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"WRG 1950 - 1985 Playtest - 1950s Era" Topic

Wargames Rules for All-Arms Land Warfare from Platoon to Batallion Level 1925-1950 and 1950-2000

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Mako1107 Apr 2015 9:18 p.m. PST

Thought I'd give this a go, just to familiarize myself with the rules a bit, and to get a feel for how they work.

Sorry, no pics, since this was just a paper exercise, but it was reasonably entertaining to conduct, nonetheless.

It is a rather lengthy posting, so feel free to skip down to the end, to see the outcome, if you prefer to gloss over the details of the battle. I've tried to post the important highlights of the game/playtest for those that like that sort of thing. I made a few minor errors, which I only realized after the fact, while posting this, so the outcome could have been a bit different, especially if the dice gods had been a bit more favorable at some points.

So, company advance!

The battle is set on an open, West German plain, sometime in the mid to late 1950s, and pits a reinforced T-55 company of 13 tanks (not sure they did that back in the 1950s, or if that was a later decision some companies only have 10 tanks), vs. a platoon of 5 x M48 tanks (90mm guns) against them (could be either US, or West German crews if its 1957, or later, if you prefer).

Visibility is good, and there are no terrain undulations, or significant cover to provide concealment, or protection, to either side.

Note for this game, I presumed the tanks were moving cross-country, and the T-55 crews would fire once each turn, so they moved half their normal 500m per turn road-speed, resulting in a closing speed of 250m per turn.

Also, for this exercise, since all the vehicles of each side were reasonably close to one another, in skirmish-line formations, out in the open, I only had them dice to detect their opponents initially, and not for each subsequent round of combat, after that had occurred, as they switched targets.

The battle opens at 3,500 yards (arbitrary decision by me, just to make it interesting), with one M48 crew spotting the advancing T-55 Co. (50% chance, needing a 4+ to succeed, but the other four NATO crews aren't very alert perhaps it's just after dawn, on the fateful day, and some of the men are a bit groggy).

The T-55 crews, expecting action since they are on the offensive in enemy territory, roll a bit better, with the same odds (4+ to succeed not really planned that way, but the rationalizing of the very different die rolls makes for a better narrative, don't you think? sometimes the dice gods are fickle), and six of their commanders spot the M48s. The range is too great for any shooting to occur.

Next turn, the range is down to 3,250 yds. and 3 more of the M48s spot the T-55s. The 5th tank crew must have dozed off, since they aren't responding to urgent radio calls. Two more of the T-55s spot the NATO tanks. Both sides are still out of range, but have loaded HEAT rounds in anticipation of combat.

Next turn, at 3,000 yds., the last M48 crew finally wakes up, and spots the oncoming threat. All of the M48 tanks opt to remain in place (this will be a common theme for the entire battle, for them), and to fire twice at the oncoming armored behemoths. All miss on their first volleys, since they are just opening fire for the first time To-Hit needed is a 7 + 2 = 9 on 1D6 (HEAT Rounds), so almost an impossible task. On their second volley, tank crew #3 gets an unlikely hit on T-55 #7, and knocks it out (To-Hit has improved for their second shots to only 7+ needed on 1D6). M48 #5 also gets a hit, but the HEAT warhead fails to knock out the T-55.

[Note for To-Hit values over 6 in these rules, you must first roll exactly a 4 on 1D6. If you succeed at that, you then re-roll 1D6 again, and add that die result to your To-Hit total, so, as you can see, you can roll anywhere from a 5 10 in combat (4 + 1D6 = Final To-Hit # Result). Needless to say, that is difficult, but as you will see, not impossible to do, if you take enough shots with enough vehicles. With modifiers, you can even get slightly higher than that, in some cases.]

[Also note I should have adjusted for "Suppressions" for any tanks hit, but not knocked out, but forgot to do that for the entire game, so am not sure how that would have affected the outcome. May give that a go on the next playtest.]

The T-55s try to reply, by opening fire, but since they are all advancing and firing on the move, they only get one shot, and their To-Hit # is 10 on 1D6. They all miss.

The range closes to 2,750 yds., and again, all the M48s opt to fire HEAT, from their present positions, twice, at the advancing communists. All roll poorly, and miss (still 7+ To Hit).

