Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
High all - I know I've been talking about North Africa a bunch but I working on it what can I say....
Here are two pictures for you of the map with some units in it. This is an example of what you'll be seeing as a division commander.
This is the section of North Africa that is currently being fought over, this is May 1941 and the Axis are trying to break into and take Tobruk. Notice all the units in the Tobruk box? Those are divisions that are located at the Tobruk battlefield. The other units are divisions fighting outside of a battlefield.
Click the picture to expand.
This is the Tobruk battlefield. All the Divisions that are at this square are broken into their regiments and the regiments are trying to take the city. Notice each one has a name on the top and the bottom of the unit. I know it's hard to see, but the German tank near the bottom has 15th Pz on top and 8th Pz on the bottom. This means he belongs to the 15th Panzer Division and he is the 8th Panzer Regiment.
Remember this is just preliminary. Nothing is final I'm trying to work out supply and movement, point and die roll modifier for non FOW battles.
Anyone up for a tedious test game testing session?
- Using the map we will recreate the struggle for North Africa.
- The map will push players into the same strategic puzzles that perplexed the Axis and Allies.
- Each player will be an overall commander for at least one Division, most likely more. Overall means that that player would move their piece on the game board, and fight battles with their division’s regiments. The players would have complete strategic control of the division and complete tactical control of the regiment when played as a FOW game.
- Forces will be taken directly from the Flames of War North Africa book. Mostly likely you will have the opportunity to use every list in the book for your side. If it’s in the book you can use it.
- The number of Divisions and Regiments that each side have will be determined by a historical time line.
- Winning the game: The Allies win if they can push the Axis out of North Africa (at this time I’m not sure exactly what that means). The Axis win if the Allies can’t do that in time. Make no mistake, this is a historical campaign. Therefore the outcome will most likely be that the Axis lose. The fun in that, is trying to prevent the Allies from winning.
Why North Africa? North Africa is interesting because: The Germans get to fight along with the Italians. The Italians aren’t that bad but they aren’t that good either. The British fight the Axis with crappy tanks then they get better tanks from the Americans, but not until a little later, almost not until it’s too late, - that’s neat. Also the British fight with allot of colonial troops. They all have special rules and that’s neat too. The Germans figure out they need better tanks and equipment. They get to fight with Tigers and Pak40’s but it’s almost too late and they never have enough, they have to rely on the Italians and that creates some interesting situations. The Americans have great middle of the road stuff and allot of it but they don’t know how to fight and they have to cross most of Morocco to get to Tunisia - they need to hurry up. But they can’t get too strung out either, can they get there in time?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
What I want to know is:
- Is 7 months, 28 turns, too long for a campaign game? (You will be playing different forces, quite possibly every list in the New North Africa book will be used. That doesn't mean you'll play everyone, but hopefully it'll keep the game interesting.)
- Is 7 months, or 1 week for each turn, too short for each turn to fully develop? (This campaign will have much, much more operational control for all players. The campaign itself could turn out to be one heck of a boardgame.)
Now there is no guarantee that each campaign turn will produce battles. Players are not compelled to fight. But we might want some turns to take longer depending on the situation.
I ask because I'm at a turning point. I can design a game that just encompasses a battle like the Battle for El Alamein, or Tobruk or Kasserine Pass and we could play those. (Together it may take just as long.) Or I can design a grand campaign that encompasses almost all the fighting in North Africa during WWII.)
What the difference between them you ask? In a smaller battle specific campaigns any "mistakes" players made are not nearly as damaging as in the overall campaign. But in a grand campaign players can rewrite history rather than just try to repeat it.
So are you up for 7 months of North Africa midwar madness, or should I design something less time consuming?
Post your comments here.
For Fun here is the enitre time line of all "actions" in North Africa during WWII
September, Italian invade Egypt
December, UK offensive, Tobruk captured.
January, Italians abandon Wadi Derna line.
February, UK 7th Armor set up road block at Beda Fomm, Italian X Army surrenders. Rommel Arrives in Tripoli
March, Germans take Mersa Brega
April, 3rd Indian makes stand at Mechili, Tobruk surrounded and cut off from Egypt. Rommel assaults Tobruk
May, Rommel second assault on Tobruk, Operation “Brevity” launched
June, Operation “Battleaxe” launched and finished
August, Operation “Treacle”
September, Operation “Supercharge”
October, Operation “Cultivate”
November, Operation “Crusader”
December, UK relieves Tobruk
January, Rommel chased back to El Agheila then take the offensive and chase the British back toward Gazala
May, Rommel attacks Gazala line.
June, French are attacked and overrun at Bir Hacheim. Tobruk is resurrounded and taken. British retreat to Mersa Matruh line, then to El Alamein.
