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  Contact! The Canadian Army Tactical Training Wargame 1980 June 2011 2nd edition
by Captain Donnely and John Curry
CONTACT! Canadian Army Wargame cover CONTACT! was a development of the WRG 1979 modern wargaming rules and the US Army Battle Simulation, Dunn Kempf. Written by Captain Donnely of the Canadian Army, they were extensively used by the Canadian Military as their official army wargaming rules to help train soldiers for war. Phil Barker, of WRG fame, gave his agreement for them to use many of his ideas in the production of these rules.

The game was played on a 1:300 scale models on a standard wargaming table. Each vehicle is represented by one model, each infantry section by one base. Each move representing just 2 minutes of real time.

It was designed to illustrate small unit tactics in a simulated battle. Players represent the troop leaders, platoon commanders or Forward Observation Officers (FOO).

The game is best played with all the players on one side and a semi-programmed Soviet opponent should be run by the umpire according to the detailed notes on WARSAW Pact tactics.

The wargame accurately models the potential battles in Europe between the Canadian Army and the advancing Soviets.

In addition to being fun to play, CONTACT aimed to be worthwhile training in

  • Canadian and Soviet combined armed tactics
  • Weapons capabilities and effects
  • The correct employment of indirect fire, such as artillery and mortars
  • The use of terrain
  • The use of smoke
  • The use of obstacles.

This version has been updated by John Curry to include:

  • weapon cards for British and American vehicles
  • Canadian Army ORBAT for 1980s
  • Introductory notes comparing these rules with the 1979 WRG version
  • Extensive detailed notes on Soviet tactics 1950 - 2000


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Product details:
     Paperback: 72 pages
History of Wargaming Project
     Dimensions (cm):
21.59 wide x 27.94 tall  

Supporting Materials for CONTACT!

Weapon Cards (Microsoft Word)
Weapon Cards (Pdf)

Commentary on CONTACT!

CONTACT! is not a just a set of wargaming rules. It is an instruction booklet for replicating war on the table-top as used at the height of the cold war between the Western Allies in NATO and the Russians leading the Warsaw Pact in the East. It is of interest, not just as a wargame, but as a statement from a very dangerous era of history. It is easy to forget that between 1945 and 1989 there were times that both sides were aware that the Soviet dominated WARSAW Pact could come storming over the borders and race for the Rhine.

There were alerts, on both sides, when the cold war started to move towards being a hot war. The author remembers one occasion in the early 1980s, when the UK Territorial Army (active reserves) in the UK one weekend found itself deploying to Germany instead of the expected weekend peacetime manoeuvres.

It is interesting to note that the rules bear some resemblance to the Wargame Rules for Armoured Warfare, 1950-1985, as published by the Wargames Research Group (better known as WRG) in 1979. Indeed, the editor of the rules, Capt Donnelly, acknowledged their influence on the development of CONTACT!

The sequence of play and the movement rules were very similar those in WRG, but the fire/ movement system was simplified. The direct fire procedures had been modified and the game used percentage probabilities based on operational research instead of the 6 sided dice. Releases of secret information from the cold war show that in most cases, the WRG figures were close to the true figures.

The indirect fire system was clearly derived from operational research. The CONTACT! artillery system played well and provided one of the great training strengths of the game. It demonstrated that artillery support took time and that the artillery of the 1980's rarely killed armoured vehicles when using high explosives. However, the great strength of the artillery was to neutralise virtually any target area.

In the rest of the rules there are a number of simplifications to the WRG system. These were introduced to help maintain playability and pace of the game as the target audience was serving officers. For example, the game was based on the assumption that the elements (units) would always use the most appropriate weapon and ammunition for a given target. Soldiers wanted to know the effect of the tank overall, not ponder whether to use HESH of APDS. Infantry were assumed to fire at armour with their M72 and small arms against infantry.

The rules were regularly used for military training courses, with great success. They also influenced other low level tactical training wargames used in British and the American Army.

Additions to these rules

These rules were designed for the Canadian Army against the WARSAW Pact in the 1980's.

However, I have included some weapon cards for the British and American Armies to extend the rules to include these two key allies in NATO. These cards are marked as optional.

I have also included the ORBAT of the Canadian Army's contribution to NATO (Annex F). For the WARSAW Pact side, I have added extensive information on their ORBATs and detailed information about their tactics (Annex G). I have added information about British ORBATs and tactics in Annex H.

I have made a few comments of my own in the rules and these are in italics and boxes to differentiate themselves from the original rules.

Further Reading on CONTACT!

The book on the Canadian army in World War III was by Kenneth Macksey (1985) First Clash, combat close-up in World War Three The book covers in detail three days of combat for a Canadian unit in a hypothetical war in Europe. It was written as an offical manual for the Canadian Army, but deviated from Canadian Army doctrine as the experience of the author contradicted the text books. Well worth reading by any wargamer interested in modern warfare.

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