16 Nov 2016

WW1 Skirmish Rules: Playtest 5

Hi guys,

It has been 2 months since I played my last playtest - or at least  it was 2 weeks back when I played this game and wrote this post. Yup, it took me 2 weeks to put photos in and slightly edit the text I've written while playing the game.

Anyway, the rules were being worked on and have now reached a point where I can confidently call them 'draft 1'. No, not 'version 1', draft. As in they now include more or less everything I wanted in a game and it is time to see how it works out. Scenarios and victory conditions still need to be done, but the core game should be fine now.

For those unaware, the rules are intended to play with something like 20-30 miniatures per side and should (that is the intention, at least) encourage players to engage in melee. If anyone would like to give them a run, please contact me via the form on the right ->->->->->

This particular game, as I imagine it, would look something like this:
1 - Assault troops attack
2 - Defenders launch a defensive bombardment
3 - Defenders counterattack

As usual, I am making things up as I go.

Attackers forces:

4 men Shock unit (assault troops)
4 men Shock unit
4 men flamethrower
4 men light machine gun unit

3 turns after the initial attack, attacking infantry is scheduled to consolidate trenches:

3 units of 4 men with rifles each.

They appear on a roll of 3+, all at once.

Defenders forces:

2 men sentry unit
2 men sentry unit
2 men sentry unit

Additionally, they get support from one off board HMG flanking the trenches.

When assault troops enter first trenches (4" into the defender's half of the table), defenders get an artillery barrage.

The barrage is followed by the main counter attack:

4 men assault troops
4 men assault troops
4 men rifles

They appear on a roll of 4+, all at once.

Additionally, every turn before the main counter attack force arrives (after the bombardment), on a roll of 2+ a local force emerges from the dug outs, attacking from any board edge except the attacker's (randomly determined).

This 'force' consists of 2 men armed with rifles.

Everyone is rated 4+/4+, except both sides assault troops that are rated 3+/4+.

Game lasts for 8 turns, at which point VPs are counted:

Each opponent killed - 1 point
Each opponent captured - 3 points

Attackers control defender's forward sap - 10 points
Attackers control defender's first trench - 20 points
Attackers control defender's second trench - 30 points

Defenders control their second trench - 10 points
Defenders control their first trench - 20 points.
Defenders control their forward sap - 30 points.


Yellow indicates modifier to save due to action or terrain (1-3)
Orange indicates unit activated already (or failed to do so).
Blue indicates 'On guard' status.
Red indicates suppressed units.
Green indicates penalty to saving roll due to terrain


The barrage has lifted and the six sentries, fortunate enough to have survived the bombardment, have signaled for help at the sight of advancing assault troops.

Attacker has divided his troops (top down): shock unit, LMG unit, flamethrower (paras), shock unit.


I gave the attackers the first turn, given they launched the attack.

Attackers all activated and pushed forward. Shock and flamethrower units are armed with pistols and could not fire. LMG made use of  'marching fire' rule to suppress the forwardmost defenders.
I love this miniature and it fits perfectly as a stand-in!

Defenders were less lucky as the suppressed unit lost its chance to activate and the other two failed to do so and went 'on guard.


Defenders won the initiative and previously suppressed unit activated. To buy them some time, they withdrew and fired their rifles at the LMG unit, as it was standing out in the open. They both missed.

Middle unit also activated and fired at the LMG unit, hit one but failed to produce a casualty (hit was saved).

Last one failed to activate and went on guard.

Attackers had a bit more moderate luck, as upper two units (shock, LMG) failed to activate and bottom two surged forward, flamethrower engaged the defenders. A burst of flame was enough to convince the defenders this battle is lost and they surrendered!

Defenders that were on guard now opened fire at the flamethrower unit and killed one of the crew.


Turn 3 marks the timed arrival of the follow up infantry, which failed to keep pace with the assault troops (roll failed).

In the same turn, defenders off-board HMG opened fire in the area in front of the barbed wire, catching all 4 of the attacking units in its beating zone.

The problem: 6" wide corridor at any angle might be a bit of an over kill!

Resolving the impact from bottom up, shock unit didn't lose any of its members and was not suppressed by the barrage; flamethrower lost a member, but was not suppressed; LMG lost a member but was not suppressed; shock unit didn't lose any member but was suppressed.

Initiative was won by the defenders again. Both units activated and fired at flamethrower (1 man killed) and LMG unit (no effect).

Attackers successfully activated flamethrower's lone survivor who jumped over the barbed wire and continued down the trench.

