Review of Martin Rapier’s One Hour WW2 (6 hit)

I wasn’t too impressed when we tried WW2 using One Hour Wargames. But Martin Rapier has an interesting variant – One Hour WW2 (6 hit) – that looks worth a shot.


Martin Rapier’s OHW WW2 variant

Martin Rapier has evolved his variant over time. Martin started with One Hour Hex WW2 Rules but is now up to One Hour WW2 (6 hit) V2.

As Martin explained in his Escape from Tula after action report, the latest version uses a six hit / 1-3 dice combat system. They also lack hexes because “the rules just seem to work better free format than with a grid”. Martin has upped the scale of the game so the manoeuvre units are battalions rather than platoons. But Martin continues with the standard 3’x3′ OHW table and 5″ x 3″ sabot bases (which are within the recommended OHW base width of 4-6 inches).

Martin adds a lot to the basic OHW WW2 set. A summary of the differences are:

Neil Thomas WW2 OHW Martin Rapier WW2 OHW
Game Scale
Infantry represent are 40 men (platoon) Units are battalions, including weakened regiments and brigades
Anti-tank Guns and Mortars are three tubes and their crew (section)
Tanks are unspecified and might be 1:1
Troop Types
Infantry Split into (Leg) Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Motorised, Cavalry
Mortars Replaced by Light Artillery, Field Guns, Heavy Guns
Tanks Split into Tanks, Heavy Tanks, Recce, Heavy Recce
Anti-tank guns Replaced by AT Attribute of Infantry
Movement
6″ Infantry, Mortars Unchanged: 6″ Infantry, Artillery;
12″ Tanks 9″ Tanks, Motorised, Cavalry;
12″ Recce, Fast Tanks
3″ Road Bonus +3″ tracked on road and +6″ wheeled on road
Terrain
Towns, Hills, River, Marsh, Lakes, Roads Unchanged: Towns, Hills, River, Marsh, Lakes, Roads
Woods Split into Dense Woods, Open Woods
Combat
Ranges 6″ Observation; 48″ Mortars 6″ Spotting; 18″ Light Artillery; 36″ Field Guns; 54″ Heavy Guns
Roll 1d6 plus mods for hits 1-3 dice combat system with chance of hit/miss on each
Modifiers for Cover, Hilltop (i.e. Hulldown Tanks) Modifiers for Hull Down Tanks, Cover, Dug in
15 Hits 5, 6 or 7 hits with 6 as normal

So a lot of changes.


Game Scale

The original game is very small scale. Infantry units are platoons, anti-tank guns and mortars are sections. There is no declared scale for tanks but there is a good chance these are one model is one tank.

Martin has moved up two levels in the military hierarchy. Units are battalions. In some cases, e.g. Escape from Tula (December 1941) Scenario, units are regiments and brigades, but these have been so weakened by combat that they are effectively battalions. I like this change.


Troop Types

Martin has change the troops types quite a lot. Infantry has been split into (Leg) Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Motorised, and Cavalry. Mortars are replaced by Light Artillery, Field Guns, and Heavy Guns. Mortars themselves disappear into the infantry units. Tanks are split into Tanks, Heavy Tanks, Recce, and Heavy Recce. And finally, anti-tank guns are replaced by an AT Attribute of Infantry.

Again I like this change. I think the greater number of troop types reflects combat in WW2 more accurately, without undue complexity. They will also bring more interesting games.


Movement

Movement is fairly unchanged. Slower tanks move slower is the big change, but even that is a tweak really.


Terrain

Fairly unchanged here too. But woods have been split into Dense Woods and Open Woods. Only infantry can enter Dense Woods.


Combat

The big change for combat is in the number of hits. Standard OHW uses 15 hits for every unit. We tried that, but found our previous play tests (448 AD, 454 AD, WW2) rather drawn out and not very enjoyable. 15 Hits is also rather a pain to track although people do have creative ways to track hits in One-Hour Wargames. One of those creative ideas is from Kaptain Kobold. He only uses five hits for OHW. That makes the tracking of hits much easier. The Kaptain uses small stones but 1d6 will do the trick. Martin clearly agrees there is a problem with 15 hits and has gone for 5, 6 or 7 hits in his variant.

The change to the hits has a knock on effect on the rolls to hit. The original game roll 1d6 plus mods for hits. So a typical unit will inflict 1-6 hits. Martin has replaced that entirely. He gives each unit 1-3 dice combat system with a chance of hit/miss on each. So a typical unit might only inflict 1 hit, i.e. much less.

It probably all balances out. The original game has lots of hits inflicted but lots of hit points to absorb it. Martin’s units have about one third the hit points, and also only dish out about one third of the hits. But at least with Martin’s system a 1d6 will work to track hits for most units.


Conclusion

I think this is a great piece of work. Martin has made a lot of changes and I’d argue there are so many changes this is a completely different game. But Martin clearly sees this as a variant of One Hour Wargame rather than a new game. That is his choice of course. I believe the changes will add flavour to the games. However, Martin still manages to keep the rules short: 2 pages with a third for army lists. I’m keen to give it a go.


