Recently Archduke Piccolo has been using the rules, and his battle reports (and some very probing questions) have made me think again about revisiting this project.
Archduke Piccolo‘s battle reports include:
Please note that all the photographs featured above are © Archduke Piccolo.
So what was my wargaming idea? A possible way to meld together elements of various wargames rules that I have used or developed to create a new, simple operational-level set of ‘Modern’ wargames rules.
I am thinking of incorporating the following elements into these new rules:
- Unit/Formation Order/Status Markers as used in Megablitz
- Degradable unit strengths similar to those used in Memoir ’44
- The use of a playing card tile unit activation system
- Allowing units to ‘stack’ in hexes (i.e. allowing more than one unit in each hex)
- A separate artillery fire phase as used in Joseph Morschauser’s rules
- An artillery fire effect resolution system wherein all units in a target hex are affected by the artillery fire
- An artillery fire effect resolution system that reflects the type of artillery that is firing (i.e. mountain, field, medium, and heavy artillery)
- Area movement using 10cm hexes, with each hex representing an area that is 2.5km from hex face to hex face
- Movement distances based on those used in Megablitz
- A hex-to-hex combat system based on those used in Joseph Morschauser’s rules
- Logistics and re-supply rules similar to those used in Megablitz
I woke up this morning tired but enthusiastic about putting my ideas down on paper … and I have a feeling that I may well turn these ideas into a set of wargames rules in the near future.
Currently my draft looks less like HEXBLITZ and more like MEMOIR OF MODERN WAR (MOMBAT) with knobs on! I started by grafting the system for calculating a unit’s strength or combat value from HEXBLITZ onto the MEMOIR OF MODERN WAR (MOMBAT) game structure. I also added the playing card tile-based Turn Sequence from my PORTABLE WARGAME: WARGAMES RULES FOR THE LATE 19TH CENTURY, and the stacking limits and support rules from OPERATIONAL ART. The resulting draft still needs some work … but I can at least see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Although this was not what I originally set out to do, it seems to work … and once my father is settled into his temporary care home placement I hope to play-test the completed draft.
The problem is that I am trying to bring together features from a number of my previous wargames rules (HEXBLITZ, OPERATIONAL ART, and MEMOIR OF MODERN BATTLE (MOMBAT)) … and I cannot seem to get the elements to gel together. They almost do … but not quite.
What I now intend to do is to print off copies of the rules I want to meld together and highlight the various elements I want to use. I will then literally ‘cut and paste’ the highlighted passages together, and then I will have a basic draft to work from.
Firstly my father’s health continues to give my family and I cause for concern. The doctors know what is wrong with him (dysphagia) and have begun a course of treatment that should help his health improve … but despite everyone’s best efforts he seems unwilling to co-operate.
Secondly our Internet connection has been extremely ‘flaky’ for most of the afternoon, and neither my wife nor I have not been able to ‘surf the net’ or send or receive emails. I think that I have finally fixed the problem … but who knows how long the ‘fix’ will last.
Finally I have spent quite a bit of time today trying to write the first draft of what I hope will be HEXBLITZ II … and after three or four hours of work I have realised that everything I have written is over-complex and very ‘clunky’. I have therefore walked away from trying to complete this task today. I have done this in the hope that a break will clear my mind, and that when I return to this task later in the week, the results will be a much simpler (and workable) set of wargames rules.
I had hoped to use the Battle Dice from MEMOIR ’44 for the combat system, but yesterday’s comparative tests were not encouraging, and for the moment I have shelved that idea. I may well return to it as it is very simple to use … but for the time being I will carry on using a combat system that uses traditional D6 dice.
First I recorded the outcome of twenty five combats using the existing HEXBLITZ combat system. Under this system each side totals up the SP of all the units involved in the combat and throws a D6 die for each SP. The results are read from the following table:
Under the existing HEXBLITZ combat system, although the Defenders are at a numerical disadvantage (3 SP as against the Attacker’s 8 SP), their Defensive ‘state’ more that equalises the disadvantage. The Defenders had a 96% chance of inflicting a ‘hit’ on the Attackers whilst the Attackers only had a 76% chance of ‘hitting’ the Defenders. In none of the Test Turns would the Attackers have prevailed over the Defenders in a single turn.
I then recorded the outcome of twenty five combats using the MEMOIR ’44 combat system. Under this system each unit ‘battles’ in turn. The procedure used is as follows:
- Identify the unit that is attacking (i.e. the Attacker) and which unit it is attacking (i.e. the Defender).
