Monday, November 14, 2011

The dice flew furiously

The dice flew fast and furious across the grass green field,
The soldiers gripped their guns and swore they'd never yield.
The men were as brave as lions and their general as sly as a fox
For if the dice should get them, they'd just go back in the box.


The Dice Flew
A game for playing Wargames with toy soldiers in the age of machine guns and magazine rifles.
Initial Draft 14 November 2011
Immediate updates in purple

Notes: This is a simple set of rules for playing wargames in the Age of the Machine Gun. They are meant to provide an enjoyable game and to be evocative of stories told rather than an accurate simulation or recreation of experience or fact. More specifically, they aim to work in OSW fashion, not worrying about consistent time and ground scales and operating on multiple levels at once. Figures and vehicles are treated more or less as individuals so a player can get that emotional feel of being there in the midst of things while putting dozens if not hundreds of toy soldiers on the table and getting the feel of  commanding a "battalion" or even a "brigade", yet still be able to finish a game in 2 to 4 hours.   The rules are intended for use with individual figures of 20mm size or larger but it should be able to be used with multi-figure bases either counting each base as a figure or by marking hits.

Organization. The "modern" army is a bureaucracy and so the game includes 4 levels of organization.

  1. ARMY: This is all of your guys that are taking part in the game, regardless of how few they are. There must be an Army Commander (CO) with a small staff and escort on table.
  2. BATTALION: This is an intermediate level of organization consisting of a Head Quarters (HQ) and 2 or more companies. Normally these will be part of a permanent organization but for game purposes they may be adhoc formations but must be formed before the game starts.  Each Battalion must be given a single mission.   
  3. COMPANY: This is the basic unit of the game and consists of an officer, sergeant and usually around 10 men. Poorly trained companies might not have a sergeant. Well trained and experienced ones with high morale may have an extra officer or sergeant. Companies much smaller than 10 figures at the start of a battle will probably be too brittle while those approaching 20 will be too clumsy. Companies may include attached heavy weapons such as machine guns.
  4. PATROL: This is a  group of up to 4 figures detached for a particular purpose. If it is more than 1/2 a move from the its company, it is treated as a separate company for movement, combat and morale.

  1. Game Orders. At the start of a game, players must write an order for each on table Battalion giving its mission. These may be written in plain language as long as they are clear or may use a short hand with an action and a location. Possible actions are: Hold X, Move to X, or Attack X where X is an identifiable terrain feature. A start time may be specified. Hold orders are implied for any unit awaiting its start time or after it has reached its objective.  A move order implies expeditious compliance, no unavoidable engagement and no attacks. Attack orders force a Battalion to advance, engage in a firefight or attack with at least 1/2 of its units.  Off table units do not need an order until they arrive  on table. Off table artillery may be controlled by an on table observed attached to a battalion or else will need a pre-game fire plan giving which targets to fire at on which turns. The fire plan can only be changed using the order change process. 
  2. Order changes. A Game Order can be changed at the start of any period. if communications exist. Roll 1 die, the order change succeeds on a roll of 2 or better. -1 to the die if the range between the army commander and Battalion HQ is over 2 feet and no radios are being used and there is no telephone link. (see advanced rules for laying and cutting telephone lines). 
  3. Company orders. If a company (or patrol) includes an officer or nco and is within 12" of its battalion HQ, 24" if equipped with radios,  then it will  act as the player wishes each turn. If either condition is not met then roll 1 die and a score of 2 or better is required for the unit to move or attack.  

Sequence of Play. At the start of each turn, each side rolls a die. The side with the highest score chooses whether to go 1st or 2nd that turn. If there is a tie, repeat the last turn's sequence.

  • The 1st player issues any order changes and rally units then fires any bombardments then moves with any or all of his units. The 2nd player may shoot with eligible units as the 1st player moves. Then any melees are resolved.
  • The 2nd player now  issues any order changes and rallies then fires any bombardments then moves with any or all of his units. The 1st player may shoot with eligible units as the 2nd player moves. Then any melees are resolved.

Do any end of turn activities such as weather checks or as called for by the scenario then start the next turn.

Movement. Figures may move up to the following maximum each turn. They may move in any direction. Movement through various types of terrain is pro-rated.

  • Infantry and infantry support weapons: 12" in the open or through broken terrain such as woods and fields, 18" in column on a road, 6" through difficult ground such as steep rocky hills and swamps.
  • Cavalry, Armoured Cars and Fast Tanks: 24" in the open, 6" through broken terrain, 36" in column by road. They may not move through difficult ground.
  • Artillery, HQ: 6" in the open. 18" in column by road. No off road movement through broken or difficult ground.
  • Tanks:. 18" in the open, 6" in broken ground, 24" in column by road. They may not move through difficult ground. 

