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Continued Explorations of Normandy Wargaming

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This topic contains 59 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  jamesevans140 1 year, 9 months ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    @piers – “Stomach and Ear” battalions?  😀 😀  That is a phrase I will admit I have never heard before. 😀

    Thanks for the heads up on the rockets.  I might go ahead and add the one battery back in, then.  The game is only in turn 3, and it’s one piece out of something like 500 … although not all 500 will appear on the map at once (successive American waves), etc.

    And damn it, are you serious?  WN 67?  😀 😀 😀  I swear to God that is EXACTLY where I had them before I removed them from the game, they were seriously in an improved position with the yellow arrow … (Hex 1928).  Well hell, looks like I might add them right back where they were.

    Panzer Leader more or less generalizes various German rockets systems.  In the game, it’s all pretty much “nebelwerfer” without breaking it down to the different sizes of rockets or numbers of rockets in a launcher.  A single piece is a battery.  The only thing I might tweak on specifics isn’t so much the firepower for different size rockets (more smaller rockets, fewer big rockets, that kind of thing), but the factor that really counts in Panzer Leader … range.






    Stomach and Ear battalions was the German nickname for sickness units where men were grouped into who had ailments. All of these seem to be Festung Regiments used for garrison duties. 70. Infanterie Division was completely assigned to this role with such cases. Certain units were also assigned older recruits and these men came with such ailments and the name is often associated with those too. It could also be lower category men, already recruited  and moved into the units.

    It’s been speculated that as the Wehrmacht had no real recognition of Combat Stress, in the Heer these units formed a place where sufferers could go when their ailments exhibited in stomach, respiratory or bowel conditions. Some have postulated that their whole purpose was to be a place for shell shock cases though this is supposition on the part of historians looking at PTSD treatment since 1914.

    There has been work done on some of the units in 716. ID as a Festung employed formation to see if the personnel reflected the ailments seen in other Sick Battalions. I shall have to go and look at my old lecture notes… it’s been a while!

    It would be rather interesting to consider a battalion, comprised of older men, lower category recruits, sick and possibly shellshock cases, being tasked to fend off the Allied invasion.


    Cult of Games Member

    Awesome, @piers !  Thanks.  I have put the “nebelwerfers” (an overgeneralized term, I realize) back into the game.

    Thanks for helping me make my game just a little more accurate.  They took their retroactive fire phase from Turn 2, and have just taken their attack on Turn 4.  Nebelwerfers and other rocket-based systems was only fire every other turn in Panzer Leader, if I remember correctly Battlegroup has a similar rule (at least i t did for Katyushas in BG: Kursk)?

    NW 84

    Very interesting notes on Combat Stress and how it was handled, or not handled, in the Wehrmacht.  This is probably a more serious conversation than would “fit” in a wargame, but as we showed with @brucelea and @damon at the Gold Beach game, we had the Ost Battalion 441 with almost all “security platoons” and a morale “D”.  This gives them a lower combat attack, lower defense (unit cohesion and discipline), and poorer chance to rally once dispersed or pinned.  It’s a platoon-based game so “damaging” an infantry unit is much more about the average psychological impact on 35-50 men than hitting an individual target and penetrating armor.  So lower defensive factors and lower morale ratings are a “detached” abstract way of representing these probability curves in a wargame system (based on health, training, motivation, espirit de corps, psychological state, i.e., are you hitting a unit that has already been dispersed or pinned, etc).


    Cult of Games Member

    Well, @piers, I hope you’re happy.  🙁

    Lost two of my Jugs trying before I could finally eliminate those German rockets in WN 67.

    But finally got the job done before these rockets could fire again (all bombs expended in previous turns, which is why I had to use so many aircraft for a mass strafing attack).

    In the pic below one of the P-47s was actually shot down in a previous turn – which is why all the German flak seems to be coming at one P-47.

    WN 67_a



    Thanks for your great reply @oriskany.

    In just about any wargame a unit caught in the open is in high risk unless the opposing player is in some kind of melt down. Certainly any praise I give these little tanks are said under conditions that favour them, which are quite isolated from the norm. During the time slice we are looking at these conditions presents themselves a few times. Yes the 45mm is more of a glorified 37mm and does not compare to the German 50mm AT guns. Where in the time sliced we are studying the 45mm at short range will have time in the sun. At range most of my tanks can a hit on the chin from these things. It is my thin side armour the 45mm at close range can easily punch through. Don’t forget I am using 1941 Panzers without any up armouring yet. Nearer to March I will start to get stuff like that. The is also when the T-70’s will start to arrive but not yet replacing the T-60. I view the T-60 as a poor man’s Pz-2 while the T-70 its a rich man’s Pz-2. At least my Pz-2’s have been banished to recon duties.

    The Russian doctrine for tanks is a little odd at this point of time as well. They don’t use these little tanks for recon but rather mixed in with the larger tanks sort of using them in the prewar tankette doctrine of using them for back scratchers and flank security of the medium tank formation. For the Russians at least they will properly get rid of them or using them for recon until they are replaced by T-34/76mm to do the job.

    The examples I give here were straight up lingual comparisons without CAT considerations. Notice that in my army list for my broken army I will use the PZ-4 tanks as artillery. I scraped up two 75mm infantry guns and was lucky enough to get two of the new 50mm AT guns rather than two or possibly four 37mm AT guns, that would have sucked. It will be bad enough waiting for Paulus to release my tanks. Here we prefer to create rules so you feel the presence of a major commander. We don’t buy models of the generals and place them on the board. This annoyed me towards the end of FoW when they started creating models and rules for these guys. Really do you want Patton on the table, please. However I completely understand that gamers that came up the WH40K would be expecting them, as over the years this game has become character driven. A couple of years ago one of our players wanted to put all the space wolf special characters on the board at the same time. But no-one would accommodate him. So as a shaming thing I came out of 40K retirement and I teamed up with Yarrick. We took an pork ork army with no special characters that was just over 300 orks strong. We needed both our ork armies and had to borrow some from another ork player. So it was 7 or 8 space wolves special characters vs over 300 works. We the orks got wiped out and we only managed to push one special character off the board. We had so much fun we disrupted other games. It annoyed me that this guy had accommodated the other players on many occasions and they could not grant him this one game. But getting back the point is that players coming up from the 40K path are looking for and expecting characters that will have this kind of impact.

