Saturday, April 25, 2009

Logistics of Wargame Campaigns


Wargame rulesets allow you to refight historic or hypothetical battles with miniature vehicles, troops and terrain. My favorite for World War II battalion and regiment level games is Command Decision: Test of Battle. There is an excellent forum to answer questions about the ruleset at www.testofbattle.com.

But before you "have a battle" in minature, there's some infrastructure and logistics to consider. Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics!

I am writing this blog to document the process I have gone through to start:

1. New scale of miniatures (3mm tall figures @ 1:600 scale) than my norm (to date either 6mm or 20mm troops which are mostly in continental Europe: France 1944 or the Russian Front)... and theatre, North Africa 1940-1942.

Because they are incredibly tiny, the new scale is less expensive and available from www.picoarmor.com. The other reason to start a new scale fresh is that most of my other troops are mounted on green bases (or stands) and the desert is tan. So one can't just re-use from other theatres to this one.

2. New process of "company stands". What I mean is that the miniature troops or vehicles are individually mounted on "platoon stands" (each 1 centimeter square magnetic material colored the same as the tan felt terrain). Then 2-3 of these are then assigned to 1x1.5" company stands. There are also smaller stands, 2 cm. square, that can hold 1 or 2 platoons.

The theory is that these company stands will help make handling the tiny 3mm troops easier, make the unit composition more apparent and possibly speed up the game by moving 3 stands at once. Generally a company moves together so there is no disadvantage to this. However, if a stand or two is being left behind on "Overwatch" then they can be readily slid off the back of the company stand and thus readily identifiable as having not moved.

As I make post to this blog, you will see if all this works!

Maybe these considerations will help other prospective gamers organize themselves and start new collections tackling theatres of operations that would be too expensive or time-consuming otherwise!

Our first training game for Command Decision will be the first scenario from the campaign book, Benghazi Handicap. This was the first tank battle between the Brits and Italians in 1940. I will host several games early in May for this purpose and hope to expose the rule system to new gamers or polish up some "rusty" ones.

Eventually, my buddy Steve and I want to refight the campaign of Battleaxe which will be larger than the average game. So building the play aids to streamline the game will be helpful.

Using centimeter scale in CD you can play a typical CD scenario on a small, 36x54" table. I have 2 such tables from my boardgaming days where you could reconfigure for 'monster' sized games 44x68" or 34x88".

Actually, gamers with 6mm microarmor (like www.ghqmodels.com or www.pfc-cinc.com) could accomplish similar basing with company stands approximately 1.25x2" to 1.5x2.5" (depending on their platoon stands' sizes). My micro armor is based in reverse: steel platoon stands so I will making magnetic company stands. Because 6mm microarmor is an intermediate scale, I use special rulers with 2/3" units instead of the usual centimeters or full inches for the other scales.

Another goal of this is to incorporate features of Great Battles of WWII (www.sabersedge.com/cwp.asp) which is an innovative but under-developed ruleset. You can find my play aids for that system at: www.g-design.us/gb and for Command Decision at www.g-design.us/cd ...and I will be blogging on the progress in development for this hybrid system. It is my opinion that CD in its 4th edition, is an excellent, mature game system that needs little or no modification per se but has no 'campaign' guidelines at present (as it did in versions 2 & 3). For Battleaxe, GBoWWII has more inherant 'campaign' aspects but is a system little supported by the author and few play it.

Do the company stands speed play or make it simpler for newbies to understand? We shall see! Watch for news and updates on the progress of this.

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