1943
BATTALION LEVEL GROUND COMBAT FOR WWII

 
[1 Introduction]   2 Movement   3 Firing   4 Morale   5 Assault   6 Barrages

Bases & Markers · Terrain · Unit Types · Game Formations · Troop Quality · Turn Sequence
 

These rules are designed to simulate combined arms combat during World War Two using scale miniature figures for game play. As a player you represent battalion, regimental or divisional commanders who must maneuver your various combat units against the enemy. You are also faced with elements outside of your control such as heavy artillery support, air superiority and defensive positions. These variations enforced by the game setup system allows the possibility of both tantalizing mismatches and dead-even slugouts. After all, field commanders are rarely able to work out evenly matched scenarios with their enemies, so be prepared... you never know exactly what's coming next!


« 1.1 Bases & Markers
In order to play 1943, all infantry, towed artillery and small vehicles such as motorcycles need to be mounted on bases made of thin wood, metal or plastic. Larger vehicles such as tanks and armored cars may not always need to be mounted, although for game play purposes each vehicle is still referred to as being on a base. Basic infantry combat is conducted with bases, not figures, so players may use any scale of miniatures in whatever quantity they prefer. Below is a chart showing some standard base sizes which were used to develop the rules, along with recommended numbers of figures per base. Note that base sizes used do not need to exactly match those shown below, and players should feel free to use their own basing systems.

Scale - Each infantry base represents twenty men, each cavalry base represents ten troopers and each weapon or vehicle base represents two pieces of equipment, except for light machine gun bases, which represent three weapons instead of two. The three different game scales which are available; small, medium and large, allow all major figure scales to be used for play. Due to the three different scales offered, all distances within the rules text are referred to in yards. The combat chart for each scale refers to all ranges in inches, corresponding to the scale distances needed to play in that scale.

Base & Range
Chart
  Large Scale
1" = 20 yards
  Medium Scale
1" = 30 yards
  Small Scale
1" = 40 yards
  Base Size Figure Scale   Base Size     Base Size Figure Scale
Troop Type   (inches) 20mm 15mm   (inches) 15mm   (inches) 12mm 1/300
Infantry   1½ x 1 2 3 or 4   1 x 1 ¹ 3   ¾ square 2 or 3 5+
Cavalry   1 x 1½ 1 2 or 3   1½ x 1 2   ¾ square 1 or 2 3+
Mortar ²   1½ x 1 1 1   1 x 1 ¹ 2   ¾ square 1 2+
Anti-tank rifle,
machine gun ²
  1 x 1½ 1 1 or 2   1 x 1 ¹ 2   ¾ square 1 2+
Towed cannon ²   1½ x 2½ 1 1   1¼ x 2 1   1 x 1½ 1 1 or 2
Motorcycle/Bicycle   1 x 1¼ 1 1   1 x 1 1   ¾ square 2 2
Small to medium
tanks and vehicles³
  none or
1½ x 2
1 1   none or
1½ x 2
1   none or
1¼ x 1¾
1 2
Medium to large
tanks and vehicles³
  none or
2 x 3
1 1   none or
1¾ x 2½
1   none or
1½ x 2
1 2
Aircraft   3 x 3 1 1   2 x 2 1   1½ x 1½ 1 1 or 2
Regimental
Command
  1½ dia.
minimum
Any Any  
minimum
Any   1 dia.
minimum
Any Any
                       
Weapon Ranges                      
Assault Weapons²   4"   3"   2"
A.T. Rifle   10"   7"   5"
Small Arms   50"   33"   25"
MG vs Personnel   50"   33"   25"
MG vs Tank   20"   15"   10"
Mortar   5" - 90"   3" - 60"   2" - 45"
Lt. Artillery (1-5) ³   90"   60"   45"
Hvy. Artillery (6+) ³   120"   80"   60"
¹ — Optional size of 11/8" x ¾" is another similar mounting which can easily be used.
² — Assault weapons include flamethrowers and submachine guns.
³ — Direct fire artillery only. Barrages have no range limit.

