Zones of Control: Another progress report

I am continuing to read through this very interesting book, although I do find that it is something that I can only do when my mind is clear and I’m not feeling too tired, otherwise I find myself reading and re-reading articles so that I can understand them!


  • Wargaming Futures: Naturalizing the New American Way of War by Luke Caldwell and Tim Lenoir
  • Creating Persian Incursion by Larry Bond
  • Modeling the Second Battle of Fallujah by Laurent Closier
  • Playing with Toy Soldiers: Authenticity and Metagaming in World War I Video Games by Andrew Wackerfuss
  • America’s Army by Marcus Schulzke
  • We the Soldiers: Player Complicity and Ethical Gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare by Miguel Sicart
  • Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line by Soraya Murray


  • Wargames as Writing Systems by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
  • Playing Defense: Gender, Just War, and Game Design by Elizabeth Losh
  • Debord’s Nostalgic Algorithm by Alexander R. Galloway
  • The Ludic Science Club Crosses the Berezina by Richard Barbrook
  • War Games by David Levinthal
  • Troubling the Magic Circle: Miniature War in Iraq by Brian Conley


  • Wargames as an Academic Instrument by Philip Sabin
  • Lessons from the Hexagon: Wargames and the Military Historian by Robert M. Citino
  • Simulation Literacy: The Case for Wargames in the History Classroom by Rob MacDougall and Lisa Faden
  • The Amateur Designer: For Fun and Profit by Charles Vasey
  • Struggling with Deep Play: Utilizing Twilight Struggle for Historical Inquiry by Jeremy Antley
  • Model-Driven Military Wargame Design and Evaluation by Alexander H. Levis and Robert J. Elder


  • Gaming the Nonkinetic by Rex Brynen
  • Inhabited Models and Irregular Warfare Games: An Approach to Educational and Analytical Gaming at the US Department of Defense by Elizabeth M. Bartels
  • Chess, Go, and Vietnam: Gaming Modern Insurgency by Brian Train and Volko Ruhnke
  • Irregular Warfare: The Kobayashi Maru of the Wargaming World by Yuna Huh Wong
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God: When Military Action Meets Religious Strife by Ed Beach
  • Cultural Wargaming: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communications Using Wargames by Jim Wallman


  • Wargaming (as) Literature by Esther MacCallum-Stewart
  • Tristram Shandy: Toby and Trim’s Wargames and the Bowling Green by Bill McDonald
  • Third Reich and The Third Reich by John Prados
  • How Star Fleet Battles Happened by Stephen V. Cole
  • Total Global Domination: Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 by Ian Sturrock and James Wallis
  • When the Drums Begin to Roll by Larry Brom
  • War Re-created: Twentieth-Century War Reenactors and the Private Event by Jenny Thompson


  • War, Mathematics, and Simulation: Drones and (Losing) Control of Battlespace by Patrick Crogan
  • How to Sell Wargames to the Non-Wargamer by Michael Peck
  • Wargaming the Cyber Frontier by Joseph Miranda
  • The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Wargames by Greg Costikyan
  • Civilian Casualties: Shifting Perspective in This War of Mine by Kacper Kwiatkowski
  • Practicing a New Wargame by Mary Flanagan

Nugget 307

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N307) from the printer this morning, and I will be posting it out to members of Wargame Developments as soon as possible.

I have already uploaded the PDF version of THE NUGGET to the Wargame Developments website so that it can be read online or downloaded and printed.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The Battle of Cambrai: PDF of the rules is now available

I have converted the text of Martin Rapier’s rules and his battle report into PDF format, and they are now available to read and download here.

Infantry from the 16th Infantry Division move forward.

The Battle of Cambrai: An Army Level Game for One (or more Players) by Martin Rapier

An Army Level Game for One (or more Players) by Martin Rapier

1. Introduction
Many, many years ago, in an issue of Airfix magazine (or possibly the Airfix annual) I saw a photo of a World War One game where the author had assembled a number of Airfix Mark 1 tanks that were busily advancing on a reproduction of the German trench system around Hamel modelled out of Plasticene of all things. The tanks were supported by British infantry in caps and the Germans all had pointy helmets, (all that was available then) but it was an image which has stayed in mind ever since, and I thought that, one day, I too would put on a game with masses of rhomboid tanks poised to crash through the mud and the blood to the green fields beyond. That day finally came last year when I realised just how many W.W.1 tanks the redoubtable members of Sheffield Wargames Club had between them. Time for a game …

2. Design Concepts
After reading around the subject, I decided there were a number of elements of the battle I wanted to capture:

  • The sheer mass of armoured vehicles employed (almost 500 in all);
  • The key tactical role the tanks played in the destruction of German wire obstacles in lieu of a long preliminary bombardment;
  • The limited endurance of W.W.1 heavy battle tanks and the limits that posed on their operational significance.

