Friday, July 25, 2014

Chaco War Ratings for Force on Force

I've been doing a bit of collecting and reading on the Chaco War (Gran Chaco War), which took place in the disputed territory of Chaco Boreal between Bolivia and Paraguay in the early 1930s.  This conflict, while fought at larger military organizational level, would make for some very interesting scenarios for Force on Force.  I have created a Chaco War page here on the blog, information gathered mostly from an excellent post by Robert Burke, with more information added by myself as I delve further into this war.  I have purchased figures from both Khurasan and Irregular, and have enough of a force for decent sized games.  To that end, it's time to get down to the nuts and bolts and work on troop ratings. 

I just finished reading Adrian English's The Chaco War - Bolivia v. Paraguay (published by Partizan Press, this is a revised version of The Green Hell), I think I have enough material and inspiration to start putting together a few scenarios.  But, in order to do that, I need to develop the ratings for the forces involved.  And along with ratings I must consider the other issues that the soldiers faced in the Chaco.  Water was a huge concern, and played a major role in combat performance.  I think my first scenario will be entitled simply El Pozo, which should hopefully mean The Well.  But I am getting ahead of myself a bit...let's get back to troop ratings.

During the first portion of the war, the Paraguayans were victorious in nearly every engagement, which in turn caused higher morale, both within the army as well as at home.  But the Paraguayans also had serious issues with supply as the war wore on.  Like most armies in most conflicts, troop efficiency and morale could vary from battle to battle, and from unit to unit.  The Bolivians on the other hand, while typically better supplied (albeit not usually abundantly supplied) suffered from defeat after defeat, causing various units to mutiny at various times.  Therefore a range of attributes will be given on this post (for both sides) and the individual scenarios will have specific ratings (in future posts).


Troop Quality Dice - Should start the war Green/Untrained to Experienced/Trained (D6 to D8), with most troops being Green/Untrained.  As the conflict continued some rare units could be given Veteran status (D10), but the majority of the army later in the war should be Experienced/Trained.
Morale Dice - Given the fact that the Bolivians lost most of the early battles, had mutinies to contend with, and raised troops that had to march hundreds of miles to reach the theater of war, morale should mostly be Low (D6), with the occasional Average (D8).  As the war progressed the Bolivians enjoyed some successes, therefore more units would have Average morale.
Supplies - Another area that can range greatly, the Bolivians should have slightly better levels of supply than their adversaries, but rarely would they have abundant.  The typical unit will have Normal supply.

Thus, the typical Bolivian squad might look like this at the beginning of the war (assuming most 15mm gamers will be using Khurasan squad packs):

Basic Attributes
   Initiative Level - D6
   Confidence Level - Confident
   Supply Level - Normal (with water might go to Abundant)
   Body Armor - None
   Troop Quality/Morale - D6 to D8/D6 to D8

1 x leader with pistol
6 x riflemen
1 x LMG (Lt. AP:2/AT:0)


Troop Quality Dice - Based on performance, the average soldier was better led and executed plans more effectively than his Bolivian counterpart.  This holds true in the early period.  Rate most Paraguayans units as Experienced/Trained (D8), with newly raised units Green/Untrained (D6) and units who have had successes in the field Veteran (D10).  As the war wears on, the vast majority of the troops should be Experienced/Trained.
Morale Dice - At the start of the war, the troops had Average morale (D8).  After a few months of winning nearly all the battles, morale should jump to Good (D10), and then settle back to Average for most units.
Supplies - At the beginning of the war the Paraguayans had Normal supplies, but this quickly degenerated into Poor supplies for most units for most of the remainder of the war. 

The basic Paraguayan squad might look like this at the beginning of the war (assuming most 15mm gamers will be using Khurasan squad packs of eight figures each):

Basic Attributes
   Initiative Level - D8 to D10
   Confidence Level - Confident
   Supply Level - Poor to Normal (with water might go to Normal)
   Body Armor - None
   Troop Quality/Morale - D8/D8

1 x leader with pistol
6 x riflemen
1 x LMG (Lt. AP:1/AT:0)

Ratings for heavier machineguns might be as follows - (Hvy. AP:3/AT:1).  Given the fact that the armor troops would face might be Vickers 6-Ton A and B types, machineguns probably would be able to suppress and even damage such light tanks.  

The Vickers tanks could be rated as such:
Vickers A - Light Class - Tracked Type - Two Vickers Medium Machineguns (Med. AP:2/AT:1) MGs - 2D8 Front Armor - 1D8 Side Armor - 1D6 Rear Armor - 1D6 Deck Armor - Crew 3
Vickers B - Light Class - Tracked Type - 47mm gun (Med. AP:2/AT:2) Firepower - Vickers Medium Machinegun (Med. AP:2/AT:1) MGs - 2D8 Front Armor - 1D8 Side Armor - 1D6 Rear Armor - 1D6 Deck Armor - Crew 3

Of course, all of the above is open for debate and I am quite eager to hear from folks with varying opinions.  Please post comments here and if the comment convinces me otherwise, I will update the ratings.


  1. Hi from Greyson in Va. I think what you have here sounds great! May I ask if I wanted to do this in 20mm 1/72 what miniatures could I use? I have a lot of SCW miniatures would any work here? Thanks so much for any help:)
    Grey in Va.

    1. Hmmm, 20mm...great question. I would think that some of the Spanish Civil War figures might work. I am far from an expert though. Take a look at Liberation Miniatures or Minairons and see if there are figure that loom suitable. Vehicles in 20mm shouldn't be an issue between model kits and resin/metal castings.


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