The Iron Frontier~ free miniatures game

The Iron Frontier~ free miniatures game

https://web.archive.org/web/20090829102039/http://geocities.com/stevejohnson.geo//empire/iron.html

THE IRON FRONTIER

(formerly Landcruiser: 1889)
BEING a Set of Landship Rules for the Empire Club – ver 1.3
By Steve Johnson, with additional work by The Empire Club

GAME COMPONENTS

This game is played on a 6 x 10 foot staggered-square grid with squares 8 inches on a side. A hex grid of similar proportions is just as good. If you do not use a grid, you can always measure with a ruler, with 8 inches=1 square. For smaller figures (and smaller tables!) 6 inches to the square works well. Smaller squares make it harder to get some landships on the board, but you can always have a landship occupy several squares, decreeing that the landship is really only in the front square occupied by the model.

TURN SCHEDULE

(i) Side A makes repair attempts, and checks morale of companies below 50% strength
(ii) Side A moves units
(iii) Side B fires defensive fire with boarding pieces and small arms
(iv) Side A fires all non-charging, non-ramming units
(v) Test to see if Side A’s charging units press charges; if so, Side B’s units test to stand
(vi) Conduct close combat
(vii) Switch roles of A and B


MOVEMENT

Vehicles and conventional field forces move one or more squares, depending on their propulsion mode, the terrain, etc. As many forces/vehicles can be placed in a square as will physically fit; however, there is a limit to the number of vehicles/ground units that can fire from a square. Field force units without officers must test to see if they can move. Landships can move through enemy field forces.

DEFENSIVE FIRE

The non-moving side fires small arms, boarding pieces, and flamethrowers at targets in range (zero or one space); eligible targets include enemy units charging into their space, and/or aerial units conducting bombing runs (this is the only way infantry units can usually fire at aerial vehicles, unless firing at gun deck personnel or if a balloon lands).

RAMMING

A ramming attempt requires that the rammer moved at least two spaces (e.g. tracked vehicles adjacent to one another cannot build up enough speed to ram). If the ram is successful, the rammer occupies the space of the target, and the target moves one space in the direction opposite from the approach of the rammer. Unless otherwise noted, both rammer and rammed take two damage rolls.

CAN RAM THIS TYPE OF VEHICLE?

 

TYPE Track Legs Wheels Balloon Kite Naval Tunneler
Tracked Yes Yes Yes (1) No (2) No No No
Legged Yes Yes Yes No (2) No No (3) No (2)
Wheeled Yes Yes Yes No (2) No No No (2)
Balloon Yes No NO Yes (1) No Yes (1) No (2)
Kite Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes Yes (4) No (2)(4)
Kite Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes (4) Yes Yes (4) No (2)(4)
Naval No No (3) No No No Yes (1) No (2)(4)
Tunneler Yes (1) Yes (1) No No (1)(2) No No Yes (1)

(1) 50% chance of hitting, otherwise miss and end movement one space away in random direction
(2) Only if target is at ground level (surfaced/landed during its previous turn)
(3) Only if target is in shallow water (scenario defined)
(4) Kites always count as light vehicles versus anything but other kites


LANDSHIP COMBAT

When a landship or field gun fires at a vehicle within range, roll 9+ on two dice to hit. If the target is a Balloon or has Heavy Armor, roll 10+ to hit. Each hit is checked on the following 2d6 table.

2 BOILER: The landship cannot move until the boiler is repaired. Additionally, a fire breaks out, which must be put out before any repairs are made and does 1 additional hit to the landship every turn.

3 PILOTHOUSE: The landship moves one square in a random direction every turn until repaired.

4 OPTICS: The landship is at must henceforth roll 10+ to hit armored or naval targets (11+ vs balloons or heavy armor) with cannon, bombs, catapults, or buckets. Shots at field forces with these weapons must roll 9+ to hit. Fire with boarding pieces is unaffected, as is fire versus kites (being mostly a matter of luck anyway). Optics hits cannot be repaired.

5 STEERING: Any movement must be straight ahead until repaired. The landship does not have to move (except for Kites, which must move at least one space).