Having decided to put a modicum of complexity into modelling the armoured side of things, then clearly the infantry, artillery etc. were going to have to be heavily abstracted to make a playable game, but these elements needed to be present and have the capability to play a significant role as W.W.1 armoured operations were most definitely a combined arms event. One element I made very abstracted was the creeping barrage, in the end allowing British field guns to fire fairly freely (although only able to hit the first two rows) as it wasn’t worth the extra complexity of specifying barrage or rates of advance etc.

The basic game elements were drawn from my various grid based games (most of which were in turn inspired by Peter Pigs ‘Square Bashing’ and Ian Drury’s ‘Storm of Steel’ and ‘Sands of New Stanhall’. I kicked around some designs for a two or three day battle which would include some of the German counter attacks but in the end decided to concentrate purely on the first day. This in turn meant that all players would play the British, as running the Germans on the wrong end of the initial attack would be a dismal job at best! The game then fell into place fairly rapidly, the mechanisms used in Operation Uranus being obvious candidates, the main things to note being:

  1. Dice rolls are required to enter particular terrain types, this made wire especially a formidable obstacle to infantry and cavalry.
  2. Rolling dice for movement meant vehicle reliability could be simply modelled by making low scores a bad result for tanks (losing vehicles to breakdowns etc).
  3. Whilst infantry, guns and cavalry were modelled as one base = one battalion (or cavalry brigade) and they fought as a single element, the tanks were represented as strength points assigned to each vehicle model so the attritional effects of movement and combat could be modelled without requiring truly immense numbers of toys. The available tank SPs were just distributed over the available tank models and recorded with little dice. The game was designed with twelve tanks in mind, but in the event we managed to assemble no less than eighteen!
  4. Artillery barrages attack everything in the square, this makes the defending artillery pre-registered on no mans land extremely powerful indeed if the attackers try and march through with massed infantry. This in turn means that reaching the enemy gun line is a high priority for the tanks and that infantry attacks against uncut wire are essentially doomed to fail (as there is very little chance of crossing the wire and the defensive artillery will destroy units stuck in no mans land fairly quickly).
  5. Similar command and control limits as in Operation Uranus apply i.e. units can generally only move straight forward once committed to combat.

3. Playsheet
A very simple set of rules, British move and then Germans move. Squares are attacked by ‘assaulting’ them i.e. trying to move into them. Those units which make a successful move roll are shot at by the defenders, the survivors then engage in three rounds of close combat. Stationary units are hit by fire on a 6 but moving targets on a 5 or more, which makes assaults extremely bloody. Only some units have a ranged fire capability, the rest fight by assaulting. Move distances and ranges are in terms of squares, orthogonal only.

Turn Sequence

  • British move, declare assaults.
  • German move, declare assaults.
  • Artillery fire.
  • Ranged fire.
  • Assaults.
  • Rally (4+).


  • * Dice per SP or base, Number after / is defensive fire only.
  • ** 3D6 if Anti-tank gun vs. tanks.
  • *** Pillboxes can only be destroyed by hits from artillery or by assault, all other ‘kills’ just disorganise them.

Move rolls (to enter/cross terrain). Use worst type in square.

  • * lose 1 SP on a ‘1’.
  • Stacking maximum 6 units per square.

Ranged, Artillery and Defensive fire

  • 1D6 per unit/SP.
  • To hit target: Stationary 6, Moving 5, Moving Cavalry 4.
  • Score = killed/1SP loss for tanks.
  • Heavy Artillery and barrage fire hits all units in a square.
  • Field artillery barrage disorganises if roll one less e.g. 5 disorganised hits on 6 vs. stationary. This is supposed to represent suppression from the creeping barrage.
  • Distribute hits randomly. Disorganised units may not move, conduct ranged fire and in assault shoot once and defend with 1 dice with no fortification benefits. Tanks are never disorganised.
  • Units may rally on 4+.


  • Units which make a successful move roll enter the square.
  • Defender fires twice using assault rating (unless disorganised).
  • Then fight three rounds using assault rating, 6 to kill.
  • Defender gets one extra dice for wire and one for trenches/cover (not pillboxes).
  • Attacker pushes out defender by rolling 6+, adding surplus troop bases, tanks and defenders in fortifications count double.
  • Guns and pillboxes are captured if the defender is pushed out, assaulting infantry are disorganised if they win.

