Dirtside II House Rules

A group of us here in Victoria, BC, Canada who play Dirtside II regularly. Individually & collectively, we’ve come up with some house rules to modify parts of DS2 to our liking. Feel free to use our rules if you like them, and if you’ve got house rules that you want to see posted, contact me.

House Rules: Cascading MoraleOverwatchHull Down & CoverArtillery Spotter DronesHidden Deployment & Observation Posts.

Cascading Morale

(for DS2 & SG2)

We felt that the morale rules in DS2 & SG2 were simply too lax – we were having too many platoons or squads down to just a few elements, all of which were still CO despite their trashed state. Therefore, the following is used:

If you fail your morale check, keep testing until you pass. Each successive test is at one less Threat Level than the preceeding one.

Example : A REG 2 tank platoon with no elements lost, at CO, has it’s leader killed as the only casualty of a firefight. MORALE TEST +3 is rolled on a d8, needing above 5 to pass.

A 2 is rolled, causing a 2-level MORALE drop. (CO to SH). Due to the failed roll, a second MORALE +2 test is rolled. (The original +3 minus 1 for second test). Above 4 is needed to pass.

A 3 is rolled, causing another one-level Morale drop, down to BR. As the most we allow a unit to go down at one time is 3 levels, you stop rolling now, and the unit remains at BR.

Option: Keep rolling past the third confidence drop. As follows: Due to this second failure, a +1 test is needed, 3 or better to pass.

A 7 is rolled, finally causing a Pass result. The platoon remains at BR.

If this last test had also been blown, the RO unit would have tested one last time at +0. If any of these tests kick the Morale below RO, the unit simply disperses, or surrenders.

This isn’t as complex to play as it is to write out, trust me…it makes morale and leadership much more important, as well as Rallying ctions by the overall leader.

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Instead of simply flipping the counter of a unit that has no movement to carry out, you can put them in OVERWATCH, which works as follows:

Units in overwatch will automatically return enemy fire – firing after all resolution of the incoming fire. It can also be used as a standard interrupt fire opportunity.

VERY IMPORTANT: The unit may not move if it wants to go on Overwatch, and also must have no targets in view !

If you wish to PREVENT your Overwatching unit from automatically expending it’s Overwatch status returning incoming fire, you have to roll Reaction Test +2, as per standard Reaction tests. (“Captain, what do you mean there’s more @$&*% important targets? Those @#$%are SHOOTING at ME – that makes them very %@# important!)

If an enemy unit passes within close range of a unit on overwatch, the unit on Overwatch must pass a Reaction test at +0 to prevent them shooting at the enemy unit. This would simulate the tendency for inexperienced units to shoot prematurely in ambushes.

Most of the time, the regular interrupt firing rules should still be used – Overwatch is intended to cover some of the exploitable loopholes in the move squence.

Brian Burger, Tony Christney & Murray Baines.

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Hull Down & Cover

(DS2, maybe SG2)

The rules are somewhat ambiguous when it comes to vehicles taking up cover. I checked all the sections I could find, and the main problem is, which secondary die to award a vehicle that is behind a hilltop/ridgeline. A D6 for “soft cover” or a D10 for “hull down”. Furthermore, how does a vehicle claim “turret down” status?

The best approach I can think of goes like this:

Vehicle simply moves up to ridgeline/hilltop to assume fire position – SOFT COVER – D6

Vehicle moves up to ridgeline/hilltop and stays out of sight then spends half a move to occupy position – choose between HULL DOWN – D10 or TURRET DOWN – D12, and perform combat action if desired.

IMO that would accurately reflect the time it takes to find a good, true HULL DOWN position as opposed to just rushing up and using a judgement call to position yourself and get a shot off quickly.

NB: In TURRET DOWN, only two Combat Actions are available: Calling Artillery & Firing APSWs.

Martin Pohl

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Artillery Spotter Drones


Size 1 VTOLs w/ Artillery Observer ability. Move, cost & targetting as VTOLs. These little bugs roll d12 for calling fire down, and are incredible force multipliers. Expensive, but worth it.

Drones need a base vehicle to operate from – the Commander’s caravan, or a similar vehicle. This vehicle holds the remote piloting and targetting links, comms systems, etc.

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Hidden Deployment & Obs Posts


We’ve done some games recently with fully hidden deployment of the attackers – units are drawn on a sketch map of the table layout, wholly inside suitable terrain features – woods, urban, swamps, etc. For some games, hidden deployment in the open but out of sight of the attackers is allowed, eg behind hills and ridges. For others, overhead surveillance is assumed and all units have to be in cover.

Units start wholly inside their cover, and this led to a problem: the defender should not be able to react to the attacker’s movement without seeing it. One argument was that all hidden defender’s have guys with binoculars on the edge of the woods, the crest of the hill behind which they are hidden, etc. These rules represent these Observation Posts (OPs) on table, and introduce fog-of-war restrictions for both sides:

  • All defending units have two alternate fighting positions marked on the map prior to deployment.
  • For a defending unit to take any action it needs to “know” of the enemy’s actions.
  • It “knows” of the enemy’s action when:
    • It can see the enemy.
    • Another friendly unit sees the enemy and “tells” the unit If somebody “tells” a hidden unit about the enemy, it can do one of two things:
      • It can move any unit into one of its two alternate, pre-planned positions.
      • It can pass a rally check and do whatever the overall HQ (player) wants it to do.
  • To represent the ubiquitous “guys with binoculars” we could do the following:
    • Every unit can place an “ABANDONED VEHICLE” marker face down on the board where the observation post (OP) is. It has to be within 3″ of the unit. One of the vehicles in the unit is marked “DAMAGED” until the OP climbs back on board. This reflects the missing crew member(s).
    • The defender gets one dummy marker for every “ABANDONED VEHICLE” maker he uses.

The attacker has to make a spotting roll to uncover any OP. We use the following system: Unit Quality die modified up or down by Leader 1s or 3s (A VET 1 unit rolls a d12, a REG 3 unit rolls d6, a GRN 3 would roll d4). You need LOS, and spotting is a Combat Action. The unit having the spotting attempt made against it rolls a die similarly modified by Leadership. If the spotter beats the target’s die roll, the counter is flipped.

Recon by fire: Range & validity as per standard anti-infantry fire. Cover counts as one level higher than normal because you’re not sure where exactly to fire. If a valid kill is scored, the counter is flipped and the target unit collects an ‘under fire’ marker – no casualties are taken – at most, one or two guys die, but the OP is forced to withdraw from it’s position.

This system should make for very interesting “fog of war” games without being too cumbersome once the game starts. It requires a bit more preparation than other “limited intelligence” methods but reflects fairly accurately what real troops do, IMHO.

Martin Pohl

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