Sunday, 30 August 2015

Thoughts on Rules

AK47 Republic

The obvious set of rules would, of course be AK47 from Peter Pig. They're a neat set of rules, are available as a pdf (the old Republic edition anyway, not the newer Reloaded one). There's a clever pre-game political system that can cause major surprises. You can get a nice variety of figures and models onto the table, and everyone has a good time.

My only real issue is the perennial one of scale. 

Infantry groups can fire 10" (25cm), RPGs 6" (15cm) and tank guns 26" (65cm). That seems to me to be an effective ground scale of about 1" = 25 yards (or 10cm = 100 yards) or more. Suddenly I'm no longer sure whether a tank model is one tank, or maybe it's 2 or 3. And maybe the figure scale is 1:10, so that a stand represents about 30 men. As you can spread them out to have 3" between each stand, that's maybe 100 yards frontage per stand which sounds about right for poorly trained troops. 

Why does this matter? Well it matters because the entire number of main battle tanks received between 1964 and 1985 by Zambia (to take an example, and according to arms registers(a)) was 25. That's 5 x T54's and 20 x T55's if you're interested. Count 'em. That would be 8-12 models for the entire army, assuming all were in a road-worthy state (which is unlikely). Those numbers alone show how African warfare can be on a very different scale from so much of the rest of the world, and most wargamers would thoughtlessly burn through that many models in an afternoon of gaming. 

So it's not a definite "no", but it bears some thought. It would help if I were better at suspending disbelief, of course.

Chain of Command (CoC)

Chain of Command by Too Fat Lardies looks like a definite possible. It's specifically 1:1 and is designed to be based round an infantry platoon plus supporting elements. It's not quite the sweeping scale I was hoping for, but it may well do the job nicely. The stated ground scale is 12" to 40 yards, and that's not a million miles away from the 1/100 scale that is 15mm figures - it's actually 1/120. It has an innovative patrol phase that drives unit setup and where reinforcements can appear. 

I Ain't Been Shot Mum (IABSM)

Also from the Too Fat Lardies stable, this is designed for actions with a supported Company on each side. It probably has the sweep of bigger units that I would like to employ, with infantry and vehicles deployed on a 1:1 basis, with squads and vehicles being the base elements. It has card activation which throws in a nice element of the unexpected into a game. Units will do better if motivated by the few "Big Men" in your force, which sounds just perfect for this kind of conflict. The stated ground scale is 12" to 80 yards which is OK for me, as it pretty much fits with "if you can see it you can shoot at it" which makes more sense for this scale of warfare. There is an excellent supplement, B'Maso, that deals with African bush wars from the 1950's onwards. The related rules "Charlie Don't Surf" that cover the Vietnam War also have a take on some asymmetric warfare rules that could possibly be ported across. 

Force on Force

Published by Ambush Alley Games and I'm still looking at this one. Like CoC it's 1:1 with individual infantrymen. Unlike CoC I suspect that taking a full platoon plus supporting elements on each side might overload the mechanics. It also has a "Bush Wars" supplement which covers much of the period in question and is a useful source of information, at the very least. 

Initial Conclusion

There are many other rules sets out there, but I can't really look at them all. 

I don't really want to base all figures individually - moving them around would take forever. I will probably go with 3cm x 3cm bases as for AK47, with two (for support weapons and better troops) or three figures (for the rest) per base. I can then go for sections/squads of 4 bases which will fit in a truck under those rules. I suspect I will end up going for IABSM, and CoC for smaller actions, but I'm sure it will work for those as well, and at least I can get on with collecting!(b)

(a) Zambia also received the following combat vehicles from the Soviet Union:
44 x BRDM-1
44 x BRDM-2
13 x BTR-60PB
50 x PT-76 
This information comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute register of arms sales here. I might question how complete it is, but given that Zambia is a landlocked country it probably isn't so far out for big kit like MBTs. It's a great little tool. 

(b) OK, confession time - I actually picked up an army pack from Peter Pig many, many years ago. In fact so many years ago that some of the figures have been redesigned and are not what appears on the website today! 

EDIT: I have fixed some of the more egregious calculation errors

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