The T-55s return fire (8+ To-Hit, since they are moving and firing), and T-55 #4 manages to hit and destroy M48 #3 with a HEAT round, even though all of the communist tanks are firing on the move. T-55 #11 also gets a lucky hit on another M48, but the HEAT round fails to knock it out (forgot to see what the "Suppression" result would have been for this tank that was hit, but not KO'd).

The range closes to 2,500 yds., and again the surviving M48s fire twice at the oncoming Soviet armor (6+ To-Hit, due to the shorter range). In their first volleys, M48s # 3 and 5 both hit and destroy T-55 numbers 2 and 3, respectively. All of the NATO tanks miss on their second volleys.

All of the advancing T-55s miss, even though their To-Hit #s have improved to a 7, due to the shorter range, also.

As the Soviet tanks rapidly close the distance to 2,250 yds., the M48s fire twice each, again, using HEAT, and despite the shorter range, all eight shots miss their targets.

The T-55s respond with HEAT also, firing once each, and T-55 #4 scores a hit, but the round fails to penetrate and knock out the American-built tank. Its very frustrating to the Russian tanker commander and gunner, who let loose with a long string of expletives. They can't tell if their HEAT rounds are defective, or if the American-built armor is really much better than they'd hoped.

T-55 #10's crew also gets a hit, and its round does penetrate, knocking out M48 #5 with their HEAT round.

T-55 #13 still hasn't fired, since they haven't even observed an enemy tank yet, despite all the firing (forgot to add the bonus for spotting a firing enemy vehicle to the die rolls this turn, and above, but this crew rolls very poorly). Chalk up their ineptitude, or mine to too much vodka the night before the big attack.

The heavy steel behemoths continue to close, and the range is now down to 2,000 yds., so the NATO tank crews switch to APFSDS, which with its flatter trajectory, offers a better chance of a hit (4+ To Hit), and now that the range is shorter, they're pretty much assured of a kill as well on the Soviet tanks.

Only three M48 tanks are still operational, and #1 and #3 miss with their first rounds, but #2 gets a hit, destroying T-55 #10.

On their second volley, all M48s now have the range, and they each hit a T-55, destroying tanks #1, #4, and #12, in rapid succession.

The T-55s also switch to APFSDS rounds too, and tank #s 5, #8, and #11 all get hits on the M48s (To-Hit # = 5+ at this range, with AP ammo). Due to poor coordination, #5 and #8 fire on M48 #2 (I used a random die roll to determine the tanks hit for this exercise, so that may not occur in your game(s)), destroying it, and #11 knocks out M48 #3.

The communist behemoths continue to advance, inexorably on our last remaining, M48 tank crew. They hold their ground (I didn't read the morale rules, so don't know if that would have happened for sure, or not), and again fire two rounds of APFSDS in rapid succession.

The first round from the M48 misses, but the second round is on target (4+ To Hit), and destroys T-55 #6.

The remaining T-55s (only five of them are left now, of the original 13) continue to advance, and most miss (To Hit # = 5+), but the crew from #11 hits the last NATO tank, destroying it.

[Notes on the battle forgot a few things, but in all fairness, I haven't completely read all of the rules, so need to get around to doing that. I wanted to give the spotting and To-Hit/Damage resolution rules a quick playtest, in order to see how they would work out. The game was pretty much as I thought, though with the M48s losing a bit more quickly than I would have expected. Chalk that up to poor NATO die rolling, and lack of suitable terrain/tactics in which to fight the enemy. For this playtest, I just assumed that the Soviets surprised the NATO crews with their attack. To balance that a bit, they did get to observe the Soviet armored unit, as it closed in on them across open terrain, from a long distance, though they didn't have any defensive cover or concealment to keep them hidden, in order to permit them to better ambush their opponents.

I suspect if the initial spotting ranges, defensive cover/concealment, and/or tactics had been a bit different, the NATO platoon might have fared better. Of course, the Soviets can also counter by using smoke to cover/obscure their advance a bit, making initial spotting and To-Hit percentages a bit harder as well, in order to close the range with their opponents. Perhaps too, having some units fire from a halt, in order to improve their gunnery odds (though I'm not really sure the Soviets use that tactics in company-sized units).

