This is my personal, hobby Web page.

My professional Web page contains information on my education, experience, academic activities, consulting, and publications.  On this page, my wargaming interests are described in gross detail for those bored individuals who want to take the time to read them.

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My Email address is

This site includes pages for the major rules systems I have published recently.  After a bit of “history,” I have included information about other rules I have authored or co-authored that don’t need their own page.

Buck and his “wargaming widow”


How I Became Involved with Wargaming

  • Toy Soldiers: Like most war gamers, I began by playing with a variety of toy soldiers as a kid.

  • Little Wars: Early in junior high school my dad bought a copy of the hard-cover reprint of Little Wars. I was so enamored by it that I saved my little pennies and bought my own copy. Since my dad is a collector of old toy soldiers, particularly those made by Britains Ltd., I had a bunch of the small, firing guns. Soon I had made trees, houses, and hills, and I had stockpiled a supply of cannon ammunition made from small doweling.

  • Jack Scruby: One evening while I was in junior high, at the end of the evening news, the network did a human-interest blurb on Jack Scruby and his California group. I remember a view of hundreds of Scruby 25mm figures deployed for a re-fight of Waterloo and how excited I got at the sight.

  • Books?: When I was still in junior high school, my grandmother, thinking they were books on the American Civil War, gave to me for my birthday what turned out to be two war games in the Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) Blue and Gray folio series. After a time, I coerced my dad into playing them with me. He had a friend, Walt, who owned a hobby shop, and it was not long before I had purchased a few more of the folio games myself.

  • The Wargame: At some point, I got my hands on a copy of The Wargame, edited by Brigadier Peter Young, the most highly decorated British soldier of WWII. This book, a collection of accounts of ten great battles in history, written by various authors who were experts in their periods, was illustrated with war gaming figures. I love this book and have two copies in my library to this day.

  • Dungeons and Dragons: In the 8th grade we had a substitute teacher, named Mike Janes, in one of my science classes. We really hit it off, and before long he had hooked me into D&D. (When I started high school, I found that Mike’s sister was in Latin class with me.) My buddies, Mike, and I had a great time playing war games and role-playing games. Quickly we changed companies from TSR to Flying Buffalo and started playing Tunnels and Trolls(same idea, superior rules) in preference to D&D. As a freshman in high school, Mike took me to a war gaming convention in Detroit, run by the Metro-Detroit Gamers (MDG). At this first convention, we signed up to play in a Napoleonic miniatures game. I remember some of the adults around the table resenting a kid taking one of their places in the game, which involved a couple dozen gamers. We Prussians thumped the French pretty handily on our side and beginner’s luck was with me. I was on cloud nine for weeks.

  • Rally ‘Round the Flag: Soon after my first convention, I bought my first war game rules: Rally Round the Flag, by Battleline. While the American Civil War is not my main period of historical interest, the ready availability of plastic Airfix ACW figures made this period very easy to game.  Armed with several boxes of Airfix plastic 20mm figures and rules, I built a pretty impressive army in a short time.

  • High School: Over time, I recruited several fellow war gamers, many of whom were on the cross-country team with me. Some had played war gamers before, and some had not. We had a great time in high school playing historical miniatures, board games, and about every role-playing game we could get our hands on. While none of our parents were really excited about all this war gaming, it was tolerated — I suppose because they always knew where we were and that we weren’t getting into too much trouble. Of this group, one is a surgeon, one is an electrical engineer, and one is a chemist working for a major university, so I guess we turned out okay.

  • West Point: At West Point, as a Plebe, I hooked up with a group of cadets who were playing Napoleonic miniatures with Captain, later Major, even later Colonel, Lawson, a professor in the German language department. He had more than enough figures for all the games we played, but it wasn’t long before we had each chosen a different nation and started painting a battalion at a time. I never pulled an “all-nighter” for school, but I pulled several trying to get one more battalion ready for the next day’s battle. As the only plebe in the group, I got last choice of countries, being stuck with Britain — the country I would have chosen as my first choice anyway.

  • Diverging Interests: I didn’t paint much as a new lieutenant, but by my last year in Vicenza, Italy, I interested two fellow lieutenants into painting. Since then, my interests have widened and my armies grown. My wife likes to tell a story of our second date when I brought her back to my apartment to show her my toys. (I wanted to get that over with early so there would be no surprises later.)

