Monday, April 18, 2016

SPI games as a campaign base.

Something most SH/MSH players attempt at some point is some sort of campaign. This normally founders on not having any sort of system to generate the games. Keith came up with "Race to Leningrad" based on a German Panzer division advancing towards Leningrad (surprise surprise). The Russian forces were randomly generated. I can't remember how the terrain was set up. I borrowed the idea for an MSH campaign "Race to the Rhine".

A later attempt used the old SPI boardgames from the Central front series. These were (north to south) North German Plain, BAOR, V Corps, Hof Gap and Donau Front.

Here we see a game in progress with the Soviet attack underway.

The problem with these games was the execution. There was not much detail on the maps and it was difficult to generate maps on the fly as we did back then (remember this is going back 10 years). The battles that were chosen were the ones that we thought would be interesting on the table. Without a decent terrain system this was not much good.

As the Russian player on more than one occasion I felt that shifting games to the table did favour the side that had a grasp about what was required in the greater scheme of things. Thus there was one large 2 day battle where all the Russians had to do was sit back and wait as they were holding one shoulder of the main breakthrough. In this case NATO had to make all the running and the result was somewhat of a disaster for them. when you have 1 Leopard II facing a tank regiment advancing down a road something has gone horrible wrong. Likewise attacking defending British troops with 10 Hinds ( I recall it was Jakes fault) was somewhat overkill, and gave the defending players a nervous tic whenever any Russian players started making helicopter noises over the rest of the weekend.

With hindsight here is a list of things I would look at to give the start of a rudimentary translation system.

1) A system to match the games fatigue system with the troops deployed on table in a set way. I recall we tried dicing for each stand, but this took a lot of time and resulted in some very odd results. maybe a system where at each level the battalion/regiment has x number of fighting platoons and a selection of support stands.
2) A better way to generate terrain for the battle. Google maps is handy for roads, towns and woods but not for topography (hills). I'm wondering if a variation on the Scenario generator system could be used, with a set number of features per 2' dictated by the terrain hex type.
3) A set way of translating the table results back into the campaign.

Theres some initial thoughts, though I suppose I need to pay the game a couple of times to get a better handle on how the mechanics actually work.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Finally Done

Its only taken me 9 years but this week I have finally finished painting my Russian 1944 cavalry division. It started while I was still finishing my PhD in Wellington, and has followed me to Nelson and then Palmy. And here it is, 5 battalions (4 large plus one small) and 115 stands at 650 points. Not a lot of tanks or infantry but 48 stands of SMG troops (and thats a lot of dice to throw to kill it). Its really not a cheap army money wise to build up as H&R do cavalry in packs of 21 figures, and as I've used 4 per stand plus extras on other stands, you can do the math...

Taking a closer look at one of the battalions I have modeled all the support units as well, including Tachanka's (which are subbing in for HMG's on carts. I can't seem to find any comments on if they were used as such in WW2, but assume the Russians were smart enough to use them as they had in the Civil war). 45mm ATG stands are useless for shooting at tanks, but do add to the battalion break point quite cheaply.
The stands at the left are the divisional artillery, all horse drawn, in fact everything apart from the 37mm AA gun is on horseback ( and I can't work out why they were lucky enough to get a truck, but its one less gun team to paint.)

 I've also provided for the option of either T34s or M4's (with a suitable Hq stand). The mottly collection of vehicles at the front is the divisional Hq.

Now all I have to do is arrange to get it onto the table and see how my lighting fast dismounting SMG stands perform.

I'm also pondering if I can get an entire Rusian infantry division (with heavy tank support) on table at 650points. I think its possible, but some of the troops will be green, and there won't be enough artillery to be usefull. Its also a lot of points to gift your enemy if it gets wiped out. I'm leaning towards using the using the Infantry brigade from a 1944 tank corps to get access to all the useful support units, though I must admit that 18 T34's are also attractive.

(Sorry Keith, I'm still writing a post on the SPI games as campaigns)