Operation Black Flag: A Weird War Scenario

Giant ants swarm a German halftrack in a Weird World War Two wargame.

This is a Weird World War II scenario I ran at Cold Wars 2023. It was played using modified Bolt Action/Konflikt ’47 rules, but I have tried to make this article more generic so that it can be used for other systems, perhaps NUTS! Weird War, Chain of Command, CrossFire, or even Flames of War provided you’re willing to adjust the scale and size of the table.

The battle is imagined as a meeting engagement between advancing US troops, mostly airborne with some light vehicular support, and more heavily equipped but more disorganized German defenders. The Americans have the momentum, but the Germans are in their own territory and at least a little time to prepare a defense.

As befits a meeting engagement, fog of war is an impediment to both sides. This is represented by the use of Blinds, which are simply playing cards laying face down on the table. When a unit gets close enough to observe it, they are turned over, revealing what is hidden there. Thus, the game is best played with a neutral GM/judge. He will lay down the blinds as appropriate and keep a log of what surprises are there. Thus, each player is ignorant both about what dangers or opportunities litter the battlefield, as well as their specific locations. In the absence of a neutral third party, the cards can be shuffled face down and placed randomly. Thus, the players will know what kinds of dangers lie in wait, but at least they will not know exactly where. More information on Blinds is given below.

‘Operation Black Flag’, while the official name of the American offensive, has, of course, a double meaning. One of the mysterious dangers lurking on the battlefield is an unexpected and fantastic enemy, but of a type that both sides will have to get used to facing as they wage war over the interior of the Hollow Earth. The subterranean environs around the farm are festooned with tunnels occupied by the fearsome Pellucidarian Myrmecoleon, more commonly known as Atom Ants, due to their hypothesized mutation by Uranium deposits. Each Atom Ant is a ravenous killing machine, twice (or more!) the size of a man, with no regard for its own life. This is a threat that farmer Leiningen discovered

I have set out to sketch the general situation of my campaign world, which follows an alternate history, including an alternate outcome to the Civil War and Great War, rather than that of the real world. Feel free to alter or discard it as you wish; the battle could just as easily be set in northwest Europe after D-Day as in the Hollow Earth, and Pellucidar-specific units like dinosaurs or Horib auxiliaries can be replaced with other suitable units.

The Situation

Although the USA and CSA successfully maintained their neutrality in the Great War of 1913-1917, both saw themselves increasingly drawn into an international conflict over the ’20s and ’30s. The United States and Japan were increasingly tense competitors in the Pacific, while the Confederate States viewed Germany’s acquisition of former British and French Caribbean colonies as a threat to Cuba and their hegemony over Mexico. When Germany and Japan established their ‘Imperial Axis’ in 1930, jointly securing rights to restart the abandoned French canal through Nicaragua, many speculated that a war would spark before the end of the decade.

The war indeed came, but not when and where anyone expected.

Since 1892, the filibuster regime of U.S. American Lexington White had ruled the decrepit Empire of Atvatabar in the Inner World. White, having scandalously claimed Atvatabar’s goddess as his bride and waged a short, but brutal war against the Atvatabarese aristocracy, was unable to win the hearts and minds of his subjects. A revival of militant traditionalism in the rising generation fueled a series of uprisings beginning in 1931.

These rebels found ready allies in the Imperial Axis, which funneled them weapons and money in pursuit of their own colonial ambitions in the Hollow Earth. Japan had discovered its own route to the Inner World via its Caprona colony, while Imperial Germany’s combined Antarctic and interior colony of Neuschwabenland und Hohlwelt was the largest surface worlder territorial possession in Pellucidar. Though primitive and thinly settled, German Pellucidar was rich in both oil and rare ores like Harbenite, and the influential Vril Society increasingly viewed it as the Kaiserreich’s most important possession.

The Atvatabarese uprisings culminated in 1941 with the overthrow of the White regime. The King sought outside aid of his own and, seeing his position untenable, secretly offered to cede Atvatabar to the United States. Noting the strong Japanese influence on the rebels, the United States congress readily agreed to the annexation. An expedition was mobilized, but King Lexington and his divine consort Queen Lyone were captured and executed before they could arrive. The US ultimatum to Japan to withdraw from Atvatabar by February 1, 1942, was ignored and both belligerents called on their allies. The CSA and Germany, already spoiling for a fight over Latin American influence, were only too happy to oblige.

