November 26, 2022

History of Wargaming – Charles Grant

Robert Mosher, 6 October 2022

Charles Grant’s “Battle” War Game Rules for World War Two Miniatures

From 1968 to the end of 1970, the Meccano Magazine in the UK printed a series of 32 articles by wargamer Charles Grant. In these articles, Grant set out the essentials for wargaming World War Two battles of 1944-45 with his “Battle” rules. These articles were subsequently compiled into the 1970 publication of the completed wargame rules “Battle: Practical Wargaming”, the first of a series of books about wargaming written and published by Grant.

Charles Grant wrote in a conversational style that clearly conveyed his ideas on the design and play of war games. Much like his fellow British wargamer, Donald Featherstone, he believed that no single rule set would satisfy all wargamers and encouraged readers to take his ideas as either a starting point or just an inspiration for them in writing their own rules.

He recommended the use of simultaneous movement and firing by the opposing players, with both players free to move all or none of their units. Once both players have completed their movements then they can begin, again simultaneously, have their units fire at each other. However, he left it up to the readers to choose how to implement the simultaneous part.

The rules as presented are based upon the use of 20mm plastic military miniatures, in great part because that scale offered a reasonably sized battle on Grant’s 9’ x 7’ wargame table (a battlefield of 3,600 yards by 2,700 yards in scale). These figures also worked reasonably well with the models of tanks and other vehicles that were available at that time.

This use of a movement/distance scale linked to real soldiers moving and firing across real terrain in a set interval of time sets these rules apart from H.G. Wells’ and Donald Featherstone’s rules which for the most part never specified a time/distance scale in their rules.

The 20mm soldiers’ game movement reflects a standard military march speed of 120 paces (each 30 inches) to the minute or about 3 mph, i.e., 3 inches per turn. Grant also established each complete game turn as 1 minute of real time. This scale works out so that 1-inch equals 100 yards and a movement rate at which I inch is also 1 mile per hour. This translates into vehicle movement rates based upon each vehicle’s average road and cross-country speeds. This use of a movement/distance scale linked to real soldiers moving and firing across real terrain in a set interval of time sets these rules apart from H.G. Wells’ and Donald Featherstone’s rules which for the most part never specified a time/distance scale in their rules.

Movement on road and cross country in the same turn are pro-rated. The other terrain addressed in his rules are hills, woods, and rivers. Moving up hill costs infantry and vehicles one half of their move (one half of the road move for vehicles if they are able to do it on a road). Downhill movement is done at the full normal movement rate (if desired). Grant noted that he constructed his hills by stacking one-inch-thick insulation board to the desired contour and each one-inch board was considered to be a 50-foot difference in level. He also provided rules for the use of mines and minefields but that represents a bit of chrome that we need not go into for our purposes.

Vehicle Fire

On Road Cross
Country
Maximum
Armor
Defense
Value
Gun Strike
Value
Maximum
Range
Mk IV (GE) 12” 6” 120mm 14 75mm (long) 0-10” – 7
10-20” – 6
20-30” – 5
30-45” – 4
45”
T-34/85 (Russ) 15” 8” 75mm 14 85mm 0-10” – 11
10-20” – 9
20-39” – 8
30-45” – 6
60”
Sherman (US/Br) 12” 6” 76mm 14 76mm 0-10” – 7
10-20” – 6
20-30” – 5
30-45” – 4
45”
Churchill (Br) 7” 4” 100mm 15 6 PDR 0-10” – 5
10-20” – 4
20-30” – 3
30”
Trucks, jeep 24” 6” 6
Infantry 3” 3”

Non-vehicle Heavy Weapons

Type of Gun Strike Value at Range Range
6 PDR/UK/
AT Gun
0-10” – 5
10-20” – 4
20-30” – 3
30”
85mm/USSR/
AT Gun
0-10” – 11
10-20” – 9
20-39” – 8
30-45” – 6
60”
76mm/USA/
AT Gun
0-10” – 7
10-20” – 6
20-30” – 5
30-45” – 4
45”
75mm/GE
Short/
AT Gun
0-10” – 4
10-20” – 2
20-30” – 1
30”
88mm/GE/
AT Gun
0-10” – 12
10-20” – 11
20-30” – 9
30-45” – 7
60”

Charles Grant argued that just as chance is an integral element of actual combat, dice and die rolling are an inescapable part of wargame rules in determining the outcome of combats. The dice play no role in movement which is based solely upon the previously described movement scales. If “Battle” is to reflect the conditions of real war, then the rules must give proper allowance for the factor of uncertainty. [NB: With a turn based upon 1 minute of real time, Charles Grant did not in these articles go into the rate of fire of any of the large guns identified and discussed.]