    Just like any other tank in FoW the 2cm is the T-60’s main gun and you may fire this or you mgs on any turn. For things like soft-skins artillery and light support weapons that are dug-in your better off using the 2 cm gun, that has a lower rate of fire. For infantry your better off using the much higher volume of fire. Once entrenched any hits from the mgs need a fire power roll of a 6 to do any real damage. The high volume of fire tends to push dumb luck out of the picture.

    The dirty little secret about all wargames in general it that they are actually quite bad at simulating real war. That was not their original purpose as set out by the Germans at their general staff academy. What wargames are really good at is simulating doctrine so budding staff officers can learn and gain experience with their doctrine and allow another side to deploy the doctrine of another country or at least their best interpretation of it. Ask any wargame what war is and you will get many different answers which are all correct and yet at different altitudes and latitudes they will all be wrong. Is war an art or a science or both? Now if this is not bad enough the modern hobby Wargamer has tried themselves to that wretched kitchen table. The modern wargame happens to space devoid of time. Yet we demand that it simulates full combined arms warfare for let’s say WW2. We are very demanding and see not that willing to take on disadvantages without a gun to your head or your just an idiot like me. Troop model size and wether one model represents one man or a hundred. What is the scale of the tables and the scenery placed upon it and finally what is the scale of weapon ranges and the impact of range on a weapon. Time just screws everything up. You play a game with time and it turns out that a historical battle that lasted 10 hours just took 18 minutes according to the game. There has been countless attempts to reconcile all this on to that kitchen table. We have often gone down the road of using different scales for different things on that kitchen table. Back in the 70’s I played one game that work well for most things except one hut represented a small village and for accurate weapons range half an inch represented 100 yards. It worked fine enough but it was visually broken at 400 yards apart our M4 had its gun crossed with the panther like a pair of swords. Plus landing on Sword beach and taking Caen took just a bit over an hour and half. Because of ground scale the two buildings representing the city was just over 3 feet from the beach. We thought this was great. We have come a long way since then. About 20 years ago I came across a game from New Zealand that tried a different way to shoehorn combined arms tactics on to that kitchen table. It used abstraction and contraction to deal with the different scales. It was also based on the results of a team and not individual. I figured that if I wanted to win WW2 by myself I could play a console game. It was not the best game in the world but a applauded the fresh thinking. In reality I don’t believe that the scales can be reconciled on the kitchen table. Even you have moved off the kitchen table and into virtual reality. It is here perhaps there may be an answer. An integrated hybrid system that acts like a dungeon master if you like. You mark your kitchen on the battle map. You play on the table as it is the centre of gravity while the application looks after weather, lighting and support units that are off you table but have the range to influence the kitchen table. It would handle such things as battleships, air observation. Even a squadron of M4’s that just cleared the crest of an off table hill but they have range onto the table with their off board fire arriving in the fire phase as off board artillery. We could have counter battery going on as well. So we finally have some control over what is happening in the larger battle space surrounding the kitchen table. I believe with app assistance all this could be done without slowing the game by much at all. As the app is acting like a DM things like true hidden movement can be done, friction of war is applied by it. Command and control could be realistically applied. Platoon X has just had its radio destroyed by a sniper. They will be out of command until a spare radio or runner arrives at their location. The platoon will still carry on its primary mission of taking Hill 123.

    You want complete control in your tactics and that is fine. I on the other hand is an idiot that restricts the tactics to the period. I could not bring myself to suddenly invent blitzkrieg in 1918 even though all the elements are there.

    With my Finns I use a basic ACOKA as that is what they have come up with just that they did not know yet that it is called ACOKA. On the other hand I could not bring myself to use the more advanced METT-C.

    I believe that if you get fun your way and I with mine and someone else finds fun in an entirely different way our hobby is all the better for it.

    That is why I will never say FoW is the best wargame out their. We have had to make changes to each version but for our group it handle most things well at the team effort results level. If we wish to zoom in on the details at an individual results level we use BG, again highly modified.

    If we zoom out above FoW we use a very modified version of it where a tank or stand of men for a platoon. It we really zoom out we use the full V3 of Firestorm. At the end of the day all this means little other than this is the way we enjoy our gaming which is how we learn our history.

    To me Soviet Storm was something done on the cheap. The maps really needed to be redone in English. So I assumed they did not employ a level 5 interpreter or translator for the Russian language either. This happens a lot. When I watch documentaries on Finnish wars with audio my wife who is Finnish often says that is not right what the commentator just said or more often she says I did not think they allow that kind of language on TV.


    Yes I think it will take until mid the late August and I will have completely ruined @timp764 ‘s view on WW2. 😉

    We are playing U-Boot as a group for the first time tomorrow, so I have a lot of prep work on. After that I will catch up with the current topic of Omaha at platoon level.

    You really now how to punish yourself. 😉  🙂 😀



    Cult of Games Member

    Good to hear from you , @jamesevans140

    Certainly any praise I give these little tanks are said under conditions that favour them…

    Oh certainly.  I use T-70s in PanzerBlitz all the time because, well, history gives me no choice in many situations.  I don’t find them terribly useful against infantry (at least once they dismount from halftracks or trucks) but their fast speed and relative expendability makes them fun to form into little battalions and sweep around German wings, looking for HW units, AA positions, hidden AT guns (88s ain’t shit when 88s are pointing the wrong way!)   In large numbers the AF value of those 45mms also adds up with startling speed, especially at close range.

