The Wargamer's Corner
“Unbalanced Equality” War Game Rules
Reprinted from Table Top Talk November 1965
By Jack Scruby
As a general rule I dislike using TTT for a "rule book", but we here in Visalia have developed an excellent set of war game rules for "unbalanced equality" that I felt readers would be interested in them. Although these rules are used by us at the moment for 25mm Colonial War Games of the 1890 period, it is my belief that they can be used for all periods of war games, and all types of wars by a few changes necessary because of weapons, rifle ranges, etc. that varied during military history.
An "unbalanced equality" war game is one in which the opposing forces are unequal in numbers and types of troops, but are equal in "combat ability". In the 25mm Colonial armies we use for example (which is basically Natives versus trained regulars), we spent many hours working up the "equality" of combat values, which had to be based not only on manpower, but on rifle-fire, melee and morale values, and artillery fire power. In the end, we arrived at a British force valued at 2900 points and a Native force (with a sprinkling of native regular infantry as the hard core) valued at 4400 points. Normally this would seem to give the Natives overwhelming strength, but in actuality considering the range of rifle fire and the firepower of the British infantry, it worked out very evenly.
The interesting part of the "unbalanced equality" war game is that each "general" in command must use different tactics for his force. The tactics used by the British commander cannot be used by the Native commander, and vise-versa. And if these tactics become too well known by each commander over a series of war games, one can always trade sides, or split up the forces to a half native-half regular army for each player for a few games.
To organize an "unbalanced equality" war game force, the players must utilize the Morschauser Roster System, mounting every soldier upon moving trays in "company strength" units. (Of course you can use Battalion strength or' Regimental strength units if you so choose).
For our 25mm scale figures we chose 10 model soldiers to represent 100 men at company strength. These were mounted on a wooden base 3 inches long by about 2 inches wide. The 3 inches represented the front which a company could occupy, and is the "basic" size stand.
All regular infantry (whether Askari (or native) regulars, or British) are mounted on this size stand and represent 100 men. It takes 100 shots from enemy troops to wipe out a stand. As you can see by the TABLES presented at the end of this article, British troops have more Morale Power than the Native regulars. Also, you'll note, this Morale Power of the Regulars are higher when in closed formation than open formation.
Using this 3inch by 2 inch moving stand as the "basic" size for a 25mm "company" of infantry, we will detail out each type of soldier used, giving their power of combat, etc. as we go along.
REGULAR INFANTRY - Each stand represents 100 men, and as the enemy "kills" these men, the numbers that are shot are deducted from the original total of 100 from the Roster Sheet. When the total reaches 50 or less, all fire power from the stand is cut in half.
Two "formations" are possible with a Regular Infantry stand. Open Formation is when several stands are placed with at least an inch gap between them. Closed Formation is when the stands are placed tightly against each other these "formations" represent to the players that the men are either in skirmish formation, or are formed up in companies practically shoulder to shoulder to deliver volleys or withstand charges.
In Open Formation, a company stand may move 6 inches per game move, has a Morale Power Value of 3, and can "kill" 1 enemy point for every 10 that are firing.
In Closed Formation, the stand may only move 3 inches, but has a Morale Value of 5, and can "kill" 2 enemy points for each 10 firing.
Note: we feel the Open and Closed Formation rules may only be applicable to war games of the Civil War to Modern Times, since most wars prior to 1860 were fought on a "shoulder to shoulder" basis.
RIFLE RANGE of all troops in our game is 20 inches, which means when Regulars are in Closed Formation; they have little movement, but can reach out pretty far in firing.
MORALE POWER VALUES are of extreme importance in the "unbalanced equality" type game, and it works like this. Whenever you must determine morale of any stand, you multiply the number of points in the stand (which of course varies depending on casualties) times the Morale Value Factor. In the case of British Regulars in closed formation this would be 5; in the case of Native Regulars in closed formation this would be 4 (see TABLES). Thus, depending on formation and strength the Morale Value of any stand will vary; and depending on the strength of the unit, the Fire Power it delivers will also vary.
NATIVES: are divided into two types- those that have rifles that can shoot, and those who have spears or clubs and who mostly melee. The latter we call NATIVE SPEARMEN, and these are mounted on a 4 1/2 inch by 2 inch stand. 10 natives are mounted on this stand, and we consider there are 150 natives represented by them. No Open or Closed Formation rules are used for natives (or for any other troops than Regular Infantry for that matter). As casualties are inflicted upon the stand, they are deducted from the Roster sheet. When the strength of the stand reaches 25 points, the natives will no longer fight and are taken off the table.
Native Spearmen have an 8 inch movement at all times, and have a Morale Power Value of 3. Thus in melee a stand of Spearmen would have an original total combat value of 450 points, against a single Regular (British) Infantry stand, in open formation, of 300 points. (As you can imagine, it behooves the British commander never to have a company caught in the open without a supporting stand so that "closed" formation can be formed!)
Native Spearmen have one special rule- a sort of "fire and charge" movement. You can move a stand of spearmen one game move 8 inches, throw their spears (which is 8 inches), and then charge- all on the same move. All casualties are deducted before the charge sequence is made.
