2mm scale companion site to 15mm Madness

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 :)


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 :

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

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

AT guns 0 0 1

Field Guns 0 1 2 3 (Onrova Nardona)

Recon 0 1 cav 1

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.