Squad Battles: Korea

By Wild Bill Wilder

Now the so-called "Unknown War" can become a well-known war to gaming aficionados! With the publication of the newest of John Tiller's Squad Battle Series, "Korea," both the wargamer and the amateur historian has a real treat in store.

The war in Korea from 1950-1953 was a pivotal time in history. It was here that growing tensions between the Communists and the Free World exploded into war. Heroes of renown, including Generals MacArthur and Ridgeway etched a permanent place in history during these engagements. African-American soldiers attained a new status of equality in the US Armed Services and fought with great courage. It marked the beginning of a "Cold War" that would go on for another 50 years.

"Squad Battles - Korea" is the fifth game of the series. It is the third collaboration of John Tiller and Wild Bill Wilder in the Squad Battles games. The others include "The Proud and the Few" and "Eagles Strike".

With 70 scenarios and 3 full campaigns, the conflict is well represented. Scenario designers from the US, Canada, and Australia have recreated many of the well known battles, such as the Marine withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir, the Allied landings at Inchon, the see-saw struggles over the hill complexes around the 38th parallel and so much more!

The battles range from small to huge, depending on the taste of the gamer himself and the time he has available to play. Some of the scenarios can be played in 20 minutes. Others will take 2 hours or more. It is a full menu including appetizers, main course meals and dessert in the form of great historical information on the war and some of the key battles that took place from 1950 through 1953.


One of the well-liked features of the Squad Battle Games are the Campaigns. First introduced in Tour of Duty, a series of battles, usually historical in nature, are combined for an additional challenge to the wargamer.

Three campaigns are available, varying in size from five to seven linked battles. The key to winning comes from the player taking the role of an actual combat leader during the war and leading his troops to victory while preserving his own skin. If he dies, the campaign ends. His war is over!


In Squad Battles - Korea, a host of nations are introduced to the gamer. He will be fighting with troops from the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Puerto Rico, North and South Korea and China.


Most of the scenarios are quite historical in nature. In fact, each scenario description includes not only the size and estimated time of play, but design notes, hints on how to win and a brief historical resume of the action. At the very end of the article is a list of source books that the gamer can use for further enlightenment.

Here is an example.

"Scenario Title: Inchon: High Tide, Low Hopes
Designer: Wild Bill Wilder
Scenario Size: Large
Estimated Playing Time: 2 Hours
Inchon, September 15, 1950, 1700 Hours

Design Notes: This battle can only be played from either the US side or as a 2 player game. It is not playable from the NKPA side.

Historical Background: General Douglas MacArthur's moment of greatest glory had arrived. In spite of great opposition from the JCS and other gainsayers, the General would have his way. After making an impassioned speech to his superiors, seeking their approval, his voice dropped to a horse whisper and he ended by saying, "I shall go to Inchon and I shall crush them!" The invasion got the "go" sign.

On September 15th the landings began in Inchon Harbor and more or less proceeded as scheduled. Even though a typhoon had threatened in the last weeks of preparation, the weather was not a factor. There was no massive response either from Moscow or Peking, and generally speaking, the natural difficulties were overcome.

It was, as amphibious assaults go, one of the most successful in history. Invasion forces included the First and Fifth Marine Regiments, to be followed by the Army's 7th Division, ROK forces, and numerous independent infantry, engineer, artillery, and armored battalions.

After a devastating air and naval bombardment, the island of Wolmi-do was overcome, with no allied loss of life. At 5:00 PM Marine amphibious and assault craft proceeded into the harbor, and the landings began. The LCVP landing craft would slam into the seawalls, engines wide open to hold it in place, and landing troops would scramble up ladders from the front of the craft onto the seawall. There was practically no response from the enemy. One officer stated that "a single well emplaced enemy machine gun could have chewed the Marines to pieces and badly interfered with the landings."

The landing areas were designated Beaches Red and Blue. The Red Beach landings were relatively smooth. Blue Beach, the objective of Chesty Puller's First Marines, was a different story. Although the first wave made it without incident, the following troops were confused by the haze and smoke. They accidentally fired on the first wave of friendlies and then eventually got lost.

Puller was able to bring order out of chaos, and by nightfall, both landing areas were secure. The primary cause for such success was the confused and inconsistent response of the NKPA to repel the invaders. There was practically only some resistance at the landing points. Casualties were extremely light. That would change in the days to come.


On to the Yalu, Hoyt
Conflict, Leckie
The Korean War Almanac, Summers
The Military History of the Korean War, Marshall
Korean War Order of Battle, Rottman"

The maps are a real work of art, Designed by Dave "Blackie" Blackburn, Wild Bill Wilder and John Tiller, they are quite accurate. A series of generic maps plus a sub-map editor make it easier for the amateur scenario designer to find the battleground of his choice. For those wanting to see the location of a battle on the bigger area maps, Mike Avanzini provides a view of all of Korea with each battle pinpointed for you.

A chronological list of the scenarios is included in the game so that if the player so desires, he can fight the battles in the order in which they took place. It also gives the name of the designer, the date of the battle, its location, the participants and the size and estimated time needed to play.

In addition to the fine tutorial for beginners, Frank Harmon has written a fine article on tactics for Squad Battles called "Grunt School." All of the learning materials needed for play and design are an integral part of this latest and best of the Squad Battle series. It is in effect reliving a vital moment in history.

Some New Game Features:

Play options:


Developer: John Tiller

Game Coordinator: Wild Bill Wilder

Artist: Joe Amoral

Music: Thomas Hook

Campaign Map: Mike Avanzini

Scenario Maps: Dave "Blackie" Blackburn, Wild Bill Wilder

Scenario Designers: Neil "Dingo" Stalker, Louie "Gung Ho" Marsh, James "Digger" Rapkins, Rick "Tankhead" Cloutier, Frank "Echo 4" Harmon, Lee "Banzai" Hook, Wild Bill Wilder

Playtesters: Tom Ciampa, James Rapkins, Louie Marsh, Neil Stalker, Rick Cloutier, Frank Harmon, Lee Hook, Wild Bill Wilder

Where to go to order the game

HPS - http://www.hpssims.com
HPS is the publisher of SB Korea. Anyone who is interested in more information about the game, screenshots, or ordering information can go to the Korea product page on the HPS website: http://www.hpssims.com/Pages/Products/SB/Korea/korea.html

This page updated on 04/17/02.