Friday, September 19, 2014

Squad Leader in Miniature? Yes, it's about time!

I know I said these plastic guys were being based for Crossfire but the other night as I was cleaning up my table I noticed the Squad Leader in Miniature rules laying around and thought this was the perfect time to try out a game.  This introductory (re-introductory??) game featured 5 American rifle squads and 3 leaders attacking 3 German rifle squads, a Light Machine Gun, a leader, and of course a hidden Stug-IIIG in the woodline!

Some of my initial observations on the game you ask?  Delighted to answer that question!  First of all the ranges prescribed are probably written for 1/285 micro-scale games so I doubled ranges for 1/72 plastics and that seemed to work much better.

The game was comfortably played on a 2.5' squared section of my table with modest terrain.

Beside range, there are some very simple things to work out here and once done, the Squad Leader system works extremely well for miniatures.  (wasn't it actually written to be a miniatures game??)  You will have to work out the morale and morale bonuses of your squads and leaders before the game as they are not conveniently printed on your wargaming stands.  Additionally, you will have to work out terrain types to ascertain the cover they provide before the dice start rolling.

Armourfast Stug-III in the woodline!  
 This game was a simple scenario of a very under-strength company attack with each US platoon fielding 2 squads along with leaders.  Think of it as a very simple patrol scenario, where the main line of resistance is located.
Looks pretty good with light dry-brushing and decals applied!  
The defensive fire rules are punishing if you dont use cover or have any heavy weapons to suppress the enemy before you move.  Mortars and MMGs help to break squads and if you can have leadership directing their fire.

In this instance, it wasn't enough to suppress the 3 German squads on the defense.  The ensuing firefight knocked out one German squad (with the LMG!!) but broke 3 US squads in the process.  Lesson learned is use a base of fire element is critical on the attack.  The other lesson is bring plenty of support weapons with you to suppress the enemy, no matter who you are.  (intrinsic squad firepower values, for the most part, include their rifles but not necessarily the LMGs for earlier war stuff.  The higher firepower squads (Americans) include the BARs with their firepower values but the Germans and Soviets are simply bolt action rifles and have a modest firepower of "4")

Move out!  2 American squads move to flank the enemy position at the outskirts of the village

broken American squad!!  Much harder to rally without the leader attached.  It took these guys 3 turns to roll the necessary "6 or below" with the 2D6.

In the background you can see the Company Command stand and the Platoon Leader stand reconnoitering the enemy.

American squad moves up!  Defensive fire is "point blank" and is doubled at this range.  Germans roll a 3!!  NOT GOOD!

And the US Squad is eliminated per the firepower table...

The Stug fires an HE round at a moving US squad and it hits!  Damn you defensive fire!!!  The US Squad routs into cover.

STUG Victory Lap!

Germans end the game still in possession of the village.  Leutnant Stahler commanding!

Germans holding the other building in the village.  No forces had anti tank in this game but the close assault against AFVs still brutal none-the-less.
Considerations: The issue of portage costs and equipment carried comes into play as well.  I only modeled 1 German squad with an LMG because they were the only stand with an actual LMG model.  That's not to say I couldn't use the cardboard counters to throw on a squad as a reminder, or just said they all carried one, but since this was a re-introductory game I figured what the heck.

For stacking purposes, I just make sure a squad stand or leader stand is physically touching another stand and you have an instant stack for firepower and protection purposes.  Leaders also convey their crucial bonuses to units they are stacked with.  Using square Crossfire stands with the smaller leader stands, it's not difficult on the plastic battlefield to tell leaders apart.

The best advice I would give before going down this road is to print yourself a "cheat sheet" with firepower, movement, morale values etc and book-mark in the rulebook sections you want to play.  For example I was hazy on the vehicle HE Anti-Infantry rules so I pre-marked them in the interest of time.

The Squad Leader original rules along with their supplements can be downloaded for free from the yahoo group as well as the Squad Leader in Miniature supplement.

This was alot of fun and I'll have to paint up more troops and vehicles, as well as terrain!  This makes me want to play some scenarios from the first boxed set!!!  Not to mention paint up more GIs and Brits to fight against my battle-hardened Panzer Grenadiers.

