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|
|1939 German Motorised Division||Motorised Infantry Battalions||4||6||6||8|
|Heavy Weapons Company||1||2||3||3|
|AT guns||0||1||1 ||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 |
As an optional (nasty) rule, you could specify that on rolling a '1', finish rolling for that Division.
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.