More rules, less progress, but finally more landsers.

Five German rifle squads and one antitank team ready for the table (except I have to round up a truck for the ATG). Sorry for the lousy pic quality, they're from my cell phone, and I could barely see the screen in the bright sunlight I wanted for photography. Camera problems - the Fujifilm digital will no longer work with batteries, and keeping it plugged in to take shots outside is problematic. Time for a replacement, but it has to be cheap because this is not a priority.

German 1st Rifle squad

On the original batch of Germans, I uniformed them entirely in Tamiya Field Grey, which is green with some gray in it, which is correct. But the Germans also wore a shade of gray that had no or very little green in it, so I mixed up some gray with a hint of blue in it and painted all the helmets that gray, and them varied the shirts, tunics, and trousers, some with all green, some with all gray, sometimes mixed on the same figure. It gives a little variety and is not inaccurate, although it doesn't show up well in the pics because a) they're crappy pics and b) my grunts carry a lot of mud with them, as do my vehicles.

German 2nd Rifle Squad
"Good enough for wargaming." Besides the 2nd-gen Afrika Korps Airfix (because of the soft caps), my favorites are the Imex for their poses. I still have a soft spot for the old Marx HK knockoffs, because back when I first got them, the only German troops I had were 1st-gen Airfix German Infantry and Afrika Korps -- all unbelievably flat and almost cubist poses. Check them out on www.PlasticSoldierReview.com. The Airfix Russian infantry were fine, and still stand up reasonably to newer figures (except for the inexplicable percentage of figures on one foot), and it was nice to have some more believably-posed Germans. Plus, the guy I got them from had done a passable imitation of SS camouflage on them, so they were the bad-asses of many battlefields for a long time.

German 3rd Rifle Squad

These guys were all intended to be finished by mid-July, along with the next batch of Soviets I have yet to complete -- although those are all cleaned, de-flashed, assembled where necessary, and mounted on cardboard bases and/or just washers. Next is spackling the bases/washers, then a coat of diluted Elmer's glue as primer. Then painting, a dark wash, Dullcote, and finally highlight metallic objects again (the Dullcote really does). And their magnetic stands are already painted and waiting for them.  Slow progress, at times no progress as I just can't get motivated.

German 4th Rifle Squad

I have obtained more WWII rule sets in the meantime, which I need about as badly as a couple of extra ani. I got the latest version of Hail of Fire and the latest intro version of Fistful of TOWs 3 for WW2. I also bought Brigadier General, a solo set of rules where each stand is about a company-sized grouping, and FiveCorps' Brigade Commander (and an older version of their skirmish rules, plus a lot of add-ons too).
So far the Brigadier General rules have held my interest because they are designed for solo play. But today I want to talk about the FiveCorps products. I haven't tried them yet, but they do look interesting/promising; but the most striking thing so far is their flexibility of modification. Let me try to explain.
Back when we rode Brontosaurii down to the hobby shop in Springfield 20 miles away to see if any new Airfix, Roco, Avalon Hill, or SPI products had come in, I wanted a set of rules that covered everything and left no room for interpretation -- this is how this works, period. Even though they had flaws, there was not much argument about Panzerblitz' rules or WRG rules.
When I encountered (hand over heart) Donald Featherstone (Solo Wargaming, 1973), he always said more or less that these are not dictates but guidelines to be adapted or replaced altogether as and when desired. Which is one reason that, while I enjoy re-reading his books every few years, I have not used his rules much.
But when I stop and think about it, I have rarely used a rule set without tinkering with it to some degree after a game or two (even WRG, I changed infantry move from 50 to 75mm). The folks at FiveCore accept this concept up-front and cater to it by not only providing a lot of optional add-on rules to pick and choose from, but also providing alternate usages of the existing fundamentals. For instance, instead of using a d6, providing a 33% chance of one of their 2 special types of turns, they say "hey, if that's too random for ya, use a d10 and have only a 20% chance," etc.
Even now, with my enlightened view of the mutability of wargames rules, I get a slight twinge deep inside when I encounter the "do it this way or do it that way if it suits you" attitude. I guess I have never given up looking for (or trying to write) that holy grail -- the one set of rules that hits all my buttons just right without modification.