Gosh am I glad I tried this out.  I really forgot how much fun Squad Leader was, and in miniature is that much more enjoyable.


  1. Quite cool! I like the smaller games. While it is great to play higher echelons of command, without considerations like logistics or lines of communication, we [as gamers] are often actually only playing basic fire and maneuver tactics with the firepower of companies and battalions.

    On a side note, my unpunched third edition copy of "Squad Leader" arrived today. Woo-hoo! :-)

    1. Thanks, David! The more firepower (and Tiger tanks) I can cram onto a game table the better :) Reminds me of our favorite Larry Leadhead about "science fiction" and only 65 operational tigers on the eastern front, even though Steven's army had about 262!!
      Thanks for commenting!! Glad your Squad Leader arrived! That will give you endless hours of enjoyment.
      My 2 personal favorite scenarios are "The Guards Counterattack" and "The Hedgehog of Piepsk!"

  2. I will have to check this out. My boys are getting beyond Axis and Allies' tactical game. They've played Mein Panzer (at Historicon) and liked that.

    As to adding realize to command, I've used a map to address that (sort of like a Risk board to keep track of LOCs and logistics) in a campaign setting. I might have to do that again for my Texas Revolution games that I'm currently playing! For larger armies I've used C2 rolls in conjunction with morale modifiers to determine whether units respond or even hear drum rolls, bugle calls, commands, etc. I've had units fall back on orders to advance or refuse to advance when a staff officer passes a note from a commander to the Colonel. Chaos.


    1. Cincinnatus,
      Squad Leader is one of the first tactical-level board wargames I played and in my humble opinion, no game has ever matched it. The systems and processes are sound, and it's very easy to pick up.
      Some of the biggest complaints I've heard about SL are the fact that there is no true Command and Control modified, and troops always do everything you want them to do. I think these things could easily be added to the game without affecting the outcome.

      I like the idea of units refusing orders as I'm sure that has happened on many occasions. A little chaos in a wargame is a healthy thing :)

  3. Great to see this. Brings back memories of my US squads and hunting for that damned 6 or less on 2d6 (though no desperation morale thankfully). I'm basing up ww2 stuff on poker chips for larger scale games - I could also use them for squad leader of course.

    1. DdG,
      Playing SL as a miniatures game has been on my mind alot lately and the first game was incredibly easy with barely any fiddling through the rule book or trying to make conversions. (the conversions have already been done for you in the SLIM supplement).
      That said, if you're playing with larger scale troops (1/72), the ranges don't feel right so I did alter them a little. My other piece of advice would be to have a cheat sheet with firepower, morale, etc that way you don't have to clutter the board up with too many chits. I used the actual counters from the game for defensive fire tracking, etc.

      I should have used the "8-4-7" US squad values!! The 6-6-6 ones broke way too easily. Also didn't have enough firepower to bring that attack home. Add in company or battalion mortars, and a MMG section I very well could have carried that position.

      Either way, it's good to know this can be done seamlessly. Now it's time to paint up more stands to play some of my favorite scenarios from the game!

      As I've said before, what a great excuse to paint up all those 20mm models I have laying around and base those 1/72 plastic guys piled up!

      This game is a keeper.

  4. I got into SL as a mid teen and then moved up to ASL. I found it a fascinating game but as a gaming system it never really worked for me well, particularly in the bigger games. I always liked the leadership mechanisms though. I can see that SL could work well for smaller games though, particularly with squads not being destroyed as easily as they are in other games.

    That said, I still have a big box with all my ASL stuff in it!

    Paul the +1 Table top Leader

    1. Paul,
      I have always liked the simplicity of regular Squad Leader. that said, I have heard that Advanced Squad Leader is too complicated.
      Wouldn't that be awesome if we had figures of ourselves on the table? I believe I would have a +1 leadership mod too!! Every force needs one! :)

    2. A friend of mine and I did some play-testing for a game once and ended up having personalised Leader counters published! Surely it couldn't be too hard to photoshop a few SL counters...