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Battlefront WWII
Paul Bernadino's Engineering rules

ENGINEERING RULES

The original rulebook did not go deeply into engineering rules. Here are some prototype engineering rules developed by Paul Bernadino (basic engineering rules), Ken Natt, R. Mark Davies, and Jim Baker, that cover many of the tasks that would be performed on the World War II battlefield. Many of these tasks require external record keeping. These rules are definitely not "official" and we welcome your suggestions for improvements.

Table of Contents

Three New Maneuver Actions Table of Contents

Engineering Action

We are lumping the performance of most engineering tasks under generic actions that is performed during the maneuver phase.

Restrictions on Engineering actions

Demolition Action

Remove Demolition Action

MINEFIELDS Table of Contents

The minefield rules are expanded and made more detailed.

NEW MINE PASSAGE MODIFIERS

Die result and effects from original chart remain the same. Use the following modifiers:
New Minefield Passage Modifiers
Dense field-1
Scattered minefield+1
Surface laid mines+1
Following a traversed path or marked lane+1
Tracked vehicle moving through AP minefield+1
Discipline Rating+dr
Combat Engineer stand+1
Using Rapid Advance-1

Minefield Types and Restrictions

LAYING MINES DURING PLAY

Spotting mines

Buried minefields cannot be spotted. The only time you know you are in one is when the things blow up.

If laid in the open, surface minefields are treated as dug-in troops on the edge of dense cover. Otherwise treat them as dug-in troops deep in dense cover. If a surface minefield is spotted, the opposing player is told its dimensions, but this does not otherwise change its effectiveness.

Dummy minefields

A Dummy minefield is treated as surface laid/normal density minefield in all respects until the first unit attempts passage. If the die roll is anything other than traverse, it will be revealed to be a dummy and is removed. Alternatively, an umpire can make all minefield passage rolls in secret and just let players know the results. In this case, all attempts to traverse a dummy minefield would be successful, but the player would not know if the field is a dummy or he was just lucky :-)

Dummy minefields may be laid instead of real fields. It takes 5 engineering actions to create a dummy field.

CLEARING MINES

In the scope of a game, the only way to clear a path through a field is either by mechanical means or by demolitions.
Troops marking a lane through a field
Troops may manually try and mark a lane through a field. To do so, the unit must make a breach action, and roll on the minefield passage table. If it successfully traverses, then a lane is marked in the field.

Note: Marking a lane does not cause the removal of the minefield, it merely makes a lane that other troops can try to follow through the field with a +1 Modifier. Any unit that wishes to follow directly in this path can perform a breaching action to use the path. When the unit moves through the field via the path, it gets the +1 modifier in the mine passage chart.

Units may attempt to move through a minefield without creating a lane (they can move farther than is allowed with a breach action). Even if they are successful, no lane is created.
Engineers using line charges
Engineers can lay a line charge and blow a cleared path through the field.
It takes engineering action to lay the prepare the line charge for demolition and a successful demolition action to explode it. A successful demoltion action will result in a lane one vehicle wide and 1" deep cleared of all mines. To use the lane, a unit must perform a breaching action, but does not need to roll on the mine passage table.
Flail tanks
Flail tanks can clear a lane through a minefield my merely moving through the minefield with the flail activated. To use the flail, a flail tank may only move at half its cross country speed. While the flail is activated, the tank may not engage in any fire (offensive or defensive). When a flail tank traverses a minefield, roll on the minefield passage chart. Any result except knocked out has no effect. The tank will successfully traverse the field and a cleared lane will be created. A knocked-out result will not destroy the tank, but will damage the flail and the tank must halt disordered without creating a lane. A damaged flail cannot be used for further mine clearing attempts, and the tank cannot engage in any fire (offensive or defensive) until the damaged flail is discarded. It takes one engineering action to discard a damaged flail. Just replace the flail tank with a normal tank of the same type.
Clearing minefields with Artillery Fire
If a minefield is struck by an artillery template, treat the field as dug-in troops. If a knocked-out result is rolled, then reduce the field density by one category. A field may not have its density reduced below "scattered."