4. Game Notes

  • 6 x 4 squares battle area, along with a further row of squares for no mans land and another row further back for reserves etc. No mans land is at the top of the battlefield (not shown) with a further line of squares behind that. The Germans have continuous lines of trenches across the first, second and fourth rows, the first two lines being covered by wire as well. The gun line is the third row. Each square represents approximately 2,000m, Cambrai itself is off the table at the bottom of the map.
  • The game lasts 8 turns (hours).
  • Defensive artillery may be surprised on the first turn if the British choose not to fire a preparatory bombardment. They open fire and are spotted but their fire has no effect on a 3+, roll for each target square.
  • The British have four turns of field gun barrage (two shots each) per division and 25 rounds of heavy gun ammo (maximum six shots per turn). One round of preparatory bombardment may be allowed (does not disorganise targets). If the guns move they lose all their dumped ammo and are only allowed one conventional ranged shot per turn. Field guns only support their own division.
  • British will need to allocate corps and divisional frontages, which may not overlap for infantry divisions, although a reserve division can overlap one front line division. No movement outside divisional areas. The cavalry boundaries can be allocated when they are committed. Once committed to NO MANS LAND units move straight forward, although tanks may deviate within the Corps zone to avoid obstacles.

German Forces

    2 x Infantry Divisions with 9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar and 3 x Field Guns each

The Hindenburg line has 6 x pillboxes, 3 further pillboxes in outpost and reserve lines. One gun is an Anti-tank gun (positioned in Bourlon Wood).

For each division the commitment of forces to each line is:

  • Outpost line: 2 x Infantry, 1 x pillbox.
  • Main Battle Line (HKL): 5 x Infantry, 3 x pillbox, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar.
  • Gun line: 3 x gun.
  • Reserves: 2 x Infantry.

Only deploy defending units when the British try to enter the square or are adjacent on high ground (Welsh Ridge, Bourlon Ridge).

British Forces

    III Corps

      62nd Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
      51st (Highland) Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
      20th Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
      12th Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
    IV Corps

      36th Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
      56th Infantry Division (9 x Infantry, 1 x MG, 1 x Mortar).
    Cavalry Corps

      5th Cavalry Division (3 x Cavalry).
      2nd Cavalry Division (3 x Cavalry).
      1st Cavalry Division (3 x Cavalry).
    Tank Corps with 380 Mark IV tanks and 96 support tanks. Approximately 1SP per 6 tanks so around 70 SP distributed over the available models, maybe more if feeling generous.

5. Player Briefings

Battle of Cambrai, 20th November 1917
British Briefing

General Scheme
General Sir Julian Byng’s plan for an offensive by his Army has been accepted by GHQ. We will make a surprise attack in the region of Cambrai using massed tanks supported by predicted artillery fire and no major preliminary bombardment. When a breakthrough has been achieved the Cavalry Corps can exploit the situation and advance on Douai and Valenciennes. Given the limited resources available following our great victory at the Third Battle of Ypres, the progress of the operation will be reviewed after 24 hours.


  • Break through the Hindenburg Line defences on a frontage of at least 10,000 yards.
  • Take the dominating Bourlon Wood/Noyelles position.
  • Pass the Cavalry Corps through to capture Cambrai and exploit.

Enemy Forces
The enemy is believed to have some six divisions in the area, but only two manning the immediate defences. It is likely that large enemy reinforcements will arrive after 48 hours, however most enemy units are exhausted after the Battle of Ypres.

The Hindenburg Line consists of the three main defensive belts; an outpost line some 2,000m deep; the main battle zone also some 2,000m deep and fronted by a 14′ wide anti-tank ditch and a further reserve line 6,000m to 8,000m into the enemy position.

Each defensive zone is fronted by major wire entanglements, contains numerous dug in positions and bunkers and is reinforced with concreted machine gun posts (the so-called ‘pill boxes’). The bulk of the enemy troops and fortifications are likely to be concentrated in the main battle zone, with counter attack forces in the third line.

The enemy field artillery is mostly located behind the main battle zone and will lay down a curtain of defensive fire once our attack has commenced. The enemy gun line is out of barrage range of our field artillery, but the heavy artillery is within easy counter battery range.