German 5th Rifle Squad

I am not that much interested in skirmish-level gaming, although if I enjoy the NT rules as much as I suspect, I will be using them for quick games when the feeling strikes, and for smaller actions during a campaign. I will also probably try out the Too Fat Lardies basic Chain Reaction system, and the FiveCore skirmish system, just for comparison.
Mostly after that I will be doing games where a stand is a platoon or company, just because it makes the outcome more significant. I know you can posit that if you had the ultimate supercomputer analyzing all the data, including all the data that we haven't even acquired in this plane of existence, then it could determine that it was actually the action between Hauptmann Steiner's reinforced panzergrenadier company and the forward detachment of the 91st Tank Brigade that ultimately decided the outcome of the battle for State Farm 86, which in fact directly affected the outcome of the fifth battle for Kharkov, so giving this little action an impact far beyond appearances. But it feels a little strained (even though this is exactly the approach I intend to take -- did I say strained? Ha! I sneer at such pretension, while embracing it wholeheartedly).
Historical Note: that is why I finally abandoned Advanced Squad Leader: it was taking 4 hours to resolve an action that actually lasted 15 minutes. Now I would rather play Clash of Heroes (Awakening the Bear or Storm of Steel) 2 to 5 times in that 4 hours, with far far fewer references to the rulebook (or tome, in the case of ASL).

Per the NT Wargaming: An Introduction WWII OOB's, the gun should be an 88, but I can't find my only 1/87 scale 88 Flak 36, and then it has to be painted. Besides, I have since realized I painted up the wrong gun crew for an 88, so for now I will be using a Pak 40 (75mm ATG) -- in 1/72nd scale.
Why does my brain only work part of the time?

German Pak 40 and crew

Man that is one fuzzy pic. Anyway, it represents some kind of progress, and I may even get this stuff onto the table this year.


Some Soviets; painting woes; further experiments in force generation.

I finished (?) my first Soviet units.

First Rifle squad (with unintentional 2nd SMGer) (and non-counting assistant LMGer).

First Tank Riders squad.

Heavy weapons squad (left to right): 82mm mortar team, 14.5mm ATR team, HMG team. (Tank Riders visible above.)

The ATR is a horrific bodge using a 1/35th Mauser (the German ATR will be just as bad based on a 1/35th LMG). Just trying to avoid buying more troops. I have decided to use the awful Atlantic prone (grazing?) rifleman, sans rifle, to fill in as assistant gunner on any prone LMG or other team that didn't come with an assistant (or enough team members). Just cut off the rifle and add a small chunk of balsa as an ammo box.

I had mixed what I felt was an outstanding uniform color from Tamiya Khaki with Dark Yellow and a hint of Olive Green. Four different colors of overcoat/packs/pouches/bags/satchels/canteen covers, plus weapons, boots, helmets, flesh. Then the wash of thin very very dark brown was too thick, and reacted with the Tamiya paints to turn everything dark brown when it dried. I knew I should have done a test first, but I got in a hurry. I tried to salvage it by highlighting with a mix similar to the original shade, but it looked ridiculously bright against all that dark brown, and I wound up having to dull it down to a darker shade. Then I had to pick out the details again, but I was not motivated to put much into it a second time. I just keep repeating my mantra "Good enough for wargamng", but it is genuinely discouraging, and all the more frustrating because it is entirely my own fault.

I have been messing about more with the force cards and force generation process and have simplified it. Deal out the requisite number of cards (subtracting the initial 5 mandatory units). As each card is drawn, resolve it, except for legal Jokers that will be resolved at the end. So if a Pz III / Pz IV or T34 / KV card is drawn, determine and record it's type immediately (I use a die on the card). When done, select any one card of choice and discard it; draw 2 replacements and select one to keep, discarding the other. Then resolve legal Joker(s) if any. When done, allocate initial and reinforcement forces for those scenarios that require them. It's quicker and easier and provides a slightly more random outcome to overall force balance while providing more control of initial force allocation.

