Sunday, February 24, 2013

World at War Primer: Assaults and Overruns

Sorry for my absence the last couple of weeks.  I'm in the middle of changing jobs and working on a grad thesis, which hasn't left a lot of time for gaming.  In any case, let's get back to some World at War goodness!  Thanks to a comment from Pascal, I'm going to do a short article on Assaults and Overruns, two very important aspects to the World at War system.

Assaults and Overruns occur when two enemy forces occupy the same hex.  This represents the dirty business of close-quarters no-holds-barred down in the mud combat.  The major difference between an assault and an overrun is that assaults occur when:
  • vehicles fight each other in any terrain 
  • vehicles and infantry fight in defensive terrain
  • infantry fights other infantry in any terrain
An overrun occurs (hopefully rarely) when:
  • vehicles fight infantry in open or open hill terrain
An overrun basically represents the terror of vehicle units speeding into an infantry hex and running down guys, firing at point blank range, and using their impressive firepower to simply wipe out anything that does not have protective cover.  

The procedure for assaults and overrun is very simple but there are a couple of mechanics to keep in mind.  First off,  combat results take effect after both sides get in a round of fighting.  So it really doesn't matter who is entering the hex first in this case.  

Secondly, defensive terrain does not modify the combat rolls - except in the one case when infantry and vehicles are fighting in a city hex.  

Third, you cannot "aim" for a particular unit in a stack when you are in assault or overrun combat.  Hits are distributed equally among the units in the stacks.  So when you have two infantry units in a hex and they take two hits in an assault, the top-most infantry takes one hit and then the bottom infantry unit gets the second hit.  If there's an odd number of hits to distribute then just roll a 1d6 and give the top unit the third hit on a roll of 1-3, the bottom unit gets the hit on a roll of 4-6.  

Finally, after the assault is resolved, one side will be moving out of the assault hex.  If the defending unit takes the same or fewer number of hits than the attacker (the side that moved into the hex) then the defender wins and gets to stay in the hex.  The attacker must retreat back into the hex from which it came.  If the attacker gets more hits than the defender, the attacking unit stays in the hex it is assaulting and the defender must retreat one hex away in the exact path from which the assault came or else it is destroyed.

Assaulting is very simple.  You simply add up the assault factors on the counters participating in the assault and you roll the total number of dice to hit.  The assault factor for each unit can be found in the lower right corner of the counter as shown here:

So in this case, the Abrams will be rolling 2 six-sided dice and a hit is achieved on a 4 or higher.

Let's have a very basic example, shall we?

In the example above, the T-72 enters the hex in G2 with the Abrams.  Assault begins.

The T-72 rolls 2 six-sided die and gets a 4 and a 1.  The T-72 will score 1 hit on the Abrams.

But wait!  Before we assign the hit to the Abrams, it gets to fire back at the T-72.  The Abrams rolls its assault factor (2 dice for 4 or better) and gets a 6 and another 6.  The Abrams scores two hits on the T-72.  Now we can assign the hits.  The T-72 is disrupted and reduced while the Abrams is merely disrupted.

In this case, because the T-72 has taken more hits than the Abrams, it must retreat back into the hex from which it came (in this case, H2).  The Abrams stays in the G2 hex.  These results are shown below:


It is important to realize that the lack of an available retreat path (due to the path being either off the map, through enemy-occupied hexes, or in illegal terrain such as water or rivers) needs to be available or the retreating unit is destroyed.  Below we have an example where the lack of a legal retreat path destroys the retreating unit:

In the example above, the T-72 enters hex F12 and assaults the Abrams.  The T-72 scores one hit on the Abrams while the Abrams scores no hits on the T-72.  Normally, the Abrams would be able to take the hit and retreat back to another hex to fight another day.  However, the hex behind the path of the assault is a lake/water hex so the Abrams is actually destroyed.  A wreck marker is placed in hex F12 along with the victorious T-72 counter.

Note that if the assault had come from hex F11 to the north of the Abrams, it would have survived the assault and been moved into hex F13.

