Having failed to get my gaming group excited enough about an extra day of gaming, I decided hey, it’s been over 2 years since my last wargame of any kind: let’s set up a solo wargame!
Now you’d think that with endless Punic-Period armies a-building, I’d run an ancients game, right? Well you would be wrong my friend, because lately I’ve been drooling over 1:285 catalogues and wondering if micro scale would be a good fit with Bolt Action (because space, storage).
Rules: I used One-Hour Wargames rules, solo mod version. They are so simple I will reproduce them here. The ranges quoted are in cm to reflect the smaller board I used. For the original, halve numbers quoted but read in inches.
There are four types of troops:
Infantry: Move 12, shoot 24. D6 mod: Infantry 0, Mortars 0, AT 0, Tanks -2. Infantry in cover halve casualties (rounding up). Only infantry can end their turn in a town, or enter woods.
Mortars (include infantry-portable howitzers): Move 12, shoot 96. D6 mod: Infantry +2, Mortars 0, AT 0, Tanks -2.
AT Guns: Move 16, shoot 24. D6 mod: Infantry -2, Mortars -2, AT -2, Tanks +2.
Tanks: Move 24, shoot 24. D6 mod: Infantry 0, Mortars 0, AT 0, Tanks +2. Tanks on hilltops have casualties (rounding up)
All elements have 360 degrees field of fire and can swivel any degrees before moving.
Observation occurs in line of sight and only elements in line of sight and within 24cm can be targeted, EXCEPT any element can act as observer for mortars’ indirect fire.
Casualties: 15 hits on an element KOs it.
The Card Draw
Each turn, each side draws a card:
Ace-5: nothing. 6-7: 1-3 elements may not move. 8-9: 1-3 elements may not shoot. 10: an element takes 1-6 hits. Jack: an element may move twice, shoot twice, or move then shoot. Queen: an element recovers 1-6 hits. King: An enemy element takes 1-6 hits. Joker (one-shot): If desired, one element re-does its previous round.
Turn sequence per side: Move, Observe, Shoot, Eliminate elements.
Scenario 21: Twin Objectives
The playing area features a lightly wooded hill in the south-west corner, a town in the north edge, a swamp on the north-west, and a road that skirts the swap from side edge to town.
The red (active) player controls both the hill and the town. They have four elements. They may deploy on the hill with one element and within 12 of the north edge with the other three.
The blue (npc) side begins with 6 elements deployed anywhere east of the hill.
There are no reinforcements for either side.
Objectives and game length: Blue must occupy both hill and town. The game lasts 15 turns. Red wins by denying Blue.
Randomised composition: The Red army draws 2 infantry, 1 AT gun, and 1 Tank. I pick out a BT7 and a 45mm from my micro collection. The Blue army draws 3 infantry, 2 mortars, and 1 tank. I field a PzIII for the tank.
(These choices have no bearing on the rules – it’s just necessary to not have a heavy technological edge for either.)
it’s time to find out how the Prussian has deployed. In a two-stage d6 roll, the PzIII and two infantry elements deploy far right, the two mortars deploy centre, and the remaining infantry element nearest the hill.
Blue takes the first bound each turn.
Blue 1: Draw 1 unit may not shoot. All non-mortars move: the element nearest the hill gains lodgement on the lower slopes and observes the defending infantry. The PzIII leads the other two infantry elements north aiming east of the town.
Red 1: Draw no result. AT and BT7 move directly along the road towards the town. Infantry on hill fire on advancing foot, gaining 1 hit. This set a pattern of poor results for this unfortunate element!
Blue 2: Draw no result. Infantry on hill halts and observes. PzIII and other foot same as previous. Mortars and infantry on hill bring down hell, scoring 7 hits even after halving.
Up on the hill, the defenders take 2 hits off the attacking foot.
Blue 3: Draw PzIII may not fire. PzIII swings left at full speed to menace the AT position; its accompanying foot wheel on the town. They are one move away. Mortars and infantry on hill fire on hill defence again, scoring 6 hits. The defenders are already nearly out of the fight!
Red 3: Draw enemy demoralised: the German foot element nearest the town takes 6 hits! Every element fires: The BT7 and foot in town take 4 more hits off the demoralised element; the AT gun takes 6 off the PzIII, and the hill defenders take another puny 1 off the attacker.
