Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Bathtub WW2 or Global Domination by any other name....


An earlier version of Command Decision and the Barbarossa 25 campaign supplement.

As part of the 'Airfix generation' I have always been interested in WW2. I have fought many games of the years with land, sea and air featuring; from skirmishes up to full blown campaigns. The period is rich in gaming potential and lets be honest, there is a ton of material available to support the wargaming enthusiast from figures, models and books, not to mention a myriad of rule sets.

So why try something different?

What I want to do is not so much revolutionary as more evolutionary in concept. I want to fight a wide variety of table top wargames encompassing land, sea and air elements against the backdrop of WW2. This will mean games set in desert, the steppes of Russia, western Europe, the far East and the Pacific - on the ground, in the skies and at sea. I want to do this in a meaningful way so that the action relates to the map and how the war unfolds. In short the strategic situation will drive the tactical game - which is the essence of a campaign in any event.

I am merely looking at the bigger picture.

The forces I intend raising and using will be fairly modest as the main rules of choice will probably be the Portable Wargame as I believe these capture the spirit of what I am undertaking.

Many years ago Frank Chadwick of GDW published a supplement to his Command Decision WW2 rules called Barbarossa 25. The idea behind this was that the armies and geography for the campaign in question were divided by 25 (as I recall, again, I stand to be corrected) so that realistic forces could be raised to refight the entire war on the Eastern Front. I believe he also did something similar for the Battle of the Bulge but I stand to be corrected should any readers have a copy of this. His follow up WW1 version of Command Decision called Over the Top also featured a similar approach to the opening moves on the Western front in 1914 called ‘Home before the leaves fall’. 

A wargames campaign is always a compromise in terms of scale as the size of a collection usually determines the forces available. I always work on the basis that a campaign is a scaled down wargame which is in itself a scaled downed from reality. This ‘telescoping’ is fine and is probably the only way to field representational forces in a meaningful way. 

Using Axis and Allies as the basis for a campaign raises a number of challenges. The Infantry figures generally represent whole armies which of course are made up of various troop and equipment types. The area of TOEs for formations in WW2 is a veritable minefield as ‘paper’ and ‘actual’ strengths were usually very different, especially when a force had suffered a number of defeats or was short of supplies. This means that mapping across a map unit into a table top force is fraught with difficulty. I am thinking about using a force that is made up of a core of units with some options to add a little variety.
 
The naval and aerial dimension are something else to consider and as yet I have no thoughts about how I will tackle this. The games resulting from the map movement will be tactical but it is the challenge of mapping these forces back to the strategic picture that is where the fun starts.
 
In terms of the additional models I will need above and beyond the contents of the game the list is actually pretty modest. Trucks and halftracks are the main requirement for the land forces and a few extra aircraft types will be thrown into the mix. the naval side probably needs the most amount of material and, if I am honest, it is only because my old fleet building habits have not been totally erased....

17 comments:

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

David,

It is interesting to see that we are looking at a similar situation that we want to find a solution to. Whereas you are looking to a much larger campaign than I am, my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project is by no means small ... and my starting point has been Frank Chadwick's BARBAROSSA 25. (By the way, you were right; Frank Chadwick dud produce a bathtub Bastogne campaign.)

I look forward to seeing how this develops.

All the best,

Bob

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

If I am honest I see what I am attempting to do as being a series of linked mini campaigns. The tricky part is determining the scale and nature of the links. I suspect I will be looking at flow charts and such like to map the process.

Thanks for the confirmation re Bastogne - I remember seeing that back in the day. I also remember refighting Barbarossa using 10mm models as well - it was great fun.

All the best,

DC

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

David,

I suspect that my approach will be similar, if only to maintain my interest. (Like most wargamers, I tend to splurge on one thing, then need a change for a while.)

My problem is what scale to use. I have a largish collection of 20mm figures and vehicles (that would probably need some re-basing) as well as a load of 1:87th-scale stuff ... but 15mm would be cheaper to buy and easier to stored etc. The latter would also fit in with my existing Colonial figure collection and my extensive collection of resin buildings. As I am thinking long-term and the need to eventually downsize, the move to 15mm-scale would make a lot of sense.