Friendly Forces

    III Corps

      62nd Infantry Division
      51st (Highland) Infantry Division
      20th Infantry Division
      12th Infantry Division
    IV Corps

      36th Infantry Division
      56th Infantry Division
    Cavalry Corps

      5th Cavalry Division
      2nd Cavalry Division
      1st Cavalry Division

Each division has 100 field guns with sufficient ammunition for four hours barrage fire each. If they move this ammunition will be left behind and they will be reduced to their ready supply.

300 Heavy guns (six brigades) with sufficient ammunition for a total 25 concentrations between them. These guns are immobile.

Tank Corps, three tank brigades with 380 Mark IV heavy battle tanks and a further 96 support tanks of various marks.

Special Order to Tank Commanders

  1. Tomorrow the Tank Corps will have the chance for which it has been waiting for many months – to operate on good going in the van of the battle.
  2. All that hard work and ingenuity can achieve has been done in the way of preparation.
  3. It remains for unit commanders and tank crews to complete the work by judgement and pluck in the battle itself.
  4. In the light of past experience I leave the good name of the Corps with great confidence in their hands.
  5. I propose leading the attack in the centre division.
Hugh Elles B.G
Commanding Tank Corps
6. The Game
Tim Gow, Sharon Langdridge and John Armatys turned up for this one, which worked out at a rather handy two divisions each for them to command. The addition of Tim’s extra tanks (the paint seeming suspiciously wet) meant we could field no less than eighteen Mark IV type tanks in a surprising variety of colour schemes and markings, all very realistic no doubt. This meant each division could be assigned three tank models to produce a nice even distribution across the front, all very historical, and a necessity given the victory conditions of 10,000m wide break through. The 20mm troops were deployed in the south, and the 15mm troops in the north as being further away they naturally looked smaller.

The progress of the game was recorded for posterity by the miracle of digital camera technology, and we managed to record the situation at the start of the game and at the end of each turn. As might be expected, the massed armour rolled over the Germans, although the game was not without its distinctly sticky moments. The photographic evidence reveals rather poignantly the ever diminishing number of operational tanks in the front line and the increasingly ragged progress once the main Hindenburg defences were reached, a couple of pillboxes in the centre proving extremely tough nuts to crack.

Highlights of the game:

  1. The sheer spectacle of the table groaning under masses and masses of tanks, supported by an impressive number of infantry (some 54 bases of infantry alone, excluding artillery and support weapons).
  2. The glee with which the assembled tank commanders rolled over the German outpost line
  3. The consternation when they hit the Hindenburg Line proper!
  4. A lone German artillery battalion holding Bourlon Wood for hour after hour, fronted by blazing Mark IVs, all very historical.
  5. The death ride of the 51st Highland Division as they launched wave after wave of infantry assaults across the St Quentin Canal, only to be mowed down a brigade at a time by the defending artillery (who eventually succumbed to massed mortar and Vickers machine gun fire).
  6. The triumphant march of the Cavalry who trotted through the middle of the raging battle and off to glory without a scratch.

I was very pleased with the way the game went, and the players were all delighted to have given the Hun a good kicking, although it was by no means a walkover – some divisions had lost all their infantry and few tank units had more than one or two SP left. The only thing which really concerned me was that the combination of benefits they got which made the defenders extremely tough indeed and even during the game I dropped the additional dice they were supposed to have in close combat. If running it again I’ll probably revise that area somewhat.

7. Conclusions
Apart from a couple of minor tweaks, this game seems to work well. It is perhaps a bit depressing that I seem to have to write a set of rules for every single game I do, perhaps one day I’ll crack the secret of writing a more general purpose set. I’ll be bringing this to COW2003, and I hope anyone with even a passing interest in W.W.1 can come and give it a go. Contributions of even more tanks will be welcome!

Operation Uranus: PDF of the rules is now available

I have converted the text of Martin Rapier’s rules and his battle report into PDF format, and they are now available to read and download here.

Martin has kindly given his permission to also publish his Cambrai rules on my blog, and I hope to do that in the next few days. These were a development of his Operation Uranus rules and involved two German Infantry Divisions vs. British forces amounting to six Infantry Divisions, three Cavalry Divisions, six Heavy Artillery Brigades, and three Tank Brigades.

Operation Uranus: An Army Level Game for One (or more Players) by Martin Rapier

An Army Level Game for One (or more Players) by Martin Rapier

Operation Uranus: Romanian briefing

To: Gen. Lascar, Commander 14th Vanatori Division, 3rd. Army, Seramifovitch 05.00 on 19th November 1942

There are strong indications that the enemy is preparing to attack. You must hold your positions at all costs for the honour of the Romanian Army, in particular you must delay or damage any enemy motorised formations to enable armoured reserves to move up and deal with them.