Shooting. Figures may only fire out a 90 degree arc to their front (45 degrees either side of straight ahead).  The firing player may interrupt the movement of an enemy company to shoot at it and the effect is calculated before the move is completed.  A company that moved or bombarded or fought in melee during or since its last turn may not shoot. A company that can shoot, must do so at the closest target but may fire more than once if enemy movement brings another target closer.

When a company is fired on, it may choose to immediately halt and go to ground, counting as being in cover or it may choose to push on and continue moving.

  • Direct fire vs infantry and other soft targets: Shooting is by company against an opposing company which is not within 3" of the shooter of any unit friendly to the shooter. Only figures with a line of sight to the enemy  and sufficient range may be included.
    Roll 1 die per 5 10 points of fire. Round up remainders of 1/2 or more. 

Rifles: 12" 1 pt per rifle.
SMG: 6" 3 pts
LMG: 18" 3 pts .
HMG: 24" 5 points
Mortar: 6"-24" 5 points 
Artillery or tank gun:: 24: 5 points for medium or heavy gun + 5 pts for AFV with MG within 12" 
Snipers get 1 die each but they work alone so their fire cannot be added to any other.

  • Effect
    • Subtract 1 from each die if the target is up to 1/2 range.
    • Subtract 2 from each die if the target is beyond 1/2 range.
    • Subtract 2 from each die if the target is in cover. A company counts as in cover if 1/2 or more of the figures are in cover
    • The total score of all the dice after modifiers is the number of hits on the target.
    • For each die that scores 6 before modifiers, the firing player may select one critical figure such as an officer or a specialist as a casualty otherwise the owning player decides which figures are taken. If crew figures are killed, other men can be moved to take their place on a sunbsequent turn.    
    • If any figures were killed then the company is pinned.  
    • Pinned units may not move until they rally and cannot fire except in melee.

Anti-tank fire.All armoured vehicles have a defensive value, all anti-tank weapons have an offensive value.
Players may come up with their own charts as detailed as they like. A flank shot has to come from behind the front of the vehicle. An open topped vehicle attacked by mortars or artillery count as being shot at from the flank.

For anti-tank fire, instead of rolling company vs company, roll 1 die for each afv or gun firing at each trget and add the Attack value of the gun to its die. (If mixed guns fire at 1 target roll them separately or use different colours of dice.) If the result of any modified die is greater than  the defensive value of the target then it is destroyed. If the result is equal to the defensive value then the target will immediately retreat 2d6" but may stop when reaching cover.

Basic defense values: front/flank
Heavy Tank: 7/5
Medium tank: 6/4
Light Tank: 5/4

Basic Attack value: +1 within 1/2 range -1 if the target is hull down or in cover
Small arms, HMG, Mortar: 6" 0 Roll 1 die per 5 points of fire.
Bazooka, 6" 1.
Light: 12" 0
Medium: 24" 1
Heavy: 36" 2

 Examples: Tiger heavy tank with heavy gun, Sherman medium tank with medium gun, Firefly Medium tank with Heavy gun, Honey: Light Tank with light gun.  .  .

Artillery barrages.
Range unlimited for artillery. Must be pre planned or directed by a FOO using Order Change Communication roll. Count 5 points per light gun, 10 per medium and 15 per heavy gun. using same to hit and to kill score on target company as for direct fire at over 1/2 range.

Melee. All units within 3" of the enemy must resolve melee. Roll for hits as per shooting for both sides simultaneously, but with the following modifiers instead of the shooting ones:
Elite +1
Conscript -1
Enemy in cover -2 ( Infantry with grenades and rifles or smg do not count the enemy as in cover if they are touching the cover.)
All AT attacks in melee are made against the enemy's side value to represent the confusion of close fighting.

The side which suffers the highest number of hits must retreat 2d6". If tied, the melee will be resolved whenever either side is active again unless 1 side retreats before then.

Morale.  A Battalion that has lost 1/2 of its figures. (1/3rd if militia, 2/3 if Elite) is shaken and changes any Attack order to hold.  If at the end of either player's turn, all of the Battalions in an Army are shaken, the Commander must concede and withdraw.

If a company loses 1/2 of its current strength, 1/3 if conscript, 2/3 if elite,  to one round of shooting, then it will retreat 2d6" and become pinned until it rallies. A pinned unit may not move or shoot except in melee.

Rallying. To rally a pinned company, roll 1 die for each officer or nco present at the start of the turn. If any of the dice score 4,5 or 6 the pin is removed. -1 if conscripts, +1 if elite.

Advanced rules:  Still to come: entrenching, air support, parachuting, amphibious ops, mines, and more


  1. See - it wasn't that difficult, was it? I look forward to seeing some games played with these.

  2. Ross Mac,

    Very interesting. i am looking forward to seeing them in action in the near future.

    All the best,


  3. Tim, Bob, I am reminded of an old saying about haste and waste but its been an interesting experiment thus far.

  4. Ross, I'm not at all interested in 20th century gaming but your rules seem quite workable.

    -- Jeff