Tractics gamers are supported by a free newsletter called Duckbills that helps fans try out new ideas like Team Fire. Team Fire allows you to treat squads/sections as two stands instead of single figures. So one fires each team separately. Several editions of Duckbills have been released. You are welcome to submit your ideas to the Duckbills editor or the Tractics fan group on Facebook. There are other free play aids available from the same Duckbills link above.
The rulebook includes the original Classic edition, the Little Wars Modifications, and is Updated as of December 2021. Twenty pages of examples help clarify how the rules are used. Erata, rule variants, history and more are found in Duckbills mentioned already.
Tractics has 9 identical printed & PDF options. The differences are in the three features:
the view of the game reference charts (portrait or landscape)
the binding (softcover, hardcover and spiral bound)
the interior color (black & white for economy or color)
The PDF is identical to the 8 printed options noted at Combat Rules: it has landscape-view game reference charts, color throughout, and letter-sized pages.
This PDF boasts clickable links in a detailed Table of Contents with 81 entries, hundreds of in-text references, an Index of hundreds of entries, Bookmarks, and the Game Reference Charts.
Many weapons have been added. There are now 226 (138% more than the first edition's 95) vehicle data listings with seven new nationalities and five new gun bore/caliber combinations for a total of 29.
New rule section options: Opportunity Fire & Markers, Getting Stuck, Auto-Observation & Detection, Direct Area Fire, Remote Control AFVs, Command Distances & Orders, Vehicle Size Modifiers, simplified automatic weapon bursts, Grenades/Close Assault, incremental Building and Bridge destruction, streamlined Aircraft & AA, Night & Weather, Gun Crews, Barrage Areas. Area Fire Weapon Effects.
Note that while the modern rule section is included, it is not updated. The modern vehicle data listing charts may be downloaded free of charge. Updated Tractics is focused on World War II.
PDF Restrictions: Text cannot be copied and pasted. Photos are at a screen resolution, so printed images will look fuzzy. However, because the Charts are mostly vector art, printing the Game Reference Charts' pages will 99% be sharp.
About the Rules
Bill Owen, publisher:
Tractics was the first miniature wargame to provide a complete wargame ruleset. All aspects of World War II are included in a skirmish-level game, typically played with a platoon to a company of model vehicles and soldier figures. However, after gaining experience with the system, some have played it with more tanks and a team (half-squad), or squad stands for infantry. Being complete, it is unlike contemporary rulesets that have multiple supplements.
Mostly a D20 and occasionally D6 are used for all rolls. D20 gives a level probability in 5% steps. Tape Measures in inches or centimeters are typically used for 15-28mm or 6mm, respectively.
The Direct Fire Mode is the core of the Tank and Anti-Tank fire system. A base number is modified by a variety of bonuses and penalties to determine the chance for each shell to hit an enemy AFV. Then one rolls to see where the shell hit and estimates the angle of the fire. This angle adjusts the effective armor and may mean the shell's penetration falls short. The game provides hundreds of vehicle data charts with armor thickness in millimeters and angle of "slope." The slope increases the effective armor thickness. If the round penetrates, then one rolls for the level of damage from none but possible casualties and steps up to explosive destruction.
A key improvement is the addition of Opportunity Fire. The first edition had a rule called Covering Fire that did not work well. The Turn Sequence changed to include Op Fire in the Modified rules. Still, we are now calling them Updated because we have fine-tuned the phases to integrate Markers (puffs of cotton "dust" or cotton "smoke") to clarify the status of fires and moves plus other steps like Artillery, Morale, Orders, etc.
Observation & Detection now has an updated option where the gamer does not need to tell where each observer is looking. One rolls for this instead.
The Infantry system has levels of detail: 1) similar to DFM 2) Condensed version 3) teams and squads modification from the free Duckbills newsletter.
Likewise, Artillery has an Indirect Fire Mode presented in a more streamlined fashion. The update adds a mode and simplifies the IFM.
One must keep the first few games with few forces. The advantage is that the rules give a precise outcome that writes the narrative and are memorable even decades later! (I'm speaking from experience of 70 such games.)
Playing with a judge in initial games is ideal because it allows multiple players to play with little knowledge of the rules and learn by doing. So one person learning the game initially means you can start playing right away because that person would be the judge. The judge manages hidden setup and movement. The hidden aspects increase the game's anticipation and excitement.
Because Tractics uses clear-cut probabilities for events, it lends itself to gamers making variants based on their reading and even "kit-bashing" with other rulesets.