14th Vanatori Division

1 x Divisional headquarters
6 x Infantry battalions (3 Regiments)
1 x Infantry battalion (Jäger)
1 x Cavalry battalion (Reconnaissance)
1 x Engineer battalion
1 x 47mm Anti-tank gun (Anti-tank battalion)
1 x 120mm mortar (Mortar companies)
2 x 100mm howitzers (Artillery regiments)
2 x 75mm gun (Artillery regiments)
6 x barbed wire entrenchments
4 x minefields
25 x dummy counters

Units are deployed (as inverted counters) in rows B to E.

Operation Uranus: Russian Briefing

From: General Zhukov, Stavka representative to the Southern Front, Seramifovitch, 13.00 on 19th November 1942
To: General Bagramyan, 5th. Tank Army

The 5th Guards Tank Army will spearhead our thrust south to seize Kalach and surround the Nazis in Stalingrad. Use your attached Rifle Divisions to enable 3rd Tank Corps to pass through the lines of the Romanian Hitlerite running dogs to your front. The armour must be got through the lines in the maximum possible strength before nightfall.

124th Guards Rifle Division

1 x Divisional headquarters
9 x Rifle battalions
1 x SMG battalion
1 x Anti-tank Gun
1 x 120mm Mortar
1 x Engineer battalion
2 x 76mm guns
1 x 122mm gun

16th Rifle Division

1 x Divisional headquarters
9 x Rifle battalions
1 x Anti-tank Gun
1 x 120mm Mortar
1 x Engineer battalion
2 x 76mm guns

3rd Tank Corps

1 x Corps headquarters
3 x Tank brigades (2 x T-34, 1 x Motor Rifle battalion each)
1 x Motor Rifle brigade (3 x Motor Rifle battalions)
1 x Motorised SMG battalion
1 x Motorised Engineer battalion
1 x Armoured Reconnaissance battalion
1 x Guards Mortar battalion (Katayushas)

Plus air/artillery support as detailed in the rules.

Victory Levels: Based on number of Tank Corps units exited by the end of the day.
Note: the maximum victory level is only attainable if the entire tank corps leaves the table intact.

17: Order of Lenin all around. The Fascists in Stalingrad will be utterly annihilated as the mighty 3rd Tank Corps sweeps aside all opposition
15 to 16: Your mission has been achieved, and it is likely the enemy in Stalingrad will be surrounded by our powerful armoured forces.
13 to 14: 3rd Tank Corps has penetrated the enemy line, but will have a stiff fight to defeat the enemy armoured reserves and complete the breakthrough. Strict adherence to Stalinist principles will be necessary in future to avoid disgrace.
Less than 13: The crippled 3rd Tank Corps is highly unlikely to defeat 1st Romanian Armoured Division, and the success of our offensive now hangs by a thread. Report to Moscow immediately for reassignment to a Peoples’ Mine Clearing battalion.

Operation Uranus: RulesIntroduction

  • Each stand is a battalion.
  • Turns are approximately three hours (6 tums in a day).
  • Each square is about 2km.
  • The battle lasts a single day.
  • The battlefield is four zones wide by six zones deep.
  • The defender deploys counters face down in his area (rows B, C, D, E).
  • The Russians do reconnaissance (roll 206 for row/column, pick two counters three times).
  • Russians plan and fire bombardment: they have 16 points to fire initially (maximum 2 per zone), plus a further 8 on call (maximum 4 per turn).
  • Place fire points and plot four Target Registration Points (TRP) for on call fire. Roll D6 for each counter in a square per fire point, kill on 6.


  • Infantry/artillery move 1 zone.
  • Motorised move 2 zones (3 if not into combat).
  • Romanians may move D6 mobile units (half D6 if HQ destroyed).
  • Maximum of 6 units per zone at any time.


