TITLE: O Group: Wargame Rules for Battalion Size Actions in World War II
AUTHOR: David C.R. Browne
PUBLISHER: Reisswitz Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 2020
WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:
PRICE (with date): $40.00 (in 2022)
REVIEWED BY: Mark “Extra Crispy” Severin
PERIOD COVERED: World War II
I purchased the PDF.
The PDF is 109 pages long. Of that, the rules take up 84. The rest of the book contains various TO&Es, a reference sheet and an introductory scenario. The book is color throughout, with numerous photos and diagrams. The layout is excellent and very easy to read, as with all the Lardies/Reisswitz products.
O Group puts each player in command of a battalion. Maneuver elements are platoons, typically made up of 3 stands, organized in to companies.
Armies will be moderately sized. Since stands represent about a squad and are generally 3 per platoon, you will need roughly 30 basic stands plus command stands and support.
Units in O Group are platoons, typically made up of 3 stands for infantry, or one to two models for vehicles. Players will typically command an infantry battalion, plus supports.
- Ground Scale: Approximately 1” = 25 yards
- Time scale 1 turn = 2-10 minutes
- Figure/Base Ratio 1 infantry base = 100 men or 1 figure = 1 ship or 1 base=250 men)
- Recommended Figure Size: 15mm but conversion other scales is covered. Ranges and distances are given for small scale figures (15mm and smaller) as well as for larger (20mm and up).
- Table Size: Not stated.
- Game Length: Most games should be playable three hours.
There are no basing requirements listed for O Group. If opposing sides are based differently, simly make allowances as needed.
- Simultaneous Command Phase: Players roll Command Dice to determine how many orders they have for the turn, and initiative is rolled for.
- Combat Phases (IGOUGO): Orders are issued to units who then perform actions, such as move, shoot, rally, etc. Orders are also used during the enemy’s combat phase to react.
- Regroup Phase (IGOUGO): The initiative winner gets two “free” orders the loser gets one. These may be given to units that did not receive and order during the Combat Phases. Units may move, rally, deploy or re-consolidate.
The Orders System:
At the heart of O Group is the orders system. There are three kinds of orders. Company orders and Company Commander orders which are used to activate platoons and are “use them or lose them.” And HQ orders which represent higher level orders, and may be saved from turn to turn. Accumulating HQ orders also in some ways represents having the initiative.
Each turn players roll nine dice (in a few cases, 10) to determine how many orders they have for the turn. Rolling a 2 thru 5 generates one order. A roll of 6 generates an HQ order. If a player rolls three 1s, one of his companies is “hesitant” for the turn. Such units may only fire or rally.
Company Orders are the meat of the game. Actions can cost one or more orders to perform. Some actions have variable costs depending on situation. You use Company Orders to:
- Fire & Move
- Conduct Reconaissance
- Call Mortars
- Call Artillery
- Call Reserves
- Rearguard (Once per game)
- React Fire (During opponent’s Combat Phase)
- React Withdraw (During opponent’s Combat Phase)
During the Combat Phase a player issues an order to a unit, resolves all the actions of the order, and then moves on to the next order.
Company Commander orders allow the player to attempt to add one HQ order; issue a second order to a unit or prevent a platoon rout test. Each company commander may perform just one of these actions per turn.
HQ orders can be “banked” up to a maximum of 6. HQ orders add one to the initiative die roll each turn. They may be used like Company Orders and even combined with them (to pay for actions costing more than one order).
O Group has an extensive deployment system that uses Combat Patrols, ambushes and reserve units to create fog of war. At the start of the game, HQs are deployed on map. Players then roll nine dice which determines how many units are on map and how many elsewhere. For defenders, a 2-4 yields a Combat Patrol, and a 5 or 6 yields an ambush unit. All remaining units are in reserve (off map). For the attacker, a Combat Patrol or unit on map. If the defender rolls a 1, his reserves are delayed one turn, up to a maximum of three turns. If the attacker rolls one or more 1s, the defender must remove units and possibly orders from his force.
Combat Patrols are a key aspect of the fog of war in O Group. They are markers, not units, and may not move within 8” of an enemy unit or Combat Patrol. They are assigned to specific companies/sectors. These patrols act as scouts, but also as deployment points for reserves. A Deploy order allows a platoon to be placed on the marker, which goes back in to reserve (new markers may be placed with a Deploy order).