Native Riflemen are mounted on a 3 inch by 1 inch stand, in single row. The 5 men mounted on this stand represent 50, and they have a Morale Value of only 2, not being considered to be good at melees because of their "skirmish" line formation. As with all troops, they will "kill 1 enemy soldier for every 10 points they have in strength. At full strength then, they can deliver 5 "kills", while a British Regular Infantry stand (at full strength) deliver s up to 20 "kills" per volley if in closed order!
Having explained the basic factors for these two main types of troops (Regulars and Natives), you need only check the TABLES to get the information needed about the other troops, such as cavalry, artillery, etc. Remember all troops, except the Native Spearmen and Native Riflemen are mounted on the basic 3inch by 2 inch moving stand. Light cavalry of both sides have 3 men mounted on these stands, and heavy cavalry and Mounted Infantry have 5 men per stand. All Combat power for each stand is based on a 1 model soldier equals 10 men basis - thus 3 light cavalry represent 30 men, and 5 heavy cavalry represent 50. All firepower is based on a "1 kill per 10 point" basis, with all fire power automatically being cut in half when a stand reaches one-half its original strength.
We should explain about the MOUNTED INFANTRY however. These models are not glued to their horses, and can be dismounted at will. Since we assume they are infantrymen, not cavalrymen, their fighting ability is not as good when mounted, as when dismounted. The TABLES describe their combat ability in either position. Since they move 8 inches when mounted, we allow them a dismounting move of 4 inches, and a mounting move of 4 inches. In other words, the horse may move 4 inches, the man dismount and move 4 inches, or vise-versa in mounting. One man must remain mounted on the stand at all times as horse-holder.
ARTILLERY AND MAXIM GUNS: As you can see by the TABLES, British artillery is better than native-served artillery in registering "hits" and "kills". And don't forget, you add 10 "kills" to your score if firing at troops in closed formation. In firing cannons against Maxims or Artillery, the player has a choice; he may fire to kill the crew, or to destroy the cannon. 'In our game, you must make 4 "hits" to knock out guns, a "hit" being a 1, 3 or 6 on the dice. If the crew of a gun is killed, it may be replaced by taking 60 points out of an Infantry unit.
THE MELEE: is broken up into three definite sequences.
Sequence 1 - Both players determine their total combat value by multiplying the number of Combat Power points in their stands by the Morale Value of each stand. The highest such total is the Winner. His casualties are determined from the MELEE RESULTS TABLE, and are deducted from his Roster Sheet.
The Loser of the first sequence of the melee will now lose 1/3rd more casualties than the Winner. These total losses are arrived at by dividing the winner’s loss by 3; then add this total to the number of casualties the winner lost. These losses are spread evenly throughout the loser’s stands.
EXAMPLE: Winner has four 150 stands at full strength, thus would lose 120 points (30 pts. per stand) The Loser had 3 100 point stands at full strength. Divide the Winners 120 casualties by 3, equals 40. Add this 40 to 120, equals 160 point losses.
Sequence 2- Taking again (even though casualties have been deducted from the Roster Sheet) the original total Combat Values (combat power multiplied by Morale Values), each player now rolls one dice. Multiply the total Combat Value of each player by his dice roll. The highest such total is the winner, and the losing side is forced to retire.
Sequence 3 - The Winner now has an option. He may tell his opponent to retire 4 moves to the rear in panic; or he may call for a Pursuit Move. In this event, the loser retires two moves to the rear, and the Winner's troops follow, still locked in melee. On the subsequent game move, both sides may reinforce this melee, and it is fought as per the rules above. However, unless the Loser's force can be supported by fresh troops, the Morale Value of his men is cut in half.
MORALE: European (British) troops have no morale problems after firefights, but all Native troops do, whether cavalry, spearmen or Native Regulars. Whenever Native cavalry, spearmen or Riflemen come under rifle fire, they must dice to see if they stand up to it (after they have fired their volley). A 1 or 2 on the die and they must retire 2 moves. Native Regulars retire if a 1 is thrown. All Natives thrown back by loss of Morale must dice a 4,5,6 to return towards the fight on the next game move. If a 1,2 or 3, they remain where they are until the dice tell them to move back into combat. All troops in a defensive position (such as on top of a hill, behind a wall, in a house) receive 1 added point to their Morale Value.
DEFENSIVE POSITIONS: (on top of hills, behind a wall, in a house) give added protection by cutting down firepower of the attacker to half.
The rules outlined above are the rules which we at Visalia have been using in our fictitious Egyptian Rebellion War of 1895, and which has been reported in TTT. I do not doubt that many other players have as good or better rules they use, but I, for one, have never been engaged in such hard fought battles as since we adopted these rules. As British commander, it is a chilling thought to know that in order to win you must "kill" over 4000 screaming natives- while David Rusk, the "Rebel" native leader, knows the horrible effect of a well positioned British volley line!
Although we have not used this idea of "unbalanced equality" for other war games yet, I have no doubt that eventually we will adapt these basic rules for Colonial War games to Napoleonic, ancients and modern combat.
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