Skirmish '90 Modern Wargames Rules 1915-2005

Queries, Notes & FAQ.

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It's comming up to ten years since I wrote the originals of these rules, and a couple since I put them on the web. A number of people now seem to be using them and I'm starting to get some feed back.

A number of questions keep comming up, so I thought I'd start this page of Frequently Asked Questions, notes, updates and alternate rules ideas. This will only work if people continue to e-mail me their excellent comments. I'm greatful to Fain Street, Ryan Hoover, Lee Neal and Chris Scruton for their prompting & inputs.

Errors & Typos

If you spot an error or typo let me know so I can make any changes needed.

November 1997

In "Scales" should read:

Real 10m 20m 40m 60m 100m 150m 200m 300m 600m
Game 2" 4" 8" 10" 15" 20" 25" 30" 40"

The Basics


These are given in inches (") and yards (')


There are three type of dice used in the rules. these are: The type and number of  dice to used is noted in the heading of each section. for example: In some cases this roll is modified, for example 2D6-2 means roll two six sided dice, add their scores then subtract two.

In most cases the values in the tables show the the number that must be equalled or beaten by the dice roll. For example 4+ means you must roll a four or more on a dice to succeed.

DM's stands for Dice Modifiers. These are a method of modifying the basic dice roll to take account
of various circumstances. They are added or subtracted from the dice roll BEFORE it is compared to
the number needed for success. For example a DM  of +1 means add one to the dice roll.

Some Definitions

str  is "strength". This is some measure of the stopping power of the weapon, the bigger the number the more damage a weapon does. This number is used as a modifier to the dice roll for the effect of any hits on people (the bottom of "Aimed Smallarms Fire at a visible target"), and to decide if a vehicle has been penetrated (halfway down "A.F.V. & A.T. fire").

Thus it's not a good idea for a man to take a hit from an ATGW (Missile B has a strength of 10) which would add 10 to the roll for damage!

The Ground Scale

One of the main differences between these rules and others is the "non-linear" ground scale. This I try to rationalize in a couple of ways.

Firstly, and most importantly, I like playing games with infantry, heavy weapons and tanks all on the table at the same time. I found that rules for tank combat didn't have the right free for the role I wanted for my infantry in battle, and likewise, rules for infantry combat didn't allow the use of any heavy weapons without them totally dominating the game. This varying ground scale thus allows me to have lots of the close-up combat of the infantry actions, but still put lots of support weapons and vehicle on the table. Of course if you have a very large table(s) you could go for a fixed ground scale, but as I never have more room than a 6'x8' board I compromised!

If you want a more rational excuise then try this. People are much more concerned with their imediate
surroundings. Firstly within 50m or so (9" in the rules). This is where their friends and leaders are and
where all the nitty-gritty fighting is done. Next they are aware of their general area of influence, say 250-300m (2-3' in the rules). This is about the limit of most smallarms fire and the effective range of
infantry AT weapon fire. It is also the sort of distance an infantrymans or tanks imediate unit would occupy. Lastly are the longer ranges. These are were the heavier support weapons dominate and the platoon/company commander operates.

The original rules were written with 20mm figures (1/72, 1/76 vehicles) in mind. If you want to use 15mm models I would suggest NOT modifying the ground scale. For the games these rules cover, upto company level, a 6'x6' or 6'x8' is all that's needed. Infact using 15mm figures gives a much better impression of the battle.

Grouping and Motivating Figures

The game is centred around unit commanders. Figures should not be allowed to wander about individually but should be groups in to 3-6 man fire teams. Two or so of these with an NCO would make up a section, three or four sections plus an HQ group (with a Officer and Sergent) make up a platoon,  etc....

Commanders then motivate these groupings of figures. I let each commander try to motivate any number of figures that he can be in contact with (by either talking within 2" or Shouting within 5", see Communication, motivating figures over the radio isn't allowed!). However, all these figures must be motivated to do the SAME action.

As a general rule I tend not to make units to start testing Reaction untill they are fired upon, see the enemy (or his effects) or want to fire at something. This speeds along the game at the start. However, once the sction starts test should be made every turn.


A section of royal marines have come under fire from an Argentine position. They are grouped as

Current motivation +1

NCO (Sterling SMG)  3 leadership points.

GPMG (gunner,No 2)

4 riflemen (3 SLR, 1 Bren)

3 riflemen (3 SLR)

The player wants the GPMG group and 3man rifle group to fire in the general area of the enemy (unaimed) and the 4 man rifle group to advance one more towards them. As advancing is the harder
he get the NCO to motivate the 4 man group.

For the 4 man group roll a D6  (gets 4) +1 (current motivation), +3 (leadership points) = 8 succeeds, so they advance.

For the remaining figures roll a D6 (gets 1) +1 (current motivation) = 2 fail, so they don't fire!

You now work out any changes to the motivation:

The 4 man group succeeded in advancing so would add one to the sections motivation level, but the remaining figures failed so would loose one. The unpire being malitious (as they normally are and should be) deams that the failure would outway ony gain from the success so the marine section drops to a motivation of  0.

It is thus easily seen that if you have a unit with poor motivation they need constant attention from their commanders and should not be encouraged to do anything too hazardus. The best way of getting them bach to a reasonable level of motivation is to get them to either fire or crawl in the general direction of the enemy for afew turns.

