Thursday, 25 February 2021

One Hour Wargames - Clash of Spears


A quick jump back 2500 years from the Cold War games I've been playing. Inspired by the "short" games at VCOW I've decided to try and play each of the three I played out with Nick. First off was One Hour Wargames and a scenario entitled Clash of Spears. Since I didn't have enough hoplites for Athenians and Spartans I changed the Spartans into Persians. Figures are 6mm. The cloth is actually gridded at 10cm, and the cards were for Nick's reference - although in the end most of his directions were of the "move that one up to the left of the other one" variety.

Here's the remote set up:

The laptop is angled so Nick can see the whole table rather than for me to see Nick! My smartphone is on a Gorilla" style tripod so I can easily move it to where the action is. Each unit has a simple label showing type and strength. We used Jitsi as it has very similar features to Zoom but no limit on call length (or I think attendees) - and although only 2 of us played we have 3 devices on. We rolled for sides and I rolled Athenian.

Expecting him to take the temple for his archers I deliberately deployed more to the S. My lights were on each flank. As we advanced his archers did indeed take the temple - but none of my troops were really in range. On my left flank my skirmishers cam up against his cavalry and lights - as at VCOW.

Unlike VCOW Nick's Persians went on the defensive, forming an open square - not something I'm sure is in the Persian Drill Book! I dispatched one of my hoplite units to help the skirmishers in their 1:2 battle, and a couple of turns the hoplites were the only ones left standing on that flank ( think the hoplites scored 16HP in one turn!).

On my right flank I tried to push the slingers out round Nick's square to get at the Persian Guard., whilst the rest of my hoplites when in against his more accessible heavies.

Casualties mounting in both melees

Nick finally let his archers leave the Temple and they came crashing down into the back of one of my hoplite units. That finally went, and I lost another in the melee with the square, so Nick had his victory conditions.

But before his archers could carry on my hoplites from the L flank, and the slingers from the R pincered the already weakened Persian Guard and wiped them away - so I had my victory conditions too!

An honourable draw I'll call it. Only took about 30 minutes, but I did forget the armour rule early on, so casualty rate should have been halved - so 60 mins would have been plenty.

A fun game again, but interestingly Nick's reaction as the same as mine to the Portable Wargame, "it felt more like chess". Certainly worth playing again and working out what works and doesn't, but more of a game in itself - a bit like I feel DBA is.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

1985 Company MegaTest - Sandhurst Current Ops - The Modern Infantry Battle


I came across this during VCOW, and what's not to like about a book with Barossa training area on the cover!


Another great book from John Curry's History of Wargaming Project range. 124pp b&w softback. The book actually has 4 rules in it , a Platoon Kriegspiel, Battalion Level (all ratios based), this one, and an IED one. There is also lots of fascinating supporting material - I wish Sandhurst had been this into wargaming when I was there - was still a dirty word then (even though Paddy Griffiths was around - never saw him, only saw David Chandler once). The Company level rules only cover 7 pages, of which 3 are the core rules and one a QRS.


As previous, but now had the British coming in broadly across the East edge, and the Russian's coming in broadly on the West edge.

How It Played

The Brits raced to Semmenstedt  first again, just occupying the buildings before the BMPs hit. The Chieftains had been assigned to Platoon Groups, and it was pretty much evens between them and the T64s, and likewise between the Scimitars which skited N and the BMPs - but again the Brits were left with minimal anti-armour (even a Milan was taken out by a T64) whilst the Soviets still had nearly a dozen BMP.

The Soviets made a determined push on the farm complex NE of Remilingen where the Brits had a Platoon (supported by the Scimitars), but the complex fell after two melees. In Semmenstedt the Brits managed to keep suppressing the advancing Soviets, and the BMPs were useful at suppressing them back. In the end the Russians got in and the first building fell. As the reserve platoon arrived to reinforce the assault ENDEX was called, with the British position effectively lost.

Overall it played quickly and smoothly and had one of the better narratives of the games.