  • Budding Game Designer:  My first miniatures game was Rally ‘Round the Flag for the American Civil War.  My second was The Sword and the Flame for the British colonial period.  Almost for the beginning, the notion of designing rules excited me.  My first efforts were ad hoc affairs, with little or no research.  The designs were derivative of other systems.  By the time I was a senior in high school I had written, typed on an old manual typewriter, and self published my first game, Beer and Pretzels Urban Combat (see below).  Watching (and hearing) people have fun with a game I had written really hooked me on game design.  With the demanding life of a cadet at West Point and the first several years of life as a new infantry lieutenant, game design (and even playing wargames after graduation) took a back seat to lots of other activities.  I had my Napoleonic figures from West Point, and I ordered and painted a few more while in Italy as a lieutenant, but they did not get a lot of use, and I wasn’t thinking about designing.

  • The Next Game:  As a Captain teaching lieutenants at the Infantry Officer Basic Course, I met Rick Vossman, and we began to throw around ideas for a set of Napoleonic rules.  We were thinking along the same lines, and designing the game took less time than it should have.  We borrowed some money and self published Battles for Empire (see below).  Almost immediately, and while I was in Korea on an unaccompanied tour, I wrote and threw away three complete game systems for WWII skirmish combat.  Eventually I settled in on Beer and Pretzels Skirmish (BAPS) (see below).  While working on my master’s degree, I wrote and threw away an ACW skirmish set, Stealin’ Chickens for Gen’l Lee; a short, experimental set of rules published in the HMGS MidSouth newsletter, Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me Your Spears (where I experimented with a dice progression mechanic before Piquet made it popular); and a few other ideas that never came to fruition.

  • More:  After BAPS, I really didn’t think much about game design again until I played in a 54mm Three Musketeers game at Historicon while I was in graduate school in Texas.  It got me thinking about the fun I had in college playing Swashbuckler, by Yaquinto Publishing.  While I had fun with both games, I thought I could do better.  About that time the Wargames Foundry company released an extensive line of very nice pirate figures in 28mm.  So, Blood and Swash was born.  (See below.)

  • And Now:  Since then I have designed a number of game systems.  Most have been critical, but not commercial successes.  You can really consider game design as a major part of my wargaming hobby, as I seem to do more of that than actually playing other game these days.  I think that each new game design has brought something new; they have not been merely paraphrased ideas and stale mechanics from other games.  Blood and Swash pioneered the use of figure attributes for skirmish games in a simple, flexible system.  G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. pioneered Victorian science fiction gaming and was copied by many others while this “historical period” was hot.  Look, Sarge, No  Charts pioneered the notion of chartless wargames rules.  Combat Patrol(TM), the most innovative yet, replaced dice and charts with a simple card mechanic.


(C) Doug Hamm and Eric Hotz, 2009. I have nothing to do with this cartoon other than enjoying the sentiment that says you should keep purchasing figures to paint, because when you paint your “last” figure, you’ll kick the bucket.


Sean Callahan and John Jay in our “basement” in Grisignano, Italy. I purchased a dilapidated ping pong table, and John and I made the one-foot terrain squares.

Another view of the game in Italy. That’s my back in the foreground. My roommate, Mike, had purchased the bar and dart board. Life was good for two single lieutenants when we weren’t busy training.

A large 25mm Napoleonic game that MAJ Lawson ran in one of the German classrooms after Saturday classes and parade were completed.


Games I Have Designed

These are organized from most recent to oldest.

The Quick and the Dead:  Coastal Actions in WWII

Author:  John R. “Buck Surdu

Date first published: Available as .pdf download since 2009 from RPGNow.

Period: World War II PT Boat Actions in the Mediterranean

Scale:  Skirmish (typically, each player controls two boats)

Additional Information:

    PT-boat actions are generally divided into three phases. There is the stealthy approach phase in which one force lies in wait, trying to get an advantageous position on the enemy. This phase can last several hours, beginning from the time the boats leave port until (and if) contact is made with the enemy. There is the assault phase, in which the boats battle each other, typically at fewer than 200 yards, and nearly always at night. This phase usually lasts between 20 and 40 minutes. Finally, there is the aftermath. Typically one side or the other affects a disengagement and both sides head from home.

     The Quick and the Dead focuses on the middle phase. Games last about 40 minutes. There are no turns and no chart cards. Players use cards to control the movement and firing of their boats. All the needed information is on the cards. When a player has exhausted his cards, each of his boats makes a morale check, draws more cards, and continues playing. At the end of a game, players feel exhausted, as if they’ve just been through a fight.

