John Lambshead’s One-Hour Skirmish Wargames

If these games take a full hour, it’ll be a surprise.

In this slim tomb, a full and more detailed review will follow over at the Joy of Wargaming later this month, Mr. Lambshead presents a bare-bones skirmish system suitable for 12-30 miniatures.  Mr. Lambshead takes that system and then polishes it up with six period specific additions, each of which will allow you to add conflict-specific flavor to your skirmishes.

In a break with modern gaming, and perhaps as a bit of a throwback to ye olden tyme wargameing, the rules eschew the use of dice.  Instead, each player utilizes a deck of cards for initiative and action resolution, with Jokers signaling the end of the turn.  After a quick shuffle, the top cards are flipped to determine initiative, after which players alternate drawing cards to determine how many actions they can take on their phase of the turn.  The value of the action card determines how many actions the player may take with as many models as he chooses.  A ten, for instance, would allow ten models to make a signle move or five models to move twice or perhaps to move then shoot.  It’s a quick and robust initiative system that leaves room for some flow without the interminable wait for a more standard IGO-UGO system.

The conflict resolution is a simple card comparison.  In a fight the two models draw cards and the high draw wins.  Likewise with shooting, with model skill and cover allowing for more than one card to be drawn.

The game includes a morale system as elegant and speedy as initiative, melee, and shooting.  And as the years roll on the weapons get bigger and more deadly.  So too does the addition of models drastically affect the game.  As with everything else in these rules, vehicles are played fast and loose with an eye toward minimal book quick resolution rather than an extreme fidelity to real-world odds.

One-Hour Skirmish Wargaming is a tight little ruleset, and one written for the casually serious wargamer.  The use of cards and a loose trust in the player’s ability to fill in the gaps makes this a very old-school style of wargame rulebook, and a welcome addition to my own personal bookshelf.