Rules Impression

Your not going to get a lot of rules in 3 pages, but what's there works well. Simple movement, direct fire vs inf, and vs AFVs, and indirect fire and that's pretty much it. Half-a-dozen DMs for each. No air, no morale. There's not even armour and AP values - its just hit and destroy for anti-tank. Infantry fire is very much geared to suppress (6+ to suppress, 11+ to destroy - ie at least 2:1). Melees seem very unbloody - 10+ to kill. Simple, but like I say they play well.

What I think is most interesting about them is a) you get an "official" figure for things like effective weapon ranges, and also an insight as to what is seen as important - suppression, hitting (penetration or disablement assumed), ammunition (both for IDF and GPMG-SF, limited to 3/4 turns fire each. The rules really seem there to enable a TEWT ( Tactical Exercise Without Troops) and I'm sure they were played with lots of discussion about options and consequences. John's comments about the Army's aversion to dice are also interesting.


Not a set for regular play, and they probably leave too much out for anything but a very friendly game between good mates - certainly don't let a rules lawyer need them. But fascinating as a resource, and they gave as good a game as most of the others. Overall 6/10.

Once set left to play - mine!

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

1985 Company MegaTest - ColdWar3


Spotted this one when I was looking at something else on WargamesVault, and for only $13 thought it worth a punt.


113 page full colour PDF for $14 from WargamesVault. Like 3rd Generation Warfare it's obviously written by someone very keen and reasonably knowledgeable on the subject. It does include all the stats you need, and there is a downloadable free 2 page QRS.


Even more so than 3rd Generation Warfare lots of interesting facts and bits of detail get in the way of a clear presentation of the rules.

The rules are covered in typos. Some are consistent mis-spellings of military terms (NORTHTAG, reccee etc), but most are just simple typos. I chose a page at random and it had 12 typos on it - and that seems typical.

Worse, there are some factual errors (Chieftain with a 105mm gun?).

Even worse, some of the dice rolls and DMs are confused in sign, and different between rules and QRS. For instance the key "to hit" roll is 4+ for conscripts and 5+ for trained in the rules, but 5+ for conscripts and 4+ for trained in the QRS! The QRS in the back of the "updated" rules (issued today!) manages to miss Trained and Elite from the table entirely. Artillery to hit is based on the target team's skill level (just about makes sense with DF, but for IDF? And what happens if you have mixed targets under the template (which although mentioned lots I couldn't find), but then has DMs of +1 if target has gone to ground (so harder to hit) but +1 if using radar or airborne (which should make things easier).

Basically they are a mess.

Then I got a real sense of deja vu, with some bits of rules ringing bells. A quick check and I realised that this was basically Team Yankee. Google confirmed it, or at least that it is/was a "modern" version of Flames of War. Some of the vehicle/weapon stats are identical with TY, and all the core mechanics are the same. There are a few things streamlined (and generally improved), a few things made more cumbersome, and worse. But there is NOTHING that  I could see on the web site or in the rules that references this heritage even though both FOW and TY are mentioned (alongside other rulesets) in the introduction.

So had I known all this I doubt I'd have bought it.

And all this makes the "puff" at the start with a positive quote from an Army officer and lots of thanks to various military units and people even more embarrassing.


As previous, but now had the British coming in broadly across the East edge, and the Russian's coming in broadly on the West edge.

How It Played

Given all the issues this was again a bit of an abbreviated test. A bit more play than 3GW since at least all the material was there and TY was playable, even though I had to keep referring back to TY to work out what CW3 was trying to do. One change from TY is that it had "to hit" values of 3+ for WARPAC and 4+ for NATO, whereas CW3 has 4+ and 5+ respectively. That said the Chieftains rapidly finished off the T64s (both have a ROF of 2), and then only had to dodge the Saggers to start picking off the BMPs. One Scimitar also made short work of a platoon of BMPs (ROF4!). The Russians did try and launch a ground assault, with no casualties on either side on one melee, and a Soviet win on the other.