The dice also play a role in determining the visibility of a possible target and the chances of hitting it.

Dice Throw
(Visibility) 2D6
Range in
Inches
Dice Throw
To Score a Hit
Unaided Aided
2 10” 15” 0 to 10” 6 or over
3 or 4 15” 20” 10 to 20” 7 or over
5, 6, 7, or 8 20” 30” 20 to 30” 8 or over
9, 10, or 11 25” 35” 30 to 45” 9 or over
12 30” 45”

All vehicles in the game are assigned a Defense Value which reflects its thickest armor. All artillery/AT guns/howitzers are assigned a Strike Value. Grant introduces the first of his play aids, “the Tank Stick”, a protractor fixed to rotate on the end of a 45-inch-long stick and used to determine the angle at which a shot fired by a specific gun would hit the target vehicle. The protractor is placed against the vehicle and the other end placed over the firing gun. The protractor can then be read to determine the angle of impact. A shot that hits the target vehicle at an angle of 30 degrees or less subtracts 2 from the strike value of the gun firing. A shot that strikes at an angle between 30 and 60 degrees removes 1 from the strike value. Any shot that strikes a target vehicle at an angle between 60 and 90 degrees incurs no penalty.

Strike Value + Die Roll (2D6) – Strike Angle modifier > Defense Value

Charles Grant described a number of play aids to be used in resolving fire combat under his rules.

  • The Tank Stick – 45 inches long with a 2- or 3-inch card ‘protractor’ at the one end which can move freely at the end of the stick allowing its long flat edge to aligned touching the target vehicle.
  • The Machine Gun Cone – 18-inch-long triangle, 1 inch wide at the target end and coming to a point at the firing end. Divided into 6 inch stretches designated Close, Medium, and Extreme Range.
  • The Sub-Machine Gun Cone – 4-inch-long triangle from the firing point to the 1-inch-wide beaten zone at the target end. Divided in half to designate point blank fire and distant fire.
  • The Hand Grenade Device – a 4-inch diameter circle, at the center is a circle 1 inch in diameter to show the burst area of a grenade. The 3 inches beyond that center circle are the ‘safe area’. [A hand grenade can be ‘thrown’ to a range of 2 inches.]
  • Mortar “Fall of Shot” Indicator – a clear sheet showing five overlapping 2-inch circles. One circle is placed at the center of the sheet (a roll of a 5 or a 6 means that the shot will fall on target in this circle). The other four 2-inch circles are placed at the four ‘compass’ points of the first circle with a slight overlap (not specified in the rules but the illustration shows these 4 circles only overlap with the center circle but do not have any contact with each other). A roll of 1 means that the shot has finally into the circle to the left of the target (from the pov of the mortar crew), a roll of 3 places the shot to the right of the target, while a roll of 2 or of 4 places the shot short of the target or in an overshot beyond the target.
  • The ’Shell-Burst Indicator Device’ – this is a 3 x 6-inch rectangle, divided first into 4 quadrants, each of which is a 3 x 1.5-inch rectangle. Over the center of the device is place a fifth 3 x 1.5-inch rectangle which overlaps the first 4 rectangles and is centered on the point at which the first four rectangles meet in the center. This is the ‘on-target’ portion. A roll of 5 or 6 places the hit in this central rectangle; a roll of 1 places the hit in the right hand rectangle nearest to the gun firing (i.e., short and to the right); a roll of 2 places it to the left (i.e., short and to the left); a roll of 4 places it ‘long and to the left’ while a roll of 3 places it ‘long and to the right’.