Also, as mentioned, I forgot about some rules, and omitted others (like the spotting rules, once the tanks got their first detections on the opposition, to speed things along a bit rolling for each tank to spot each opponent probably would have permitted the T-55s to close the range a little more, before one side or the other won). I forgot about the "Suppressed" rules for hits/near misses that occur, but that don't result in the target vehicle being knocked out, so that could have changed things a little as well. Also, I don't know how the morale rules work, so will need to read up on that a bit too.]

Anyway, it was an interesting playtest, despite having not used miniatures to do it. I look forward to actually pulling out some tanks, and giving it a go on a nice looking tabletop, with a bit of terrain, and cover to make life a little more interesting, and difficult for the opposing sides.

At the end of the day, the M48 platoon was a bit unlucky with some of their die rolls, so could have done a little better. Given this battle, and not factoring in the "Suppression" rules, and/or adverse morale results from losses, I think a better matchup might be pitting 5 x M48s vs. 10 x T-55s, instead. Of course, with the other rules, 13 x T-55s still might be a good matchup.

Will have to give it another try, or two, to see how that works out, which is now easier, since I've got the "To-Hit" numbers recorded for the various ranges, in order to make a replay run a bit faster the second and third time around.

So, our intrepid little NATO tank platoon did rather well, vs. a much larger force, despite overwhelming odds. They clearly gave better than they got, but in the end, the numbers finally did them in, as the range closed to permit more effective shooting while the T-55s were on the move.

At the end of the battle, all 5 x M48s were knocked out, as were 8 x T-55s from the original company of 13.

The remaining Soviet tanks from the 1st Company paused briefly, before continuing Westwards, in their drive for the Rhine River. Fate saved the inebriated crew in T-55 #13, which may have lagged slightly behind the others, so wasn't selected as a priority target by the opposition. Sometimes, it's better to be lucky, than good.

No doubt, the survivors from 1st Company will be attached to the next wave of T-55s from their battalion, before encountering their next desperate foes trying to stem the Soviet hordes from advancing inexorably forward.

Weasel07 Apr 2015 9:27 p.m. PST

I imagine with terrain to slip into and out of, those spotting rolls will end up being pretty important.

As far as tactics, Isby mentions when discussing assault tactics that on the attack, they would fire from the short halt, unless speed and momentum is considered to be more important. (usually meaning that another company is about to hit your position right after this one).

Mako1107 Apr 2015 9:38 p.m. PST

The battle took about 40 minutes to an hour, which was rather quick, especially for the first run through, and getting used to the rules, and documenting the results on paper.

I think not having to move and measure the ranges balanced out about the same amount of time as my having to note the die roll outcomes, and successes, since I made a little table on graph paper to track the kills, misses, and other info.

Yes, I think the M48s would have fared a bit better, if they'd had some concealment to hide in, or some small undulations to go hull-down behind, in order to give them a bit of protection.

At the longer ranges, it'd definitely be worth giving up one round of fire to seek that kind of protection out, from opposing fire.

Given that the rules have the advancing vehicles firing once per turn, and moving 50% of their basic speed, I suspect that probably represents firing from a short halt, and then advancing.

I don't believe the Soviets used bounding overwatch tactics, like NATO did, at least within the same companies. Perhaps having other companies provide that with long-range ATGM fire, as another company advances in front of them, which is why I didn't try that here.

Given their poor weaponry, I figured they're better off closing the range as quickly as possible, and just shrugging off the losses as they come to accomplish that.

Sometimes, speed is life.

Weasel07 Apr 2015 10:45 p.m. PST

Yeah, within the company, they'd all be taking the same actions. Other units provide fire.
I imagine it might look more like "Company forward to the ridge, stop to fire then advance!"

I noticed from the charts that the guns tend to have a pretty big range band where they kill on one die roll. Below that, auto kill, above that, no chance.
Nice and quick in that regard.

I imagine for a specific scenario, you can just copy the one or two lines that you need, rather than grappling with the whole chart.

nickinsomerset07 Apr 2015 11:49 p.m. PST

Interesting I have taken the 1955-2000 set out of the study to play test in tandem with the sabre Squadron rules. Messing around continues!

Tally Ho!

kmahony11107 Apr 2015 11:51 p.m. PST

Sounds good. Once stuff starts firing spotting becomes much easier.