Barbed Wire Table of Contents

Representation

Barbed wire entanglements should be placed on bases no large than 3/4" wide by 2" long, and no smaller than 1/2" wide by 1 1/2" long. In addition, alternate bases can be made with gaps in the representative model, to depict when gaps are made (see below).

Gaps in the Wire

While it is not usually possible to completely remove wire obstacles during the course of the game, it is possible to create gaps in the wire. Gaps should be indicated with special bases (see above) or markers. The gap is treated as one terrain effect better than it would normally be for units attempting to traverse the wire. Therefore, any troop stand, tracked vehicle, or half-tracked vehicle that wishes to pass through a gap merely has perform a breach action (not a breach/bog down check normally associated with ungapped barbed wire). Any wheeled vehicle or gun may cross a gap in the wire if it performs a breach/bog down check (no longer impassable as for ungapped barbed-wire).

Creating gaps in Wire with Vehicular Movement

Whenever a tracked or half-tracked vehicle successfully traverses a barbed-wire obstacle by breaching and passing a bog down check, a gap has been created and you can replace the wire entanglement with a stand that has a gap in the wire or otherwise indicate that a gap exists.

Creating gaps in Wire manually

Troops units can attempt to create a gap in wire using wire cutters. To do so, the stand must conform to the wire, and then it must successfully roll on the improve position table. A successful roll will result in a gap being created.

Creating gaps in Wire with Demolitions

Engineers and specially trained assault troops can use demolitions to create gaps in wire entanglements. Specially trained assault troops are a scenario specific troop type. An example would be the first wave troops at D-Day had certain troops trained to use bangalore torpedoes, despite the fact that they were not engineers.

To blow a gap through the wire, the stand must conform to the wire base.

The demolitions are prepared by expending one engineering action while conformed to the wire.

A successful demolition action will then result in a gap in the wire.

Creating gaps in Wire with Artillery Fire

If a wire obstacle is struck by an artillery template, treat the barbed wire as troops in a log-pillbox (-2) and roll a separate IDF attack against the wire. If a knocked-out result is rolled, then a gap is created.

ANTI-TANK DITCHES

Representation

In reality, AT ditches are usually 6-8' wide, which would be below the 1"=40yd ground scale of BF. However, represent them on the table as a series of connected bases 2" long x1" across.

Terrain Effect

An anti-tank ditch is impassable to all types of vehicles.
Troops may enter a Anti-tank ditch by first conforming to it and then moving into it.
If the troop stand wishes to leave and anti-tank ditch, it must perform a breaching action (since the ditches are usually 6' deep or more). Troop units may move along an anti-tank ditch without penalty.

While occupying the ditch, the troops are considered in a dug-in position for spotting and cover purposes.

Neutralizing an Anti-tank ditch by filling it in

Troop stands that are conformed or that occupy the anti-tank ditch may collapse the sides of the ditch, thus making it possible for vehicles to cross. The troop stand must perform an improve position action while either occupying or conformed to the ditch. If successful, the ditch is filled in sufficiently to allow a single vehicle to pass. The filled in section is treated a having a terrain effect of breach/bog down for the vehicle attempting to cross it.

Neutralizing an Anti-tank ditch by using Facines

Certain vehicles at the start of the scenario may be carrying facines. These bundles of tree limbs or lumber were dropped into the AT ditches to fill them up and make lanes through the ditches. Facines have the same effect on an AT ditch as if it had been filled in. Any vehicle may cross the section provide it performs a breach/bog down check.

To lay the facine, a vehicle must conform its front to the AT ditch. It then performs one action placing the facine. After that action, the facine is considered emplaced. During the course of the game it may not be moved. Each facine carrying vehicle may only fill in one section of ditch.

Neutralizing an Anti-tank ditch using Bulldozers

Tanks with dozer blades or bulldozers were also used to fill in AT ditches. To do so the dozer must be conformed frontally to the ditch. It then performs an engineering action. After performing the engineering action, treat the ditch as having been manually filled by troops.

Neutralizing an Anti-tank ditch using Demolitions

Engineers can fill in Anti-tank ditches through the use of explosives.
To use explosive to fill-in an anti-tank ditch, the stand must conform to the ditch.
To prepare the explosive requires one Engineering action performed while conformed to the ditch.
A successful demolition action will fill in that section of the ditch.

