Friday, 8 April 2016

Tigers at Minsk - Version May 2016

Tigers at Minsk are my rules for gaming WWII tactical with hexes on small tables. The rules have been around in their current form for over 18 months and have withstood the testing of many games, so seem quite stable for a range of situations.

Artwork that I did for a boardgame version

The last time they were updated, it was simply to reduce the front armour of the StuG III by 1 point, so amendments have been minor and in keeping with that, I have just given them a further tweak to add in a few nuances, such as special traits for Hetzers and some minor changes to the Line of Sight rules.

A brief discussion follows concerning the tweaks.

Please press the 'read more' button for the rest of this post.

I am presently working on ACW and Napoleonic rules for hexes and thought I would look for some common features across the rules and perhaps standardise them between the rulesets, particularly between the ACW and Napoleonic sets as even though they are being worked on at the same time, their lineage is quite different from each other and an integration of systems might be more sensible ... Even if it only stops me getting confused!

As it turns out, it was really only part of the line of sight rules that could be ported over to the Tigers at Minsk set and even then, they add to the text rather than replace it, as many of the rule features are already shared.

As with any change, all the rules have to be looked at to make sure that the new changes do not impact in any unintended way elsewhere. This vetting of course led to some other changes, nothing drastic, mostly just minor updates. I prefer to design games that have broad brush strokes that give a feel without creating a lot of 'exception' type rules or rules that create a lot of 'case law'. In that regard, the changes presented here can be adopted seamlessly into the system without hurting previously written scenarios to any notable degree.

The main change comes in the line of sight rules. Now a unit on a hill can see over everything except another hill hex (even on the same hill), while fences and walls no longer block line of sight.

Walls and hedges still give protection and still count as obstacles to movement, but in the real world, where ground often undulates to varying degrees, I noticed that in field systems, one can very often see beyond field boundaries and roadside hedgerow or at least a goodly proportion of them.

Under the new rule, the hill becomes more significant, as ranged weapons (and observers) can typically dominate a more substantial area of ground. Slopes and plateau effects are not taken into account, hills allow units to see into the next hill hex, but not beyond it.

This can add some interesting nuances to the game board, increase the tactical value of high ground, reinforce the concept of ridge lines (without introducing new rules) and simplify the potential complications of dead ground, both on and off the hill.

A fairly significant addition is an optional rule that allows a turreted vehicle to fire outside their frontal arc without having to also physically change facing at the same time to do so. The turreted tank will always pay the fire penalty for firing outside the fire arc, even if repeatedly firing at the same target, but now has more choice as to which direction the heavier frontal armour should face.

As much as anything else, this rule just helps to add further differentiation between turreted and non-turreted vehicles. In most cases, the turreted vehicle will still want to turn to face the threat and present its front armour - but at least there is now a tactical choice ........ And turrets turn! though without a load of markers and special rules etc.

In the original rules, vehicles always had to face a hex vertex (corner), but this caused a certain awkwardness for vehicles travelling along a stretch of road, as roads cross hex sides. So if a vehicle is truly following a road, then it's facing should reflect that it is crossing hexsides and therefore cannot be facing a vertex.

Now a vehicle using road movement follows the road itself and so this has created a new facing rule for that situation. On road vehicles only have one frontal hex and as a consequence have four flank hexes.

The most obvious effect is that whilst using road movement, a vehicle is more vulnerable to flank attacks. I quite like the idea of the benefit of road use being countered by the twists and turns in a road, so that the tank is governed by it's environment rather than using the terrain to it's own advantage.

A discussion on Jay's blog (see Resources below) has led me to re-think the rule about armour passing a test before entering woods. I am happy with the test, but the prospect of repeat fails over several turns is probably not good for the game. Consequently, now if armour fails that test, it will automatically be allowed to enter the woods on the following turn.

The original rules allowed small mortars to lay smoke instead of HE, but for whatever reason, I had them still needing a 'hit' to place the smoke. This has now changed, smoke will automatically be placed in the target hex, but the mortar must still roll to see whether it goes 'ammo depleted', which it will on a score of '1' on a D6.

Elsewhere the rules have had a tidy up, with the odd word added here and there to give a fuller emphasis on some rules.

Finally, to celebrate my acquisition of a new 10mm German Hetzer SPG from Pendraken, I have added some optional rules for the vehicle in the same way as the German Tiger I and the Soviet ISU 152 vehicles have been covered, to help represent their small size and ambush capability.

The optional rules are;

1) If the tank is in cover when it is fired upon by an anti-tank weapon, the fire against it is modified by -2 for the cover rather than the usual -1.

2) If the tank is in cover the first time it fires at an armoured vehicle, it gets a +1 modifier to its attack to represent ambush.

3) If the German rolls 'Ambush' on the Random Event Table, they can fire with the Hetzer, but the shot is not limited to the 2 hex range mentioned for the event.

Once The Hetzer fires, none of these optional rules will apply to that vehicle for the rest of the game.

The optional rules that now cover three vehicles add a bit of interest, but more importantly are intended that the gamer will do similar rules for other vehicles that they feel could highlight their particular aspects.

Overall I am pleased to be still happy with the rules and that I did not feel that they needed a major overhaul. The changes are relatively minor considering the scope of the rules and I hope anyone using them continues to enjoy them. At the back of my mind is the thought of trying to create greater differences between infantry types based around their experience, training and leadership - but there are ways of doing that now 'in game' and so this can all wait for another time .... If at all.


A copy of the rules can be downloaded from my Dropbox (thank you Dropbox) HERE.

