Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Battle to be Played: "Over and Over Again"

This is my WWII (land) project for 2013. 

It is a battle scenario based on Phillip Sabin's "Fire and Movement" game in his book Simulating War. It does not require that many figures or a particularly large board. In many ways is resembles the "portable wargaming" craze that has been sweeping the varios CoW (Conference of Wargamers) blogs (for example see Bob Cordery's blog "Wagaming Miscellany").

The scenario Phillip Sabin's poses is of interest when I think back to the mid-1990's when I was feverishly collecting (at that time exclusively 20mm) WWII toys. I was left with an awful sinking feeling that after I had painted and based them (at that time for the Command Decision rule set, a project that in itself is still "not complete" and an active never ending Work In Progress [WIP]), I still didn't or wouldn't know what to do with the "toys". Not just the mechanics of the rules (hard enough), but a sensible way to set things up. Yes there were scenario's ... but did they really make any sense? What for a battalion's purpose was a sensible sort of fight (and yes I know war is not fair).  

By this I meant "What was a realistic battle scenario" in terms of space and time?". What was a common battle the rules were meant to control and simulate. All the 'command and control' commentary in Designers Notes describing commanding Divisional strength table top formations (which I personally is over reaching Command Decision) didn't help me nor did the interesting aspect of rates of fire. I needed a simple scenario to blood myself on infantry combat.

The Scenario:

A infantry battalion is on the "attack", against a half a battalion of infantry under "hasty defensive positions", as in using cover rather than entrenchments. The attackers are a full strength whereas the defenders are deemed under strength (roughly 2:1, 13 attacking stands to the defenders 6 [all stands representing platoons]). Good or lucky intelligence has directed the attack against a sector that "should give" or "could hold" depending upon the tactics and skill of the attacker (plus a bit of "lady luck"). The defenders are trying to cover a kilometer wide frontage and can call upon an indirect fire base (medium 81mm mortar) while the attacker has the luxury of an initial artillery barrage (25pdrs or 105mm howitzers), then a mortar and indirect machine gun fire bases. The additional support assets seem to tip the odds in the attackers favour but there is a large random element of "battlefield terrain" creates a good deal of uncertainty (as it is generated new each time). The duration of the attack is deemed to be abut "two" hours which translates into about 12 x 10 minute turns. The "board" is twelve hexes wide (the kilometer "battle zone" of the defending battalion) and six hexes deep. The determination of victory is determined in an attritional manner of "unbroken" units on the enemy baseline at the end of the twelve turns. Thus it is assumed that the full battalion "should be able to dislodge" two companies out of 'hasty positions'. .

Starting from this more board-game orientated description I plan to take "the scenario" for a long walk, starting with Sabin's rules and then through the various rule-sets I possess, varying nationalities and periods (early, mid and late WW2). Initially from Simulating War the attack is envisioned to take place in 1944, Normandy/France, with a British Infantry Battalion advancing against a composite, scratch force of German Infantry, reduced from an initial battalion and supplemented by "a series drafts" of replacement sections and platoons that 'keep making up'the numbers up.

Kit to use:

The battles should be suitable for my: 1/300, 1/200, 20mm, 1/72 and 1/76 toys (but not all at the same time), heck I might even start things off with my old Squad Leader counters

Rules to Use (Initial List): 
  • Fire and Movement (Phillip Sabin)
  • Command Decision II/II/I
  • Spearhead
  • Battle Group Commander 
  • CrossFire
  • Great Battles of WWII
  • Squad Leader
Watch this space ...


Prufrock said...

Sounds good. I plan to use the Sabin rules for quick games with my 6mm figs, too. All of which reminds me that I need to get back to painting said 6mm figs...

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Posted by David Crook and inadvertently deleted instead of published by my good self :(

Hi Geordie,

This looks like an interesting exercise and is one that I shall certainly follow. I also need to get a hold of the book as well as his Lost Battles is very good indeed (and I am glad I hung on to it!).

Good luck with your efforts - I may even try it with the blocks!

All the best,


Whisperin Al said...

That looks fun - I'll be waiting with interest!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Al, it's something to do as the nights are still drawn in ;)

Shaun Travers said...

I am looking forward to seeing these rules comparisons. I have been doing the same with ancient rules. I have loads of ww2 rules too and would like to try quite a few out. I have not a scenario picked out I like and so you have a great start there! I am still engrossed in ancient rules and the ww2 replays are years away. I am looking for you to cull a few sets from my potential lizt :-)