Then I generated 10 forces for summer '43 using the new process (2 Soviet Frontal Assault, 2 Soviet Surprise Assault, 2 German Surprise Assault, 1 Encounter Battle, 3 Escalating Engagement). They seem interesting and I will likely use them as the basis for my initial tryouts of the NT rules -- if I ever get the infantry finished. It turns out that none of the 10 force lists comprise more than 5 Rifle squads, so that determines how many infantry I need to complete for these test games: 5 German Rifle squads and 1 Antitank Gun crew (54); 2 Soviet Tank Riders squads, 4 Rifle squads, and 1 Cavalry squad (68); total 122 figures. Completed: 55. Crap crap crappity crap crap.


More nonsense... I mean, cool stuff.

In between the washer-base experiment, I tried to use the ideas I had posted on randomly selecting forces, but it was too hard to remember what the playing cards stood for. So I created a set of business cards (using free Avery templates) and printed them out, front and back. Since I have to feed the business card sheets manually, they came out crooked every time, but "good enough for wargaming".
If anyone is interested, I have posted 3 files (2 sets of fronts and one back to use for both) on Mediafire here:

Since there are 10 cards per sheet and I needed 18 to cover the cards allocated, I used the 2 extra for Recon squads, which will probably be incorporated eventually. And I can make up more cards fairly easily if desired.

I also uploaded the Unit ID / markers sheet I made up (in MSPaint, actually), then had it printed on one 8.5" x 11" sheet of peel-and-stick paper, to be cut out and used for Unit IDs (on the bottom of the magnets, 2 per squad, 3 per HW squad, 1 per ATG); and the P & S (Pinned and Suppressed) markers to be mounted on something suitable (front and back for easy flipping).
They are here:

Then I used the Force Cards to make up some sample OOB's for different scenarios (all in summer 1943, which is where I will start since it matches my equipment best)(and I have a great book by David Glantz on the post-Kursk Soviet offensive).

Test 1: Frontal Assault, Soviet attacker.
Germans: 3 Rifle, 1 Barrage, 1 Pz IVh, 1 Armored Infantry.
Soviets: 3 Rifle, 2 Barrages, 1 T34/76c, 2 Tank Riders, 1 KV-85, 1 SU-85.

Test 2: Surprise Attack, German attacker.
Germans: 2 Rifle, 2 Barrages, 2 Armored Infantry, 1 Pz IVh, 1 Heavy Weapons, 1 Pz III L or M, 1 Pz VIa.
Soviet initial defenders: 3 Rifle, 1 Barrage.
Soviet reinforcements: 1 Rifle, 1 T34/76c, 1 Tank Riders, 1 SU-85.

Test 3: Encounter.
Germans: 3 Rifle, 1 Barrage, 2 Armored Infantry, 1 Pz IVh, 1 Heavy Weapons, 1 Pz VIa.
Soviets: 3 Rifle, 1 Barrage,1 Tank Riders, 1 T34/76c, 1 KV-85, 2 SU-85.

Test 4: Escalating Assault.
German initial forces: 1 Armored Infantry, 1 Pz IVh, 1 Pz V.
German reinforcements: 2 Rifle, 1 Barrage, 1 Armored Infantry, 1 Pz III L or M, 1 Marder III.
Soviet initial forces: 1 Rifle, 1 Tank Riders, 1 T34/76c.
Soviet reinforcements: 2 Rifle, 1 Barrage, 1 Tank Riders, 1 KV-85, 1 Cavalry.

Test 5: Surprise Attack, Soviet Attacker.
German initial defenders: 2 Rifle, 1 Barrage, 1 Pz III L or M.
German reinforcements: 1 Rifle, 2 Armored Infantry, 1 Pz IVh.
Soviet attackers: 2 Rifle, 2 Barrage, 3 Tank Riders, 2 T34/76c, 2 KV-85, 1 SU-85.

