Dirtside II for World War Two

Canadian Sherman Tank

by Mike Elliott

This short article describes some suggested modifications to DIRTSIDE II for the World War II period. It is based on the article by Felix on WWII using the original Dirtside which appeared in Ragnarok (92/93, Issue 6). With acknowledgements to Felix.


Churchill tanks, Tiger tanks, Mustangs, Spitfires and D-Day are most certainly not the normal realm of Science-Fiction wargaming. Historical gaming still has some attraction to Fantasy and Science-Fiction wargamers, especially when you consider how many SFSFW members are also members of the SO20CW. The most popular period among them are probably the WWII and Modern periods, using 1/300 miniatures.

This article aims to provide additional rules to enable the DIRTSIDE II system to be used for the WWII period. This will enable gamers to fight conflicts between historical forces and “alien invaders” from different dimensions in time and space. It will enable “historical” gamers to be introduced to a set of SF rules (that doesn’t have orks!), whilst enabling them to still use their Shermans and Tigers. Also, turning the coin on its head, it will introduce SF gamers to “historical” gaming.


As in the regular rules,each element must have a Mobility Type defined for it. Applicable types are Infantry, Cavalry, Low Mobility Wheeled, High Mobility Wheeled, and Slow Tracked. It is unlikely that any vehicles from this period would rate as Fast Tracked. In addition, I have introduced two new mobility types. Very Slow Tracked has a Basic Mobility Factor of 5″. Terrain effects are the same as for Slow Tracked. Secondly, Half Tracked has a Basic Mobility Factor of 8″ and terrain effects the same as for High Mobility Wheeled. A minor omission from the rules is any provision for towed weapons (such as anti-tank guns). This is simply remedied by saying that it takes half the BMP of a towing vehicle to limber or unlimber a towed weapon. When a towed weapon is fired upon in the forward arc then its gun shield is considered as armour; when fired upon from the side or rear then it should be treated as an infantry target. Towed weapons also count as “open topped” when under fire from artillery.

An optional addition is that EVASIVE MOVEMENT is permitted for VERY SMALL, HIGH MOBILITY WHEELED vehicles. An example of such a vehicle would be a jeep used by special forces such as the SAS in the Western Desert or the Paras in Operation Market Garden.

Soldiers crossing a stream

Weapon Systems and Technology

Obviously, no post 20th century technology is permitted, such as Grav vehicles, walkers, mass driver cannon and so on! All vehicle power plants are CFE types.

The majority of weapons systems of the World War II period were conventional guns that fired shells or bullets. To represent such weapons, I have introduced a new type that I have called Kinetic Energy Cannon or KEC. There is no restriction on the size of KEC that can be fitted to a CFE powered vehicle other than the normal restrictions due to vehicle size. The KEC weapon type is available in all sizes from 1 to 5. KEC weapons cost 5 x Class of weapon. The KEC weapon type corresponds roughly to actual weapons as follows:

KEC/1 less than 37mm

KEC/2 50mm or 57mm

KEC/3 75mm

KEC/4 17pdr

KEC/5 88mm or larger

The ONLY type of Firecon that will work with this weapon type is a Basic Firecon.

Ranges are as follows:

Weapon Type Close Range Medium Range Long Range
KEC/1 6″ 9″ 12″
KEC/2 8″ 12″ 16″
KEC/3 9″ 18″ 24″
KEC/4 10″ 20″ 30″
KEC/5 12″ 24″ 36″

Chit validity is as follows: Close Range RED and YELLOW chits only. Medium Range RED chits only. Long Range GREEN chits only. against Infantry YELLOW chits only at any range. Direct fire against infantry is the same as for HVCs.

our teams are equipped with early anti-tank weapons such as Bazooka, PIAT or Panzershreck. These operate as IAVRs. Anti-armour teams are therefore the only element type that has IAVR capability. HMGs count as APSWs. Assault teams are primarily equipped with SMGs. Local Air Defence teams are equipped with a light AA weapon such as an HMG on an AA mount.

The rules for riverine craft can be used to design landing craft and landing support vessels for amphibious operations (hmm, the raid on St. Nazaire could be an interesting scenario…).

