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2mm scale companion site to 15mm Madness

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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Quick and Dirty Summary of Corps Level Rules

The rules I have at the moment are coming along well for playtesting - they are 'published' here under the 'Corps Level Rules' tab on this blog, but I am finding blogger pretty bad for publishing in this format .. so they are barely readable on this blog.

I can only fix that by posting them as a PDF and hosting them somewhere other than blogger. Easy enough - I have a bunch of web servers that can handle that.

Still a lot of work to get them completed, presentable, and presented. Playtesting however is working well with what I have.

Anyway, here is a quick and dirty summary of how I currently handle actions at Corps level, and cover the problem you mentioned above, with tanks attacking infantry in towns, etc.  This is a bit long winded to explain, but its all simple mechanisms at the end of the day, so bear with me please :


- Ranges and game scales .. the battlefield is divided into a grid system. A grid represents around 2km x 2km squares. (I use 4" square = 1 grid, as that suits my terrain tiles).

- Each grid square can stack up to 6 battalions, and 3 of those can be used at 1 time during fighting.

- To complicate that simple setup, a number of grids make up a Sector. Most of my terrain tiles are 8" x 8" (see http://2mm-madness.blogspot.com/2011/11/russian-buas-in-early-winter.html for a board setup), which is 2x2 grids per sector.  Woods / Towns / Mountains, etc are 1 grid = 1 sector.  Big open areas, 3x3 grids make up a sector.  If you have a look at my example game board made up of tiles, you can easily see variable sized sectors made up of consistently sized grids.

- Most units have a movement rate of 2. Infantry move 2 grid squares per turn, all mechanised units move 2 sectors per turn. Thats the basic movement rate, there are also mechanisms for HQs to spend command points and rush units along a little further, but so far, no tables to lookup and no tape measures needed.

- For modern extensions to this, whilst gun ranges are in grid squares, guided missle (Sagger / TOW, etc) have ranges in sectors.

- 2 types of attacks - ranged combat and assault combat. Tanks and heavy support weapons are the only types of units that can fire on ranged combat. Infantry for example, can only attack using assault combat. Tanks can conduct ranged fire on infantry if they sit back at a distance and pound them.  Most direct ranged weapons have a range of 1 grid square, some excellent ranged weapons can fire out to 2 grid squares.  Artillery can indirect fire out to 4-6 grid squares (8-12km range)

- Each type of battalion has 2 combat factors. Attack vs Armour, and vs Everything else. Attack / Defence factors are in the range 1-10, So an attack factor of 4 represents a 40% chance to "score a hit" during a turn of combat. Friendly support weapons in range of the target can add +1 to the attack factor of the attacking unit.

- Each Division has a grading, or 'Combat Proficiency' rating, on a scale of 1-10. Average troops are rated 5, special troops get higher ratings. This grading applies to all battalions in the Division.  The CP rating is critical, as it provides the "Saving Throw" number on a D10 for any unit in that Division to survive a hit.

- Each unit has an armour rating (generally 0), which is a + added to the saving throw for that unit. Armour bonuses are ignored in assault combat.

- A battalion which fails to save vs a hit is removed from the board, and considered dispersed. During the game, HQ units get the opportunity to try and recover dispersed units, which again requires a saving throw vs CP.

- Infantry are generally rated 4 vs soft targets, and 3 or 4 vs Armour.  Tanks are generally rated 2 vs soft targets, and 4-6 vs Armour, depending on the class of tanks. Straight away, you can see that a tank battalion conducting ranged fire on an infantry unit has a very low base chance of success. It can improve this by adding supporting fire from mortars, artillery, HMG companies, etc.

- Assault combat occurs when up to 3 battalions attempt to storm a grid square. (place the units on the border between 2 grid squares). Players nominate which unit in the group leads the attack / or defence. Calculate the attack factor, and add +1 for each fire support in range. Assault combat continues during the turn until one side or the other breaks.

- Towns and woods are nasty things to attack - if the defender suffers an unsaved hit in a town or wood or mountain .. and there is another friendly grid square of the same type adjoining this grid, then the defending unit retires to that grid square rather than being dispersed. Big Stalingrad maps with lots of adjacent city grids = slow grinding bloodbath for all involved.

Thats a quick and dirty summary anyway.  I must get some time to put all this into a decent document soon :)

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So, having said all that, if a tank unit close assaults an infantry battalion on it's own, it will more than likely get destroyed. If it assaults together with a friendly infantry unit, then assign the infantry to lead the assault (it has a better attack value vs infantry than the tank unit), and get the tanks to provide fire support.