    … 45mm at short range will have time in the sun …

    Absolutely.  Again, using PanzerBlitz as a guide … and I’m pretty sure Flames of War did too in a few places  😀  … that 45mm gets a 5 AF, which doubles to 10 at 300 meters or less (2 hexes in updated rules versions).  That is more than enough to slow down anything short of a Panther or Tiger (which usually have DFs of 12).  But PzKpfw IVs have a 6, 7, or 8 depending on the variant, so the 10 AF of a 45mm ATG is pretty solid.

    I agree, though, the German 50cm is better.  The L42 version gets an 8, the L60 version gets a 10.  The range is also better on both versions.

    At least my Pz-2’s have been banished to recon duties.

    That was their intended purpose, after all.

    The Russian doctrine for tanks is a little odd at this point of time as well. 

    Yes it is, but that’s a beast of necessity.  Again referring to my favorite Soviet general Katukov, when Soviet tanks divisions were finally trashed in favor of the smaller, easier to handle tank brigade, one unfortunate side effect was that Katutov was “demoted” to command 4th Tank Brigade after the annihilation of 20th Tank Division.  He was promised as “consolation” that his new brigade would all T-34/c.  Whoops, sorry, Mikhail Efimovich … one of your two battalions will still be BT-7s, your favorite “Knights in Plywood.”  Best we could do, I’m afraid.  He made it work and 4th Tank Brigade quickly became the 1st Guards Tank Brigade *(yep, first).

    Notice that in my army list for my broken army I will use the PZ-4 tanks as artillery.

    Well, sure … as early as you  guys are playing that would be the role and the L24 7.5cm gun.  The L43 doesn’t appear on the PzKpfw-IVF/2 until later in the summer, I believe, much less the L48s on some of the Gs.

    It will be bad enough waiting for Paulus to release my tanks.

    Don’t be too hard on him.  He doesn’t have that many, at least once Hoth and von Kleist are done stealing from him.

    This annoyed me towards the end of FoW when they started creating models and rules for these guys. Really do you want Patton on the table, please.

    We are of one mind.  Although the idea of Patton demoted down to a company or at best a battalion commander is always humorous to me.

    The dirty little secret about all wargames in general it that they are actually quite bad at simulating real war.

    I can partially agree with that.  It depends on the level.  At lower tactical levels like FOW or skirmish levels like BoW, war is 90% managed chaos yet the game system has to be anything but chaos.  So there’s an intrinsic disconnect there.

    Even more fundamental, the person on the other end of the table is a friend.  Not an enemy.  😀  I often enjoy dropping the cheesy “Oriskany Fortune Cookie Wisdom”  —  “It’s a warGAME.  Four letters in GAME, only three letters in WAR.  Relax.”

    Is war an art or a science or both?

    War is too ugly to be art and too fucking stupid to be science.   Oriskany Jim, 2019. 😀

    You want complete control in your tactics and that is fine. I on the other hand is an idiot that restricts the tactics to the period. I could not bring myself to suddenly invent blitzkrieg in 1918 even though all the elements are there.

    While I would disagree that all the elements of Blitzkrieg were in place in 1918 😀 … 🙂  I totally agree with the what you’re saying overall here.   I get this sometimes when I set up strictly recreated historical battles and then challenge the players to “do better” than their historical counterparts. Well, they can’t use <i>any </i>tactics they want, and we totally agree on that.  This is obviously because a … say … Panzer Leader or PanzerBlitz force is hundreds, usually thousands of men.  That’s dozens of officers, hundreds of staff, NCOs, etc, all trained in the doctrines you mention.

    So just as players are not allowed to use M1A2 Abrams at Normandy because players “know that they’re better” than Shermans, players shouldn’t be allowed to use “unavailable” tactics or doctrine for the battle or time period.  Put more simply, players have no issue being limited to using period-appropriate equipment … they should also have no issue being limited in using period-appropriate men who’ve had period-appropriate training.

    The catch here is that players sometimes feel as if they’re being asked to “roleplay stoopid.”  I have to line up my soldiers in big brown Soviet blocks and send them into German machine gun fire because the history tells me to.

    Well, leaving aside inaccurate historical stereotypes born of shitty Hollywood movies, if one’s game is making them do  that… one needs to find a better game.  That’s just bad design (and research).  I feel that when players complain of “doctrinal” or “historical straight-jacketing” it’s the fault of the game design.  Games like PanzerBlitz (or more accurately, improved community-built expansions on PanzerBlitz) are well designed enough to where the units have strengths and weaknesses that are very subtle.  There are no special rules (outside of scenario stipulations). Nowhere does the game “tell” you, either in the rules or the fluff, what should work or shouldn’t.

    But after a few games you quickly realize that certain gameplay styles work for certain forces.  This emerges organically.  Only later do some players realize they’re playing “Soviet Style” or “German Style” (and even that’s an oversimplification – a German panzergrenadier force plays different from an infanterie force or a panzer force or a panzerjaeger kampfgruppe or etc etc etc) … because that’s what works in the game.

    Certain solutions work because of the abilities of limitations of the tools in hand, including the equipment (technology) and the men (training) and how they were welded together (doctrine) to form the maneuver force that you as the player (commander) were given on that day.



    Once again thank you for your reply @oriskany.

    What I am noticing from your examples from Panzer Leader and kindred is that in broad terms it is quite similar to FoW just that they approach the subject in different ways. But overall they produce the same. Where they differ the most is a product of where they each sit in the Tactical Sphere. Your dealing with the effects of a platoon team effort while I deal with the team effort of the fire team or tank crew. So weapon, range and speed of a given tank type we are both concerned about. Being lower down I have to concern myself with what armour plate is facing where or if the tank had moved and at what speed if it did. Like the example you have of the Russian 45mm. In FoW if it fires at long range the target is +1 harder to hit and the armour value of the target goes up by 1. So for my Pz-3 its front armour is 5 and the side armour is 3. The 45mm has an Anti-Tank value of 7.