HQs and assault

Do HQ bonuses affect assault?  The answer is - sometimes.  If a unit with an HQ is participating in an assault and does not begin the assault combat under an Ops Complete marker then the HQ bonus dice are added to the assault.

Let's just run through a quick example:

In the example above, the Alpha HQ and an Abrams are in hex F12 and they are Ops Complete.  Maybe they moved and/or fired earlier this turn or maybe they even used opportunity fire to shoot at the Soviets 1st HQ and T-72 approaching them in G12.  Either way, the American units are Ops Complete so when the Soviets enter hex F12 and the assault begins, they will not be able to use their HQ bonus.

On the other hand, the 1st Guards Tank Division and the T-72 in G12 jump are not under Ops Complete and they jump gleefully into hex F12 to scrap it up with the Americans in assault combat.  Because they are not Ops Complete, the HQ can add its bonus (two dice, as shown in the upper left corner of the Soviet HQ counter) to the assault.

The Soviets go first.  The T-72 can normally roll 2 dice and score hit on a roll of 4 or higher.  However, they add in the two HQ bonus dice and are now rolling 4 dice and will score a hit on a roll of 4 or better.  The Americans, however, just get to roll the Abrams normal assault factor of 2 dice with a hit scored on a roll of 4 or higher.

The Soviets roll four dice and get 4/5/2/1.  Two hits are scored on the Americans.  Before we allocate those hits, the Americans can fire back.  They roll two dice and get a 4 and 1. Now we allocate the hits:

The Abrams and the American HQ took more hits than the Soviets so they must retreat.  Without a viable retreat path, they are destroyed.

The Soviet T-72 is disrupted.  Since a unit with an HQ took a hit, we must roll for HQ reduction. We roll a six sided die and the HQ will be reduced on a roll of 1.  Luckily, for the Soviets, they get a "5" and the HQ is fine and dandy.

Disrupted units in Assault

Units that are disrupted before an assault begins can still participate in combat but there are some penalties.  The number of dice on the assault factor stays the same but the to-hit number is raised to "6".

As a result, in the example below, a T-72 moves into hex H11 and starts assault combat with the disrupted Abrams.  The T-72 will roll 2 dice for a hit on 4 or higher.  The Abrams, however, will roll 2 dice but only score a hit on a "6".

The T-72 rolls two dice and gets a 1 and a 4 and scores one hit but this hit is not yet allocated.

The Abrams rolls two dice and gets a 5 and a 6.  The Abrams scores one hit on the T-72.

Hits are now allocated.  The Abrams, already disrupted before the assault, is now reduced.  The T-72 is disrupted.  Since the T-72 was the attacker and it failed to score more hits than the Abrams, it must retreat into the hex from which it attacked so it is moved back to hex I12.

Note that HQ bonuses are still given to disrupted units that are not Ops Complete.  The number of dice added to the assault roll is the same as indicated by the HQ bonus but the "to hit" number will still remain a 6.  This is why it is always a good idea to keep HQs and disrupted units to the rear.  Remember that disrupted units can still move away from the enemy!  So rotate them to the back to avoid them giving the enemy an easy assault win.

Assaults in Cities vs Infantry

Infantry and vehicles conduct assaults in the same exact manner described above EXCEPT when the terrain in which the assault takes place is city/town terrain hexes.

Because infantry are awesome at using built up city hexes to hide in and vehicles are meant for open ground fighting rather than urban combat, this situation is represented in World at War with bonuses given to infantry when involved in urban combat against vehicles.

When infantry are involved in assault in a city hex (whether as attacker or defender) versus vehicles, the infantry gets a +1 bonus to the number of dice it rolls for the assault and a -1 bonus to the "to hit" roll.  The tanks/vehicles still get the same number of assault dice and "to hit" ratings.

Note that this infantry bonus only applies to undisrupted infantry.  Disrupted infantry only roll their normal number of dice as indicated on their counter and only hit on a roll of 6.