6 SUPERSTRUCTURE: One surface-mounted device (spar or steam torpedo, boarding ladder, ram, plow, boarding piece, gun deck position, buckets) is destroyed, determined randomly.

7 HULL: no effect on land and aerial vehicles; naval vessels sunk upon second unrepaired hull hit.

8 TRANSMISSION: Landship cannot move until repaired.

9 COAL BUNKERS: Fire! Until the fire is repaired, the landship takes 1 additional hit per turn.

10 SECONDARY GUN: The landship’s next largest weapon is knocked out. If only one kind of weapon, one of them is knocked out.

11 MAIN GUN: The landship’s largest weapon is knocked out.

12 SHELL LOCKER: Explosion! Roll 2 more hits, re-rolling additional rolls of 12. All cannon, naval guns, siege guns, bombs, and catapults are considered damaged until repaired.

DAMAGE AND REPAIR

A landship can have multiple fires raging through its compartments at once; all other components which are hit a second time, before the first hit is repaired, are destroyed. Hits are repaired by rolling 10+ on two dice, but a roll of 2, 3 or 4 is a botched job which mean the system in question cannot be repaired during the game.

LOSS OF BUOYANCY

If an aerial craft suffers a Transmission or Steering hit that is revealed to be unrepairable (or receives a second Transmission or Steering hit before the first is repaired), this indicates a critical loss of lift (buoyancy, airfoil, etc.), and forces the craft to land immediately; the craft cannot be repaired during the course of the battle but could be repaired by the side who retains the field at the end of the day.

Kites which are “immobilized” (boiler, transmission) are considered to have had their engine, etc. knocked out; they can move 3 spaces per turn, but cannot dive. Naval vessels are sunk if they take a second Hull hit before the first is repaired.

FIELD FORCES IN COMBAT

Field forces’ fire has no effect on landships, unless the landships have a gun deck. In that case, fire may be directed at the gun deck, with the deck gunners treated as under cover.

Cannon fire directed at field forces hits a company on an 8+. Cannon shots, bombs knock out 1d6 figures, while naval guns destroy 2d6. Fire versus units in cover requires 9+.

Boarding pieces, flamethrowers, and small arms may fire at balloons and kites that are bombing them. Rationale is that even the toughest Zeppelin is not so armored as to be completely bulletproof. An infantry company, or boarding piece on a landship or flying craft, being bombed can shoot at the attacker first, but needs a 11+ to hit; if it scores a hit roll damage as normal.

A flamethrower firing at a bombing aerial hits on a 10+, but as usual ignore any result except pilothouse, coal bunker, or ammo locker.

Note that if several companies are present in the same space only the one being bombed gets to shoot at the flyer, unless the flyer has gundeck riflemen which are always eligible targets for small arms.

Small arms fire (all infantry and cavalry fire) has a range of one square. When shooting against other field forces, roll one die per shooter; a score equal to or greater than the shooter’s Fire number results in a hit. When firing against cover, add one to score needed. If score needed is therefore a 7, roll half as many dice and hit on 6’s.

OFFICER CASUALTIES

When field force units take casualties, roll a number of d6 equal to the number of hits. Any 6’s are hits on that unit’s officer (i.e. he could be struck numerous times); other hits are to rank-and-file figures. Units without officers are at -1 to charge, stand charges, pass excess casualty morale tests, and must test Morale to move. Some elite units may be scenario-defined as having two officers.

LIMIT ON ELIGIBLE SHOOTERS

A maximum of one normal, or two light ground-level landships, or up to two infantry companies or artillery crews may fire from a square. In addition, up to one normal or two light aerial vehicles can fire from a square, regardless of how many ground forces are in it. Fire at aerial targets, or at greater than 3 space range, can go over the heads of intervening friendly troops or blocking terrain.

CLOSE COMBAT

A unit attempting to charge another unit, after receiving any Out-of-Sequence fire, must make its Charge test to press the charge home; otherwise, it retreats to an adjacent square. Remember, charging units don’t shoot. If the charge is pressed home, the charged unit must make a roll to stand. If it does not, it retreats one square and loses one figure.

