Battle
  • The Opposing Commanders
  • The Opposing Armies
  • Opposing Plans and Preparations
  • The Battle of Kursk
  • The Aftermath
  • The Chronology
  • A Guide to Further Reading
  • Wargaming Kursk
The new book is KURSK 1943: THE NORTHERN FRONT, and was written by Robert Forczyk with illustrations by Steve Noon. It was published by Qsprey Publishing in September 2014 as 'Campaign No.272' (ISBN 978 1 78200 819 4).

It contains chapters entitled:
  • Origins of the campaign
  • Chronology
  • Opposing commanders
  • Opposing armies
  • Orders of battle
  • Opposing plans
  • The campaign
  • Aftermath
  • The battlefields today
  • Further reading
So I have ended up with two very different books with what appears to be the same name from the same publisher.

Confused? I certainly was!

Monday 22 February 2016

Nugget 288

The editor of THE NUGGET continues to maintain the regular tempo of publishing an edition every four to six weeks, and on Sunday afternoon he sent me the draft of the latest issue of THE NUGGET. I intend check and print it off this morning so that I can take it to the printer this afternoon. I will then be able collect it from them by Friday, and this should enable me to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out with THE NUGGET 283 to all subscribers who had not yet re-subscribed.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 395

The March issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post on Saturday morning, and I have just managed to have a quick read through it today.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Clapping in time: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • The Featherstone Annual Tribute
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Bob Marrion: A prolific painter passes by Charles S Grant
  • The man who would be king: A campaign to carve out your own kingdom by Jim Webster
  • Hammerhead 2016: Official Show Guide
  • Travel tiles: The virtues of 2-D battlefields for wargames by Paul D Stevenson
  • Eindecker!: The Fokker scourge of 1915-1916, part 1 by Chris Russell
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • A game effort: Making a wargame out of Game of Thrones by Gary Pready
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
Quite a lot of interesting articles again in this issue. Besides a well-deserved mention of Trebian's 'Wargaming for Grown-ups' blog, Neil Shuck discusses the use of counters in place of figures (something that I personally have no problem with) and Conrad Kinch makes some interesting observations about writing scenarios. Charles S Grant's obituary for Bob Marrion is a more than fitting tribute to this most excellent of military artists, and Jim Webster's The man who would be king article is well worth reading. Paul D Stevenson's Travel tiles was also of interest to me as I fight a lot of my wargames on a fairly small tabletop, and his ideas are thought-provoking. I cannot see myself going down the route he has chosen because most of my wargaming is done on a gridded playing area ... but it is worth having something like this available if ever I want a bit of a change.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Simulating gunfire in naval wargames: Fred Jane and Fletcher Pratt

The following photograph of a Fletcher Pratt Naval War Game in progress surfaced very recently on Facebook.

When I saw it I was struck by several things. Firstly that nearly 50% of the participants were women; secondly that they all seem to have deployed their destroyers between the two battle lines; and thirdly that at the distance on the floor at which they were estimating the range between their own ships and their targets was very short indeed

Of these points the first is easily explained. By 1938 taking part in one of Fletcher Pratt's games had become a social event, and both men and women took part in quite significant numbers. Amongst the latter was Inga, Pratt's wife, who ran wargames during her husband's wartime service in the United States Navy, and the former included Isaac Asimov, L Ron Hubbard, L Sprague de Camp, Trevor N Dupuy, and Jack Coggins.

The second point I find less easy to explain. It has always been my understanding that once the battle lines had formed up and begun firing at each other, smaller vessels kept well out of the way until they could be deployed to administer the coup de grace on crippled enemy ships. In this game they seem to be being used to try to disrupt their opponent's battle lines during the slogging match between the opposing battleships, and may well be the result of one of Fletcher Pratt's experimental tactical exercises.