Let's look at an example:

In the example above, the T-72 is assaulting into a city hex (N6).  The T-72 will roll its normal assault stats, which is 2 dice for hits on 4+.  Because the infantry are in a city hex, the infantry's number of assault dice increases from 3 to 4 and the to hit is now lowered from 4 to 3.

The T-72 rolls two dice and gets:  6 and 5.  Two hits are scored but not yet allocated.

The US infantry rolls four dice and gets:  1, 3, 6, 6.  The infantry scores three hits on the T-72.

Hits are now allocated.  The US infantry is disrupted and reduced.  The T-72 is eliminated and a wreck marker is placed in hex N6.  Because the US infantry scored more hits on the T-72, it remains in the city hex N6.

The lesson here is to never send your vehicles into a city hex with good order enemy infantry.  Try to soften them up first with your HE firepower or artillery.


If your opponent is silly enough to put infantry in the clear terrain within close distance of armored units, then you're in luck!  You can use overrun to send your vehicles into a hex full of infantry (and infantry only) to conduct an overrun.  Vehicles get a considerable bonus when entering a hex full of enemy infantry.  The number of assault dice rolled for the vehicles is tripled although the "to hit" number remains the same.

To conduct an overrun, you simply move your vehicles into the enemy infantry hex but you must make sure you have enough movement points to do so.  Your vehicles pay one extra movement point to enter the hex and they must have enough movement point left to exit the hex afterwards.

Here's an example:

In the picture above, the T-72 in O7 wishes to conduct overrun on the US infantry in hex Q8.  First, we check if enough movement points are available for the overrun.  The T-72 has 7 movement points (as indicated by the number on the bottom center of its counter).  It moves to P7 expending one MP.  Now to enter hex Q8 with the infantry and conduct the overrun it must pay one MP for entering clear terrain and one MP for the overrun itself.  It must have enough MPs left after this to move out of the hex.  The hill behind the infantry in R8 will cost two MPs to enter.  In total, it will cost 5 MPs to conduct this overrun, which is less than the MPs for the T-72.  As a result, the T-72 is eligible to overrun the US infantry in Q8.  It moves to P7, takes some ineffective opportunity fire from the US infantry and enters the hex.

The assault factor for the T-72 is two dice, which is tripled to six dice!  The "to hit" remains the same at 4+.

The overrun begins and the T-72 rolls:  6,4,4,4,6,1.  The US infantry takes five hits.  These hits are not yet allocated.

The US infantry now fires back with its assault factor of 3 dice for 4+ to hit.  It rolls a 5,1,6.

Hits are now allocated.

The T-72 is disrupted and reduced.  The US infantry is disrupted, reduced, and eliminated.

Because the T-72 is disrupted in the attack, it cannot actually move into hex R8 as planned.  It must retreat back to the hex from which it attempted the overrun, so it is moved into P7.

Overrun:  The aftermath.

If the T-72 had not been disrupted in the attack, it would have been allowed to move into the R8 hill hex behind the eliminated infantry.

Note that eliminated infantry are not replaced with wreck markers.

This shows why it's always a good idea to keep your infantry in cover.  Put them in a city or at least a woods hex!

Note that, as in assault, disrupted units have their "to hit" number raised to 6.

I think that covers all the basics.  Please leave a message in the comments section if you see any mistakes or have any questions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

World at War Primer: Ranged Combat

Recently, I've been covering the basics of World at War for all the new players jumping into the game.  Up until now, I've given some examples of play, talked about HQs and also given a short primer on Line of Sight (LOS).

So let's get into the real meat of the game, which is all about crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentations of their women.

First off, it's essential to understand the counter layout for units in World at War, so let's take a look.

The set of numbers in the upper left and lower left corners of the counter represents the Armor Piercing (AP) attack rating and the High Explosive (HE) attack rating. The AP attack numbers are used when attacking hard targets, which are basically armored targets like tanks.  The HE attack rating is used when attacking soft targets, such as infantry.  You can tell whether a target is hard or soft by the picture on the counter.  If it's an actual picture of a unit then it's a hard target.  If it's a NATO symbol (such as the X for infantry units), then it's a soft targets.  In the example above, the Abrams tank is a hard target.