Charges that go home and are stood against cause close combat. Pair up soldiers one by one, with extra soldiers assigned as the side with more soldiers prefers, and roll 1d6 each. Each soldier who beats his opponent causes him to retreat; beating the opponent by 3 or more causes the opponent to be killed. Continue until one side or the other is driven from the square; members of the winning side who retreated during combat then rally back to their victorious unit.

Soldiers who are especially well or poorly armed for close combat might merit a +1 or –1 to the die, but this is rare.

BOARDING

Under ordinary circumstances, a landship can only be boarded if it is immobilized. An aerial balloon can only be boarded by other balloons or flying infantry; a naval vessel afloat only by other naval vessels. Boarded landships have a nominal crew strength of 4 men (light vehicles = 2). Additional friendly troops may board landships to aid in defense or recapture.

LIGHT VEHICLES

Vehicles costing 3 points or less count as light vehicles. They take one more hit, and their target takes one less, than normal if they in a collision with a non-light vehicle. If they are rammed by a non-light vehicle, they have a one-third (5+) chance to evade the ram. Kites always count as light vehicles in collisions with non-kites. For boarding action purposes, light vehicles are considered to have a crew of 2 rather than the usual 4.

IMPORTANT: Light vehicles cannot make repair attempts during the course of a scenario.


APPENDIX 1 – LANDSHIP CONSTRUCTION

(Note: for simplicity’s sake the term “landship” is used to refer to all vehicles, including aerial and naval). Landships have one form of propulsion and usually one or more weapons. The weapons cost force points, whereas the form of propulsion does not.

Propulsion

WHEELS: Move 4 squares per turn. May not enter rough, hill or forest.

LEGS: Move 3 squares per turn. May enter rough or hill at a cost of 2 squares per square. May not enter woods.

TRACKS: Move 2 squares per turn. May enter rough or hill at no extra cost. May enter woods if equipped with plow or heavy armor, but stops upon entering woods space.

TRAIN: Several land vehicles can be connected to form an overland train. The “locomotive” and cars must be of same type (wheeled or tracked). The locomotive operates under the standard rules; the cars are likewise treated as landships of the appropriate type, but lacking engines ignore damage to Boiler, Pilothouse, Steering, Transmission, or Coal Bunker.

KITE: Any form of winged or decked flying craft. Move 4, ignoring all terrain costs. May not land. May dive, allowing the Kite to move 4, attack, then move 3 more, but cannot dive twice in a row. Kites cannot mount Cannons, Naval Guns or Siege Guns, but can use Bombs and Buckets.

BALLOON: Move 2 squares per turn. Can land or take off at cost of 1 square of movement each. Cannot mount Cannon, Naval Guns or Siege Guns. All enemy fire requires 10+ to hit, as most shots pierce the gas envelope relatively harmlessly.

NAVAL: Moves 2 in water (ordinarily impassable to other units, although some scenarios may include rivers which are navigable for naval vessels and passable for legged vehicles).

TUNNELER: Moves as tracked vehicle on surface, or may tunnel. When tunneling, moves 1 space. At start of each turn, underground tunnelers roll a d6; on a 1 they must surface that turn for air. While underground, cannot be shot at. Tunnelers cannot fire any weapons the turn they surface (must clear gunports).

SUBMARINE: Acts as a naval Tunneler. May be armed with steam torpedoes (naval version); must surface to fire torpedoes but does not have to wait a turn (unlike other weapons).

Weapons

BOARDING PIECE: a large shotgun-type weapon used against personnel; kills d6 if it scores a hit. Range 1. Cost 1.

FLAMETHROWER: Range 1. Versus personnel, counts as boarding piece. Fires as normal versus vehicles, but ignore all damage rolls other than “Pilothouse”, “Coal Bunker”, or “Ammo Locker”. Cost 2.

CANNON: Range 3. Cost 3. (Roughly speaking, a 3″ piece)

NAVAL GUN: Range 6. Cost 6. (6″ gun or equivalent)

SIEGE GUN: Range 6, does 2 hits. Cost 10. (12″ gun or equivalent)

GUN DECK: Provides space for one infantryman to fire from. Cost 1/4.

