Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Copy of old post to rec.miniatures.historical (really needs updated) from late 2004

WW2 - the ultimate pointless rules review by Gary Barr

Hi all

Having injured my leg (trying to act the young lad) I am stuck at home andkilling time and also having just purchased my umpteenth set of WWII wargamerules (Blitzkrieg Commander) I thought I would indulge myself in a personalmini-review of the WWII rules sets I own for the delectation (or otherwise)of list members. Some hoary old sets (ahh the nostalgia) and several newones with a brave few in between.I have conducted review in distinctly unscientific fashion with bit ofwaffle and overall grading from A to E (a being best) I also give them whatI call the Tiger Test (TT) as the first thing I usually look at in any setis how vunerable/tough a Tiger 1 is vs Shermans/T34 within the game system(ie how hard or easy to brew up and at what ranges) all this is of coursetotally a personal view...................

Blitzkrieg Commander - brand new,read thru once but not played as yet,apparently based in part on some Fantasy (hiss boo) set these are a verynicely produced set. Very much in the trend of playable systems with easy tolearn mechanisms and a good deal of abstractions. Look to give a good fastmoving game and will be trying them out soon.Seem best suited to 6m/10mm and default 1 base = Plat/Troop Comes with builtin army lists and scn generator and point system. Webpage/forumGrade : B TT : B

Spearhead - one of my fav sets of rules (that bloke Conliffe can sure writeinnovative rulesets or what !?) allowing loads of kit on tabletop withoutbogging down. Nice historical feel to games (although Huns are favoured atad), good tactical options abound. Nice touches such as target prioritiesand suchlike. Additional scn booklets available several scns included.Bestfor 6mm/10mm with 15mm at a stretch. 1 base = 1 Platoon. Webpage/forumGrade : A TT : B

Crossfire - another Conliffe set with some very radical ideas. Superb forInf combat giving a real 'feel' to actions less successful for AFVs. No setturn sequence with constantly changing iniatiative, system for LOS/Firingtakes bit of getting used to and requires lots of terrain (numerous smallitems). Includes basic army lists and scn generator. Additional Scn bookletadds some nice rules. Best for 15mm+ as games quite petit. 1 base = 1section/squad.Webpage/forumGrade : B TT : C

Battle ! Practical Wargaming - venerable set by late great Charles Grant oneof my first ever sets, great read and hardback too ! antiquated style butalways gave good games. No points system,no scn generators but does includecouple of scns. Complex (or rather convoluted) systems in some respectssimplistic in others. Definately a collectors item nowadays. Firmly designedfor 20mm+ (or 1/76th 1/72nd to use its terminology) although most vehiclesin photos were old Roco Mini-Tanks which were (are ?) closer to 15mm scale.Inf/Afvs are individuals. Simultaneous turns seem odd now.Grade : C TT : C

World War II Wargaming Airfix Guide No 15 - an early Bruce Quarrie set withupcoming trend (at that time) for multiple charts with multiple modifers formost aspects of the game. Good deal of info in a slim volume. Slow playingwith several inconsistancies especially in area of gun ratings. Not a set Iused much. Units are individuals. Designed for 20mm (ie Airfix 'midgies').No scns but does include points system another simultaneous turn set.Grade : D TT : D

Battles With Model Tanks - another old hardback book with fairly generic setof simplistic Tank combat rules (Inf negelected) by Don Featherstone/KeithRobinson. General in scope (covers 1917 to late 1970s) but with severalscns. Nice read but not much as ruleset. Designed mainly for 20mm and withunits as individuals in the main.Grade : D TT : D

Tank Battles In Miniature 1 A Wargamers guide to Western Desert Campaign1941-42 -Another Featherstone tome in hardback. Super read especially thebackground stuff and since Don actually fought in the theatre it all hasthat ring of truth. Quite complex rules included with some odd stuff likethe 'Movement Board' with little paper tanks on pins to simulate problems ofmovement in desert. Designed with 6mm in mind but with individual Afvs.Grade : C TT : B