So there is some control of what you wind up with, but you can still wind up not getting the mix you would prefer.

Thanks for stopping by.



Proof of Concept

Start with some toy soldiers, 3/4-inch (20mm) zinc-plated steel washers, and refrigerator magnets designed for mounting business cards.

Step 1: Glue toy soldiers to washers. Cut fridge magnets in half and roughen them (including edges) with pumice stone (steal one from your wife).

 Step 2. Paint the magnet pieces and seal them with a light coat of Dullcote.

Step 3. Slather the washers and infantry bases with slightly-thinned spackling compound. Paint, seal, flock. Here we see 3 German groups. Left top: 3-man 81mm mortar team, left center: 3-man HMG team with MG42; left front: 2-man AT team with panzerschreck; center: 10-man armored infantry squad; right: same using different figures (non-counting assistant gunner will be added to each squad that deploys an LMG, in honor of Phil Barker/WRG).

Step 4: Stick the toys on the magnets in whatever grouping is desired. Currently each HW team is on a 29x50mm magnet, and the half-squads are on a 44x50mm magnet.


You can turn them over and even give them a shake without them dropping off. Of course if you whip them hard enough they will come loose, but I see no reason for that to happen.

Lessons learned so far:
I enjoy painting vehicles and terrain pieces, but not infantry so much. I already knew this, but it was re-affirmed.

Put the rounded side of the stamped washer down, to minimize wear on the magnets. Some of the non-rounded edges are very tough, and I'm not filing all of them. Or any of them.

Cut a roundish piece of very sticky masking tape and put it over the hole in the washer before mounting the figure. It keeps the white glue from running down the center (but not over the edges, so leave them on wax paper to dry). Then fill the bottom with white glue or spackle when dry.

For prone figures and team weapons requiring lager bases: trace around the figure/weapon/combo on cardboard (like matte board, or cheap like me and use the back of an extinct steno pad), then trace a washer in the approximate center. Cut out the washer-hole and trim to a snug fit, then cut out the entire base. Use white glue to glue the washer into the base all the way around, then mount the figure/weapon/combo while it is still wet.

Don't try to put transparent tape on the bottom of the washer to protect the finish on the magnets. It will still stick to the magnets for playing, but trying to trim the excess tape from around a ready-to-be-flocked washer, either with scissors or with hobby knife, caused me to knock most of the spackle off, requiring re-painting. If you try this and succeed you must let me know your secret.

Don't bother with cutting magnets into thirds (29x50mm). Even for 2- or 3-man weapons teams it is frequently too cramped due to the weapon base and the frequency of prone positions. They work better on the 44x50mm half-magnets. I think I can get a 3-man Airfix Soviet HMG team on a small one comfortably, but that's probably about it.

Another wacked concept:
I came up with the conceit of using entirely unique figures from my collection to form the armies with no duplicated figures; but it requires over 100 unique figures to make the WWII east front army lists from Thomas' Wargaming: an Introduction. I could almost manage it for the Germans due to some metal figures received in trade 40+ years ago, and using several hard plastic figures I have accumulated from Hasegawa, Fujima, ESCII, etc. But not quite. And for the Soviets it's not even close. I could buy more figures, but I have so many more than I need now I just can't see it.

So for the Germans I am going to try to make each squad not have duplicate figures, and as much as possible not have any 2 figures from the same manufacturer (except weapons teams). If I get tired of the mixed sizes I can always switch around. For the Soviets I will try to make each squad from one manufacturer; at least the size shouldn't be an issue.
 Airfix, Atlantic, Caesar, Eidai(?), ESCII, Fujima, Hasegawa, Hat, Imex, Marx HK knockoffs, Pegasus, Revell and some unidentified metal figures. It's enough to screw around with.

Thanks for visiting.