    If the 45mm attacks at long range on the Pz-3 front the shot is very unlikely to penetrate. At short range from the side it has a good chance of penetrating. A different methods but pretty much the same result from PL.

    The issue I have with FoW4 are the army lists created under broad time divisions. Such as 1942-1943. Anything from say the Germans and Russians. People new to historic wargaming but say have a 40K back ground will be comfortable with this. They choose a such as 2nd Kharkov in the first half of 42. But the armies will have Tigers, Panthers and improved T-34/76 tanks running around where they should not be, yet this would be a legal points catch up game. I think it places too much demand on the players to research their history. I believe this came about from a product survey that declared their average customer was aged 13 to 17. They wanted to play in their lunch hour and was not “big” on history. This is why we have started creating campaign primers. At least then players who are unfamiliar with the history can build a historic army list for a chosen battle or time period. @timp764 has had a brief look at the draft for Izyum and Case Blau and loved it. It presents a focused history, an overview of forces and tactics and has confidence in creating a historical army list. Is this taking things too far? My main objectives are to show a real historic Russian Army commanded by Timoshenko and not the rubber stamp normally used by Army lists and players. The second objective is to show that the German Army is not a super machine and that it was actually broken. It will show a tiny period where if not for Stalin’s purges the Germans could have easily started the end of the war on the Eastern Front in Jan 42. Again I like to see the history that is usually blotted out my the tourist trap battles presented in the historical accounts.  Perhaps in short real armies, battles and history that we are going to have a lot of fun discovering.

    We had a lot of fun and amusing times with our first games of U-Boot. It plays out in real time that can be accelerated. There are 4 roles with each roll having extra duties attached. Each role supervises 4 crew of the watch to get things done. Tasks are achieved through command points or crew morale. All this is done on the board and fed into the companion app. How hard do you push the crew?

    So it feels like old school AD&D and juggling things in the work place. In all it works well and gives you a taste of the pressure that the crews of a U-Boat and is fun. Much too our surprise we sunk two cargo ships to the value of 8,500 and attacked a 1250 ton escort and we somehow managed to bring a working boat back to port. We been looking for something like this for a while now beginning the only co-operation game we own.

    Anyway mate have a great 4th July.


    Cult of Games Member

    Thanks, @jamesevans140 … had a great holiday and look forward to a big weekend before flying out next Tuesday to meet up with Justin and Gerry for Historicon.  😀

    But overall they [Panzer Leader and FoW] produce the same. I would agree with this overall.  They both aim for a blend of historical fidelity and playability.  The only fundamental difference is scale, and fundamental changes to the math and dynamics that come with clicking up in scale.

    Flames of War (or other “pure tactical” WYSIWYG games):  You see a target.  You want to shoot a target.  You roll to hit.  That shot hits or misses, applies force against the armor, delivers a result based on did you hit, did you penetrate.

    Panzer Leader (or other “command tactical” unit-driven games):  GROUP A wants to shoot at GROUP B.  A volume of fire is applied based on the strength of the unit (x) its rate of fire (x) and the length of the game turn.  There is never a roll to hit.  There is never a “shot fired.”  There is a aggregate volume applied.  In any case, %(x) men will always “hit” (y) target over (z) time period.   The variable is a scaled probability envelope measuring the range of potential effects that your volume of fire will have against the combat effectiveness of the target unit.  Units are never “destroyed” in Panzer Leader.  They are rendered combat ineffective through either collateral impact but more typically psychological damage to their will to fight, damage to their equipment, and manpower diverted to care for casualties.

    This is the reason ranges in PL are usually so much shorter than people expect.  “This gun has a max effective range of 2000 meters, the hexes are 150 meters, why isn’t the range of this battery 13?”   The range measures the average threshold where 50% of the guns in that BATTERY of guns will hit 50% of the time against 50% of a target types and score telling damage 50% of the time.  The laws of averages slashes that number way, way, WAY down, but delivers a much more plausible result at the “command tactical” level.

    Of course FoW handles it differently, but FOW is aimed at a very different “level of action.”

    I mean, here’s the board for Omaha Beach.  Granted, this is a very large PL game.  But at 150 meters a hex, every one of those hexes is just under a 5-foot table at 15mm.  Basically, every hex is a FoW table.

    The issue I have with FoW4 are the army lists created under broad time divisions.  Gotcha.  Yeah, that would be annoying.

    1942-1943 … Tigers, Panthers and improved T-34/76 tanks running around where they should not be, yet this would be a legal points catch up game. Oh hell no.  I’m totally with you there.  I see what you mean about 42-43 bracket, yet when you try to play something as early as Feb-March 1942 … you’re getting tanks that didn’t debut until the second half of 1943.  A LOT CHANGED in those 14 months.

    The same basic problem popped up in their new Fate of a Nation release.  Which is a great book, I spent three episodes of my Ops Center series good things about it.  But one warning I did give, it more or less lumps 1967 Six Day War with 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Notes ARE GIVEN to warn players from using 1973 equipment and units in a 1967 game, but at a “tournament” setting I can see this becoming a problem.

    I have a feeling whether a game (or an edition of a game) is “historically accurate” depends more on the players than the game system or books.  I mean people used to mash up Panzer Leader and Panzer Blitz, putting PzKpfw IVHs in 1941 Barbarossa scenarios just because the original boxed set didn’t have enough counters.  🙁

    Again I like to see the history that is usually blotted out my the tourist trap battles presented in the historical accounts.  – we are of one mind here.  Although I feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying that after completing 25 hours of game play recreating OMAHA BEACH.  That landing’s certainly never been covered in books or movies.  😉

    The U-Boot game sounds fun!  I remember seeing John and Justin play it on the site.

    More Vietnam videos to edit, then Darkstar and more Normandy (British tanks later outside of Caen).  A busy weekend ahead!



    Thanks for your great reply @oriskany.

    Glad you took time out for for the 4th.