Tank Battles etc 3 A guide to NW European Campaign - another Quarrie set,another hardback. Another superb read with lots of info and flavour. Rulesare essentially an update of the Airfix guide stuff. Focus is on Tank combatwith 6mm in mind, Inf rules are included but are tad cumbersome (too muchbookeeping) and the Air-Ground rules (by Mike Spick) are a game untothemselves. Simultaneous turns caused a lot of problems playing thisespecially as one had to keep track of ammo useage and Rof combined withvarying turret speeds (all seemed rather intricate for 6mm).Grade : C TT : B

World War II Rules (simplified) - where did I get these ? a Bath WargameSociety set very basic in outlook (being a phamplet !) which I neveractually used but which surprisingly covered most aspects.Grade : D TT : D

Tactical Commander - A Tabletop Games set (I think there are updatedversions to my original) and very much in early 1980s mould (ie lots ofdetail lots of charts modifiers etc) designed for 20mm skirmish games.Another simultaneous type (although this is not really defined but assumed).Inf combat well covered and reasonably playable but I found the Tank combatalways seemed to need a score of 6 to achieve hit vs any target. Someoddities in Gun/Armour relationshpis did not help. Individual scale.Grade : C TT : D

Combined Arms WWII Infantry-Armour Actions - another TTG set designed for6mm scale primarily. Again heavy on stats/charts. This was a set I used fora long time and which I tweaked heavily. Slow playing due to large amountsof chart/modifier useage which seemed so accurate at the time but withhindsight seems so needless. Author (Ian Shaw) also done some seperate armylists (which covered this set plus WRG and Newbury). AFVs were individualswith Inf grouped as Section bases.Grade : C (more like A when I was using them) TT : B

Armoured Warfare for 1/200th scale - set produced by Skytrex to accompanytheir 10mm range. Units were indidviduals. Some rather different rules(first use I recall of multiple dice for MGs etc in place of multiplemodifiers) especially the ordinance firing system wherein firer had topredict the range in mm to target and depending how far out guess was thismodified strike values. Designed for 10mm but easily useable for largerscales.Grade : C TT : B

Firefly WWII 1/300th & 1/200th Battlegroup Actions - set by Bruce ReaTaylor. Again another 1980s set heavy on charts/modifiers. Was direct rivalto WRG sets with more depth/detail. Included several army lists includinghistorical units. Again a slow playing set due to number of charts etc Ineglected it in favour of Combined Arms but if I recall it was a ratherpopular set (at least in UK). Individual Afvs and Inf groups (ratedseperately forindividual nations/types)Grade : C TT : B

WRG Rules for Armour & Infantry 1925-1950 - WRG set another of my firstsets. At the time a rather simple set but playable. Suffered IMHO from usualWRG predisposistion to competition rules. Inf was generic (no bonuses forMG42s in this) the little bases of 4 made them fiddly and annnoying. List ofmanufactuers etc to rear makes for nostalgic reading. Overall a set Imaligned at time in many ways but which actually generates a better 'game'than those I used. Primarily for 6mm (only small scale at time). IndividualAfvs and Inf groups (half-sections).Grade : B TT : C

Micro-Warfare - another Skytrex set issued in early days of 6mm and designedfor their use. A set with very strong board wargaming influence (in factadvocated use of hexes to play on). Simple in outlook and another set Inever actually used. Units were Platoons/Troops with some record keeping totrack casualties.Grade : E TT : E

GI Commander 1939-45 - A US set (one of first I had seen/purchased) viaNavwar. Complex (especially the advanced rules) with lots ofcharts/modifiers and odd fractional units stats (eg some Inf had hit factorsof 1.25). Boardgame influence detected but not specified. 6mm design basiswith inherent army lists. The need for fast mathmatical brain made them notmy cup of tea.Grade : D TT : D