Neil Thomas Wargaming: an Introduction Pt II. - Random Unit Selection

Both the Soviet and German army lists provide 5 mandatory units (not reproduced here), and allow selecting the remaining units from a choice of 15 German or 16 Soviet units in the army list; with mandated limits on proportions of tank types by year. 

Since I play mostly solo except when I’m by myself, rather than select units I will use the following process to randomize the non-prescribed units, while allowing some degree of influence. Of course it can also be used by non-solo players who like the concept. 

First, for scenario forces that have both units that start on table and units that are reinforcements during the game, I will allocate the 5 mandated units to either starting or reinforcement groups. Initial tanks are always Pz IV or T34. 

Then to make up the remaining units, I will draw cards. The deck will consist of 18 cards made up of one set of black cards Ace – King, and 3 red cards Ace, King & Queen, plus 2 jokers, with these values.

Card (s)
German ‘42
German ‘43
Soviet ‘42
Soviet ‘43

Black 2 – 7

Black 8
Heavy Weapons
Heavy Weapons
Heavy Weapons
Heavy Weapons
Black 9
Black 10
Antitank gun
Antitank gun
Black Jack
Pz III / Pz IV   *
Black Queen
Pz III / Pz IV   *
Pz III / Pz IV   *
T34 / KV I   *
T34 / KV85   *
Black King
Pz V / Pz VI   s*
Black Ace
Assault gun
Assault gun
Assault gun
Assault gun
Red Ace
Assault gun
Assault gun
Assault gun
Assault gun
Red King
Armored infantry
Armored infantry
Tank riders
Tank riders
Red Queen
Discard & replace
Discard & replace
Tank riders
Tank riders
Jokers (summer/winter)
2 / 1
2 / 1
1 / 2
1 / 2

*Represents the type of which there are least currently selected (including mandated units) at the time the card is turned. If number currently selected is tied at 0, choice; if tied at 1 each, must try to maintain type restrictions. 

s* In July and August, 50/50; otherwise Pz VI. 

Jokers: If only allowed a maximum of one joker, the first one drawn is discarded and replaced. When a legal joker is drawn it is allocated as a unit placeholder to initial or reinforcement groups. After all non-joker cards allowed are drawn and allocated, pick up the remainder of the draw pile and select 3 units of choice. Lay them out, left to right, 1, 2, 3 (d3) or 1,2; 3,4; 5,6 (d6), then roll one die per joker selected and add those units. If a tie, the 2nd unit is choice of remaining 2 units not rolled. 

For each set of 3 or less units being selected, draw 4 cards at once; turn them over one at a time to determine what type that card represents; then keep the requisite number (up to 3) and discard the rest (not available that game). 

Soviet assault guns are mandated by year. For German assault guns 2 types are available in either year, so I will roll 50/50 and determine what type ALL selected assault guns will be for that game. 

For the surprise attack and escalating assault scenario, I might try allocating 2 out of each set of 4 cards to either initial or reinforcement group, and the other 1 to the other group, discarding 1 as usual. 

Later I will probably add Antitank guns for Soviets and Recon units for both sides. Meanwhile of course I should really be painting infantry instead of working on this kind of stuff. Ah well.


Notes on Neil Thomas’ WWII Rules from Wargaming: an Introduction

Pre-amble (or ramble if you prefer).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think the WWII and ACW rules look usable (the only periods I would be likely to play). Not only do they look like a lot of fun, but there are some elegant systems that simplify some potentially complex areas. This is not a critique or condemnation; it is understood that these rules were kept simple on purpose to make them easier for new players to learn. In any set of rules that is as abbreviated as these, there are going to be implicit assumptions, or gaps if you will, that will eventually need to be resolved if one is to continue using them, if only to avoid arguments (and solo gamers have some of the worst arguments… ummm… never mind).