    We are getting ready ourselves, just 14 days to WinterCon. So FoW is on hold until after it. There its going to be quite a few games of U-Boot however.

    Thanks for reminding me of probability and statists that we had to wade through plus logic engines of building corporate wargames. Sadly my copy of SPI’s own bible of game design went missing during the move to my current address.

    It is just the nature of the beast. As you move from lesser tactics through to strategy more and more must be abstracted, otherwise you will never get off the ground. It is paramount not to allow the details to distract you from the task at hand. One hex is one FoW game, well you have a lot of dice to roll for all those infantry teams to shoot as all those target teams. Would you even remember that it was supposed to be about Omaha beach. As I always saying it is about questioning. Is it about if the village was taken out is it about how it was taken. It the story about the village or its the village just part of the story. Like yourself I like exploring both possibilities but I will use two different tools to do the exploring with.

    However I believe it is more than equating hexes to battles. Inside that hex I can have up to about 6 platoons of tanks. Here I am interested about doctrine and tactics of the tank company. Yet if I wanted to look at tanks shooting at each other and how to force my opponent to my will then I would use BG. Yet I can’t yet dismiss BG as you can field half a company using it. So there is a fair bit of dynamics happening here that is more than dropping tables in hexes. I find it comforting that the dynamics of command and doctrine overall deliver similar results. Yet on a BG table there will appear to be a lot of chaos swirling around the edges and so there should be being at the lowest level. FoW should be far less ordered than the PL map. In turn PL is more disordered then when I have my divisional level The Russian Campaign dusted off. This is the joy of the wargaming hobby. I am happiest when it’s about teams working towards a result rather than individual results.

    It is great that we can explore a battle from all these different perspectives to get a holistic and balanced view.

    This was perhaps the failing of SPI’s Mega game of D-Day. Doing all the beaches at one time down to platoon level was perhaps done at the cost the perspective of D-Day. What should have been abstracted was not. I think a far better game to explore and take in the unique issues would have been done at battalion or perhaps regimental level. To experience the difficulties of landing on and taking a beach would be done by looking at a sector of one of the beaches. Chosen for how it highlights these difficulties and dropping to platoon level to investigate. If FoW was to be used here I would be insisting for linked battles or mini campaigns along lines of advance. This is something too few FoW players try and by doing this miss out on a lot of depth of the battle rather than the game.

    So off to Caen and surrounds. This will please @timp764 to no end. He will have the opportunity to see his Desert Rats fight as a division rather than the usual reinforced companies of armour and infantry with support of higher level assets.

    While I find it very rewarding to research and look at battles that historians forgot. It is often refreshing coming back to these major battles to deepen our experience in the history behind them.

    Not very historical battles, Tigers at El Alamein and the like. I think I understand the temptation of doing this by younger players. They have models of these eye candy breasts but not the history studied yet to use them. They know the big battles, so let’s do a “ish” battle and use this or that. What I would be more concerned with it a player using for their advantage vehicles from late 43 to play a game set in early 42. There is an evolution and generation apart that would give an absolute advantage.

    Yet I love doing the reverse for the challenge of using 41 models and variants against the early to mid 42 models. Ok there is something wrong with me.


    Cult of Games Member


    Yep, we have had our first game of “Normandy Campaign” Panzer Leader … rather than “D-Day landing” Panzer Leader.  @damon and I had a great 4-hour game of 8th Armoured Brigade (Nottingham Yeomanry / Sherwood Foresters at the lead, supported by 4/7th Dragoons and 24th Lancers) leading 147th Infantry Brigade  49th West Riding Division at the Battle of Fortenay-Rauray, Operation Martlet, 27 June 1944.

    Sherwood Foresters were requested, so that’s how we wound up lo0king at an 8th Armoured Brigade “research / history path.”

    The opponents were a divisional boundary between the right wing of Panzer Lehr and 12th SS Hitlerjugend.

    Definitely a harsh fight.  I won’t lie, it was fun to play Panthers of Pz Lehr and Tigers of 101 SS sPzAtng.  Although, not shockingly, the Panzer Lehr came off much better than the SS.

    Look for the full battle report in the projects section, coming soon!

    Omaha Beach – The Guns Fall Silent




    Great to see your moving along with this project and such a large game in only 4 hours. You guys are machines!

    I will certainly let @timp764 know about it once you have posted the link to it. It would be good for him to see the British operating as a division and brigades. One thing I think will confusing for him at first is that at first glance all British divisions are armored until he learns the difference between Infantry tanks and Cruiser tanks. It will also be good for him to see life in the fracture zone, the boundaries between two large and separate formations. Even at Izyum the Russians were good at this. It will also be good for him to see that Panthers and Tigers are not the be all on the battlefield.

    From what I have read the Hitler Youth and the Viking divisions were standout divisions in even the SS for the unnecessary horrendous casualties they took. They were too busy being heroes for Hitler rather than being great soldiers. Still they were very unsettling for those who they attacked.

    It was an interesting chose here as you get a good mix of German armour, as STuGs were by far the most numerous at Normandy followed by Pz-4s with Panthers and Tigers in the minority. Not helped by PZ Lehr getting decimated in the opening moves of Cobra.

    I watched an episode of Drain the Oceans, Normandy special, last night. I was unaware on just how many large ships were lost in the first month of Normandy. What surprised me was the loss of one of the large LSTs at Omaha on D-Day when they desperately tried to land tanks in numbers to stop the blood bath. Would they have really made a difference? Something to look at in a what if game. Given that there was not enough LSTs to go around, adding the 3 lost recently in Hawaii, it must have been a painful loss.

    At the moment I am currently sorting my “must have” list together for WinterCon. I already had the unit and command cards for the US at Normandy on pre-release order so they should be here soon. It is funny that there is no mention of Normandy cards for Commonwealth and Germans as yet. While the group’s main interest will be on mid war Eastern Front, I want to do late war North-Western Europe with him as a side thing. D-Day seems a good place to start.