Command Decision (editions I, II & III) - a set designed for 20mm (all FrankChadwicks photos show this scale) another US set which distinctively came ina box but good set for 6mm. Simultaneous sequence but use of order chits wasexcellent and made HQs feel very important. Played this a lot but found that(unlike Spearhead) it was suited to none too large games or turns took a lotlonger than the 15mins real-time the rules advocated. Good system of hitsrelated to troop grade and morale (expanded in later editions) but way toomuch firing in a turn (3 possible firing phases with multiple Rof) this wasaddressed in 3rd edition (units only fire in 1 phase). Whilst loving theorder chit system in someways it was too flexible as units could literallyzip across the battlefield. 1 Base = 1 Pltoon/TroopUsed to be supported with quarterly Command Post magazine. Webpage/forumGrade : B TT : C

Cambrai to Sinai 1917-1967 Newbury Rules - another early set covering 6mmand 20mm (parallel rules contained). Another set with convoluted systemswhich I found slowed games down to a crawl and were seldom finished.Numerous charts/modifiers. Covered all aspects of WWII. Seperate Army listsavailable. Not a favourite with me this one. Individual AFVs and Inf (groupsat 6mm scale)Grade : D TT : D

No 1 Wargames Command rules for WWII - a set for 6mm I played a lot prior tofinding Combined Arms (which had similar firing/armour system). Inf a bit ofan afterthought (rules came with 1cm square cut-out counters in lieu offigs). Unique morale system termed IKB (I know better) wherein unit failingmorale was subject to fairly random movement which lead to some oddsituations. A campaign set was released (Sword Beach) with updated rules.Afvs were indidviduals Inf in groups but organized at 1/3rd historical basis(ie 1 coy eqivalent to 1 Bttn etc).Grade : C TT : B

Berlin Or Bust - slim set designed for skirmish games. Nothing groundbreaking but nothing odd either. Another set not used (rather a few likethis in my collection !). Individual Afvs and Inf.Grade : D TT : C

WRG Rules 1925-1950 Platoon to Battalion level - updated from original set(published 1973) with a good deal more detail especially in realm of Commandand Control and use of Tactical Modes (I found this cumbersome). Much moreaccurate than old set at sacrafice in playability. Covers all scales butbest suited to 6mm. Indidvidual Afvs Inf in groups. Includes army lists (inrather cryptic form) and again shows its competition bent.Grade : C TT : C

Korps Commander WWII The Road To Berlin - another BRTaylor/TTg set aimed atplaying higher level games (basic units being Coys) but with usual masscharts/modifiers. Very cumbersome mechanics in many respects and slow.Includes some nice Divisional organizations and as per Firefly a fewhistorical. A set I wanted to like (who doesnt want to field Corps/Division)but found wanting.Grade : D TT : D
World War II Infantry Action - Newbury set designed for skirmish 20mm games.Lots of charts/modifiers with obvious emphasis on Inf. Way too much detailfor my tastes with even small games bogging down. Some generic scns andpoints system.Grade : D TT : D

Operation Warboard - my first set of WWII rules (in fact my first set ofwargame rules) firmly for 20mm games (quirk of illustrations are use ofunpainted Airfix etc figs/vehicles and chalked on roads polysthrene hillsetc). Another nice read (rules in 1970s were very much books) with lots ofbackground/explanation. Units are individual Afv/Inf. Simple firing rulesand Tank rules with several inconsistancies. Use of numerous plastic grids(which one had to make oneself) the MG grid being a real beast. Great fun toplay (especially for a 12yr old) and a good grounding (along with Battle!)in the great hobby of wargaming.........Lots of nostalgia with this set affects grading.Grade : A TT : C

Clash Of Armor Rules for Grand Tactical WWII - set for 6mm (could use10/15mm) with some interesting features such as rolls to activate individualformations (graded per Coy and more importantly by its Commander). Great wayto show difference in quality of units and yet allow reaction to enemy moves(at cost for subsequent moves). However system was rather slow and thecombat mechanisms rather odd at times (total firepower factors divided bytarget defence factor with limits to totals). Couple scn booklets available.1 base = 1 Platoon. Had a lot of potential but never really got to gripswith rules (mainly as more playable Spearhead available)Grade : C TT : B