Bridging an Anti-tank ditch

Certain specially equipped vehicles were equipped with bridges to lay over smaller obstacles. To create a bridge over a linear obstacle, the vehicle must conform to the ditch and perform an engineering action. The bridge is then emplaced. Other units can use it by conforming to the obstacle and then performing a breach action. No bog-down check is needed to traverse bridged obstacles.

Anti-tank Ditch variants

The above rules are for standard sized AT ditches dug in the earth. There are variants that can specified in the scenario:
Concrete-lined AT ditches may not be filled in by hand or by using bulldozers. They may be neutralized by explosives, fascines, and bridging.

Wide AT ditches require more than one Engineering Action to neutralize.

DRAGONS TEETH OR AT OBSTACLES Table of Contents

These are laid in belts prior to the start of the game.
These may be the typical dragon teeth we know.
They may also be closely spaced logs set into the ground.

Terrain Effect

An anti-tank obstacle is impassable to all types of vehicles. Troops may enter a the AT obstacle. While conformed to the obstacle, the troops are considered in sparse edge terrain, and in hard cover.

Reducing AT Obstacles with Bulldozers

Tanks with dozer blades or bulldozers were also used to clear AT obstacles. To do so the dozer must be conformed frontally to the obstacle. It then performs two engineering actions. After performing the engineering actions, treat the effect of the obstacle is reduced as follows:
Troops - no change, vehicles: breach/bog down check.

Reducing AT Obstacles with Demolitions

Engineers can clear Anti-tank obstacles through the use of explosives.
To use explosive to clear an obstacle, the stand must conform to the obstacle.
It takes one engineering action to prepare the charge.
A successful demolition action will result in the AT obstacle being reduced as above.

BOCAGE HEDGEROWS Table of Contents

Though a natural terrain feature, bocage hedgerows have certain characteristics that require engineering activity, and additional rules to accurately reflect this terrain type.

Additional Terrain Effect on Combat

If a vehicle performing a breaching action through a bocage hedgerow is fired upon using direct fire, use the flank armor of the vehicle unless it is equipped with hedgerow cutting devices. Vehicles which did not have these devices were forced to go OVER the hedgerow, and exposed their belly armor while doing so. Vehicles with a hedgerow cutter do not use this modifier.

Breaching the bocage

Vehicles which successfully breach the bocage leave a gap in the hedgerow. This gap is treated as one terrain effect better than it normally is. So troops crossing the gap, do so with no breaching action. Tracked vehicles do so only after they perform a breaching action. Wheeled vehicles do so after a breach/bog down check.

Breaching the bocage with Bulldozers

Tanks with dozer blades or bulldozers were also used to clear bocage. To do so the dozer must be conformed frontally to the hedgerow. It then performs two engineering actions. After the second action is complete, a gap is created in the hedgerow (for the effect of a gap see above).

Breaching the Bocage with Demolitions

Engineers can clear a gap as above, but require two engineering actions to prepare a charge. The number of actions needed to lay the charge can be reduced to one engineering action if a tank with a cullin hedgerow cutter spends one maneuver action conformed to the hedgerow at the point where the charge is being laid. This can be done any time before the engineers prepare their charges.
A successful demolition action results in a gap being created in the hedgerow as above.

ROADBLOCKS Table of Contents

One common tactic was to blow trees down across a road to create an abatis. Engineers would often wire the trees on either side of a road before contact with the enemy was expected. When the enemy appeared, BLAM, and the road would disappear. Naturally, enough, engineers were also employed to clear these obstacles.

Creating a roadblock

To create a roadblock using explosives requires a successful Improve Position check, further modified by:
-1 road through a clear area with no trees
+1 road through a forested area or tree-lined lane.

A successful demolition roll will result in the creation of a roadblock.

Clearing a roadblock with Bulldozers

Tanks with dozer blades or bulldozers may clear roadblocks. Conform the dozer to the roadblock and perform two engineering actions. After the second action is complete, the block is removed.

Clearing a roadblock with explosives

Engineers may remove a roadblock with explosives.
Prepare the roadblock for demolition requires two engineering actions by a combat engineer.
A successful demolition action will result in the removal of the roadblock.

