Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grant's "Battle" and World War II Wargaming

I have been re-reading Charles Grant’s “Battle: Practical Wargaming.” It is a good set of rules for World War II wargaming. In fact, three of my mini games are based on it. (Hans und Panzer, Hans und Panzer Afrika, and Krunch a commie - all available here:  )

Over the years, I have read and tried several rule sets for the World War II to Modern Era. My first set were the Featherstone rules given in Wargames: Battles and Manoeuvres with Model Soldiers. (British people routinely mis-spell words like maneuvers. They clearly do not understand nuances of the language.)  Nice for a start, but lacking. His second set in Battles with Model Soldiers were actually limited to model vehicles and artillery made by Airfix at the time. So it was on to other rules.

Somehow I had missed Charles Grant’s rules at the time. I did not get a set until almost 20 years ago. Needless to say, I liked them instantly. There were a few bugs, but for the most part, they were excellent. Granted that the original rules were a bit spare, insofar as they only covered a few vehicles in the last year of the War. Extrapolating values for other vehicles and guns was relatively easy. The rules themselves were practical and allowed for a fun game without a lot of useless complexity.

One glitch was how Grant handled the differing armor on the sides and rear of a tank. I prefer a more realistic scenario: In mine, tanks hit frontally are judged by the full Defensive value for that particular vehicle. A side shot is given 2/3 the Defensive Value, and a rear shot is ½ the value.  This takes into account that tank drivers will try to minimize vulnerability insofar as the sides, so that 2/3 is more reasonable than ½. We have to take account of actual armor thickness and the way they were operated. My addition fits the real nature of armored vehicles.

When reading older works, be aware of the hobby situation at the time. There were fewer models available, and that includes vehicles, artillery and infantry. Airfix was the most common source for infantry and 1/76 scale tanks up until the early 1970s. Fujimi emerged around 1972 (that’s when I saw my first Fujimi kit - a King Tiger) Matchbox came a little later. ROCO had the largest line of tanks and had been imported into the US and UK since 1961.
Roskopf was out there, but was not as available in the US.

Everyone made a Sherman or two, Panzer IIIs and IVs, a Tiger, a panther and a T34. You could get them in 1/72 ( Hasegawa ), 1/76, 1/87 and 1/100.  Try to find a Nashorn, Hummel or M7 “priest” and you were out of luck. And while it was easy to get infantry for the major components, they still had not come out with the smaller contingents. You could find US, German and British infantry as well as paratroopers and Commandos, but it was a while before you could find a set of Cafones (Italians) or a Box o’ Bogans (Australians). Folks had to substitute, convert, or make do.

Then there were the “new” 1/285 scale tanks. What fun is wargaming when your tanks are half the size of N scale?

Wargaming itself was about to get cluttered. There were many sets of rules being published. Featherstone, Gygax, Scruby, Grant, Bath, Barker, Quarrie, and a host of others were churning out rule sets for a variety of eras and conflicts. By the mid-70s, there was a glut of rules. All you had to do was walk into the “new” Compleat Strategist and be overwhelmed by the available games and rules.

But I still prefer the old-school rules.

Hans und Panzer, Hans und Panzer Afrika Korps (1939 - 1943) and Krunch a Commie (Cold War ) contain updated Defense Values and Attack Values as well as Speed and Movement tables compatible with Grant’s Battle rules. They cover many of the tanks, other vehicles and anti-tank guns of their respective eras. These games are also compatible with each other.


There are three subtle jokes included in the above article. Did you catch them?

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post Thor. "Wargaming itself was about to get cluttered" with the plethora of rules systems available nowadays is an understatement.