Rules Impression

Trying to move beyond the presentation issues, and without repeating the TY comments there were a few positives:

  • Direct fire was slightly streamlined, at least 1 step skipped I think
  • The Morale idea was nice, randomly determine a target number at the start, then hit it with nD6, but n reduces depending on how bad things are
  • Some nice weapon discrimination and lots of detailed weaponry (Firecracker rounds, beehive ammo!)
Oh and side order was not spelt out at all, it just says "taking turns" or "in turn" - does that mean by side or unit, and who's first. Certainly no friction.

Taking TY and adding in the better bits of CW3 would probably give a reasonable set of rules - but I'd definitely start from TY not CW3!


Disappointing on multiple counts, a pity given the author's obvious keenness and knowledge. In its current state its barely worth 3/10.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

1985 Company MegaTest - 3rd Generation Warfare


Spotted this set of rules a while ago, so thought I'd buy them for the playtest as they were only £10 for a Lulu paperback.


96pp black and white Lulu paperback - A5 sized, order from There's a wealth of information in there along side the rules, even an APFSDS penetration graph, and some nice B&W wargame photos. Some of that mixing in though does get in the way of a clear read through the rules or when you're hunting to find something. Well written though, and almost everything covered (incl ATGW, AA, Counter battery etc) although the mottled grey background to each page can make the text hard to read. Free downloadable QRS and 6mm mods. Not bad at all though, and the overall style is something I wouldn't mind emulating for my own rules when I publish them, hadn't thought of A5 and the Lulu print is pretty nice.


As previous, but now had the British coming in broadly across the East edge, and the Russian's coming in broadly on the West edge.

How It Played

I got as far as the opening tank duel before I realised that there were going to be some real problems playing it, so instead I abandoned the scenario play through and just went through the motions of trying some direct AT fire, AP fire, indirect fire and assault.

Rules Impression

I had a bit of a sinking feeling when I saw the 20x20 table for armour kills, but I decided to stick with it. Moved my units ready for the first T64 vs Chieftain, went to look up the AP and Armour ratings, and realised there weren't any. ALL the stats are in another £10 book! Now a £10 book I'm reasonably happy to buy on-spec, but £20 has probably crossed the threshold into a more deliberate purchase, and given that 20x20 matrix and a few other things I could see that this wasn't a rule set I'd play again. I guessed some values but found this put penetrations at 11+. Luckily there's a snapshot of the Leopard entry on a page on the web site, so I used that as a guide, which gave a more reasonable 9+, but really had to guess things like FV432s, Scimitars and BMPs. Then came my first infantry fire and whilst a "Squad" is given an FP rating all support weapons are in the extra £10 book, and its not clear from the rules is the Squad FP includes its GPMG or not. Indirect fire, same issue - FPs in the extra book. At that point I gave up.

From what I did manage to play:

  • Seems like tank guns can fire 3 times, and move twice - which seems excessive on an IGOUGO game, so most Chieftains were out in the first round
  • Infantry close range fire seemed cumbersome and then very ineffective. The process is:
    • Sum the FP of troops involved (which involves rolling dice for some support weapons)
    • Use a table to convert FP to dice
    • Roll the dice, total pips = potential hits
    • Roll dice for each potential hit against a To Hit value
    • If target hit roll another dice for a cover save
    • If fail the cover save roll another dice and cross reference with FP on a 6 x 20 table to see if just suppressed, fallback or destroyed (although also results for destroyed and suppressed, and destroyed and fallback!)
  • Arty uses same tables as infantry
  • There is a morale roll, but for most NATO its an automatic pass 


OK so I didn't play a complete game, and perhaps shouldn't give a rating, but there should be a clear message on the website that you need to buy the data book to play it - or give a both books for £15 deal. What I did play though just seemed to cumbersome, and the multiple actions too powerful. Overall it would probably still be only 5/10 if I had all the data to play it.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

1985 Company MegaTest - Bolt Action Reality Check


Bolt Action Reality Check is the name I give my version of Bolt Action with various house rules particularly for ranges, firepower etc. For the Modern Version I used the stats at Jay's Wargaming Madness.