BRIDGING Table of Contents

Emplacing pontoon and Bailey bridges would usually take 5 hours or more over any significant obstacle (see here for more details) and these are outside the scope of a normal Battlefront WWII game. Most tactical bridging situations should be limited to the final stages of bridge completion or much smaller obstacles such as streams and anti-tank ditches. The technique for using dedicated bridge-laying vehicles is the same as that used for anti-tank ditches (see above). The following rules are designed for placing of spans of treadway or infantry pontoon bridges over small obstacles.

Building Pontoon Bridges

The scenario design will specify which obstacles can be bridged and how many spans are required to cross them. Most small streams and anti-tank ditches will require only one span. Rivers may require several spans. Major rivers will require more spans than are practical in the course of a tactical game, so you can start a scenario with a bridge constructed or nearly complete.
To be able to build a bridge, scenario designated bridging equipment must be available. A one-span bridge section counts as 3T worth of transport and cannot be transported as tankriders (it seems obvious, but we had better specify it). In the game, this means that only the heavy trucks can carry it. The Russians can use U.S. trucks (lend-lease). Bridging equipment must be dismounted within 2" of the obstacle to be crossed for bridging to occur. Before it is in place, bridging equipment is spotted and attacked as a Medium G class target. Suppression and Disordered results have no effect. Knocked-out results will destroy the span. Mounted Bridging equipment may not bail-out and is considered destroyed if its transport unit is destroyed.
More than one unit may attempt to construct the same bridge span, but the player must designate an engineer unit as the primary bridge builder. Only T class units can build a treadway/pontoon bridge.
Each span to be built requires that the unit(s) involved be conformed to the area to be bridged within 2" of the dismounted bridging equipment. They may then expend an engineering action, roll on the Improved position table with the following modifiers: A successful roll results in the completion of one span. A bridge is considered built when the number of spans needed to bridge the obstacle have been placed.

Terrain Effects of emplaced bridges

A unit must execute a breaching action to cross a bridge.
A bridge is considered a defile for triggering opportunity fire.

Destroying Pontoon Bridges by Close Combat

Emplaced pontoon bridges and dismounted bridging equipment defend against close combat with a modifier of 0 (representing the bridge guards). Bridges may not initiate close combat. If the attacker scores a modified die roll equal or higher than the bridge in close combat, the bridge is destroyed. Permanent Bridges may not be destroyed with Close Combat.

Destroying Pontoon Bridges with Artillery

A constructed pontoon bridge span may be spotted and fired at as a dug-in Med gun target. Suppression and disordered results have no effect. A knocked-out result will destroy one span.

Destroying Permanent Bridges by Artillery

Permanent bridges are attacked as if they are armored vehicles. The scenario will give an armor strength to each bridge (large or stone bridges should have very high strength, making them almost immune to field artillery). Only knocked-out results will effect a bridge. Suppression and disordered results have no effect.

Destroying Bridges by demolition

All types of bridges may be destroyed by demolition. Preparing a bridge for demolition depends on the type and construction of the bridge. The scenario will specify the number of demolitions that are required. A major highway bridge would obviously require more preparation than a small wooden bridge. Each demolition requires a successful roll on the improved position table. Once all required demolitions are prepared, the bridge can be blown up. For some sample times, we can look at the Battle of the Bulge:
At Stavelot, preparations to blow a stone bridge began at 0100 and were completed at 0650. This would equate to 4 or 5 "demolitions". It should be noted that the demolitions were unsuccessful.
At Trois-pont, wiring a major bridge took from Midnight to 0800, equivalent to about 8 "demolitions"
At Neufmolin, a timber trestle bridge was wired in 1 1/2 hours with 2500lb of TNT and blown up in Peiper's face. This equates to 1 or 2 "demolitions"

Once a bridge is prepared for demolition, a successful demolition action result in the bridge being destroyed. If unsuccessful, the bridge still stands (as happened at Nijmegen and Remagen).

Concrete Bunkers and Fortifications Table of Contents

Normal "battlefield" fortifications - foxholes, trenches, and log emplacements are covered in the main rules. Larger and more substantial structures, such as those found in beach defences, the Maginot Line, and the Westwall, need a different approach. Here are some bunker designs from Ken Natt (16k).

