Sunday 7 January 2024

The Last Hundred Yards Reviewed: The Ultimate WWII Tactical Game

The Last Hundred Yards (LHY) is a series of tactical board wargames in a Second World War environment designed by Mike Denson and published by GMT Games. The LHY system has recently  become my number #1 tactical game of choice in detriment of Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). The LHY cover small mostly infantry-based skirmish actions at company/platoon level, with an innovative sequence of play resulting in fun, fast paced and furious engagements.

The terrain scale is 1 hex = 50 yards and the time-scale is variable, each "turn" or combat cycle representing between  2 and 5 minutes. Counters represents squads and sections (half squads), platoon leaders, support weapons (HMG/MMG, flamethrowers or light antitank weapons squads) and individual vehicles. 

Additionally there's a myriad of auxiliary counters to keep a record of activated units, fire effects (more on this later), heroic units, etc  as well as other counters representing minefields, foxholes, smoke of fortified positions among others.

The quality of production is high as usual in GMT: units counters are large  9/16 of an inch squares (3/4 of an inch for auxiliary counters) and maps are very nicely printed giving a sense of "3d" depth; the maps are generic geomorphic, double sided printed and can be arranged in almost infinite combinations. 

When compared to ASL, there are a few aspects that are worth taking into consideration:

The first is the length and complexity of rules: you got everything you need to play in a 34-pages long publication (the current rules book version 3.1). There's also a complementary "playbook" with extended illustrated examples of play of the different rules sections. And the scenarios (or "Missions" in LHY parlance) can include some (very few) special rules applicable to that particular situation. 

Second, the game is played using the historical orders of battle. The forces are organised in companies of three platoons, each led by a platoon commander and depicting three squads and potentially some support weapons. You can argue that these were "paper-strength" orbats; but missions (based on historical real engagements) take into consideration the real manpower of the units involved, adjusting the forces accordingly.

Third you play against the clock and the casualties. Missions may set some objectives, but you must accomplish the mission in a fixed timeframe (and time passed is variable in each turn) and not incurring excessive casualties. Unlike ASL for example, where you can win a scenario even with only one suqad left on the table, in LHY the depletion of your manpower counts against you. 

Finally, the very innovative game system based on an action/reaction chain of the players' units, reflecting the combat friction typically found in the battlefield.




Overview of the Playing System

How the system works? The sequence of play is structured in 7 phases or steps. 

Phase 1 (initiative) is to determine initiative rolling a dice and winning the side with the higher outcome. Note however that there is no full randomness. Usually the attacking side owns the initiative at the start and will have a positive DRM to the die roll in subsequent turns. 

Once initiative is resolved we entre into Phase 2 (activation), the nitty-gritty  of the system, based on an action-reaction chain. Activation is made by company and then by platoon within a company. Two platoons of the same active company  may coordinate actions with a die roll, but usually you go platoon by platoon  (To clarify: as the attacker, I declare that Able will be my active company; from there I activate platoon by platoon).

The selected platoon may undertake different possible actions: move, fire, withdraw, assault, call for mortars, recover from disruption or just stay put. Once the player declares the end of its platoon activations, the opposing player can react with the units that saw an action (i.e.: in LOS of an activated enemy undertaking an action). When the opposing player declares the end of the reaction, the player with the initiative may react to the enemy reactions or else conclude that platoon activation and activate a second platoon. Reactions do not need to be just shooting someone getting into LOS, but players can move units to get a position of advantage or to avoid being assaulted.

As you see the system creates a cascade of action/reaction moves. Interesting, shooting is not resolved automatically in this phase; therefore you decide your actions/reaction without any knowledge of what effect shooting had on the enemy unit. This adds another layer of friction to the game.

Introducing shooting, the system rewards proximity to the target which basically implies that little harm is made when shooting at three hexes or more. Fire effect is calculated as a "dice roll modifier" ranging from -4 to +3. The base number is the firepower of the unit shooting and the distance to the target, then adjusted by a list of modifiers (cover, hindrances, concealment, density of manpower in the target hex...) to get the final fire modifier.  

One example to illustrate the mechanics. 

  • A German rifle squad with a firepower of 1 and fire range of 10 hexes, shots at a US squad in a forest at 4 hexes distance. 
  • Crossing range (10) with the distance (4) in the Small Arms Fire Table, the German squad will have a base number of 0 (+1 for firepower less -1 modifier for distance).
  •  As the target unit is under cover of some woods, there's an additional -1 penalty to the shot, resulting a total fire modifier on -1 

 Note: should the Germans have fired at 3 hexes or closer, the modifier for distance for a 10 fire range squad would have been 0 and therefore the final fire modifier  would have been 0: +1 fire power + 0 distance modifier -1 for woods).

At this stage of phase 2, the target unit under fire will be marked with a "-1" Small Arms Fire Die Roll Modifier (SADRM) counter, but the actual effect of the fire will not be resolved yet. 

Once the active player concluded activating all the platoons and both players finished their respective reactions,  the play sequence moves to Phase 3 of Fire Resolution. As explained, the units under fire are marked in Phase 2 with the SADRM modifier. Firer rolls a 10-sided die, adds the modifier and compares the final result to the unit cohesion level: if lower, no effect; greater, the unit disrupts; if 10 or higher, the units suffers a casualty.