The third point is the most difficult to explain. Having taken part in quite a few naval wargames over the years using Fletcher Pratt's rules, I know that the estimation of range is quite difficult. It is my experience that players who are new to the rules vastly underestimate the distances between the models, and so end up trying to get as close as possible to reduce the level of error in their estimations, whereas once more experienced players have 'got the range' they tend to try to keep any changes relatively manageable so that they can keep hitting the enemy. In this case both sides seem to have shortened range and in theory should be hitting each other with almost every shot they fire. (I say 'in theory' because in the excitement of battle I have known players to mistakenly increase their range estimations when they should decrease them and vice versa.)

What I find interesting is the method that Fletcher Pratt adopted for simulating gunfire in his naval wargame, especially when it is compared with that used in the earlier but equally famous Fred Jane Naval War Game. In Fred Jane's game players had to try to hit a paper target with something that looked like a wooden fly-swat (known as a 'striker'), in the face of which was embedded a small pinhead. The pinheads were not in the centre of the head of the strikers, but offset ... and players were not allowed to look at the the face of the striker before they used it.

Examples of the equipment used to fight a Fred Jane Naval War Game. Included are two wooden strikers, one of the 1:3000th-scale models used, a target, and a scorer (i.e. an image of the target ship on which any hits are recorded).
In addition the size of the target they had to hit varied depending upon the range.

A reproduction of a target. The smallest was used when the range was 4,000 yards, the middle-sized target when the range was 3,000 yards, and the largest when the range was 2,000 yards. The ship represented here is the Turkish battleship Torgud Reis.
Fred Jane's method was developed when battle ranges were expected to be short, and when individual gunlayers were expected to use sighting telescopes to aim their guns themselves. At the time Sir Percy Scott was at the forefront of the improvement of British naval gunnery, and one of his training methods was the use of the 'Dotter'. It was developed and used as follows:
Fortunately it occurred to me that I could design a contrivance with a target moving up and down at about the same rate as a ship rolls, and compel the pointer to manipulate his elevating wheel quick enough to follow it. This contrivance was made, and the men christened it the 'Dotter'. A description of the arrangement may be of interest.

On a vertical board, opposite to the muzzle of the gun, was a metal frame which, by means of rollers and a handle, could be moved up and down at either a slow or a fast rate. On this frame was painted a bull's-eye, and beside it was a card with a line drawn upon it. On the face of the board, and moved either up or down by the muzzle of the gun, was a carrier containing a pencil. When the men under instruction pressed the trigger of the gun the pencil, actuated by an electrical contrivance, made a dot on the card, and the pencil at the same time moved a space to the right. If the gun was truly pointed at the bull's eye at the moment of firing, the dot would be in line with the bull's-eye. If the gun was not truly pointed, the amount of error was indicated on the card.

At this machine the men were given constant practice, and in a very short time they were able to follow the target up and down with remarkable accuracy. In other words they had all learned to do what the one man had done intuitively.

The next time we went out firing there was a considerable roll, but it made no difference to the men, whose shooting was admirable, a fact which I attribute entirely to their course of instruction at the 'Dotter'.
FIFTY YEARS IN THE ROYAL NAVY by Admiral Sir Percy Scott,
BT., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., HON. LL.D. CAM (Published 1919)

A 'Dotter' in use.
A 'Dotter' being used in combination with a deflection teacher. This was also developed by Sir Percy Scott.
When compared with Sir Percy Scott's 'Dotter', Fred Jane's method of simulating naval gunfire seems to be quite a reasonable analogue of it.

During the period after the Russo-Japanese War the world's major navies began to experiment with coincidence and stereoscopic rangefinders in place of sighting telescopes. Alongside these came director control of a ship's armament, where all the guns were controlled centrally by the gunnery officer rather than by individual gun captains, and the introduction of electro-mechanical gunnery computers such as the Dreyer Fire Control Table which enabled director controlled naval guns to attained even greater accuracy.

