Friday, February 14, 2020

200th Post!: My Modifed Morschauser Modern

My first post on this blog was a game using Morschauser's modern rules, so it seems fitting for my 200th post, that I share the modifications I am currently using.

They look rather long, but that is a function of my wordiness in an effort to anticipate questions that might arise when someone who isn't me uses them, more than any indication of their complexity. If you want to skip the remainder of my rambling preamble, scroll down to the section labeled "Morschauser Modified WWII (2020)".

Photo from Jan 31, 2020. Morschauser game using OHW scenario and forces.
Please note, you will need a copy of Morschauser's book - either in the original or John Curry edition  to get the most use from these, as I don't want to infringe on copyright and all that I've left out most everything that you can find there.

These rules make use of the Roster System (Chapter X in the Curry edition).

Morschauser calls the circles on his Roster "sections" and these are based on the "actual fire power of the Unit's weapons" - which isn't terribly convenient, as he doesn't give any way to convert firepower into "sections", never mind that "section" already means something in a WWII setting..

So, taking some liberty, I've generalized these "sections" into Roster Points or RPs. Roster Points encapsulate the number of sub-units, but also their morale, and supply. It is measurement of their ability to continue fighting not unlike Bob Cordery's Strenth Points from The Portable Wargame or Neil Thomas's "hits". You can use Morschauser's "section" values as given, or you can modify the RPs.

Typically my starting point is the number of immediate sub-units - this helpfully allows for variety depending on country, theater, and year of the war. So, a typical rifle unit (read company) would have 4 RPs (3 platoons + 1 support platoon).

That value can be adjusted up or down to denote abundances or deficiencies in any of the areas mentioned. Green or veteran units can have less or more RPs respectively, for example.

Notes:
  • For unit melee power, unless otherwise noted, I use Morschauser's ratings. 
  • The headings below (in all caps) match Morschauser's existing headings, so you can match them up and compare my changes/additions or, in some cases, they are an entirely new heading for something not covered in Morschauser's rules-as-written.
  • I have included two different approaches for firing - OHW style games with 6 units or less per side may benefit from the 1d6 per unit method rather than per RP.
  • The ranges given here are not true to the weapon types but adjusted for the table and the limits imposed by the addition of a spotting distance rule.
  • If using a larger base - say Morschauser's suggested 3" base for 54s - but for a platoon per base, change the scale to 1" = 30ish yards. For firing, you can use his ranges as written or adjust accordingly. For movement, I suggest using his ranges as written with the 3" bases, or borrow Neil Thomas's movement ranges from One Hour Wargames, as either seems to work.


Archival photo from 2016. Morschauser rules used for US infantry assault inspired by Band of Brothers depiction of Carentan.

Morschauser Modified Modern Period Rules

i) SCALE


1" = 100 yards
1 tray = 1 company 
1 turn = 15-30 minutes

ii) INFANTRY UNITS


Mounted motorized and armored infantry move per their transport.

Rifle: Move: 6" / Weapon Range: 6"
SMG: Move: 6"  /Melee Power: 5 / Weapon Range: 1"
Infantry antitank weapons: Move 6" / Weapon Range: 1"
Engineers with Flame: Move 6" / Melee Power: 5 (because flamethrowers) / Weapon Range: 6" (for their rifles)

All infantry units are assumed to have at least AT grenades if not dedicated infantry AT weapons. The only reason a separate AT weapon unit is listed here is to account for the dedicated Soviet ATR companies (since I am using these rules currently with the Eastern Front forces I have) - which should be treated as Morschauser's Antitank rocket unit with respect to melee power and the roster.

ii) HEAVY WEAPONS UNITS

Mounted mortar, MG, or mixed mortar/MG companies move at the speed of their transport when embarked.

The 6" minimum range for the mortars is certainly not accurate but is included to give additional differentiation with the MG units.

Medium Mortar : Move: 6" or per transport  /  Weapon Range: 6" - 36"
Heavy Mortar: Move: 6" or per transport / Weapon Range: 6" - 48"
MG: Move 6"/ Weapon Range: 9"
Mixed(MG+Mortar) : Move 6" / Weapon range: up to max for mortar type

iii) ARTILLERY - In progress


May be on or off table.

[I have yet to write anything for this section, as it hasn't come up yet, but it will likely be similar to the mortars - with field, medium, heavy, mountain, etc. guns and their ranges being quite large or irrelevant, as the whole table would be in range.