Other than infantry mortars, most artillery pieces will be placed of the war game table in Grant’s rules given their ranges which far exceed the size of a normal war game table. He also uses a Forward Observer or the unit commander to actually call for artillery fire (the FO will need to have direct visibility of the target). To ‘get the range’, the player must role a single 1D6 and a roll of 5 or 6 places the artillery fire on target. Thus, the Shell-burst Indicator is placed with its center over the targeted spot. One D6 is then rolled for each artillery piece firing on the target – individual figures inside the targeted area of the template lose 1 figure for each roll of 4, 5, or 6. For vehicles captured beneath the barrage according to the template, refer to the following table:

Target Vehicles Die Rolls (1D6)
To Destroy To Immobilize No Effect
Tank 5,6 1,2,3,4
Half-track/armored car 6 4,5 1,2,3
Soft-skinned Vehicles 5,6 3,4 1,2

Infantry Fire

One die is rolled per rifleman firing per one minute turn against an individual target. Any targeted figure “hit” is removed from the table but is still allowed to fire in that turn as all fire is simultaneous.

Table One
Effect of Rifle Fire
Die Rolls Causing Casualties (1D6)
Range in Inches In the Open Soft Cover Hard Cover
Short 0-3” 4,5,6 5,6 6
Medium 3-4” 5,6 6
Long 6-9” 6

Heavy weapons

Table Two
Effect of Machine Gun Fire
Die Rolls Causing Casualties (1D6)
Range in Inches In the Open Soft Cover Hard Cover
0-6” 3,4,5,6 4,5,6 5,6
6-12” 4,5,6 5,6 6
12-18” 5,6 6

SMGs

Table Three
Sub-Machine Gun Fire
Die Rolls Causing Casualties (1D6)
Range In the Open Soft Cover Hard Cover
0 – 2” 3,4,5,6 4,5,6 5,6
2 – 4” 4,5,6 5,6 6

Charles Grant’s infantry units reflect but do not replicate actual WW2 Unit TO&E, though they include the roughly accurate mix of rifles, SMGs, bazooka/PIAT, an added MG and Mortar, and possibly armored support and off board artillery or an on board AT gun. He included at least one officer or senior NCO, in addition to his rifle teams, MG teams, etc. and an optional wireless operator or even team for communicating with off-board artillery or higher command, depending upon scenario.

The author spent three articles in the series discussing the matter of morale and how he managed it in his rules. He introduced the subject with references to both military history and to previous rules for war games that did not include morale as a game factor. Emphasizing that others will probably want to develop their own rules for morale, Grant notes that experimentation and experience has led him to assign each unit a Base Morale Factor of 10. A Morale Check is required when a ‘unit’ has suffered casualties, or their transport vehicle has been destroyed.

A Morale Check references:

  1. Control (-1 if the officer or NCO is not within 1.5 inches of at least one other member of the unit)
  2. Cover (+1 for troops in hard cover, -1 for troops in the open; no effect for being in soft cover)
  3. Communication (in scenarios where applicable, -1 if the unit does not have visual or radio contact with its higher headquarters)
  4. Casualties (-1 if ¼ of the unit are casualties, -2 if ½ of the unit are casualties – rounding casualty numbers up)
  5. Destroyed transport (in scenarios where applicable, -1 if the unit’s transport vehicle has been destroyed)

The player rolls a single six-sided die and adds that resulting number to the Base Morale of 10 and then subtracts the cumulative total of pluses or minuses from the Morale Checklist. If the final total is 10 or more than the unit has passed its morale check. If the final total arrived at is less than 10, the unit the unit will remain halted in its position for one full turn. The unit’s Morale will then be checked again in each consecutive turn until it succeeds in passing the Morale Check and can return to play. In game scenarios with several command echelons above the unit, having a higher-level command figure link up with the unit will add a +2 to the die roll.

The intent of the rules is to provide a fun wargame with a dose of realistic challenge for the players. The introduction of a real world-based scale for fire and movement brings these rules closer to simulation but they do not model actual combat. The addition of Morale Rules represents an additional step beyond the game aside of war gaming. After the rules were published in book form (and reportedly remain in print), Charles Grant would go on to write and publish a series of books on wargaming different periods and about military history. He died in 1979.


HISTORY OF WARGAMING SERIES
THE ORIGINAL KRIEGSSPIEL ~ AMERICAN KRIEGSSPIEL ~ STRATEGOS ~ LITTLE WARS
PAWNS OF WAR ~ JACK SCRUBY WARGAMES ~ DONALD FEATHERSTONE ~ CHARLES GRANT
DISCUSSION FORUM THREAD


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