On March 3rd, 1941, dubbed ‘M-Day’, the US and CS commenced Joint War Plan Indigo, which consisted of the Atvatabarese Relief Expedition and a simultaneous invasion of German Pellucidar, intended as an incapacitating blow that would force the Germans to seek a separate peace. A large airborne operation was launched via the northern polar opening, to be supported later by a naval flotilla delivering heavier forces across by sea from Atvatabar.

On M+2, U.S. and German colonial forces converged on a plantation called Leiningen’s Farm, sitting astride a vital easterly-running road from the polar lodgement zone toward the colonial capital in Lo-Har.

The Battlefield

The battle is intended to be played on a 6’x4′ table. The Germans and Americans both deploy on opposite short edges, though the Germans are allowed to place 1-2 units in the farm if so desired; see the forces section below. If they choose to do so, the units start the game Hidden as long as they are within a building or behind cover, and should have the chance for opportunity fire (give them an ‘Ambush’ order in Bolt Action).

A dirt road runs between the American and German ends, with a forked diversion to Leiningen’s farmhouse. The farmhouse and outbuildings are protected by a stone wall that provides heavy cover and concealment, with gates on three sides (the American side, the German side, and along the road) and are located roughly in the middle of the table. Plowed fields or pasture land are located on either side of the walled area, as your terrain collection allows. Feel free to throw in animal pens, well, retention ponds, and small orchards, or whatever else you think is appropriate to give additional cover.

The long edges of the table should be rough, forested terrain. In the game I ran at Fall In, I used tropical plants like palms trees, but in the picture below I used a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees of temperate climes. You can use what you want: although its near the polar region, the Hollow Earth is lit by perpetual sunshine and the climate is more a matter of elevation than latitude.

Along the long edge of the table on the American side, there is a large hill with two layers of elevation. However big it actually is on the table, the first tier is sufficiently high to see over the walls, while the second tier is of sufficient altitude to see over the rooftops of the farmhouse and outbuildings.

Dense Woods

The primeval forests of Pellucidar are tangled and dense, and have not been appreciably reduced even by 20-odd years of outer world colonization. Thus, they present difficulties to movement and shooting. The woods along the side of the table count as rough ground, and cannot be entered by wheeled or tracked vehicles of medium size or greater (DV 9+ in Bolt Action), though walkers may.

Units in the woods are totally invisible to other units more than 12″ away, though their position may be given away by weapons fire and so forth. Otherwise, units fully within the woods receive heavy cover from units firing from outside the woods, or light cover from other units firing from within the same woods.

Due to the difficulty of keeping formation, you may optionally decide to impose a penalty on all infantry units (except the Pellucidarian natives, see below) operating in the woods. In Bolt Action terms, this is not a Pin, but more like the penalty incurred for losing your NCO, meaning it will only have an effect on Reaction Tests or if the unit is already pinned.


Hills block line of sight to units at a lower elevation. They count as rough ground and movement up a hill is at half speed.

Walls, Fences, and Structures

In games with fixed movement rates, crossing a wall or fence will reduce movement by about 1/3rd . Medium to heavy vehicles will simply destroy the wall, while any vehicle can drive through a fence: in Bolt Action terms, tracked or walker vehicles with an DV of 8+, or smaller walkers with Fists, can crash through and destroy permiter stone walls. Stone walls provide hard cover to any defending unit within 2” receiving fire from the opposite side, while wooden fences provide light cover under the same circumstances.

The farm buildings block LOS mostly in a WYSIWYG manner and provide heavy cover to anyone taking refuge inside them. Up to two men may shoot or fight in close assault through each door or window aperture. Buildings may be destroyed according to the idiom of your preferred ruleset. Once destroyed, replace the structure with a ruin, which afterwards behaves like a Stone Wall.


Blinds represent areas of the table that are as yet invisible to direct line of sight, that there is insufficient intelligence about, and so are covered by the “fog of war.” They are represented on the table by downturned playing cards. Blinds can represent hidden enemy forces, useful intelligence, caches of weapons, unexpected hazards, camouflaged terrain features, or nothing at all. 

A blind is revealed whenever a unit comes within 10” (in clear weather) and a clear line of sight of it. The card is flipped and the GM informs what, if anything, can be seen. Beware! Even if you “see nothing”, it does not necessarily mean that there’s nothing there: the discovering unit may lack the equipment or training to uncover it immediately. Only the GM will know what was uncovered, so he will have to make that decision himself. For example, if it is a hidden minefield or secreted supply cache, it may not be revealed except by sappers or an intensive search.

Below is the card key I used. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are hidden and may not be detected simply by proximity. In addition to the listed cards, you should include a few additional ‘dummy’ cards that don’t represent anything to keep the players guessing.

