Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Thoughts on my completed WW2 solo-campaign

Here are a few thoughts about what worked and didn't in my WW2 solo campaign which I have now finished, or maybe I should say lost.


A quick reminder about the campaign that used the chapter "Panzer Grenadiers vs. Guards" from "War Game Campaigns" by Donald Featherstone as inspiration and guide. During the course of the campaign Panzer Grenadier forces are trying to push southwards attempting to breakout into more open country.
Original map from the book
Breaking up the original map into squares each representing a tabletop worked well as it helped to create a point to point map which allowed the Panzer Grenadier forces to be simply moved from one point to another based upon a dice roll.


The dice generated moves were very simple and worked well. Details can be found here. During the campaign there were situations where the advancing Panzer Grenadier units had a Guards unit on their flank, then on a 1-4 they attacked the flanking unit or 5-6 they pushed on southwards. This approach occasionally produced the odd result which I put this down to fog or war.

The campaign produced a 13 tabletop games and good number of them were asymmetrical games, requiring a side to make a fighting withdrawal or not be reckless with attacks, to preserve units so they could continue in the campaign. Units which were eliminated in the tabletop game were removed from the campaign as being no longer being combat effective, while units with losses were returned to the campaign at full strength. The assumption was they were able to reorganised and there were a level of reserves or leftovers from eliminated units to make them effective again. I chose this approach as I did not want to keep track of unit's strengths during the campaign. Although I did ticking off platoon loses on the infantry company counter.

Panzer Grenadier forces. Each company had 3 platoons while Reconnaissance companies have one AC section and armoured infantry platoon. 30 units in all.
Guard forces. Each company had 3 platoons while Reconnaissance companies have one AC section and armoured infantry platoon. 25 units in all.
I am not totally sure as to why I chose to be the defender rather than the attacker. It may have been the way I read the chapter, anyway I just automatically took to the defender's role. 

Having decided to be the defender I then added a few additional units to the attacking forces to make up for any deficiencies with the dice decided campaign moves and random positioning of hidden units. (Note - given I lost the campaign this could be considered a mistake or an overestimation of my wargaming abilities)


The number of games (13) was about right and I was happy for the campaign to wrap up. If it had gone on longer I suspect my interest would have waned. The small scale of the games themselves suited me well, taking about one hour to setup and play.

One area of the campaign rules I would definitely change was how the orders were actioned. Having the Guards make their orders before dicing for the Panzer Grenadier movement worked well. My error was not making the movement simultaneous. What happened was the German moves were applied and actions were fought where opposing units are in the same map square, then the Guards moves were applied. This often meant the guards moves were not always carried out due to the result of tabletop actions. I cannot remember the reasons why I complicated the campaign moves, but simultaneous moves would have been a simpler approach.

Would I refight the campaign reversing roles and play attacker? Yes, but I would reduce the size of the attacking force and would have to decide to randomise were the defender stands or makes a fighting withdrawal.

Anyway these are my thoughts looking back at the campaign. The next post will cover off the rules used.



22 comments:

  1. Peter, your campaign was an enjoyable one to follow. Well done!

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    1. Thanks, I found it very interesting to play particularly having to fight a series of delaying actions, withdrawal actions, and holding a defensive line.

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  2. Excellent summary. Your point re. simultaneous movement also well understood - some good feedback re. what you would do differently next time.
    There is such potential for other actions, and indeed, different periods here.
    Looking forward to seeing the rules. With an overarching campaign structure, the rules probably become less important (in terms of detail) as opposed to determining what units need to be preserved for the bigger strategic picture that is developing.

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    1. Using the campaign approach for different periods is an interesting thought. Cleaning up the movement to be simultaneous is the key change moving forward.

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  3. Very interesting campaign Peter and one whose modus operandi could I suspect be used in other periods.

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    1. Agree, with one or two changes I will use this approach in other periods.

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  4. The campaign was a big success - you enjoyed it, I enjoyed, and so did the others who have commented. What else matters? The changes will make the solo players plan more of a factor in the outcome but the fun factor will be unaffected.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the campaign. Thanks for your comments and questions during the course of the campaign.

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  5. I was surprised when you said 13 games, that is more than I thought. Anyway, I enjoyed following the campaign and thought it went well, though I wondered at the outset whether the German dice system would result in some counter-intuitive German moves ... worse if a run of them had gone that way, yet this didn't seem to happen. Was that luck or was the weighting enough to ensure that it generally went the right way?

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    1. Interesting thought. The weighting and having a 6 enemy groups in play meant the odd counter-intuitive move was not seen as an issue. Having fewer units may make the opponent more erratic.

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  6. Given that you have a certain following here on the web ...

    Why not turn one side over to a movement committee? Based on a poll in your blog?

    Or (gasp) have two other (remote or web-based) players set up as the brigadiers in charge of the moves for the forces and then play out the encounters on your tabletop?

    Mix it up and get a different sense of what it would have been like to be a Lt. Col or Major having to carry out orders given by higher authority which you had little or no control over.

    It also will give the web players a sense of what real fog of war was like in having to deal with outcomes not expected.

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    1. A very interesting idea. Last year I was fortunate to be involved in a campaign with Jonathan (Palouse Wargaming Journal) where he played the campaign solo and I played the battles solo on the tabletop.

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    2. Yes, that FIW campaign was a fun one! I may try something similar again some time. Your rapid battle resolution kept the campaign game moving along at a brisk pace.

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    3. Yes, it was great fun. The name of Fort Henry is burnt into my memory.

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  7. Given that you were the defender and lost, Peter, that must argue a very successful programming system to generate the opponent's moves. I thought the narrative went very well.

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    1. Getting the force balance right would appear to be the trick with a programmed opponent to make up for fairly predicable moves. I am pleased you felt the narrative went well.

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  8. Hi Peter,
    You have certainly put a lot of preparation into this campaign and it has paid great dividends of enjoyment for you and your readers. I like your models in 1/72nd. Could you do a British Armour vs German Anti-Tank type scenario? Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Hi KEV, the campaign was fun to setup for solo play using the map and background provided in War Game Campaigns. I do enjoy the 1/72nd scale for WW2. It takes me back to the Airfix models of my youth, and I have gone out of my way to include some of their models in my armies. The next WW2 campaign will reverse the roles as I have some British Paratroopers in a box waiting to be painted. Thanks, Peter

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  9. It has been interesting and enjoyable to follow the campaign and there have been some dormant seeds planted. It seemed heavily weighted against the Guards to me, partly because of the rules, I suspect Don's rules made the infantry less vulnerable to tanks but I could well be wrong. Didn't spoil the interest though.

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    1. Thank you. A couple of additional AT guns would not have gone amiss with the Guards for a better campaign balance. That said, it was interesting having to play a series of defensive actions and mostly being on the back foot in the campaign.

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  10. As others have noted, it has been a treat to follow this campaign and I have gained much inspiration from it. Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us next!

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    1. Thank you. I am still pondering what to do next, but I am sure the book War Game Campaigns will provide some inspiration.

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