My 4 page BARC QRS and Jay's 7-10 page QRS, all PDF.


Same as Team Yankee, sides reversed from the first two.

BMPs stream into the assault

How It Played

Similar pattern to the others. A tank duel which the British again lost, the Brits getting to Semmenstedt. There was a nice assault from Remilingen  which got bogged down in a flurry of pins from a Fires task. The Brits in the town weathered a Soviet 122mm strike  reasonably well, but a couple of FV432s were lost. A Soviet assault along the bottom baseline into the woods outside Semmenstedt (Bolt Action melees are viscious),  so with only the odd Milan and Carl Gustav to worry about they just stood off and started demolishing the buildings with the 73mm guns on the 8 remaining BMPs.

The attack out of Remilingen bogs down in a hail of 105mm HE

Rules Impression

That played pretty well, I do like the Bolt Action pin mechanic. Still bits of BARC I'd like to tweak and I need to integrate Jay's modern stuff into it too.  Playing it at a Company scale worked well, I activated at the Platoon level but let each section do its own action. I do need to think about pins, as they have to be allocated at section level to have the proper effect, but then when you roll to activate what do you take - I think I took the worst section each time and that seems a reasonable compromise, but then if you pass do you only take 1 off that section? 


As already mentioned (I think) adding the 7DTTR activation mechanism on top of the BA dice, and then Battlegroup:NORTHAGs Battle Rating ENDEX system could give a very nice game. Good but still worth improving on. Overall 8.5/10.


VCOW21 - Conference and Gaming Report

WW2 Brigade Commander via Zoom

This last Friday/Saturday/Sunday was the weekend of the Virtual Conference of Wargamers, and event usually held physically in the summer by the Wargame Developments Group. I've never got to COW, but last summers VCOW was a cracker so I was really looking forward to this 2nd VCOW, and it sounds like it will now be a regular fixture, running every February - wonderful.

This VCOW had a lot more sessions, and a lot more of those were games. Having watched several US wargaming conventions on Little Wars TV recently it seems that VCOW (and I expect COW) has more in common with those than UK wargaming shows, and certainly than a more conventional conference (except perhaps Connections).

Lecture wise there was an excellent double-header opener looking at Counter-Insurgency wargames, the second being given by Brian Train, creator of the Afghanistan boardgame A Distant Plain. There was another excellent presentation by Nick Riggs on his PhD work looking at how we model (badly) tactical actions. The conference kicked off with a virtual battlefield tour of Brecourt Manor (of Band of Brothers fame) by someone who conveniently lives just down the road from it.

Game wise this is what I managed to fit in between Friday evening and Sunday lunchtime:

  • Seize Warsaw - a Brigade level blind kreigspiel on Discord and ConceptBoard on the German assault on Warsaw on 7th Sept 1939 - I never fired a shot but the Germans did well
  • The Six Week Naval War, 1789 - a country level blind kriegspiel of naval conflict between Britain, Spain and France - we got well beaten as the French 
  • Lockdown and the Portable Wargame - a talk on the Portable Wargame by its designer Bob Cordery and then the chance to play in out in a Zoom'd ACWesque encounter in 25mm - we won narrowly but I must admit the rules seemed very abstract
  • In the Heart of America - Buffalo hunting as a native American with a great card mechanic and 54mm sized toys (just). Would be a great demo game at a show.
  • WW2 Brigade Commander - Brigade level open wargame with Zoom on a 6x6 hexon grid with 6mm models - superb and my battalion took both the objectives! Will run my own games so watch the blog.
  • Politics By Means of Pointy Sticks - Ancients game using Zoom and the One-Hour Wargame rules (and 15mm?) - great fun, superb narration and we won again! Again will play my own games.
  • Papal Conclave 1492 - a political game with Zoom and lots of Zoom breakout rooms for secret (and not so secret) meetings, great fun (and I didn't get elected Pope!)