    Cult of Games Member


    You guys are machines!  Yeah, it’s been a helluva weekend.  Finish the Omaha megagame, post edit, sound-mix, and post the P3 of the Vietnam between Gianna and I, design and run a very large Darkstar game with players / spectators in Australia, UK, and Canada, design and run another Panzer Leader game with players / spectators in the UK and Kansas, put the battle report up for the Darkstar game …

    I swear sometimes I come to work on Monday just to relax.

    It would be good for him to see the British operating as a division and brigades.  Okay, quick word of warning, we were “intentionally inaccurate” in two small ways.

    One, we broke the Fireflies out in their own tank troops, rather than the traditional British tank troop of three Shermans and one Firefly.

    Two, we “left out” the infantry assault (147th Brigade, 49th West Riding Division) against the German infantry (26th SS Panzergrenadiers / 12th SS HJ).  We just described these units as “fighting on the same battlefield, between and among us.”  Relegated them to “background noise.”  trying to put whole brigades of infantry on the table is definitely the complete and realistic way to do this, but we were trying to avoid another 9.5-hour game like we saw on Gold Beach, or 25-hour game like that Omaha beach assault.

    This was all tanks.  90 Shermans, 30 Fireflies, 20 M10 Achilles/17lbr, 30 Panthers, 40 PzKpfw IVs, a handful of JgPz IV/48s, some gun halftracks and flak halftracks, Pumas and other armored cars, even 10 Tigers from 101 SS sPzAbtg.  A hide-and-seek game from hell in the dense hedgerow terrain, the ultimate “third-person cover-based shooter.”  😀  The game took four hours, I think we spent three of them measuring line of sight.  As soon as someone finally DID get LOS on someone else, the range was so short it was: Bang, you’re dead.”  That, and the swarm of rocket-armed Typhoons overhead didn’t help things (at least for me).

    Fontenay Preview

    From what I have read the Hitler Youth and the Viking divisions were standout divisions in even the SS for the unnecessary horrendous casualties they took. – yeah, and warcrimes, too.  I mean none of the Waffen SS units were good in this regard, but these guys were among the worst of the worst.

    … as STuGs were by far the most numerous at Normandy followed by Pz-4s with Panthers and Tigers in the minority.  I would completely agree with that statement.  What’s odd is that in this particular scenario there are no StG-IIIs.  Just a weird case where the research shows that these two particular divisions didn’t have that particular equipment on this particular field.   And we have about a 40%/60% mix of Panthers and PzKpfw IV, but again that’s more of an exception, borne out by these two particular divisions (12th SS HJ and Panzer Lehr).  Although German panzer divisions were going for a 50-50 between PzKpfw V and IV, almost none of them attained it while most fell far, far short.

    I was unaware on just how many large ships were lost in the first month of Normandy.  Yeah, a lot of those were from those Channel storms that wrecked the Mulberry harbors 2-3 weeks after D-Day.  The Mulberry at Omaha was completely smashed up.  Also, a lot of ships were sunk intentionally as breakwaters.  But also, there were serious shipping losses on D-Day to German AT and howitzer fire.

    Would tanks have really made a difference? Something to look at in a what if game. Ha!  look no further than that Omaha Beach Megagame.  With some merciful dice, I was able to get most of 741st Tank Battalion ashore on Easy Red (as did NOT happen historically), and even a reasonable fraction of the 743rd TB over on Dog White and Dog Green.  So by Turn 3 we had about 40 tanks across 5 miles of beach.

    What difference would they have made?  I found it was a compounding “statistical cascade.”  More Shermans on the beach means more cover fire for the infantry = more infantry making it ashore, to the shingle, and up the bluffs.  More infantry in the draws means the German wiederstandnester are now fighting to protect their wings (they’re too far apart for mutual support) and not sweeping the beach, which of course means MORE infantry ashore on Waves 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and so on.  Safer beaches means more engineers lading with their equipment, so more gaps blown in beach obstacles, and faster.  This means MORE tanks make it ashore easier in later LST waves (doesn’t really help the DDs), but also more SP artillery and even towed artillery at the end of the game.  The SP artillery (62nd and 58th SP Armored Field Artillery Battalions – M7 Priests) really made a monster difference.

    This is part of what turned the tail end of that Omaha Beach game into something of a rout.  16th and 116th RCTs more or less achieved V Corps phase line objectives by mid-day.  😐  I won’t say it was ALL because of the tanks, but they were definitely a contributing factor.



    I’m never one to stand up for SS formations…


    But 5th Panzer Divisin Wiking do not have anywhere near the war crimes record of other SS units.

    It was the ‘Nordic’ formation and fought almost entirely on the Eastern Front, its ranks being ethnic Germans and Nordic volunteers, who often joined for various reasons from a deep seated hatred of Communism to adventure. They also recruited from the former Baltic States who certainly had no love for the Red Army.

    Their three main war crimes, if you can settle on three, are the beating and execution of around 60 Jews in Lvov in 1941 after one of the divisions officer was shot and killed. It should be noted that members of 1st Gebirgsjager Division also took part in this event.

    The other two events were both during prisoner marches in 1945, when 5 members of Wiking shot and killed two groups of Jewish prisoners, one a group of 80 and another of 18.

    While still horrific, I’m not sure they qualify as far and away worse than any other Waffen SS division.

    As for their casualty rate, well it’s pretty much the same as others. They had no stand out high rate, which considering their role as a Fire Brigade in the east is no mean feat. All SS divisions had high turnover as they were often tasked with hard assignments and early in the war acted with often recklessness. But Wiking was far down the list for manpower turnover. Certainly LAH and Das Reich topped them.

    I’ve no love for any of the units of the Waffen-SS but Wiking certainly weren’t the worst or most fanatical. They did however fight a hard and brutal war in the East.