The Scott Director Tower.
A 1918 Mk.V Dreyer Fire Control Table.
Fletcher Pratt's method of simulating naval gunfire seems to have been developed with these changes in mind. Players sight their guns as if they were all firing a single salvo in unison at the same target, estimate the range, and write orders on the firing arrows they have placed down. In an earlier version of the rules the players could stipulate where the shells landed (e.g. 'All shells will land on the same spot at x-inches range' or 'Shells will land x-inches apart, starting at a range of y-inches'), but in the later version it was assumed that two shells from a salvo would fall at the range written on the firing arrow, with each additional shell in the salvo alternately falling one inch short or over (i.e. in a salvo of eight shells, two would fall at the given range, three would be under at distances of one, two, and three-inches respectively, and three would overshoot by distances of one, two, and three-inches respectively).

The Fletcher Pratt system in action. The red golf tee indicates a hit whilst the blue tees indicate the fall of shot of misses.
This certainly seems to reflect the results of live gunnery fire exercises that took place between the wars, and as such it must also be regarded as a reasonable analogue.

The only problem with both the Jane and the Pratt methods is the time it takes to adjudicate the results. In Fred Jane's gunnery rules mechanism the umpire has to carefully examine the target and then transfer the results over to the scorer. It has the big advantage that the firer has no idea what the results of their gunnery are, but once squadrons of more than three or four ships per side are involved, the process can become tediously slow. In the the Pratt rules it requires two umpires to adjudicate the fall of shot (i.e. one at each end of the tape measure, with one making sure that the tape lines up with the firing arrows and the other placing the fall of shot markers) and sometimes a third to mark up each ship's record card. The damaged caused is secret from the firer, but as they can see where their fall of shot markers actually land they can use that information to adjust the aim and range estimation for the next turn.

The photo of the pieces used to play the Fred Jane Naval War Game comes from the collection of Curator Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command.

Friday 19 February 2016

Comparing hexagons with squares: The end result of my deliberations

As a result of my recent deliberations – and the numerous helpful comments that I have received – I have decided to stick very firmly with my use of Hexon II hexed terrain ... and to even buy some more!

Yesterday I sent Kallistra an order for six sets of pre-flocked single-hex terrain tiles. I probably use my existing collection of single-hex tiles more than I use my collection of standard six-hex tiles (they work particularly well with my mini-campaign board), and as I expect to use this board even more frequently in the future, it seemed to make sense to ensure that I had more than enough single hexes to meet any foreseeable needs.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Comparing hexagons with squares: The 'forgotten' factor

Having convinced myself that I could get a larger number of grid areas on my mini-campaign board if I switched from hexes to squares, I sat down today to see if it was possible ...


Look at the following photograph of my mini-campaign board.

Can anyone spot the very obvious (blindingly obvious ... but not to me!) factor that I had forgotten?

Yes! You've got it! The 3'/90cm x 2'/60cm board has a frame! The hexes fit inside the frame ... but the squares will not.

Just as final proof that it always pays to look properly at a solution before pursuing it, I drew a 9 x 6 squared grid over an 8 x 6 hexed grid, making sure that the face-to-face distances on the squares was the same as that of the hexes ...

... and it doesn't fit in the same space.

Serves me right for trying to find something to occupy my mind when I could not sleep!

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Comparing hexagons with squares

Some time ago I injured my lower back, and for the last week or so I have been suffering from lumbago ... something that I thought that only old people got! As a result I have been finding it difficult to sleep, and last night I tried to occupy my sleepless night by thinking about hexes and squares.

Now for gridded wargames hexes have lots of advantages over squares, but they are not easy to draw and sometimes terrain and/or units don't fit into them very easily. As a result I have swung backwards and forwards between using hexes and squares in my wargame designs. In the end I have to used hexes for wargames set in historical periods when tactics tended to be non-linear, and squares for periods when they were linear.

Last night I began thinking about the area of squares of a given face-to-face distance when compared with the area of hexes with the same face-to-face distance, and this morning I set up a simple speadsheet in order to look at the results. (Please note that:
  • I have used the approximate ratio of 4:3 when comparing the sizes of squares and hexes and
  • the distances chosen for the second chart are approximately the imperial equivalent of the metric distances shown in the first chart.)
The first chart compares squares and hexes where the face-to-face distance is in centimetres.

