Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The World War II Rules Challenge! Round I

Finally started my epic, mega-rules comparison last night by playing 2 separate games with 2 different rules sets to see how things turned out.  The results, so far, are shocking!

In this post, I'll go into the "GHQ World War II Micro Armour" rules set.  Next post I'll discuss how Pete Jones' Blitzkrieg Commander played out with the same forces and the same scenario.

This scenario pitted 5 Sherman platoons against 5 Panzer IIIJ Platoons, along with an FO on both sides, and a Battery of 105mm Towed tube artillery in direct support.  The Scenario was a meeting engagement...

In GHQ Speak, the "force cohesion level" for both sides was "15" for ze Germans, and "14" for the Yanks.

Force cohesion is GHQ's way of adding in an element of friction and you must achieve this roll or lower on a 1D20 to carry out any action...

The German force arrayed for battle.  The green dots represent movement groups.  The 222 is the Forward Observer.

My sweet Point of Contact 15mm Shermans.  Only 1 of them is detailed and weathered, but you get the idea.  They are all in 1 movement group.  The jeep behind them is the Forward Observer.

The German FO plots his fire mission.

German tank platoon and the FO swinging around towards the oasis.

The German tank platoon scanning for targets...

The yanks advancing straight up to the plotted artillery.

American FO.  Still working on the passengers and driver!

Next turn - German dispositions.  The red bead indicates it's in firing posture.  The green in movement posture.  Last turn they didn't pass cohesion and couldn't get off the hilltop.

Americans spot the Germans - and plot their artillery right on top of them!

German artillery from last turn lands a little short and the yanks have to go around it...[note this is an excellent opportunity for counter-mobility ops, forcing a turning by your enemy then nailing him with flank shots!  JUST LIKE IN REAL LIFE!!!!!
The first turn got off a little slow with the yanks advancing straight up the middle with their Shermans.  The Germans couldn't beat their own cohesion and therefore never got off the hill.
So far the GHQ rules are super-easy to follow.  All the mechanics went off without a hitch.  The Germans had a hard time getting themselves together, even with the 15 cohesion...  Fog of war - or friction perhaps?

In GHQ, movement occurs after plotting artillery, firing, and such.  In fact it's one of the last things to actually occur.  There are alot of other things that occur prior to, but as you see, everything has a purpose.  Artillery fire lands next turn after it's plotted.

Next turn, the Germans swing down with the FO 222 vehicle and a tank platoon in the hopes of getting to the oasis of trees on the map, and also getting in a flank shot on the Americans as they move forward.

So far the only beef I have is that it's a pain to keep thumbing through the book for values.  I should have made use of the unit data sheet in the back.  So far, only 1 rules research question and it's on the "posture" of FO units calling in artillery - just to answer your questions, the FO must NOT be in the movement posture to call for fire.

The American artillery falls short!  Damn deviation roll!  

German panzers in the movement posture.  I formed 2 separate "movement groups" to better the odds that they'll get off this hill!

Finally moving!  German tanks are on the move.

Dispositions turns 2-3.  Americans reach the oasis first.  German tanks / FO go stationary to fire.

American artillery plots into the lead German tanks advancing into the valley.

Americans turn 4, racing at the FO.

Fire and movement - the left German tanks fire whilst the right tanks try to move around.  The yanks get the jump on them and a knife fight breaks out.

view from the American side.
Combat is handled with a ratio chart and taking the attacker's Armor Piercing attack value, comparing it against the defender's armor, and rolling on the difference column (-2, -1, 0, 1, etc) on the combat results table.  You can get a mixed bag of results from the combat rolls - no effect, suppressed, double suppressed, disorganized, and eliminated.  By the way, if you roll a "1" on your firing cohesion roll, you get a 2 column shift on the CRT in your favor, which helped the Germans immensely.  [rule is called "The Hot Shot"]

The fight develops into 2 separate knife fights on both sides of the line.  With a small American company engaging the German FO / Panzer IIIJ platoon on the right, and a big battle developing on the American left. Now the casualties start.
As an interesting side note, combined arms is really encouraged in this game.  To achieve a kill, you need sustained "D" results or an "E" result on the CRT.  As long as all platoons are taking part in the same event, you can fire multiple times at an enemy.  It can become progressively suppressed, disorganized, and knocked out.  If you use Artillery, you have a wonderful chance of suppressing the enemy outright, then maneuver in for the kill with your own guys.
dispositions, beginning of turn 7

Lucky artillery strike.  Double-suppresses both German tanks.  They fire at +4 on the CRT now and good luck passing cohesion with a mod like that.

At the knife's edge of battle!

hot shot!  rolls a 1 and gets a column shift.  Turn 9 would prove decisive.  You can see the Panzer III knocked out.

Final dispositions beginning of turn 10.  3 German tank platoons knocked out.  The rest of the Germans bug out and head back.
Now it's time for lots of cohesion rolling, artillery strikes, and heartache.  The American AP value is 2 higher than the Germans' armour.  The Germans AP value is 2 LOWER than the American armour.  Meaning the Germans need to outflank the Americans to get a respectable shot off.  Or shoot in conjunction with their artillery, which is the best way to guarantee a kill in GHQ's WWII MicroArmour.  In this instance, the Americans end the game with more kills than the Germans thanks to their better vehicles, and at least a respectable cohesion.

So how do I rate my games?  Well for starters, simplicity and ease of learning the rules is a priority.  Some gamers like to call that the "One Brain Cell Effect."  All of the info should be readily accessible from the Quick Reference Sheet.

Next - engagement tables.  Is the combat model logical?  Does it reflect weapon strengths and the necessary analysis of the weapon's capabilities?  Does it flow into the model properly and is it "choppy" that is, is it constantly broken up into strange segments, as opposed to flowing like it's supposed to?

Realism - How is the ground scale and how does it interact with the forces, firing, and movement?  Are the engagement ranges realistic?  Is it abstracted?

Does the system model the fog of war at least with an appreciable effect on the battlefield?

Is the point system logical and easy to use?

How easy is the game to create well balanced scenarios?

One Brain Cell Effect/QRS Explanations: GHQ 3 Stars out of 4
Tables: 2 Stars out of 4
Realism: 4 stars out of 4
Combat Model 4 Stars out of 4
Game Process / Flow: 2 Stars out of 4 for "choppiness"
Fog of War: 3/4 stars for the force cohesion level and cohesion rolling, which can really affect what happens from turn to turn.  You will grow to both love and hate the 1D20...
Point System: 2/4
Scenario Design Simplicity: 4/4

Overall Grade 24/32 not bad!  There was no grade for "fun" however and GHQ remains my overall favorite World War II 1:4 Battalion / Brigade level Wargame rules set.  Huzzah!


  1. Really looking forward to rest of your 'series'
    I think the GHQ set are rather under rated set

  2. Thanks Steiner - we'll see what happens when I post the BKC review this evening.

    That being said, GHQ have always been my favorite rules set. Definitely under-rated and I have never received a good argument against them either.