As to my qualification to perform this analysis (self-nominated), after Checkers, Chess, Battle Cry, Dogfight, Broadside, Risk!, Stratego, and 1863, I began playing hex-grid wargames in 1968 -- with AH’s 1914 of all choices! When AH’s Panzerblitz came out in 1971 I bought the first copy I found, and have played it and dozens of other tactical WWII wargames in the years since, including AH’s SL/ASL, Yaquinto’s Panzer, Avalanche Press’ Panzer Grenadier and MMP’s ATS series. Currently my favorites are the Academy Games Conflict of Heroes series, but admittedly I am unfamiliar with some of the more recent ones (Band of Brothers, Combat Commander, etc.).
I started miniatures gaming with ACW rules from a COGS convention and TSR’s Chainmail in 1971, then began my WWII fixation with Guidon Games’ Fast Rules and Myers and Zimmerman’s Angriff! in 1972, Gene McCoy’s rules from Wargamer’s Digest in 1973, Wargames Research Groups’ Armor and Infantry in 1975, and many others since, including GDW’s Command Decision and Arty Conliffe’s Crossfire, and many sets downloaded from the internet. So I know a little something about WWII tactical games and rules. Add in 48 years reading books on WWII, including technical details of most weapons and tactics employed, and I am not embarrassed to call myself an expert.

Observations (or re-stating the obvious)

While not explicitly stated, these rules appear to be aimed at what is commonly referred to as “skirmish level”, where not only does one model vehicle represent a single actual vehicle, but one model solder represents one actual soldier. This is not a bad thing, depending on personal preference. Truth be told, I was surprised to find myself re-basing infantry singly so I can use these rules, as for many years I have preferred games where a stand of infantry is a platoon or company, or at least a squad, and I am disposed against rules that include saving throws.

Unit sizes: A squad (infantry or cavalry) is 9 figures; armored infantry also includes an APC. A recon unit is 1 armored car or 6 figures with 2 motorcycles/jeeps/kubelwagens/kettenkrads. A heavy weapons unit is 1 mortar with crew, 1 heavy machinegun with crew, and 1 infantry anti-tank weapon with crew (sizes of crews unspecified). An anti-tank gun is 1 gun with 4 crewmen and 1 truck. A tank or assault gun represents 1 vehicle. An artillery unit is always off-board and requires an on-board unit as spotter to fire.

Hits: It takes 9 unsaved hits to eliminate an infantry/cavalry unit (1 unsaved hit per figure). It is not explicit whether individual figures fire separately or in a group roll, or whether an individual figure or a unit is targeted.
It takes 1 unsaved hit to eliminate a tank or assault gun. It does not explicitly include trucks, half-tracks, or recon vehicles as potential targets (although soft recon vehicles provide a saving throw bonus to their infantry figures). It is an obvious assumption that half-tracks and armored cars would be targeted as tanks; not so obvious for soft vehicles, so perhaps the intent is that they live or die with their unit, inseparable until the end. That works well and helps to keep the complexity down.
It is not explicitly stated how many hits it takes to eliminate an infantry anti-tank weapon team, a machinegun team, a mortar team, or an anti-tank gun crew, or even whether the AT gun’s truck can be targeted separately. It appears that each only take 1 hit to destroy, as the saving throw is a daunting 2-6 on a D6 for them all, which is 2 pips or 50% easier to save than infantry.
Artillery fire only affects infantry, never vehicles.
AFV’s close assaulted by infantry get no return fire whether they survive or not.

Morale:  Cavalry and dismounted infantry/recon that take casualties must take a morale test that may limit their options for their next turn (and their saving throws improve as morale results degrade, the best example of the elegance of these rules); transported units are immune to morale effects. However, if a unit did not take a casualty on the previous turn, or passes its’ morale check, it will happily go on attacking, even if there is only one figure left; and other units will also keep on attacking until they are destroyed, regardless of overall casualties to their side. Total casualties within a unit or overall casualties have no impact on a unit morale check.

Line of Sight:
It is mentioned that gun crews must have a line of sight to a target (including tank and assault gun crews), and artillery must have an observer unit, but no details are provided of what constitutes a valid line of sight.