Where The Iron Crosses Grow - set bought at Wargames Show (Colours atReading I think) designed for 15-20mm skirmish games. Another set withnothing new but nothing bad either. Strangely for skirmish set the Inf rulesare tad underwritten (ie unclear in cases) and seemed taken from TacticalCommander set in large part. The title and drawing of Tiger on frontprobably attracted m to this set :-)Grade : C TT : B

Rapid Fire - designed as a fast play set for 15/20mm stuff they do exactlywhat they say. Definately a highly playable set nicely produced (who failsto drool at all the colour photos of 20mm kit !?) simplistic in mostrespects (especially for my tastes the Gun/Tank rules). A big following inUK and several excellent supplements available. 1 bases = 1 platoon (notstrict scale). Such playable type rules are very much the trend in recentyears.Webpage/forum.Grade : B TT : C

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright - produced as set for 1/200th scale but playableas 6mm or 15mm. Another Colours (or was it Warfare) purchase. Once again theInf rules are tad unintelligible to me (maybe its me or authors are assumingtoo much ?) and rules are overall neither good bad or indifferent. 1 base =individual AFV/Inf section. Another set not played.Grade : C TT : C

Blitzspiel - slim booklet of simple rules another Show purchase. Fairlybroad armour and gun groupings and no C&C rules of note. Bit like cut-downWRG 1973 (but why bother) certainly playable. 1 base = 1 platoon.Grade : C TT : D

Overlord rules for the Normandy Campaign - a set designed for 10/15mm (20mmok) covering a finite period (June-August 1944) and location. Author BarrieLovell has some great ideas and produced one of my favourite rulesets (nicebalance between gameplay and level of accuracy at scale aimed for). Infcombat system is reminiscent of Squad Leader in some ways. The morale/combatrules seem to generate rather historical occurrences (my usual opponnentoften bemoaned how his Inexperienced US Troops basically went to ground(Pinned) when fired upon) which to a point can lead to rather poor 'games'(a good scn is key). AFV combat could tense but with 1" = 10 yds groundscale even heavy Tanks are vunerable on average tabletop. Order chits arenicely used in the game. Quite chart/modifier heavy but not overly complexand with games of 1-2 coys plus supports quite playable. 1 base = 1 Afv orInf group (half sections). Comes with Coy organizations and a single scn.Interestingly the author is now an advocate of Crossfire. Basic scnsincludedand points system.Grade : A TT : B

Grey Storm Red Steel Tactical Combat On the Eastern Front - followup set toOverlord by Barrie Lovell and another fine set this time covering a muchgreater timeframe and theatre. Really Overlord Deluxe this set retains thebasic systems of prevoius set but with numerous echancements. Order chitsare still there but Ivans must place theirs first giving Huns moreflexibility. Inf now fire not as individual groups but total firepower tocover a gridded oval area. Tank combat has been filled out (and complicated)greatly and several eastern Front aspects added (much more depth to fightingin buildings and melees). Includes a nice scn generator/pints system whichusually sees the Huns well outnumered (one memorable game saw my 300pts ofHuns reduced by half whilst Ivan 300 pts was tripled !!). 1 base = 1 Afv orInf Group (half-section).Grade : A TT : B

Great Battles Of WWII Volume 1 The Canadians in Europe - set from (surprise)Canadians Wargamers Group set a Divisional level with basic stands beingCoys. Interesting concept for games with Forming Up Points and passage oftime being important. Combat system abstracted due to level played and gamesare rather big overall (1 scn advocates having a rolling 15ft paper map)Designed for 6mm. Terrain so abstracted that game plays best on boardgamestyle map. Includes background on Cannuck army and several historical scns.Grade : C TT : C

