I’ve made no secret that I am not really a fan of Flames of War V3. In a lot of ways this has more to do with me as a gamer than the ruleset itself - doing some introspection I’ve come to realize I prefer less “tournament” systems and like my wargaming a bit more social (less cutthroat) and historical focused. At the same time, I do enjoy good mechanics and competitive games “lend” themselves to tight systems. That’s why I was very excited to see Simon Hall’s Divisions Of Steel - a WWII ruleset that aims to achieve the “silver bullet” combination of historical accuracy, playability, and Fun at the company/btn level.

Does it succeed? I purchased the rules as soon as they came out and popped them onto all my devices. A few quick notes

This was planned to be a physical release with a box set with all the gubbins needed for the CCC system Simon uses for all his games (special dice, colored chits, etc) but supply chain disruptions wreaked havoc with the plan so Simon elected to do a digital only release first with a boxed set to come. This does mean that you need dice from Mortem Et Gloriam to play - this isn’t a huge deal however as these dice are easy to find.

What you are about to read is NOT a review. It’s a “flip through”. I haven’t gotten to play these rules yet and I do not feel comfortable calling my thoughts on a system I haven’t played a “review”.

The core of the system is built around the orders system - you influence the course of the action by doling out orders in the form of colored discs from Company Commanders/Btn command. “Harder” orders require “better” colors (the discs are color coded by quality). There are penalties and restrictions for assigning orders outside of the chain of command (for example, a btn HQ directly bossing around a company-level asset) - there seems to be some tooling to make it harder for some armies to be flexible which I quite like.

There is no IGOUGO (a huge plus IMO) rather a dynamic system where one player has the “initiative” and must overspend on their orders in order to retain it. Basically, you have to decide if you want to do less overall in order to keep up pressure (as you will rapidly exhaust “good” order chits this way). The “inactive” player is still in the game, able to spend some orders to do things like reactive fire.

I was worried this would be fiddly and complex from reading the early summaries (and I’m sure my rambling probably conveys something similar) but its not - it reads very elegantly and does not seem challenging to execute on the table. It seems like it gives a reasonable balance between “realism” and playability as well as presenting a lot of interesting decisions to the gamer.

My one concern is that units CAN activate more than once. I disliked this in Black Powder and Pike and Shotte (too often a unit of cav would race an implausible distance across the table and do something silly). I agree with the idea that better troops can “do more” - it doesnt seem trivial to achieve (it will cost a LOT of high quality order tokens) and there is no luck involved so I’ll just have to play a bunch of games to see how it “feels”.

This is by far the most important element of the rules, its the engine around which everything else functions (the author describes everything else as just resolving outcomes). I’m not sure I would go QUITE that far - there is a lot to process in terms of resolving hits, shooting priority (yes the system has priority, your Dudes won’t gleefully ignore an obvious threat right in front of them so they can take a gamey flank shot halfway across the table without a very high order color), artillery (properly off the board thank the gods), etc. That being said nothing looks too overwhelming.

I won’t go into tremendous details about the rest of the mechanics = the order system is really the highlight here - though I will say I found a lot of the “resolution” type stuff to seem well thought out and avoids “gamey nonsense”. The system also features hidden deployment tokens and meaningful recce - huge pluses! Hit rolls are elegantly implemented as “roll three dice at once” covering spotting, accuracy, etc. There are no fancy “national characteristics” - everything is covered by the granular “quality morale” grades with some “universal special rules” sprinkled in

I look forward to trying this game out. I think Simon has put together a fine set of rules that will work for periods beyond WWII as well (I look forward to tinkering with 1914-18 and I hear supplements to expand its coverage are planned in the future).

DOS is available here along with army list bundles.