Tanks attacking into towns on their own, are pretty much certain to be destroyed.

Tanks are deadly against other tanks (in the open), but not that useful in close fighting.

Tanks are quite fragile if the player allows them to get bogged down or isolated - infantry remain the best unit for taking and holding ground. Tanks are best used to exploit breakthroughs in the line, drive deep and take out the enemy HQs at the rear.

The simple mechanisms above reward that sort of behavior from the commander.

Have a play with those ideas anyway and see it feels for you.

Nice work on 3mm basing over here ...

Link of the Day

Some good stuff happening over at this site : http://modernwarsinminiature.blogspot.com/

... where he is doing battle of the bulge in 3mm. Really like the large battalion stands with mini dioramas.

Quite a large base size for this scale, but the results are excellent.

Enjoy the eye candy :)


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Semi Random OOBs for game scenarios

Operational Game Design Thought of the Day



Having been reading up on typical Divisional OrBats for WW2,  it is easy to come to the conclusion that what happens on paper back at HQ has little resemblence to what happens at the front line.

Excellent site here with lots of detail on WW2 OOBs :
http://www.orbat.com/site/ww2/drleo/000_admin/000oob.htm

For a number of reasons, the actual mix of fighting battalions that face off against each other when Divisions meet on the battlefield is rarely (it seems) in synch with the paper strengths of those units.

So from a game design point of view, there are 2 aspects that can be addressed to cover this.

1) To what extent should the scenario notes detail the composition of Divisions on the battlefield ?

2) To what extent can good old Clauswitzian 'Friction' be applied to this to muddle up the game a little ?

Well, at first glance, the answer to Part 1) appears obvious - Like all good scenarios, the scenario notes should detail exactly what units make up each Division on the table top. There .. all done .. problem sorted.

On second thought, maybe not so obvious. How about this idea to spice up the game a just a little :

- In each scenario, the OOBs for each side shall be well defined in terms of Corps, with each Corps having a set number and type of Divisions.

- The Divisions are deployed on the tabletop as 'blinds', which represent Divisional sized formations moving on the battlefield. The Blue Force commander knows that Blue Blind number 3 represents the 'Blue Force - 24th Infantry Division'. The opposing Red Force player only knows that Blue Blind number 3 represents something within the Blue Force up to the size of a Division. Could be infantry, could be armour, could be a lone cavalry squadron.

- The exact composition of the 24th Infantry Division is unknown to BOTH players until the bullets start firing.

So, on contact, or on a successful recon mission against Blue Blind number 3, the Blue Force commander rolls a few dice to determine the exact make up of the 24th Infantry Division, and replaces the blind with a set of combat bases.

From a scenario design point of view, this makes the job of scenario design much much simpler. As I am currently putting together a set of scenarios for Poland 1939, endless hours of research are telling me that almost every single Division on both sides has a distinct lack of uniformity once the first shots were fired. 

I would love to get the OOBs for some of these battles exactly 100% historically correct ... which is possible given enough research ... but that may take forever to pull off.  At best, it may only be possible to know the theoretical book strength of various units from the start of the conflict.

If you march a week or 2 past the date of 1st September, and look at some of the dramatic Polish counter moves to break out of the Poznan pocket ... information on the make up of the remnant units is next to impossible to determine.

From the Grand Commander's point of view, we need to ask how reasonable this is.  It is difficult to imagine that a commander in a professional army does not know exactly what troops are available in the 24th Infantry Division at the start of a campaign. Very true.  But then again, it is also reasonable to expect that the actual combat capabilities of the 24th Infantry are an unknown quantity up to the point of battle .. and those combat capabilities may well vary from the unit's book strength.

Supply state, sickness and injury, equipment breakdown, bad weather, confusion, and a million other factors may determine the real effective strength of the 24th as compared to its book strength on the day. These factors may well remain unknown to the commander until it is truly too late.

From a game point of view, it adds an extra level of friction and fog of war, in that you dont know exactly what state your units are in at the start of a battle.

Should make game setup a lot quicker - just place the Divisional binds on the table and get rolling immediately. No need to spend ages sorting out all the figures into lovely little organised piles before you start playing.

Scenario writing becomes a lot simpler - just specify how many Divisions of which type make up each command, and provide a randomization table for determining the make up of each Division.

To simulate a well supplied and supported force for a scenario, flatten the curve .. or create a dramatic randomization curve for a force that is well less supported.
 