Anyway, when the Abrams attacks a hard target and uses its AP attack, there are three numbers to consider, the 10/4/4.  The "10" represents the range of the Abrams unit in hexes.  The Abrams can actually shoot up to twice this range but will incur some penalties, but I'll discuss that later.

The next number, the big red "4" represents the firepower of the Abrams.  It rolls this number of six sided dice in an attack.  The final number, the small white "4" represents the "to hit" number.  Each die roll of 4, 5, or 6 will result in a hit on the enemy unit.

Let's have an example, shall we?

The Abrams in the picture above is going to shoot at the T-72, which is six hexes out.  The T-72 counter has a picture of a tank on it so we know it's a hard target.  Therefore, we are going to use our AP rating to fire at it with the Abrams.

The T-72 is well within the 10 hex range of the Abrams so there are no penalties to hit.  We roll four six sided dice and hope for results of 4 or better.

We get...6/3/6/3 on the dice results.  We have scored two hits on the T-72.  Terrific!

Long Range Fire

As I stated above, the "10" hex range can be exceeded by some units.  If the number for the range is NOT underlined, the unit can fire at extended range, up to twice the printed range.  In this case, the Abrams can fire up to 20 hexes.  However, the penalty for firing at such long range is a +1 for the "to hit" number.  This means the Abrams would be rolling 4 dice (same firepower number) but only results of a "5" or "6" would count as a hit.

In the example above, you can see that the range of "10" for the Abrams is not underlined, so therefore it is capable of extended range (it can fire up to 20 hexes with a small penalty).  The Soviet BRDM-AT, however, has its AP range of 14 underlined so it actually cannot fire beyond this range ever.

Let's have an example with extended range combat:

In the above example, the Abrams is firing at the T-72, which is 11 hexes out.  This is beyond the "10" hex range of the Abrams but we can still take a shot.  We roll 4 dice for the firepower and hope for a result of "5" or "6".  We get...3/1/5/1

The Abrams has scored a single hit on the T-72.  Good stuff.

Close Range Fire

Just as there are penalties for firing at extended range, there are bonuses for firing at an enemy in close range.  Again, these bonuses and penalties are only available for units whose range is NOT underlined.  So the Soviet BRDM-AT will not get a close range bonus.

When a unit attacks another unit that is half of its printed range or less, the "to hit" roll decreases by 1.  This means that the Abrams will get the "to hit" bonus at firing at units that are 5 hexes or closer to it.

In the example above, the T-72 is only three hexes away from the Abrams so it's in close range. The Abrams will roll 4 firepower dice and will hit on a result of 3, 4, 5, and 6.  So we roll and get: 1/1/3/5.  The Abrams scores two hits on the T-72.

Note that these range bonuses and penalties also apply for HE attacks.

In the example above, the Abrams is firing at the Soviet infantry two hexes away.  Since it's a soft target, we're using the HE attack numbers for the Abrams, which are "5" range, "3" firepower, and "5" to hit.  Since the range to the Soviet infantry is half the printed range for the Abrams "5" HE range, it gets a bonus to its "to hit" numbers.  So now the Abrams will roll 3 dice firepower and will hit on a 4 or 5.  The Abrams rolls and gets... 4/3/5, resulting in two hits on the Soviet infantry.

Moving Fire

Since we're dealing with relatively modern combat vehicles, World at War provides some units with the capability of firing while on the move.  Units that are moving-fire capable are indicated by an underlined firepower rating on the counter.  These units can move up to half their movement rate (rounded down) and then fire.  Note that they cannot fire and then move or move, fire and then move.  It's only move and then fire - full stop.

The penalties related to movement fire can be found on the trusty play aid included with your World at War game but, as a general rule of thumb, most units that conduct moving fire will suffer both a -1 to their firepower and a +1 to their "to hit" rating.  Note that the Abrams is a really high tech unit so it only suffers the +1 for the "to hit" rating.

