Saturday, 29 December 2018

WW2 Western Desert project - rules approach

With my current batch of WW2 Western Desert models painted I have started to test out the modified rules with a couple of games. The core rules I am using are Lock n Load's "Tank on Tank" boardgame rules which are available as a free download from their website. These rule are geared towards the later part of WW2 for both the East Front and West Front games.

A German armoured infantry attack upon a village is costly
In adapting the core rules for the earlier period in North Africa I have adjusted the unit's defence values along with their weapon ranges. In the rules each unit comes with three values:

  • a range value representing the range in hexes, 
  • a defence factor, 
  • and movement points. 

For example, in the boardgame a Panzer IV with 75mm (long) has a range of 2 hexes, a defence value of 9, and 2 movement points.

The range presented a problem as 50mm and 2 pounder guns were common and would have a range of 1 hex. This was not the feel or look I wanted on the tabletop, so I have increased the caliber ranges by 1 hex.

  • Small caliber (47mm, 50mm, and 2 pounder) = 2 hexes
  • Medium caliber (6 pounder and 75mm) = 3 hexes
  • Heavy caliber (88mm) = 4 hexes

To compensate for the increased ranges I have, for the most part, increased the defence values for tanks (or combat units as they are termed in the rules) by one.

  • Light tanks and Armoured Cars (Honey, Sdkfz 222, and Sdkfz 231) defence = 8
  • Medium light tanks (Panzer III and Crusader) defence = 9
  • Medium tanks (Panzer IV, Grant, and Sherman) defence = 10
  • Medium heavy tanks (Matilda) defence = 11

Other rules changes are...

As with the rules, but if lost can be promoted to any type of unit. My tabletop contains more hexes than the board game, so attaching HQs to fast mobile units is useful.

Aces (Experienced commander)
As with the original rules but can be used as an HQ, but cannot be promoted once lost.

Self-Propelled Guns
Are treated as personnel units (so they are not allowed to move and shoot).

AT Guns and Artillery
Any AT gun or artillery unit which is not self propelled (eg, a 2 pounder Portee style unit) must remain static.

Units must stop movement upon entering a minefield zone and may only move 1 zone when leaving a minefield hex. When attacked in minefield attacker can adds 1 to the result.

Rough Ground
All units must stop upon entering and may only move 1 zone when leaving.
Treat as cover for personnel units (use second value). Don’t add the +1.

Prepared Positions
As per the rules.

Impassible to motorised units (combat units) personnel can move. Treat as hill for combat.

Ridge/sand dune
Treat as a hill.

Provide cover for personnel units only and they get 360 degree shooting.

Treat as depression

Sighting units
When using artillery indirect fire or air support. The target must be within 4 bounds and LoS by friendly unit. This can be increased by 1 bound if on ridge.


Optional - Hidden Units
Units in cover can start the game as hidden. Hidden units cannot be eliminated until they are known to the enemy. Units cease being hidden when:
  • They shoot or move
  • An enemy unit moves into an adjacent hex
  • An enemy unit shoots at the hidden unit. The hidden unit takes no damage, but is no longer hidden.
Optional Sand Storm Rule
If weather occurs in a scenario, in this case sand storms. At the beginning of a new turn and before players have made a move. Roll 1D6, on a score of 1-3 units not on a road can only move 1 bound and sighting of enemy is restricted to 1 hex. A result of 4-6 move and units move normally.

The following photos are of my recently completed units with example range, defence and movement values. The brackets around the two defence values is for personnel units and follows the core rule convention.

Marder II    3-(9/9)-2
Panzerjeager 1    2-(8/8)-2
Armoured Infantry   1-(9/9)-2
50mm AT unit   2-(7/9)-0
88mm AT unit   4-(7/8)-0
88mm mounted on half-track   4-(7/8)-2
Panzer IV   3-10-2 (range-defence-movement)
Panzer III   2-9-2
Panzer II    1-8-2
Sdkfz 231   1-8-3
Sdkfz 222   1-8-3
Wespe   6-8/8-2
50mm AT units    2-(7/9)-0
Infantry*   1-(7/10)-1
Armoured Infantry   1-(9/9)-2
Motorcycle Unit   1-(7/9)-3
* I add trucks and vehicles to the infantry units stand to help recognise them as infantry and I think they look batter for it.

Matilda   2-11-1
Grant**    2-10-2
Valantine II   2-10-2
** The Grant tank has a range of 2 hexes due to its sponson mounted gun.

Humber A/C   1-8-3
Crusader II   2-9-3
Honey   1-8-3
25 Pounder unit   6-(7/9)-0
Sexton   6-(8/8)-2
2 pounder Portee    2-(7/8)-2
6 pounders    3-(7/9)-0
Armoured infantry (Bren Gun Carriers)   1-(9/9)-3
Infantry   1-(7/10)-1
I use additional models to indicate an HQ (left) and experienced commander (right)


  1. Interesting Peter, especially with the tweaks to range and defence. I had the boardgame and put together an article about the mechanics, it may be of interest at this point in time. If you don't mind, I will add the link here, any problems, let me know and I will delete the comment, cheers Norm.


    1. Hi Norm, I do remember reading your article which I found most interesting. Many thanks for providing the link. Peter

  2. Peter, your desert layout is splendid! I look forward to your first battle report from the front.

    1. Thanks. I am pleased with the look and feel of the tabletop and models. I need to take some photos as I keep forgetting - the games are generally short and sharp affairs.