One of the shock units moved to the wire with an intention to cut it, rather than trying to jump over it - this will also make a passage for the reserves that are bound to arrive sooner or later.

The LMG team is making great use of its marching fire as it pushed forward and suppressed another of the defender's units. While this fire can't grant kills, it is a god way to force the defenders to keep their heads down.

Last of the shock units failed to activate and keeps hiding in one of the shell holes!


The reserves arrived!

The problem: I neglected tackling accurate rules for support. In previous games they were unit by unit dripplets and getting support equaled activating the unit. This time, I played it that successful roll for reserves brought supports to table edge (just outside it) and a successful activation would bring them on board.

Defenders won the initiative again, but fail to activate their first unit.

Attackers activated the wire-cutting shock unit first and it cuts the wire sufficiently. Flamethrower's lone survivor activates next and moves forward, eager to lob some grenades. He must have been the last on the list of dedicated bombers, however, as he failed miserably.

Two-left-hands Joe did not pay attention at the bombing practice
Attacker's other shock unit, the lazy one, failed to activate again. As it is suppressed its members simply sit it out in the shell hole. This reverts initiative to the defenders, who activate and kill two of the wire cutting shock troops!

Attacker's LMG activated again and moved a bit closer into what looks like a good position to hold the line from. The LMG didn't fire but two of the crewmen fired their rifles at top defenders, hitting both and killing one.

Only one of the reserves activated and the unit sprinted in one of the old saps, to close in with the defenders.


Defenders won the initiative again and failed to activate its unit.

Keeping the mid defenders suppressed is a good chance to get them to surrender, but the attackers are still too far away. Flamethrower crewman fired, but missed again.

...nor on the shooting range.
All attacking units, except for the two reserves that failed to activate last turn, now activated. Apart from some shooting without effect, they just closed in.

The last remaining defender's unit failed to activated.

The problem:  I have the attackers at the level of the first trench in the sap (flamethrower), but to make it easier to determine who controls the trench, I decided this does not yet count as them being in the trench itself.


The attackers won the much needed initiative this time, and the flamethrower lone survivor activated. Inspired by the thought of a medal, he surged forward and captured the startled defenders!

Prisoners of war!
The top shock unit, that gained a reputation for laziness earlier has now activated and bombed the last defender - time to push forward!

While the board was empty of defenders, some attackers pushed as far forward as possible, while those that failed the activation went on guard to wait for the incoming counter attack.

Yet, even now one of the  reserves failed to activate for the first time.


The defenders have signaled that enemy has broken into one of their trenches! Not long after the rockets were fired, barrage felt on the area.

Mind, as this game is played on such a small area, the bombardment covers whole table, if the defenders would not have all been removed from play by now, they would have been hit as well.

The effects of bombardment were determined from defenders edge towards the attackers as follows:

2 men  shock unit - 1 man dead, not suppressed
1 man flamethrower - dead
4 men shock unit - no casualties, not suppressed
4 men reserves 1 - 2 dead, suppressed
3 men LMG - no casualties, suppressed
4 men reserves 2 - 1 dead, not suppressed
4 men reserves 3 (waiting to enter board) - no casualties. Mind, I rolled for them as usual, seeing they are 'close by', why would they be spared?

The main counter attack does not yet arrive, but from near by, two defenders rushed to delay the tide!

While the initiative was won by the defenders, they failed to activate.

Attackers used the time to find better positions, go on guard and so on - except, of course, for the reserves unit 3, that still didn't show up!


Whistles were sounded as the counter attack force made its approach!

The attackers have not only won the initiative, but also managed to activate every single of their units in the anticipation of defenders' arrival.

The defenders jumped on the attackers and the advancement of two assault troops ended in one of the attackers (lone survivor shock unit) fallen as a casualty to grenades.

Large, 4 men rifles unit that was with the counter attacking force also moved down the safety of the deep trenches, lobbed their grenades at one of the attacker's reserve units and while scoring two hits and forcing a suppression test, failed to get any kills or at least to suppress them.

Small defenders unit failed to activate.

Now, at the start of the game I said the game would last for 8 turns, but as the game has only really started on  the 8th turn, I decided to end it on 10th  (okay 12th at start, but then I got tired of playing and concluded at 10).

Should  the game have ended now, the result would be:

Attackers: sap (10), first trench (20), kills (2), prisoners (12) = 44 VPs
Defenders: second trench (10), kills (7+ 5 bombardment), prisoners (0) = 23 VPs

This seems hardly fair perhaps, as the attackers took so long to initiate the defenders bombardment.
If we also count the troops deployed: 28 attackers versus 20 defenders and add the difference (8) to the defenders (to  even the field), the result would be 44 versus 31, for a good attacker's win.