Let's get an example going:

In the example above, the T-72 has moved from J12 to J11 and will fire at the Bradley sitting in G9.  The T-72 would normally be rolling four 6-sided dice with a "to hit" of "5" or greater.  However, since the T-72 is moving, we roll only three dice with a "to hit" number of "6". 

The T-72 rolls: 5/5/2.  No hits are scored.  After this, the T-72 is marked Ops Complete.  It cannot continue to move. 

Note that bonuses related to range can still kick in here and modify the numbers.  Here's another example:

In the case above, the T-72 is also conducting moving fire.  However, it has moved within close range of the Bradley (the T-72 has a "7" range for AP attacks, which means that close range counts as 3 hexes or less).  The T-72 still suffers a -1 to firepower and a +1 to hit for conducting moving fire, but it also gets a close range bonus of -1 to hit, which negates the "to hit" moving fire penalty.  As a result, the T-72 is rolling three dice and will hit on a "5" or "6".  The T-72 rolls: 2/5/1.  It scores one hit on the Bradley.  Again, the T-72 is marked Ops Complete and can move no further.

Defensive Rolls:  Hard Targets

So far, we've only been talking about attacking and hitting.  It's important to note that when an enemy unit is hit, it gets a chance to negate those hits.  How units can negate hits is determined partly by whether it's a hard target or a soft target, so let's start with hard targets.

All hard targets have a defensive armor rating in the upper right hand corner of their counter.

The Abrams defensive armor rating is 3/5.  So when the Abrams gets hit, it will roll 3 six sided dice and each roll that is 5 or 6 will negate one hit.  The number of dice the Abrams gets to roll can be modified by certain conditions such as being in certain terrain but I'll talk about that later.

Here's an example:

The T-72 above fires at the Abrams, scoring two hits on it.  The Abrams now gets a chance to negate those hits by rolling three 6-sided dice and hoping for a result of 5 or 6.  The Abrams rolls a 4/5/2.  One of the two hits is negated.

Defensive Rolls:  Soft Targets

As stated above, hard targets and soft targets make defensive rolls differently.  Taking a look at an infantry counter, for example, you'll notice that it has no defensive armor rating:

Soft targets like infantry get a defensive die roll based on the terrain which they are in.  For open terrain, they get nothing.  They are automatically hit and cannot roll defensive die to negate hits (so keep your infantry out of the open).  Infantry in woods hexes get a single defensive die.  This means they roll one 6-sided die and they negate a hit on a "5" or "6" result.  Infantry in cities get two defensive dice.  So they roll two 6-sided dice and negate a hit on a "5" or "6" result.

Here's an example:

In the above example, the Abrams can attack infantry in L12 (clear hex), L13 (woods), or the infantry in the city (H14).  Let's say the Abrams fires at the infantry in L12 and scores two hits. The infantry is in a clear hex so it gets no defensive die roll.  It simply takes the two hits and tries to walk it off.

If the Abrams fires at the infantry in the woods hex (L13) and scores two hits, however, the infantry can roll one 6-sided die and negates one of the hits on a roll of "5" or "6".  No matter what, though, it's definitely going to take one hit.

Finally, if the Abrams fires at the infantry in the city hex (H14) and scores two hits, the infantry gets to roll two 6-sided dice and each result of "5" or "6" will negate one hit.  So if the infantry in the city rolls and gets a 5 and a 6, it takes no hits.


This covers basic combat - attacking and defensive rolls.  Of course, there are several more aspects to ranged combat such as terrain bonuses and concealment but I believe this is enough to give beginners a grasp of the basics and as a supplement to the rulebook.  If you see any mistakes here, please let me know in the comments.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

World at War: Line of Sight (LOS)

Here's something that I messed up many times when I was learning World at War and still occasionally manage to do even now:  Line of Sight.  On the face of it, Line of Sight (also known as LOS) seems pretty simple but there are just enough nuances to it that it can mess up a World at War newbie once in a while.

Let's step through it slowly and with plenty of examples, shall we?

