Note: These pages best
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Though the picture of the
German soldier to the right
was taken from the
Advanced Squad Leader
rulebook, it is instantly
recognizable as the art from
the original Squad Leader
box. The art of the talented
Roger MacGowan graces
the cover of all the Squad
products . . .
including the scenario cards.
Nearly every wargamer
knows the name and art of
Roger MacGowan.

Welcome to the Squad Leader Profile Page!
Squad Leader LogoGerman Soldier

This page is devoted to promoting and profiling The Avalon Hill Game Company's (TAHGC) World War II tactical combat game system.

The eight phases in the
Squad Leader game

1 . . Rally Phase
2 . . Prep Fire Phase
3 . . Movement Phase
4 . . Defensive Fire Phase
5 . . Advancing Fire Phase
6 . . Rout Phase
7 . . Advance Phase
8 . . Close Combat Phase

Dual Player Participation

Some features of the
Squad Leader game

Scale: 40 meters/hex.
Time: 2 minutes/game turn.
Units: 8-10 men squads,
4-5 men crews, individual
units, individual support
weapons, individual AFVs
and vehicles (see below).
Playing Area: 12 geo-
morphic 8" x 22" boards
come with the complete
system. A total of 43 boards
are available from TAHGC
for custom use.

Individual units: leaders,
armor leaders, snipers,
scouts, heroes.

Individual weapons: LMG,
MMG, HMG, molotov
cocktails, AT rifles, AT
magnetic mines, demo
charges, flamethrowers,
radios, bazookas, panzer-
fausts, panzerschecks,

Individual vehicles: tanks,
halftracks, jeeps, trucks
assault boats, armored cars
divebombers, motorcycles
bicycles, cavalry, sleighs
duplex drive tanks, wagons.

Fortifications: foxholes,
trenches, entrenchments,
pillboxes, bunkers, wire,
minefields, booby traps.

Squad Leader was designed and developed by Jon Hill and Don Greenwood in the mid 70's. TAHGC released it in 1977 to much fanfare in the wargaming industry. It was an instant hit! It was popular with the critics and the hobbyists . . . so much so that it was a Charles Roberts Award winner the same year it was released.

Many factors led to the success of Squad Leader. Its turn system was innovative, breaking a two minute game turn into two player turns. These player turns are further divided into the eight phases shown to the left. These phases include several dual participation phases. The MPh and DFPh use a semi-simultaneous movement/fire system that included a variant where the defender had to commit his fire during the actual DFPh.

The presentation of the rules is also innovative. Programmed Instructions are used to help the player digest the complex game system. Instead of reading the entire rulebook, players are only required to read sections that introduced new rules relative the the scenario being played.

Geomorphic boards are not a new feature from TAHGC . . . but never before had the physical presentation been executed this well. The top down view on the boards is nothing short of stunning. They can be arranged in almost endless combinations and orientations creating a dynamic gaming area.

3 Germans with PF
The deadly Pazerfaust (tank-fist) and the resolute
German soldier make a strong showing in Squad Leader.

And finally, the scale. This is the thing that captured the wargamers and made it such a playable game. Each game turn represented two minutes of real time. Each hex spans 40 meters of real terrain. Nearly any action from platoon to battalion level can be simulated using the entire series.

Individual leaders, snipers, weapons, and vehicles are represented . . . some of which are listed to the left. There are rules for: rain, snow, mud, paradrops, river crossings, bridges, off board artillery, air support, ski units, motorcycles, armor leaders, bore sighting, rockets . . . the list goes on and on. As a whole it is one of the best tactical game systems ever developed.

Squad Leader is more than a game, it is a game system and a detailed simulation at the same time. But Avalon Hill had more ambitious plans for Squad Leader and they felt that the final rules system was holding them back. So they started from ground zero . . . the result . . . Advanced Squad Leader.

Squad Leader box shot.
,1977 TAHGC
The game of infantry combat in WW II.

The much deserved 1977 Charles Roberts Award winner . . . and probably the most innovative non-miniature tactical wargame system until Advanced Squad Leader was released. The German, American, and Russian orders of battle are included, as well as many of the utility counters needed in the complete game. It is obvious that much of the development went into the infantry combat system, with armor receiving less attention. This did not affect the popularity of the game since it was marketed as a game of infantry combat. Many people wanted more complete and detailed armor rules that would better mesh with the infantry rules. Avalon Hill would "Iron" out those rules later. In the end the presentation and attention to detail was, and still is to some extent, second to none . . . a classic in it's own time.