     If you like your naval games pedantic and chart-ridden, The Quick and the Dead is not for you. If you want to feel as if you’ve actually been in a PT fight, these are the only rules that give you that feeling. The game plays very different than most game you’ve played. Some players get the hang of the fluid, no-turns system quickly. Others have difficulty. I have found that by a player’s third game, they get the hang of it. Many don’t like the game the first time they play, but after playing a couple more times, really enjoy it. During play tests some have suggested that I should include an optional standard-style turn sequence. While players would be free to do so, I’ve decided not to include a tradtional turn sequence, because then The Quick and the Dead would be just another game, and I wanted it to be unique.

     The Quick and the Dead comes with a rulebook, the cards to play the game, scenario cards, and boat record cards for most of the German, Italian, British, and American boat types in the Mediterranean. I usually play on a 4’x6′ table, but that’s for a six-player game. You could certainly play on a dining room table. The basic set of cards is for that size game. The advantage of the .pdf format is that if you want to player larger games (more players) you can print another deck of cards.

     The Quick and the Dead is a card-based game. Because PT-boat actions are a limited, niche period of interest, I didn’t think we could sell enough sets to make the unit cost palatable. We decided to make the rules available as a PDF download through RPGNow. You can download the rules, print all the cards on cardstock, and cut them out.

     On The Miniatures Page, someone posted, “Please seriously consider an expansion that will include boats that served in the Channel and the Pacific. Maybe a few key destroyer types too. The Med, while interesting was a pretty specialized battlefield compared to the Channel. I don’t think you’d need new rules, except possibly for destroyers and minefields, but it’s the ship types!” If the rules become popular, I’d be happy to post data cards for the Channel and the Pacific. The rules include the algorithms I used to determine the stats for the boats. Players could easily make boat records themselves. If someone wants to work up boat stats for the other theaters, I’d be happy to make the cards and post them to this Web page for others to use.

See an interesting review of the game here:
See an interesting discussion of the game here:
Download additional boat records for fighting in the North Sea and English Channel.

A view of a game in progress showing the various attack, attack enhancement, and defensive cards that can be played.


Skirmish Campaigns: Tanga

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Jamie Davis

Date first published: 2009

Period:  World War I in Africa

Scale:  Skirmish

Additional Information:

    See for additional information.  This book was released by Scott Fisher as part of the Skirmish Campaigns series.

    Tanga is a complete book for recreating skirmish-level battles and campaigns centered the fighting around Longido and Tanga in East Africa in 1914. The book includes eleven scenarios that can be played alone or together in one of two campaigns.

    Maximum Replayability: the Skirmish Elite system features a realistic variable order of battle for each scenario, guaranteeing countless unique scenario and campaign replays.

    Generic Order of Battle: this book also includes a unique generic order of battle listing that can be translated to almost any skirmish rule system.

    Historical Research: this book includes several introduction sections that contain background information and history on the campaign in East Africa. This book also features a bibliography of sources.

    Includes: 11 Scenarios, 2 Campaigns

    Compatible with these and other Skirmish Rules: Battleground, Beer and Pretzels Skirmish (BAPS), ARC of FIRE, Face of Battle, Men of Frost, Overlord, Battalions in Crisis, Battlefront WWII, Cross of Iron, And in the Beginning, Skirmish ’90, and more.


Wellington Rules

Author: John R. “Buck” Surdu

Date first published: November 2002, available through Brigade Games, Old Glory, and RPG Now.


  • One Infantry or Cavalry Figure = 30 men
  • One Artillerist Figure = 10 men
  • One Gun Model = 2 guns
  • One inch = 15 yards
  • One turn = 15 minutes

Additional Information:

I promised myself a few years ago that I would never do another World War II or Napoleonics projects, because these periods seem to attract a disproportionate number of self-proclaimed experts. We were having such a good time in Texas playing Mexican American War battles with Santa Anna Rules that I started to get interested in dusting off all my old Heritage 25mm Napoleonic figures. I thought the process of converting from Mexican American War to Napoleonics would be easy. While there are many similarities, it took nearly six months to get it done. When the smoke cleared, I found that I liked Wellington Rules even better than Santa Anna Rules.

While Wellington Rules is based on Santa Anna Rules, fans of Battles for Empire will find many familiar notions: artillery bounce through, cavalry break through, etc.