SPAR TORPEDO: A long spar with explosives at one end. Range 1, useable only once: Cost 1/2. Hits on 7+, or Heavy Armor on 8+.

STEAM TORPEDO: A landship must be stationary to launch steam torpedoes. Torpedoes may be fired in any direction; they travel straight for one space; thereafter, roll d6 for each new space entered and veer left on 1, straight on 2-5, right on 6. When entering a space with a landship (friendly or enemy), roll to hit: 5+ in clear terrain, 8+ in obstructed terrain (6+ and 9+ for Heavy Armored targets). Torpedo stops when it hits a landship, or when it hits obstructed terrain (village, hill, woods, rocks, water, etc.).

Torpedoes which miss in clear terrain keep going. Landship takes 2 damage rolls from exploding torpedo. Naval steam torpedoes cannot affect landships, and likewise land torpedoes cannot hit naval craft. Cost 1 point (one use only).

CATAPULT: Throws bombs 1 square. Cost 1, but bombs must also be purchased so total cost for system is 2. Useful for flying craft, as its weight and recoil will not shake the flyer apart the way a cannon would.

BOMB BAY: dropped from flying craft on targets directly below. Cost 1. May be used every turn (i.e. unlike a torpedo, the cost is for enough bombs to last through a typical engagement.)

BUCKETS: contain flammable liquid. Dropped from flying craft; do 1 hit to personnel and set vehicles afire if they score a hit. Cost 1.

Add-Ons

HEAVY ARMOR: enemy must roll 10+ to hit this ship. Cost 6.

RAM: Landship takes one hit of damage when ramming opponent instead of the usual two. Cost 2.

PLOW: Landship may move through woods, but must end its move for the turn upon so doing. Cost 2.

FIREFIGHTERS: the landship’s roll to put out fires is 8+. Cost 1.

REPAIR PARTIES: a repair party may attempt one repair roll at 8+ per turn. A landship may carry more than one repair party. A repair party can be dispatched from one vehicle as a prize crew to man an abandoned or captured vehicle (obviously, this means the repair party is no longer available to the original vehicle). Cost 2.

SWISS OPTICS: extends the range of cannons and naval guns (but not siege guns) by 1 square. Cost 1 per gun. Field force/fixed fortification artillery (including turret-mounted siege guns) are always considered to have Swiss Optics for free. Swiss Optics can be fitted onto Boarding Pieces, turning them into Anti-Aircraft guns; these have a range of 2 spaces and can fire at aerials but no other types of vehicles (they can, of course, fire at field forces also).

Examples:

Steam Raider “Dora” Cost: 6

Wheels, Move 4
One Cannon
Eight Gun Deck spaces
Swiss Optics

Landcruiser “Bertha” Cost: 24

Tracks, Move 2
Two Naval Guns
Two Boarding Pieces
Heavy Armor
Ram
Plow

Airship “Rupert of Hentzau” Cost: 12

Balloon, Move 2
4 Catapults
4 Bombs
16 Gun Deck spaces

Naval Submarine “Hasselfisch” Cost: 8

Submarine, Move 2 (surface) or 1 (submerged)
4 Steam Torpedoes
Anti-aircraft gun (boarding piece w/Swiss Optics)
Repair Party

Naval Battleship “Bayern” Cost 78

Naval, Move 2
Heavy Armor
4 Siege Guns
8 Cannon
2 Repair Parties
2 Firefighting Parties


APPENDIX 2 – FIELD FORCES

Infantry and cavalry units are composed of eight figures each, seven troops and a leader. Artillery units are composed of a single gun and two gunners. Units (hereafter referred to as companies) cannot normally split up, although they may deploy to different parts of the same building, vehicle or terrain square. All field forces can move through all types of terrain, except unfordable water.

Units have the following statistics:

Fire Die roll required to hit their target. A unit rolls one die per firing man; a hit removes one target man.

Move Distance moved each turn

Charge Die roll needed to press home a charge into close combat.

Stand Die roll needed to stand firm against a charge pressed home.