- Verify that the unit being attacked is within range or in contact with the attacking unit.
- If the attacking unit is Infantry or Armoured, verify that it has line-of-sight to the unit being attacked.
- Count out the number of Battle Dice to be thrown, based on the attacking unit’s type (Infantry, Armoured, Artillery) unit and the range to the unit being attacked. (In this test scenario all the attacking Infantry normally throw three Battle Dice, as does the Artillery; the defending Infantry also normally throws three battle Dice.)
- Make any Battle Dice reductions due to terrain.
- The Battle Dice are thrown, and the icons on the battle dice determine the number of ‘hits’.
Because the unit being attacked (i.e. the Defender) is behind sandbags, the number of Battle Dice thrown by Infantry (and Armoured) units is reduced by one.
I have aggregated the results to make the comparison somewhat easier. (Please note that I specifically only selected those results where the icon was either the soldier or the flag. I did not count the grenade icon as a ‘hit’.)
The results were as follows:
Under the MEMOIR ’44 combat system the numerical advantage enjoyed by the Attackers more that outweighs the fact that the Defending unit is behind sandbags. The Defenders had a 116% chance of inflicting a ‘hit’ on the Attackers whilst the Attackers had a 248% chance of ‘hitting’ the Defenders. In thirteen (!) of the twenty five Test Turns the Attackers would have prevailed over the Defenders.
These comparative tests are by no means conclusive (the test sample was too small) BUT they are indicative of the fact that replacing the existing HEXBLITZ combat system with the MEMOIR ’44 combat system would seriously change the nature of the rules. This does not exclude the possibility that the MEMOIR ’44 Battle Dice could be used in place of the standard D6 dice currently used in the HEXBLITZ rules BUT it would require a completely revised combat system.
I like the idea of using my existing MEGABLITZ figures and vehicles, and I like the combat system used in MEMOIR ’44 … but I am not sure if they are compatible. If time allows I might run a few comparative tests of the two combat systems (HEXBLITZ and MEMOIR ’44) using the same scenarios to see if they are. If the tests are successful the results may well influence the direction the design of HEXBLITZ II might take.
THE BATTLE OF ALDERSTADTTERRAIN
The map represents an area approximately 33km x 21km, and is orientated with west to the top of the map.
The Germans hold the town (Alderstadt) and the area to the west of the range of hills that run north to south across the map (i.e. the top half of the map).
The Russians are advancing from the east (the bottom of the map).
The terrain (looking south).
OPPOSING FORCES – GERMAN
In view of the deteriorating situation to the north and south of your current position, it is imperative that your troops do not give ground to the enemy in any circumstances. It is hoped that reserves will be available to counter attack the Russians within three days. Until that counter attack can be mounted, and the enemy driven back, the road that runs through Alderstadt must be kept open as it will form one of the main axes of the counter attack.
Forces available: 15th Luftwaffe Field Division
- Divisional Commander (Officer, 1 SP)
- HQ, Staff, & Signals (Car)
- 15th Supply Column (Truck, 2 LOG)
- 15th Fusilier Company (Infantry, 1 SP)
- 29th Jager Regiment
- I/29th Jager Battalion (Infantry, 2 SP)
- II/29th Jager Battalion (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 30th Jager Regiment
- I/30th Jager Battalion (Infantry, 2 SP)
- II/30th Jager Battalion (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 15th Artillery Regiment (76mm Mountain Gun + Pack Mules, 2 SP)
- 15th Panzerjager Battalion (37mm PAK Gun, 2 SP)
- A: I/29th Jager Battalion
- B: I/30th Jager Battalion
- C: 15th Panzerjager Battalion
- D: 15th Artillery Regiment
- E: II/29th Jager Battalion, HQ, Staff, & Signals
- F: II/30th Jager Battalion, Divisional Commander
- G: 15th Fusilier Company, 15th Supply Column
OPPOSING FORCES – RUSSIAN
The town of Alderstadt controls the main junction on the local road system and must be seized as quickly as possible so that our continued advance can be maintained. Denying this road to the enemy will also foil any possibility of a counter attack. You are to use all the assets of your Army (and the attached 7th Artillery Division) to mount a vigorous attack on the enemy positions. Delay is unacceptable, and you are expected to capture the town and the road junction by the end of D+2.