The second chart compares squares and hexes where the face-to-face distance is in inches.

This was quite an interesting exercise, and besides helping me get some much-needed sleep, it has given me something to think about regarding the uses of squares rather than hexes.

Monday 15 February 2016

More books to read!

On Saturday morning I paid yet another of my irregular visits to Falconwood Transport and Military Bookshop (5 Falconwood Parade, The Green, Welling, Kent, DA16 2PL) ... and managed to find a couple of 'must haves' to add to my collection of naval books.

The first was J. SAMUEL WHITE & CO. SHIPBUILDERS by David L Williams and Richard de Kerbrech (Published in 2012 by The History Press [ISBN 978 0 7524 6612 5]).

J Samuel White & Company built a total of 252 ships for the Royal Navy as well as numerous vessels for other customers. They were based on the Isle of Wight and were regarded as specialists when it came to the building of fast ships, especially destroyers. They also built aircraft and were pioneers in the development of semi-diesel engines, heat exchangers, air conditioners, and compressors.

The second book was a real indulgence as it was the second edition of a book that I already own. I bought my original copy of BIG GUN MONITORS: THE HISTORY OF THE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF THE ROYAL NAVY'S MONITORS by Ian Buxton when it was first published in 1978.

A second revised and expanded edition was published by Seaforth Publishing in 2008 (ISBN 978 1 84415 719 8), and when I saw a copy for sale at half the original published price, I just had to have it.

This new edition has a revised layout and many more photographs, which is my excuse for buying it!

Sunday 14 February 2016

Matrix games at the US Army War College

A very interesting blog entry appeared on Rex Brynen’s PAXsims blog last week.

It concerned the use of Matrix Games at the US Army War College, and as I was involved in the early developments of Matrix Games twenty years ago, I was particularly interested to see how much the concept has now moved into the mainstream of military wargaming.

To read this blog entry, please click here. Please note that the views expressed in this blog entry are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Rex Brynen is a Professor in the Political Science faculty at McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. One of his research interests is professional political-military wargaming, including conflict, peace-building, and development simulation.

Saturday 13 February 2016

The latest draft of my 'Modern' version of Joseph Morschauser's FRONTIER wargames rules

Having play-tested the latest daft of my 'Modern' version of Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' wargames rules during my recent mini-campaign, I am now in a position to share it with my regular blog readers.


Click on the table to enlarge it.
  • A unit is destroyed and removed from the battlefield when its Strength Value is reduced to 0.
  • No unit’s Combat Power may drop below 1 regardless of other rules.
  • Elite units may increase their Combat Power by 1.
  • Poor quality Infantry or Cavalry units (e.g. Militia) reduce their Combat Power by 1.

  • Fire Phase takes place.
  • Both sides throw a D6 die. The side with the highest score (side A) moves first this turn.
  • Side A may activate each of its units that have not fired during the Fire Phase in turn. When a unit is activated it may either:
    • Move or
    • Move and initiate a combat with an enemy unit or
    • Remove barbed wire or
    • Work on the removal of a minefield
    • (An activated unit may not initiate a combat with an enemy unit and then move unless it is an Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit that is moving into an adjacent hex that was occupied by an enemy unit they have just destroyed or forced to retreat.)
  • Once side A has activated all the units it wishes to activate this turn, Side B may activate each of their its units that have not fired during the Fire Phase in turn..
  • Once both sides have activated all the units they wish to activate this turn, the turn has ended and the next turn begins.
  • Before the next turn can commence, both sides check to see if they have reached their Exhaustion Point. A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point may not undertake any aggressive actions during the next and subsequent turns. When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point, the battle ends.