I am contemplating attaching Forward Observers to specific units in order to limit the impact, no pun intended, of off-table artillery]

iv) ANTI-TANK GUNS


ATG (not self-propelled): Move: per transport /  Weapon Range: 12"

v) AFVs


Tank (or Self-propelled ATG): Weapon Range: main gun 12" / 9" MG at infantry targets only
Armored/Scout car: Move: 15" road  / 6" off road / Weapon Range: based on armament (MG: 9", ATG: 12")

vi) OTHER VEHICLES

Half-track: Move: 12" road /  9" off-raod / Weapon Range: if has MG, range: 9"
Wheeled  vehicles: 15"  road / 6" off road.  Weapon Range: if has MGs, range: 9"
 
vii) SEQUENCE OF TURNS
  1. Initiative - winner is Side A and goes first
  2. Side A Recover / Resupply Check
  3. Side A Move/Shoot 
  4. Close Combats
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for Side B
  6. End of Turn
viii) INITIATIVE

Each side rolls a six-sided die. High score has the initiative and is Side A for the turn. The other side is Side B for the turn.

ix) RECOVER/RESUPPLY

Each unit that has suffered a loss of  Roster Points during a previous turn, may attempt to regain one RP at the start of their current turn by rolling 1d6.

If the unit is in the open, on a 4 or 6, they regain 1 RP.
If the unit is in cover, on a 2, 4, or ,6, they regain 1 RP.

A unit may not recover/resupply beyond the RP value it started the game with unless otherwise dictated by the scenario.

x) MOVEMENT

Morschauser's movement rules apply with the following additions:
  • If movement involves leaving one terrain type for another, movement stops upon entering the new terrain type unless the new type is open terrain, or the unit is traveling by road.
  • Guns may not limber, move, and unlimber in the same turn. 
    • Gun transport may only move at 1/2 rate when limbering or unlimbering in the same turn.
  • Motorized / Mechanized infantry / heavy weapons units may not embark and disembark in the same turn
xi) FIRE RULES

Morschauser's firing rules apply with the following additions/clarifications:
  • If  a unit is going to fire, it must be done before or after a unit completes its movement.
  • Spotting :For direct fire, enemy units can only be seen for targeting up to12" away 
    • This is from Neil Thomas as well as some other rules I have.
  • All units have 360 degrees of line of sight (LOS)
    • Terrain may block line of sight - and therefore targeting a unit on the other side - use logic and your own determination, and let the dice decide if you're not sure.
  • [edited 2020-02-15] Spotting and range for shooting  is measured from the center of the  base edge of the firing unit to the center of the base edge of the target unit. If a unit is not based, measure to the nearest significant part of the model - for example, a tank's hull rather than the barrel of the gun.
  • Mortars, howitzers, and other artillery may fire at enemy units within LOS and spotting distance of any friendly unit or they may direct fire on units they have LOS to within spotting distance.
  • Mortars, howitzers, and other artillery may fire over intervening units and terrain, unless a scenario specifies otherwise. 
  • Guns may not fire and limbers/unlimber in the same turn.
  • Units in cover providing terrain can only be seen by units outside that terrain if they are in base contact with the edge of the terrain.
    • What terrain provides cover is, again, up to you.
  • Spotting distance between units in the same terrain may be reduced.
    • It can range from base contact to 12" depending on the type of terrain.
  • Tanks on a hill, being fired on from down hill, count as in cover (hull down) 
To fire, use one of the following methods:
  • As written, and what I currently use: all units roll 1d6 for each of their current Roster Points to hit.
  • For a longer game with gradual losses and without the risk of sudden elimination, use the following instead: All units roll 1d6 to hit when attacking.
Hitting targets in the open is as per Morschauser.

All units, except MGs, hit targets in cover on a 6. MGs hit targets in cover on a 4 or 6.

<OPTIONAL SAVING ROLL>
Units make a saving roll for each hit they take from direct and indirect firing.

For each hit taken as the result of an enemy fire action, a unit rolls1d6:
  • Units in the open may ignore a hit for each 4 or 6 scored.
  • Units in cover may ignore a hit for each 2, 4, or 6 scored.
<END OPTIONAL SAVING ROLL>

Mixed weapons support companies: 
If a support company mixes mortar and MGs together, for ranges greater than 9", read the dice as if they are a mortar unit (i.e. 4 or 6 hit). For ranges of 9" or under, treat as MG (i.e. 2, 4, or 6 to hit).

