WW2 Rules

These World War Two (WW2) house rules were inspired by the Neil Thomas book “One-Hour Wargames” & influenced by Avalon Hill’s Panzerblitz boardgames.

Small games can be played on a 3’ x 4’ table with up to 10 or so units & larger games on a 4’ x 6’ table with up to 20 or more units representing a company level sized unit.

A game should be playable in 30-60 minutes.

The rules are written for gaming on a 6” square gridded table, but can easily be converted to measured movement by converting all square ranges to 6” measured, & units are treated as being adjacent if within 3” of another unit.

To play the game you will require few dice (referred to as D6 in the rules) & markers to indicate disrupted unit’s.

Each player’s army has a selection of units representing company size units. Base sizes do not matter in this game providing there is a level of consistency.

The based miniatures need to represent the unit type, but do not need to be specific. For example, an artillery piece is sufficient to represent artillery & the gun’s caliber doesn’t matter.

All units have an assigned class (which is used when determining combat results) & a movement allowance.

Unit Movement
Infantry - 1 square
Motorised Infantry - 2 squares (3 squares on roads)
Armoured Infantry - 2 squares
Reconnaissance - 2 squares
Armoured Cars - 2 squares
Tank - 2 squares
Self-Propelled AT Gun/Tank Destroyer - 2 squares
Anti-Tank Gun - 1 square (2 squares on roads)
Mortars - 1 square (2 squares on roads)
Artillery/Mortars - 1 square (2 squares on roads)
Self-Propelled Artillery/Mortars - 2 squares

Infantry Class Units - Infantry, Motorised Infantry, Armoured Infantry, Reconnaissance, & Armoured Reconnaissance.

Tank Class Units - Tanks, Self-Propelled AT Guns, Tank Destroyers & Self-Propelled Artillery.

Gun Class Units - Artillery, Mortars and AT Guns.

Sequence of Play
The game is played in a series of turns. Each turn has 5 phases:
  1. Game Clock
  2. Artillery & Mortar Fire
  3. Combat
  4. Movement
  5. Reorganisation
The player whose turn it is (the controlling player) completes all phases, then passes control to the other player. This alternating approach continues until the end of the game.

Each turn represents a period of time which is tracked on a game clock. The tracking of time is important as it may effect observation if the game is taking place at dawn or dusk.

Game Clock
At the start of each turn progress the game clock forward. Roll an average dice (2,3,3,4,4,5) & multiply by 5 for the number of minutes to progress the game clock.

Check the start time against the scenario being played to determine if there are any observational impacts if the game is being played near the times of dawn or dusk, & apply them to turn.

Units may only attack units they can see. All units can observe units at a range of 2 Squares. However, their line of sight is blocked by terrain, smoke, burning wrecks or when there are two units in an open square.

All units have a 360 degrees of observation.

Friendly units do not block line of sight unless there are two units in a square.

The exception to the observation rule is indirect fire from Artillery & Mortars, which can attack units they cannot see providing a friendly infantry or reconnaissance unit can observe the target & radio in the coordinates.
Artillery & Mortars
Only Artillery & Mortar units can fire indirectly & only during the Indirect fire phase. They both have an unlimited range.

Artillery and Mortar units can fire at an observed enemy units or provide indirect fire at enemy units observed by friendly reconnaissance or infantry units. The observing units must be within two squares of their location. Forward Observation Reconnaissance units do not have to be within 2 squares to observe for Artillery units.

Artillery fire can be directed by Forward Observation Officers attached to reconnaissance units and benefit from no deductions with indirect fire (see combat section).

The controlling player must declare which observed units are being attacked. A target unit may be attacked by multiple Artillery or Mortar units, but only 1 hit will apply to the target unit.

Once the target units have been declared, roll D6 to determine how many hits & their effects (refer to the Combat section on how to calculate this).

Artillery & Mortar units are unique in that their attacks can cause a self inflicted disruption when a 1 is rolled. This rule mechanism is aimed at representing supply issues & possible counter-battery fire.

Artillery and Mortar units may not fire while they are disrupted, but can reorganise like other units.

Terrain effects observation, combat & movement. To enter any terrain feature, not open terrain, they must first move up to be in contact with the feature. It takes one move to occupy a feature. While occupying a feature all measurement is from the edge of the feature when firing or moving out of a feature.

Open Terrain - no effects & 2 units may occupy a square

Buildings - Infantry & Reconnaissance units may enter buildings. Mobilised & Armoured Infantry can also enter buildings, but are treated as Infantry until they move out of the building. Units occupying a building zone are treated as being in cover for combat.

Where a road runs through a building zone any unit can pass through providing they do not end their move in the building zone.

Woods - Only Infantry & Reconnaissance units may enter woods. All other units (including Mobilised Infantry units, Armoured reconnaissance & Armoured Infantry units) cannot enter. Units are treated as being in cover for combat.

Marshland/Lakes - are impassable to all units.

Fields - All units may enter. Infantry & Gun class units are treated as being in cover for combat, but not artillery /mortar fire. Fields block line of sight.

