How the NQM CSO Works – a Brief Outline

6th Tank Corps of 1st Tank Army is Halted on the German Main Defensive LineTanks attack an NQM CSO infantry battalion with engineer support

NQM is a set of operational guidelines to fight divisional and corps level battles. A single player can comfortably handle a Corps in the Corps Scale Orbat (CSO) version of the game. In a multi-player game, a Soviet Front or German Army, with all its  assets  can be managed by two or three players. With more than two people, we usually play with an umpire.

NQM DSO Battalion

Back in 2013, the DSO version of the game used a Fighting and a Support base to form a battalion of 5 or 6 strength points (SP). The CSO game uses a single Flames of War sized base of 50 x 30mm of 3SP¹.

Luftwaffe Field Battalion

Luftwaffe Field Battalion

NQM resolves movement simultaneously by player agreement. Defenders can be hidden or laid out on the table. Recce usually engages first to try to find the enemy.

Recce Battalions Advance to Contact (CSO)

Here is the original DSO Recce sequence : The CSO sequence is simpler nowadays and just uses an opposed roll, modified by the relative difference between the quality of opposing troops. So if a veteran regular armoured car squadron rolls 5 against regular infantry 4. It adds +1 (veteran being one level higher than regular) to make 6 and withdraws  to “just out of contact” having spotted two bases of defenders.

I use the following differences (from the point of view of the recce unit) to get the result. Unless destroyed or disorganised, the recce can remain out of contact observing the enemy position :

+3 Enemy main defensive line (MDL) discovered + three bases of defender and inflicts 1SP damage

+2  Enemy MDL + two bases of defending unit discovered

+1  Enemy MDL + one base of defending unit discovered.

0  Forward edge of enemy MDL discovered.

-1  Forward Defensive Line (FDL) of enemy outposts discovered.

-2  FDL of enemy outposts discovered. Recce unit withdraws disorganised.

-3  Recce unit destroyed. Enemy location assumed from initial recce orders

Soviet Rifle Division Recce CompanyThese Recce Markers belong to YesthatPhil, and are much nicer than mine.

More recently, I have begun to show recce and engineers, (both of which hive off small company sized units that have an effect out of proportion to their manpower), as a 3SP base with one or more circular markers that can be independently placed on an area of interest. This allows the unit to have a wider spread. If a hit is placed on a marker, it goes on to the battalion base and the marker is removed.

The attacker main body then begins a firefight, which he must win to close assault the defender. Use Table 12. In a set piece attack, it is a good idea to bombard with Corps artillery first, if you have it, to cause casualties without receiving them (but the defender can use his own artillery in return of course).

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

If the attacker does not win the firefight initially, he can carry on until he does in subsequent moves. Firefights are usually resolved by battalion. In regimental or brigade attacks, three or four battalions will resolve their firefight together on a single enemy position.

 Only the front rank of infantry battalion stands in contact with the enemy, a second rank of regimental HQ or support stands, and divisional supporting armour and direct fire artillery will usually be engaged in the firefight. Indirect divisional and corps artillery will usually have preceded the firefight, or will be protecting the flanks.

Here is the firefight : Nowadays, I no longer use dice to keep track of ammunition expenditure. Instead, on every score of 1 on the firing dice, one stand will run out of ammunition. I use a logistic marker to show that it needs resupplying². Such stands in the unit will be resupplied when the unit reorganises.

At their break point troops must take a break test, on the close assault table.

Here is the close assault : The attacker close assaults. By every point of close assault he wins, he can push that number of defenders bases out of the position, and take their place. If he loses, he has that number of his own bases pushed out of the position. The attacker can keep going unless he loses a break test, in which case he must pull back and reorganise before he can begin again.

After the firefight, close assault and any defender counterattacks have all finished, both sides will usually attempt to reorganise before continuing. Fighting disorganised is dangerous because you cannot use supporting troops³ not in direct contact with the enemy, and fresh orders cannot be issued to the disorganised subunits.  Logistics are important, because to reorganise a unit, a logistic unit must move into contact with it, you cannot do anything other than defend against an enemy.

Various Div LOG, Div POL, Arty Ammo, Smoke, Pin and Casualty markers. The camels are for my Siberian divisions.

  1. I used to put a die on every base to show ammo. This was tedious in large games and slowed play down. I now only put a die on every HQ to show morale instead, as follows: 5 elite, 4 Veteran, 3 Regular, 2 conscript/militia, 1 Green troops. For every reorganisation, the unit HQ drops one level, limiting the number of times that a unit can withstand, or be thrown into the attack. A unit can fight at zero, but will be disbanded on reorganisation out of the line, or lost if overrun.
  2. Doing it this way means that, in practice, you need fewer markers on the table. If every unit carries a logistic marker around with it and loses it when out of ammo, the table becomes too cluttered with markers.
  3. This includes HQs, mortars, artillery, tanks and aircraft etc.


Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, The "Rules"

8 responses to “How the NQM CSO Works – a Brief Outline

  1. All sounds very well organised! 🙂 I wondered about the camel until I saw the relevant note – I have a camel-borne mountain gun for my Chinese warlord armies!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joseph

    Thanks for the explanation, it helps. Long time back I took a look at your rules because I love reading your AARs but honestly I was too confused to try them. Your changes seem to be a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joseph,

      The main criticism of NQM is that it isn’t a proper set of rules, which is fair. I always intended them to be a scaffold to build on.

      For proper printed rules, I would always recommend Tim Gow’s Megablitz and Bob Cordery’s Hexblitz, both authors being kind enough to claim inspiration from NQM. Archduke Piccolo is doing some interesting stuff too, as is Peter over at Peter’s Grid-based wargaming (links to all on my sidebar).

      I would urge anyone to have a go, muddle through, chuck out bits that they don’t like and invent new bits. I’ve being doing it for some 40-odd years now.

      Regards, Chris


  3. Sounds great fun. Always nice to see games pitiched at this high level.



    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Armatys

    Congratulations – You’ve been Tangoed:

    Best wishes,


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the heads up and the plug, John. Haven’t seen you around on the web recently. Are you still blogging?

    Regards, Chris.


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