Fire Team Vietnam

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu

Date first published: 2002, available from Old Glory and RPG Now

Period:  Vietnam, but it works equally well for World War II

Scale:  Skirmish

Additional Information:

        Fire Team Vietnam was proposed by Russ Dunaway of Old Glory to help promote an upcoming line of 28mm Vietnam figures from West Wind (distributed by Old Glory). The timeline for development was very short. BAPS (Beer and Pretzels Skirmish, see below) works well for Vietnam skirmishes, so why write another set of rules? Old Glory wanted to sell platoon bags of figures, approximately 40. To me this meant that each player should comfortably control a platoon. While this is possible for experienced BAPS players, one or two squads is more reasonable. Due to the time constrains, however, Fire Team Vietnam (FTV) needed to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

        The firing and movement systems are very similar to BAPS. The command and control system is entirely new, and it allows players to easily command a whole platoon. It also maintains some level of friction. This system revolves around five activation status levels: active, neutral, gone to ground, pinned, and routed. At the beginning of each turn, the owning player rolls the new activation status of each squad. This roll takes the role of both command and control and morale check. The result is a new activation status that determines what the units can do in the upcoming turn. As an added bonus, I was able to get rid of much the table clutter associated with the many counters used in BAPS.

     The hand-to-hand combat system in FTV is much more streamlined then the man-on-man system used in BAPS. Also, I did something I have always wanted to do to BAPS, but every time I tried, loyal BAPS players asked me not to: I made rolling for damage to vehicles two rolls instead of five or six. I don’t think there is any loss of flavor, and it sure speeds that part of the game up!

        None of this should imply that BAPS is not good. BAPS and FTV have different targets, in terms of layers of abstraction. If you like BAPS, you will probably like FTV. Most people who have tried them both agree. Chris Palmer’s wife, Jennifer, said she thought FTV was easier to learn than BAPS.

Photo courtesy the Vietgaming Yahoo Groups list. Figures by Britannia Miniatures.


Big Battles for Little Hands

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Rob Dean

Date first published: 2002, available from  WargamesVault

Period:  All

Scale:  Skirmish and Tactical

Additional Information:

        Big Battles for Little Hands is available through The ISBN for this book is 1-889584-10-X.

        Big Battles is the result of over three years of effort. I came up with this idea while living in Texas. I approached several people about collaborating on this effort, but only Rob Dean took up the guantlet.

        Big Battles is meant to be a one-stop shop for children who are interested in wargaming. It includes a tactical set of rules, Milk and Cookies Rules and a skirmish set of rules, Blood and Swash. In addition, Big Battles includes:

  • A history of land warfare
  • A primer on tactics

  • How to paint figures

  • How to make terrain

  • How to mold your own figures

  • Several scenarios to game

  • Suggested single-volume histories to read

  • Suggestions children’s history books

  • A note to parents

  • And paper soldiers to cut out and use if you can’t get metal ones

The book has many photographs, charts, and tables to keep a child’s interest.

        Both the tactical and skirmish rules have been play tested with children as young as six years old. While a first grader would be unable to read the book, they can easily play the games. (Imagine a history book at 1st Grade level: “See Napoleon fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. See Mack run. Run, Mack, Run.”) My intent is for this book to grow with the child; as the child gets older, he or she should get something new from each re-reading. Several adults have told me they enjoyed reading the book as well.

     For those of you who bought the first printing, you can download consolidated Blood and Swash charts in .pdf format. All the charts needed to play Blood and Swash are in the booklet, but these consolidated charts are more convenient. You can also download another copy of the Milk and Cookies Rules charts.

     This is a really excellent book.  While it was very positively reviewed, its sales have been soft.  We probably only sold about 300 of these.  I’m not sure what we would need to do to increase market penetration.  It’s occurred to me that kids who are interested in wargaming may already have access to their fathers’ figures, rules, and games, and don’t need this, but we were hoping to interest children whose parents are not already gamers.


I recently reformatted and re-edited these rules and posted a new version for sale on WargamesVault.

Beer and Pretzels Ironclads

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Mike Miller

Date first published: 2000, available from WargamesVault

Period:  American Civil War Coastal Naval Actions

Scale:  Skirmish

Additional Information:

        This was a project that Mike Miller and I worked on while I was going to school at Texas A&M University. Mike and I were looking for a way to introduce the largely-GW-addicted gamers in the area to the joys of historical miniatures. At a Historicon we saw the neat 15mm-scale ironclad models by Old Glory Shipyard (then Merrimack Miniatures). Mike and I thought these would make a very interesting little game. Over time, the rules became something that people in other clubs enjoyed, so we decided to have some printed up for sale.

