Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Some thoughts about designing an operational-level wargame

I have been trying to make a list of all the basic design elements I want to include in my operational-level Eastern Front wargame. So far the list includes (in no particular order):
  • 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);

What a Russian Rifle Division might look like.
  • 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.
This is the starting point for my design; it is my 'specification'. All I need to do now is to begin the 'design' process before proceeding on to 'implementation', 'testing', and 'evaluation'.


  1. I will follow this project with interest, Bob. Upfront, I confess to be rather skeptical about operational-level games played with miniatures, but this is probably only a personal bias. I like to think that what I do see through my eyes is at least close to what the eyes of the commander on the ground would see. Thus, I can stretch up to brigade level, figuring out a general or brigadier checking out the terrain through his binocular. At divisional or corps level, the commanding officer is likely looking at a map, hence my inclination to play games at this level through traditional boardgames rather than miniatures. Again, just a personal idiosyncrasy. I wonder whether you will shatter my long-held beliefs! Good luck on the new project!

  2. What you have written makes very good sense, and a map-based design is probably the most obvious way to proceed. However, I like model figures and vehicles, and if can use them as my game 'markers', so much the better.

    When I helped Tim Gow design MEGABLITZ, the reaction we got was very hostile from some people; however, some of our worst critics came round once they started to use the game system and realised that models mounted on bases were much easier to identify (and pick up!) than cardboard map counters.

    What I am aiming to achieve is a melding of the best of board and miniatures game mechanisms; I might not succeed, but the process of finding out if I can get it to work will – I hope – be fun to do … and fun to read about!


  3. Nice to get a bit of writing about your thinking. I also have a 'thing' for WW2 but only at the large-scale operational level, which often caused me problems in picking scales. I wanted each base on the tabletop to be a big formation like a division, but of course that limits you to infantry and armour - no anti-tank divisions, after all! I think your scheme to do a division as a small group of bases is a good one, as it lets you represent "corps/army assets" as you say - plus, you're still dealing with large formations and keeping it at an operational level. I'll keep an eye on your posts about this, and please keep on writing up your 'thinking process' as I usually find this the most fascinating part of any blog.


  4. CWT,

    I was going to write a long reply to your very interesting comments, but it ended up as the latest blog entry instead!

    All the best,



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