  • Artillery fire: allocate and resolve support points vs. squares (only vs. TRPs) … Note: this hits everyone! Resolve as initial barrage (roll per unit in target area, 6 kills). This includes airstrikes generated by random events.
  • Support fire (mortars l square, artillery/rockets 2 squares) may be into friendly squares. Romanians fire first, unmasked batteries cannot be targeted in the turn they are revealed. Fire once, 6 kills.
  • Close Combat (in same zone): Fight three rounds, rolls of 6 kill. Defender fires first on first round. All roll 1D6 except:
    • Engineer/SMG Infantry: 2D6 vs. soft, but die first.
    • Anti-tank: 2D6 vs. armoured, no effect vs. Infantry.
    • Tanks: 2D6.
    • Artillery: 2D6.
  • Each barbed wire gives one defender an extra D6, each minefield gives one defender an extra 2D6. Undefended wire does not impede movement in any way. Undefended minefields kill one unit on a 6, may be cleared by engineers spending a turn in zone. Units may not withdraw from close combat except in direction they came – defenders allowed 1 free shot with 1 unit.
  • Terrain has no effect, it just looks pretty at this scale (it is the rolling Steppe after all!).

Command and Control

  • In real life Red Army attacks were carefully orchestrated.
  • Each rifle division must have a divisional sector, and its forces must be divided into echelons (1st and 2nd).
  • The 1st echelon components are allocated an axis in the divisional sector and must move forwards along it (it may halt).
  • Divisional units may move around freely in the divisional sector.
  • The 2nd echelon is held off table and may be committed to an axis in the divisional sector only on the say so of the C-in-C.
  • Units may not move off their axis (line of squares) at any time.
  • The Tank Corps may be held in reserve and allocated a divisional sector and brigade axes when it is committed. All calls for support fire are also routed via Army HQ, against the TRPs.

Random events (D6 +1 per turn elapsed). Roll at the start of each turn:

    1 to 4: Thick fog, artillery and support fire may only be directed against squares adjacent to friendly units. Event is cancelled whenever 5+ rolled.
    5: Russian Air Strike. One support point available against any square.
    6: Romanian Air Strike. One support point available against any square.
    7: Extra Ammo. Add one support point to pool of available Russian points.
    8+: No effect

    The GameAn enthusiastic crowd of Russians was assembled: 16th Rifle (Daniel), 124th Guards (Steve Bridden), 3rd Tank (John Armatys), all under the watchful eye of Comrade General Nick Mitchell and Commissar Tim Gow.

    The Russians deployed as shown on the plan.

    Basically the 124th Guards was attacking on a narrow (1 zone) front, whilst 16th Rifle had three zones to cover. The Tank Corps was kept in third echelon reserve so its divisional sector and brigade axes could be determined once the initial attacks had gone in. The Romanians deployed as piles of inverted counters, although in fact it was a very conventional defence – four battalions in column E with wire/mines, mortars and two reserve battalions in column D, divisional artillery and a few more obstacles in row C, and divisional reserves (cavalry, engineers, Jäger battalion, anti-tank and Divisional HQ) in column B.

    General Mitchell rolled the three recon attempts, two of which either missed the table altogether or landed on empty squares. The final one turned up a mortar battalion in D2. The Russians plotted four target registration points for their on-call artillery, mainly along the 124th Guards axis, and allocated their 16 point barrage in quite a deep fire plan, again favouring the Guards. The barrage was resolved and numerous counters removed, the Hill in E4 was completely cleared, much to the Guards delight, and one hidden loss the Russians were not aware of was the Romanian divisional HQ. Only two of four Romanian front line battalions survived the barrage, and of them, only one (in E1) had any fortifications left intact.

    The Red horde rolled forward, and General Mitchell proceeded to stick pins in his map and shout down the telephone. As might be expected, 16th Rifle ran into opposition along its entire front, the regiment from F1 eventually totally destroying itself in fruitless attacks on the surviving Romanian battalion hiding behind its minefield. Progress further south was better, although again it was 16th Rifle which ran into most opposition, and lacking sufficient concentration of force along its attack axes, suffered brutally, its attack eventually petering out as indicated on the following map.

    The lack of opposition to the Guards prompted the Tank Corps to move into 2nd echelon reserve on turn 2, and then to enter the table on turn three, most of its brigades routed along row 4, while one Motor Rifle brigade moved along row 3. Unfortunately, Corps Commander Armatys had been ordered to ‘follow the Guards infantry closely’, and like a good Marxist-Leninist, that is exactly what he did – the loaded tanks, trucks and batteries of Katyushas bumping slowly over the Steppe, following the plodding infantry in front.