Rivers - Units may only cross rivers at bridges & fords. Rivers do not block line of sight.

Roads - Units moving along a road can ignore terrain providing they end their move in a zone they are allowed to occupy. Roads do not count as a terrain feature, so do not effect zone occupant limits or line of sight.

Hills - block line of sight & Tank units are able to be “hull down” & treated as in cover for combat.

Units move up to their allowed movement allowances (see Unit Classes & Movement Table) & may move through other friendly units without penalty.

To move into a terrain feature, a unit must first move into an adjacent square. Moving out of a terrain feature uses all a unit’s movement allowance.

All units must stop once they move to any adjacent square containing an enemy unit.

Units starting their move adjacent to an enemy unit, may move away at no penalty, but otherwise must remain stationary.

Only units that have not moved during the movement phase can engage in combat. There are some special rules for some units to perform combat moves.

There are three steps to combat:
  1. Target Priority
  2. Roll for Hits
  3. Combat move
Except for Artillery & Mortar units which perform indirect fire other units perform direct fire on units they are able to observe.

Target Priority
The target priority is dependent up the type of unit. Tank and Anti-Tank units must first target the closest Tank classed units. All Units must target enemy units in adjacent squares. If there are no priority targets a player can choose the target unit.

All attacks on a target unit must be declared before determining hits. If a unit is eliminated before all units have fired, those units cannot fire at other units. They are assumed to have contributed to the elimination of the unit.

Determining Hits
Select the target unit and roll 1D6 for each attacking unit. The score required is dependent upon the type of attacking and target units (see Combat table). The D6 score is reduced by:

-1 if the target unit is in cover, or
-1 if unit a Reconnaissance (FOO) unit.

Combat Table
Infantry Class
Gun Class
Tank Class
Infantry, Motorised Infantry, Armoured Infantry
Reconnaissance (FO) & AA Guns
Armoured Cars, Assault Guns
Anti-Tank Guns, Tank Destroyers

Combat Move
Attacking tanks, armoured infantry & armoured reconnaissance units may move one square after combat.

Disruption & Elimination
Units with two disruptions are eliminated, which means the unit is out of the current fight due to a combination of any of the following: demoralisation, damage, fatigue, loss of its leadership.

Units can remove disruption markers as part of a players Reorganisation phase.

Units can reorganise themselves to remove disruption markers providing they have not engaged in shooting (combat) during their turn & are not adjacent to any enemy occupied squares.
All units except for poor quality troop units that only moved are able to attempt a Regroup.
To attempt a Regroup a player rolls 1D6 per unit on any 3+ score a unit is successfully reorganised.
Tank and elite units can re-roll failures.
Disrupted units may never advance in squares adjacent to enemy units. If they are already in an adjacent square they may remain there.

Any disrupted units which are adjacent to enemy units & cannot observe any friendly units, cannot attack & must attempt to move out of the adjacent square away from enemy units.

End of game
A game can end at a specific game clock time or when one side has suffered a set number of casualties.

Optional Rules

Smoke Screens
Artillery & Mortar units may provide smoke screens. Select a square where the smoke screen is required & roll 1D6. A score of 4+ & the smoke screen is successful.  Place a marked (e.g. a cotton wood ball) on the target square. 

Smoke screens block line of sight and provide cover for units within a square with smoke.

Smoke lasts until the controlling player’s next Artillery & Mortar phase.

Intense Artillery Fire
Artillery and mortar units my undertake an intense barrage using up all remaining ammunition. Any successful hits eliminate the target unit. The artillery or mortar unit is immediately removed from play.

Heavy Tanks
Attacks on Heavy Tank Units can only occur from adjacent zones, except for powerful AT guns (e.g., 17pdr & 88mm AT guns) which ignore the Heavy Tank rule.

A defending player is allocated a number of minefields as part of their force prior to beginning a game. The player marks squares as minefields.

Units use all their movement allowance to move into & out of a minefield like other terrain features.

When a unit is attacked while in a minefield the attacker gets to re-roll failed hits.

Whenever a Tank or Tank Destroyer unit is eliminated, place a wreck marker on the model. Wrecks block line of sight and still count as a unit stopping 2 units occupying an open square or block a bridge.

Dawn, Dusk & Night
The times of dawn, dusk & night are agreed at the start of the game along with the game start time. During dawn & dusk periods all units are treated a being in cover if not in adjacent squares. When night has fallen, dawn & dusk rules apply & all units move may only move 1 square.

Aircraft Sorties
Sorties occur during the Artillery & Mortar phase.

Aircraft sorties can only attack unit’s that are not purely infantry, so tanks, guns & any motorised infantry may be attacked.

Identify the unit to be attacked anywhere on the table & roll 1D6. A score of 5+ and the unit is eliminated. 

If there are enemy AA guns within 2 squares of any unit being attacked, then on a score of 5+ a unit is only disrupted and not eliminated, unless it is already disrupted. 
AA guns may not be attacked by aircraft.

