Game duration in ‘One-Hour Wargames’ for solo play

By Jim Rohrer

One-Hour Wargames (OHW) is my preferred rule set (Thomas, 2014).  I like it because the rules are simple, it is intended for play on a small table, games are short, and it is so flexible.  Units of any size can be used because the notion of a unit is abstract.  You could assume that your units represent a squad, a platoon, a company or whatever.  In my games, I follow Featherstone’s suggestion and assume that my units each represent 10 soldiers (Featherstone D and Curry J, 1973).

A disadvantage of using OHW for solo play is that games always run short.  Fifteen minutes or less is a real possibility.  However, game duration can be increased as follows.

  1. Change the hit scoring system.  In OHW, 15 hits are allowed per unit.  The number of hits is determined by the points on the dice with modifiers based on the type of unit and cover.  An infantry unit shooting at another unit under cover would divide the number of points on the dice by two.  My practice is to say any roll higher than three be counted as one hit but subtracting two for cover. This more than doubles the length of game and I believe it to be more realistic.  If 10 soldiers, under fire, are returning fire against 10 soldiers under cover, using single-shot weapons, how many hits are likely per round?  Most likely, they will all miss.  The ones under cover are likely to get some hits. So, I say a six counts as a hit for the attackers and 4-6 counts as a hit for the defenders.
  2. Increase the number of events cards. A greater number and variety of random events will extend the duration of the game and also make it more interesting.
  3. Increase movement. Movement extends the game, even if it is just turning to fire at an ambusher, so choose scenarios that involve movement.

I hope anyone who has tried and rejected OHW for solo games will consider giving these suggestions a try.

About jimr

As a semi-retired professor, I have time to indulge myself with hobbies. Solo wargaming with 54mm figures using One Hour Wargame (OHW) rules and an expanded card deck is my style of play.
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5 Responses to Game duration in ‘One-Hour Wargames’ for solo play

  1. Dexy says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your recent posts here and in LW 211 and had noted your suggestion – in the Paris Commune action, I think – for 50 Event cards.
    I’d be very interested in your suggestions for events for the extra cards.

  2. Jim Rohrer says:

    My extra cards include events that might apply in some scenarios but not others. For example, reinforcements arrive, avalanche, tornado, illness, food shortage, water shortage, fire ants, killer bees, death of an officer, sniper attack, and mob attack.

    FYI, since this was written several weeks ago, I have gone back to standard hit scoring in my games. Battle duration runs over twenty minutes, which suits me. An hour would be too long. Greater use of cavalry units has forced me to be more careful about positioning units and that introduces more movement, which takes a few rounds and extends the game. Also I now use random deployment of forces which adds a lot of excitement.

  3. Jim Rohrer says:

    More possible events: bridge out, road blocked, rear attack.

  4. Dexey says:

    Thank you for replying, Jim
    I found your blog and look forward to reading your future posts.

    I’ve set up an effort at your ‘Vosges Mountains’ in 28mm but for the FIW using single figures and I may go back to my units of eight because I painted some, and paid for the others to be painted!
    Thanks for the card ideas. I had thought of a couple of them – rear attack by both mob and sniper – and officer wounded or killed.
    I think NT mentions random deployment in his OHW solo pages. I have used it in my Machine Age games.

    Lastly, I like the ‘More Chaos’ hits system from here:
    No paperwork – just One red and yellow counter, stuck back to back, for each unit and no more paperwork!

  5. Jim Rohrer says:


    When the Rally card is drawn, hit points are removed. The way I keep track of hits now is with a small spiral notebook. Usually one game per page. One row for each unit, first the enemy units (eg, 1st cav, 2nd cav, 1st infantry etc.) then rows for my units. Hits are marked just as a slash. It’s easy to see when you have reached fifteen hits for a unit and must remove it from the battle. Scratching out some hits is easy when you draw a rally card.

    The notebook page also allows you to record some details such as start and stop time, number of rounds, name of the scenario and variations in the rules that you were testing in this particular game. Recording this way is not difficult, if you can remember which unit is first cav and which is second cav. Sometimes I forget.

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