Units in O Group roll 2D6 each turn. The result is their movement allowance. Some vehicles add a bonus to the roll. Movement is fairly easy. Infantry move through all terrain at the same rate. Vehicles, however, move differently in rough terrain. In this case they roll 2D6, ignoring any bonus, and may choose one of the two dice as their movement allowance. If moving through rough and clear they may ether halt at the terrain edge, or move at the lower rate for the entire turn.
Units may also rapid move if they do not fire. In this case they roll three D6 and use the two highest rolls.
Terrain is grouped in to just roads, open, rough and impassable. The rules encourage the placement of a lot of terrain on the table.
When firing at troops, each unit has a firepower rating expressed in dice. Each die will be rolled to score hits. Hits are scored on 4+. Combat variables such as range, terrain or morale will modify the number of dice rolled. Each hit will cause the target to take a morale test.
Concealment requires the roll of a Spotting Die. On a 1-3 the target is obscured, on a 4-6 it is spotted. Being obscured gives a bonus on any resulting morale tests.
Each failed morale test yields a point of Shock for the target. Units may accumulate up to 3 shock, with excess hits resulting in KIAs (stand removal). See “Morale” below.
AT fire is always resolved with 2D6 to score a hit. A roll of 7+ is needed to hit. The die roll is modified for range, shock, terrain, etc. If a hit is scored, compare the AT firepower rating of the firing gun to the Armour Factor of the target. Roll 2D6 and modify the result by the difference. Targets may be knocked out, damaged, accumulate Shock, or No Effect. The spotting die is used as above, with concealment giving a bonus to the defender in determining damage.
Artillery support is part of each side’s force, and is mainly off table. Orders are required to call for artillery. Battalion Mortars always arrive when requested. Higher level supports may not. When calling for support, the player rolls 2D6. The result indicates what type of artillery support (if any) has been granted.
An FO must have a line of sight to the aiming point for the artillery. The aiming point is the center of the “beaten zone” and any unit even partially within the zone is attacked. 2D6 are rolled for accuracy which determines how effective the fire is. Support types yield Firepower Dice like direct fire. The dice are rolled against each target. Hits are scored on a 4+ and each hit inflicts a morale test, just like direct fire.
Artillery may also fire smoke instead, in which case a smokescreen is placed on the table.
To launch a Close Combat a Fire & Move order is issued, and the unit moves to within 1” of the enemy. If the enemy has orders remaining, the target may react with opportunity fire, or attempt to withdraw.
Units are rated for Firepower and roll for hits, scoring on a 4+. There are no morale tests. Each hit scored inflicts a shock. Excess shock are then converted to KIAs.
The loser retreats losing any attached HMGs, guns, etc. The winner may occupy the position and is given a free 1D6 rally attempt.
Shock & Morale:
Each unit in the game is rated for quality, which determines the score needed to pass a morale test. Failing a morale test yields a Shock for the unit. Units with two Shock are considered Hesitant, and may not move toward the enemy, and suffer negative combat effects. Units with three Shock are suppressed. Suppressed units may not move or fire, and can only either Rally or withdraw. They suffer penalties in combat, and may not spot for artillery. Units that accumulate more than three shock take losses.
Units may rally with 1D6 or 3D6 depending on the order they are given and their situation. Rallying with one D6 allows a unit to remove a Shock and move/fire if successful. If the not, it may either move/fire or remove on shock. A Rally attempt is the same as a moral test. A unit may roll 3D6 but in this case it may not fire. Movement is limited to a 1D6 withdrawal.
As battalions accumulate losses, they accumulate FUBARs. For every four sections lost, the battalion accumulates one FUBAR. When a FUBAR is suffered, the player may lose HQ orders as a result. When a battalion accumulates three FUBARS it is broken, and the game ends. In addition, players lose one Command Die for every FUBAr when rolling for orders (though they can take a chance and ignore this at the risk of making companies in their force hesitant).
The book includes one introductory scenario “Assault on Cristot.” Basic battalion organizations are provided for the US, USSR, Germany and Great Britain.
Daniel Brown is an exerienced rules writer, and the Lardies are experienced publishers. The book is very well put together. nicely laid out and easy to read. There are plentiful examples throughout, as well as photos and illustrations.