Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Perfect East Front WWII Rules

What do I want from a set of WWII rules?  This is a moving target, obviously.  Some of the parameters are more or less fixed:
  • I already have a substantial more-or-less 1944 WWII East Front collection.   It is not going away, and I am interested in the period in any event.
  • I have a 6x4 table.  While it is nice to be able to offer a game that will work on smaller or larger but that is the space I will be using for the foreseeable future.
  • I am unlikely to see more than four people around the table, and normally it will be one other and myself.
Some parameters I must admit may change with time, but for now:
  • I want to play largish actions -- I have a goodly number of figures and I would like to be able to get *lots* of them on to the table without being awash in detail.
  • I want to have definite time, distance and figure scales; a measure of imprecision is allowable but it's important to me that figures and games map to the real world in a defined way.
  • I like to play Table Top Teasers, most of which are based around a six to twelve "units" a side.  I would like to have each teaser unit map to a definite unit in my game organization.  Exactly what that unit is -- company or battalion -- is not as critical as that it is well defined within a TOE and have the level of real-world independence that could conceivably map to the independence required by the scenarios.
  • I want to be able to game the sort of situation I can read about in history books.  That does not mean I want to play the whole of Kursk on one table in an afternoon, but (unlike books about the west, where the struggles of individuals companies is discussed) it is rare to find a single sentence that looks at any unit smaller than a battalion. 
  • I am not a great tread-head, but I do think technical factors are important as well as morale and C3 factors, perhaps more for the satisfaction of expressing an interest in tanks and guns as getting at the effect of various types on the battles.
 So, should the basic unit be a company, a battalion, a regiment?  Do I want to be able to represent a divisional defense on my table (at Kursk, 52nd Guards Rifle Division has a front of 15km, with a depth of about 5km from the forward lines, and a forward security zone 3km to the front.) or a divisional attack (an average, at least for the Germans at Kursk, of about 5km)?

In the first case, I would need each foot of my six-foot table to represent 2.5 km for the frontage.  The depth would then be an adequate 10km.

In the second, one foot to one km would do, with a depth of 4km; or the regimental defense could be represented in depth.

In any case, just taking the simple frontages as the long axis and accepting the old trope that most engagements in Europe are at around 500m the divisional defense scale gives 500m = 2.5", or 1"=200m.  The regimental defense scale gives 1" ≈ 80m or perhaps 3cm=100m.

For comparison, here is the 78th GRD from Glantz's "Soviet Defensive Tactics at Kursk"

I will do some more research on this part of things; I am not going to send the question off to its own blog for now.


  1. So at the regimental defence level, each stand has a frontage of about 120 yards? So roughly a company? Long range infantry fire around 10cm?

    Not sure how well that sort of thing would mesh with the average TT Teasers but there are some that could be adapted.

    You might want to check out Megablitz .

  2. I've been sniffing at megablitz for a while, but no-one seems to have new copies for sale (I have checked the yahoo group). It is stand=battalion, so long range infantry fire is contact.

    I have also looked into Panzerkorps, which is close to the level we are talking about, but it has multiple dice types, some sort of other rule about "what color your decision dice are" and, well, it just seems too cute for words.

    The other way to go is to punch up the company so it has several stands and a bit more internal structure; but then you drop off the GPW radar.

  3. Of course, a "third way" is stand=platoon bathtubbed for east front.

    Panzerkorps (and this seems odd to me) is at 1"=50m so how you would get a full division attack frontage is a bit of a mystery - my 6x4 is only 3.6 km wide at that scale.