Here's what you get:
Four 8" x 22" geomorphic boards (#s 1,2,3,4). 520 counters representing the men and weapons of the German, Russian, and American armies. 192 counters representing the fortifications and vehicles of the combatants. 36 page illustrated rulebook with designer notes. Two Quick Reference Data Cards showing important combat information. 12 historically accurate scenarios:

Star = Try this scenario out!

1. The Guards Counterattack: German vs. Russian - Stalingrad, Oct 6, 1942.
2. The Tractor Works: German vs. Russian - Stalingrad, Oct 6, 1942.
3. The Streets of Stalingrad: German vs. Russian - Stalingrad, Oct 6, 1942. Star
4. The Hedgehog of Piepsk: German vs. Russian - Peipsk, Central Russia, Nov 14, 1941.
5. Hill 621: Russian vs. German - Near Minsk, Jul 1, 1944. Star
6. Escape from Velikiye Luki: German vs. Russian - Central Russia, Jan 12, 1943.
7. Bucholz Station: German vs. American - Bucholz, German border, Dec 16, 1944.
8. The Bitche Salient: German vs. American - Bitche, S. Germany, Jan 14, 1945.
9. The Cannes Strongpoint: German vs. American - Cannes, France, Aug 23, 1944. Star
10. Hitdorf on the Rhine: German vs. American - Hitdorf, Germany, Apr 6, 1945.
11. The St. Goar Assault: German vs. American - Rhine Valley, Germany, Mar 24, 1945.
12. The Road to Wiltz: German vs. American - The Ardennes, Dec 17, 1944.

Cross of Iron box shot.
,1978 TAHGC
A Squad Leader Gamette:
The game of tactical warfare on the Russian Front

The first, and much anticipated, Squad Leader expansion. Cross of Iron addresses many of the issues Squad Leader did not address. Most important of these: the armor rules. In some sense Cross of Iron is the opposite of Squad Leader. If Squad Leader is the game of infantry combat, then Cross of Iron is the game of armor combat in World War II. The armor rules are completely revamped and improved. Nearly complete armor/ordnance listings and representative counters for the German and Russian military are included. In addition several new nationalities are included as well as numerous new gaming concepts, both infantry and armor based. The dreaded SS also make a showing!

Here's what you get:
One 8" x 22" geomorphic board (# 5). 520 counters representing the men and weapons of the German and Russian armies. 576 counters representing the vehicles and artillery of the combatants. 36 page illustrated rulebook with vehicle and artillery notes. Two expanded Quick Reference Data Cards showing important combat information. 8 historically accurate scenarios:

13. The Capture of Balta: Russian vs. German - The Ukraine, Aug 3, 1941.
14. The Paw of the Tiger: German vs. Russian - S. of Leningrad, Jan 12, 1943. Star
15. Hube's Pocket: German (SS) vs. Russian - S. Russia, Apr 6, 1944. Star
16. Sowchos 79: German vs. Russian - S. Russia, Dec 8, 1942.
17. Debacle at Korosten: German vs. Russian - Kiev Road, Aug 30, 1941.
18. The Defense of Luga: German vs. Russian - Jul 19, 1941.
19. A Winter Melee: Russian vs. German - Okorovovo, Feb 17, 1942.
20. Breakout from Borisov: German vs. Russian - Borisov, Jul 2, 1941.

Crescendo of Doom box shot.
,1979 TAHGC
A Squad Leader Gamette:
The game of tactical warfare on the Western Front, 1939-1941.

This second expansion was released in 1979. Now that the infantry and armor system had been refined, TAHGC could concentrate on expanding the rules base and the nationalities. Crescendo of Doom covers the early years of World War II, including the blitzkrieg. Because of the period addressed, this module includes the British, French, Polish, and allied minor infantry and armor/ordnance orders of battle. This greatly expanded the system and the actions it could represent. Many new rules are introduced, the major being: bypass movement (both infantry and armor) and weather. Crescendo of Doom also introduced the deadly and stubborn warriors of The Winter War . . . the Finns!

