One of the subtleties of NQM is that it is scaleable to play at regimental/brigade level through to Army/front level, a point that is not always picked up by a cursory review. The guidelines, as written in 1985 or thereabouts took a three strength point (SP) stand as a company, scaling up one level of command from Frank Chadwick’s platoon-as-a-basic-combat-unit Command Decision, and using his Europa map. This can be considered to be a Regimental Scale Orbat (RSO) with a battalion being about 12 SPs. Chadwick achieved his three army groups by downscaling (bathtubbing) them to the size of three corps. I liked this approach, but it had problems as originally written with artillery ranges being too long, and the weight of artillery being too light at army group aka corps level. I changed my approach for the first time in game March 1942. Frank describes Command Decision as a tactical game but by bathtubbing, he handles an operational game well.
Notwithstanding, the idea was a marked shift away from the idea that the Eastern Front could only be played with towers of cardboard counters on a map, and it still works well.
By upscaling, and halving the strength of a battalion to 6 SPs an NQM player could easily handle a couple of battalions in contact at the same time, i.e. a brigade of 18 or so SPs not counting supporting arms from division, which would bring it to around 24 SPs. At this scale it was still important to distinguish between fighting and support stands to give tactical flavour, so the Divisional Scale Orbat (DSO) was a bridge between tactical and operational level games.
The next shift really came with Tim Gow and Bob Cordery developing Megablitz, which took a single unit of variable strength to be a battalion. This is broadly equivalent to the NQM Corps Scale Orbat (CSO), and a single player can comfortably handle a couple of divisions in combat simultaneously i.e. a corps. At this scale, it was no longer important to differentiate the fighting and support elements of a a 3 SP battalion.
The Front Scale Orbat (FSO) has been around for some time – ever since the Battle for GIROVKA Bend was played in 2012, although it was not stated as such. It was achieved by bathtubbing a 6SP battalion and calling it a division, ignoring the havoc that this creates with the divisional supporting arms and simply showing them at corps/army level. Formalising the system makes a 12 SP regiment/brigade into a division, so a 3 SP battalion is acting as a regiment/brigade, making a battalion effectively 1 SP.
Ground scale has not been mentioned so far, it being an elastic concept. In setting up the game, I have always looked at the area of operation to be played, scaled it to the available space on the table, then worked backwards to the forces filling the board.
Likewise, time can be elastic. Sometimes an operation of 6-18 moves will cover 1-3 days, weeks or even months. It works for me, and confuses players if I haven’t taken enough time to explain it properly to them. Alamein was played at CSO over a few game days, with two day and one night move per game day.
So the current iteration of a bare bones Front Scale Orbat would look something like this:
Front HQ with Armour, Logistics, Artillery, Engineers:
HQ SP3, under command Tank Corps¹, 1 or more Super heavy to heavy Artillery SP3², anti-tank heavy or med SP3, Pioneers, Logistic (may be devolved to Armies). Air Army approx 9 A/c (7 to 17 with GKO reserves³
- Tank Corps: HQ (C3), 2-3 Tk Bdes (F3), Mot Rifle Bde (F3)
- Breakthrough Artillery Division (Apr ’43): 122mm/152mm howitzer + tractor (S3), 120mm mortar + tractor (S3), 203mm howitzer + tractor (S3)
Air Army: HQ, 1-5 Po-2, 3 Fighters, 3 IL-2 Stormoviks, up to 5 Reserve fighters, Li-2 Tpt.
Two or more Army HQs with Logistics, Artillery, Engineers:
HQ (C3), under command Divisions/Brigades, 1 or more very heavy to heavy Artillery, anti-tank heavy or medium, Pioneers, Logistic (may be devolved to Corps)
Each two or more Corps with Logistics, Artillery, Engineers:
HQ (C3), under command Brigades, 1 or more medium to heavy Artillery (S3), anti-tank heavy or med (S3), Pioneers (E3), Logistic (L3)
Each two or more Divisions:
Div HQ (C3), 2-3Bdes/Regts (F3), 1-2 light or medium Artillery (S3), anti-tank light or med (S3), Pioneer (E1) Logistic (L3) (may be concentrated at Corps)
It should be noted that this is schematic – I can fit a front of 12 divisions comfortably onto a 12 x4 square area of the board. The whole setup with squares looks very Napoleonic to my eyes. Fronts typically might cover 240km, which would make a square between 15km -20km, and means that at this scale all ranges are contact with the adjacent square only, or at best, corps, army and front artillery one square behind the lead division.
Nierhorster gives snapshot orbats for certain stages of the war. YesthatPhil has already given thought to this sort of thing with Megablitz squared, and Bob Cordery has a published solo set of Hexblitz (2018).
The reason for pushing the scale upward, is that 1943 saw some very large-scale operations take place. The last time that I fought KURSK in 20mm, it took a whole day. STALINGRAD was soloed over three weeks in bathtubbed DSO – alas before I owned a digital camera. Something more manageable is needed for a weekday evening if I am to finish the Eastern Front in my own lifetime 🙂 .