An earlier blog post giving an AAR using these rules can be found HERE

My web pages that look at hex based games are HERE

Jay's blog HERE

Read about the campaign module designed for these rules HERE



  1. Norm,
    Your resource link to "web pages that look at hex based games" is missing the initial "c" in
    I like reading your ideas. Thanks

  2. Thanks for letting me know, ... I will go and sort it now.

  3. Norm, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading these rules. Am aiming to try them out on some Tide of Iron boards with microarmour- will advise how we get on. Thanks again, Leigh

  4. Leigh, thanks for visiting and supporting the rules. look forward to hearing how you get on.

    I think the rules as they stand could be used with a number of board games.

    1. Hi Norm,

      Hope you're well mate.

      Still working up the conversion and getting some
      basing done.

      Could I ask your opinion on ratings for three weapons platforms please- the IG.18 (thinking no ATF and 3d6 NAF), the 20mil Flak30 (ATF of 2 based on the 231 and 2d6 NAF?) and the Ampulomet (ATF of 2 and 2d6 NAF with a 1 in 6 chance of self immolation?).


    2. Hi Leigh, an interesting set of equipment, hhmmm homework time.

      20mm / flak 30. Go with ATF 2 and NAF of 1 (not 2). Note this could use some of the (rare) tungsten core ammo, so a scenario could be justified in having the Special Ammo special rule, giving 1 bonus round of such ammo.

      IG.18. ATF is zero (can still fire at tanks but at zero rating) and a NAF of 2D6 (as it is only a 75mm). Note the German 75/24 has twice the barrel length and muzzle velocity and that would only have an ATF of 2.

      AMPULOMETT ...Oh boy, that is a quandary, using the system and not making a special rule up for this most unusual device, I would say that while it may have some anti-personnel value, it was primarily designed to strike armour as an anti tank weapon and so I would not allow it to use NAF. It is a short range weapon and I am guessing somewhat unpredictable, but will add colour to the game. It has some elements of a flamethrower and some elements of the hand held anti-tank weapons such as PIAT ...... So, I would propose that it is treated as a weapon under the PzFaust / Bazooka / PIAT rules. It has a range of 1 hex (make it 2 if you wish, but that might be pushing it) and an ATF rating of 2, plus 2 if they are firing at an open topped vehicle. In close combat t would come under hand held anti-tank weapons and get a 1D6 in the same way as say a PIAT or Molotov Cocktail would.

      If you want an immolation rule, I would just bolt that on as a Special Rule of your choice, though the potentially ever reducing availability rating of hand held A/T weapons may of itself be sufficient penalty. Hope some of that helps. I think there are several ways than an Ampulomett could be handled, but te above seems the best way to fit with the current rules. Norm.

    3. Hi Norm,

      Thanks so much- excellent stuff.

      I agree on the Ampulomet but think I might add a self-immolation roll as a scenario specific special rule (they are dangerous things by all accounts).

      One question- the NAF of 1 on the 20mm Flak- can I ask your thinking as I'd always understood them to be very nasty against infantry and as such wanted to rate them at least 2d6 to compete with the MG42 on a tripod at 3d6 (they compare favourably as I'd also place no range restrictions on the 20mil plus their anti-armour capability is a bonus). Or is there another way to represent the suppressive ability of the 20mm versus infantry?

      Thanks again for taking the time- love the rules and can't wait to play.


    4. Thanks Leigh. My two reasons for rating the 20mm at NAF 1 are that a) the system (for guns) does not go to NAF 2 on HE until it reaches a 75mm shot and b) it leaves me somewhere to go when the 20mm is set up in its quad variant.

      It is only a matter of personal opinion though, as the high volume of fire can be argued to have a similar effect to the 75mm, though I see the 75mm as having explosive power rather than the suppressive effect of the 20mm, a compromise would be to give it 2D6 but never allow it to place more than 1 pin, even if it scores 2 pins on the same roll (I.e. It suppresses but does not eliminate).

      But the rules are easily tweaked and I think everyone should modify rules to give them the effects that they feel are more likely.

    5. Hi Norm,

      Thanks for that- can understand your reasoning there. I think I'll take your suggestion and go with 2D6 but restrict to one pin- nice compromise.

      Now I need to have a think about burning buildings and flame fougasse mines for Stalingrad...

      Thanks again,


    6. Good stuff. I look forward to an AAR. are you using hexes or converting to an open board

    7. Using hex boards from Tide of Iron Stalingrad expansion. Everything seems to be porting over nicely

  5. Really glad I came across the link to your rules Norm. Really interesting.
    Have you considered introducing s small card deck or similar to introduce random events?

  6. Hi, thanks. The rules originally did use a deck of cards and each player drew one every thirty minutes. They covered a wider set of events than the current table and you could also draw a card that you could save for later - such as a special ammo card.

    I converted the game for a while to be available as a DTP download with maps and counters and so it was easier to ask the buyer to print of a Random Event Table rather than three sets of cards with matching backs etc.

    Glad you are enjoying the rules, I will do another AAR on a new scenario once I get some other stuff out of the way.

  7. Hi,

    Rules are fantastic, as always. Most of my 10mm armor is for NW Europe, unfortunately. Do you plan to add British and American armor factors at some point? (I guess I could do it myself, but it's always preferable to make other people do the work. Ho ho.)

    Best regards,


  8. Thanks Chris, yes expanding Tigers to cover other campaigns is on the 'to do list'. Others have expressed an interest for France 40, Operation Barbarossa and NW Europe 44, with the latter probably being where I would like to go next. I would envisage a mini pack with say 4 scenarios, so extra system rules, but just a couple of special rules to give some units character in the same way that the current rules do.

    thanks for the thumbs up.