Saturday, 25 May 2013

Ten Rounds Rapid

Triples 2013 was the first public outing of 'Ten Rounds Rapid', our participation game for this year and run by the Wargames Developments Display Team (north). In common with most of our public games, this was designed to be a fairly quick experience so as not to interfere with show shopping, but hopefully to be of some historical interest too. This particular game takes around 30 minutes to run and can accomodate from one to five players. We chose a 1914 theme for 2013 as next year is the 100th anniversary and there may be a glut of WW1 games.

WDDTN Display board and historical information about the game

The game set up. John Armatys and Mark Hides in the background.

The game is a simulation of battalion level command in the opening days of the First World War and aims to model some of the sorts of concerns and decisions a Lt Colonel commanding an infantry battalion would have to make. I have generally found that WW1 games benefit from some sort of linear grid to regulate movement and firing, in this case the zones represent areas roughly 200 yards across of 2-300 yards deep.

Overall set up from the British end. The figures are all 15mm Peter Pig.

Hordes of Germans (a full regiment in fact).

I was keen to replicate historial formations and tactics as far as possible. The British initial setup is prescribed as the pre-war firing line, supports and reserves and the game mechanisms are designed to reward the maintenance and use of this formation. The players soon got the hang of cyclng fresh reserves up to the front and pulling exhausted units out to reorganise. Those who packed everyone into the front line suffered heavy losses and/or suffered the indignity of not having any reserves to respond to German attacks.

The British defenders, each company has two platoons up front and one in support. There is a general battalion reserve of four more platoons along with the Colonel.

We do like to help players get into the spirit of things and have found over the years that funny hats are a great help. Sadly we do not possess a service cap, but we did have Brodie helmet. This was indicated to the players as a desirable object, but then they were told it wouldn't be invented for two more years yet! The Germans had a lot of shiny and smart plastic picklehaubes on display.

The umpire team intimidates the players

One of the biggest design challenges was making an interesting and enjoyable game out of defending. The aim was to get the player to focus on what was going on within their battalion and not to focus too much on the enormous hordes of Germans heading their way. So the main decisions were about keeping the line intact, management of damaged elements, fire control, movement of reserves in anticipation of threats and mounitng local counteratacks.

The British front line

Germans approaching
The inital German wave started deployed in the area of operations, subsquent actviites were governed by cards played against each company area. Black was good for the Germans, red for the British, and they controlled things like waves moving up and macheingun and artillery strikes, The whole battle area was assumed to be under fire the whole time, the strikes represented particularly concentrated barrages.

The first German wave approaches the British front with supports move up from reserve. The German company on the far right has been held up en route (probably pinned by fire) while the centre right company benefits from some scrub and bushes which provide concealment.

Combat results affect the entire area, so bunching up results in much heavier casualties, however some bunching is necessary to develop sufficient combat power. British losses are determined partly by how much they fire, the number of dice they throw increases their chance of adverse results, either from casualties as the men are more exposed or from running low on amunition so fire discipline is important. Successful commanders did not fire at poor targets. At close range the British have the option to rapid fire, which doubles their fire effect but doubles their ammunition expenditure too. Rapid fire from two fresh platoons however gives a 96.825% chance of at least pinning all enemy units to their front, the risk of running low on ammo is probably preferable to being overrun by lots of angry Germans.

After lots of rapid fire there are suddenly less Germans, but one intrepid soul assaults the British front line

Over the course of the weekend we ran the game around eighteen times and although there were occasions when the Germans broke into the front line, they were often ejected by a spirited bayonet charge and it was only one one occasion that they broke through into the support area and the British were forced to withdraw. Average losses were around three platoons, the bloodiest comander lost ten(!) and the most successful managed to drive off the Germans without losing any. Two Lt Colonels were killed leading heroic bayonet charges.

Tim runs a game

The Norfolk Regiment display the spoils of victory

Two of the Durham Pals supervise operations

The game seemed to be well recieved, as usual a fair degree of umpire input was needed to keep things moving along so we ran it on a rota. One player commented that this game required a bit more thought than some of our other offerings, and we has some repeat players so  some of them must have enjoyed it! The game was enlivened by having some members of the Durham Pals re-enactment group at the show.

I'll do a proper writeup for the WD Journal (The Nugget) later in the summer, including the rules, but first it is going to Partisan in a few weeks and then COW.


  1. As one of the Lt. Col.s that died... I thought it was a great game- you certainly achieved your own brief of keeping the defender occupied, once I got into the rhythm of moving reserves up and 'wounded' troops back things were manageable until a run of bad luck meant that the Germans got rather close, leading to the bayonet charge that saved the game but lead to my demise....



  2. I think dying at the head of a heroic charge is a suitably glorious end. A casualty rate of 10% for colonels also improves the promotion prospects of all those eager majors. Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for playing.