    By the fifth turn, the 124th had actually reached column A, but General Mitchell’s map pins were not indicating any armoured breakthrough, so Commissar Gow came to investigate. He found the Tank Corps motoring slowly along behind the infantry. A certain amount of political reorientation took place, and by shifting infantry units back and forth, it was found to be possible to move the vast bulk of the Tank Corps up at a more rapid rate. Despite firing 3 ammo loads at B3 (on top of an unfortunate regiment of the 16th Rifle), all of which missed (raising shouts of sabotage) in an effort to clear the way, the last Romanian reserve, their Anti-tank battalion, slipped into A4 on the last turn. This prevented the Tank Corps from simply driving off the table, and although the T-34s crunched the Romanian 47mms under their tracks easily, as night fell the Tank Corps was still on the field and not motoring off lo its destiny at Kalach.

    Fortunately, there was still at least one defended minefield left for the Division and Army commanders to clear in their new assignment to a Shtraf battalion …

    So not a good day for the Red Army. although the Romanians were largely obliterated, significant portions were still holding out at nightfall, and had delayed the Russian Tank Corps significantly. Interestingly one of the operational problems Red Army commanders strove to resolve (with increasing success) was at what point to commit their Army and Front level deep operational manoeuvre groups. Too soon and they would get chewed up in breakthrough fighting, too late and the enemy would have time to bring up reserves. In this case, time to revisit those Pu-36 Field Regulations I think!

    While these rules are incredibly simple, they do actually work, even for a large battle like the one described above – mainly through the uncertainty the attacker faces, and they work even better with a proper command structure superimposed. I hope to use them for other set piece modern battles, although probably at the lower company base scale.

    Operation Uranus: A development of ‘The Sands of New Stanhall’

    In reply to my original blog entry about Ian Drury’s game, Martin Rapier mentioned in his comment that he had developed the basic game into an Army-level game about Operation Uranus. I therefore dug through the archives of THE NUGGET and found the article … and realised that he had already trodden a path that I was considering going down myself!

    The article – which contained all the rules necessary to play the game – was published in N144 (March 2000).

    Unfortunately this article is not available to download, …

    … but if Martin gives permission, I will try to make it available in PDF format.

    The main change that Martin made was to make the playing pieces battalions rather than companies.

    The reason why copies of THE NUGGET published before N193 are not freely available is related to copyright. From N193 onwards authors of articles knew that anything that they wrote would be made freely available online after publication; before that issue they did not know that. Therefore any article featured in THE NUGGET before N193 may only be made available with the express permission of the author.

    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.

    When several different things seem to come together …

    Archduke Piccolo’s interest in and use of my HEXBLITZ rules has encouraged me take a fresh look at them and my later OPERATIONAL ART rules, and during my recent cruise I started putting a few idea design ideas down on paper. At the same time I was reading the first volume of Quintin Barry’s THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 1870-71 VOLUME 1. THE CAMPAIGN OF SEDAN. HELMUTH VON MOLTKE AND THE OVERTHROW OF THE SECOND EMPIRE (Published by in 2009 by Helion & Company Ltd) …

    … and just after Sue and I got back to the UK, it struck me that I really ought to give some thought to writing a set of operational-level rules for the mid to late nineteenth century.

    At present the rules are very much a work-in-progress, but the design decisions I have made so far are:

    • A base will represent a regiment-sized unit or a Commander
    • Regiment-sized units will be organised into brigades, divisions, and possibly corps
    • Units will have a basic Combat Power based upon its level of training and/or equipment:
      • Poor quality Infantry & Cavalry = 1
      • Conscript quality Infantry & Cavalry = 2
      • Regular quality Infantry & Cavalry = 3
      • Elite Infantry = 4
      • Artillery = 3
      • Command = Varying with quality of the Commander (Range of Combat Power from 1 [Poor] to 4 [Exceptional])
    • A card activation system will be used
    • Artillery will fire first every turn as per my PORTABLE WARGAME rules … but possibly subject to ammunition supply rules
    • Movement distances:
      • Artillery that has fired = No movement
      • Infantry that is going to fire = 1 hex
      • Infantry & Artillery not firing = 2 hexes
      • Cavalry & Commanders = 3 hexes
    • Weapon ranges are:
      • Infantry & Cavalry = Adjacent hex
      • Field Artillery = 4 hexes
    • Combat Resolution will be as per my OPERATIONAL ART rules (i.e. Both sides compare their D6 dice score + unit Combat Power + transient effects)
      • If the attacking unit’s Combat Power is lower than the defending unit’s Combat Power, the combat has been ineffective.
      • If the attacking unit’s and defending unit’s Combat Powers are equal, each unit throws a D6 and the unit with the lowest score stays in its current position and reduces its Combat Power by one.
      • If the defending unit’s Combat Power is less than the attacking unit’s Combat Power but more than half of the attacking unit’s Combat Power, the defending unit stays in its current position and reduces its Combat Power by one.
      • If the defending unit’s Combat Power is less than half of the attacking unit’s Combat Power, but more than a quarter of the attacking unit’s Combat Power, the defending unit reduces its Combat Power by two.
      • If the defending unit’s Combat Power is less than a quarter of the attacking unit’s Combat Power, the defending unit reduces its Combat Power by two and withdraws until it is at least one hex away from an enemy unit.
    • Transient effects are:
      • The unit’s Commander is in the same or an adjacent hex = Add the Commander’s Combat Power
      • If the attacking unit is Artillery firing at an enemy unit in an adjacent hex = Add one
      • If the attacking unit is attacking an enemy unit in the flank or rear = Add three
      • If the attacking unit is attacking an enemy unit that is in defence works, inside a wood, or inside a built-up are = Subtract two