Blue 4: Draw PzIII and demoralised foot may not move. The remaining foot do not move anyway. The PzIII and both foot elements fire at the town, taking a remarkable 5 hits off the defence. The mortars and hill attacker destroy the hill defender. So far the mortars are king!
Red 4: Draws the same as last turn, and the same element – but it only loses one more hit, 11/15. The BT7 and AT gun concentrate on the PzIII (as they should have all along) scoring 10 hits and knocking it out. The town defenders target the demoralised foot, scoring 3 hits – 14/15, so close.
Blue 5: Draw the hill conquerers may not shoot. They do not care, they are occupying Ivan’s entrenchments and drinking his vodka. The remaining two infantry charge the town, arriving adjacent to walls/gate. Mortars fire on town, scoring 4 hits.
Red 5: Draw no result. No movement. The AT gun takes the remaining point off the infantry breaching the gate, and the BT7 and infantry target the unwounded infantry, scoring a disappointing 4 hits.
Blue 6: Draw same result. The wooded infantry refrain from executing commissars. The remaining infantry surge into the town.
I now rule that they cannot call mortar fire on themselves. An ad-hoc decision but logical.
Instead they call mortar fire on the AT position, scoring 12!
Red 6: Draw the AT and the foot recuperate, AT reduces damage to 10/15, foot to 6/15. The AT limbers up and moves south and the BT7 races south and east. The town defenders, left to their own devices, score a measly 1 hit.
Blue 7: Draw the Joker but have no need to reverse their own moves. Foot can still call mortar fire on AT and do so, mortars take another 4 hits off the AT gun. The attacking foot take 1 hit off the defenders.
Red 7: Draw AT may not shoot. Both AT and tank move and now have mortars in line of sight. Defending foot take another 1 hit off attackers.
Blue 8: Draw no result. The mortars both have the AT in line of sight and obliterate it with another 12 hits. The attacking foot score a fine 3 hits on the defenders, they are now 10/15.
Red 8: Draw no result. The BT7 fires at the nearest mortar, scoring an excellent 6. The defending foot take another 2 hits off the attackers.
Blue 9: Draw the damaged mortar is demoralised for 5 more hits! The mortars attempt to damage the BT7 with no result; but the attacking foot take the maximum 3 off the defenders, 13/15.
Red 9: Draw BT7 cannot fire. It withdraws hastily, out of observation range. Foot takes another puny point off the attackers.
Blue 10: Draw no element save the unaffected mortar may move. It advances maximum move to get observation on BT7. The attacking foot score the final 2 points on the defenders. For now, both objectives are gained!
Red 10: Draw no result. BT7 pulls right back.
Blue 11: Draw no result. Foot fires and observes on BT7; which takes 8 hits total.
Red 11: Draw Joker! BT7 has to keep the damage but reverses its previous move, appearing out of the dust on the mortars’ flank! This counts as not moving. It fires on the damaged mortar scoring 6 hits and the mortar is removed.
Blue 12: Draw King-hit (demoralised enemy) on the BT7 which takes a further 2 hits, 10/15. The mortar retreats to the hill’s edge and the hill-occupying infantry descend to closely support it.
Red 12: Draw no result. The BT7 races back to town – it has a chance to remove the defender and deny Blue the game!
Blue 13: Draw no result. Nothing is able to observe the BT7. The mortar moves north.
Red 13: Draw demoralisation on BT7, which sinks to 13/15. It completes its move towards town.
Blue 14: Hans? Ja – das pigdog Ivan unt his liddle tank arrive again – see vot you can do nein? Draw no result, and with foot observing the BT7 they both combine to take more than enough off it to win the game.
So I was handily beaten by the NPC!
But an enjoyable game, it took about an hour to set up, including reading enough rules to get started, and something over an hour to game out.
The ‘Joker’ draw was my idea – the rules have a draw of d15 but I adapted it to cards. It worked well for this game.
I quite like the idea of very simple WWII rules that pay no attention to armour value and weight of guns. I found the lack of town-fighting more of a concern, since I had to make up my own rules on the fly about what could and could not fight there.
Neil Thomas, One-Hour Wargames: Practical tabletop battles for those with limited time and space. Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley 2014. Kindle edition via Amazon.