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Historical and Modern Wargaming – Where the "Fluff" is Real Life

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This topic contains 53 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  oriskany 9 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    Join us for a battle report on our tabletop miniature game of Force-on-Force, set in the epicenter of the Iraq War’s most intense single engagement – the Second Battle of Fallujah (Operation Phantom Fury).

    It’s November 2004, and the US Marine Corps, US Army, and Iraqi security forces have closed a ring around the city of Fallujah, one of the deadliest insurgent strongholds in the so-called Sunni Triangle. Near the “Pizza Slice” neighborhood of the Jolan District, the absolute heart of this pitiless engagement, a Marine M1A1 Abrams battle tank has been crippled by an IED blast.

    Now an aging Marine gunnery sergeant has been given a pair of Humvees and a detached squad of 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3/5 Marines, with orders to get to that crew, evacuate the casualties, and frag the tank before it can be looted by Mahdi insurgents.

    Of course, the insurgents know about the crippled tank as well. Capturing it means prisoners to exploit, technology to sell, and 120mm ammunition to build into more IEDs. Who will reach the tank first, and can the Marines save their wounded comrades in time?

    Part One:

    Part Two:


    Cult of Games Member

    Good fun looking game, tempted to get a set of the rules.


    Cult of Games Member

    Good deal, @damon.  There are still pdf copies available around the web.  I hear there’s a new version, and it has mixed reception among those who play the original.


    Cult of Games Member

    American Payback! Battle of El Guettar, March 1943 (Panzer Leader)
    Join us as we return to Avalon Hill’s “Panzer Leader” wargame system , where I’ve created a scenario depicting part of the Battle of El Guettar on March 23, 1943.

    It’s the 80th Anniversary of this key battle, where the US Army finally overcame a string of bitter defeats against the Germans and established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the North African Theater.

    Now we’re recreating the main part of the battle in Panzer Leader (far more accurate than the Hollywood version seen in the movie “Patton”) – can the Americans pull off the upset again?

    Part two of the game is scheduled to be played live on Wednesday.


    Cult of Games Member

    Definitely some weekend binge watching incoming. I played the initial closed Alpha/Beta of those rules and they were more streamlined eg. no light/heavy wound tokens but the body armour rules and sci fi/super soldier compatibility was a bit too jarring for me especially playing so many games of the original. Granted this was maybe 5 years ago now so my memory might not be great but I don’t think it would have been a good step forward for the game to release those rules.

    The first proper Historical games I ever played beyond points match Bolt Action was Russians in Afghanistan Force on Force and 1991 Somalia Force on Force so the game has got a special place for me.



    If memory serves, it was Napoleon who said that history is a lie agreed upon.

    How ‘real life’ the ‘fluff’ in historical gaming (books, films, ‘documentaries’ etc.)  is is very much debatable…..



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    Cult of Games Member

    Spam bot alert!

    please review that users dawntruetesas  posting history!

    @tgu3 @nakchak


    Cult of Games Member

    @elessar2590 – yeah, I haven’t heard the best things about that 2nd edition / expansion.  Of course I’ll withold judgement until I play it.  What triggers my “danger sense” is what I hear about the new reaction rules being restricted by troop quality range.  Not cool.  Seems to make the game too “casual” for sake of “accessibility” and if there’s one thing I can’t stand . . .

    Forgot how much I liked the original, warts and all.  I’ll have to set up another table at earliest opportunity.


    Cult of Games Member

    @wolfie65 – well, Napoleon was a great general, but a terrible historian.  He constantly quotes history in his writings and continuously misapplies the lessons learned within, on the strategic, operational, and tactical level.

    Strategic:  “I know history.  Let me invade Russia!  Charles the XII had no idea what he was doing.
    Operational:  “How do I handle an insurgency in Spain?  Put my brother in charge and hope for the best.”
    Tactical:  “Look at how Wellington is deploying in front of a forest.  He’s no student of history.  Infantry can never pass through thinned woods like that.”

    So the quote of his: “History is a set of lies agreed upon …”
    Well, it’s not a lie (at least good history), and it’s never agreed upon.  🙂
    So there’s another mark against you, Napoleon.

    The reason we cite things like the mistakes in movies like Patton is precisely because they are not history (as you say in your post).  I also agree that the history printed in most “historical” wargaming is trash, which is why we don’t use it and set a higher standard for our content.