So anyway, here is a proposed Divisional OOB randomizer for infantry Divisions in this Poland '39 period. At best, units will hit combat at full strength .. generally they will fall a little below full strength, and sometimes they will be severely depleted.

To use this table, roll 1D6 for each stated type of unit in the Division. Cross reference the die roll with the column on the right to get the number of bases capable of putting up a fight at this point in time. Repeat the die roll for each unit type listed within the Division.


Division Dice Score (D6) -> 1 2-4 5 6
1939 German Infantry Division Infantry Battalions 6 9 9 9

Border Guard Battalion 0 0 3 6

Heavy Weapons Company 1 2 3 3

Field Gun 1 1 2 3

Recon 0 1 2 2
1939 German Motorised Division Motorised Infantry Battalions 4 6 6 8

Heavy Weapons Company 1 2 3 3

Field Gun 1 2 2 3

Recon 0 1 2 2

AT guns 0 1 1
 
1

Tank 0 0 0 1
1939 Polish Infantry Division Infantry Battalion 4 6 6 7

Onrova Nardona (National Guard) 0 0 4 6

Heavy Weapons Company 0 1 1
 
2

AT guns 0 0 1
 
2

Field Guns 0 1 2 3 (Onrova Nardona)

Recon 0 1 cav 1
cav
1
tankette

As an optional (nasty) rule, you could specify that on rolling a '1', finish rolling for that Division.

eg :

A German Infantry Division first contacts the enemy, and needs to be deployed on the table.

First D6 rolls a 5, so they get 9 full infantry battalions.

Next D6 rolls a 3, so no border guards at this time.

Next D6 rolls a 4, so they get 2 heavy weapons companies.

Next D6 rolls a 1 ... so they get 1 field gun, and due to running low on fuel, the other Divisional guns and the Recon battalion are out of effective action for this battle.

The Polish Infantry Division they contact rolls :

First D6 is a 6, so they get 7 infantry battalions

Next D6 is also a 6, so they get 6 Onrova Nardona (National Guard) battalions.

Next D6 is a 1 .. ouch ! The rest of the Division, it seems, was caught on the march by a Stuka attack, and wont be able to make it to the front for this one.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

2 Level PIP system

Operational Warfare Thought of the Day


I was reading an excellent set of books on the Soviet War Machine published in the West after the fall of the wall, and one little paragraph of that book has stuck with me ever since.


In a classroom in the Soviet Tank School, and instructor addresses his young officer Cadets with a tactical problem :

... So, you are in command of an Armoured Division driving the capitalist / fascist lackeys back from the Motherland.

The battle is in progress, and as you are sitting in your command vehicle - there is not much you can do but wait.  You have at your disposal some assets such as the Divisional rocket battery, a squadron of attack helicopters, and a reserve battalion of tanks.

After the morning's fighting, the first reports filter back to you in your command vehicle.

The first Regiment reports - "Have met some enemy resistance in this sector, and we are locked in a fierce battle with the enemy. The enemy appears to be weakening. With some extra support, we can break through the enemy lines, otherwise we may remain locked in battle for the afternoon"

The second Regiment reports - "Heavy resistance in this sector - We are taking heavy losses. With some support we can hold our position, otherwise we may be in trouble. More losses and the regiment may break".

The third Regiment reports - "Light resistance in this sector. After a short fight, our tanks overran their positions. Currently advancing in strength. Nothing further to report".

Now, young Cadet .. decision time. You have these additional resources available, so to which sector shall you employ them ?

...........

Most Cadets are horrified at the state of the 2nd Regiment, and tend to want to put their resources there to save them from annihilation.

The more savvy Cadets suggest throwing the reserves into helping the 1st Regiment achieve its breakthrough ... therefore winning the battle in 2 out of 3 sectors.

A lone voice from the back of the class, cold-heartily writes off 2nd Regiment as a loss, leaves 1st Regiment to fight it out, and throws the reserves in to support 3rd Regiment.

"Correct" says the instructor ... you must reinforce success, at all costs.

-----------

How did you go ?   Classical Clauswitz of course, 'Maintenance to the aim' and all that.  That theory predates Soviet attack doctrine by over a century, if not way before the hon. Mr Clauswitz put quill to parchment.

Which brings us back to the gaming table, and playing the operational level.

In the feel of command at this level, it is a bit like a coach during a football match. You make all of your contribution to the game in the change rooms before the match ... but once the whistle has blown and the team is on the field, all you can do is watch and bite your nails.