JokersMinefield, extending to 3″ on either side of the card.*
A❤Abandoned/disabled vehicle
A ♣, ♠Anthill entrance and 2 Atom Ants. On every turn after discovery, roll 2D6. On a double result, that many more ants emerge (i.e. if two ‘4’s are rolled, add 4 more Atom Ants around the entrance).
K ♣, ♠3 Atom Ants
K, Q ❤Hidden German units* See German ORBAT.
Q ♣, ♠2 Atom Ant
J ♣, ♠1 Atom Ant
10 ♠Leiningen’s Map: Reveal location of all undiscovered minefields to that player.*
9 Abandoned flamethrower + fuel
8 ♠Wild Animal
7 ♠Farm Animal
Blind Card Key

If the card reveals either a Wild Animal or a Farm Animal, roll a D6 on the appropriate table below. The attributes are from Konflikt ’47. Many of the critters listed here already have stats in NUTS!. You will have to come up with your own if you use a different rule set.

1Large Prehistoric Predator: Tooth and Claw, Tough, Strong, Tough Fighter, Horror, DV: 6+
2Prehistoric Ambush Predator*: Tooth and Claw, Tough Fighter, Horror, DV: 5+. Attacks first if undetected.
3Large Prehistoric Herbivore: Tooth and Claw, Tough, Strong, Horror, DV: 7+. Runs Amok.
4Medium Prehistoric Herbivore: Tough, Strong, DV: 6+. Runs Amok.
5Venomous Snake*: Inflicts 1 Pin automatically. Roll for one wound as normal.
6Swarm Vermin*: Inflicts 1 Pin.
Wild Animal Table
1-3Live Livestock: Good eating tonight! Improved morale allows you to force one additional turn after the game would normally end, if you wish.
4-6Dead Livestock: Place 1 Atom Ant D6″ away in a random direction, coming to gather meet for the nest.
Farm Animal Table

If you are playing without a GM, then blind placement can be randomized (except for the Hidden German Units, which will be placed by the German player), although this may produce some ridiculous situations like a minefield in the compound. For hidden units marked with an asterisk, a unit can take a test to see whether the item is immediately spotted. If your game system already has a system for observing hidden units, use that. Otherwise, I can make a few suggestions: for Bolt Action, the unit must pass an order test; for NUTS!, make an In Sight Test, with 2+ passed tests indicating a success. Sappers should be able to identify the minefields automatically.


The Pellucidarian Antlion, better known as an ‘Atom Ant’, is about the size of a car and equipped with dreadfully strong mandibles. They are faintly radioactive owing to contact with uranium, which they collect for their underground lairs; it is assumed that this radioactivity has also endowed them with enormous size.

In Bolt Action/K47 terms, Atom Ants are treated like soft-skinned vehicles (DV 6+) with the Assault Walker profile. They cause Horror and are equipped with two Fists, giving each a total of four attacks in hand-to-hand combat, with a +1 damage modifier. They also have the Tough Fighters rule. They cannot receive pins and cannot break, but if otherwise called upon to take an order test, they are treated as Inexperienced (with a Morale value of 8).

A lone Atom Ant will move to assault any visible unit smaller than it within its Run distance. A group of Atom Ants (3+) will attack even larger vehicles. If there are no visible prey within range, they will move back and forth between their current position and the nearest discovered ant hill. If no ant hills have been uncovered, they will move 2D6″ in a random direction.

Modeling the ants is easy. There are any number of appropriately sized ant toys readily available for a good price. Your kids probably already have some; otherwise, check your Halloween decorations. Alas, the delightful googly-eyed variety seen in these pictures are no longer available on Amazon, but there are lots of other good options. Feel free to use other plastic bugs, like scorpions, spiders, and roaches, if they are more your thing, or mix and match. Maybe the spiders have a ranged (web) attack that can prevent infantry from running or immobilize walkers. Scorpions may have an extra Fist, and so on.

german order of battle

There is no strict order of battle; you will need to compose your force based on the miniatures you have available. Nevertheless, the German force is primarily infantry, with a mix of higher quality regulars and unreliable, but potentially advantageous, native auxiliaries. The infantry may have transports, not all of which will necessarily be motorized. A single tank, assault gun, or armored car may also be included.

In Bolt Action/Konflikt ’47 terms, a good size for the force is 7-9 order dice, including transports. Up to two infantry units may start the game already on the board, hidden in Leiningen’s farm compound. The rest will either arrive on the German end of the board, making an Advance or Run move, on the first turn, or be held in reserve.

