Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Neil Thomas Tanks

Whilst I am still working out the to and fro of the Two Hour Wargames reaction system with Hell Hath No Fury, I thought that it would be nice to play some kind of WWII tank-orientated game which didn't require so much mental effort. What would also be fun is one in which I could easily bolt on other troop types; ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ kind of does this in that it’s a subsection of the Nuts! Rules, but that uses individual men, and I was looking for something which ran squads of 5-10 men alongside individual tanks. I have looked at ‘Five Core – Company Commander’, and I’m glad I did because there’s a neat little game there, which I plan to explore at a later date. However that’s very much geared up for infantry combat, with a lot of the vehicle stuff simplified or abstracted. It’s not what I’m looking for at the moment.

A few months ago I bought Neil Thomas’s Wargaming: An Introduction, and you’ll recall that I played a couple of games using the ACW rules from it. There is a set of WWII rules, and I wondered if it would be possible to play a game basically just using the tank side of them. After reading them through, I reckon that it it.

It goes without saying that I’d make a few changes.

(i) The rules group all tank guns into the categories Ultra-Light, Light, Medium, Heavy and Super-heavy. Armour is similarly classified as Light, Medium, Heavy and Super-Heavy. When testing for penetration you roll a D6: a 1-2 is a Miss, a 3-4 is Immobilised and a 5-6 is Destroyed. You add a factor for the weight of the gun and deduct one for the thickness of the Armour. This is basically done in increments of 2 with Medium as the zero point, so a Heavy gun gets +2 but Heavy armour causes a -2. This means that there is scope for some granularity, with, say, an armour rating between the 0 of Medium and the -2 of Heavy. It is simple enough step to reclassify all guns and armour as numbers, from 1-8; when rolling to penetrate, add the Gun factor and subtract the Armour. Roughly, Light becomes 2, Medium 4, Heavy 6 and Super-Heavy 8, but with some guns and armour going up or down one point from the Neil Thomas classifications.

That previous paragraph will make more sense when I post some tank stats. But they won't be in this post.

(ii) The damage table is quite deadly, since an Immobilised vehicle is stuck for the rest of the game. A second Immobilised result destroys it. I would make it a touch more complex:

2 or less = Miss
3 = Damaged
4 = Immobilised
5+ = Destroyed

‘Damaged’ is the same as Immobilised in terms of effect, except that at the start of the turn the tank rolls a D6 and on a 4+ it is removed. So it’s like Immobilised, but temporary. Otherwise it’s treated as Immobilised, although I am still looking at some possible interactions with respect to that.

(iii) The rules use a single set of range-bands for all tank and anti-tank guns. I suspect I’ll change that at some stage, but I haven’t really looked at it. The range band dictates the chance of a hit. I would add two modifiers: -1 if the vehicle moved or pivoted (a tank can only half-move and fire as well), and a -1 if the vehicle is Immobilised or Damaged.

(iv) In the delightfully all or nothing way that Neil Thomas writes his rules, artillery has no effect on tanks in this game. I’m looking at changing that; I think it can be built into the artillery fire procedure, with maybe hits causing potential Damage results rather than outright destruction.

(As an aside, on the subject of HE, rating guns as numbers also allows for different HE ratings. Neil Thomas has all tank guns rolling 10D6 when firing HE. This can now be adjusted to rolling a number of dice equal to twice the Gun rating. It also allows for the defining of howitzers and infantry support guns in a simple way; they get the gun rating appropriate to their size, but it counts one less for anti-tank fire and one more for the purposes of calculating HE dice)

There are a few other minor tweaks I plan on making, but I won’t bore you with them. The next stage is to play a game.


  1. Sounds good, but I must get round to basing my micro armour...finally.

  2. Hi Alan,
    I have enjoyed your Stronghold Rebuilt blog, and you are one of the few folks I can find who has tried these rules. I have yet to do so (still re-basing/painting infantry), but in the meantime I published my interpretation of the rules, trying to fill in the many gaps. After I have tried a couple of games straight up, I will likely incorporate your suggested rule changes and some of my own. If you have the time and inclination, I would appreciate it if you would review my notes and see if I am interpreting them the same as you - in case I like your version better.

    Posted here on my dead blog.

    Alan, If you're not interested or too busy, I completely understand.

    Regardless, I look forward to more of your blog posts. BTW, kaptainkobold@yahoo.uk.com bounced as undeliverable, so I added a comment here hoping you would see it.

    Thanks and regards,
    John Ferryman
    Ohio, USA

    1. I've had a skim through your comments, and they certainly make sense. Army level morale does not generally seem to be a feature of the NT rules, with his scenarios tending to be objective and time-limit based. However with more units in play it certainly makes sense.

      My email, by the way, is kaptainkobold at yahoo dot co dot uk, and was active about five minutes ago :-)

    2. I haven't figures out how I'm going to handle infantry fire yet. The rules have individual weapons, but also use individual figures, whereas I would probably use bases and abstract the differing weapons into some kind of fire factor which is derived from the number of hits (figures( the unit has left, plus bonuses for special weapons. The trick is to keep this simple whilst still maintaining some of the flavour of the original rules.

    3. I am going to use my FoW based troops and for the infantry basically calculate the firepower for each base. Hit markers will determine the number of riflemen lost, reducing the firepower, and when the last figure is lost, take off the base. LMGs will always be the last to die. Hopefully it will work.


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