Game Markers - Game markers are used to track the status of combat units, and may consist of miniatures mounted on single bases, colored death caps or colored board game chits. The following list illustrates the most common markers needed for game play.

  • Demoralized: Casualty figure, red death cap or red chit.
  • Prone: Prone figure or a green chit.
  • Immobilized: Tank track segment or grey chit.
  • Damaged: Black death cap or black chit.
  • Pass fired: Firing figure or white chit.
  • Jammed: Yellow death cap or chit.
  • "No HE" tag: Small round adhesive label to mark vehicle bases which can no longer fire anti-personnel ammunition.
  • "No CP" tag: Small round adhesive label to mark vehicle bases which can no longer fire capped (APCP) ammunition.
  • Artillery Request Chits: Used to indicate artillery barrages and Airstrikes. Composed of Real and Dummy chits. See setup rules for availability.
  • Artillery Barrage Centerpoint: Any small, black, round object. Black glass "stones" used for role playing are excellent.
  • Minefield Centerpoint: Any small, red, round object. Red glass "stones" used for role playing are excellent.
  • Cleared Lane Markers: Any small, clear or white, round object. Clear glass "stones" used for role playing are excellent.

« 1.2 Terrain
The most common terrain systems used for miniature wargamimg employ flocked stryofoam which is cut into shapes used to create realistic scale battlefields. The most common system is called GeoHex, a series of modular terrain systems which are pre-cut into plateau-shaped hill segments. For game play, each hill section is considered to be one level high. Units within 40 yards of a hill's edge (the meeting line between the slope and flat hill-top) may spot and be spotted by those on lower levels, otherwise they are considered to be too far away from the edge of the plateau to establish line of sight. Treating gaming hills as the plateaus they resemble is usually the best way interpret these features. This also creates dead ground along the bases of most hills, which is another realistic effect.

To create roadways, players may either buy the GeoHex road sets, or use varying widths of masking tape to show main and secondary roads. Colored felt or cloth may be used to cover or outline the locations of woods, towns and fields. Scale trees and buildings may then be placed on these outlines. Lichen can be used to create hedges or areas of brush. Players may want to modularize changeable terrain, using hexagonal terrain sections to create the outlines of woods and square sections to create the outlines of building zones. This allows the selective removal of portions of the terrain due to fire effects and other actions. All terrain removal rules assume that players are using modular terrain sections which are roughly 60 yards across. Players not using modular terrain will want to estimate terrain removal based on this value.

Each segment of game-board buildings actually represents the outline of a block of buildings. Troops inside these areas are not actually inside a single building, they are actually in a built up area which include everything from fence-lines, plots of land and taverns to churches, cemeteries and government buildings. Make sure to consult the Terrain Chart below for general guidance on the game-specific characteristics of various terrain types. Players are encouraged to use this as a basis for creating their own interpretation of basic battlefield features.

General Terrain Effects
Terrain feature Recommended Material Movement Height Blocks LOS? Cover type
Rough? Assault through? Impassable to: Prone Stand Weight Open?
Wood buildings Light grey felt Yes Yes - ½ level Yes Yes Soft No
Brick buildings Medium grey felt Yes Yes - ½ level Yes Yes Solid No
Concrete buildings Dark grey felt Yes Yes - ½ level Yes Yes Hard No
Fire Trench Black felt
(wide, continuous)
Yes No Tracked, Horse, Wheeled 0 No¹ No Hard No
Slit Trench Black felt
(narrow, continuous)
No Yes Wheeled 0 No¹ No Solid No
Foxholes Black felt
(wide, segments)
No Yes - 0 No¹ No Hard No
Hasty Dig-in Black felt
(narrow, segments)
No Yes - 0 No No Solid No
Light Woods Light Green felt Yes Yes Wheeled 1 level Yes Yes Soft No
Heavy Woods Dark Green felt Yes No Wheeled, Tracked 1 level Yes Yes Solid No
Brush or Scrub Lichen Yes No Wheeled 0 Yes No Soft/Solid² No
Berm or Seawall - No Yes Wheeled 0 No No Hard Yes
Stone wall - No Not applicable Wheeled, Horse 0 Yes No Solid Yes
Hedge Lichen Yes No Wheeled, Horse ½ level Yes Yes Solid Yes
Stream banks Yes No Wheeled 0 No No Hard Yes
Lake or River Blue felt n/a Not applicable All 0 No No - -
Marsh or Swamp Blue/brown felt Double No Wheeled 0 No No - -
Mud Yes No Wheeled 0 No No - -
Sand Yes Yes - 0 No No - -
Cratered areas Brown felt Yes Yes Wheeled 0 No No Solid/Hard³ No
Barbed wire Special Yes Wheeled, Horse 0 No No - -