Forces available: 66th Army
- Army Commander (Officer, 1 SP)
- Army HQ & Staff (Officer, 1 SP)
- 661st Supply Column (Wagon, 1 LOG)
- 662nd Supply Column (Wagon, 1 LOG)
- 663rd Supply Column (Truck, 2 LOG)
- 91st Tank Brigade (T34/76, 3 SP)
- 121st Tank Brigade (T34/76, 3 SP)
- 64th Rifle Division
- 433rd Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 440th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 451st Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 99th Rifle Division
- 1st Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 197th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 206th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 116th Rifle Division
- 441st Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP))
- 548th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 656th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 226th Rifle Division
- 985th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP))
- 987th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP))
- 989th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 299th Rifle Division
- 783rd Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 804th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 811th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 343rd Rifle Division
- 1151st Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 1153rd Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 1155th Rifle Regiment (Infantry, 2 SP)
- 22nd Artillery Regiment (76mm Gun + Limber, 2 SP)
- 1029th Artillery Regiment (76mm Gun + Limber, 2 SP)
- 406th Anti-tank Regiment (45mm Anti-tank Gun, 2 SP)
- 875th Anti-tank Regiment (45mm Anti-tank Gun, 2 SP)
- 237th Mortar Regiment (81mm Mortar, 2 SP)
- 903rd Mortar Regiment (81mm Mortar, 2 SP)
Forces available: 7th Artillery Division
- Divisional Commander & Staff (Officer, 1 SP)
- 701st Supply Column (Truck, 2 LOG)
- 7th Artillery Division Reconnaissance Group (Officer, 1 SP)
- 7th Howitzer Regiment (152mm Howitzer + Tractor, 2 SP)
- 11th Howitzer Regiment (152mm Howitzer + Tractor, 2 SP)
- 25th Howitzer Regiment (152mm Howitzer + Tractor, 2 SP)
Troop dispositions and exploitation plan
1st Echelon – 0800 hours, D1
- A: 433rd and 440th Rifle Regiments (64th Rifle Division)
- B: 451st Rifle Regiment (64th Rifle Division) with 22nd Artillery Regiment and 237th Mortar Regiment firing in support
- C: 1st and 197th Rifle Regiments (99th Rifle Division)
- D: 206th Rifle Regiment (99th Rifle Division) with 1029th Artillery Regiment and 903rd Mortar Regiment firing in support
- E: 7th, 11th, and 25th Howitzer Regiments firing in support of A and B (0800 – 1000 hours) then C and D (1000 – 1200 hours)
- A: 116th and 64th Rifle Divisions with 22nd Artillery Regiment and 237th Mortar Regiment firing in support
- B: 226th and 99th Rifle Divisions with 1029th Artillery Regiment and 903rd Mortar Regiment firing in support
- C: 91st and 121st Tank Brigades with 783rd and 1151st Rifle Regiments in support
- D: 7th, 11th, and 25th Howitzer Regiments firing in support of A and B
- A: 299th Rifle Division with 116th Rifle Division, 406th Anti-tank Regiment and 91st Tank Brigade in support
- B: 343rd Rifle Division with 226th Rifle Division, 875th Anti-tank Regiment and 121st Tank Brigade in support
- C: 7th Artillery Division in support of 66th Army
- D: Army Commander, Army HQ & Staff, 64th and 99th Rifle Divisions, 22nd and 1029th Artillery Regiments, 237th and 903rd Mortar Regiments, 661st, 662nd, and 663rd Supply Columns
Day 1, 0800 – 1000 hours
During the previous night the Russian forces had moved up to their jump-off points.
The initial positions (looking south).
The 64th Rifle Division, supported by 7th Artillery Division, 22nd Artillery Regiment, and 237th Mortar Regiment, attacked I/30th Jager Battalion. The combined Russian attack totalled 16 SP whilst the defenders only had strength of 2 SP. Despite this the Russians were only able to inflict a loss of 1 SP on I/30th Jager Battalion whilst the 433rd Rifle Regiment also lost 1 SP.
I/30th Jager Battalion under attack by 64th Rifle Division, 22nd Artillery Regiment, and 237th Mortar Regiment).
The 99th Rifle Division, supported by 1029th Artillery Regiment and 903rd Mortar Regiment, attacked I/29th Jager Battalion. The Russian attack had strength 10 SP and the Jagers had strength 2 SP. The attackers were able to reduce the Jager Battalion to strength 1 SP, but in the process both 1st and 206th Rifle Regiments both lost 1 SP.
