Battalions In Crisis!

No longer in print.
Brief Description This is the Second World War at its most tactical level, as individual tanks and soldiers slug it out in the Pacific Front, in Russia, and in North Africa. Combat takes into effect the angle of shot and armor thickness, and provides detailed results (gun knocked out, periscope gone, tracks jammed on one side). Additional rules cover paratroops, amphibious landings, artillery, mines, and so forth.
Period Early WWII (1939-1942); supplements provide data for other periods.
Scale Tactical. 1 minute per turn. Ground scale is 1:1,000 (1 cm on the tabletop represents 10 meters). Units are individual vehicles and soldiers. All game measurements are in metric.
Basing Individual vehicles and soldiers. Exception: The rules recommend basing four soldiers to a 2 cm-square base when using microarmor-scale figures.
Contents Game set includes 3-ring binder, rules (106 pages), data sheets (71 pages), and 2 overlays. Rules include an index. Required pair of 20-sided dice is not included.
Designers Michael E. Kelly and Michael S. Pula
Publisher First edition published 1993 by Phoenix Military Simulations.

A detailed description of this game is also available.

What You Think

Cameron Fairchild (Cameron_Fairchild@publicis-pr.com)
Battalions in Crisis is a well-researched, thoughtful, good set of rules.

It works very well as long as each player has no more than a platoon of infantry and a couple of vehicles to control. Any more force than that, per player, and the game bogs down horribly.

There are a few vague rules and omissions, easily remedied by common-sense house rules.

Ric Walters (walters@mail.coredcs.com)
I have played it once with a group of eight. I thought it was smooth running, logical, and a lot of fun. The charts and modifiers can be a bit daunting, but they are easy to understand.

I used to use the rules from Yaquinto's Armor/88/Panzer games for one-to-one miniatures gaming. I think Battalions In Crisis! is more playable, with as much detail and a better representation of infantry capabilities. No rules set is perfect, but Battalions is very playable and has a good "feel" for what is happening on the battlefield at this scale. It's also a lot of fun, and that's why we game with miniatures - isn't it?

M. Allen Schweitzer (MSchwtzr@AOL.com)
After reading through this set of rules, I soon realized I would probably never use it. Certainly well researched, and a lot of thought went into it, but it's clearly an example how trying to "simulate" every possible weapon, firing angle, cover mod or morale factor can render you an accountant rather than a gamer.
James May (aqhmuse@arn.net)

Our club loves BIC! Yes, it is detailed, but that's what happens when you get down and dirty at 1:1.

My buddy and I presented a game at TwisterCon last year and we had 14 players - 7 German and 7 American. We recreated the Command Control system through the players. Each player had no more than a squad of infantry or a platoon of armor. To get the full benefit of BIC, I highly recommend using a chain-of-command system. It forces players to work together for a common goal. After playing BIC, we never hear gamers say "Well, my flank held, what happened to you?" Everyone is in it together, and the CO commands the battle.

Get BIC if you like skirmish-level WWII.

Steve Pittman (SPittman@BEACHYHD.DEMON.CO.UK)

I bought these a couple of months back. They are very good if you want to play strictly 1-1 games, as the info on vehicles is amazing - when you fire AP at an AFV and you get a lucky roll, you can do stuff like put one through a vision block or a turret hatch, bogie wheel, etc., etc. - great fun!

Seriously though, it does make things like Tiger tanks a bit less invulnerable, as there is usually a (slim) chance of disabling it and maybe killing a couple of the crew.

The infantry rules are good, fairly fast, and deadly to boot - set up a MG and dare someone to come at you across open ground. They do give a reasonably fast game with quite a few figures, but I seriously advise you to only field one or two AFV's, because of the detail involved in killing them.

I played a game at my club with 5 people who had never seen the rules before, with a couple of sections each, and they worked very well.

On the downside:

  • There are no rules for Anti-Tank rifles! Odd, when the basic set is for up to 1942-ish!
  • I had to remake the playsheets. I reduced them to 75% size and cut and pasted them, as there is too much irrelevant detail on them, and a couple of tables left out that are needed.
  • The cost !
  • I can't get hold of the 1944-45 module, apparently it's in re-print but as yet no sign of it :(
Michael Koznarsky (mskoz@juno.com)
Our game club made a few changes to the rules to improve the game:
  • German 75mm armor now has two shots per turn (like every other 75/76mm tank gun).
  • German armor has a +1 to hit to account for better optics vs French and Russians, or a -1 to the latter two nationalities. (Those big Soviet anti-tank guns would certainly blow you into next week... if they could actually hit you.)
  • Tanks with single-man turrets were also given a -1 to hit.

Although these did increase complexity a little (research before the scenario played and actually remembering the change during the game), play balance improved significantly and we all enjoyed the increased realism.

Jim O'Neil (jconeil@primenet.com)
I cannot recommend Battalions in Crisis; it is a redo of Tractics which was horrible. BiC is better, but not to the level I could recommend. I bought a set at Historicon two years ago -- they have proven to have minor data flaws, a lack of understanding of the physics of small arms fire and no understanding of armor, its resistance to penetration or how shot & shell affect it/are affected by it. Worse, it still has the complex and ungainly play of its predecessor. It may be the best there is, but better is coming, and in my opinion, worth waiting for.

Mike Kelly, the designer, replies:
Yes, the game has many of the factors of Tractics, because that is the level it is at. However, if you actually played the game, you would find that it is not the same in any way.

As far as armor penetration and small arms go, you can make many different assumptions about how rounds will work in any given situation. The same goes for small arms. If you read reports of actual small unit actions, such as Small Unit Actions During the German Campaign in Russian, you will find that our game creates the correct effects when you use the correct tactics. We have many ex- and current military who use our game and swear by it. The artillery effects are considered very realistic, and this by artillery officers from both current and past history.

Obviously, I am biased, but we are always looking for feedback from the owners of our rules. Our address and phone number are in every copy of our game that we sell, and we answer every phone call and letter from players.

The feedback that we have gotten often finds minor points of disagreement, but the overwhelming response is what a good time people have with the rules. I will be running games or tournaments at the following conventions, and I urge anyone who is interested to come and play a game. Pointcon at West Point 28 April, Nashcon at Nashville 26 May, Historicon in July at Lancaster, Southern Front in November, and Cold Wars in March 96 at Lancaster.

If anyone has comments of questions, they can reach me in the evevning at (301) 860-9492 between 7:30 and 9:30.

If you would like to add your opinion to this webpage, use the following form or send email to the editor.

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Module I: 1943

Module II: 1943-45

Online Resources

Review Notes
One of the designers of Battalions In Crisis! explains what he likes about the game. Includes a convention photo of a game in progress.
BIC Data Roster
This is a complete listing of all the data sheets provided in the basic game and the modules. If you were wondering where to find your favorite vehicle's data, look here.

If you know of other resources for this game, please let us know by sending email to the editor. If you have material you would like to make available to the Net, also let us know.

Last Updates
19 August 1999out of print
24 April 1999comments by Cameron Fairchild
14 April 1999comments by Ric Walters
comments by M. Allen Schweitzer
24 December 1997comments from James May
16 November 1996comments from Steve Pittman
Comments or corrections?