Chart Notes:
¹ — Bases which are prone within trenches or foxholes are invisible to other bases and may not fire, nor be fired upon by direct fire weapons (they may still be attacked by area weapons).
² — Bases which are prone anywhere within a scrub/brush area may still fire and be fired upon, with both parties suffering the appropriate terrain modifier for solid cover (-2) as well as all other applicable modifiers. Bases which are standing within a brush/scrub area are considered to be in soft cover.
³ — Cratered areas are a hybrid cover class. They only offer cover to units which have gone prone while within the cratered zone. Otherwise, these zones are considered to be open terrain. Upon going prone in a cratered zone, the player controlling the unit must declare whether it is "engaging" or "hiding." If engaging, the unit may fire its weapons and receives a solid cover bonus. If hiding, the unit may not fire weapons, but it receives a hard cover bonus. Units which have gone prone in a cratered zone have the over the top modifier applied to their command rolls.

Chart Key:
Terrain Feature = Gives name of the terrain feature in question.  Recommended Material = Suggested materials which may be used to re-create that terrain type on a scale gaming board.  Movement : Rough? = Indicates whether that terrain feature counts are rough terrain. Moving through rough terrain costs double normal movement rate.   Movement : Assault Through = Indicates whether a unit may move through that terrain type using its bonus assault movement.   Movement : Impassable = States which troop types may not pass through that terrain type.   Height = Indicates which height class the terrain feature fits into.   Block LOS? : Prone = Indicates whether that terrain type will block the line of sight of prone infantry.  Block LOS? : Stand = Indicates whether that terrain type will block the line of sight of standing (upright) infantry.   Cover Type : Weight = States the nature of cover (Soft, Solid or Hard) offered by the terrain type.   Cover Type : Open? = States whether the terrain cover type is open. Open cover only gives protection when it lies between a direct fire weapon and its target (IE - the protected base still resides on a patch of open ground). Open cover never protects against mortar fire, area weapons or air attacks. Unless stated as open, a cover type is considered to be full cover, which cover and surrounds a base while giving protection and cover.

Barbed Wire - Units attempting to pass through wire entanglements must subtract the value of one die roll by 10 yards from their movement, remaining immobile if necessary (1D6 x 10 = yards lost). The passage of a tank base across a line of barbed wire will destroy one wire segment at the point of passage (wire should be used in segments equal to an infantry base's width). Each on-call barrage roll of a natural 6 will, in addition to other damaged inflicted, destroy one segment of wire if any are present within the barrage zone. Each pre-game barrage roll of a natural 6 will destroy the closest segment of wire, if any, within 100 yards of the unit being shelled. A 60 yard diameter cratered zone is created at the point that each wire segment is lost due to barrage fire.



« 1.3 Unit Types
There are three types of combat units available to the player; personnel, tank and aircraft. The distinctions are important to game play and should be remembered. Heavy artillery support is handled abstractly and does not require the building of units.

Personnel Units - These units are numerous but fragile. They are most susceptible to small arms fire and high explosives (Anti-personnel fire).
Infantry - The bulk of any army is the infantry. Rifle and grenade armed troops directly supported by light machine guns, light mortars, anti-tank rifles, bazooka's and sometimes even flamethrowers.
Heavy weapons - These extra fire-support bases allow the flexible concentration of firepower. Heavy, medium and light machine guns, light and medium mortars, light field guns, anti-tank rifles and flamethrowers are the most common types.
Assault Weapons - These lethal, short-range heavy weapons are used in three different ways: 1) As dedicated infantry sub-units. 2) As attachments to sub-units. 3) As individual heavy weapon bases. In all cases they have the special ability to fire on the move while participating in an assault. Assault capable weapons are: Light machine guns, flamethrowers, submachine guns and (rarely) assault rifles. Assault weapon range is 80 yards.
Cavalry - By 1939 cavalry was mostly relegated to scouting and partisan use but nevertheless remained on the field.
Transports - Lightly built vehicles such as trucks, jeeps, wagons and horse teams, they were used for moving infantry and heavy weapons. They had little or no protection and were not voluntarily exposed to direct enemy fire.

