Military toys will probably be big sellers this
Christmas, but one ubiquitous toy has been there year after year for
children - the humble plastic toy soldier. Whether from boxes,
buckets, or bags, many an army of green and tan (or grey) has sprung
into battle on Christmas day, often with troops over-running the
manger and hiding behind the wise men and donkeys.
Toy soldiers of one kind or another date back to the days of Rome, and probably earlier. Though not very PC anymore, kids never cease to enjoy them. They spend hours building forts and placing their soldiers carefully...before taking turns throwing rocks or shooting 'em with an air rifle. (At least that's what kids in my neighborhood did. We'd sit up in a tree and play "sniper" with our BB guns, seeing who could knock over all the other person's troops first. This was back before video games replaced children's natural creativity...)
Some people say that kids shouldn't have war toys and that it somehow makes them violent. I think the reverse is true. Having war toys lets young children act out their internal stories and feelings as opposed to supress and become neurotic about them. They see images of war on television and they may have relatives who are overseas (or who were gone before in Desert Storm); it would be silly to think them ignorant about the whole idea of war. If they can get some power over their feelings through playing that they're beating the bad guys or blowing Osama up with a tank, hey, that's OK in my book.
Toy soldiers are also a cheap and easy introduction to wargaming for kids or adults. Here the goal is educational as well. Besides being a bit of fun over a few beers, wargaming is a way to develop an appreciation of military tactics, to see what can go right and so horribly wrong for a squad in combat. These educational military games were called Kreigspiel by the German's in the 18th-19th century and were used to train military officers. The idea was adapted by most militaries around the world.
All you need to start is a bunch of soldiers, a few normal dice, a ruler or string, and some objects to scatter about as terrain (books, cups, coins, etc.) You will also need some rules to play by (unless you just want to go the rock and BB gun route) so without any further ado...
By Pete Kautz
Download These Rules as PDF File
Roll for Initiative, high roller decides whether they are player A or B. (Roll each turn)
Player A Moves
Player A Shoots
Player A Fights H2H
Player B Moves
Player B Shoots
Player B Fights H2H
(Players A+B Test for Morale if using Advanced Rules)
Squads should be 5-10 Troopers with a Leader. A
normal squad may have up to two Special Weapons in it. A game with 2
or 3 squads on a side can be played in an hour or so.
If you want to assign some kind of point system to build even sides with, count each regular soldier as 1, each leader as 2, and each special weapons soldier as 3.
Troopers must stay within 4" of another member of their squad. If they are not for some reason then all 6's rolled for them will count as 5's to show reduced leadership.
In Rough Terrain - 4"
Walk - 8"
Run - 12" (Can not Run when within
12" of enemy)
Charge in H2H - 2D6" (Roll for each individual figure entering H2H) Charge 1D6" in Rough Terrain.
A figure wishing to enter H2H Combat *Must* Charge (they may not walk, etc.)
To shoot at a target, a figure must reasonably be
able to draw line of sight to them. If a figure's line of sight is
blocked by another figure or by blocking terrain (something so big
you can't see past - like a hill) then you may not shoot at them.
For each weapon a short and long range is listed. At short range (or less) you need to roll a 4, 5 or 6 to hit, and at long range you need a 5 or 6 to hit. If the target is behind cover or in Rough Terrain, then you need to roll a 5 or 6 to hit at short range and a 6 to hit at long range. Agree before the game as to which things are cover and rough terrain.
4,5, or 6
5 or 6
5 or 6
1) Light Machine Gun rolls 2 dice to hit. Heavy
Machine Gun rolls 3 dice but can not move and shoot in the same
2) Bazooka rolls 4 dice to hit, always counted as long range. You may not fire at a target closer than 8". You may not move and shoot in the same turn.
3) Flamethrower rolls 4 dice to hit, always counted as short range.
4) Mortar rolls 3 dice, always counted as long range. You may not fire at a target closer than 8". Mortars may fire indirectly if a spotter from your squad can draw line of site to the enemy. You may not move and shoot in the same turn.
5) Sniper Rifle rolls 3 dice but can only cause ONE hit no matter how many hits are rolled.
Special weapons can cause multiple casualties to an enemy squad! When an attack rolls multiple hits, the attacker removes the initial figure and then the defender removes additional figures starting with the next one(s) closest.
You MUST use the Charge option to enter into H2H
combat. Roll two dice and move that number of inches. Sometimes the
soldier will get "cold feet" and not close in as fast as you'd
Figures who have Charged to within 1" are considered to be in H2H combat and neither figure may move away.
Roll one die for each figure, individually, adding the following modifiers:
+1 to the total if the figure is armed with a pistol, knife or other close combat weapon
+1 to the total if the figure is a Squad Leader
+1 Per additional attacker (Up to 3 attackers can gang up on one defender, granting a +2 bonus to each of their rolls! Strength is in numbers!)
The highest roll wins. Losers are removed immediately. If it is a tie, then fight again next round.
You can simplify measuring by using the 8 ½ x 11 rules sheet as a guide. Round all measurements to equal half the page width, the entire width, the length, twice the length, or three times the length. This is very quick and easy.
Figures that are Hit are not removed immediately. Roll 1D6 for each wound received:
Recovers next turn and can stand up
Becomes Stunned next turn
Advanced Morale Rules
When a Squad is reduced to less than half its
original number, then roll 1D6 to test Morale. If the number rolled
is greater than the number of figures left alive in the squad, the
squad Routs and flees from the battle.
At the end of a players turn, any of their units with less than half its starting number of figures must make a Morale check.
Example: A squad of 10 men is reduced to 5 at the end of the turn. A Morale test is made on one die and a 3 is rolled. The unit keeps fighting for another turn. At the end of the next turn the unit is reduced to 4 figures. A Morale test is made and a 5 is rolled - the unit Routs and is removed from the board.
If a Squad does not move, shoot, or fight in H2H
combat it may elect to go on Overwatch. Place a token by the Squad to
note that is in this state of readiness.
A Squad that is on Overwatch may shoot at any enemy that is in its line of site and moves or shoots at them. This action interrupts the active player's turn. Following this attack, the Overwatch token is removed and the Squad can do nothing more until that players next turn.
Special weapons may NOT fire on Overwatch, only Pistols and Rifles.
In a case where fire may be simultaneous between the active player and the player on Overwatch, then both sides roll for hits and apply the results simultaneously.
On their turn, players activate only one Squad
instead of their entire army.
The Army Men Homepage
Mega-site with information on all kinds of plastic soldiers and free rules for wargames.
Toy soldier rules written by someone who can't spell. Cool name, though.
Strange personal site about a man's obsession and the story of a war game that he has been playing for more than fifty years. He claims that it is a huge installation type work of art, at the present time containing over 57,000 sculpted soldiers and more than 3400 plastic models.
Plastic Wars: Real Tactics With Plastic Men
Commercial rule set and expansion. Never played it, but they have some good starting advise on speed painting an army.
Though these guys have lousy color layout (black text on a dark green screen???) they do sell all kinds of unusual and inexpensive plastic soldiers. They have World War Two stuff as well as Knights, Turks, Robin Hood, Dragons and more! Slow loading but tons of pictures.