Assaults resolution is done in Phase 4 (after firing). Like shooting, assaults take place in Phase 2 as part of the units activations, but the effect of the melee is unknown until later in the sequence of play.

Phase 5 relates to mortars: now it's the time to extend fire missions called in the current turn; or to attempt  contacting the battery for the following turn. 

In Phase 6 (Time Lapse)  the active player rolls for time spent in the turn, which is variable between 2 and 5 minutes

And the final Phase 7 is a clean up phase in which players remove different game markers, the smoke counters placed in Phase 2, or place conceal markers on units out of LOS, etc

This is a nutshell how the system works, being very unique and distinctive compared to other tactical systems in the market. The rules book of course have many other chapters dealing with vehicles, anti-tank fire, airborne troops, special national characteristics (applicable to Russian and Japanese units), night fights, etc. 

If I have to summarise the game, the system rewards the player gaining and keeping the initiative. Having the initiative is in fact a key driver to win a game: as an attacker, getting the initiative allows great flexibility of action, with the defender only able react to your moves. If on the contrary, the defender gets the initiative, he'd be able to slow down the attacker, only having to decide how much time for space he's willing to trade.

Current product line and future releases

The LHY series currently has four game boxes (or "volumes") and one "mission pack" (set of scenarios)

Volume 1 ("The Last Hundred Yards") covered the US and the German army in the European Western Front during 1944 and 1945

Volume 2 ("Airborne Over Europe") introduced US and German paratroop units as well as British armour units (representing the XXX Corps assets for the US side Market Garden) 

Volume 3 ("The Solomon Islands") introduced the Japanese Imperial Army and the US Marines in Guadalcanal.

Volume 4 ("The Russian Front") very recently released (December 2023) covers the Eastern Front battles confronting the Red Army and the Germans between 1943 and 1945.

Mission Pack 1 provides some new maps and mission cards to play in the European Western Front.

In relation to future releases, the only confirmed addition to the series will be Volume 5 ("For King & Country"), introducing the British Forces in Western Europe during 1944 (Normandy and Market Garden). Vol 5 is currently in GMT's P500 page and likely to be released in late 2024

In a recent thread in BGG, Mike Denson announced he's taking a step back after the release of Volume 5  but will leave a committed and experienced team in place to ensure continuity of the system. After Vol 5 the team seems inclined to return to the Eastern Front battles but focused on the earlier war period (1941-43); no official release date yet, but sometime in 2025 likely.    

Convinced to jump-in? Some important considerations

So you have been convinced and want to play LHY? You must then consider the following:

Vol 1 and Vol 2 are core acquisitions that you need to have. These are needed to play the Russian Front volume, the Mission pack and the future British volume. 

Volume 3 (The Solomons) on the other hand, is a self-contained game; if your focus in the Pacific, don't need to buy the rest of the boxes. 

The designer is continuously updating the rules and support materials (playbook, tables)  with the the introduction of new armies and suggestions from players across the world. For that reason,  all the booklets and support tables coming in the different game boxes are outdated.

The GMT website posts the most recent versions of the rules, tables, etc. Check regularly for new version, to uploading and eventually printing. The latest version of the rules (as I'm writing this) is 3.1 The changes versus version 3.0 (included in the latest Russian Front game) are minimal but I suggest checking v 3.1and marking the amended paragraphs in the 3.0 printed booklet.

This also applies to the missions or scenarios: GMT has released last December the amended missions in downloadable pdf format for all the different volumes (including Russian Front!.. I wonder who is in charge of quality control at the firm). There's lots of small but nonetheless significant, changes that you should be aware of before playing any mission. 

Finally, if you haven't done it yet I strongly advise to sign in to the LHY's BGG website page. There you'll find a very active and supportive community of players, with tons of reviews, videos and other downloadable materials. My experience requesting clarifications and questions couldn't have been better indeed. Designer Mike Denson is also quite active in the forums.  


GBoH and LHY - Two of my favourite rules systems



  1. Great review of the game. I have a couple of questions. If ytanslated to miniatures with a grid do the counters stack in the hex? How large are the scenario boards in hexes? Thanks

    1. Stacking may be problem for your plans, as you can pile up to 3 squads, 2 leaders, 2 HMGs and 2 vehicles. Most scenarios are played in one single board, although the larger missions have 4 boards. A board is 13 hex long and 10 wide

    2. Thanks for the reply. I guess that would mean a 8" hex which would make for a table I could not reach the middle of:-)

  2. This game series sounds very interesting. You say it has replaced ASL for you. What about Old School Tactical? Would LHY trump OST as well?

    Great review!

    1. Can't comment on that sorry, as I do not game the game. I have only played ASL in the past. LHY is innovative and that was what drove me to test the game; but as I alway tell some of my ASL die-hard club friends (with many hundred of euros sunk in the system) I do not think shifting to LHY makes sense if you are already happy and fully invested in another system

  3. Thanks for the review! Really appreciate!