Artillery is handled as follows. A 105mm artillery element counts as LIGHT ARTILLERY, a 155mm artillery element counts as MEDIUM ARTILLERY. For anything less than 105mm, including mortars, a new class is introduced, VERY LIGHT ARTILLERY. Artillery can only use HEF or smoke rounds.

VERY LIGHT ARTILLERY is a size 1 weapon (for weapons fit purposes) and causes 1 chit to be drawn for every 2 elements firing on VEHICLE elements; 1 chit to be drawn for every element firing on INFANTRY elements. Note that this means that VLA are ineffective against vehicles when firing an OPEN SHEAF (you can’t draw 1/2 a chit).

Since weapons of this period are less effective than moden and futuristic weapons, the size of the beaten zone is reduced to a 1 1/2in radius from the impact point. Similarly, lacking the sophisticated modern targetting systems, they are also less accurate. To simulate this, the fall of shot may deviate from the intended target point. Roll 1d6 and subtract 1 for the deviation distance (in units of 1/2in) and roll 1D12 for the direction using the “clockface” method (the direction of “12” should be agreed).

Aircraft pay for FGPs (even thogh they actually have CFEs). This represents the increased cost of airframes. Guided missiles are not available but all other aircraft weapons are with the usual restrictions.

Zone Air Defence systems are multiple AA weapon mounts such as Bofors guns or the German Wirbelwind.

Command and Control

In the mid 20th century, communications systems were far less reliable than they are even today. Consequently, we must introduce some rules to make it more difficult for commanders to communicate orders to their troops. For a commander (at company level and above) to communicate with subordinate units, he must have a Communications System available. Such a system is represented either by a specialist infantry team or a vehicle. Communications Systems are available in three qualities, Basic, Enhanced or Superior. A Basic Comms. system costs 60 points, an Enhanced system 90 points and a Superior system 120 points. All Comms. systems occupy 8 capacity points.

In order to activate a unit, then the unit’s superior commander must successfully communicate with it. Roll a D6 for Basic system, a D8 for an Enhanced system or a D10 for a Superior system (note that it is the quality of the Comms. system with the superior commander that is considered here).

If the score is LESS THAN DOUBLE the superior commander’s LEADERSHIP number Communication fails, the unit’s activation is lost this turn (the unit takes no actions and it’s COMMAND MARKER is inverted).

If the score is DOUBLE or MORE THAN DOUBLE the LEADERSHIP number Communication is successful and the unit is activated as normal.

Sherman Tank with soldiers


The following are suggested DIRTSIDE II stats for a selection of WWII vehicles.

PzKpfw I: Size 2, Armour 1, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * APSW.

PzKpfw II: Size 2, Armour 1, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None,Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/1 in turret, 1 * APSW.

PzKpfw III: Size 2, Armour 1 or 2, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/1, KEC/2 or KEC/3 in turret, 2 * APSW [Gun and armour depends on variant].

PzKpfw IV: Size 2, Armour 1 or 2, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/3 in turret, 2 * APSW.

Panther: Size 3, Armour 3, Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/4 in turret, 2 * APSW.

Tiger I: Size 3, Armour 3, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/5 in turret, 1 * APSW.

Tiger II: Size 4, Armour 4, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/5 in turret, 2 * APSW.

T-34: Size 3, Armour 3, Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/3 in turret, 2 * APSW.

Churchill: Size 3 Armour 3, Very Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/3 in turret, 2 * APSW.

Sherman: Size 3, Armour 2, Slow Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon Basic, 1 * KEC/3 or KEC/4 in turret, 2 * APSW. (The KEC/4 option is the Sherman Firefly or equivalent).

M3 Half Track: Size 2, Armour 1, Half Tracked, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon None, 1 * APSW (optional), capacity for 2 infantry teams.

Jeep: Size 1, Armour 0, High Mobility Wheeled, Stealth 0, ECM None, Firecon None, up to 2 * APSW (optional), capacity for 1 infantry team.

Author’s Notes

You’ll find that I tend to view the size classes as “wider” than the difference between a Sherman (say) and a Panther, although the Panther carries a bigger gun. The only one that I put into Class 4 is the Tiger II. The intention of this is to provide some differentiation should you wish to put a WW2 vintage force up against something later (eg. 1980s). Same reasoning for introducing the KEC weapon type. I think I had the Harry Turtledove books in the back of my mind at the time.