    I hope to give these outline rules a try-out sometime soon, possible using figures from my 15mm-scale Peter Laing Austro-Prussian War collection. (I don’t have any Franco-Prussian War figures, so I will have to make do with what I have available.)

    Some of my 15mm-scale Peter Laing Austro-Prussian figures in action …

    … back in January 2009 when they stood in for the forces of Laurania and Maldacia!

    Grids and scales

    David Crook – who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog – is designing a naval wargame set in the early twentieth century, and in an exchange of emails we have been discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using a grid of Hexon II hexes for naval wargames … something that I have done in the past but in an abstract rather than a realistically scaled way.

    This set me thinking, and I sat down with a pencil and paper and started playing around with the numbers … and what follows are the results of my thinking.

    Assuming that the distance from face-to-face on a Hexon II hex (which measures 10cms from face-to-face) represents a nautical mile, a ship travelling at a speed of one knot would take one hour to move from one hex to an adjacent hex.

    This gives gun ranges of one hex representing 2,000 yards, two hexes representing 4,000 yards, three hexes representing 6,000 yards and so on.

    If the ship were doing a speed of six knots, it would take ten minutes (i.e. one-sixth of an hour) to move from one hex to an adjacent hex. I chose six knots because during the period David is setting his rules in this seems to work as a common denominator for most major classes of warships; on average battleships do 18 knots (3 hexes), cruisers do 24 knots (4 hexes), and destroyers 30 knots (5 hexes). All the thoughts and ideas that follow are based upon this six knot common denominator assumption.

    Now ten minutes can be a long time in a naval battle, with even slow-firing guns being able to get off two or three salvoes, so if we reduce the time scale to five minutes, this has consequences.

    For example, if we change the ground scale to one hex representing half a nautical mile (i.e. 1,000 yards) from face-to-face, the move distances per turn will not alter but the gun ranges will, with one hex representing 1,000 yards, two hexes representing 2,000 yards, three hexes representing 3,000 yards and so on. As the Battle of Tsushima began with the ships firing at 10,000 yards and hitting each other at 7,000 yards, the tabletop distances would be between 100cms and 70cms.

    As the average heavy gun salvo rate in 1905 at the Battle of Tsushima was about one salvo every three minutes, it would seem to make sense to use that as the basic element of the time scale. In this case the ground scale reduces to one hex representing 600 yards from face-to-face, the move distances will not alter, but the gun ranges do, with ten hexes (i.e. 100cms) representing 6,000 yards.

    Now all of the above works well if one assumes that one wants to fight a salvo-by-salvo naval battle … but as naval gunnery was still relatively inaccurate (most sources seem to indicate that only about three to five percent of shells actually hit their target and did any damage) this might end up as being a rather tedious wargame to fight.

    So if we return to the original timescale where one turn represents ten minutes of real time, our pre-dreadnought battleship will fire three – possibly four – salvoes per turn. Assuming the latter, the ship will therefore fire sixteen shells and possibly – if they are very accurate and achieve a percentage hit rate of 6.25% – score one hit. In reality they are more likely to score one hit every two turns.

    This begs the question as to whether or not the time scale needs to be changed so that more firing can take place each turn … and this opens yet another can of worms.

    I cannot for the life of me come up with a way of realistically balancing the constraints of ground scale, time scale, and realistic gunnery … which is why I have always tended towards designing naval wargames where these elements are abstract rather than definitive.

    Does anyone out there have a solution to this … or is it one of those wargame design problems that is best just ignored?

    The Battle of Tsushima as depicted in a painting …

    … and my attempt to model something similar to it!

    It may not be art … but I know what I like!