When attacking if a 1 or 2 is rolled the aircraft is disrupted. Disrupted aircraft cannot reorganise, but may continue to make sorties until eliminated with a second disruption.

Strongpoints are stationary units. They are treated as infantry when attacking, and classed as tanks with the heavy tank rule when being attacked.

Intensive Artillery Barrage

Artillery and mortar units can expend all remaining ammunition in one barrage before retiring from the field. When they do so, any hits during this intensive fire causes the target unit to be destroyed.


  1. These look like a very nice way to play very simple WW 2. I like your approach to gaming and often visit your site.

  2. Hi there

    Very nice site and much food for thought re subtle griding of playing area etc.

    Been searching unsuccessfully for your posts on random terrain generation for your WW2 campaign , could you point me in the right direction ?

    regards Paul

    1. Thanks Paul. I still use the same approach for most of my games with subtle differences depending upon period. The post was on June 2016. Alternatively, here is the link info you can copy and paste: http://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/ww2-mini-campaign-part-3.html
      Cheers, Peter

  3. Hi there

    Thanks for link , printed out all your WW2 campaign stuff , looks like an interesting read.

    Do you keep a permanent record of the maps once generated in case they are fought over again ?

    It looks like the generated map has no orientation link to the starting map with the red/blue arrows on ?

    Therefore if drawn on the start map roads and rivers won't line up ?

    Would it work to have some major roads between the towns/villages before generating the map and transferring them on the subject square before terrain generation ?

    regards Paul

    1. Hi Paul - The campaign map was there to help track progress and provide a narrative to the games. My responses below to your questions, also include some of my learnings from the campaign.
      Q1 response - I considered the campaign squares to be quite large areas. So when a second attack was made I made the assumption it was not over the same ground. This approach, possibly a lazy approach, does help to minimise campaign bookkeeping.
      Q2 response - correct, I just used the features in a campaign square to influence the type of terrain placed on a tabletop for a game. The campaign square is not a representation of the tabletop. The campaign squares represent a large area and the tabletop just a small area within them, and not really articulated in my posts.
      Q3 and 4 response - The idea of major roads was one thing I would add to the campaign map in any future campaign. They would most likely increase the value of an occupied campaign square or assist with supplies to attacks along a major road.
      Thanks for all of your questions, and good luck with your planned campaign.

  4. Peter

    Bit confused ?

    Your starting map shows both Blue and Red arrows are they actual combat units in those squares ?

    Only later on your mention a unit moving to a square and if it finds it empty occupies it at no cost ?

    regards paul

    1. Hi Paul - I will re-read some of my posts to refresh my memory and respond to your questions at the weekend. Cheers Peter

    2. Hi Paul - The campaign map was used to show area captured from a successful attack. So if you attacked on the map and won the resulting game, you then got to occupy the campaign square attacked.
      Q1 Response - When posting about the campaign I started with arrows to show the front line. Then moved to small cardboard squares to show the front line, and eventually an old shoe lace to show the front line. All squares behind your front line were considered occupied.
      This changing representation is confusing, but essentially the marking the front line is the important. The arrows were for the most part used to show where the attacks were taking place.
      Q2 Response - I may have used this approach on the campaign map when first setting up the map to determine a starting front line. If you are setting up a campaign map you may want to ignore this rule and just draw your own starting front line. I did not apply this rule once the campaign was underway, so it may have been an idea that went no where.
      Thanks for your interest and questions.

  5. Good evening. I had visited your blog a couple of years ago and followed it for awhile. Then I got distracted with other stuff. I'm back again. I saw recently your WW2 rules and filed the link away for future reading. I just read them and the rules look great and I'm going to give them a go. There's mention of your campaign. Could you please point me to that? I'm in my "WW2" phase of interest now. Thanks!

    1. Hi. The campaign I used for these rules starts here https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2016/05/ww2-mini-campaign.html and here https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2016/06/ww2-mini-campaign-rules-part-2.html
      I hope this helps. I did post anbout another WW2 solo campaign in August 2019 using One-Hour Wargaming rules.

  6. Peter, thank you, yes it does. My wargaming has been limited to ancients and Napoleonic/black powder, both of which I enjoy but always with a solid campaign. I tried WW2 battles before with different rulesets but without a campaign, they lost their luster. I like this idea. Simple but keeps it meaningful. I will give it a try.

  7. Peter, I finally around to trying your WW2 NT-inspired rules and I have to say they are terrific. A nice blend of simplicity and keeping the feel of the period. The sequence of "combat" before "movement" I have seen before and always wondered how it would work. I think it is the icing on this cake. I've only played the rules a couple of times but am coming back for more. I mentioned these on a Facebook Group I belong to (One Hour Wargaming) which is based on NT's rules. I was actually looking for the author and then I remembered it was on your blog that I saw them. I know the members of that group would appreciate your rules since they often produce their own variations of NT-based rules. So, thanks for the great rules.

  8. Correction: that Facebook Group is "One Hour Wargames Fan Group"

    1. Thanks. I think I am a member or that group (although there my be more than one NT group).