First off, LOS is always reciprocal.  So if I can see you, you can always see me.

Above,  we have a very basic situation.  The T-64 and the Abrams have nothing in between except clear ground.  They both can see and fire at each other with no problem.  They both have LOS to each other.

Here above, we have a situation where LOS is blocked between the Abrams and the T-64 by the town (W13).  LOS is also blocked between the Abrams and the Shilka by the Forest hex (X10).

To check LOS, just draw a thread (my preference is a broken elastic band) from the center of the target unit hex to the center of the firing unit hex.  If the thread (or elastic or whatever) passes through a town or forest hex (it doesn't have to go through the center - just any part of it at all except the hexside) then the sighting is blocked.

In this case above LOS is blocked.  Two rough terrain hexes or two wreck hexes (or any combination of the two, such as in the case above) serve to block LOS.  Neither the Bradley nor the T-80 can see or fire at each other.

LOS is not blocked in the example above.  LOS that only passes alongside a forest hexside (Y13), does not block line of sight.


LOS is blocked when it passes along the hexside split between two blocking hexes.  In the case above the hexside between T3 and T4 has blocking terrain on either side (forest in hex T3 and city in T4).  Neither unit can see or fire at each other in the case above.

Of course, hills also block LOS, as in the case above.

I think this is pretty straightforward so far so let's move things up a bit by talking about LOS and elevation.

LOS is not blocked in the example above.  The T-80 is on the edge of a hill in Z3 looking down at the Bradley in X4.  They can see each other and fire without problem.

LOS is blocked above.  An intervening hill hex (Z3) blocks LOS between another hill hex (AA3) and a ground level unit (Y4).

LOS is not blocked in the example above.  A unit on a hill hex can sight another unit on a hill hex.  Both the Bradley and T-80 can fire at each other in the above example.  Fire away!  This bends the definition of "hill" a bit but if you can imagine them more as ridges then it starts to make better sense.

In the example above, LOS is okay.  Both units can sight each other and fire even though they are both set back from the edge of the hillside.  You can see now that thinking about the hills as plateaus or ridges makes more sense.

LOS is blocked in the example above.  The units could normally fire at each other but the forest hex in U8 blocks line of sight.

LOS is blocked in this case.  Although the Bradley is in a clear hex and the T-80 is on the edge of a hill, the Bradley is behind a forest hex (X3).  Forest hexes cast a "one hex blocking shadow" for units behind these hexes on ground level, which means the T-80 cannot see the Bradley (and vice versa).  The T-80 and Bradley would also not have LOS if the Bradley were sitting one hex to the north in W3.

LOS is blocked in the above example.  Similar to forest hexes, town or city hexes cast a "two hex blocking shadow"when LOS passes from ground level to a higher elevation.  IN this case, the hex S5 blocks LOS.

This concept of LOS shadows can be a little bit tricky at first so let's talk a bit more about it.

EX 1. LOS BLOCKED                             EX.2  LOS BLOCKED                                    EX. 3 LOS NOT BLOCKED

In the far left diagram, the town hex in S5 casts a hex shadow into S4.  No LOS exists.  In the middle diagram, since a town hex shadow is cast for two hexes when viewed from a higher elevation, the LOS is still blocked even though the Bradley is now in S3.  Finally, in our far right diagram, the Bradley and the T-80 now have LOS and can fire at each other as the Bradley is out of the two hex blocking shadow.  Note that wrecks do not cast a blocking shadow.

I think that covers most, if not all, of the potential LOS situations.  If you have any more questions or if I have missed something, please post a comment.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

World at War Primer: An Introduction to HQs

As part of my ongoing tutorial on World at War basics, I thought I would talk about how different units function as part of the World at War universe.

Let's start with the HQs!

Every formation has an HQ and these are used to issue commands to all other units in the formation so they can move, fire, etc.  HQ counters are clearly marked as such at the top of the counter.  HQ counters have two sides:  full strength and reduced.  Full strength markers can be identified by the darker color band around the picture of the unit in the center of the counter.  Reduced HQs can be identified by the white band surrounding the unit picture in the center of the counter.