Tank Units - Tanks and their relations are heavyweight units which combine various levels of mobility, firepower and protection. Their most common shared feature is armor or other protection which shields against shrapnel, small arms fire, and other battlefield hazards. They are most vulnerable to direct fire armor piercing rounds and shaped charges (anti-tank fire), and are least vulnerable to small arms fire, high explosives and indirect barrages.
Tanks - Tracked vehicles with their main weapon(s) mounted in a revolving turret. Their primary role is to destroy other tanks and help maintain the tempo of an advance.
Tank destroyer - A tank chassis with its main weapon mounted in the hull or a light turret. It is designed to standoff and ambush more "valuable" tanks while not exposing itself.
Self-propelled artillery - Tank chassis with a shielded cannon mounted on top of the hull. Mostly used for antipersonnel fire, some are called "assault guns" and use dual purpose cannon for both anti-tank and antipersonnel fire.
Armored cars - Fast, lightly protected and armed, these wheeled vehicles are used mostly for reconnaissance.
Half-tracks - Tracked "battle taxis" used to carry infantry and their support weapons into combat areas while giving them some protection against antipersonnel fire. Half-tracks move on roads as if they are tracked, but they are affected by other terrain as if they are wheeled.
Emplacements - Pillboxes and bunkers were heavy structures used to protect infantry and heavy weapons. They were usually made of concrete or logs re-enforced by earth.

Aircraft - The ultimate expression of speed and firepower (in 1943). An air attack could not occupy an inch of ground, but when properly executed it could paralyze and terrify the enemy. During game play, the margin by which a player wins control of the air over the battlefield directly affects the number of air attacks available for close ground support. No anti-aircraft is dealt with during the game. Such factors are considered to be resolved during the air superiority and support die rolls.


«1.4 Game Units and Formations
Bases and Units - The bottom two levels of organization used for game play are bases and units (also called subunits). Each base is composed of several figures and each unit is composed of several bases. These two non-historical components, bases and units, are used to create the historical formations used in the game.

Personnel subunits always number either one, three, six or nine bases each. Each of these units may conduct one attack roll on the Small Arms Fire Chart per turn. Hence, formations with their strength divided into smaller subunits will have greater firepower, and formations composed of fewer, larger units represent less effective firepower.

Like infantry formations, all-vehicle formations are composed of subunits. Unlike infantry formations, these vehicle units are always composed of three bases, each of which may move and fire independently of each other. Vehicle subunits must follow the same base interval, command and morale procedures as infantry units.

Formations - There are two types of formations used for game play; combat formations and command formations. Combat formations are composed of subunits, and command formations are composed of groups of combat formations. The most common combat formation is the battalion, which is usually composed of several subunits. The most common command formation is the regiment, which is usually composed of several battalions. Either formation type may also have additional support bases attached to them (see below). The Infantry Units and Formations and Armored Units and Formations pages include selections of various historical formations accompanied by the numbers and types of bases, units, formations and support base types to be used for game play. Players are encouraged to conduct their own research in order to create their own favorite units along the lines of those shown.

Support Bases - Some units or formations may have extra heavy weapon or transport bases attached to them. Most common are heavy weapon bases, which may each conduct one fire attack roll per turn (some transport bases do not have weapons and therefore may not fire). Heavy weapon bases may operate anywhere within their parent formation's deployment zone as dedicated detached bases or, if they are machine guns, anti-tank rifles or flamethrowers, they may be attached directly to any base within any sub-unit belonging to the formation (label the bottom of host infantry bases to track the presence of attached support bases). The advantage of detached operation is the ability to initiate assaults, maneuver for flanking positions and/or participate in fire-storm attacks (see optional rule #301). The advantage of attaching is the relative cover offered by mingling with the infantry. Attached weapons may still fire independently of the host infantry bases.