Infantry vs Tanks: Infantry (rifle or SMG) may attack tanks by moving into close range (1") of the tank. This assumes they are bringing AT weapons into the fight.


xii) CLOSE COMBAT
 
This is essentially Morschauser's melee method, with a reduction in melee range and some clarifications.

Melee occurs when units eligible for close combat are within 1" of each other, base-edge to base-edge.

Melee is between two units only. If a melee involves more than one unit on either or both sides, resolve one melee at a time, at the moving player's discretion, until one or both sides are eliminated or no more units remain in melee range (1"):

Tanks vs Infantry:
No vehicle other than tanks may overrun infantry. Instead, follow the rule for scout cars Morschauser describes under the Melee section.

A tank need not physically be able to occupy the space beyond the targeted infantry unit - it is sufficient that its move would carry it completely past the target, it it were to move unobstructed.

That is, if a second infantry unit close behind the first, the tank can still overrun the first unit.


Archival photo. Morschauser + Hook's Farm 2017.

7 comments:

  1. I congratulate you on codifying your latest version of Morschauser’s moderns. With regard to rosters, have you read this article (https://www.tabletoptalk.com/?page_id=523)? The letter talks about the writing of his book and the development of the roster system.
    The way that I read his correspondence, he seems to have had his feet still planted in that delightful toy soldier world of Wells. In that world, we are not weighed down unduly by realism. For him, it seems, the roster point was not a section but just an alternative to showing losses without having to lose whole trays or going back to using individual toys (I use that world deliberately but without scorn).

    Of course, I may be wrong about ‘original intent’ by the way. That sort of stuff is for lawyers We solo war gamers don’t need to worry however about official doctrines and can do what we want without censorious eyes. The roster can be a subunit of a larger one, some abstract concept showing morale or a convenience to shuffling our little heroes across the table.

    Best

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    1. Thanks Steve. I don't think I had read that article at that link before. Fascinating to read and I wish John Curry could have collected Morschauser's correspondance in Tabletop Talk and other newsletters of the day, the way he did for Lionel Tarr in that book.

      I wonder if the publisher (the original) pushed the idea on him about including a statement about the fire power as the basis for the modern rules roster - it's odd since that's not all the case for the shock rules (all units have the same) or horse&musket rules. The former seems almost arbitrary and more like Neil Thomas's hits or the SPs in the Portable Wargame, while the latter give the impression of being sub-units, as he marks one as the command section (In light of the linked article, it's probably more a way to account for what happens when the commander figure is killed in a single figure game).

      What's wonderful about Morschauser's rules is that they are so flexible. One can approach them strictly as fast-play rules for a fun game with toy soldiers with no adjustments, but you can if you want, make simple tweaks and still maintain the joy of a simple set of toy soldier rules while fitting some model or other that you have in mind. The system is skeletal enough that it doesn't break easily.

      It just occurred to me that one tweak you could make would be to double or triple roster points for each unit, and then the games would last reasonably long with 6 units a side for OHW scenarios, with no other changes. (That's a lot of dice to roll however).

      One option I have used but did not put here is to give all units 5 RP regardless of type (similar to the shock rules). Then, to regain/resupply they roll 1d6 and if the number is less than or equal to their current RP, they can regain 1 (but may not exceed their starting value). I used 5 because then veteran or elite units can have 6, giving them a slight edge. It's still more dice than I like to roll, but if you modify the firing mechanism too much, I find it stops feeling like Morschauser.

      Cheers!

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  2. Congratulations on 200!

    Just curious about the range on your SMG units. I assume they have a proportion of lmg? If they have the same range as rifles but better close combat, why use any rifle units? (or develop semiautomatic rifles)

    Not saying its wrong but I like the scissor/paper/stone approach to give different units different strengths and weaknesses so I was wondering if I'd missed something.

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    1. Thanks, Ross!

      The SMG units have the same movement range, but can only shoot 1" compared to the Rifle 6" shooting distance. This means they can only shoot prior to melee. They do have some LMGs, and possibly a weapons platoon - but I've washed those out to make them different from rifles (this way they have a disadvantage at a distance, but are beneficial in close assaults). To be fair, I haven't done many games with an all SMG unit so this idea hasn't been deeply play tested.

      What I really need to change is how I specify distance is measured. If the unit is based, measurement should be from the base edge (otherwise SMG have to be in base to base contact with my 2" bases, and would never be in range with 3" bases!) Off to edit that now!

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    2. Oops, probably didn't have my reading glasses on. I misread the move column as range. No idea how.

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