Tuesday, 8 March 2011


I have finished my Warlord 'Resistants' section and was keen to get them into battle. I have been working on a new skirmish system, tentatively called Ratfight, that has three qualities: (i) simple, (ii) clean, and (iii) unpredictable.

So here is a Ratfight force of Free French.
1. SAS brick under Sgt 'Chalky' White, armed with sten guns and a Bren.
2. Free French Leaders, Michelle 'I shall say this only once' of the SOE and Rene 'ero of the resistance' Artois (with armband).
3. Les Resistants armed with a variety of British and German weapons.

The scenario is taken from an Osprey book, French Resistance Fighter. A German division is making its way painfully towards Normandy after D-Day. The Resistance is delaying the force with road blocks ever few miles, some defended, forcing the Germans to debus and sweep away resistants from the surrounding woods before removing the block. Note for artistic reasons, the free French fighter is shown defending the roadblock. Actually, he would be in the woods to the side.

So here is the wargaming table at the start of the game. The blocked road is offtable in the foreground and two sections of Germans debuss and enter the trees to search for 'terrorists'. I played the forces of law and order and Shaun played the French terrorists.

Ratfight is a diceless system that uses playing cards. These have the advantage of a large range of outcomes, all of equal probability. Randomly drawn action cards are used to move and fight individual stands, giving a high degree of unpredictability. It is a simple fast, unpredictable system that rewards flexible plans, and players.

This is the game at the finish. Shaun used an agressive strategy of forward defense, stopping the germans from entering the woods. Moral of a force detoriates with casualties and although I was taking higher casualties by being caught in the open, I was inflicting losses. The game continues until a force breaks and withdraws. Shaun knocked down my leader. Should he die, I was very unlikely to survive my next turn's morale check given the number of casualties that I had sustained. However, Shaun failed his morale check that turn (he flipped a two) and withdrew - so I won.

I was pleased with how the system performed. It was fast (one hour game) and felt more 'real' than standard wargame rules applied to small forces, because of the limited control players have over their troops.

Oh, for people interested in such things, the first photo was taken with a twenty second exposure using a stopped down camera in poor light. The second by putting the Nikon on auto and using the internal flash.


  1. Sounds like fun and a wargame without dice now that's interesting.

  2. My kind of game. Limited control is where it's at.

  3. Shaun (anything but a one (or two))8 March 2011 at 12:53

    I honestly think your on to a winner with this one mate the game flows well, with the pick a possible action card system, and with extra randomness supplied by the playing cards what with the numbers and the "bridge suits" to boot that'll be a D52 then. The other advantage is the small number of figures needed for a really good game. This would also work well for a solo gamer.
    Look forward to the grenade and flame thrower
    rules we were talking about.

  4. I’d also recommend reading Das Reich by Max Hastings. It's ostensibly about this infamous Panzer Division but the real story is that of the French resistance and the actions they undertook to delay this unit’s advance to Normandy. A fascinating read on a complex and often emotive subject.

  5. Dear Porky and Lurker
    Thanks. I am quite pleased with this system and intend to develop it further.

  6. Dear Shaun
    Thank you for gallantly playtesting it - nespecially the first version which didn't work to well.

  7. Dear Big Lee
    Yes, I have read it. The French paid a high price in civilian casualties for their brave resistence. The Das Reich murdered their way across France.

  8. Dear John,

    Do you planning to make it official? I mean do you plan to sell it?

  9. Dear Igi
    I don't know, I have not decided - it is early days yet. The options are: give it away, sell a PDF for a nominal sum, or try to interest a publisher.

  10. Well I'd like a pdf version (because it's easier to access here), but surely understand if you want too see a couple of quids (is this the correct term?) out of it.