TITLE: A World Aflame: Interwar Wargame Rules 1918-39
AUTHOR: Paul Eaglestone
PUBLISHER: Osprey Wargames
PUBLICATION DATE: 2012
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $17.95 (in 2012)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: 1918-1939
In common with all of Osprey’s “blue spine” rule books, A World Aflame (AWA) is a 64 page paperback. It is profusely illustrated with both uniform plates from the Osprey catalog, as well as photos of games from the author. The rules have a large number of charts in the Osprey Blue/Gray style. There is a blank roster in the book, but no quick reference sheet - players will have to make their own.
SCOPE: AWA is a tactical game overing the Interwar years. It is designed for such periods as a British Civil War, the Spanish and Russian Civil Wars, as well as Warlord China. It is a hybrid between a skirmish game and higher level game. The weapons of individual figures matter and fire separately, but the one included scenario has 10-figure company units.
ARMY SIZE: AWA could be played with a fairly small number of figures - perhaps as few as 30 a side would give a good game. The included scenario indeed pits a weak defender of 30 figures against an attacker of approximately 70.
BASE UNIT: A unit may be any size desired given the mechanics. A 10 figure unit could be anything from a squad to company.
GAME SCALES: Taking a cue from such venerated writers as Featherstone and Grant, the rules have no scales for time or space. Ranges and distances are frankly determined by game play and balance rather than any attempt at accuracy.
BASING SIZES: All figures should be individually mounted. Base sizes are unimportant to the game.
DICE: In addition to D6, the game also uses D10, D12, D3, average dice and a scatter die.
AWA uses a system of alternating unit activations. The turn therefore goes as follows:
- Draw A Chance Card (Random Events)
- Initiative: Each player nominates a unit to activate and rolls to see who goes first. After those two units activate, repeat until all units have activated.
- Melee: Resolve any melee resulting from units moving in to direct contact.
- Final Morale: Take any necessary morale checks.
Initiative: The main part of the turn is the Initiative (or Activation) Phase. Each player nominates a unit to activate. They then roll off to see which activates first. The roll is modified by morale, the unit’s Initiative rating, and leadership. The winner activates, moving and shooting with the nominated unit. The loser then does the same with his unit. All moving and shooting is completed, then each side nominates their net unit and the roll for initiative is repeated. Each unit and leader may have a different initiative rating, so roll off is by unit. Activated units may move, move then fire, or fire then move.
Orders: AWA uses a simple written order system. At the start of the game each higher formation must have a written order. Changing the order requires communication - by runner, telephone or in person. Runners are figures that must move to the unit with the new order. Telephone locations must be identified as part of the game set up. Order changes are automatic.
Movement: Movement in AWA is variable. Upon activating, an infantry unit may choose to walk, run, move and fire or crawl. Each mode has a given speed (3” for crawling, 6” + 2 average dice for running). Speed is determined by figure - one figure in a unit may choose to crawl, another may run and yet another may stand still. In keeping with the spirit of the rules terrain effects on movement are cursory and simple.
Morale Rating: Morale is an important part of the game. Units take morale checks for a variety of reasons including being fired upon, being in melee, or having failed a morale check the previous turn. Checking morale is a simple roll of the average die, modified for unit quality, leadership and various other factors (cover, out of command, attacked by specific weapons etc.). A unit scoring 5 or less fails and is demoralised for the remainder of the game. In addition it may slow an advance, or seek cover. Subsequent failres may result in a rout.
Units take morale checks immediately throughout the game. The Final Morale Phase is just for units that did not take one during activation but must take one for having failed a morale check the turn prior.
Fire Combat: Fire combat is simple and deadly. Each weapon type has a “To Hit” number based on range. Each figure fires individually, based on the weapon they are armed with. If a hit is scored one enemy soldier is killed and removed from play. Heavy weapons such as MGs get multiple dice so may score multiple hits within a limited area. There are a handful of modifiers to the roll for firer quality, cover, etc.
Limited Ammunition: Units in the game have limited ammunition. Each time they fire they use one “point” of ammo. Each side may have ammo resupply. The base game requires players to roll for a quantity of resupply, but to then choose the type. So a player may get 30 “points” of resupply, but he has to choose, prior to the game start, how many points worth of small arms, HMG, artillery etc.
Ammo can be carried by runners or transported by truck, wagon, or cart. Once the ammo reaches the unit needing resupply, the unit may fire again.
Indirect Fire: Indirect fire is likewise simple and deadly. There is no “to hit” mechanism. Instead the player calls out the distance (without measuring) that he wishes to fire. He then places the template the named distance from the gun or observer. He then rolls drift - a D6 plus a direction die. This determines the final landing point of the template. Every figure under the template is affected. A die is rolled for each such figure to see if it has been hit (killed). Heavier guns might kill on a 2+ with lighter mortars doing son on a 5+
Melee: Once a unit moves in to contact each side must pass a morale check or there will be no melee - one side or the other will retreat. Melee is a simple opposed die roll, figure by figure. Up to two figures may attack a single enemy. There are a handful of modifiers (being on horse back, elite unit, demoralised, etc). The unit suffering more losses loses the melee and takes another morale test. If both sides survive the melee continues in the next turn.
Armor: The rules include simple armor rules, but the clear expectation is armor will be present only in small numbers. Shooting at tanks requires scoring a “To Hit” based on range and situation (is target moving? in cover?). If a hit is scored, the firer rolls a D10 and adds to this the penetration rating of his weapon. This varies by gun type and range. If the sum is greater than the target’s Defense Value, he has done damage. A D10 is rolled for effect which may be a crew morale check, mobility hit, kill, etc.
The rules include ratings for 12 different AT weapons and Defense Values for about two dozen tanks (given the simplicity of the game working out stats for other weapons and tanks would be fairly simple).
As the rules are designed for conflicts with a wide variety of settings and unit types, they include a number of special rules. Notable they make many weapons (such as snipers and aircraft) available as chance cards rather than part of the scenario. Besides the main rules, the rules offer rules and guidance on incorporating such diverse elements as:
- Improvised Anti-Tank weapons, including Molotov Cocktails, crowbars, mines dynamite and rockets.
- Unusual weapons such as Flame throwers, grenades, gas, mines, and aircraft.
- Tank Hunters: These may be part of a player’s forces or called in by a Chance Card. They “appear” within 2” of an enemy tank and then carry out an attack.
The rule book includes one scenario - Suicide Hill (at Jarama) - that is actually in three parts, representing the three days of the fight for the crucial hill.
There are no army lists per se, but there are a number of sample units provided for Warlord China, the Spanish Civil War, the Rusiian Civil War, and the British Civil War.
The rules are a quick read and are certainly up to Osprey’s usual standards. They do strike me as being relatively heavy on bookkeeping. Besides tracking ammunition players must remember things about each unit from turn to turn. For example, if a unit fails morale in turn 3 it must take at least one morale check in turn 4. But if it takes one, for any reason, then it has met the obligation. Otherwise players must remember to take one in the Final Morale Phase. Likewise in shooting, if the unit ran last activation, that is a DRM to shooting. I suspect games would end up with lots of markers or chits to help players keep track.