Monday, 20 August 2018

Possible changes to my Operational Art rules

In light of some of the comments that have been made to earlier blog entries, I have been thinking about the changes that I might like to make to my OPERATIONAL ART rules. At the moment these can be summarised as follows:
  • Replace the use of D12s and D10s with D6s
  • Re-examine the Activation Card system and possibly replace it with something slightly more restrictive in terms of how many units a formation can activate each turn
  • Simplify the current strength and morale marker system to reduce the possibility of confusion
  • Try to make the existing Combat Resolution system easier to understand
The necessary changes to the rules should not be too difficult to make, and with luck I should have a working draft ready for play-testing sometime soon.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Operational Art: Original battle report redrafted

After re-reading the original battle report I wrote in 2009, I decided to redraft it with the explanations of the rule mechanisms removed. It actually reads much better as a result, and I have reproduced it below as I thought that it might be of interest to my regular blog readers.

A Russian Army is mounting an offensive against the German front-line. In this particular sector a German Luftwaffe Feld Divisione is defending a vital gap in the range of hills that cross the Russian main line of advance as well as the only asphalted roads in the area.

The battlefield.
To capture it the Russian Army Commander has allotted:
  • Two Rifle Divisions each with an Average General (CV = 2) and:
    • Three Rifle Regiments (CV = 2 each)
    • A Field Artillery Regiment (CV = 3)
    • Divisional morale = 6
  • Part of a Tank Corps commanded by an Average General (CV = 2):
    • A Tank Regiment (CV = 4)
    • A Motorised Rifle Regiment (CV = 3)
    • An Anti-tank Artillery Regiment (CV = 3)
    • Tank Corps morale = 6
  • Army assets commanded by a Poor General (CV = 1):
    • Three Heavy Artillery Regiments (CV = 3 each)
    • Army asset morale = 5
The Russian Rifle Divisions.
Part of the Russian Tank Corps and the Army assets allocated to support the attack.
The German defenders are dug-in, are commanded by a Good General (CV = 3) and include:
  • Three under-strength Luftwaffe Rifle Regiments (CV = 2 each)
  • A Luftwaffe Mountain Artillery Regiment (CV = 3)
  • Divisional morale = 6
The Luftwaffe Feld Divisione awaits the Russian attack.
The Russian have a total CV of 46 and the Germans have a CV of 12, giving the Russians a superiority of almost 4:1.

The Battle Report
The activation cards did not favour the Germans as the first one turned over was for the Russian Army assets. The first Russian Heavy Artillery Regiment immediately opened fire on the left-hand German Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment, but their artillery fire had no effect.

The second Russian Heavy Artillery Regiment followed suit, but again the Russian artillery fire had no effect.

The third Russian Heavy Artillery Regiment joined in the barrage and its artillery fire caused the German Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment to lose one point from its CV and the Luftwaffe Feld Divisione to lose one point from its divisional morale.

The second activation card that was turned over activated the right-hand Russian Rifle Division. Its Artillery Regiment opened fire on the right-hand German Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment which lost one point from its CV and the Luftwaffe Feld Divisione lost another point from its divisional morale.

Two of the Russian Division’s Rifle Regiments advanced into contact with the right-hand German Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment and initiated combat with it. The combat was decisive. The German unit lost another point from its CV, and this destroyed the unit. The Luftwaffe Feld Divisione also lost another point from its divisional morale, which was now reduced to three.

The Luftwaffe Feld Divisione was then activated. Its Mountain Artillery Regiment opened fire on the leading Rifle Regiment of the right-hand Russian Rifle Division, with devastating results. It destroyed the Rifle Regiment and reduced the Russian Rifle Regiment’s divisional morale by two.

The centre Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment engaged one of the leading Rifle Regiments from the as yet to be activated second Russian Rifle Division. The combat reduced the Russian Rifle Regiment’s CV by two – thus destroying the unit and reducing the second Russian Rifle Regiment’s divisional morale by two.

Finally, the left-hand Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment engaged the Russian Tank Regiment, but to no avail.

It was then the turn of the Tank Corps to be activated. Only the Tank Regiment was in a position to engage the Germans, which it did ... ineffectively.

The final formation activated during the turn was the second Russian Rifle Division. Its Field Artillery regiment opened fire on the central Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment, but its artillery fire had no effect.

The two remaining Russian Rifle Regiments rushed forward – accompanied by their Divisional General – and attacked the central Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment. This resulted in the central Luftwaffe Rifle Regiment losing both its CV points and being destroyed. It also reduced the Luftwaffe Feld Divisione’s morale to one.