I/29th Jager Battalion under attack by 99th Rifle Division. 1029th Artillery Regiment and 903rd Mortar Regiment can be seen supporting the 99th Rifle Division.
The German defences in and around Alderstadt.
Day 1, 1000 – 1200 hours
Fighting continued between 64th Rifle Division and I/30th Jager Battalion, but neither side was able to inflict further casualties on the other. However, the 99th Rifle Division – now supported by artillery fire from 7th Artillery Division – inflicted a further loss of 1 SP on I/29th Jager Battalion, which was force to withdraw a hex to avoid immediate destruction.
Day 1, 1200 – 1400 hours
The 64th Rifle Division, again supported by 7th Artillery Division as well as 22nd Artillery Regiment, and 237th Mortar Regiment, continued the attack on I/30th Jager Battalion. The Jagers suffered further losses – 1 SP – and were forced to withdraw 1 hex to avoid immediate destruction. They did, however, inflict casualties on 440th Rifle Regiment, which was reduced to strength 1 SP.
99th Rifle Division pushed forward and attacked the I/29th Jager Battalion, which was destroyed.
According to the plan of attack, 91st and 121st Tank Brigades, with 783rd and 1151st Rifle Regiments in support, began their advance on Alderstadt.
91st Tank Brigade – with 783rd Rifle Regiment in support – lead the advance. 121st Tank Brigade and 1151st Rifle Regiment can be seen following them.
Day 1, 1400 – 1600 hours
The general situation at 1400 hours on Day 1.
The 64th Rifle Division, supported by 7th Artillery Division as well as 22nd Artillery Regiment, and 237th Mortar Regiment, advanced on Alderstadt, destroying I/30th Jager Battalion in the process.
99th Rifle Division also advanced on Alderstadt, coming under fire from 15th Artillery Regiment in the process. The artillery fire was ineffective and did not hinder the Division’s forward movement.
Day 1, 1600 – 1800 hours
By 1600 hours the 64th Rifle Division was on the outskirts of Alderstadt, and in contact with II/30th Jager Battalion. During the ensuing fighting both sides lost 1 SP, The II/30th Jager Battalion and 451st Rifle Regiment both being reduced to strength 1 SP.
The 99th Rifle Division also reached Alderstadt, and attacked the II/29th Jager Battalion, which occupied extensive defensive positions in the town. The fighting was inconclusive, and neither side suffered casualties.
The 91st Tank Brigade and 783rd Rifle Regiment, which were leading the flanking movement between the hills to the north of Alderstadt, ran into the 15th Panzerjager Battalion. The Germans had deployed this unit to prevent such a move, and the 15th Panzerjager Battalion was able to inflict casualties that reduced the strength of both 91st Tank Brigade and 783rd Rifle Regiment by 1 SP each.
91st Tank Brigade and 783rd Rifle Regiment ran into 15th Panzerjager Battalion.
Day 1, 1800 – 2000 hours
The 64th Rifle Division continued its attack on Alderstadt. The artillery support from 7th Artillery Division proved decisive, and both II/30th Jager Battalion and 15th Luftwaffe Field Division’s CO were forced to withdraw to avoid destruction. The Russians also suffered casualties, and 440th Rifle Regiment was reduced to strength 1 SP, and withdrew 1 hex to avoid being destroyed.
The situation around Alderstadt at 1800 hours.
116th Rifle Division, which had moving towards Alderstadt in accordance with the Russian plan, began a flanking move over the hills to the south of Alderstadt. At the same time 99th Rifle Division again attacked II/29th Jager Battalion, but to no avail as the fighting continued to prove inconclusive.
In the north 121st Tank Brigade and 1151st Rifle Regiment was able to assist 91st Tank Brigade and 783rd Rifle Regiment in their attack on 15th Panzerjager Battalion. Their additional firepower inflicted casualties on 15th Panzerjager Battalion, which was reduced to strength 1 SP, although the cost to the Russians was the loss of 1 SP by 121st Tank Brigade.
Day 1, 2000 – 0000 hours
Fighting continued into the night.
The situation at 2000 hours.
The 64th and 116th Rifle Divisions were now advancing steadily through the southern half of Alderstadt, destroying the remnants of II/30th Jager Division and killing the 15th Luftwaffe Field Division’s CO in the process.