Transport bases must always operate as dedicated (detached) bases and will rarely have any fire capability. Transport bases are allowed to standby by seeking cover anywhere within the combat zone, even if doing so exceeds the allowable base interval for that unit or formation. Transports which assume a standby position are not considered stranded, but before moving they must still roll successfully on the command chart with the Withdrawn modifier and any other applicable modifiers.

Command Bases - Every bottom level command formation must begin the game with a command base which abstractly represents its command infrastructure. A bottom level command formation is the first formation of any chain-of-command which is composed of combat formations instead of subunits. Command bases cannot be attacked by direct ground fire or assault and they may not be used for friendly spotting or attack purposes. Command bases may be attacked and damaged, but not destroyed, by enemy barrages and air attacks. The attackers must score an unmodified D or K result on the Area Weapons Chart in order to damage a command marker. Due to their special nature, command bases do not benefit from being entrenched or otherwise protected, although there is no limit to how many times they may be damaged. Each damage point scored against a command base will lower the command die rolls of all subordinate units by one point.

The most common bottom level command formation is the regiment, usually composed of several battalions accompanied by support bases. In some armies of this period however, notably the British, the bottom level formation is the brigade, which is why the rules do not simply refer to all bottom level command formations as regiments. Also, there were many specialized assault formations which enjoyed unorthodox command structures which were clearly separated from those formations around them. Only bottom level command formations are required to have command bases. Formations above this level are assumed to be large enough to maintain communications within their fronts.

Base Intervals
Personnel
(according to training)
Tanks
(according to national rating*)
Poor or worse Average Great or better Poor Good
40 yds 80 yds 160 yds Line of sight No limit
*Based on communications gear generally installed (or not installed) in that nation's tanks.
Poor = Soviet Union, France (1940), Poland
Good = Germany, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy

Intervals and Deployment - All member bases of each unit must remain within a certain range of each other during game play. This range is known as the base interval. The maximum allowable base interval is limited by the unit's training level as shown in the Base Intervals chart at right. The entire area occupied by and immediately surrounding all of a formation's component units is referred to as the deployment area. This includes areas between bases as well as a border zone surrounding the formation equivalent to the allowable base interval.

Example: An average trained unit may separate its individual bases by as much as three inches from base edge to base edge. A machine gun attached at regimental level may move anywhere within this area, but it must remain within three inches of at least one supported base belonging to a unit from the same regiment.


There is no minimum allowable base interval. Component bases of a unit may operate as close or "packed" together as the controlling player wishes, although the player must visually estimate any minimum distance condition. No measurement of minimum base interval is allowed outside of the fire phases except when required by passing fire attacks. This restriction on pre-measurement does not apply to maximum interval conditions, which may be confirmed by direct measurement at any point during the movement phase.

Support bases may not be used to "bridge" or otherwise lengthen the intervals between unit bases. Individual bases which find themselves separated from the rest of their parent unit/formation (usually due to casualties) are considered stranded. Stranded bases remain stationary until bases from their unit or formation re-establish contact by moving within the proper base interval. If a large unit is split in half in this manner, the larger half will become "in command" and the smaller half is considered stranded.

Support Range - All friendly units offer a general support to each other by their mere proximity. This is referred to as support range, which becomes an issue at several different points in the game, especially regarding setup and morale. Support range for all units is 240 yards.

« 1.5 Troop Quality
Every unit in game play is assigned a morale level and a training level. These levels affect virtually every aspect of unit performance, and have a profound effect on the outcome of a battle. Below is an outline of these troop grades, and a short description of the conditions for each.

