Originally, remainder of this post continued as some wargamer's version of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. After writing for about an hour, I was starting to bore myself. Who wants to read some mopy recollections of someone's gaming exploits from ages past? So, I thought I'd give a quick review of these various rules with only a little bit of moments of times past to put things in perspective. The advantage I have to reviewing these rules is that I used them A LOT! In fact, I used them almost exclusively until about the early-mid 90s. I don't pretend to be a wargame-rules historian. There are plenty of folks out there that can give a more complete and probably more accurate overview of the history of wargaming and the rules that were developed. My comments are as how I see them or saw them at the time.
There are three parts to the rules, plus lots of appendices. The first part is for mass battles. Troops separate out unit types into light (LI), heavy (HI), and armored infantry (AI). They do the same with cavalry. Missile fire is based on general differences in armor. Melee outcomes is based on who is fighting whom. It is easier to kill off troops lower than you but harder to kill off types higher than you. For example, it takes one LI trooper to try to take out another LI trooper, but it takes two LI troopers to take out one HI and has to roll a 6. On the other hand, the HI trooper gets to kill the LI on a 5 or 6. There is also a section on artillery both cannons and catapults. There are rules to cover sieges, and a section on national differences, but these are not all that detailed. An important part of the rules is morale. I found it complicated, or at least time consuming. Troop types are worth different points. First, you have to figure out the number of losses on each side and who inflicted more casualties, etc., etc. and then roll a D6 for a random effect, etc., and then multiply and add various numbers, etc. then you look at the differences between the two sides. The one with the higher points wins the morale test. The amount of difference determines what happens to the loser. Whew! As I recall this is what really slowed the game down, especially when you have an epic-sized game going.
The second part covers man-to-main combat. These are very similar to D&D with types of armor and different weapons causing differences in how well they do against the armor. The difference is that you use a D6. I used them several times for some skirmish battles and they seem to work well.
The third part is a section on jousting. A shield is divided up into several regions. Each jouster aims for a particular point. Depending on where you hit on the shield, you can knock your opponent of his horse. It was a lot of fun and you don't need miniatures to play.
Of the various appendices, there included a fantasy supplement. It contained a bunch of fantasy races and monsters and their stats for the mass combat rules. There were also some magic spells thrown in for good measure.
It is a D6 game. There is usual information on basing, scale, movement, and terrain. Ranges for musket and cannon fire are very important. Small arms fire is resolved using tables that compared number of troops firing with the range of their target. Better troop types got bonuses when firing. Artillery was a relationship between range and caliber of gun. For melee you compared melee factors for both sides. The melee factors for each was the number of men involved time their Melee Power, which was how effective they were. Militia has low Power, Guards had high Power. The melee resolution chart not only determined the casualties but also the morale results. They had a very large section on differences among national armies. This included overall national characteristics, tables of organization and characteristics in terms of morale and combat effectiveness. About half the book was on these subjects.
The big problem that I with the game was so much the mechanics, but with the number of figures you needed. Once you learned them and played a few times, they were not that difficult to use. These rules were before the time of one-figure-equals-100-men sorts of rules. The rules state that a figure equals twenty men. So, for a French line battalion, one company requires 6 figures, and you need 6 companies to equal a battalion. They then state that you need three battalions to equal a regiment. Nations like Russia and Austria, had even larger regiments. For a high school student, this really added up financially! Also, since I really didn't have anyone to play against, that meant that I had to provide both sides. Yes, I could have used Airfix figures, however, I felt that I would be able to use an entire set due to all the less than desirable poses that you got. I did have a few solo games, dragooning Airfix figures to fill out the ranks of 15mm. I also had one rather epic battle where I used pin heads as infantry and individual staples for cavalry stuck in cardboard bases. That was the swan song of my Napoleonic efforts.
Angriff! and Unit Organizations of WWII
The thing about these rules is that some things are really simplistic, whereas others are pretty detailed. You probably can guess which is which. For small arms fire, different stands equal different points. A stand of infantry = 1 point. If you have a HMG stand, it equals 3 points. Range is the only only modification. You then throw two dice and you get a number that is then multiplies by your total points. That is how many casualties you inflicted. Firing HE shells is even simpler. If you score a hit you automatically kill a certain number of guys based on the caliber of your gun. Melee is similar but even simpler than Tricolor. Barrages, which are not part of the basic rules, is based off of a template that you lay over the area you want to shell. You roll die to see where the shells land, and then consult a table regarding casualties. What is detailed, and to a nerdy teenager the most important aspect of the game, is armored combat. Guns have different percentages to hit based on ranges, and how much penetration they do in millimeters at that range. Tanks and other armored vehicles have all the armor values for every spot on the vehicle, in millimeters. Front, side, top: you name it, its covered. Some kids memorized baseball stats, we memorized armor values and gun penetrations. I'm sure Freud would have had something to say about all this, but we won't go there. You would think that this would really bog the game down, but it didn't. If your armies have the same tanks and weapons game after game, eventually most of the stats get committed to memory.
We had many an epic battle using these rules, but around the early 80s, Mark and I had drifted off onto different pathways of life and I had found new people to game with. I switched over to a set of rules called Jagdpanzer that took a more abstract approach to armored combat. I didn't know it, but the days of using actual armor and penetration values was about over.
This book is a precursor to to the various books that Flames of War now put out. It is not nearly as detailed as what we see today. There is also very little discussion of the organizations. No discussion meant that we took the charts literally. If the book said a platoon had 5 tanks of a certain type, that is what we used. If each US armored infantry squad had only one bazooka, than that's all it had. This is despite the narrative of Mr. McCoy. At the time, this book really helped us to at least feel like we were gaming reality rather than throwing together a bunch of weapons and battling it out. Our platoons maneuvered and operated as units; we didn't intermingle different weapons. There were no panzer divisions made up of King Tigers. We really stuck by the organizations.
I tried to come up with some sort of thoughtful conclusion, but couldn't really think of one. As I re-read them, I found that they were still pretty good rules. Granted, I can't comment on the evolution of Napoleonic rules, but I've used or read enough modern rules for both Ancients and WW2 and I think these old guys still hold up. If nothing else, gone are the days of when you bought a set of rules, all you got were the rules and not a lot of pretty, colored pictures, 3D graphical diagrams, and fancy type all bundled in a hard bound book. You can't beat a $5 rule book even at 70s prices.