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"Chaco War - opinions on gaming?" Topic

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806 hits since 12 Feb 2018
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Happy Wanderer12 Feb 2018 4:02 a.m. PST


The interwar Gran Chaco War seems to have an 'underground' level of interest amongst many on TMP. Orinco miniatures do a few 28mm figures and Khurasan do a nice range in 15mm.

What do people find appealing, or not, about this conflict that would make it a worthwhile subject to study, collect and play? What aspects make it unique and interesting?

I'm interested in any or all positive/negative thoughts this war engenders from a historical gaming perspective.

Your thoughts much appreciated.

Happy Wanderer

advocate12 Feb 2018 5:19 a.m. PST

It's the 1930's – a small amount of mechanisation, so not straight infantry warfare. Large amounts of space allowing manoeuvres rather than trench warfare. And largely unknown, so the GM can plant legitimate, historical , surprises on the players (if you have a separate GM).
It's been a while since I read about it or played GDW's Chaco War (solo) but it has a certain amount of appeal still.

I'd not want to invest as much time or money in it as it deserves, simply because it is too niche (says the man with a Soviet army for the Russo-Polish War).

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

It is covered by Square Bashing and the attendant army book. An interesting war with interesting armies and scenery. Good stuff and recommended. The Chaco war armies can be used alongside WW1 etc if that helps find opponents.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2018 6:54 a.m. PST

I'm a Chaco War fan, but I couldn't bring myself to play it after I analyzed it.

I came to the conclusion that while it seems to offer a highly interesting type of pre-WWII conflict, all the modern elements are strongly limited, all the tanks and planes ended up being nuisances (often to their own side) rather than have their own moment. Yes there was maneuvering and interesting tactics, but on the other hand the key battles still featured major use of trenches and many battles were lost because they ended up with troops having to storm said trenches and getting shot to pieces.

Even the David vs Goliath type situation doesn't work, the Bolivians have all the advantages, including a skilled German commander, but they make every mistake in the book and Paraguayans hardly make any at all. It's all very one-sided. And I don't know how to translate that to the game. Do you allow the Bolivians 20/20 hindsight, in which case they should win most battles by default or do you limit them, making it a string of games where one player gets all the nice toys and benefits, but has to fight with one arm tied behind his back all the time.

Every once in a while I get this feeling to try to play the Chaco war, but every single time I can't find a way to make it work. Maybe people have other perspectives and can figure out a way to make it more interesting, but it's a fascinating conflict that ends up being either too contrived to be fun or too boring to be interesting on the wargame table.

Cacique Caribe Inactive Member12 Feb 2018 7:19 a.m. PST

Or you could make the game take a different turn …

TMP link


Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

If Chaco doesn't suit you could try the Leticia Incident: link

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2018 9:37 a.m. PST

I have wanted to do this, and have been waiting since 2014 for Orinco Miniatures to finish up their very nice line of figures for this. Now just riflemen, but need SMG and MG and other support weapons.

Any one know if they are still in business?

Prince Alberts Revenge12 Feb 2018 12:20 p.m. PST

I'm with Patrick on this one, although I am still tempted. The Bolivian Army, led by Hans Kundt, had lots of neat toys but was more of a parade ground army. They also had a difficult logistical supply line as I recall. The Paraguayans had a more simple but realistic approach to the war in respect to the theatre of operations. They also had some riverine gunboats to help with the supplies and reinforcements. There were aircraft used but few air to air encounters if any. There were some Vickers tanks and some tankettes but these were few in number and didn't have much impact. The war was heavy on infantry, mortars, machine guns and fortified positions. What appears very sexy at first turns into an infantry slog in harsh conditions. I still want to game it!

Also, If you can get a copy of Green hell by Adrian English, it gives a very nice, if a bit dry, account of the war.

Glengarry512 Feb 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

Include fun rules for your units dying of thirst!

Bob the Temple Builder12 Feb 2018 12:59 p.m. PST

I've been wargaming the Chaco War on and off for many years, as has Nick Huband.

For one of his battle reports (using an early edition of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules), look here = link


Happy Wanderer12 Feb 2018 8:45 p.m. PST


Thank you for many insightful commments – excellent stuff.

Interestingly, the very points to my mind that make it ‘unappealing' are in fact, for wargamers, the things that make it appealing.

Difference in force quality, the better equipped but seemingly lesser led forces of Bolivia vs the better led and higher morale but underequipped Paraguayans, sets up an interesting force on force clash. The inclusion of SMG troops, LMGs and Rifles all speak to classic infantry warfare.

This is an infantry war and that is quite the topic that, IMO, lends itself well to tabletop play if infantry tactical rules are your choice of play. I'm thinking platoon levels games…infantry tactics with MG and mortar/artillery support. A tank in support, some light fire support…infantry tactics…this is the stuff of table top clashes that fits the bill rather nicely…throw in yourmfavourite interwar biplane for color.

Clashes in desert, arid, savannah and jungle terrain all set up interesting possibilities. It was clearly a very large and hard fought conflict setting up many potential types of game scenarios or small linked campaign defined objectives…get to that water hole or lose!!!

…further comments are welcome on why to, not to, play this period are welcome…it seems with a basic infantry platoon and a few supports you have most of the ingredients for all the games you want to play….lots of return from a relatively small investment.

…keep those thoughts comin' 😉


PS does anyone have idea what tactical manuals the two armies based their platoon/company level tactics on?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 7:01 a.m. PST

Click through the chapter links at the bottom to see some interesting photos:


Happy Wanderer15 Feb 2018 5:54 a.m. PST

Does anyone know what the platoon level organisation for infantry and/or cavalry of the Bolivian army c.1932-35 is by any chance?



stephen m15 Feb 2018 9:12 a.m. PST

Check here;


Happy Wanderer15 Feb 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

Thank Stephen,

They will be useful. I'm drilling down a bit more so hope to get some good platoon level detail.



stephen m16 Feb 2018 3:28 p.m. PST

If these are like the ones I have from him he goes down to squad level for equipment and manpower.

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