Here's what you get:
Two 8" x 22" geomorphic board (#s 6,7). 520 counters representing the men and weapons of the Western Front combatants, 1939-42. 804 counters representing the vehicles and artillery of the British, French, Polish, and Belgian. 36 page illustrated rulebook with vehicle and artillery notes. Two expanded Quick Reference Data Cards showing important combat information. 12 historically accurate scenarios:

21. Battle for the Warta Line: German vs. Poles - Central Poland, Sep 6, 1939.
22. The Borders are Burning: Finns vs. Russian - Kuhmo, Finland, Nov 30, 1939.Star
23. Silent Death: Finns vs. Russian - Aittojoki, Finland, Dec 9, 1939. Star
24. Action at Balberkamp: Norwegian vs. German - Balberkamp, S. Norway, Apr 22, 1940.
25. Resistance at Chabrehez: Belgian vs. German - The Ardennes, Belgium, May 10, 1940.
26. Assault on a Queen: German vs. Dutch - The Hague, Netherlands, May 11, 1940.
27. The Dinant Bridgehead: German vs. French - Houx, Belgium, May 13, 1940. Star
28. Counterstroke at Stonne: French vs. German - NE France, May 15, 1940.
29. In Rommel's Wake: German vs. French - On the Meuse, May 17, 1940.
30. Ad Hoc at Beaurains: German vs. French - Arras, France, May 21, 1940.
31. Chateau de Quesnoy: German vs. French - Along the Somme, Jun 6, 1940.
32. Rehearsal for Crete: Allies vs. German - Agos, in the Peloponnesus, Apr 26, 1941.

GI Anvil of Victory box shot.
,1982 TAHGC
A Squad Leader Gamette:
The game of Western Front tactical warfare 1942-1945.

G.I. was to be the end of the Squad Leader system. Whether by choice or by neccessity is unknown . . . though the facts would point to neccessity. So many new rule concepts are introduced in this gamette that the player is required to forget much of what he had learned. Many of the new concepts do not merge well with the existing Squad Leader system. Despite these facts, G.I. was a much need addition to the system because it completed the order of battle of one of the major combatants in World War II . . . the U.S.A.! But, it was time to move on to bigger and better things. If Squad Leader was the father of Advanced Squad Leader, then G.I was the catalyst that lead to it's ultimate development.

Here's what you get:
Five 8" x 22" geomorphic board (#s 8,12,13,14,15). 1040 counters representing the men and weapons of the European Theatre combatants, 1942-45.. 528 counters representing the vehicles and artillery of the United States. 36 page illustrated rulebook with vehicle and artillery notes. Two expanded Quick Reference Data Cards showing important combat information. Terrain overlays for a more diverse playing area. 15 historically accurate scenarios:

33. A Belated Christmas: German vs. American - Bastogne, Belgium, Dec 27, 1944.
34. Climax at Nijmegen Bridge: German vs. American - Nijmegen, Holland, Sep 20, 1944. Star
35. The French Decide to Fight: French vs. American - Port-Lyautey, Morocco, Nov 10, 1942.
36. Weissenhof Crossroads: American vs. German - Schnee Eifel, Germany, Dec 16, 1944.
37. Medal of Honor: American vs. German - Nijmegen, Holland, Sep 21, 1944.
38. The Factory: German vs. American - Central Italy, Feb 11, 1944.
39. Sweep for Bordj Toum Bridge: American vs. German - Tunisia, Dec 10, 1942.
40. The Donot Watermark: American vs. German - Dornot, Germant, Sep 10, 1944.
41. Swatting at Tigers: American vs. German - Biazzo Ridge, Italy, Jul 11, 1943. Star
42. Bridgehead on the Rhine: British vs. German - Speldrop, Germany, Mar 24, 1945.
43. Action at Kommerscheidt: American vs. German - Kommerscheidt, Germany, Nov 4, 1944.
44. Prelude to Breakout: German vs. American - Normandy, July 7, 1944.
45. Hide and Seek: American vs. German - Normandy, Jun 7, 1944.
46. Operation Varsity: German vs. American - Hamminkeln, Germany, Mar 24, 1945.
47. Encircling the Ruhr: German vs. American - The Ruhr, Germany, Mar 30, 1945.

American Star
This page is dedicated
to the spirit and memory
of all the men and
women who served
in the United States
armed forces during
World War II, and to all
their comrades in arms.
American Star
American "Dogfaces"
American "dogfaces" slog down a muddy road as
they push on to the Rhineland.

This page first created on:
September 5, 1996.
This page last updated on:
February 13, 1998.

Since June 02, 1997.

Squad Leader Counters:

Below is a very small sample of some of the unit, vehicle, support weapon, and leader counters that are in the Squad Leader game system.

A Finnish Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR). One of the best in the game. 20mm, with a rate of fire (ROF)of 2. In the right hands this can take out a lightly armored Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) with a rear shot, or immobilize a more heavily armored target.

American Paratroopers. The 7-4-7 stands for: firepower, range, and morale. These are America's Elite unit in Squad Leader.

Berserk Russian assault squad. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, Russian infantry units can become berserk, charging the nearest enemy unit within their sight. In actuallity, this can be quite handy to the Russian player.