And here are a few more photos - Zoom's not very exciting I know!

Politics by Means of Pointy Sticks

The Portable Wargame

Nice TTS Op Martlett DLC being used for a wargaming PhD (!)

A superb conference with a great range of games. Roll on the main COW (in some form) and VCOW 2022.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Mobile Phone Desert Houses


When I got a new iPhone a while ago (I think it says iPhone 4!) I thought that the box it was in was a) sturdy and b) nicely proportioned and sized for a 28mm house, so I squirrelled it away, and the acquired another one somewhere along the line. With wet lockdown January weekends to fill I decided it was about time I turned them into those houses. The start point is above, cutting slit windows, door and a ceiling trapdoor.

Then I used some scrap foamboard to make the parapets, and added some small bits of MDF for the ends of the wooden joists. I also had  as lightly splayed box from some Christmas chocolates that I thought might make a useful SF building.

Everything then got a black spray under coat outside, and probably more importantly in.

Everything then had a good smear of tile grout & fix.

At about this point I realised that the MDF had been two-ply and the top ply kept breaking off as I roughly handled the models putting the grout on - so the joists ended up shorter than I'd planned.

Then a sand down. In retrospect I think I'd have sanded a bit harder - I need a Dremmel or something.

Then the paint job. I decided to try two different styles, so one pair had a main coat of Homebase Earthy Clay then heavily dry-brushed with Potter's Clay, whilst the other pair had Potter's Clay as the base coat with Peace as the highlight.

In retrospect there wasn't really enough difference between the Potter's Clay and Peace, whereas Potter's Clay nicely toned down what I initially thought was a rather dark Earthy Clay. A touch of Vallejo Mahogany Brown for the joists and all was done.

They're not going to win any prizes, but seem to me to be a perfectly serviceable set of desert houses for my next 28mm skirmish game.

1985 Company MegaTest - Team Yankee


I've never actually played Flames of War, or have a copy, but I bought Team Yankee partly because it was another WW3 set, but mostly because of the excellent looking Iron Maiden BAOR supplement. There's some quite nice scenario chrome in both books, but having got the sense of FOW/TY being a bit of a tank-park game I realised I ought to actually try it out myself.


122pp full colour hardback main book (Soviets and Americans) and 50pp full colour hardback BAOR supplement. 2pp QRS at the back of main book, reasonable layout of rules.


Essentially the same as the last two, but I swopped the British and Soviet board edges round. Company Group on either side as before. No attempt to use points!

How It Played

With the swop of sides the Brits got to Semmenstedt first. Again Chieftain vs T64 tank duels dominated the early game - and I kept the same "tactical" separations as before so no tank parks. Again the Chieftains came of worse. As the Brits dug in around Semmenstedt an artillery strike mauled the units in the woods. A direct assault out of Remilingen ended up with a lot of burning BMPs. Two platoons of BMPs then rolled in from the West, supported by the artillery and took the wood, and it was time to call a halt. yet again with the MBTs gone the Soviets are left with an armful of BMPs with 73mm/ATGW and the Brits just have a few Milan and Carl Gustavs (roll on Warrior!).

Rules Impression

To be fair, not as bad as I'd feared. That said....

Very old school IGO-UGO. For some reason all Brit units are 4+ to hit and all Soviet 3+ with no real reason for it. Once you've hit you roll for save, then you often have to roll for firepower. Tank ranges seem short (4x AK47, so 800-1200m?). Similar Gun Factor+D6 > Armour Factor to 7DTTR. Repeated "free" attempts to get your artillery on target. No real difference between ATGW and gun fire. No suppression. No friction, no spotting. Nothing seemed really broken though.


More playable than I expected, but nothing innovative or to lift up from being a very simple rule set with one to many dice rolls. If I was looking for a "starter" set I think I'd prefer 7DTTR. Overall 5/10.