    Cult of Games Member

    Battle of Hubbardton: American Revolution 20mm Wargame (Part 1)
    Rally to the colors, and shoulder your flintlock, it’s time to step back through the centuries a little for a look at the American Revolution in 20mm. We’ve got a 20mm miniature game depicting the Battle of Hubbardton, fought in what would become Vermont on July 7, 1777.

    The Crown has amassed an army in Canada under General “Gentlemen Johnny” Burgoyne and is invading upstate New York. Their goal is to split off New England from the rest of the colonies by way of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. Their first obstacle is Fort Ticonderoga, which they’re actually able to take with barely a shot fired.

    As the American forces pull out of Ticonderoga, however, Burgoyne orders a pursuit. His Advance Corps under Brigadier General Simon Fraser catches up with the American rear guard near Hubbardton, in present day Vermont. This kicks off a sharp, vicious action with British line infantry, grenadiers, light infantry, and Jaegers of Crown German regiments (commonly called “Hessians”) – pitted against rear guard elements of the 11th Massachusetts, 2nd New Hampshire, and patriots of the “Green Mountain Boys” militia.


    Cult of Games Member

    I think we’ve talked before on how most rulesets for the period “struggle” to reflect the actual historical battles of the day (or rather try a refight using the OOBs and terrain of any AWI battle, and it’s almost impossible for the Americans to “win” a battle that they actually did on that day). Was this one of the reasons why you decided to kitbash your own set from the AD&D Battle rules?


    Or was it rather you’ve used them before, and just like how the rules work. We’ve (over on this side of the pond) have tried “British Grenadier” (which seems to be the best option out of what’s available nowadays, but it still suffers from Americans being unable to achieve a “win” due to classifications on troops quality (with British Line being B or C class and things like the Guard Regts being A class. Yet even the best US units only can hope to be classed as C class (or “normal” of line troops), with the rest being D or E classification (A to E being, A equals best of the best and E class being troops that probably would have been better fielded with pointy sticks as they are more likely to injure themselves with a live musket). I first wondered if this was because all the rules were written in the UK (and perhaps suffered from a bit of national bias). But then again this period also has probably the largest amount of rules written by US authors and still suffer the same issues (so perhaps the bias was never there).


    The AWI is a particularly difficult period to play in black powder as it’s asymmetrical in force projection. For the British they probably found it being a bit like their modern counterparts in Afghanistan (as you never knew if the man in civilian dress in the street next to you was friend or foe on the next day). The “Minute Man” could also be referred to as an “insurgent” in more modern parlance (and probably used the same tactics). So in the first part of the war the British tried to force a fight in an open battlefield (as that was how they were used to fighting in Europe), and the US forces (at first) rose to meet them in that battle….and lost. Later on the US forces started to work to their strengths and fought in rougher terrain (which had the British fighting at a disadvantage). And for the later half of the war the British learned how to fight in those wooded areas in open order while the US forces (well at the very least the continental line regts) were trained in close combat drills and in the effective use of the bayonet in a battalion sized charge (which also meant training the officers when and when NOT to order that charge).


    So with the forces in the AWI constantly changing in tactics and ability throughout the period it’s hard for just the ONE rulebook to cover everything. We last played an AWI game using a kitbash of British Grenadier and Johnny Reb II (with the majority of the rules being JR II). We got “near” to getting what we wanted from the game, but one of the problems when you start writing or modifying existing rulesets is that’s it never “done” (or you’re forever getting ideas during and after the game), so once that “wall” is broken it’s a never-ending story of adjustments and redesign 😀


    Anyhow, looking forwards to Part II of the game to see how it all ended up (although with one of the two regular US line regts already having left the field it’s not looking good for the US forces…


    Cult of Games Member

    𝗖𝗢𝗡𝗖𝗟𝗨𝗦𝗜𝗢𝗡: 𝗔𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 – 𝗕𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗘𝗹 𝗚𝘂𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗿 (𝗔𝘃𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗻 𝗛𝗶𝗹𝗹’𝘀 𝙋𝙖𝙣𝙯𝙚𝙧 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙚𝙧)
    Part 1:
    Part 2:

    Apologies that this video is in two parts, our live stream crashed and we had to start a new one to finish up.

    The Germans land some very lucky rolls with their armor overruns, and before you know it the Americans are hard-pressed to hold the El Guettar pass. The Italians are also rolling up the American left . . .