The situation at the end of the first turn.
In subsequent turns the Germans managed a fighting retreat off the tabletop although it was a close-run thing. This was possible because their activation card came out first during the second and third turns, which allowed them to move away from the attacking Russians. In addition, the Russian threw some appallingly bad dice scores for the rest of the game.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

I have been to ... Battery Dollmann, Pleinmont, Guernsey

The third military site Sue and I visited on Guernsey was Battery Dollmann at Pleinmont. The site is currently being restored by a local group called Festung Guernsey, and comprises four gun pits (one of which contains a French 22cm K532 (f) gun), a fire control point, a fire control tower, ammunition bunkers, and numerous trenches.

The battery was named after Generaloberst Dollmann, who commanded the 7th Army during the early stages of the Battle for Normandy in June 1944. He was relieved of his command by Hitler after the fall of Cherbourg, and died on 29th June 1944 of a heart attack ... although it has also been stated that he committed suicide by taking poison.

As stated above, one of the gun pits has been excavated and now contains a French 22cm K532 (f) gun.

Only a few minutes walk away are the main fire control tower (started by the Kriegsmarine but handed over to the Wehrmacht before completion) ...

... and a local fire control position.

The gun pits were protected by a number of buried defensive positions (this one was armed with a French FT-17 Tank turret) ...

... and a series of trenches that were covered by camouflage nets.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Operational Art revisited

Way back in 2009 I wrote a series of blog entries about designing an operational-level wargame. In many ways it was a step on the road towards HEXBLITZ and – to a lesser extent – THE PORTABLE WARGAME. On 28th April 2009 I set out my design parameters. These were:
  • The terrain will be divided into 10cm hexes (i.e. Hexon II)
  • An individual stand will represent a regiment-sized unit or a divisional/corps/army HQ;
  • Stands will be grouped together to form divisions (e.g. three infantry stands, a field artillery stand, and a divisional HQ stand form an infantry division) or to form corps/army assets (e.g. a tank regiment, a medium artillery regiment, a heavy artillery regiment, and a corps/army HQ stand form a corps’ or army’s assets)
  • Activation cards will be used for each division or group of corps/army assets
  • Only stands from the same division or group of corps/army assets will be able to occupy the same hex
  • Each stand will be allocated a combat value based upon its experience, training, and equipment. This combat value – which will be indicated by a numbered magnetic marker – will be degraded during the battle as the result of combat
  • Each HQ stand will be allocated a morale value for the division or group of corps/army assets it controls. This morale value – which will be indicated by a numbered magnetic marker – will be degraded during the battle as the result of combat
  • Combat will be hex to hex, with the one stand in a hex – with the support of any other stands from the same division or group of corps/army assets that are in that hex – attacking an enemy stand in another hex
  • The combat system will use a D12 for German forces and a D10 for all other forces (i.e. Russian and Axis allies)
  • The combat system will be resolved by comparing the attacking stand’s dice score added to the attacking stand’s combat value and any relevant combat factors (e.g. cover, terrain) with the defending stand’s dice score added to the defending stand’s combat value and any relevant combat factors
I used the following photograph to show what I thought a Russian Rifle Division might look like.

Kind of looks familiar, doesn’t it? In fact it could almost be one of the Rifle Divisions that formed part of my Thistlebarrow concept Russian Army.

I then followed this up with a series of blog entries that justified the design choices I had made and how they were incorporated into the rules.
Looking back at the above – and especially the last two – I am struck by the fact that I never quite finished this project. I had a set of operational-level wargames rules that worked … but which were not particularly fun to use. As a result, I did not devote any more time to this project and moved on to work on what eventually became WHEN EMPIRES CLASH!

Re-reading the play-test was particularly interesting. After unpicking all the explanations about how the rules worked, the battle report read rather like the sort of description of a battle one would read in a military history book.

If I am going to embrace the Thistlebarrow concept for my World War 2 project, it strikes me that a developed version of my OPERATIONAL ART rules might be a better set of rules to use than HEXBLITZ.

It is certainly something for me to think about over the next few days.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

I have been to ... the Guernsey Occupation Museum

Besides the La Vallette Military Museum, Sue and I also spent time at the Guernsey Occupation Museum, Les Houards, Forest. The museum developed from the owner's personal collection of Occupation memorabilia, and was originally displayed in a small cottage adjoining his family's home. From these early beginnings in 1966, the museum has been extended and expanded. This expansion began in 1976 when the transport corridor and tea room were added, with the Occupation Street being added in 1987. The most recent extension took place in 2001 when displays and information about the Island's deportees to Germany was added.

When you arrive in the car park you are greeted by a German 88mm Anti-aircraft Gun ...

... and a French 105mm Coastal Defence Gun.

The entrance is 'guarded' by the turret of a French FT-17 Tank.

Amongst its collection, the museum has an interesting selection of German military vehicles, many of which are horse-drawn.

It also contains a recreation of the inside of a bunker with a Czech-built 47mm Fortress Anti-tank Gun.

The museum's collection also includes a large amount of German equipment.

As one would expect there are a lot of exhibits that tell the story of life under German Occupation ...

... as well as the Liberation of the Channel Islands in 1945.