    Cult of Games Member

    So yesterday my friend @damon and I had a great game of Panzer Leader, meant as a “historical approximation” of the Sherwood Rangers’ participation in Operation Martlet.  This was an attack launched in Normandy during the last days of June, 1944, west of Caen.  The objective was to pin German forces in place and prevent lateral shifts of reinforcements against the upcoming (much larger) attack of Operation Epsom, one of many British attempts to clear German divisions from the vicinity of Caen.

    The Sherwood Rangers were requested by @damon , I found the battle, researched its general layout and topography, designed the scenario and the new map, and facilitated the game.  I played units of the 12th SS Hitlerjugend and Panzer Lehr, while Damon fielded forward elements of 8th Armoured Brigade (Sherwood Rangers’ parent formation).  I also included other units of 8th Armoured, including most of 4/7 Dragoons and a little of the 24th Lancers, as I’m not 100% certain they were there on this particular day (they may well have been, I only had a couple days to research this and design the game).

    The three historical phase lines of this assault were Barraccuda (through the town of Fontenay-le-Pesnel), Walrus (extending ENE out of the high ground of Tessel Wood) and “Albacore” (roughly along the line of towns Vendes and Rauray).

    These phase lines were used as the basis for the seven objective hexes.  Damon’s British must take four of them to win the game.  Thus, he only has to match the rough historical outcome of the attack, not its actual planned objectives, which were not reached on the day in question.

    Again, each hex is 150 meters.  Most counters are a platoon, troop, or battery.  The game lasts 10 turns.

    Oh, one more thing before the rivet-counting snipers start taking shots … these British tank troops are “intentionally inaccurate” historically.  Again, Panzer Leader runs on platoons / troops.  So each of these Sherman counters should read 10-A-8, math that is worked out to represent a four-tank troop of three “vanilla” Shermans and a Firefly.  I gave Damon the choice and he elected to break up his three battalions into specialized troops, so each squadron has three counters of 9-A-8 “pure” Shermans and one of 14-A-10 Fireflies.

    So here’s an overview of the map, initial German dispositions (Panzer Lehr’s right wing in grey, 12th SS HJ left wing in black). Along the north yellow dotted line is the start line for the British. The three historical phase lines are shown, along with the seven objective hexes in yellow targeting icons (some are obscure by German units). Note that we are NOT doing this whole battle “full bore,” i.e., with the 147th Infantry Brigade / 49th West Riding Infantry Division (the formation 8th Armoured Brigade was supporting in this attack) or the main line of German resistance, drawn by 26th SS Panzergrenadier Rgt / 12th SS HJ Division. After the detailed, high-density, infantry-heavy slaughter of Omaha, I was in the mood for a more manageable, armored maneuver game.


    Damon starts his advance south, making contact with an over-stretched, understrength detachment of SS PzGrRgt 26 (really only a platoon of infantry, a battery of 7.5s, and some transport). Tow supporting British armored battalions (understrength) flank to either side.


    The battle in the town heats up. With the Germans dug in “heavy” urban hexes (gray buildings = stone, brick, concrete, etc.), they’re proving tough to dig out. One troop of Shermans is already afire.


    Off to the east, 4/7 Dragoons confronts 20 Panthers and some SS armored cars. The problem facing Damon here is a daunting one. Any German counter deployed in a hex containing a green “hedgerow” hexside is considered concealed per Panzer Leader rules, until it fires or an enemy unit moves adjacent. So the Germans are almost certainly going to get the first shot. Not only that, but by using split move and fire rule, they can then displace and “hide again.” Normally this isn’t that big a deal, as you can shoot the Germans as they move, but these Panthers are just fast enough, and these hedgerows are just close enough, where that window will NOT be wide enough for Damon to return fire in most cases. So yes, you force the Germans back … but you never kill them and you are literally building a road of burning Shermans. Welcome to the hedgerows. Much like the Allied commanders of the day, Damon must find a way to break this dilemma. Meanwhile, my ATGs in the French farm open fire on transport units trying to tow 17-pounders into position. I hit one while it’s still limbered. It gives my position, but it was worth it for a kill on a battery of 17-pounders. You can see what Damon was trying to do … set up more angles on my Panthers so at least when he flushes them (usually at the cost of more burning Shermans), at least SOMEONE gets a shot at them. Now in reality, this “flushing” would be often attempted by L5 spotter aircraft or infantry. But this was a game we were trying to wrap up in less than the 9.5 hours we spent on Gold Beach before.


    Damon wisely gives up the idea of 24th Lancers on Tessel Wood (for now), consolidating the understrength battalion with Sherwood Rangers to put pressure on the German center. AS for me, I know Fontenay is lost, I’m just hoping to plug the British up there as long as possible. Already it’s. given me time to move up more of the SSPzRgt 12 and elements of SS sPzAbtg 101. However, Typhoons are now overhead, ready to hit SS tanks when the “hedgerow hop” … depending on WHERE exactly they hop (in this terrain I have PLENTY of choices). Meanwhile, 2.0cm FlaK halftracks that took a poke at the Typhoons were in turn spotted by Shermans and shot into flaming wreckage (German “wreck” counter at lower right). That shot was at just over 1000 yards! Well done!


    At last, German resistance ends in Fontenay. One MORE turn to redeploy, and finally Damon launches a bloody, point-blank assault on SSPzRgt 12 on the east. My fifteen Panthers fire, actually don‘t do that well, (only two Sherman platoons eliminated and a third “dispersed”). Then it comes time to run. The problem is, Damon how has close to seventy tanks within a kilometer or so, there are a lot less hiding places for me to bolt to after my “bushwack” fire. One Panther platoon is takes cover in the farm. I can’t put more in there because there’s already burning armored cars in there (wreck counters take up “space” in a hex, they count as a unit for stacking purposes), and my ATG battery is still in there. Just to get the ONE Panther platoon in there I have to sacrifice my trucks (transport for the ATGs). Another Panther platoon tries to run for down the road, but the Typhoons re-enact a classic Normandy moment, throwing rockets into German armor caught on a road in daylight. Another platoon dies in the stream, where it tried to take hull-down positions. Only the platoon in the farm survives, and even they are pinned. They’ll eventually escape, put I’ve still lost two Panther platoons for four troops of Shermans … not a good trade for the Germans at all.


