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A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two A Grognard's1 Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two
with Andrew Duncan

After covering the building blocks of Version Phwoar, it’s time to look get our forces into the fight.

Read A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part One here...

Movement Manoeuvre
Let’s get on to manoeuvre, one of the biggest and best changes (I’m calling it manoeuvre as movement sounds boring and not military enough.) Everything in your force is now more manoeuvrable. All units have movement rates reflecting their agility, which differ depending on the type of tank, reflecting weight, engine and suspension variations. There are two types of movement: Tactical and Dash.
Below: Manoeuvre: Tactical or Dash?.
A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

Tactical speed allows teams to move, shoot and assault. Infantry move at a Tactical speed of 8”/20cm and most tanks move 10”/25cm. However, Tactical speed does have a few variations reflecting the vehicle’s technology, like stabilisers, and the real-world tactics used by the forces of the time. British cruiser tanks move faster at Tactical: 12” /30cm for the Honey and 14”/40cm for the Crusader. However, they still can’t assault if they move more than 10”/25cm. British infantry tanks like the Churchill only move at the speed of the accompanying foot sloggers, 8”/20cm. Bringing the underlying movement rates of infantry and tanks closer together reflects how they really operated. Moving faster than walking pace made it impossible for the vehicles of 75 years ago to engage effectively. I’m old enough to have driven cars built in the ‘50s as a teenager, and anywhere off-road was a bone-jarring ride.

As guns no longer have transports as part of the unit, they also get movement rates. These also vary, reflecting the nature of the weapon. This simulates the availability of transports to shift their position if required. It also removes a bit of battlefield clutter and makes more space for my tanks. Lighter guns that operated alongside the infantry can move 4”/10cm at Tactical speed, whilst larger guns like the 25 pdr get to move 2”/5cm. They can also dash a bit further if required – check your new books for the details.

Below: Large guns like the 25 pdr only move 2"/5cm in Version Phwoar.
A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar

As well as being able to move at Tactical speed everything now has the option to Dash. Dash speed cross country is considerably faster than Tactical but I won’t be able to fire or assault. I also can’t Dash within 8”/20cm of the enemy. It’s not double my Tactical movement but it also no longer doubles the enemy’s rate of fire. This extra manoeuvrability is great for speeding up games. It also makes manoeuvre a more important element.

Both movement rates are affected by terrain, as you’d expect. Terrain can be great for cover and concealment, but not so good for driver visibility and the vehicle’s suspension. Tanks now find terrain more challenging but less dangerous. Each vehicle now has its own Cross rating. Most are now a 3+ or worse. However, a fail just leaves you at the edge of the terrain and still operational. You’d better not get stuck assaulting infantry, though.

Tanks also won’t be clearing out buildings, despite granddad’s story about a Tiger in Italy reversing in and out of a building to take shots at advancing Shermans. Buildings are now impassable to tanks, so you’ll need infantry to dig my men out of the cellars, where they’ll be keeping in Good Spirits.

Below: Panzer IVs attempting to 'cross' into terrain.
A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

How do these manoeuvre possibilities affect the game?
Armour is now far more manoeuvrable. Operating at Dash speed, my fast tanks can sweep around a flank or charge into close range. They can reposition to counter a threat or make a last-ditch attempt to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory when I’m swept away by a slew of sixes.

All tanks now move around 10”/25cm at Tactical speed, some are a little faster and others a bit slower. Tactical speed allows me to move, shoot and an assault. However, I also have the choice to Dash. I really like these extra choices.

Dash provides any faster vehicles, Crusaders, not Valentines, with a much greater movement distance. My Crusaders can move 20”/50cm cross country. This gives me a wider field of operations so I can create threats from different vectors. Dash speed doesn’t double my opponent’s rate of fire, as moving at the double used to. I am as hard to hit as if moving tactically but lose my ability to fire and assault. When I design a force I’ll be looking for some fast units to complement the rest of my army. If my more resilient elements can hold the enemy’s attention, I’ll have the opportunity. If I want to field a more defensive-minded force, I’ll need more infantry to hold ground and secure my flanks. I may also need to consider employing some of my own fast units as a reserve to launch a counterattack with.

For infantry, the extra speed will change my choices too. I’ll no longer just want to stay in my foxholes. With a Tactical speed of 8”/20cm and the ability to Dash 12”/30cm I can get across no-man’s-land much faster. Maybe I will be able to get to that key piece of terrain outside my deployment area that looked unattainable before.

The greater manoeuvrability offered by Dash works well in conjunction with the new Movement Orders to provide even more tactical options.

Below: Panzer IIIs execute a 'Blitz Move'.
A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

Movement Orders
All nations can effectively now Stormtrooper with Movement Orders, although the Germans are still better at it. Movement Orders provide extra tactical flexibility to all three key aspects of the game: movement, shooting and assault. I’ll go through how I plan to use them all below. Remember, these only work for teams in command.

In the movement phase, I can issue a Cross Here order to my tanks. This gives me a +1 bonus to my Cross rolls, letting my lesser tanks manage difficult terrain more effectively and really helping less agile vehicles like the Grant tank get into better positions.

