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Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Sands of New Stanhall revisted

Nearly twenty one years ago(!) – at COW1997 – Ian Drury ran a wargame about an amphibious operation in the South Pacific. The game saw a US Marine Division assault the Japanese-defended island of New Stanhall, and it was one of the first times I took part in a figure game that was fought out on a tabletop that was divided up into areas. All movement and combat was area-to-area, and the combat system was very simple but also very effective.


This game came to mind after a recent exchange of emails with David Crook, and after I re-read the rules it struck me that they were capable of use – after a few small changes – for a quick divisional-level wargames set during the Second World War.

Some extracts from the original rules:

Turn sequence
Each day is divided into 3 turns
  • Forenoon
  • Afternoon
  • Night
  1. US player moves
  2. Japanese player moves
  3. Both sides reveal artillery/mortar/machine gun units that will provide support fire for combat
  4. Resolve combat between hostile ground forces in the same area
Example unit: US Marine Division
  • 1 x HQ (1 figure)
  • 3 x Marine regiments, each comprising three battalions, with each battalion having three companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Marine assault engineer platoons (1 figure with a flamethrower = 1 platoon)
  • 1 x Marine tank battalion comprising companies of M4 Sherman tanks (1 model tank = 1 company)
  • 1 x Pioneer battalion comprising three companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 1 x Marine weapons battalion comprising one machine gun and one mortar company (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 1 x Marine artillery regiment comprising one battery of 155 mm howitzers and three batteries of 75 mm howitzers (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 battery)
Total = 40 figures with 3 flamethrowers, 1 machine gun, 1 mortar, 4 howitzers, and 2 tanks

Example unit: Japanese mobile defenders
  • 1 x HQ (1 figure)
  • 24 x Rifle companies (1 figure = 1 company)
  • 12 x Machine gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Anti-tank gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 3 x Battalion gun companies (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 company)
  • 2 x Pack artillery batteries (1 weapon and 1 figure = 1 battery)
Total = 45 figures with 12 machine guns, 3 anti-tank guns, 3 battalion guns, and 2 pack guns

Movement
US units move 2 areas per daytime move, but 1 area per night time move whereas Japanese units move 1 are per daytime move and 2 areas per night time move. (US units moving at night could be ambushed or get lost.) Units stop as soon as they enter an area already occupied by an enemy unit.

Weapon ranges
  • Infantry weapons: Same area
  • Flamethrowers: Same area
  • Machine guns: Same or adjacent areas
  • Mortars: Up to two areas
  • Anti-tank guns: Same or adjacent areas
  • Battalion guns: Up to two areas
  • Pack guns: Up to two areas
  • US Howitzers: Unlimited range
Combat
Combat occurs between US and Japanese ground forces in the same area. Both sides can receive support from air strikes, naval gunfire or nearby artillery/machine-gun units.
  • Supporting fires roll a D6 per air strike, shore bombardment or artillery unit supporting the ground forces. Each score of 6 removes one enemy ground unit. Japanese support fire (artillery) fires first;
  • First round of ground combat roll a D6 for each ground unit in action, removing one enemy unit for each 6 scored. If one side was in sole occupancy of the area at the beginning of the turn, it rolls first and the other side's losses are removed before firing.
  • Second and third round of ground combat. As for 2 but both sides fire simultaneously.
  • If the US forces lose more units than the Japanese they must retreat one area.
  • If the Japanese lost more than the US and advanced into the area this turn they must retreat one area. Otherwise the survivors fight on.
The above is not a complete set of rules, but they do give a flavour of how they work.

22 comments:

  1. These rules formed the basis for my 'Operation Uranus' game I ran at COW decades ago, as well as Wayne Thomas's follow up Kursk game.

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    Replies
    1. Martin Rapier,

      I did not know that! It shows what a basically sound set of the rules they must have been.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Interesting game - are you going to refight this Bob?

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    Replies
    1. Maudlin Jack Tar,

      I've only given a flavour of the rules, which included far more stuff about shore and air bombardment etc.

      I might consider re-fighting this battle or something similar as and when time (and inclination) permit.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. One feature was that the defenders deployed as a load of inverted counters, which included fortifications and blanks. They only put their figures on when the zone was entered.

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    Replies
    1. Martin Rapier,

      From what I can remember, the 'hidden' deployment made the game very interesting to take part in.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Replies
    1. A. Jeff Butler,

      I'm pleased that you enjoyed it.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. It seems to me that you have posted enough of the system here for an immediately playable game! It is tempting to try it out in a small way. It occurs to me that my two-figure stands would be fine for companies under this system.

    Somewhat inspired by Tim Gow's Megablitz scenarios, I am working on a version of Suomassalmi (Motti) for my hex-board. Need a lot of lake, though. Having to figure out what to do about that... It will be a test of my proposed formation/unit level SP system as a substitute for the stand based.

    Cheers,
    Ion

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    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

      I tried to give enough detail to provide a flavour of how the game works, and hopefully readers could give the basic rules a go without needing further detail.

      Two-figure company bases would be fine, especially if you were going to do a brigade/divisional-level game.

      I look forward to seeing how your Suomassalmi (Motti) battle pans out, and especially how the formation-level SP system works.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Bob,
    Very interesting article about a Japanese held island in the Pacific...I expect with this gaming system you could have any sized island so desired with as many areas depicted as needed. Also, the system of play could allow for any sized figures and vehicles to be employed-1/100th would be ideal. Cheers. KEV.

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    Replies
    1. Kev Robertson,

      As far as I can see, the basic game system is adaptable to a variety of different-sized islands, and can be used with counters for units as well as almost any size or scale of vehicle/figure.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. I forgot to ask: how big were the areas, and what sized force (in unit or figure terms) could they accommodate?

    Methought, too, that a similar type of thing could be adapted to German operations against a couple of British-held Greek islands in late 1943.

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    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      The areas varied in size depending upon the terrain, and players could place as many units/figures into an area as it could accommodate without the need for stacking.

      This system would be ideal for a mini-campaign set in the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Films such as ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT, CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE come to mind as good background viewing.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. I remember that game, hard to believe how long ago. Only a few players spotted where the map was taken from I seem to recall.

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    Replies
    1. Nigel Drury,

      It was a memorable game and one I'd love to revisit sometime. As to the map ... well that is going to be the subject of a forthcoming blog entry.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. I still have the board and the figures, up in the loft!

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    Replies
    1. Ian Drury,

      I'd love the opportunity to play it again sometime ... and to even offer it as a potential game for the Connections UK 2018 games fair.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  10. Hi Bob! This is my first post though I have been an interested reader for years!

    Are there any plans to publish the rules in their entirety?

    Regards,
    Rich

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    Replies
    1. Richard Court (Rich),

      It is great to read a comment by regular reader who hasn't commented before.

      I'll publish the complete rules if Ian Drury (the author) gives permission. I will be publishing Martin Rapier's development of the rules as used for his Operation Uranus game.

      All the best,

      Bob

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