    Emboldened by success, Damon’s 4/7 Dragoons and the Sherwood Rangers complete the cave-in of the German right wing, pivoting inward to roll up Phase Line Walrus. Other SS armored units now get to fire, but again I don’t do terribly well here. PzKpfw IVHs and even Tigers at LESS THAN 300 METERS fail to kill Shermans (okay, I pin down a down squadron, chalk that up to “Tiger Terror”). But of course Panzer Leader is a game smart enough to recognize that Tigers aren’t the scariest thing on the field by a long shot (at least if you’re a British tank crew). Also, those Typ0hoons are positively murdering me. The good news, they’re now OUT OF ROCKETS. Also, my Tigers have all escaped, displacing to new firing positions 300 meters further down the hedgerow. In case you’re wondering what Panzer Lehr is doing all this time, they’ve now redeployed to cover the crossroad objective at the left hand side of the board, and they’re also covering the heights of Tessel Wood. Long story short, they’re facing off against the 55th Antitank Regiment / Royal Artillery (M-10 Achilles), still deployed on high ground in covered overwatch positions in Fontenay.


    Again, the SS has stuck to its ground perhaps just a little too long. My Tigers and last PzKpfw IVHs (and JgPz IV / 48s) scored some more killed Shermans, but as they try to pull out … My real problem here is that Damon’s learned how to assault hedgerows. You approach en masse and from MORE THAN ONE DIRECTION. Note the Squadron of 24th Lancers flanking my former position from the north. Now, no matter which way I bolt out of the hedgerow, I’m getting pinged by someone. And by Someone, I mean EVERYONE … Because these Tigers aren’t as fast as my Panthers, obviously. In that open ground, a whole company of SS panzers is positively murdered from no less than seven positions … seventy five tanks open fire and that’s the end of two platoons of Tigers and one of PzKpfw IVHs.


    With SS Pz Rgt 12 more or less blown out of war (SOME survivors further south in Tessel-Bretteville), on Turn Nine Damon pushes forward in a combined regimental shove southwest toward the crossroads at the west end of Phase Line Walrus, and another objective hex. My Panzer Lehr Panthers and Mark IVs bide their time, invisible under cover. I know the clock is ticking against Damon and I can afford to wait until he HAS to shove right up against me for a very unhealthy dose of point-blank ambush fire. As his Typhoons come in for a strafing attack (again, all rockets expended but they still have guns) against the Lehr grenadiers in the objective hex, two FlaK positions even manage to shoot one of the Typhoons down!


    BOOM! Damon makes the fateful shove. My cagey Panzer Lehr crews positively MAUL his attack, some Pumas even getting some shots in. We kill three troops of Fireflies (ouch) and one of Shermans, Immediately falling back down the road toward Tessel-Bretteville and Vendes. We almost all escape, too, British counterfire manages to pin one platoon of PzIVs … which would probably be surrounded and destroyed on Turn 11.


    So that’s Turn 10, and that’s game. Of the seven objective hexes, the Germans still hold four, making this a bloody and narrow German win. Cheers to Damon for continuing to try Panzer Leader (he’s braver than most in this regard) and yes, he IS getting better. I swear I could almost see the light bulb going off starting on Turn 5 and 6 … regarding just how WEAK the German forces are despite their “scary cats” … assuming you attack them in a well-managed, multi-directional bum-rush. Even a Panther can only kill one Sherman at a time, after all. The problem was … it was Turn 5 or 6 … and the game was already half over by then. What beat him wasn’t my tanks, it was time. Note that Tessel Wood is now VERY WEAKLY defended … with two more turns he could run his faster M-10s or even his scout cars up there and at least have a go at it. Again, once he takes FOUR objectives … more than half … he wins (i.e., roughly Phase Line Walrus … the approximate historical result of the attack).





    Thanks @piers.

    War crimes is something I try not to connect with as the waters are very muddy. The Wehrmach in Russia are guilty of many such crimes. Even Manstein served time for war crimes and this is were things get extremely muddy. The Allies never convicted themselves for the war crimes after the war. Charges such as crimes against humanity are so broad to have clear definition. Yet under the conditions of total war civilians are legitimate targets. A somewhat foreign concept in our modern policing actions. After the war the SS were certainly used as scape goats for others to hide behind. It has been only in recent times have we placed the spot light on German non SS war crimes, which to me was a little late for any real justice.

    I am by no means defending anyone here because there is more than enough blame to go around.

    Gaming wise I look at the SS way of going things as doctrine. In some preliminary games in our look at operation See Lion one of the players assassinated members of the HQ staff of 1st SS. In response on the strategic map the village was destroyed. No of us liked the idea of it but all agreed this was the probable response. History can be very ugly at times. In the name of a lasting peace many people take the view it is better to forget but not necessarily forgive. On the other hand I have German friends who descend from fathers of questionable units. It took our group many years to convince them that there was no need for them to continuously apologise for the sins of their fathers.

    Also I can understand if family members were abused or killed by the SS that playing them on a wargame table would be difficult. There is no interest in our group to wargame the Pacific as nearly all of us lost family members in very cruel and inhumane ways at the hands of the Japanese.

    Whether they were repeating propaganda from the war or not but over the years there has been a number of documentaries in different places that have noted these two divisions for their higher than normal casualty rates for almost insane charges and the like. At times very successful and unnerving to the troops that been on the receiving end.

    Again I insist that I am not defending anyone. Most of the criminals are dead now so I accept that it happened and justice cannot really be served now. Yes I am a bit cold on the subject matter, but I did say I chose not to connect with the war crimes of WW2 or any war for that matter. Real war is the ugly reflection of humanity’s dark side. I do respect the dead and like most wished it never happened, but it did.

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