A German Stuka. This plane can straif with 12 firepower factors (FP) or drops bombs that equate to 36+ (the highest column) on the Infantry Firepower Table (IFT).

The assault engineer's dream weapon . . . the flamethrower. If you can get an engineer squad close enough to a target (2 hexes), you can unload 20 FP on the poor suckers. And to top it off, the defender doesn't get any Terrain Effects Modifier (TEM). That's right, 20 FP, roll the dice!! But your squad usually has to survive that mad dash across the street to use it.

Ahh, the mighty Tiger II (PzKpfw VIB, a.k.a. Royal or King Tiger to the GIs). Not as good as the Tiger, but good enough. The Germans only built 489 of them. They were slower and more heavily armored than the Tiger and frequently broke down during prolonged driving (red movement number). Still, it's extreme accuracy and heavy armor made it a great defensive weapon.

An American bazooka. Extremely light and mobile, it delivers 6 FP to a target up to 4 hexes away. Ther German equivalent to this was the Panzerschrek.

A British Crocodile (Churchill Crocodile) . . . one of the coolest AFV in Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader for that matter. This thing's got it all: 75mm main gun, machine gun, 24 FP factor flamethrower, and good armor. It's slow and is a big target; but hey, who cares!! First saw action on D-Day.

The assault engineers second favorite weapong . . . the demolition charge. Difficult to place, but if you can, it's 30 FP! If you get a KIA on the IFT you turn building hexes into rubble. What could be more cool than that. Always try and use smoke when placing demo charges!

Finnish assault squad. If you have the choice of sides in a scenario, always pick the Finns. They kick serious butt. Enough said.

Russian .50 caliber heavy machine gun (HMG). Stay away from this bad boy. It's hard when it has a range of 20 hexes (8 FP). You'll always find these perched up in a second story window making your life hell!

Finnish Pulkka. I just had to include this vehicle . . . if you can call it one. It's a sleigh! Yup, during snow scenarios when those Russian's are snowed in up to their chins, you can tool around in this little baby lighting up buildings with Molotov Cocktails.

Uh oh, a black counter. Only one unit could be black in the Squad Leader system. The SS. They're mean and nasty. To top it off their morale goes UP when they break morale!! They're the SS, you both hate 'em and love 'em.

An M4A1 (first Sherman). A good well rounded medium tank. I guess that's why we built 6,281 of them during the war.

Radio. Not much to look at, but in the hands of the right leader it can rain down death from above in the form of off board artillery (OBA). Believe me, the use of OBA is more of an art than anything in the game!

Individual leader. The one pictured to the left is the German Obr. Greup but we always call him Obi Wan. Why? Because a 10-3 (morale-leadership modifier) is the best leader you can have, and whenever he's on the board somewhere . . . magic sort of happens. Stay away from this guy, especially if he's up in a second story stone building with two .50 caliber HMG and a couple squads.

A Russian T34/76B. This was their mainstay tank. They built something like 35,000 of the T34/76 series. It was a good all around AFV with a good balance of firepower, mobility, and armor.

Another fun AFV, the German Wirbelwind (Whirlwind). Armed with quad 20mm Flak guns, it can lay down 24 FP or shoot 20mm shells at 8 ROF. There was an actual scenario built around this AFV (The Whirlwind, Scenario R217, Series 200 Rogue Scenarios).

Squad Leader Game System Boards:

The Squad Leader system's use of geomorphic game boards create a huge variety of terrain options for scenario design. Below is a four board layout using boards 3,5,7, and 15. Though there are some minor alignment gliches due to scanning variation, you can see that all terrain features will line up no matter the orientation (exlcuding the river board ends). This is true even if you line the boards up end to end.

A squad can typically move between 4-6 hexes in open terrain depending on circumstances such as weather and leadership; typically 2-3 hexes in the woods. Line of sight (LOS) is dictated by the white dots at the center of each hex, and is further dictated by height differences between attacker and defender, and any terrain between the two hexes. Always keep a good, clean, unfrayed piece of string or floss in your Squad Leader box for checking LOS . . . after you declare a fire opportunity that is.

Board 3, from Squad Leader
Board 5, from Cross of Iron
Board 7, from Crescendo of Doom
Board 15, from G.I. Anvil of Victory

Terrain Features:

  • wood, stone, multi-level buildings, stairwells
  • sewers
  • woods
  • wheat fields (seasonal)
  • orchards (seasonal)
  • gullies
  • rivers
  • hills (levels 1-4)
  • crags
  • marsh
  • shellholes
  • cliffs
  • walls
  • hedges