On a less exciting note, I can still Dig In with infantry and guns.

For shooting, I can now pop out of cover behind the crest of a hill with a platoon of tanks by attempting a Blitz Move. If I succeed, the tank platoon will get a small extra move, but won’t count as moving this turn, giving me full rate of fire. However, there’s an element of risk in this. If my tanks don’t manage to pull off this manoeuvre, they will suffer a +1 penalty to hit. This will be great on occasion when I can pull it off, but there will be plenty of critical situations where I won’t want to take the risk.

After having shot from a good position — say coming out of ambush hull down — I can Shoot and Scoot. This lets me move 4”/10cm in the Assault phase, just like the old Stormtrooper. I can hopefully get and out of sight and avoid return fire.

Last but not least is Follow Me. After moving, the unit leader can advance another 4”/10cm and issue a Follow Me order. If passed, the rest of the unit can also advance another 4”/10cm. This test is passed on the unit’s motivation rating. You can’t shoot after passing this order but you can assault. This will be really good for determined infantry, allowing them to move 8”/20cm Tactical, 4”/10cm Follow Me and then a 4”/10cm assault. Of course, you’d better not look back – if the men aren’t following you over the top, you’re on your own. Both you and your unit are exposed. The leader will be an easier target and there is the potential to lose command and control, forcing morale tests if any casualties are taken.

Below: Follow Me!

A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

Engage The Enemy:
The change in balance of how tanks, guns and infantry combine

Winning the mission always comes down to being able to concentrate force on part of the enemy’s army whilst limiting their ability to return the favour. How the different combat arms interact has changed. The changes are for the better, reflecting how the different elements really interacted, particularly in the desert.

Tanks will clear infantry out of defensive positions in the open but are very limited in town fighting. This is much more realistic to me. Tanks were specifically designed to deal with dug-in infantry and do that well under the rules for Version Phwoar. Infantry was to hold ground and clear heavily defended positions in terrain. While tanks will easily assault infantry from an exposed position, the foot troops will nevertheless remain a vital component of your force. If you can’t hold ground with infantry, your flanks will be exposed and artillery and rear areas easily threatened.

To help your infantry hold ground, anti-tank guns are essential. It’s very unlikely any tank short of a Tiger will make it into an assault against a well-defended infantry position supported by a unit of 5cm PaK 38s or 6 pdrs. These guns now have a 3+ save, whether they fire or not. This reflects their low profile and the ability of their crews to operate with less exposure to incoming fire than their larger brethren.

If you need to clear an objective, then getting your tanks in is the best way to do it. Tanks were invented with just this purpose in mind. However, to soften up the anti-tank screen you’ll need some artillery.

Below: Anti-tank is essential for preventing tanks from getting into assault.

A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

Artillery now ranges in on the battery’s skill and hits on the target’s To Hit number. More experienced and cautious troops are harder to hit. I like that my veteran infantry is better able to protect themselves from artillery than fresh conscripts. This is why they became veterans.

However, once an artillery battery has your range, the effect of fire will become deadlier. Infantry and guns underneath a repeat bombardment – including one from mortars – must reroll their saves. The rules also improve the firepower of mortars and guns but reduce their anti-tank ratings during bombardments. Artillery was to pin the enemy and soften them up for an attack. They do this very well now, but a little patience is required. They aren’t as effective against tanks and their rules now reflect this. Artillery’s role was to pin the enemy in position, disrupt command and control and soften them up. Artillery wasn't a primary anti-tank weapon. Tanks and anti-tank guns are for fighting tanks with. My forces will always have a combination of these.

Below: Artillery is well suited to keeping the enemy pinned down and softening them up for an assault.
A Grognard's Guide to Version Phwoar: Part Two

I also get to place ranged-in markers for all my artillery batteries at the start of the game when I deploy. That infantry on the objectives better pull their collars up and hunker down. Of course, the enemy will have pre-planned some barrages too. Maybe mine should go on the hill top or treeline just to the rear of the objective to catch out tanks or guns covering the infantry. I’ll also have to think about my infantry having to walk through a bombardment in front of the objective. I’ll try and consider this when I place the objectives.

Smoke bombardments have changed, too. I can only call in one per battery per game. It’s easier to do now, though. I just choose the aiming point, range in then lay screen in any direction I want from the aiming point. Each gun firing gives me 4” of smoke. With a four-gun battery, I can screen my tanks’ manoeuvres or an infantry advance over the open ground very effectively.

Next week we’ll look at how the missions change with the new deployment elements of Spearhead and the Reserves calculation.

~ Andrew.

1. Wiktionary
1. An old soldier.
2. (games, slang) Someone who enjoys playing older wargames or role playing games, or older versions of such games, when newer ones are available.

Miriam Webster Dictionary
A soldier of the original imperial guard that was created by Napoleon I in 1804 and that made the final French charge at Waterloo.

French, from grogner to grunt, grumble (from Old French gronir, grogner, from Latin grunnire to grunt) + -ard

Last Updated On Wednesday, March 1, 2017 by Blake at Battlefront