British Cromwell hunts Whittman!

British Cromwell hunts Whittman!
A pic from a Fireball game at Fall In 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

France 1940 - Fireball Game

Well the armor rules are finally set! It took alot of back and forth, testing, experimenting and input from alot of great people...but we are there! The rules are first of Everyone seems to agree that what we came up with is fun to play giving the game a nice level of excitement. On top of that the results basically match the results you would get from Squad Leader, so we know we should not get any funky outcomes. The mechanics are fairly simple: a shooting tank rolls 1d6 and two range dice. The range dice depend on the gun type that is shooting. Shooter needs a 4+ on the d6 modified by the range dice and a list of the other modifiers. (which everyone will remember after the first game). If a hit is scored the target rolls d6s equal to its armor to save against the penetration value of the gun. It is fairly simple and after the first game everyone has it down pat.

The main issue we discovered while developing this set of WW2 rules is that there is a big difference between developing infantry rules and armor rules. Infantry forces across the globe in WW2 all used the same basic tactics and the same basic weapons: fire & manuever with machine gun, mortars and small arms. Countries had different organizations, slightly different weapons and different doctrines but these can all be accounted for easily in a comprehensive set of rules. Armor rules are radically different because you are actually modeling an arms race. This arms race at times has combatants on an even playing field and at other time with one side having a huge advantage in equipment. We found that modeling that correctly and having it work with the infantry rules to be the biggest challenge ...also keeping the rules simple and fun added to the challenge. But I feel we have succeeded.

To give these rules a real test we felt that gaming armor combat in France 1940 would be a supreme test. In that theater of war the French had tanks that were slow, moderately well armed and heavily armored while the German armor was lightly armored, fast and under-gunned. We played the scenario 'Road to Beaumont' from the Skirmish Campaigns book France 40 - The Ghost Division. It features Pzkfz 38t and PzIIs vs. H39s.

The game started with French Infantry moving through a woods to scout out the road ahead.

German infantry engaged the French and although they managed to keep most of them at bay one squad managed to find the Pz38ts and the H39s burst over the hill they were hiding behind and engaged them.. A group of a local farmer's sheep scurried out of way of the action!

The French destroyed a Pz38t and feeling that the way was clear a second, much larger group of H39s appeared and decided to barrel down the road and try to exit the board (thus achieving their victory condition...which was to escape Rommel's closing trap.) But to their surprise two PzIIs hit them in the flank and after a spirited fight took out an H39.

The French decided to make a run for it. Although they outnumbered the Germans they felt that their superior armor would protect them and their best chance for victory lay in advancing past the ambush. They pushed on with the PZIIs right behind them.

Although the French managed to take out a PZII they were overwhelmed and the last H39 was destroyed just as it was about to exit. It was tough for the Germans but superior tactics led them to victory.

The game worked very well and a good time was had by all. The armor rules played out great as the French tanks seemed tough to kill but not as effective as the Germans especially if they were moving. It could have gone either way and the results seemed to fit the historical narrative. We will be doing more France 40 and soon...Guadalcanal...not to mention North Africa.



  1. I am curios about these rules and what periods they will cover

  2. Right now we are focused on WW2 but Jonathan has been developing scenarios for Vietnam and another friend is getting material together for Angola. The first rulebook will either be just WW2 with post-WW2 to follow soon after -OR- the rulebook will cover 1939-1985...but now that I think of it it would be fairly easy to work out WW1 also.

    Either way our philosophy to to get all of WW2 correct...meaning that the rules will cover the Pacific and North Africa. I have found that rules generally just get North-West Europe and Russia right but neglect the other theaters (where the terrain is radically different) and retrofit the rules to fit them in a supplement. We plan to get all of these right off the bat. That will make the rules better and more well rounded overall.

  3. Mark and I are thinking that the initial set of rules will focus only on WWII. Then the Vietnam stuff, including Hue scenarios and special rules, would be a separate booklet released later.

    We're working hard to try and get all the major arenas of combat from WWII to feel right. What we mean by "feel right" is that the narrative of the game - the story of it - matches up with written accounts of battle. Mark and I (especially Mark) have read a TON of books and personal accounts from WWII, and the more we get into developing these rules, the more I feel that's a hugely important foundation.

    Enjoying the process,