The historical commander of the German relief forces was none other than the Panzer Princess herself, Wilhelmina Mathilda Johanna Adelaide Lotai von Meneldorf und von Horst, Herzogin of Neuschwabenland and Hohlwelt. She and her tank, the Yellow Rose of Lo-Har, are pictured below.

If you are playing Konflikt ’47, the Germans have the following additional special rules.

Vril in their Veins: Teutonic warriors are immune to the Horror causing effects of their own friendly units, including Schreckwulfen, Nachtjaegers, and Dinosaurs. Native auxiliaries (i.e. Gilaks or Horibs) do not benefit from this.

If you are using native auxiliaries, they have the following additional special rule:

Ant Fear: These units automatically take a single Pin marker whenever another Atom Ant is visible within 10″. The pins can be cleared as normal.

German Objectives

Guten Morgen, mein Duchess! The smashing success of your Fraulein Panzerkorps is the toast of the Kaiserreich this day! Yet the Americans are making rapid gains and the situation is grim. We must stop their drive eastward or our colony will be cut in two. The oberst requests you lead a strike force to Leiningen’s Farm. A panzergrenadier force was holding the crossroads there, but we lost radio contact with them last night and believe they are already engaged. Relieve them if possible, but repel the invaders at any cost! We must buy time to stall their advance! Take whatever forces you can move quickly and leave immediately.

  • Primary Objective: Deny Leiningen’s Farm to the enemy (No buildings occupied by American troops at the end of the game).
  • Secondary Objective: Discover the fate of the defenders of the farm.
  • Moral Victory: “One more word if you please, mein Duchess: reports indicate Amerikaner ubermenschen leading some of these raids, and it is likely you will find them here. Wipe them out if you can!

    Kill or capture an American supersoldiers
American order of battle

Again, you will have to build your force from the miniatures available to your collection. That said, your force should be a highly mobile infanty-centered force, mounted in trucks or halftracks. Walkers, especially the ‘jump’ walkers like the K47 Jackal and Mudskipper, are more likely to be used in support than tanks, since tanks are much heavier and there are fewer currently in theater. 1-2 scout vehicles, like an M8 Greyhound or a K47 Pondskater walker, would also be appropriate.

In Bolt Action/Konflikt ’47 terms, a good size for the force is 9-11 order dice, including transports. This is a fast moving reconnaissance force, so a maximum of two units can be held in reserve; the rest will arrive with a Run or Advance order on the American side of the board.

Many American ‘Talents’ (i.e. superheroes) lead the early airborne raids on German Pellucidar, so if you have superheroes or similar units, use them. A particularly notable superhero (the kind that makes the newspapers, with a costume and everything) should be your C.O., probably with a ranking of at least 1st LT. He would usually be accompanied by a support squad made up of a mix of lesser talents (like the K47 Paragons), veteran airborne, and robots. These super-soldiers are generally either Tough or Resilient, Fast, and Immune to Horror.

The historical mission was led by the Star Spangled Batter, with the two-fisted 1st Sgt. Rock lending support (pictured below).

American objectives

Good morning, Captain. You are ordered to reconnoiter the road due east of our lodgment up to the position marked on local maps as ‘Leiningen’s Farm.’ Ascertain the presence and strength of enemy forces along this route and, if at all possible, occupy the farm. Controlling this route is essential to our swift advance into German Pellucidar, and the Huns know it, so expect to encounter determined enemy resistance. Fortunately, intelligence assesses that the forces available to the enemy are small. You are operating in concert with advance elements of the 91st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, which should give you more than enough strength to achieve the objectives.

  • Primary Objective: Deny Leiningen’s Farm to the enemy (Occupy at least one building or contest the courtyard at the end of the game).
  • Secondary Objective: Leave no blinds on the board unrevealed.
  • Moral Victory:Gee whiz, wouldn’t it be swell if I could steal a kiss from Panzer Princess? Even better if the combat camera boys can get it on film!

    Get one of your super-soldiers into base-to-base contact with the German C.O.

2 responses to “Operation Black Flag: A Weird War Scenario”

  1. Awesome! I love the idea of WW2 nations fielding a bunch of Captain America types.

    Any suggestions for the other combatants? I think the Brits have a similar comic book character?

    • I think Union Jack would be a great asset for a British force. He’s appeared in HeroClix, but they are usually too big for 28mm scale. There’s a whole bunch of British heroes and villains related to Union Jack in the Marvel WW2 era, including Spitfire and Baron Blood.

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