sd main logo

Commanders, a wargame digest


Bigger Games

Wargames when more space and time is available!

These are just looking at those one-off occasions when I get either the time or space (or both!) to do something larger, perhaps even over a couple of days. I still like to keep the complexity down, it’s just the scope that is bigger.

Battle of the Bulge

Bitter Woods from Compass Games and designed by Randy Heller.

This is a two mapper boardgame that has units representing regiments and turns representing 12 hours, so a pair of turns equals a day. This year I decided to play the campaign game (16th December through to 26th December inclusive) at a rate of two turns each day to match the actual real battle timetable.

A blog post (see link below) was started and then updated each day as a pair of turns were played. The post actually started on the 15th to set the scene for the opening of the campaign. Anyway, having the game set up for so many days and qualifies for a ‘wargame fest’ and was an interesting way to round out a year of good gaming. LINK

Dark July, Lock ‘n Load Kursk module

As part of the 75th anniversary of the Kursk battles, I have been playing the ‘Dark July’ expansion to the Lock ‘n Load Tactical system. This has a series of six scenarios that are played on a standard full sized map.

However, the company also produce special X-Maps, which give enlarged hexes by stretching the battlefield out onto two standard maps. I decided to use these for the bigger scenario, the one that covers the fighting on 12th July near Prokhorovka.

The Order-of -Battle isn’t particularly large in terms of infantry or their support weapons, but the scenario gives us 19 armoured vehicles - which is a considerable uplift for this system, but the streamlined rules cope with this number of vehicles on the table admirably.

The game gave an interesting account of swirling tank battles and the swarming tactics of the T-34 against the formidable Tiger tanks, plus the handling of artillery against the heavy tanks also felt realistic. There is a blog post that covers this particular game in some detail, plus it has links to the other games that have been played in the themed ‘Kursk month. LINK

Ligny 1815, the boardgame from Hexasim

This is the historical scenario, so we begin the game with the known, that is, the dispositions of ‘at start’ units and the foreknowledge  that reinforcements will not arrive - so not even a sniff of chance that d‘Erlon will show for the French, though the game does have alternate scenarios in which this can happen.

There are two aspects of this game that help move the player to the role of Army Commander by loosening the players grip on what is happening locally. Firstly there is an order system, so if you want to move troops to a location, they need an order to do that and then if the situation changes, orders may need to be changed. Neither of those things are automatic nor can be relied upon to happen within the urgent time-frame that the player believes faces them.

Secondly, combat is never a certain thing. The player can bring things about to improve their chances in combat, but ultimately, a good looking attack can fall apart and a creaky defence can surprisingly hold out, creating problems, challenges, set backs and opportunities locally that.

This battle was gamed over a few days, taking around 11 hours of real game time to conclude, with several highlights that produced intererting and believable moments. Full details of the battle, including maps and system observations have been posted over at the blog at this LINK