Battalions In Crisis ! Small Unit Combat in WWII - a US set (apparently aclone of Tractics ?) for 20mm skirmish games. Lots of charts/modifiers(including individual charts for each Afv). Tank combat was reasonably good(if tad modifier intense) but I found Inf combat too slow for anyhting butsmallest games. Artillery grid was slow to use as it tracked individualshells (mind you older Battle and Op Warboard also done this). Lots ofdetail included but a too high a loss of playability for me. Couple ofexpansion modules and I think a bi-monthly magGrade : C TT : B

Abteilung 15mm WWII Battle Rules - Set produced by Peter Pig (RFCM range) toaccompany their 15mm figs. Generic unit types and simplistic combat togarner a playable game is the aim. Some nice ideas for setting up scns butthe overall system weighed too much in favour of fastplay IMHO. No hard andfast scale but basically 1 unit = PlatoonForum.Grade : C TT : D

Military Operations '39-'45 - another show bought set (by Agema) with againsome interesting concepts but not radically different enough to garner muchplay on my tabletop. Production values rather low (pages all photcopies) butincluded army lists for most nations.1 base = 1 platoonGrade : C TT : C

Panzer Tactics Rules For Coy and Bttn Battles - another US set (the supportI give their economy eh ?) with an Armour combat system I enjoyed (more asomething of a throwback to 1980s rules) but an Inf system I did not (cardcounters advocated again with some stacking !). 6mm design emphasis. 1 base= 1 Afv or Inf fireteam (bit US-centric).Grade : C TT : B

TAC : WWII Rules for Brigade Level Actions - another low production value UKset with some nice C&C concepts but again rather tedious to play (mainly dueto number of counters required). No advantage to this set to my mind(enfeebled as it may be) over Spearhead and not played. Several campaign scnbooklets available.Grade : D TT : D

Cross of Iron Eastern Front Skirmish Rules - skirmish set set a very lowlevel (individual figs stats) in sort of RPG setting (influence of filmobvious). Several scns included. best with 20mm + (I would think great fornew 28mm stuff). Low production values (included some pasted in pages.Another set read but unplayed. Afv rules give scant attention.Grade : C TT : D

Take Cover !! Tactical Approach to WWII - Brittania Minis set nicelyillustrated with their figs etc. Very much a rival to Rapid Fire being ofsimilar ilk/scale/playability with some tweaks. Ambush rule is nicelyimplemented but overall combat rules are simple/generic. Includes 2 scns andsample lists but other army lists are available seperately. As per RapidFire they are fastplay with 1 base = 1 platoon/ Inf group in sixes forfiring. ForumGrade : C TT : C

Mein Panzer WWII Edition - original set (new updated set) from US using amodular system (ie if you want to lay only Tanks or without Arty etc).Combat was quite well done (not too many modifiers) although some statsseemed off (that Tiger Test again) but Inf very brittle indeed (addressed Ibelieve in newer version). Complete with army lists and couple of scns. 1base = 1 Afv or Inf squad another set that I did not use much as better setsaround. Webpage/forumGrade : C TT : C

Tiger Tiger - Another show purchase and another low end photocopy (DTP ?)type. Actually quite comprehensive with Armour combat system the authorseems to intend is used in Rapid Fire or similar but since its not muchdifferent/better I cant see why. Inf rules are again bit lacking. 1 base = 1platoonGrade : C TT : C

Piquet II Point Of Attack II The Blitzkrieg - PK seems to be a system gamerseither love or hate I quite like it for its unpredictabliity but was insureof how system would work for WWII (having previously tired it for Horse &Musket). I was pleasently surprised that games play as well as they do. Theinitiative/card system is of course unique (house rule I like is to rollD12s not D20 and higher roll gets to choose to go first or second with bothplayers playing out their respective rolls and disregarding the 'clock').POA gives rules stats for 3 levels of play Squad/Platoon/Battalion (with Coylevel available on web) and can use any scale of minis (I used 15mm forsquad and 6mm for others) and each level plays similarly only with fewtweaks and differing ground scales/ranges. Combat system is fairly simple interms of stats (usual dice type modifiers) and if using random unitselection rolls it can lead to odd but plausible unit matchups combatresults combine damage and morale outcomes. Lack of any spotting ruleswhatsoever seemed odd but within the PK context it works ok (as seeingsomething does not mean you have available action points/cards to deal withthem). The coverage of several levels of play in one set is nice and offsetsinitial expense of rules themselves. PK is a highly tweakable set (tweakingseems actively encouraged in fact !). Webpage/forumGrade : A TT : C