In the north of the town, 99th Rifle Division, which 226th Rifle Division had by now joined, was unable to press home its attack with any vigour, suffering casualties to 983rd, 987th, and 989th Rifle Regiments. These were all reduced to strength 1 SP. The main cause of these casualties was fire from both II/29th Jager Battalion and 15th Artillery Regiment, the latter just having sufficient visibility to engage the Russians during the night time gloom.
The fighting in the north between 91st and 121st Tank Brigades – supported by 783rd and 1151st Rifle Regiments – and 15th Panzerjager Battalion continued, but poor visibility hampered both sides and no casualties were caused.
The situation at 0000 hours on Day 2.
Day 2, 0000 – 0400 hours
The II/29th Jager Battalion was the only German unit left in Alderstadt, and the 64th, 226th, and 99th Rifle Divisions, supported by 22nd Artillery Regiment and 237th Mortar Regiment, now attacked it. The fighting was intense, and both sides suffered casualties. The II/29th Jager Battalion was reduced to strength 1 SP, but the 987th, 989th, and 260th Rifle Regiments were reduced to strength 0 – and thus forced to retire 1 hex to avoid total destruction – and the 197th Rifle Regiment lost 1 SP. These casualties were caused both by the II/29th Jager Battalion and 15th Artillery Regiment, who were firing in support of the Jagers.
To the north of Alderstadt 91st and 121st Tank Brigades – supported by 783rd and 1151st Rifle Regiments – finally overcame 15th Panzerjager Battalion, which was forced to fall back. This victory was not without cost, and 1151st Rifle Regiment was reduced to strength 1 SP.
Day 2, 0400 – 0800 hours
The Russians finally took Alderstadt by 0800 hours on Day 2. The II/29th Jager Battalion, surrounded on all sides and unable to withstand the combined attacks of 64th, 226th, and 99th Rifle Divisions, supported by 22nd Artillery Regiment and 237th and 903rd Mortar Regiments, was destroyed, although it was able to cause casualties to 451st Rifle Regiment, which was reduced to strength 0, and was thus forced to leave the front line.
The advancing Russian forces in the north destroyed the 15th Panzerjager Battalion, and by daybreak of Day 2 the Russians had achieved most of their objectives.
By 0800 hours, Day 2, the 15th Fusilier Company and the 15th Artillery Regiment are all that remained of 15th Luftwaffe Field Division.
Day 2, 0800 – 1400 hours
The 15th Fusilier Company was attacked and overwhelmed by the Russian forces advancing from Alderstadt and the armoured flanking force. The 15th Artillery Regiment was all that remained of 15th Luftwaffe Field Division, and by 1400 hours it had also been destroyed.
15th Luftwaffe Field Division was given an unachievable goal. It was under strength – it was closer to a Brigade in size than a standard Division – and immobile. All it could do was to stand and fight – and hope for the best. The fact that some of its units were still fighting 24 hours after the battle started is testament to their tenacity and the defensive positions they occupied. Ultimately it failed to hold the line for the necessary three days, but it did manage to cause substantial casualties to the Russian forces, and this might ensure that the planned counter attack might achieve some success.
The Russian force was vastly superior to the defenders, and had time not been so pressing they should have been able to secure victory at a lower cost. The plan that was laid down was reasonably realistic, and there was no need to extemporise alternatives as the battle developed. The 66th Army should be able to regroup before any German counter attack and dig in to substantial defensive positions within the next 48 hours.
German losses (by 0800 hours, Day 2):
- 15th Luftwaffe Field Division: 11 SP
Russian losses (by 0800 hours, Day 2):
- 91st Tank Brigade: 1 SP
- 121st Tank Brigade: 1 SP
- 64th Rifle Division
- 433rd Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
- 440th Rifle Regiment: 2 SP
- 451st Rifle Regiment: 2 SP
- 99th Rifle Division
- 1st Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
- 197th Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
- 206th Rifle Regiment: 2 SP
- 226th Rifle Division
- 985th Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
- 987th Rifle Regiment: 2 SP
- 989th Rifle Regiment: 2 SP
- 299th Rifle Division
- 783rd Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
- 343rd Rifle Division
- 1151st Rifle Regiment: 1 SP
Attack to Defence Ratios:
- Initial forces: 64 to 14 (4.6 to 1)
- Casualties: 18 to 11 (1.6 to 1)
The rules are a combination some of the mechanisms used in Tim Gow’s MEGABLITZ wargames rule system with ideas gleaned from the British Army’s 1956 Tactical War Game Rules, and are designed to be used with Hexon II hexagonal gridded terrain.