    Could the “Big Red One” actually LOSE this battle? No spoilers, but this was a close one, folks.


    Cult of Games Member


    Indeed, I haven’t had the best of luck with most AWI rules.  People try to use 7YW and Napoleonics … an approximation at best.  I haven’t tried the British Grenadier rules to which you prefer.  Indeed those Guards Regiments sound fearsome, but I’ve checked my records and only find three such regiments in the American Revolution: 1st Regiment Foot Guards (modern: The Grenadier Guards), the Coldstream Guards, and 3rd Foot Guards (modern: The Scots Guards) – out of the 63 regiments recorded to have served in the conflict (of course none of this includes Hessians, Loyalists, or Iroquois).  Seems about right for the small, elite, “tip of the spear” regiments in Howe’s 1776 New York invasion force.

    Yes, it’s damned near impossible for the American player to “win” a battle, reflective of the historical record.  It’s far easier to list the battles they won than those they lost.  And many of those they “won” were against Loyalists, Hessians, or Iroquois … others were “won” under cover of massed French artillery.

    But like many rebellions, they win simply by continuing to exist.  AWI wargames should reflect this with steeply asymmetrical victory conditions.

    I do see quite a bit of British bias in many British games, including some of the favorite ones.  To be fair there’s plenty of jingoist “star-spangled awesome” in American games, too.  But while I’m not familiar with the “Grenadier” system you mentioned, it doesn’t SOUND like British bias is too much at work here.  The AWI really WAS this lopsided, probably one reason AWI isn’t a terribly popular wargaming subject even here in the States.  Many more prefer American Civil War or (for some ungodly reason – Napoleonics … which I’ve never understood why it’s so popular over here).

    I also agree that the forces on both sides greatly evolved over the course of the war (damned thing lasted almost eight years, after all).  Looking at the Americans between engagements as close together as Boston Road in April 75 and Bunker Hill in June 75 shows the Americans switching from sniping from behind trees to actually trying to stand and fight eye-to-eye behind fieldworks … although the latter certainly didn’t work very well.  It wasn’t until the winter of 77-78 and the recruitment of European officers like von Steuben that the Americans could actually stand and look the British in the face in open battle and at least come out with a draw (Monmouth, 1778).

    Conversely, the British began to rely more and more on Iroquois in the north, other native tribes in the west, and Loyalists in the south, where a lot more guerrilla warfare takes place.  Hell, they even started flirting with the ideas of rifle units, thanks to the good Major Ferguson.

    So yeah, that TSR Battlesystem solution is a bit of a kitbash.  To be honest we’re really only using the movement and morale system, which I really like and plays smooth as butter.  It combined realism, playability, and accessibility in a way other games like Kings of War (from what I’ve seen) just doesn’t match.  The combat system is a little AD&D, with all kinds of different size dice and tons of “armor saves.”  Well, there’s no “armor” in AWI, but certain formations get “save bonuses” and since it’s a unit-based game, elite troops get a better save just because their files, platoons, and companies hold together better under fire.

    But at this club they don’t like games with different sizes of dice, and the idea of excessive saving throws they feel slows the game down.  This seems to be a feature, again, of a little of British-designed game.  Americans are impatient, give us a tougher to-hit roll if you want to manage the game’s lethality, but ditch all these saves!

    Which brings me to what I don’t like about our kitbash rules so far, I may have made the game “too punchy.”  Not OP British or OP Patriots … just OP muskets and especially artillery in general.  Not to drop any spoilers for Part 2 of the video, but we never really come close to a bayonet brawl, which was always the best British weapon and hands down how they won 90% of their victories.  If the game relies too much on muskets and rifles, even weaker and more fragile American units are a little overpowered because it will never come down to the ultimate British trump card in the AWI … the cold steel.

    Anyway, thanks for the great comment!  Good to talk to you again!


    Cult of Games Member

    Battle of Hubbardton – American Revolution 20mm Wargame (Part 2)
    Join us, everyone, for the conclusion of our 20mm tabletop wargame approximating the Battle of Hubbardton.

    Fought during the American Revolution in what would become Vermont (7 July 1777), this was a rear guard action to cover the retreat of Patriot units who’d just been forced to give up Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain.

    On our tabletop, the Patriots have taken a bit of a beating so far … but can we salvage the situation and turn the battle around in Part 2?

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