Defenders won the initiative, but their bombers failed to activate.

Attacker's reserves that were subjected to grenading last turn now returned the favour and killed 2 of the defenders!

Attacker's surviving shock unit moved up some shell holes in the trench system and bombed one of the defenders bombers. As the tradition goes, they scored 3 hits but failed both to suppress the target unit and to remove any figures from play!

The rest of the attackers units either activated and moved forward or failed to do so and went on guard, ready to cut down any defenders bold enough to climb out of their deep trenches.

Defenders, too had a changing luck with activations. Notably, the larger rifles unit activated within assault distance of the enemy, but out of sight. So instead of engaging in melee, they had to move down the trenches and opened fire, killing one.

The smaller of the defender's units now activated  and lobbed grenades at the aforementioned enemy unit, killing another one.
A close up on trench junction. Slovenes were stand-ins for the defenders.


The defenders won the initiative yet again and the larger of the rifle units tried to activate in order to assault the attackers. They failed, which produced an awkward situation.

They were in LOS and within 6'' of the enemy, but there was also a friendly unit within 6" and LOS. The rules state the unit does not surrender if there are more friendly units within LOS and 6" than Enemy units, but as there's 1 of each it surrenders.

Had I gave it a thought earlier, I would delay the activation of this unit, because the attacker might fail his activation and give himself up to the defenders instead. Alas, 2 prisoners for the attackers!

Upper duo surrendered!

Attackers shock unit moved forward just slightly to avoid being confronted by two of the defender's assault units and kept lobbing grenades into one of them, scoring a kill. It is better for the attackers to wear down the defenders (who are the ones attacking at this point), making the melee easier.

Defender's bombers disappointed as they failed to get any hits with their pistols and bombs.

Other unit emerged from the dug out they were in and threw a salvo of grenades towards the enemy shock troops. In all fairness, I forgot to do that with the attacker the turn before. Anyway, they scored 6 hits which were distributed between the 4 men so that two got two hits each and two got one each. Now, they were saving on 5+ and both of the former made it, while both of the latter failed them! Ugh!
¨The explosions were enough to suppress the unit.

The last of the defenders units, the smallest one, activated and moved to the cursed junction, where their friends surrendered to the enemy just moments ago. While they did not surrender, they missed their shots and the lone attacker survived - will he be able to capture them as well?

Well, as it turned out - no. He failed his activation and raised his hands. First prisoner for the defenders!
Attacker surrendered this time.

The rest of the attackers did nothing worth mentioning.

So, after another 2 turns, the end result is:

Attackers: sap (10), first trench (20), kills (5), prisoners (18) = 53 VPs
Defenders: second trench (10), kills (11+5 bombardment), prisoners (3) = 30 VPs

If I continued, the defenders with fresh shock units would defenitely wipe out the attackers at least in the first trench. While LMG is a formidable weapon, it is night useless when troops are fighting in the trenches, out of line of sight.


Well,  I inevitably become bored sooner or later when playing solo, but this is not the rules fault. This is perhaps rare with me, but I am VERY satisfied with how the rules work. I was a bit surprised at the power of six sentries, but that was in part my fault for slowly advancing, when I should instead run to the wire, cut it and get across by turn 5 the latest (as opposed to turn 8 as it was).

While there was no melee fought (in the one chance I had, the sentries surrendered before I'd roll to hit), I found surrender rules to work very well. There were not that many prisoners that the game would have been broken and I am really satisfied with them.

Except for grenade salvo (where every member of the team throws a grenade), grenades don't seem too powerful at all, and as for salvo - c'est la vie?

The off board support worked fine, the machine guns are a nuisance more than a real threat and the bombardment, while devastating covers up whole table and can hurt the defenders as well. As the rules stand at the moment, the owning player decides from where to the end of the board bombardment would hit, which is honestly a bit too much of a good thing. Joe offered some ideas for random hits, which I have yet to look into - but so far I am quite satisfied with the saturation of the whole board.

Reserves I am not sure about yet - they would certainly come en masse, but when they fail to activate it is a bit of a buzz kill. Still - why give them free activation?

Lastly, small units of two or even just one man seem to do just fine. This is another great thing, I never understood what good does having 100 miniatures per side do.

I suppose this was another of the long posts, where I mostly talk to myself. If it helps, I finished three initial dollies for my sculpts and started working on the rifley YET again. More on that at a later date!

Thanks for looking,