Battlefront WWII - yet another US set (I really ought to get a medal orsomething !) by authors of Fire And Fury Acw set (and a fine set they aretoo). Presentation is excellent with numerous illustrations/diagrams and afun set of individual unit cards (with colour (sorry color) photos. Scale isstrange in that AFVs represent 1-2 vehicles (half-platoons). Initial rulesinclude Huns/Yanks/Ivans late war with Brits and other timeframes inexpansions. System uses a derivative of dice modified action points foractivations and combat is simple but effective combined with moraleoutcomes. Overall a nice set of rules but lack of Brits in initial releaserelegated these to my read but not played much bunch. Webpage/forumGrade : B TT : C

Panzer Marsh ! - set by North Hull Club with nice glossy presentation (anice bi-product of Rapid Fire is this trend in UK rules now) designed for20mm stuff (some nice pics of Hull blokes stuff inside). Somewhat of athrowback to older style rules with strange system of ranging sticks forshooting etc. A set I again read but not played as they seem no advantageover other sets I had (why then did I buy them you ask.....who knows !).Includes late war army lists with others available seperately. WebpageGrade : C TT : C

Megablitz Rules for Large Scale Actions - Set designed for very large levelgames with bases = roughly a Bttn/Regt (including POL stuff most divisionsonly need 6-10 bases !). At such a scale combat etc is very generic andsimple being mostly a case of hit points and defence points and Afvs alongthe lines of Heavy-Light.Designed with 20mm in mind but any scale possible.As with Great Battles system terrain is very abstracted at this level. Not played this set as yet. ForumGrade : C TT : D

Kampfgruppe Commander Clash Of Armor II - updated version of COA withsomewhat streamlined mechanics making gameplay a tad easier but still tooconvulted compared to Spearhead and similar.Grade : C TT : B

Battlegroup PanzerGrenadier WWII Fastplay Rules - new UK set by David Brown(of Chef De Brigade Nappy rules fame) designed for 15mm (10/20mm useable)with 1 unit = squad. Uses a derivative of DBx PIP dicing system for C&C.Fairly simple and straightforward combat systems. 2 Scns included and scnbooklet available. A set I have read and played once but intend to give atleast another outing. Webpage/forumGrade : B TT : C

Flames Of War the WWII Miniatures Game - another love or hate set it seemsbased word has it on GW Warhammer Fantasy (boo hiss) set. Nicely produced inNZ this time (nows its the world economy I support !) with lovely photos ofBattlefront Minis. Comes with mid-war lists and basic scn generator. Simplemechanics based firmly on D6 with saving throws of all things (come to thinkof it new Blitzkrieg Cmdr has this must be the fantasy rules influence?).Certainly a fastplay set seems designed ala GW to bring hordes of youthsinto the hobby and thats no mean feat or aim. Interaction between units isbasic leading IMHO to fairly stylised/samey games which publishers seems toaddress by issuing of a large number supplements with new types of kit andlist/special rules (not a fav 'tactic' of mine). Pushed as competition setfor which it is well geared. Webpage/forumGrade : C TT : C

Well thats it except to give honourable mention to numerous web-basedfree-download sets I have tried (1943, Dic Tac, etc etc) of which I amcurrently reading the SL Miniatures set (based on original Squad Leader/COIboargame) and of course to several boardgames/PC games from which I havetried to steal ideas/systems/stats over the years (Steel Panthers/EF/CombatMission etc) in the search for that eluisive 'perfect rule set' :-)

"I will talk no more forever" or at least until tomorrow :-)