Low Level Tank Combat Simulation


© Jim Wallman 1983


The purpose of the game is to simulate, in a simple but realistic way, the problems confronting the crew of an individual tank in combat. To make the game even more difficult, the action takes place between two or more crews, in a sort of stylised 'duel'. Obviously, such one-on-one duels practically never took place, but these games are intended more as a sort of teamwork game, to illustrate a point. There is no reason why the game cannot be expanded to take on larger actions of up to troop level.


Any scale of model can be used, although it is important that the turrets of the tank models can be rotated independently.

For reasons which become apparent later, 1/200 is probably the smallest practical scale, and 1/72 or 1/90 are probably the ideal scales.

It is vitally important that the terrain scale is the same as the model scale, ie. for 1/72 the ground scale would be 1" = 2 metres.

Each 'bound' of activity takes 4-5 seconds of real time, and represents approx 10-15 seconds of game time.

Each player represents one crew member.


These will vary according to the type of tank used, but generally they will be:

i) Commander. Issues orders to the crew and controls the smoke-dischargers (if any) and sometimes a turret gun as well.

ii) Gunner. Controls the facing of the turret, and announces when the main gun is firing.

iii) Loader. Reloads the gun, selects ammo type, and acts as radio operator (if appropriate).

iv) Driver. Moves the tank model.


The playing area is divided into two identical terrain models, with a screen between them, such that the players cannot see the other terrain model. The players are then seated as follows:

Note that the relative positions of the players are important to the structure of the game.


Play is divided into 'action' and 'update' phases.

The action phase is approx 4-5 seconds, and is the time within which the players must complete all their actions.

At the end of an action phase the umpire will shout "STOP!" and the players must stop all they are doing until the umpire announces "GO!" to indicate that the action has recommenced.

No activity, including talking, may be taken by the players outside an action phase, on pain of dire consequences (at the umpire's whim).

The update phase is for the umpire(s) to ensure that both terrain models have been updated, and to adjudicate the results of combat and firing etc.

Update phases can be as long as necessary – though the umpires will try and complete these as quickly as possible.


Each player has specific duties, as described above, these are, in detail:

1. Commander. He should be guiding hand for the whole crew. Without a decisive leader the crew will quickly descend into chaos. He must keep his orders brief and to the point, given that he has little time in which to act. As a hint, commanders should spend some time thinking before speaking. Also, they should have a pre-game briefing with their team, to establish the sort of orders they intend to give, and outline their plan of action, so that the crew have some idea of what to expect.

2. Gunner. He is the only player permitted to touch the turret of the tank model. He must do any adjustment to the turret during the action phase. If this is made difficult because of the tank's movement, then so be it. He 'fires' the tank gun by raising his right fist in the air, and saying loudly and clearly 'FIRING NOW!'. If the umpire does not hear him, or there is any doubt, then he has not fired. No other player can do this. If the gun is not loaded, or the loader is still loading at the time, then the appropriate casualties will be incurred.

3. Loader. He has a number of coloured counters, representing ammunition of various types (Red for AP, Blue for HE, Yellow for Smoke etc - we find coloured marbles are best). These are placed about 8-10 feet away from the game table so that the loader has to get up to reach them.  For the main gun to be loaded, a counter of the appropriate colour should be placed on the edge of the main table, and the loader should have his hand flat on top of it. If the loader's hand is not in position, the gun cannot fire. In the phase following firing, the umpire takes the counter away, and in the action phase, the loader must go to the pile of ammo counters, select the correct type, and place the new counter on the table, with his hand on it. Obviously this takes some time, and the faster he can do it the faster the gun is loaded. This will often take more than one action phase.  If the Gunner fires while the loader is n the process of reloading, roll 1d6 - score 1,2 or 3 and the loader is a casualty.

4. Driver. He is the only player who can move the tank model. The umpire will correct any moves made which are impossible or illegal, or too far.


The umpire(s) must ensure that:

a) The two terrain models are as nearly as possible identical (the use of modular terrain is useful here).

b) That the intervisibility is shown correctly. Ideally there should be one umpire per table, solely responsible for placing on tanks or other features revealed as the tank manoeuvres.  Remember that if the tank commander is 'closed down', his vision is severely limited.

c) That the pace of play is maintained. Where possible, new sightings should be placed on during action phases, and not during update phases, so that players have the minimum possible thinking time.

Clearly in a game like this, maximum attention is paid to the terrain, and the details such as angles of vision etc.

The Effect of Firing is usually decided by the umpire, but the gunner can roll the dice if he likes, although he is not told what score he requires.

Use the following guidelines:

Roll 2d6: Score 11 or more to hit.

+2 if stationary

+1 for each consecutive move stationary aiming

+1 for second and each subsequent round from same position at same target.

+1 if target stationary.

The umpire has the right to change the result in the interests of prolonging a good game, but a double 6 is always a hit, whether the umpire likes it or not.

The placing of the turret is vitally important, and unless the gunner has the gun pointing at the target model, within one or two degrees of error, then the shot will miss anyway, without a dice roll.  If the target tank has not seen the firer, and the commander is 'up' in the turret, then he will be given some indication that he is under fire.


The end of the game comes when one of the tanks is knocked out.

The umpires calculate whether a hit has been made, but does not announce the result generally.

At the start of the next action phase, he places a small piece of cotton wool on the KO'd tank and says 'Clang!'. The players have the rest of the action phase to get out of the room (representing baling out).

Those that do not make it in the action phase dice for their lives - roll 1,2, or 3 on a d6 to perish.

The Panzer IV hasn't spotted the T34 yet....


There are few rules that the players need to know:

...but he's been seen alright...


The above rules are designed with the standard WWII tanks in mind, such as the T34, the Sherman or the PzKwIV. Other tanks can be introduced with some modifications:

a) The standard tanks also had a co-driver/hull gunner, which is ignored in the above game. He can be introduced, but his only game function would be rolling dice when the hull gun fired, or taking over if the driver were injured. This is not recommended, since it is likely to be dull for the player.

b) Self-propelled guns. The gunner has less of a task, since there is no turret to turn, so he can be dispensed with, and the firing orders given by the commander.

c) 3-man light tanks. The Commander becomes the gunner as well, loader and driver as before.

d) Lee/Grant Tank. This had a strange layout. There are two guns. For the lighter gun, the commander acts as both loader and gunner. For the main gun there is a normal loader and gunner, with normal duties.

From these principles it should be possible to design a player layout for virtually any other type of tank - even the massively over-manned WWI types of tank!

..and so it ends.



You tell the other players what to do

You cannot touch anything on the table

You are in charge


You are the only person that can move the tank model

Normal forward maximum move is 12.5 cm  (5")

BUT – if you move more slowly you are less likely to have trouble with obstacles, tracks falling off, getting stuck and so on. It is up to you.

The normal backward maximum move is 7.5 cm (3")


You are the only person who can turn the turret on the model

Make sure the gun is pointed at the thing you want to hit.

Make sure the loader has finished loading before firing (or the loader can become a casualty).

Anything you can see, is in range. (in fact it is likely to be point blank range)

If you don’t raise your hand and shout ‘FIRING NOW!’ you haven’t fired the gun.


You are the only one who can load the main armament

Make sure you know the different types of ammo

If the gunner shouts ‘firing now’ before you’ve finished loading, expect to lose a hand.

These rules are free and may be freely copied for personal use, so long as you remember that the author retains copyright, and you acknowledge his copyright if you use all or any parts of these rules in another publication or web page.

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