        For those of you who own the rules and want extra copies of the charts, click to download .pdf files of the chart card, turn guage, and ship records.


Blood and Swash / Thunder and Plunder

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Christopher Palmer

Date first published: 2000, available from WargamesVault

Period:  Pirates (originally, but the newer editions have charts for multiple, historical periods)

Scale:  Skirmish

Additional Information:

      This booklet includes two complete sets of rules. Blood and Swash, written by me, is a set of rules for small pirate barroom brawls. Thunder and Plunder, written by Chris Palmer, is a set of rules for larger pirate actions involving “units” of ten or so pirates.

        Blood and Swash is one of my two favorite sets of rules on which I’ve worked.  The beauty of these rules is their flexibility. The people I game with jokingly refer to Blood and Swash as the ubiquitous skirmish rules. We have used them successfully for skirmish actions from Romans vs. Picts to World War II.

     Thunder and Plunder became the basis for G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. by Chris Palmer and me (see link in top banner of this page).

     Those of you who have the First Edition of Blood and Swash / Thunder and Plunder can download the latest versions of the consolidated, updated charts in .pdf format.

     The second edition book mentions some Samurai charts that I forgot to include in the booklet. You can download them here. The charts were developed by Mike Miller of Texas. Mike also developed some charts for gladiator games and cave man games. Most of these rules suggestions were incorporated into the second edition, but they are consolidated on these charts for quick reference. Where they conflict with the rule booklet, I suggest you go with the rules as written.


Santa Anna Rules

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Pete Panzeri

Date first published: 1992, available from Old Glory and WargamesVault

Period:  Mexican-American War 1846-1848


  • One Infantry or Cavalry Figure = 30 men
  • One Artillerist Figure = 10 men
  • One Gun Model = 2 guns
  • One inch = 15 yards
  • One turn = 15 minutes
  • Each player commands a Brigade

Additional Information:

SAR(T) (a.k.a. SAR vol. 1) is my tactical System for larger battles. Volume 1 contains orders of battle and background information on the Mexican-American War and the Maximillian Adventure. In addition, this volume includes scenarios for Buena Vista, Churubusco, Puebla, and San Jacinto. Volume 1 includes several special mechanics to bring out the peculiarityes of this locality and era. It is designed to accurately portray the fell of battle in the “Santa Anna era” with each player controlling a brigade. While warfare of this period is Napoleonic-like, the Mexican-American War and the War of Texas Independence are neither Napoleonic wars nor like the American Civil War. Santa Anna Tactical Rules captures these unique aspects.

The second edition of SAR(T) corrects some typos and mistakes in the editions. There is an updated chart card. There was an issue that was discovered during the development of Wellington Rules that was corrected. In addition, I modified (slightly) movement effects of terrain. I also added scenarios for all the major battles of the Mexican-American war, except Monterrey. Mark Ryan wrote a history of the South Americans wars of liberation and a scenario for the battle of Maipu.

Santa Anna Skirmish (SAR(S)), Volume 2: Pete Panzeri’s system for skirmish wargames. SAS is a very versatile, popular system, representative of combat during Santa Anna’s era. Featured internationally in Old Glory convention demonstrations of the Alamo (with 1500 individually-mounted figures), Volume 2 focuses on numerous Alamo variations and scenario data for both the Texan and Mexican wars of independence, as well as the American and French conflicts. SAS is based on Pete’s convention-proven Rules of Engagement system with simplicity and tactical speed of play as key game factors. While inexperienced gamers can quickly grasp SAS, combat nuances give it excellent depth and make it quite challenging for experienced gamers as well.

Download a version of the charts for early American wars, such as Fallen Timbers, the War of 1812, and the Seminole Wars. This file is in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf). If you don’t already have one, the Acrobat Reader can be downloaded from .

The chart card for the Third Edition was bound into the book. This makes distributors happy. You can download a copy of the 2nd Addition Chart Card.

In SAR, figures are mounted individually, but for the tactical game, I put six figures on a magnetic movement stand. I highly recommend the magnetic movement stands made by Wargames Accessories, 7566 20th Street No., St. Petersburg, FL 33702 or (813) 522-6203 (in the evenings).