You do have some reserves sitting on the bench, and can influence the game by changing the team around in response to events on the field ... but it is not a real time reaction. There is a lag between your actions, and those actions which are immediately next to the ball.

The players on the field - they are the only ones who have a real time reaction to events, and you can at best cross your fingers as the coach and hope that luck is on their side.

To simulate this 2 level approach, I use 2 levels of PIPs in the operational game.

At the top level - the Corps commander, he has a pool of Corps reserve assets, and a pool of PIPs that are to be spent throughout the day.

At the lower level - the Divisional commander, he has a set of orders for the day, and his own set of PIPs that are to be spent throughout the day.

So as a Corps commander, you issue orders to each Division at the start of the day ... but once the day is rolling, intervening is hard to do.  There are only 4 game 'moves' during each day, so its not the end of the world, but it does reward forethought.  These 'game moves' are simply - Dawn, Early, Noon, and Late.  There is a Night move as well, but that is only available at large cost .. its there for emergency or desperate moves.

During the day, the Division will follow the orders to the letter, but has a pool of PIPs that it can use to activate some level of common sense and initiative of it's own.  These PIPs can be used to alter the line of advance, alter the formation, or employ Divisional fire support against targets of opportunity.

If an unseen enemy is contacted through the day, the Divisional commander may spend 2 PIPs to enter into an assault against that enemy.

The Corps commander also has a store of daily PIPs, which are typically spent to employ Corps Assets during the day - Corps artillery, Air strikes, activate reserve formations, etc.

------------------

I am thinking about other ways that the Corps commander can spend his PIPs to assist his Divisions .. capturing the feel of the Soviet Tank Cadet's little tactical dilemma above.

Spending Corps level PIPs on employing Corps assets is fine, that makes perfect sense.

Should the Corps commander be able to 'send PIPs' down the line to give his Divisional commander more flexibility perhaps ?  Maybe not ... If the Div commander rolls a '1' for the daily PIPs, then thats just the way things roll, and there is little the Corps commander can do about it until the following day.

Anyway, something to think about ... looking forward to playtesting various problems using this 2 level PIP allocation scheme, and see how it plays out.

Comments welcome.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Rules - Scale representation, TOEs and paper keeping

Wargaming Rules thoughts of the Day



Just having a think this morning about rules systems for gaming in this scale, at the operational level.

I am slowly putting together my own set of house rules (of course), and dwelling on some of the issues involved.  There are 2 little points that are consuming my thought processes at the moment that need some expansion.

Number 1) is the paper keeping issue.

Number 2) is the TOE and representation of Divisions issue.

And these 2 subjects are necessarily intertwined.



Thursday, 24 November 2011

Basing in 3mm

Tip of the Day

After the last experiment with the 1/600 O8 figures, I had a few questions about the basing method.

So I thought I would share that here with you all.

Requirements for basing at this teeny weeny scale are a little different to what I am used to with my 15mm miniatures. These requirements are :
  • Models should sit as close as possible to the underlying board.
  • The basing material should be sculptable, to create small folds in the ground, dead ground, and distinct track marks.
  • The basing material should act as a glue to hold the models in place, although holding strength is not a huge issue, as the models are incredibly light anyway.
  • The basing material should offer some texture - enough for a light dry brushing, but not so much that it overwhelms the teeny weeny figures.
  • A little bit of fine scale flock works well - just a dab here and there is OK.
So with these requirements in mind, I get to work making up my own special 2/3mm specific basing mix.
 


Secret ingredient number 1) - Vallejo brown earth textured paint, and a couple of tubes of cheap art paint in various shades of brown.

The Vallejo textured paint is probably overkill for this - we can make up something similar anyway, but it does offer a great base to start with. Not cheap - these tubs are close to $20 each, but they do last forever.

Worthwhile if you are totally addicted to the hobby and have a lot of figures to base in different scales, as it saves a huge amount of messing around.  Designed for use with 1/35 scale armour, where it is the best thing around for putting mud on tracks and vehicles. Looks like peanut butter - but is not to be eaten !

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

German Infantry 1939

Regiment of the Day


More O8s for the troop experiment. Some Germans to match up with the Polish troops.

Again, I am ridiculously impressed with these figures. Cant say it enough - Simply Awesome !  is the best description I can think of.

Ordered these through http://www.fighting15sshop.co.uk/  - good prices, cheap shipping costs, and quick delivery. They had them in stock, so it is always good to have a reliable supplier for your next fix.  Recommended people to deal with.

On to the miniatures :