Dirtside Modern Warfare

My current 6mm wargame of choice is Dirtside II, and old game but I like it. It doesn’t really have a setting baked into the rules, and though the company behind it does make models, they are very generic and not tied to particular factions.

This has made it difficult to build armies from the random collection of miniatures that I have. A lot of online retailers also seem to think that it isn’t necessary to include pictures of the miniatures in their stores, so finding a good set of consistent looking 6mm miniatures has also been hard.

So in order to kick start things, I decided to buy some modern figures and then supplement them with SciFi ones for a near future style of game (I’m currently toying with Twilight 2038 as a name for the setting).

This though means coming up with Dirtside stats for real world modern vehicles. I was hoping that this had already been done, but apparently not. The closest was some WW2 conversions, which were a really good start, but not what I actually wanted.

So, knowing nothing about modern vehicles, I decided to give it a go myself.

I’ve started with some British and Russian vehicles (obtained from Heroics & ROS). On the British side, there is the Challenger 2 MBT, the Warrior MICV and Saxon armoured car.

Potential Warrior stat card

On the Russian side, I have some T-80s, BMP-3s and BTR-80s. I figured these would be a reasonable starting point.

I had some ground rules on how I wanted to do the conversions:

  • I wanted to be able to support from WW2 through to modern day on the same scale, so modern vehicles can’t be at the bottom end of capability, e.g. nothing modern will have Basic FireCon.
  • I also wanted to be able to extend into near future science fiction, which means there needs to be a gap to expand into at the high end of the scale.
  • I wanted the modern conversions to be relatively close to reality, though it’s a SciFi game not a simulation of modern warfare.

So I’m keeping the largest modern tanks, such as Challenger and Abrams, at size 4, leaving size 5 (and above) for SciFi vehicles. This actually works well with the WWII conversions, which max out at 4 for the very largest tank and keep everything else at 2 and 3.

I’m considering HVCs (Hyper Velocity Cannons) to be the standard modern tank gun, with 125mm tank guns being size 5. I’m giving modern western tanks Superior FireCon, and Basic ECM where applicable. Russian tanks will tend to have Enhanced FireCons. I don’t know how accurate my interpretation of Wikipedia entries has been, but I’m rating Russian technology as being behind the West.

I’ve seen recent comments from Ukraine where Russians have complained about how much better Western tanks are, in particular concerning night vision. So I’m thinking of bringing in some rules for differences there. It’s going to be difficult to cost – in a day battle night vision is worth nothing, in a night battle it can be the difference between winning and losing.

Potential stat card for the Challenger 2

A lot I’ve read about tanks like the Challenger 2 is how invulnerable they are. I don’t know how much to take this as gospel, since they really haven’t gone head to head against another modern army yet. For now, I’ve given the Challenger 2 ‘Composite’ armour to represent its Chobham/Dorchestor armour. This is the same as Reactive armour, but can be one level higher than the size class of the vehicle. I’m thinking of also allowing it to ignore the first ‘special’ chit against it in each attack (e.g.., the first Boom or Mobility chit). There are claims that suggest these tanks are almost immune to IAVR fire.

For now, I’m going to play without this extra rule. I don’t know how accurate these claims actually are, and this is a game not a simulation, so maybe allowing 10%+ chance of a special hit makes for a better game.

Stat card for T-80

On the Russian side, the most modern tank I have is the T-80, so I’ve done stats for that as well. it has standard Reactive armour, with an Enhanced fire control. I’ve also given it Local Air Defence for the AA gun it is equipped with. Russian vehicles seem to be over equipped with weapons compared to their Western counterparts. In particular, the BMP-3 I actually cut down from the full number of weapons it has, to try and fit it into the rules. It still comes out as overloaded, but I’m okay with that.

Dirtside stats for BMP-3

The cards mention night sights and stability – I’m not doing anything with these at the moment. What I’m thinking about is that night sights will affect how badly ranges are affected during night operations. Shifting dice down depending on the quality of the equipment. Standard will actually be Basic of Enhanced (I haven’t decided which), with negative point costs for None (which will probably just be limited to WW2 or very early Cold War era).

Stability will affect how well a vehicle can move and fire. The default for Dirtside is that you can half move without penalty, and a full move gives you a negative die shift if also firing. Superior stability may allow full movement without penalty, and no stability not allowing a fire and move at all. But these are things I’m thinking about, and I don’t have plans to factor them into the designs yet. It may make sense to bring them in to expand beyond the Basic – Enhanced – Superior scale of fire cons in the basic rules.

Near future Russian T-37

Moving into the future, I also want to consider uses for my SciFi models. The above is a fictional T-37, which is a huge model when put next to my Challenger 2 figures, so I’ve made it an oversized size class of 6. It has twin HVC/5 main guns and a GMS/H.

I have a large number of GEV vehicles, which I’ll probably use for near future EU forces. My design criteria for these is that armour can’t exceed one less than the vehicle size, so they’ll be lighter than tracked tanks, but more flexible in movement. I’m thinking of giving them a naming scheme based on amphibians (but in French).

My many wheeled vehicles look similar to Russian designs, so I’ll probably give them a new paint job to be closer to my Russian camouflage schemes. The larger vehicle is currently stated as a size 5 command vehicle with laser weapons for point defence. It doesn’t even have a proper name yet though.

Russian command and control vehicle

These are my initial stabs at vehicle designs using Dirtside, with a concept of mid-21st century world war, with the possible use of tactical nukes. Very similar in idea to the old Twilight 2000 RPG, but moved 40-50 years into the future.

Any (constructive) comments on these designs are welcomed. Also, are there better rule systems for doing this out there? Probably. My exposure to wargaming systems has been quite limited, especially for contemporary settings (I’m normally either in Dark Ages/Fantasy, or straight out Science Fiction). I’m using Dirtside since I have the rules, it seems to cover the sort of thing I want to do, and I’m familiar with it.

Samuel Penn

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