Morale Die roll needed to move without an officer, or to stay on the field when below 50% strength

For example, a British infantry company has Fire 4, Charge 3, Stand 2 and Morale 2. They hit their target on a 4 or more, charge home on a 3 or more, resist a charge on a 2 or more and move without an officer or resist casualties on a 2 or more. Charge, Stand and Morale are all at -1 if no officer present.

 

Move Fire Charge Stand Morale Point Cost
British Company 2 4 3 2 2 3
European Company 2 5 3 3 3 2
European Cavalry 3 6 2 5 3 2
European Artillery 1 3 4 3
Boer Infantry 2 3 6 5 3 3
Boer Cavalry 3 5 5 5 3 3
Native Regulars 2 5 4 4 5 1.5
Native Troops 2 6 5 5 6 1
Native Levies 1 6 6 6 6 0.5
Native Fanatics 2 6 2 5 6 1.5
Native Cavalry 3 6 3 5 5 1.5
Repair Party 2 3 3 2

 

Vs. troops in cover: -1 on the die (if firepower is already 6, halve the number of dice rolled)

Field forces’ fire has no effect on landships, unless the landships have a gun deck. In that case, fire may be directed at the gun deck, with the deck gunners treated as under cover.

Cannon fire directed at field forces hits a company on an 8+. Cannon shots knock out 1d6 figures, while naval guns destroy 2d6.

Small arms fire (all infantry and cavalry fire) has a range of one square.

FLYING INFANTRY: Any infantry company can be purchased as flying (rocket packs, gliders, etc.). Flying infantry cost double their ordinary cost. They move as Kites, but are presumed to land at the end of each move (and hence are vulnerable to anti-infantry fire). They can board immobilized balloons.


CHARTS AND TABLES

Ordnance versus Landships: 9+ to hit, if hit roll 2d6 and use following chart:

2 BOILER: The landship cannot move until the boiler is repaired. Additionally, a fire breaks out, which must be put out before any repairs are made and does 1 additional hit to the landship every turn.

3 PILOTHOUSE: The landship moves one square in a random direction every turn until repaired.

4 OPTICS: The landship is at must henceforth roll 10+ to hit armored or naval targets (11+ vs balloons or heavy armor) with cannon, bombs, catapults, or buckets. Shots at field forces with these weapons must roll 9+ to hit. Fire with boarding pieces is unaffected, as is fire versus kites (being mostly a matter of luck anyway). Optics hits cannot be repaired.

5 STEERING: Any movement must be straight ahead until repaired. The landship does not have to move (except for Kites, which must move at least one space).

6 SUPERSTRUCTURE: One surface-mounted device (spar or steam torpedo, boarding ladder, ram, plow, boarding piece, gun deck position, buckets) is destroyed, determined randomly.

7 HULL: no effect on land and aerial vehicles; naval vessels sunk upon second unrepaired hull hit.

8 TRANSMISSION: Landship cannot move until repaired.

9 COAL BUNKERS: Fire! Until the fire is repaired, the landship takes 1 additional hit per turn.

10 SECONDARY GUN: The landship’s next largest weapon is knocked out. If only one kind of weapon, one of them is knocked out.

11 MAIN GUN: The landship’s largest weapon is knocked out.

12 SHELL LOCKER: Explosion! Roll 2 more hits, re-rolling additional rolls of 12. All cannon, naval guns, siege guns, bombs, and catapults are considered damaged until repaired.

Field Force Data

 

Move Fire Charge Stand Morale Point Cost
British Company 2 4 3 2 2 3
European Company 2 5 3 3 3 2
European Cavalry 3 6 2 5 3 2
European Artillery 1 3 4 3
Boer Infantry 2 3 6 5 3 3
Boer Cavalry 3 5 5 5 3 3
Native Regulars 2 5 4 4 5 1.5
Native Troops 2 6 5 5 6 1
Native Levies 1 6 6 6 6 0.5
Native Fanatics 2 6 2 5 6 1.5
Native Cavalry 3 6 3 5 5 1.5
Repair Party 2 3 3 2

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