  • Fire is simultaneous; therefore if firing unit is destroyed, it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
  • Assault Guns and Artillery fire within an arc-of-fire that is 120° forward of the direction in which it is facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 60° diagonal line of hexes to the other).
  • Tanks and Armoured Cars have a 360° arc-of-fire.
  • Weapon ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the hexes not the corners).
  • Units may only fire once each turn.
  • Units that fire may not move during the same turn.
  • If an entire enemy unit can be seen from a unit that is firing at it, the fire is direct fire.
  • If an entire enemy unit cannot be seen or it is in fortifications, a built-up area, or a wood, the fire is indirect fire.
  • Before it fires, each unit identifies the hex it is firing at. It then throws a D6 die to see where its fire will land:
    • Die score = 1: Fire lands in the hex beyond the target hex (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target hex).
    • Die score = 2: Fire lands in the hex in front of the target hex (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target hex).
    • Die score = 3, 4, 5, or 6: Fire lands on the target hex.
  • If the fire lands in a hex occupied by a friendly unit the opposing side’s commander throws a D6 die to determine the effectiveness of the fire upon that unit (see below).
  • If the fire lands in a hex occupied by an enemy unit a D6 die is thrown to determine the effectiveness of the fire upon that unit (see below).
    • Direct fire: D6 die score = 4, 5 or 6: The unit in the target hex has its Strength Value reduced by 1.
    • Indirect fire: D6 die score = 5 or 6: The unit in the target hex has its Strength Value reduced by 1.

  • All movement is measured orthogonally (i.e. through the edges of the hexes not the corners).
  • A unit may only move once each turn. Any unit that has fired during the Fire Phase at the beginning of a turn may not move during that turn.
  • No more than one unit may occupy a hex at any time.
  • A unit may pass through – but not stop in – a hex that is already occupied by a friendly unit.
  • A unit may not move through a hex that is adjacent to a hex occupied by an enemy unit. The moving unit must stop as soon as it enters such a hex (thus ending its movement for that turn), face the enemy unit, and initiate combat with the enemy unit.
  • A unit that is facing or being faced by an enemy unit that is in an adjacent hex at start of its move may break contact with that enemy unit and move away provided that it does not come into contact with any other enemy unit this turn as it breaks contact or after it has broken contact.

  • Combat takes place when a unit ends its move facing an enemy unit that is in an adjacent hex.
  • The unit that has initiated the combat is regarded as being the attacker and the unit they are attacking is regarded as being the defender.
  • 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 Combat 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 and the losing unit must retreat one hex immediately or reduce its Strength Value by 1. Any unit that is unable to retreat reduces its Strength Value by 2.
    • If a unit throws a 6, the opposing unit’s Strength Value is reduced by 1 even if the opposing unit has won the overall combat.
  • If the unit that did not initiate the combat is destroyed or is forced to retreat and the unit that initiated the combat is an Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit, then that Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit may immediately move into the newly vacated hex. If as a result of that move into the newly vacated hex that Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit comes into contact with the enemy unit that they have just forced to retreat or another enemy unit, the Infantry, Engineer, Cavalry, Tank, or Assault Gun unit may not attack that enemy unit this turn.
  • No unit’s Combat Power may drop below 1.
  • A defending unit that is in cover (e.g. built-up areas or woods) increases its Combat Power by 1.
  • A defending unit that is in fortifications (e.g. trenches or a fortress) increases its Combat Power by 2.