Transport modes: Some units appear to always be mounted: cavalry and bicyclists. Some units can dismount and operate on foot: armored infantry, tank riders, and recon figures. Since all 12 unit types are pre-defined and invariant, you will never see infantry or weapons teams on trucks, nor horse-drawn weapons, and you will never have to figure out if bicycle infantry can get their bikes onto the truck/halftrack with them.

Armies: The mix of unit types available to select from to form a side’s army are defined by nationality and year, but the actual selection is left up to the player, up to the number prescribed by the scenario, of which there are 4. Maximum army size is 12 units, minimum is 6. Looking at the German and Soviet lists (which cover ‘42 and ‘43), the maximum of one type that can be taken is 8 infantry (with a minimum of 2). Otherwise the maximum of any unit type that can be selected is 4 (tanks) for either side. The two lists are very similar with only 2 differences. Neither side can select recon or paratrooper units, the Germans can’t take cavalry and the Soviets can’t take anti-tank guns. German armored infantry is elite and comes with a half-track; Soviet tank riders are elite, can ride tanks and can dismount directly into close combat, which no other unit type can do.
I will probably randomize unit selection at least somewhat, since I play solo. If I decide to use these rules for a campaign, I will add anti-tank guns and recon for both sides and randomize unit selection based on parent unit type.

Vehicle types:
 The type(s) of tanks and assault guns available are also restricted by nationality and year. These defaults are reasonably historical except for one: for the Soviets in ’43 the choices for improved tanks are T34/85 and KVII. As an old treadhead from way back, I will absolutely not be able to follow this rule even if I don’t change any other aspect of the rules. There was no longer a significant number (if any) KVIIs still operable by ’43, and there would not have been a significant number of T34/85s available even by the end of that year, and those were being used to train tank crews in their use, so probably did not see any action that year. I would substitute the KV-85.

Conclusions (or how I will use the rules unless someone has a better idea; feel free to make suggestions)

Casualties: As mentioned under Hits, the details of firing at a unit of infantry don’t specify whether it is individual or group fire. I assume group fire because the alternative is unthinkable to me, and would result in the light machinegunners and submachinegunners being picked off first every time. So for fire against infantry/cavalry/recon, the firer nominates a target unit, rolls all dice for the firing unit, totaling hits, and then the target unit player picks the casualties. As an option I might allow 1 out of every 2 natural 6s to be re-rolled, with another 6 allowing the firer to select 1 casualty. After all, troops are going to make every effort to salvage their best weapons if the bearers become casualties.
It would constitute too much of a re-design to track multiple hits on weapons teams and anti-tank gun crews, but there needs to be some advantage to being in cover, so they will continue to take 1 hit with their existing 83% saving throw when in cover, 66% when dismounted in the open, and 50% for an AT gun crew mounted on its’ truck (although I am fearful that may make them too vulnerable; but hey, they shouldn’t be running around in the open under fire). I will arbitrarily assign crew sizes of 3 for mortars and HMGs, 2 for infantry anti-tank weapons, although it doesn’t affect anything but the appearance.
Armored vehicles will still be destroyed with 1 unsaved hit, including armored cars and half-tracks (if a halftrack is KO’d then they just became elite foot infantry; bad luck). If troops are in a half-track or riding a tank when their transport is KO’d, they will all need to make saving rolls as if hit in cover, with survivors dismounting. To allow artillery (not mortars) a chance to take out an AFV, for medium or heavy armor 4 natural 6’s allows 1D6 to be re-rolled; against light or open-topped armor 3 natural 6’s allows 1 to be re-rolled; with another 6 constituting a KO. When close assaulted by infantry, they will return fire with 4D6 as rifles if destroyed, or 8D6 as rifles if they survive.
I don’t think I will bother with targeting soft vehicles separately, since it seems workable that they are embedded in their unit and suffer a shared fate; although I will specify that recon troops only get the cover modifier for their vehicles when dismounted.

