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Comparative WW2 Rules Lethality

Like me, my friend Dave is drawn to the idea of mega-games. Huge tables with thousands of figures. One of his dreams is to put 200 Soviet T-34s (micro armor) and 20 or 30 SPGs on a table opposed by 50 Panzer IVs with some Panzer IIIs and StuGs in support.

And we want rules at 1:1 with to-hit and penetration. Simple is fine, but no “attack factor versus defense factor” type rules (Panzer Korps, Blitzkrieg Commander, Command Decision etc.).

And this got me thinking about how you might approach designing such a game. Liking the Fistful of TOWs rule set, I thought about how one might streamline that rule set for this game. The first problem - the huge number of die rolls required - was easily solved (more on that here). But as I worked on the problem, I wondered how deadly our game would be. So I set myself a simple exercise: 50 T34s versus 25 Panzer IVs. How long does each side last? Having done it with Fistful of TOWs I was curious how the results might differ with other popular rule sets? Here are the overall parameters:

  • The Panzer IVs are assumed to be in a hull down position.
  • Both sides are stationary.
  • Both sides have equal troop quality, morale etc.
  • Shots are at medium or effective range, or equivalent.

With these parameters in mind, here is how it shakes out with each rule set.


T-34s Kill 16 per turn
PzIVs Kill 12.5 per turn

In FFT3 a T-34 gets two shots. Fifty tanks yields 100 shots. At medium range they hit on a 4+. That yields 50 hits. A hull down position gives a 4+ cover save, removing half the hits on average. So we are at 25 hits. To determine the result of a hit, the defender’s armor (in this case a 4) is subtracted from the Firer’s penetration (a 6 for the 76mm gun). So a difference of 2. The firer now rolls 2 dice for effect. A 6 yields a kill, a 4 or 5 a “quality check.” A quality check is passed on a 4+ otherwise the tank is removed.

So we have 25 hits giving 50 effect dice. Roughly 8 tanks are killed outright on a 6, and another 16 need to take a quality check. Assume half pass and that’s another 8 tanks out of action. So on average, 50 T-34s would take out 16 dug in Panzer IVs per turn with average dice.

How do the Panzer IVs fare? A Panzer IV gets three shots per tank, so 75 shots. Again they hit on a 4+, so let’s call that 38 hits. Comparing penetration of 7 to T-34 armor of 6 yields one die per hit. So 38 dice for effect. Roughly 6 are KIA and another 12 or 13 must take a quality check. Again the check is passed on a 4+, so we’re looking at 6 or 7 failures. So the 25 Panzer IVs will knock out about 12 or 13 tanks per turn.

The problem for our scenario is that even dug in, the Germans will probably only last 4 turns in a shootout! At which point the Germans will be pretty much eliminated, having inflicted losses at about 1:1. Easy victory for the Soviets.


T-34s Kill 7, Suppress (Bail) 3.5
Panzer IVs Kill 11, Suppress (Bail) 3

We start again with 50 T-34s and again we get 2 shots each for 100 shots. Assuming both sides are Veteran, we again hit on a 4+. This moves to a 5+ for being concealed (hull down). So we get, on average, 33 hits. The T-34 has a penetration value of 9 against a front armor of 6. The German makes saves adding a D6 to his armor. If he exceeds the penetration the shot misses. If he ties, he checks for a bail out. If less the firer rolls to kill. So the PzIV needs to roll a 3 to tie and a 4 to save. So half the hits miss leaving 16.5 hits. Of these 1/3 will be a bail check and 2/3 will be a kill check (Firepower Test). The T-34 has a Firepower rating of 3+. That gives us 11 potential kills on a 3+ or about 7 kills. Of the 5.5 that get a bail test, about 3 or 4 will be bailed out (essentially suppressed).

If we do the same math in reverse, the Panzer IV gets two shots, but has a Penetration of 11 versus front armor of 6.  So we get 50 shots for 4+ or 25 hits. The Soviet needs a 5 to tie and a 6 to pass. We would expect to see 4 pass and 4 tie. That leaves 17 potential kills. Looking at the firepower of 3+ we expect 11 kills and 3 “bailed” results from those 50 shots.


T-34s Kill 14.6
Panzers Kill 13.9

In Jagdpanzer all tanks have one shot if moving, two if stationary. So let’s look at the T-34s again. At medium range our base to hit is 11 (on a D20). There is a -6 for target  being hull down. We will assume neither side moved. That means our base to hit is to roll a 5 or less or 25%. We will assume all second shots receive the +3 bonus for firing at the same target. That makes for a final to hit of 8 or 40%. That gives us a total number of hits of (50 x .25 = 12.5) + (50 x .4 = 20) or 32.5 total hits.

We now check penetration versus armor. The T-34 has a penetration of 16 at medium range, against the Panzer IVs front armor of 7. The difference is 9 (16-7) giving us a 45% chance of destroying the target. On average our -34s will destroy 14.6 of the enemy Panzer IVs.

Looking at the Panzers we have a hit of 11 or 55% in the first round and then 14/70% for the second round of shots. That gives us total hits of (25 x .55) + (25 x .7) = 31 expected hits. Penetration is 18 and armor is 9 giving us just shy of 14 expected kills.

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