A Buena Vista game run using Santa Anna Rules at a convention soon after the release of the rules. Gosh we were young and skinny looking back then.


Beer and Pretzels Skirmish (BAPS)

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu

Date first published: 1982

Period:  World War I to the Present


  • One figure = one man
  • One vehicle model = one vehicle
  • One inch = four meters
  • One turn = 30 seconds
  • Recommended span of control: ach player controls 1 squad or two vehicles. As players get more familiar with the mechanics, they can usually handle more units; however, the fewer units a player controls, the faster the game moves.
  • Recommended figure scale: 0mm/1:72. 15mm and 25mm figures would work equally well without modification. I have developed a special chart for 54mm figures. With 54mm figures, the ground and time scales are different (i.e., 1 inch = 2 meters and 1 turn = 15 seconds, respectively).

Additional Information:

Scope of the Rules:

    BAPS was designed for each player to control a squad of infantry or a section of vehicles (usually two). After gaining some experience, players find that they can control much more than this without bogging down the game. One player in Panama has been able to teach his five-year-old son to play BAPS.

    BAPS works best when only one side has tanks and the other side has a sufficient number of anti-tank weapons. (I run a Poland 1939 game with lots of tanks on the table, but this is an exception. To do this, the scenario must be carefully crafted.) BAPS is not suited for swirling tank-on-tank actions. These are better fought with tactical rules, not skirmish rules. At the ground scale of BAPS, I also find that early-war scenarios are best. The whole board is point-blank range to a Panther.

    There are three versions of BAPS “on the street.” Version 1.0 (blue cover) was the first version sold at conventions. Version 1.1 (also a blue cover) has a number of typos that have been fixed. Version 1.2 (light green cover) put light and very light mortars on the chart card, adjusted the soldiers’ defense factors, added the generic scenarios, and included the order of battle information for the major WWII powers.

Composition of BAPS:
  • 75-page booklet

  • The first 13 pages, including photographs, comprise the basic rules, including vehicles.

  • 13 pages of optional rules, including (but not exclusively) paratroops, gliders, artillery, horses, opportunity fire, mines, snipers, night fighting, and hordes.

  • 8 historically-researched scenarios from WWI (1), WWII (6), and Vietnam (1)

  • 5 small, generic scenarios that cover common platoon missions

  • 15 pages of extensive vehicle and anti-tank weapons data.

  • Order of battle information for infantry companies and platoons from WWII.

  • Two sheets of order chips to be photocopied and cut out. Sorry no die-cut counters on my shoestring budget!

  • Two chart cards that have all the charts needed to fight the vast majority of games with BAPS.

What Makes BAPS Unique:

      BAPS is simple. All the necessary charts fit on two chart cards — one of which     is not needed if there are no vehicles in the game.

     The command and control system was designed first. This system does not assume that soldiers are automatons who only act when told to do so by their leaders. Nor does it assume that soldiers are completely autonomous and will always do exactly what the leader wants them to do.

     The unit fire system (the product of a late-night epiphany) facilitates quick resolution of fire. This system also accurately reflects the area-effect of machine guns in a system that is consistent with other small arms.

     Carefully developed turn sequence which allows realistic building-clearing procedures for urban games and realistic rural fights as well.

      A unique method of reflecting the superiority of multi-solider vehicle turrets over single-soldier turrets.

Turn Sequence:
  1. Leaders roll for their leader points in the upcoming turn.

  2. Leaders use leader points to issue orders to soldiers. This is done by placing order chips face-down behind the soldiers.

  3. Players roll for random orders for soldiers without order chips. Often these are related to what the rest of the unit is doing; however, sometimes soldiers to irrational things.

  4. All order chips are revealed.

  5. Hasty fire and grenade throws are conducted before movement.

  6. Movement.

  7. Normal fires are conducted

  8. Any hand-to-hand combats are resolved

  9. Morale is checked if needed

54mm BAPS

     Rob Dean, in Maryland, likes to play with large figures (40mm and 54mm) He has been working on an Arnhem city fight in 54mm, and he asked me to make him a 54mm BAPS chart. For anyone else interested, you can download the chart in Adobe Acrobat portable document format (pdf). You can download a FREE Acrobat Reader.