July, Rommel attack Alamein line and is repulsed.
August, Montgomery arrives in Egypt & Rommel launches final attack on El Alamein.
September, Rommel can’t take Alamein and NZ Division tries to flank DAK.
October, Both sides reinforce, late October Montgomery attacks DAK
November, British force Rommel to retreat to Mareth Line, Allies land in Tunisa
December, Germans reinforce with forces from Sicily and Italy
January, Rommel retreats into Tunisia and 5th Panzer takes Faid Pass from French Garrison.
February, Operation “Fruhlingswind” attack 1st Armored Division at Sidi bou Zib and force a retreat to Sbeitla. Germans attack at Kasserine.
March, Operation “Wop” started by 1st infantry division, flank of Mareth Line attacked.
April, Americans attack toward Bizerte.
May, Americans take Bizerte Germans surrender.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I think this map is great – instead of irregular shapes the territories are broken up into squares. I think squares best represent the nothingness of space in the desert. The only important things in the desert are roads, towns and natural choke points. Therefore squares work nicely. Along with the squares you’ll notice six large boxes underneath the overall map above. These boxes are historically accurate maps of important battlefields in North Africa. From right to left they are El Alamein, Tobruk, Mareth Line, Hill 609, Longstop Hill and Kasserine Pass. Each one of these battlefields is represented on the overall map by a white outlined shape. The battlefields exist because they are around towns, roads or natural choke points. Thus these battles will need to be fought in order to complete the objective of the campaign – which for the Allies is to drive Italy and Germany from North Africa and for the Axis it is to capture Alexandria and drive the British out of Egypt.
Ok so how do we do this? I’ve compiled a list of all the units that fought in North Africa from 1940 to the final Axis surrender in 1943. I’ve paired down this list to start the campaign on February 1941. This is when the first German division arrived and it relieves us of having to create the catastrophe that was the Italian Armies collapse to the British in operation Compass.
Looking at the division lists over the period of 2/41 to 4/43 the Axis have 18 divisions to the Allied 19. Remarkably even! However when you apply the calendar of when those divisions were put into the field it becomes much more clear as to who has the strategic upper hand.
So here is my initial working idea. Each player will be assigned a division or a number of divisions. These divisions will be made up of regiments. Each division can contain up to four regiments. Each regiment will be worth a certain amount of points. The division will also have a certain amount of divisional reserve points. On the overall map the division will be represented by a single piece. Once it enters a battlefield the division will “break” into its regiments.
Each division will have its own division card that the commander of that division will be responsible for maintaining the divisions regiment count (remember that a division can have 1-4 regiments), supply and divisional reserve points. When two opposing division meet on the overall map the players decide which regiment they are going to fight with – and then apply extra points. A regiment will be a Flames of War army list with points that can only be spent on HQ, Combat and Weapons platoons. Any support points are made up from the division reserve points or are taken from a different regiment from the division that isn’t participating in the battle.
Confused? Here’s an example: Jerry the German fighting Tom the Tommie British. Jerry’s 21st Panzer division attacks Tom’s 9th Australian Division at a square on the overall map. Jerry’s division is made up of 2 panzer regiments with 1000 points each and he has 500 points in divisional reserve. He attacks with 1000 points from one of his panzer regiments and uses an additional 450 points from the division reserve to purchase support platoons making a 1450 point force.
Tom the Tommie has 4 infantry regiments in his division and 200 points in divisional reserve. But Tom’s regiments are worn down by battle he has 1 at 800 points, 2 at 500 and 1 at 300. He puts up his strongest regiment against Jerry, the one at 800, plus the 200 points from division reserve, bringing his force total to 1000. Then he takes 250 from each of the regiments that have 500, giving him a force total of 1500 and leaving his remaining divisional regiments with, 250, 250, and 300.
Tom and Jerry fight the battle – platoon losses in the battle are deducted from either the regiment points or divisional reserve points. For example: Jerry lost a PzIV platoon worth 450 points – the regiment that used to have 1000 points now has 550.
After all the battles are done for the turn there is a supply phase where new divisions, regiments and points will enter the campaign and depending on the supply situation commanders will allocate points to regiments or divisional reserve.
I’ve still got a ton of work to do on the Calendar – figuring out when regiments and divisions will arrive, creating a good balance, figuring out the amount of movement and supply but using the very well designed and organized new Flames of War Africa book I don’t have to figure out the very time consuming and labor intensive concept of force complexion.
I’m excited about North Africa it’s going to be a very cool campaign. I don’t know when it will be read to play, certainly months away. I’m striving to design a campaign that is fun, relatively quick moving, creates an emotional attachment to your forces and is historical in setting but the outcome is determined by the player.
That’s it for now. You input is welcome.