Kicking in the door: An Operation Barbarossa Campaign System by Andrew Rolph

A few days ago Andrew Rolph – a wargamer who has written numerous very interesting articles that have been published in MINIATURE WARGAMES – sent me a link so that I could download a PDF copy of his latest book, BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR … .

The book explains how to fight a wargames campaign that covers Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union) from June until September 1941. It is designed to work with rules in which a stand represents a platoon, but it seems to me that the basic system will work with most rules that cover World War II, including my own PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

The campaign map uses point-to-point movement, with each node on the map generating a potential battle between the Axis forces and the Russians.

The book contains:

  • A short history of the campaign (this has also been published in Andrew Rolph’s earlier book GREY STEEL, RED STORM – REGIMENTAL SCENARIOS IN THE SOVIET UNION 1941-1943);
  • Background information (including time scale, ground scale, and suggestions for additional/optional rules) that will help wargamers adapt the system so that it will work with a particular set of rules;
  • A system for generating tabletop terrain for individual battles;
  • Numerous Appendices that cover:
    • Platoon and Company-level Tables of Organisation and Equipment for the divisions and regiments involved in the campaign;
    • Forty-two coloured terrain squares that can be used with the tabletop terrain generation system;
    • An example of how the tabletop terrain generation system works;
    • A Campaign Quick Reference Sheet;
    • An example of a Campaign Turn;
    • A set of suitable quick-play rules for use with the campaign system;
    • A full colour A4-sized Campaign Map.

Andrew sent the link to me because he knows that I have had plans to re-fight Operation Barbarossa for a very long time, and having read it, I can see the potential his campaign system has in helping me achieve my ambition.

BARBAROSSA: KICKING IN THE DOOR … is written and published by Andrew Rolph. It is available from the Wargames Vault as a watermarked PDF ($4.95) or as a softback book with coloured illustrations ($9.95) or as a combined purchase of PDF and book (usually $14.90 but currently on sale at the discounted price $9.95).

Thinking about campaigns

I have always enjoyed taking part in campaigns (I owe great debt to Eric Knowles and his Madasahatta Campaign for introducing me to their delights!), and over recent years I have set up and fought a number of mini-campaigns. For some years I have been planning an Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War, and over the past few days – whilst I have been unwell – I have been giving it some thought.

Setting up such a large-scale campaign needs a lot of preparation and forethought … and only a fool would try to do it without first looking at what other people have done.

The first place that I looked was at Frank Chadwick’s BARBAROSSA 25.

His approach was to ‘bathtub’ the whole thing, with both sides, the maps, and the timescale being scaled down by a factor of 25. This approach did appeal to me … but looking at my figure and model vehicle collection made me realise that it was going to take a lot of work to go down that path.

I then spent time visiting Chris Kemp’s NOT QUITE MECHANISED blog.

I’ve known Chris for thirty seven years, and took part in some of the very early battles that used his rules. Since then Chris has replaced his collection of 20mm figures and vehicles with equivalent 15mm-scale stuff, and his campaign continues to progress.

The third source I went to was Paul Leniston’s NAPOLEONIC WARGAMING blog. It has a complete guide to running a Napoleonic campaign, and is the result of many years of experience in running such campaigns.

This information can be found here:

My preliminary thoughts are to take a similar approach to that outlined on the NAPOLEONIC WARGAME blog. As to the rules I will use to fight my battles … well there are two possibilities; my modern PORTABLE WARGAME rules or my OPERATIONAL ART rules. I suspect that I will opt for the latter … but that is a decision for the future.