Monday, 2 May 2011

Fun with Multi-Scale Battles by Jack Scruby

The following article appeared in the July 1963 issue (Volume 2 Number 5) of TABLE TOP TALK

Jack Scruby

Several days after I wrote the following story, Joe Morschauser submitted his article "Limited War Games" published in this issue. It was interesting to see once again how often similar ideas are formulated by two different people hundreds of miles apart. Between this story and the one by Morschauser, war gamers may see two views on how to play limited type war games.

Recently I realised a long time ambition in a Napoleonic campaign which David Rusk and I fought. Those war gamers who have multi-scale armies – i.e. for example an army in 30mm scale, and one in 54mm (or 20mm) – may be interested in the possibilities offered in organising a campaign based on using multi-scale soldiers.

The objective we were searching for in this particular campaign was a formula whereby we could use both my 20mm and 30mm armies. For since playing 20mm scaled battles, my 30mm armies had not seen action for two years. I know that other war gamers have this same problem, and our campaign proved it is possible to use both size soldiers in a single campaign.

First of all we organized the armies for this campaign. Each side was to have two Divisions composed of three Regiments each. Each Regiment was composed of two Battalions. Movement on the map was limited to forces no smaller than a Battalion, nor larger than a Regiment. We decided that when two opposing Regiments made contact (on the map) we would use 20mm troops to fight the battle. When two Battalions met, we would use 30mm troops. If a Regiment met an opposing Battalion, various options were available, depending on position, chance for other troops to march to the battle, etc.

Thus, to begin the campaign we had a total of 12 Battalions available if we cared to march that way. In order to assure the chances for "Battalion" size battles, we made the terrain map large, forcing us to use Battalions in order to protect the vital positions.

We decided to organize the troops so that the battles would be fun, and at the same time would make no complicated "bookeeping" necessary. Thus, at all times a 20mm Regiment or a 30mm Battalion would be ideal as far as map movement went.

For a 20mm Regiment we used 30 moving stands (each stand representing a squad) of Fusiliers, 6 stands of Line Grenadiers and 6 stands of Light Infantry. Attached to each Regiment were 6 stands of heavy and 6 stands of light cavalry. Each Regiment had 4 field pieces and 2 horse guns were attached to the cavalry. Thus for Regimental battles we had a well balanced force to make a good war game.

No effort was made to tie in the 30mm Battalion to the Regiment. We preferred to make an organization that would make good battles, rather than get bogged down with organizational details. Each 30mm Battalion was set at 80 Fusiliers, 20 Line Grenadiers and 20 Light Infantrymen. 20 cavalry – 10 heavies and 10 lights – were attached plus one field piece. A horse gun could accompany one Battalion of a Regiment, but not both. All 30mm solids were moved as individual men on the war game table, and were not mounted on moving trays.

We also set up a T/O for 54mm "Company" size battles, intending to use 60 models to represent a Company. Although we did not do this in the campaign, the possibility was taken into consideration.

Actually then, to begin the campaign, we had a "three decker" setup for battles - 20mm forces for Regimental "big" battles, 30mm for Battalion scale battles, and 54mm forces for Company level actions. We even made allowances for the possibility that we could fight two battles at once on the table top, merely by making a chalk mark through the centre of the table fighting a Company size battle on one side, and a Battalion battle on the other. Such actions in theory could be taking place simultaneously even though a hundred miles apart on the campaign map.

The entire idea worked out well throughout the campaign and we had a nice mixture of 20 and 30mm scale actions. Between the two types of battles (Unit and Individual) there was no boredom since it kept us on our toes at all times. We found that strategic positions on the map required the use of varying size forces, and we were "organized" to take this into consideration. I was especially pleased to be once again using my 30mm soldiers after their long lay-off.

But the major contribution we felt we had made was the facts that we had a workable idea where anyone can use multi-scale soldiers for multi-scale battles – each battle, whether large or small – being an integral part of the entire campaign.

If there is any meson to be learned in this idea, it is that the Organization of the forces is the key, and one should make this organization based on the idea of having good, well balanced war games, rather than attempting to stick to a realistic military formula.

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