BTW I dont think either side had APFSDS rounds in the 50s

Mako1108 Apr 2015 2:32 a.m. PST

Yea, I was wondering about that.

Figured AP, APDS, APCR, and APCBC perhaps, but none of those are listed as options, only APFSDS, so I suspect that may be a catchall category for the above.

Looks like the suppression omissions weren't a big deal, since the speeds of AFVs just get reduced by 50%, so down to 1/4 from the 1/2 speed I had them moving and firing.

The first real morale check only needed to be done when the Soviets lost 5 tanks, but after NATO lost two there should have been a check (33%, or more losses. I'm omitting the first loss/suppression, called for on morale checks, since given the positive and negative modifiers, I think that would have been a wash).

Another morale check when they lost 50% of their force.

Mako1108 Apr 2015 12:06 p.m. PST

Ah, I stand corrected.

The To-Hit line lumps all of the AP-type rounds together, but then separates them out on the chance to knock out the targets, and ranges at which they are effective vs. various armor levels for the vehicles.

There are some other options included for the 90mm gun, including APC, APHE, and HVAP, which are less effective at long range than the APFSDS round.

After a quick search on the types of rounds carried, I found this listing, which someone got from the M48 tank user manual:


Here's a later quote from the same posting, from a guy who was a gunner in an M48:

"Not intending to be a snob but the M-47 and M-48 tanks were not WWII armor. They were being designed around the end of the war but didn't see service until the mid fifties. I served with Co. A 2nd Medium Tank Battalion 112th Armor 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard from Aug. 1959 to Aug. 1964. We were on active duty at Ft. Polk, LA from Oct. 1961 until Aug. 1962 during the Berlin Crisis.

The 90MM HVAP-DS was indeed the High Velocity Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot round. They were very expensive so we did not fire any since we were training. We did however fire HVAP rounds that had a muzzle velocity of 4800 feet per second. The M-47 had a crew of 5 while the M-48 had only 4 crewmen.

I was the gunner on a M-48A1 and remember putting a HVAP round through an old Sherman tank on a hillside at 1800
yards. If boresighted and zeroed correctly it was a formidable weapon. Like all tanks it's weak spot was in ther rear. Of course the Infantry is not supposed to let the enemy get in the rear. LOL".

Here's the link from the webpage I got the above from:


Not sure how to classify the HVAP-DS, since its not listed as an option on the Damage table, but APFSDS seems to me to be about the best match for it, instead of just the standard HVAP. The penetration and knockout values for the standard rounds would have been a lot lower, if I'd used them, so both sides would have opted to continue to fire HEAT instead.

I guess it really would have only delayed the battle a bit, and made the kills occur at a bit shorter range, if having to stick with HEAT.

Will have to do a bit more research on the HVAP-DS round, and/or see what ammo options are provided in the various WRG lists for the M48 tanks.

Of course, in doing a bit more reading, it appears that availability of a production version of the HVAP-DS round seems to be suspect, so I'll have to do a bit more reading, and/or rely on the WRG data for ammo loadouts.

Charlie 1208 Apr 2015 3:12 p.m. PST

Actually, HVAP-DS would not be in the same class as APFSDS. APFSDS are spin neutralized long dart penetrators. HVAP-DS was not spin stabilized and definitely not long penetrators. Not exactly sure where this fall in WRG's categories, though.

Mako1108 Apr 2015 5:21 p.m. PST

Me either. Thanks for the info, though.

Challenger Army lists gives the following ammo options for the M48A1:


So, it appears HEAT is the best choice, for fighting at most of the longer ranges, of 1,500m or more. To-Hit numbers on 1D6, without other modifiers are 6 at 2,500m, and 7 at 3,000m.

The other options are far less accurate, and less powerful rounds (at 2,000 yds. the APHE and HVAP have very poor penetrative performance) at more than medium range.

The HVAP round is pretty inaccurate as well, making the HEAT round look good by comparison, even when generally they are thought of as being less accurate than most AP ammunition.

Rod I Robertson08 Apr 2015 5:34 p.m. PST

Interesting report which brings back fond memories of massed micro armour games thirty to twenty years ago. You're making me nostalgic and inspiring me to get out the micro armour this summer and play some games.
Cheers and thanks for the inspiration.
Rod Robertson.

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