This is not a decision I am going to make in a hurry ... but I don't want to leave it too long.

All the best,

Bob

Archduke Piccolo said...

As it happens I also have the Barbarossa and Bulge campaign books. The Bulge is in fact not the whole German offensive, nor even the whole operation by Fifth Panzer Army alone. It is the attacks leading towards the investment of Bastogne - which is in fact the title of the booklet.

There are two ways of playing the campaign. One can play the thing on the large overall map, OR play thorough a series of several scenarios as a species of what I call 'logical campaign', with one action leading to the next. Bastogne is not 'bath-tubbed' in the way Barbarossa is, though.

With boxed set you also got a small operation playable over a series of scenarios based upon a US Army advance up a corridor between a large urban area and the Huertgen Forest. I don't recall the name of the 'campaign', and my copy seems to have vanished somewhere. I just hope I didn't lend it to anyone.

Archduke Piccolo said...

I now recall the small campaign booklet: The Stolberg Corridor.

David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

Back in the day 20mm was the scale for WW2 but over the years the amount of 15mm kit that is available is huge. Replacing the same would be a good move in respect of all your Colonial stuff and terrain but organising the disposal will be a significant undertaking.

From my perspective the all important variety will be in the range of mini campaigns on the go - not to mention the naval and aerial dimension.

Lots to think about.

All the best,

DC

Stu Rat said...

There used to be an American Magazine "Wargamer's Digest" and it had (the editor's I believe) a thing called Series 78. It jumped everything up a level or two. So a company of tanks was 3 tanks (but operated as individual tanks). A company of infantry was 3 or 4 stands of infantry,a MG and mortar for support. [The infantry was actually intended to fit inside the model trucks and half-tracks.]

It appealed to me, because a brigade or combat command was an achievable goal both from acquisition and commanding on the tabletop.

Operation Warboard was a bit like that, a platoon of infantry being 10-12 figures.

david in suffolk said...

hmmm.. I seem to remember good old P. Dunn in 'Sea Battle Games' suggested a sort of imagi-world-war-2 campaign, with all arms but biased towards the Naval forces ( of course! ) - would that give you any ideas for the campaign aspects? You may have 'been there, done that' decades ago, of course!

David Crook said...

Hi Archduke,

Now that you mentioned it the memory has come flooding back - and the Stolberg Corridor mini supplement. Picking up on your point about the ‘logical campaign’ I am leaning very much towards something similar. The key thing for me is to set campaign objectives for each power and how they will interact with each other.

I am convinced it is achievable but it will need some careful planning from the outset. By its very nature it is also a long term project as well.

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi Stu,

Funny you should mention that as I was thinking about that series myself. I remember seeing it but never owned it. I have been meaning t get a copy of Operation Warboard for ages so may well try again.

All the best,

DC

David Crook said...

Hi David in Suffolk,

I remember this and have a copy of the book as well so will check it out. I had not considered the project on an imagi-nation basis but certainly it is something else to consider.

All the best,

DC

Mel Spence said...

Dave

Phil Dunn's Your World at War might well save you a bit of development time

Mel

David Crook said...

Hi Mel,

I shall be taking a look at this (I have a paperback version published by John Curry) later but also have a couple of other avenues to look at as well.

All the best,

DC

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Barbarossa, Bulge and Market Garden
Excellent reference materials I bet
I regret giving away my Command Posts many moons ago
Perhaps I should check out eBay and the bring and but stalls

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

They still turn up on Ebay and bring and buys so in the words of whoever it was that said it “Keep ‘em peeled!”

All the best,

DC

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

DC,

Did you ever met anybody who purchased Test of Battle (Command Decision IV)
I have CD I, II and III but I blinked and missed IV

Best Wishes
Geordie (aka Mark)

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

I cant say that I have seen them either - I have played all the other versions (although some time ago in a wargames club far, far away....) and enjoyed them at the time but doubt if I would use them now.

I will have a look out at Tonbridge in a couple of weeks and see if anyone has a set I could take a look at.

All the best,

DC