Friday, January 2, 2015

First Game Of the Year : A One Hour Wargames Scenario

I began the new year of gaming with a play through of Scenario #3: Control the River from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames. The objective for both sides is to control both fords and thus the river, before 15 turns pass. 

OHW scenarios seem to all have 15 turn limits. Regardless of the rules used, I have only hit the 15th turn one time in 10+ games using scenarios from the book. In my experience playing the 1st two scenarios, that limit does very little to force movement, and so, I have modified the turn limit to 10 turns  + 1d6-1 turns if necessary.

OOB Randomly Generated by the method in OHW:

U.S.A. Germany
3 Infantry Units 4 Infantry Units
0 Mortars 0 Mortars
2 Tanks 1 Tank

For those who haven't yet read somewhere else, OHW limits forces to 4 unit types, and a max of 6 units per side, to fit the game within a 3' x 3' space.

The WWII rules in One Hour Wargames use a 4-6" frontage for Infantry, which represents a platoon, A single tank model represents somewhere between a section and a platoon., a mortar represents about 3 mortars and their crews, and ATGs represent about 3 such guns and their crews. 

I played this scenario on 12/31/14 with the OHW WWII rules as written (I don't dislike them, but I don't love them), but then kicked off the New Year using my own rules that are a mash-up of Morschauser, Featherstone, Cordery and Mr. Thomas himself. I've been playing these rules a lot over the past week, tweaking them here and there - I'll post them eventually.

In this scenario,  both sides start off the table and arrive on turn 1. Since I'm playing solo, I diced the location of all units on turn 1, and then play began with turn 2. 

FYI, the grid is not in use during this game, it's just on the cloth - although it does help with measuring. The sad plastic trees indicate where the fords are.

Here's what the dice gave me:

Early in the game probably turn 2, the Germans appear to concentrate on their right:

But it was a trick, and the Germans split their force to take each ford:

In my rules, a unit is two bases, and can take two hits before being completely eliminated. Units throw one die per base, so loss of a base impacts combat effectiveness. You can see one German and one US unit reduced to one base in this picture.
The clash on the left:

On the right, things aren't quite as bad. Or so it would seem. Shortly after this picture was taken, the pictured US platoon was destroyed:

The guns blaze away and the dice are merciless, yet neither side has definitively taken control of one ford, let alone two:

 One of the high points of the game, the ATG scores a hit and brews up the PZ IV:
It's not enough to score a hit on armor. I'm using Featherstone's method of rolling 2d6 and on a score of 9 the tank falls back 1 move, a 10 it falls back two moves and on an 11 or 12 it's destroyed.

It looks like things could go either way at this point - we're nearing turn 10 and no one has control over both fords. The German platoon on my right seems to have things under control, and on my left, the ATG will provide the other German platoon with some protection from the Sherman:

Alas, it is not to be for Germany, and the US eliminates them entirely with some well placed rounds:

I don't think a PAK 40 would smoke if hit but I like the visual!

A fast and enjoyable game that could have gone either way - I've already played this scenario twice since, once again with Mr. Thomas's rules and once with my own.

As I said, I'll post some thoughts on the book itself later, but I will say, whether tor not you play the OHW rules as written, the scenarios, and the small space they require, makes the book a must have for those of us who don't have access to a space much larger than a kitchen table.


  1. I got the book, but haven't really had a chance to look through them, other than a really quick skim. WWII is not really my "thin", but it's still interesting to hear other people's take on the rules and scenarios. I'll have to see which period and scenario from the book I want to try at some point.

    1. I'm working my way through the scenarios and all have been enjoyable. What's great is that they play so quickly - easy to set up, play and tear down in an hour. The rules he provides are ripe for house rules.

  2. I'd say that the rules are interesting as a store of concepts and ides to be used at a later date, and I like that he at least outlines why they are the way they are. Like you I am playing the scenarios using my own rules.

    I was apprehensive about the scenarios at first, as they seemed to lack depth and the sparse terrain seemed uninspiring. But they work. I've played over half of them now, and most have given excellent and enjoyable games. They give a great collection of scenarios to use for mini-campaigns too.

    1. Agreed about the rules - I read and re-read his rationale for his choices for the WWII rules and they certainly gave me some food for thought.

      For the scenarios, I've played many times with the table set up per the map, but I've also used various random terrain generation tables (Platoon Forward, Nuts!, Chain Reaction, and others) - treating the pictured terrain elements as required and important to the scenario, and any blank space as a possibility for additional terrain.

    2. For my ACW games on a grid I've been adding in two random small areas of cover for each scenario. This would probably be a bit extreme for the OHW rules, but it works fine for mine. And, of course, it adds to the replay value of the scenario, as each run is slightly different.

  3. I ordered the book based on reading this post.

    1. That's awesome! I hope you find the book of value to you.