Smallarms Fire

There are two types of smallarms fire, Aimed and unaimed. Unaimed fire is used against "unseen"/potential targets. For example if you are on patrol in a jungle area and want to fire at an area of bushes that look like a good place for an ambush then you can do so. The unpire rolls on the Unaimed fire table (whether there are enemy there or not) and make a note of any casualties that are taken. Of course  if the player wants to find out what damage he's done he has to send some figures to the bushes and look for himself! Unaimed fire is also used when firing in the genneral direction of a sighted enemy (this is the normal suppressive fire used by most troops when faced by real combat). It is easy(er) to motivate figures to do this and these results are simple to calculate. Firing is done AS A GROUP of upto four figures with similar weapons.Aimed fire involves pointing your gun at a specific target and putting the trigger. It MUST be at a sighted enemy target and may take the form of a single shot or burst of automatic fire. It is much harder to motivate figures to do this. The fire is resolved figure by figure and is slightly more complex to calculate.

In large games it is probable best to do away with Aimed fir altogether. This speeds things up when there are alot of figures on the table.

A couple of examples:

US infantry fire-team with an M16s fires in the general direction of some bushes where an Iraqi position is:

His CO has decided to rolled in the reaction for Unaimed fire (this is easier to get than aimed fire) and has succeeded. Roll on "Unaimed Smallarms/Area fire"table. They are within the maximum range of 24", the Iraqis are in light cover. He rolls a 5 which pins them down and gives one hit. The strength of unaimed fire by an Auto-rifle is -3. So the Iraqi hit rolls a D10 (gets a 10) -3 (for the strength of the round fired) which gives 7 = he is crippled. If you want you can roll for the type of hit (OPTIONAL). D6, rolls 1, so just a grazing hit & the number is reduced by one (now only 6) which gives only wounded
instead of crippled.

Though it may sound hard this is type of unaimed fire (which seems to be used most in our games) is very fast to calculate. Aimed fire includes more detail.

Next turn the US CO decides to try aimed fire (harder to get on the reaction roll). He succeeds. Firing is now worked out figure by figure.

Two wish to fire aimed single shots, at specific Iraqi targets they've seen, the other two want to fire on automatic at the Spotted Iraqi section.

The M16 is Auto-rifle type B, the US troops have an ability of 3:

They are at a range of 20"
Wpn. 2" 4" 8" 10" 15" 20" 25" 30" 40" 60" Str.
(B) -5/6+ -6/7+ -6/7+ -6/8+ -6/8+ -7/9+ -8/10+ -9/11+ -/12+ - -1

TO HIT with a single shot roll a D10 needing 9 or more (number after "/")
       Modifiers: Ability               +3
                          Iraqis are prone -2
                          Total of              +1

The two US troops roll a 3 & 8  (3+1=4 misses, 8+1=9 hits)

For hit strength of 5.56mm round from M16 is -1. (Note this is much better than the unaimed fire strength which was just spraying the general area of a possible target!)

Iraqi rolls 6 -1 (str) +2 (Aimed single shot) = 7 crippled.

To HIT with auto fire roll a D10 -7 (number before "/")
        Modifiers: as before total +1

The two US troops firing auto roll 4 and 10 (4-7+1=-2 no hits, 10-7+1=4 hits)

1/2 the hits fall on the target man (2 hits, rolls 5 (-1)=4 wounded & 7 (-1)=6 second wound = crippled) other two hits are randomly distributed between any other figures within the target area 2" by 4".

This type of firing takes abit longer to resolve (but not much). It happens less oftain in games (as you need to both have a spotted target & roll on the reaction table to use aimed fire). The extra detail gives the game abit more depth. Individual weapon characteristics tend to come into play more when
you have specific targets AND are aiming at them. For just general fire it doesn't really matter what the weapon is (beyond a point) thus the two different methods. If you want quick games, or are using load of figures, then leaving out aimed fire alltogether works fine (all you do is loose abit
of detail and gain a little speed).


A.A.          Anti-Aircraft.
A/C          Armoured Car.
A.P.C.      Armoured Personel Carrier.
A.S.M.      Air to Surface Missile.
A.T.          Anti-Tank.
A.T.G.W.  Anti-Tank Guided Weapon.

C.B.         Cluster Bomb.
C.S.         Chemical Suppressent

Dam.          Shorthand for "Damage".
Def. Gren.  Deffencive hand Grenade. Has a large burst circle.
DM's          Dice Modifiers. Additions/subtractions to dice rolls.

F.A.E.    Fuel-Air Explosive.
F.C.R.    Field Craft Rating (See troop type in rules)

G.L.      Grenade Launcher.
Gren.    Grenade.

H.E.        High Explosive.
H.E.A.T. High Explosive Anti-Tank.  (Used in rules for any type of chemical energy round. eg. HESH)
Hel.        Shorthand for Helicopter.
H.M.G.  Heavy Machine Gun.
How.      Howitzer.
Hvy        Shorthand for "Heavy"

K.T.      Kilotonne.

L.A.D.    Light Anti-tank Disposable.
L.A.W.   Light Anti-tank Weapon.
L.M.G.   Light Machine Gun.
L.P.s      Leadership points. (See the rules)
L.t.         Shorthand for "Light"

M.B.T.     Main Battle Tank.
M.G.        Machine Gun.
M.I.C.V.  Mechanized Infantry Combat Verhicle.
M.M.G.   Medium Machine Gun.
Mort.       Mortar.

N.B.C.    Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (warfare).

Off. Gren.  Offensive hand Grenade. Has a reduced burst circle.

Rad        Radius (See rules).

R.R. / R.C.L.  Recoiless Rifle.
R.P.                Rocket Pods.

S.A.M.     Surface to Air Missile,
S.F.M.G. Sustainded fire Machine Gun.
S.G.         Shotgun.
Spt           Shorthand for "Support".
Smk.        Shorthand for "Smoke".

TGT      Target.

W.P.      White Phosphorus.