Full strength HQ.

Reduced strength HQ.


HQ units need to be stacked with friendly units of the same formation.  An HQ unit is not technically an independent unit per se but rather should be thought of as a characteristic of the unit with which it is stacked.  For this reason, HQs ignore the general stacking rule of only 2 units per hex.  So it's always okay to have an HQ stacked along with two other units from the same formation in a single hex.

At the start of the game, an HQ can be stacked with any type of units (infantry, tanks, APCs, etc.) from its own formation.  For example, Alpha HQ is represented as an Abrams.  At the start of the game, however, it can be stacked with a pair of Bradley platoons or even two infantry platoons or whatever.  

However, once an HQ is eliminated once and then replaced, it MUST be stacked with a unit of the same type as pictured on its counter.  For example, if Alpha HQ gets eliminated  and is returned to the battlefield again, it must be stacked with an Abrams tank platoon counter.  If there are no Abrams counters left in its formation (due to being destroyed earlier in the game, for example), then the HQ cannot be replaced and all the units in the formation must subsequently roll the formation's morale rating in order to activate for the rest of the entire game.  Bottom line:  Protect your HQ or at least protect the unit types associated with your HQ.

HQ reduction and elimination:

HQs cannot be directly attacked (as I mentioned before, they are more like characteristics of units rather than actual units themselves) by the enemy.  However, when units with which the HQ is stacked are attacked then the HQ can suffer damage and even be eliminated.  When a unit stacked with an HQ takes a hit (either a disruption, reduction, or destroyed) then the player with that HQ must roll a single six-sided die.  If the die roll comes up as a "1", the HQ unit is reduced (the HQ counter is flipped over).  If the HQ unit is already reduced, it is eliminated.  If a unit which is stacked with the HQ is eliminated, subtract "2" from the die roll (so on a 1, 2, or 3, the HQ is reduced [or eliminated if it is already reduced]).

Eliminated HQs can return to the battlefield at the end of the turn (in the marker removal phase) but must be stacked with units that are of the same type as depicted on their counter.  If none of these unit types are available, then the HQ is not replaced.

Let's have an example:

In the picture above, Alpha HQ is stacked with an M106 and a Bradley in K12.  A friendly Abrams platoon sits on the hill to the west in F10. Two T-72 platoons in hex O12 close in on Alpha HQ and fire away. 

The first T-72 platoon targets the Bradley stacked with the HQ and scores one hit!  The Bradley fails to negate the hit with its defensive die roll and is disrupted.  Alpha HQ's owner places a "Disrupted" marker on the Bradley and now must make a roll to see if the HQ is reduced.  A "1" is rolled and the HQ is now reduced.  The American player flips the HQ Alpha counter to its reduced side. 

Alpha HQ is reduced and flipped over.

The second T-72 in the stack from O12 targets the disrupted Bradley in K12 and scores 2 hits!  The Bradley fails to negate any of the hits with its defensive die roll and is destroyed.  The Bradley counter is removed from the game and a Wreck marker is put in its place. Alpha HQ's owner now rolls again to see if its already reduced HQ is eliminated.  The die roll comes up a "3", which would normally not be a problem but since the Bradley was eliminated, we subtract 2 from the die roll, which gives us a "1".  The HQ is eliminated.

Note that if all the units with which an HQ is stacked are eliminated then the HQ is automatically eliminated too.

At the very end of the turn (in the Marker Removal Phase), Alpha HQ comes back like a zombie and can be placed again on the battlefield, stacked with a unit from the same formation and of the same type.  Since the HQ has already been eliminated once, it must be placed with a unit of the same type as depicted on its counter.  As a result, the American player would need to stack the HQ with the Abrams in hex F10.


In the upper right hand corner of the HQ counter, you'll see a number inside of a little bubble.  This is the morale rating of the entire formation and it is used mainly to check for command and to determine whether units in the formation can recover from disruption.  Morale is checked by rolling two six-sided dice and summing the total.  If the result is equal to or less than the morale rating, the morale check passes and good things happen.  If the result of the dice roll is greater than the morale rating, then the morale check fails and bad things happen (this usually means that formation units are out of command or do not recover from disruption).