While there is a morale roll in various circumstances, no abstract per-phase dice rolling limits the gamers. Other rule systems introduce that because of the tendency to have all Toys On Table. TOT makes each player a 5000' General, so their systems limit player action by throwing "grit into the gears." We recommend playing with hidden troops for the defending player at least and ideally with a judge. It simplifies the game handling and minimizes grit-filled rules. One can play with multiple players per side readily because no "Action Dice" need to be divided between gamers.
Mike Reese, author:
The rules are comprehensive enough to run as a role-playing game—a concept not introduced back then. The idea is the old-timer players have the original version to play again, while everyone has the Modified version, and Updated version to choose from. Players can choose and pick what version they want to play where there are differences. The new rule book also explains why some of the rules are written the way they are – ground scales, time scales, armor penetration charts. Also how to set up a game and how to plan and run a combined arms force using the rules for orders.
The rules are fairly detailed – see the TABLE OF CONTENTS below – but can also simplify the game by choosing what rules you use in the book. Use the Updated Spotting, Movement, Condensed Infantry Fire, Artillery, and Direct Fire (Tank/Anti-tank) rules and you have a much-simplified version of TRACTICS©
Publisher’s Introduction 5 Rules Organization...8, Game Set-up...9 Preface by Gary Gygax 15
Volume 1: Tank & Anti-Tank 17
Part I: Introduction & Scale...18, Updated Gun Classes...19, Turn Sequence & Markers...22, Command Distance & Orders...25, Movement...33, Getting Stuck...37, Snow...38, Ski...39, Mountain Troops...40, Observation, Concealment & Detection...42, Camouflage...43, Unit/Element Sighting, Terrain & Conditions...44
Part II: Direct Fire Mode...48, Hit/Miss Procedure...50, Fire & Movement...54, Traversing & Pivoting, Fire at More than One Target...55, Opportunity Fire, Turret Rotation...56, Bore Sighting, Rate of Fire...57, Hit Location Procedure...59, Suspension Damage...61, Damage Evaluation Procedure...63, Penetration...64, Automatic Damage, Casualties...65, Morale Introduction, Guns, Fortifications, Incidental Cover...67, Soft Targets Damage...68
Part III: Weapons, Shells & Vehicle Data, Observing, Riders...69, Crashes, Troop Capacity, Truck Types...70, Set-Up and Moving Weapons, Flamethrowers...71, Fire Extinguishers & Ramming...72, Mechanical Reliability...73, Movement Restrictions, Hedgerows...74, Lend Lease...75, Vehicle Data Categories 76, Projectiles...80, Smoke...81, Unique Weapons...83, National Vehicle Characteristics, German Halftracks...84, Company Tank Organizations...89
Volume 2: Infantry & Artillery 91
Part I: Automatic Weapons Bonus Deletion, Bursts, Blasts & Barrages 91
Part II Infantry Weapon Types...92, Infantry Fire Condensed/General Versions…96, Automatic Weapons, Grenades...98, Snipers, Close Assault...99, Melee...104, Morale...105, Quality...112, Wounds...115, Engineering, Digging In, Camouflaging, Mines...116, Demolitions...118, Fortifications...119, Rivers, Bridges...120, Buildings Damage & Combustion...122
Part III: Artillery, Indirect Fire Mode...124, Light & Rocket Artillery...128, Modified IFM...130, Updated Artillery, Direct Area Fire...132, Indirect Area Fire...133, Area Fire Weapon Effects, Moving Through Barrage...135, Air Burst, Barrage Areas...136
Volume 3: Special & Modern 139
Part I: Aircraft...139, Aircraft Targeting...140, Bombing…141, Strafing, Anti-Tank Air...142, AA...143, Air Superiority...144, Paratroops...145, Jungle, Amphibious, Naval...147, Night & Weather...149
Part II: Modern Rules, Modern Air...152, Helicopters...153, Nuclear Weapons...154, Modern Ground Weapons...156
Part III: Examples of Play 160
Appendix: Blast Templates…180, Generic Crew Sizes & Losses…181, Order Forms, Map Coordinates…182, Remote Control AFVs…183
Pull Out Charts 188
The examples of play are extensive, and the methods to set up and run a game—KEEP IT SIMPLE—are also included. Photographs are included throughout weapons and equipment, including models, game pictures, and real equipment. The main sections are separated by a full-page picture and the chapters are color-coded. How the charts work is included in the text. In the back of the books are templates, all of the charts needed to play the game, and vehicle, infantry weapon, and artillery statistics for the U.S.A., Germany, Great Britain/Commonwealth, Soviet Union, 1940 France, Japan, Italy, Romania, and Hungary.
These game reference charts are also available as separate items.