Barbed Wire:
  • With the exception of Tank, Armoured Car, and Assault Gun units, a unit must stop as soon as it enters a hex in which there is barbed wire.
  • The unit that has stopped may remove the barbed wire the next time it is activated and must remove it before it can move again.
Built-up areas:
  • A unit must stop as soon as it enters a built-up area.
  • A unit moving through a built-up area has a maximum movement rate of 1 hex per turn.
  • The range of all weapons fired within a built-up area is reduced to 1 hex.
  • A unit that is in a built-up area increases its Combat Power by 1.
Exhaustion Point:
  • Before the battle begins, both sides calculate their Exhaustion Point. This is one third of the side’s total initial Strength Values, rounded up.
  • When a side has lost that proportion of initial Strength Values, it has reached its Exhaustion Point.
  • A side that has reached its Exhaustion Point must immediately stop taking aggressive action (i.e. it will continue to fight to defend its existing position, but will not continue any movement towards the enemy).
  • When both sides have reached their Exhaustion Point, the battle ends.
  • Infantry and dismounted Cavalry units may move up or down one or two hill contours per turn; all other units may only move up or down one hill contour per turn.
  • A unit that is in a combat an enemy unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Combat Power by 1.
  • A unit that is in a combat an enemy unit that is two hill contours above it reduces its Combat Power by 2.
  • A unit that is in combat against an enemy unit that is one or two hill contours below it increases its Combat Power by 1.
  • A unit may pass through an uncleared minefield, but must throw a D6 die to determine the effect the minefield has upon that unit (see below).
    • D6 die score = 5 or 6: The unit passing through the minefield has its Strength Value reduced by 2.
    • D6 die score = 2, 3, or 4: The unit passing through the minefield has its Strength Value reduced by 1.
  • Each time a unit passes through an uncleared minefield, the D6 die score is reduced by 1.
  • A unit may remove a minefield by staying in an adjacent hex for five consecutive turns. During those five turns the unit may not fire, move, or initiate combat with an enemy unit; they may, however, defend themselves if attacked.
  • The number of turns required to remove a minefield is reduced by one every time:
    • A unit passes through the uncleared minefield or
    • The uncleared minefield is hit by artillery fire.
  • It costs two hexes of movement for a unit to cross a hex with a river in it other than via a bridge.
  • A unit that is in a hex with a river in it and is in combat an enemy unit reduces its Combat Power by 1.
  • Units from opposing sides that are in adjacent hexes with a river between them may be in contact with each other if the attacking side decides that they are.
  • Each hex of movement made along an open road (i.e. one that does not pass through a built-up area or wood) by a unit uses up only half a hex of movement.
  • If a unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-hexes of movement are lost.
  • A unit must stop as soon as it enters a wood.
  • A unit moving through a wood has a maximum movement rate of 1 hex per turn.
  • The range of all weapons fired within a wood is reduced to 1 hex.
  • A unit that is a wood increases its Combat Power by 1.

Friday 12 February 2016

Horse, Foot and Guns

Many years ago I play-tested a set of rules that had been written by Phil Barker that were entitled HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS. At the time he promised that one day they would be published ... and now they have!

The full title of the book is HORSE, FOOT AND GUNS: QUICK PLAY ARMY LEVEL WARGAME RULES FOR LARGE LAND BATTLES 1701-1925, and it has been published by Susan Laflin (ISBN 978 1 326 55510 8). I bought my copy from Lulu for £14.99 (plus postage and packing), and it arrived only a few days after I ordered it online.

The book is split into two main sections. The first covers such things as game philosophy, playing equipment, scales, definitions, organising the armies, setting up a battle, and the rules. The second is a set of army lists that cover wars from 1701 to 1913, including the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, the American Civil War, the Schleswig-Holstein War, the Seven Weeks War, the Zulu War, the Egypt and the Sudan campaigns, the Second Boer War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First and Second Balkan Wars.

I don't know if I will ever use these rules on a regular basis, but reading them will bring back a lot of great memories ... and as a large part of my 15mm-scale Colonial collection is already on the right size bases, they will always be available if I want a bit of a change from using my own rules.

Thursday 11 February 2016

Reinforcements for SPUR?

Just before I began fighting my recent mini-campaign, I 'won' an auction on eBay, with the result that I became the owner of a number of 1:87th-scale PREMO model tanks.

These Russian-made models were made to fit in with the ROCO Minitanks range, and were sold as such when they first became available. The lot that I 'won' included three T-35s, ...

... three T-28s, ...

... and an SU-100, and they will all eventually end up being used in my planned Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War Campaign.

Before then I hope to see them in the service of SPUR, who could certainly have found a use for them in the recent Winter-ish War mini-campaign!