Command Range

In the lower left hand corner of the HQ counter is a number within a lightning bolt.  This represents the HQ's command range.  Any friendly unit of the same formation that is within this number of hexes at the start of a formation impulse is considered "in command".  This means that the units within this range can move, shoot, assault, etc., without any problems.

Units of the same formation that are outside of this command range at the start of the formation impulse, however, need to make a morale check in order to be considered "in command".  If they fail the check, these units just sit there like a lump and do nothing for that formation's impulse.  It is important to understand that when rolling to see if a unit out of command range is still in command, the roll is made once for each hex rather than every unit within a hex.  


The American player pulls the formation chit for Team Yankee.  The first thing we need to do is check for command.  Since the command range of Yankee HQ is "5", this means that all units of Team Yankee that are within 5 hexes are automatically in command and can move/fire/etc without any problem.  So let's check:

  • The Abrams stacked with the HQ is automatically in command.  
  • The Abrams in H9 is only 3 hexes away from the HQ so it is in command.
  • The infantry stacked together with the M113 in E12 are 6 hexes away from the HQ.  We must roll to see if this hex is in command.
  • The ITV in P9 is 5 hexes away from the HQ and so it is in command.
So all units except the infantry stacked with an M113 in E11 are in command.  Let's roll for the infantry and the M113 in E11.  We roll two six sided dice (2d6) and sum the total, hoping to get a 7 or lower.  We roll and get an "11".  This is greater than the morale rating of the HQ so both the infantry and the M113 in the hex can do nothing this turn.  We place an "Out of Command" marker in E11.  Once Yankee's formation has finished doing its thing, we remove the "Out of Command" marker. Note that the infantry and M113 can still conduct opportunity fire.  They aren't completely defenseless or out of the fight!

HQ Bonuses:

In the upper left hand corner of the counter, you'll see a picture of a six-sided die with a pip on it.  Usually, the full strength HQ side will have a die with two pips while the reduced side will only have one.  This is the HQ bonus (the number of extra dice that are rolled for firepower) that one unit stacked with the HQ receives when firing on enemy units and it is also the number that is subtracted from the die roll when recovering disrupted units that are stacked with the HQ in the same hex.  

To illustrate, a Bradley platoon is stacked with Alpha's HQ platoon.  To fire on an enemy tank platoon, the Bradley would normally roll its AP firepower (upper left corner of the Bradley counter - 4 dice [firepower] with a "to hit" number of 4.  However, because the Bradley is stacked with an HQ, its firepower is increased by the number indicated on the HQ bonus (2).  As a result, the Bradley is throwing a whopping 6 dice [firepower] with a "to hit" number of 4.  The firepower bonus could alternately be applied to the Bradley's HE firepower if so desired (lower left corner of the Bradley counter - 3 firepower dice with a "to hit" of 5 is changed to 5 firepower dice with a "to hit" of 5).  As you can imagine, this added bonus makes HQs quite powerful in World at War.  It also makes them highly desirable targets for enemies.

The HQ bonus can be added to either the AP or HE firepower of one unit stacked with the HQ.

HQ Movement

The number in the bottom center of the HQ counter is the HQ's movement ability.  Note that the HQ can only move as fast as the slowest unit with which it is stacked.  So for example, if Team Yankee's HQ (movement rating 6) is stacked with an ITV (movement rating 5) then the HQ stack can only travel 5.  No, the guys in the HQ will not get out and push.  


Understanding how HQs work is central to playing - and winning - World at War.  There are actually several other aspects of HQs which I haven't discussed here but which are plainly addressed in the rulebook.  I hope the examples of play provided here have help any new World at War players with the rules system.  It's not complicated stuff but it can take some time for all the unit capabilities to gel together in the new player's mind.  If there's anything you see which looks inaccurate or questionable, please feel free to post a comment.