Setting up the Fort

Attacking the occupants of the Fort using Direct Fire

It is possible to attack the occupants of the fort using regular attack methods. Apply the armour value of the fort as a negative modifer to the attack. Units in forts that are under IDF templates are also attacked in this way.

Attacking the occupants of the Fort using Close Combat

Only engineers, vehicles that are specifically allowed to close combat built-up areas (i.e. flamethrowers and the AVRE), and scenario designated assault troops may close combat units defending in fortifications. The defenders use the armour value of the fortification as their base close-combat strength, but then apply all other modifiers normally. If the occupants of a fort initiate close combat, they lose all benefits of the fort.

Attacking the Fort

It is possible to attack the fort separately from its occupants, and a successful attack may result in the destruction and/or retreat of its occupants as well.

Hobart's "Funnies"-Special Engineering Vehicles Table of Contents

There were several vehicles developed for specific Engineering tasks, especially by the British in the 79th Armoured Division (known as "Hobarts Funnies"). While we do not have separate cards for these, they are often variants of common vehicles such as Churchills, AVREs, and Shermans, and you can specify their presence as a scenario rule.

AVRE

The bunker busting capabilities of the AVRE are described above. In addition, the AVRE crews were trained combat engineers and the vehicles carried engineering equipment in addition to the basic weapon. The scenario may allow AVREs to function as combat engineer troop units. They may open gaps in wire, fill in earthen AT ditches, set charges, etc.

DD Shermans

These were Sherman tanks with canvas skirts and propellers that allowed them to move through water obstacles. While the skirts are deployed, they may move 4"/movement action through any depth of water. Once the skirts are dropped, they function as normal Sherman tanks (US-02, BR-02). At the end of every movement phase that a DD tank moves amphibiously, roll a d10. On a roll of 1, the tank sinks and is destroyed. Modify the die roll by -1 if the scenario specifies rough water. Any DISORDER result combat result will also destroy a DD tank using amphibious movement. DD tanks may not fire while they are moving amphibiously.

ARK

These were armoured ramp carriers based on an unarmed Churchill chassis that can be used to bridge a linear obstacle, including sea-walls, walls, and anti-tank ditches. Once emplaced, they cannot move. They can carry the heaviest vehicles. They must conform to the obstacle and perform one engineering action. Following units move up to the ARK and then perform a breach action to move to the other side of the ARK.

Bobbins

A Bobbin-equipped AVRE can lay a lane through soft-ground or sand at 1/2 its normal cross-country speed. Following vehicles can move along the lane at 1/2 speed without rolling for bog-down. Before and while using the bobbin, the AVRE may not fire. The Bobbin can be used only once, and after use, the AVRE reverts to its normal configuration.

Conger

This is a rather unique and dangerous obstacle-clearing vehicle that is the granddad of modern line-charge mine-clearing vehicles such as the VIPER and GIANT VIPER. A gutted universal carrier is towed behind an AVRE. It contains a rocket with a hose attached and 200 gallons of nitroglycerine(!). Using this vehicle requires 2 actions that must be performed in consectutive turns:
  1. The vehicle must conform to the edge of the obstacle. It is equally effective against minefields, barbed-wire, AT obstacles (Dragon's teeth), and road-blocks.
  2. An engineering action is performed to simulate the firing of the rocket and the pumping of the nitro-glycerine.
  3. In the next turn, a successful demolition action will result in a lane through the obstacle that is 3" long by 2" wide. The obstacle ceases to exist in this lane, and it may be traversed without executing a breaching action.
The Conger can only be used once. Once it has been used (including in unsuccessful demoliton actions), the vehicle reverts to being a normal AVRE.

Not surprisingly, towing 200 gallons of nitro-glycerine around a battlefield can be exciting. If any attacks on the AVRE succeed in scoring a DISORDER, the AVRE is KNOCKED-OUT instead (a photo of the crater created revealed no sign of the 40-ton AVRE, it was completely obliterated). Today's vehicles use more stable plastic explosives instead of nitro-glycerine.

This page was last updated on 10/28/2013 at 08:57AM

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