Morale: Will be played as stated, with the addition of an army level break point by nationality and year. To add tension, it won’t be automatic, but will be on a sliding scale. When the break point is reached, an army morale check of 4+ on 1D6 must be passed or the side withdraws in defeat. For every additional unit lost over the break point, add 1 to the required morale score, but never to exceed 6. For Germans ’42 – ’43 the break point is 50% of total units lost, for Soviets ’42 - ’43 it is 60% of total units lost. When reinforcements appear, they raise the base unit count.
I will make up some kind of markers to indicate when units are in reduced morale states, which I will give names for clarity, like Pinned and Suppressed.

Line of Sight: To keep it as simple as possible, LOS is blocked by an obstacle of sufficient height on the same level as both units. If units are on different levels, LOS is blocked if the obstacle is closer to the lower unit.

Vehicle Types:
 As mentioned above, I will substitute KV-85 for the Soviet ’43 improved tank, otherwise I will play the rules as they stand; although, if I continue to use these rules for multiple games, I will probably change some of the armor and penetration ratings (treadhead, remember).

I would be happy to hear any interpretations that other gamers are using, and if Mr. Thomas would care to offer his opinion, that would be much appreciated.


Turn 5 - the Carnage Continues

I decided that all units that are required to make Morale Tests must be activated before any others can be. So the first Soviet activation went to the 1/1 co., who passed but 3 squads failed to rally. The MG fired on the Marders with no effect, and the rest managed to pin a squad of 1/1.
Then the Soviet 3/2 passed (required a 6!), advanced up center hill and pinned a squad of 2/1 and the 50 ATG. The MG panicked and deployed west of the crest. 
The German 3/1 co. passed and fired on the T-70s with no effect.
The German Recce HQ, all that was left, passed on a 6 also. They jumped in the ex-IG truck and headed over to report to Rgt. HQ.
The Soviet 2/2 co. Halted out of range; the HQ closed up with the remaining squads.
The T34 bn. (with 60% casualties incl. HQ) Halted; the tank riders unloaded and the T34s fired on the Marders, pinning the HQ. vehicle.
The Soviet 1/2 co. moved up to the crest of center hill and along the road between hills.
The Lt. Tnk bn.  moved around the west of center hill and pinned a squad of 2/1; except 1 T-60 out of command that fired on the Marders and missed.
The Marder HQ failed to rally twice; the other 2 pulled back of the ridge and headed west to intercept the impending Soviet breakthrough.
The German 2/2 co. on center hill passed, but the 50ATG and 1 squad took 2 tries to rally. The other 2 squads and the MG passed their 1st and KO'd a squad each of 1/1 and 3/1.
The German 1/2 co. continued west to the end of long ridge; then KO'd a MG of 1/3 and a squad of 1/2.
The 1st SCC occurred and the turn continued.
The Soviet 2nd Mot. co. moved up to the edge of center hill and unloaded.
The Soviet 2/2 advanced through the woods.
The German 2/2 rump on long ridge KO'd 1 squad of 1/2 and the 75ATG KO'd another T34.
The German 1/1 & Bn HQ continued to move east behind the ridge, coming within 6" of the road.
At this point the Soviet commander remembered he had fire support and activated the recce AC to call in Hvy Mrtr and IG fire on 1/2, KO'd the HQ and 3 squads, pinning another. Then it called 2 medium mortars onto 2/2, KO'd 1 squad and the 75 ATG.
The Soviet SMG co. moved up into the wreckage of the T34 bn.
The 2nd SCC occurred, and the turn continued.
The Soviet Lt. ATG co. moved toward long ridge gap, and 2nd Bn. HQ moved up to a pinned squad of 1/1.
The Soviet Eng. co. moved up and so did 1st Bn. HQ.
The 3rd SCC occurred, ending the turn. Cards left: 4 Sov., 3 Ger.

I decided that spotting must be better defined - no spotter can spot for more than one firing group, no more than 3 stands, which must be within 2" of each other.

                                           Center Hill

                                           Long Ridge

                                           Middle of battlefield

                                           Flaming hulks

                                           Last T34