    Morale Grades
  • Fanatic: These thoroughly indoctrinated men will obey virtually any order and can suffer the most appalling casualties while remaining operational. They are usually arrogant in the extreme, and hence have poor reconnaissance and perimeter security practices. These later habits set them up for major disappointments if defeat actually does come, and so fanatic units tend to disintegrate far more dramatically than other more stable troop types.
  • Reckless: Usually highly trained specialists who are supremely confident in their abilities, these men are truly dangerous and they know it. They will take apparently suicidal risks in the daily pursuit of their job and come back ready for more the next day. Some reckless troops lack professional training, and draw on religious or ethnic grievances to fuel their actions. The later type tend to have extremely low training levels.
  • Brave: Good, old-fashioned crack troops, firmly indoctrinated in the traditions of their particular service. Brave troops are more numerous than reckless troops, and do not have the same disregard for personal safety. But you had better pay them the respect they deserve, otherwise they will be eating dinner in your dugout tomorrow evening.
  • Steady: The result of most armies of the world, average, steady troopers are capable of dishing out plenty of punishment and absorbing a lot in return. They will however, eventually give way if put in too difficult of a situation.
  • Unsteady: The weakness of their officers makes these men nervous, because they aren't sure what's going to happen. They may be fighting an enemy they would rather not fight. They also may be new, poorly trained troops who know their immediate higher-ups are just as green and vulnerable as they are, compounding an already nervous and panicky situation.
  • Mutinous: A complete breakdown in confidence has occurred between commanders and their men. The men believe that their lives will be (and probably have been) completely wasted in futile engagements. A famous real-life example would be the many Italians who surrendered in the African desert rather than watch their aristocratic officers dine enjoyably while the enlisted men starved.
    Training Grades
  • Outstanding: Mere extensive drill and practice is not enough for these guys. They are usually practitioners of the latest tactical theories, and have an intricate familiarity with any and all weapons needed for the tasks at hand. Aggressive, strong and smart, their actions are almost always well coordinated with those of other supporting units, including artillery and other nearby specialists.
  • Great: The best training available for large formations. Great training comes with time and a generous commitment of equipment and resources for the task. Formations with great training have a much better chance of springing back from adversity than other less fortunate units.
  • Average: Again, the world norm for drill and equipment usage. Average troops will usually have a good idea what to do next, and they will always have the basic tools to do the job, coupled with the knowledge needed to use those tools.
  • Poor: These guys are trying to do the right thing, but their own government is conspiring to prevent them from doing it. They probably do not have enough equipment to train with, and maybe even not enough to fully outfit their units. There also may be other factors, such as a multi-national force which suffers from major language or class barriers and which constantly interferes despite the best marginal efforts of everybody involved.
  • Abysmal: A truly unfortunately situation. Abysmally trained troops have been thrown into a situation about which they probably know absolutely nothing. They are usually illiterate, under-equipped and/or poorly supplied. Their own government barely manages to arrange for them to be fed and clothed, and their officers are too few and too unprepared to cover the tasks at hand. In fact, the poor training of their officers may even be the main reason entire units are sunk to such a low level of efficiency.
Turn Sequence
1) Attacker movement
- Roll for lull if required by set up (remainder of turn is cancelled if lull occurs).
- Units must pass command roll before Maneuvering or Assaulting .
2) Defender fire
a) Place air strikes
b) Direct ground fire
c) Barrage casualties
d) Air strikes
3) Defender movement
Units must pass command roll before Maneuvering or Assaulting .
4) Attacker fire
a) Place air strikes
b) Direct ground fire
c) Barrage casualties
d) Air strikes
5) Casualty morale test
6) Assaults
a) assault resolution
b) rout morale test
7) Barrage
a) Remove previous barrages
b) Advance barrage cards
c) Fill vacant requests
d) Place arriving barrages


« 1.6 Turn Sequence
To begin a game, use the Setup Sheet in order to establish attacker/defender, air superiority, air strikes, availability of barrages, defenses and other optional setup features. Setting the game up like this is recommended because it uses a varied yet fair system for establishing use of heavy support. Experienced players may want to create and use their own set up system, or simply design each scenario according to their own tastes. All personnel class units may begin a game in a hasty dig-in position and/or prone. Vehicle units may start the game as moving. Once the game begins, the sequence of play is followed until a Lull occurs. See the Setup chart for complete definitions of combat lulls.



 
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