References

Rapier, M. (various). The Games We Play

Thomas, N. (2014). One-Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for those with Limited Time and Space. Pen & Sword Military.

11 comments to Review of Martin Rapier’s One Hour WW2 (6 hit)

  • I like the Horse and Musket OHW rules best. I don’t have an issue tracking 15 hits since I have a load of numeric counters left over from a previous set of rules. My big issue with the OHW WWII rules was whoever gets 2 mortar units has a big advantage. My first look at the rules doesn’t show me if this changed but I’ll have to try it on the table and see, sometime this summer when I get back home.

    • Steven Thomas

      Yes. There is also the problem that the best mountain troops in OHW WW2 are tanks – because they get a bonus for for being “on a hill” and defending enemy infantry on a hill above them do not. The tanks should get an advantage for being hull down not “on a hill” ie. protected by a crest from enemy shooting at them. Okay, I can tighten that up myself, but it bugs me that I have to.

  • Duc de Gobin

    I do really like Martin’s changes. To be honest, I had been looking for a means of doing ‘big’ operational level battles (I appreciate you have looked at this deeply yourself), with a view to doing Kasserine Pass & Market Garden – Martin’s adaptions seem to fit the bill.

    • Steven Thomas

      Yeah, I had a good look at these rules because of the potential for operational rules. Martin’s variant is still a bit small (battalions as units, games less than one game day) and lacks supply so doesn’t meet my criteria for operational games). The rules would be even better for me if a stand represented a complete division. That would be Eastern Front style “operational”. But I suspect Martin’s rules do what they are designed to do quite well.

  • Martin Rapier

    Tbh, the movement and combat mechanisms are so generic, they could easily be scaled up. Regimental stands, three to five turns per day (plus overnight) for Corps level and day turns and brigade/Div stands for Army level. Bolt on a logistic system of your choice.

    • Steven Thomas

      Martin, thanks for popping in. And thanks for sharing your work over in your blog. I really enjoy watching your thinking on higher scale games evolve.

      I agree about OHW (6 Hit), it can be scaled up. That’s exactly why I’m poking at it.

      But even without that I can see some “fun” exactly as it is. So I’m intending to have a go at Escape from Tula this afternoon. Solo.

  • Martin Rapier

    I didn’t want to tinker too much with the core OHW structure and sequence so people could still play with the scenarios. If going even higher level I’d shift to simultaneous combat, at which point it is no longer OHW.

  • Richard

    I like the idea of battalion units because my German forces, for example, would have battalions of Panthers and battalions of Panzer IVs represented by the appropriate models. Above that level I wouldn’t see any point in using models as they wouldn’t be appropriate representations.

    Richard

    • Steven Thomas

      Richard, that does sound kind of 1:1 skirmish thinking.

      Personally I’m okay with abstractions, all the way up. I’m okay, for example, with 3 riflemen figures on a stand representing a squad with nine real riflemen and a LMG gunner. I’m also okay using the same stand for a battalion even though at that scale the real unit includes HQ, mortars, anti-tank guns, and a kitchen unit. And again scaling up I’m okay using those same three figures to represent a brigade/regiment even though it now includes support services (transport, medical, etc). I’d also, depending on the scale of the game, be okay using my rifle stand to represent a rifle division, rifle corp or even rifle army.

      At that higher scale – brigade/regiment, division, corp, army – it doesn’t really matter which tank model you use for a tank unit (Tiger, Panther, Pz IV, Pz III, Pz II command vehicle). Because the “tank” unit includes different types of tanks plus a whole bunch of non-tank elements e.g. artillery, armoured infantry, motorised infantry, anti-tank, medical, transport, etc, etc. The model, which ever one you choose, makes it clear that this unit is different to the rifle units. The main combat arm are “tanks”.

      In counters there are conventions for showing the type of unit, NATO symbols and all that. But even in board games many manufacturers prefer silhouettes of real men/machines rather than the NATO symbols. It just adds a bit more flavour. I think the same situation applies here. A tank model, whatever the kind, suggests a tank unit more than a rectangle with an oval inside.

      but horses for courses.

  • Richard

    We are in the realms of such great abstraction than any preference is demonstrably whimsical!

    I’m not so convinced about free movement though. I would have thought this level is ideal for grid or hexes.

    Richard

  • OHW was an eye-opener for me, in the sense that it really shows just how much it’s possible to pack into something like 5% of the typical page count. In some cases, this extreme level of simplification broadly works (Horse & Musket, Pike & Shot to a lesser extent); but in some cases it just doesn’t (Ancients, Dark Age, WW2). In particular, I think WW2 are the worst of the pack, failing at both representing anything ‘real’ and at providing sufficient interest to the ‘game’ side of the equation (OHW is very simple, but if you take out assaults, fire arcs, fire/movement restrictions, you’re left with almost no game at all!).

    However, I’m convinced that it’s possible to model a whole lot of different battlefield dynamics across several eras by just using the very simple set of recipes OHW gives us: IGOUGO and attritional combat. Martin Rapier’s amendments are an elegant demonstration of how it’s possible to add a lot of depth and character with very little rules overhead!

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