Napoleonic Scenarios

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu, Rick Vossman, and Bill Harting

Date first published: 1991, out of print

Period:  Napoleonic Wars

Scale:  Tactical

Additional Information:

This book contains scenarios for Napoleonic miniatures gaming
with any rules system.

Napoleonic Scenarios was the second product for us. We enjoyed enough success and a good enough reputation from BFE (Battles for Empire, see below) that we had advanced sales for nearly 2500 copies of Napoleonic Scenarios. Final sales total was a little more than 3500. Xeno Games had the remaining stock, but I am not sure if any copies are still available. The booklet has full-color art on the cover (again by Keith Rocco) and four-color maps.

Napoleonic Scenarios was not tied to BFE. The scenario information was generic enough to be used with any rules system.

Napoleonic Scenarios featured a center section with four-color maps of the battlefield.

Battles included:

  • Castricum, 1799

  • Marengo, 1800

  • Saalfeld, 1806

  • Auerstaedt, 1806

  • Heilsburg, 1807

  • Baylen, 1808

  • Ebersberg, 1809

  • Barossa, 1811

  • Berezina, 1812

  • Gross Beeren, 1813

  • Laon, 1814

  • Quatre Bras, 1815

Many of the battles are very familiar today, but in 1991, many were deemed obscure. We chose battles that were (for the most part) lesser known, interesting, and generally smaller than average.


Battles for Empire

Tactical Rules for Miniatures Battles in the Age of Napoleon

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu and Rick Vossman

Date first published: 1990, out of print

Period:  Napoleonic Wars


  • One figure = 60 men
  • One inch = 50 meters
  • One turn = 10 minutes
  • Recommended Span of Control:  One player commands a division
  • Recommended figure scale: 15mm. I use 25mm, but that takes more space than most wives allow their husbands to devote to lead soldiers.

Additional Information:

Battles for Empire (BFE) was published in 1990. We were told by the major distributors that since no one had ever heard of us we might sell 300 copies of a Napoleonic rule book. We printed BFE with over 100 photographs (that were not just filler) and had a full-color cover with art by Keith Rocco. As it turns out we sold almost 3000 copies of the rules in the U.S., England, and Canada, and we had two printings.

BFE is out of print now, but I know that many of the larger distributors still have some copies in stock. I have seen them in hobby stores as well. Since the rules are old now, they are usually sold for about half the original retail price (which was $14.00).

What Makes Battles for Empire Unique:

  • Emphasis on the tactical use of cavalry, infantry and artillery.
  • More streamlined and realistic system for resolving melee, particularly for cavalry vs. infantry. Note: These rules were very streamlined in their day; however, they are a little chart-heavy in comparison to Napoleon’s Battles and other “fast-play” systems. For the level of abstraction that BFE is trying to represent, they are very playable.
  • More realistic artillery fire system which emphasizes bouncethrough of round shot and the devastating effects of canister at close range.
  • A well-researched musketry system that is accurate and decisive.
  • Easy-to-use charts, featuring column shifts, which prevent lengthy calculations.
  • Unique, function-based movement system for all arms, which more accurately simulates tactical movement on the battlefield.
  • May be used with traditional 1:60 scale mounting or with 1:30 scale for larger, more tactical-appearing units.
  • Over 100 photographs to illustrate and clarify the rules. These photos are not filler; they are integral to explaining the rules.

Many of the production values of BFE are common today, but they were unique in 1990.


Beer and Pretzels Urban Combat (BAPUC)

Author:  John R. “Buck” Surdu

Date first published: 1982, out of print, but I still have a couple boxes full of them.

Period:  Modern / Post Apocalypse

Scale:  Skirmish

Additional Information:

Beer and Pretzels Urban Combat (BAPUC) was my first attempt to publish a wargame. BAPUC was a skirmish game set in urban environments. The board, while designed myself, looked very much like the SPI game, Sniper. It used a card-based turn sequence. BAPUC was quite fun. The game was written while I was in high school, but it was published while I was a cadet.  One day I was walking down the hallway in Thayer Hall to join some of the other wargamers and from down the hall I could hear shouting with excitement and glee.  Seeing those folks derive joy from my game is what hooked me on game design.

The development of BAPUC was greatly assisted by Al Slisinger, Nick Cirocco, Earl Leffler, and others.

The map used the similar parallelogram buildings featured in the SPI Sniper and Patrol games. This was a convenient paradigm for showing when figures were inside our outside buildings.


This has nothing to do with wargaming, but I really like the quote and the sentiment behind it.