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Battle of the Somme
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Battle of the Somme

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Battle of the Somme is a solitaire, tactical (individual men) WW1 board wargame simulating some of the events of July 1st, 1916, the first day of the Somme campaign, and the bloodiest day in British army history.  In the game, you (the gamer) take charge of one 45-soldier platoon going over the top against the German trenches and machine guns opposite (played by the game system), in various historical scenarios.  Naturally, the object of the game is for your platoon to take the German trench with as few casualties as possible. 

But wait. There is a twist.  Each of your men in the game is represented by a named, individual counter.  Before play, you must choose one man that "represents" you.  To win the scenario, your platoon must take the enemy trench, AND your man must survive.  And your platoon is one from many historical units that attacked that first day.  For instance, the standard scenario ("Red Hand at Thiepval Wood") represents one platoon from A Company, 14th Royal Irish Rifles (Belfast Young Citizens), which is part of the 109th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division, attacking northwest of Thiepval. Other historical scenarios are also provided (seventeen in all, plus campaign games).  Regular, Territorial, and New Army units--soldiers and officers--are represented in the scanarios.

Essentially, Battle of the Somme has been designed to be an experience game, in some ways a mix be-tween a traditional wargame and an historical role-play game. Essentially, you will set up your plan of attack, and then watch the action “unfold” before your eyes, as your (mainly) Pals formations go over the top toward their destiny.

This PDF version includes a 50-page illustrated, color rule book containing all the rules, tables, advanced game rules, and optional rules necessary for play, a 7" x 10" hexagon mapsheet, 540 individually names color soldier counters, game markers, and a Reference Card, 17 historical scenarios (see below), campaign games, historical commentary, and designer's notes.  After scanning and printing the game components, you will need to separate them before play.  You will also need a six-sided die, and a deck of standard playing cards to play. 

From the Designer's Notes:  "Individually named counters remind us that individuals fought and died that summer morning, 60,000 British casualties all told (including 20,000 killed) by the end of the first day. Success was spotty.... To HQ it didn’t matter if particular soldiers or units survived or not, as long as objectives were taken and the timetable met. But to each particular soldier involved it did matter, and the game’s victory conditions reflect this. And shame on you if you decide to 'go to ground' and let your pals lead the advance on the enemy trench. There’s no rule against this sort of behavior, but it says something about your character and courage if you resort to such a tactic, even in a game."

Battle of the Somme is a new edition of Poor Bloody Infantry: Somme thas was published by Minden Games in 2016.  The basic game is unchanged, but this edition adds 400 new soldiers and counters, triples the size of the rulebook to provide more detail and background information, adds more scenarios, and, importantly, provides advanced game rules for the first time that individually rate soldiers and uses rules that provide more complexity while retaining the high playability of the standard game.   

The game rates high in playability and historicity, with scenarios that can be completed in about half an hour.  The rules and scenarios will hold interest for miniature wargamers as well.  The game provides good, old-fashioned historical wargaming fun, as well as solid and sobering historical lessons about WWI trench warfare.  Designed by Gary Graber.  Published by Minden Games.

Also provided in this PDF version is the Battle of the Somme Extra Counter Set, which includes two additional soldier counter sheets, two historical platoons (well over 300 new counters overall), and two additional scenarios involving these platoons.  With this module, you will have everything you need to create any number of unique platoons representing units going over the top during the first day of the Big Push.


1.  Red Hand at Thiepval Wood (1st Platoon, A Company, 14th Royal Irish Rifles Battalion (Belfast Young Citizens, 109th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Divison (New Army)).

2. 10th West Yorks at Fricourt (2nd Platoon, A Company, 10th West Yorks Battalion, 50th Brigade, 17th Division (New Army)).

3. Advance of the 4th Liverpool Pals (1st Platoon, B Company, 20th King’s (4th Liverpool Pals) Battalion, 21st Brigade, 30th Division (New Army)).

4. 16th Middlesex at Beaumont Hamel (2nd Platoon, A Company, 16th Middlesex Battalion, 86th Brigade, 29th Division (Regular)).

5. Rangers at Gommecourt (2nd Platoon, B Company, 1/12th London (Rangers) Battalion, 168th Brigade, 56th Division (Territorial)). 

6. Sacrifice of the 1st Newfoundlanders (1st Platoon, A Company, 1st Newfoundland Battalion, 88th Brigade, 29th Division (Regular)).

7. Nevill's 8th East Surreys (2nd Platoon, A Company, 8th East Surreys Battalion, 55th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division (New Army)). 

8. Royal Scots in Sausage Valley (1st Platoon, B Company, 15th Royal Scots (1st Edinburgh City) Battalion, 101st Brigade, 34th Division (New Army)). 

9. Sherwood Foresters at Gommecourt (1st Platoon, A Company, 1/7th Sherwood Foresters, 139th Brigade, 46th Division (Territorial)).     

10. Accrington Pals at Serre (1st Platoon, B Company,  11th East Lancs (Accrington Pals), 94th Brigade, 31st Division (New Army)).

11. Seaforth Highlanders Advance (2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, 10th Brigade, 4th Division (Regular)).

12. Glasgow Boys' Brigade at Thiepval (2nd Platoon, A Company, 16th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Boys’ Brigade), 97th Brigade, 32nd Division (New Army)).

13. 2nd Middlesex at Ovillers (2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Middlesex, 23rd Brigade, 8th Division (Regular)). 

14. 9th K. O. Y. L. I. Through the Gap (1st Platoon, B Company, 9th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 64th Brigade, 21st Division (New Army)).

15. Manchester Pals Toward Mametz (1st Platoon, A Company, 20th Manchesters (5th Manchester Pals), 22nd Brigade, 7th Division (New Army)). 

16. Ulster Volunteers West of Thiepval (2nd Platoon, A Company, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers (Armagh, Monaghan & Cavan Volunteers), 108th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division (New Army)).

17. Disappearance of the Hampshires (1st Platoon, B Company, 1st Hampshires, 11th Brigade, 4th Division (Regular)). 

Campaign Game

Grand Campaign Game

Company Game

Extra Scenarios:

18. 4th Manchester Pals Clear the Way (2nd Platoon, A Company, 19th Manchesters (4th Manchester Pals), 21st Brigade, 30th Division (New Army)).

19. 1/6 Royal Warwicks Stalled (2nd Platoon, B Company,  1/6 Royal Warwicks, 143rd Brigade, 48th Division (Territorial)).


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File Last Updated:
December 20, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on December 20, 2019.