Category Archives: NQM Squared

ALAMEIN Operation Lightfoot D Minus 28

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento's Position

Cauldron Between the Minefields on Trento’s Position

Some of the WHELKS convened in the Den on Tuesday to bed in some new ALAMEIN house rules for NQM Squared (NQM² or NQMsq). Present were YesthatPhil, Will (Hero of Kursk), and Richard. With each player controlling a division apiece, we were hitting slightly less than 30mins, but more than my planned 20 minutes per move, across the evening from 8 until 1030, when weekday night fatigue took its toll. Port, cheese and olives restored flagging energy.

The game was hectic, with 2nd New Zealand Division breaking into Trento‘s position and evicting them before the regimental HQ put in a spirited counterattack to restore the position. 9th Armoured Brigade then cleared the position again until Littorio counterattacked, leaving the position littered with burning allied and Italian tanks alike.

Littorio Counterattacks

Littorio Counterattacks

Phil managed to take some photos. I only managed some after-action shots. The low-vis pins look much less obtrusive. Taking them off works better than trying to add them.

The elephant in the room though, is scale: Three players managed three divisions, so six will only be able to manage six divisions or so. That means modelling the south, as the action was a little more open and fluid, and Trebian and Phil have already committed to  modelling divisions each. The north was more of a head-on slugging match, so is a little less interesting. Otherwise all the house-rule time and space management parameters seem to work.

Trento and Littorio's Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

Trento and Littorio’s Admin Boxes and Artillery Positions

NQM Squared Supplement

For ALAMEIN² a unit may expend 2-5 action points (AP)s per turn according to status:

Elite or Veteran, 5. Regular, 4. Conscript, 3. Green 2.

Each stand may shoot once per turn expending no APs. Only indirect artillery is subject to ammunition rules for barrages.

An AP may be moving 1 square (2 squares for Recce, LOG, or Divisional/Corps/Army Commanders) or attacking (close assaulting) once.

The following are the maximum moves permitted to:

Infantry in contact, 1. Infantry out of contact, 2.

Armour in contact, 2. Armour out of contact, 4.

Recce, LOG, and commanders, 6, stopped by coming into contact, but use remainder to “shoot and scoot”.

Example: veteran LOG has 5 actions of which 3 may be double moves totalling 6 squares. Green log has 2 double moves totalling 4 squares.

Defending or attacking units may choose to break off close combat at any stage, subject to having a remaining AP or more to move back one or more squares. They may be pursued and attacked subject to the attacker having enough remaining APs to do so (one to move to remain in combat and one more to continue the attack). Usually the attacker runs out of APs first and the defender escapes.

Reorgnisation takes a whole move out of contact with the enemy. Units receiving fire cannot reorganise.

Supporting units may counterattack into their own squares, or ones that they have just lost, without first winning the firefight.

A maximum of 4 bases can pass through a single minefield gap in a move, subject to their own maximum move. As an example, suppose that a brigade attacking with two battalions up engages in a firefight with a defending battalion, and wins it (does not count as an action). One battalion passes through the gap and close assaults, winning the assault (first action). On the second close assault, another battalion passes through the gap to work round the enemy position (second action), this one is drawn (if the assault had been lost, the attacking battalion would have been pushed back, and the second battalion would continue the assault on the third action). The attack continues (third action) and the defenders are pushed out of the position as a third battalion passes through the gap. Finally the RHQ passes through the gap as its own 4th action leaving the brigade in the enemy square.

Nothing would be different if there had been two or more enemy battalions in the square, except that the close assault would have ground on for longer as the attacker strove to reduce 6 or more SP instead of 3 SP.

A bold attacker may have chosen to ignore the minefield gap and assault through the minefield, taking casualties as he went.

Vehicles passing through unswept ALAMEIN minefields roll a heavy die against themselves to determine casualties. Infantry roll a very light die against themselves. This reflects the preponderance of anti-tank mines in the minefields.

Full marks to anyone who spotted the Pz 38t pretending to be an M13.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, tank, Western Desert, WWII

Bob Cordery’s Hexblitz

This excellent little gem of a rulebook landed on my doormat a week or so ago, courtesy of Bob Cordery. Bob has published it so that he has a set of rules to wargame the Eastern Front in WWII, but it is a worthy addition to the small library of operational tabletop rules that I know of, and if you have an interest in this period, I heartily recommend that you buy a copy.

The rules are 43 pages long, with the meat explained very succinctly in four pages. This is rule writing at its most elegant. Yes there will be instances where the rules do not cover a particular situation, but that happens in even the most closely-worded rulesets written in quasi-legalese that run to many more pages. Twenty pages are taken with a very helpful example battle and orbat. Eight pages are devoted to setting the scene with scales, organisation, designing orbats  and hex facings. The game uses a stand to represent a battalion or specialist company, so follows Megablitz, rather than  Chadwick’s bathtubbing approach.

The move sequence uses a card-driven system, and combat follows Megablitz’s point counting system rather than NQM’s risk-derived L,M,H attack and defence. The rules will work well for a solo game.

It would be simplicity itself to take Frank Chadwick’s hex map and fight Barbarossa using these rules. I ran a short test game on Trebian’s staggered squares, using about 40SP for the German 4th Panzer Division and about 80SP for the Soviet 5th Army. Being WHELKS¹ we eased into the rules from a position of what we knew already, introducing Bob’s rules in stages. Using 15mm toys and 3″ staggered squares, everything fitted comfortably. Trebian has written an offside report already. He thinks that there was a stacking problem with the sizes of bases and squares that we used, I’m not so sure at this stage. Interestingly, each of the players wanted to see rule mechanisms that they were familiar with from other rulesets, and I feel that Bob’s framework could absorb these comfortably without losing its character. The rules need playing a few more time to gain familiarity, but I’m sure that once we are up to speed with them, they will prove to be as good as they look at first glance.

Finally, declaring an interest, I’m credited in the dedication, along with Tim Gow, which is generous, because Bob’s rules are far tidier than anything that I’ve ever produced!

 

  1. Wellingborough Historical and Ever-so Loosly Kultural Society

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Wargames, WWII

2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The South

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

Having walked through the northern third of 2nd Alamein to see if the real estate fitted (it did), I worked through the head-to-head infantry attack of 44th Infantry Division against Folgore.

Folgore Defence in Depth

Folgore Defence in Depth

The battle commenced with a divisional barrage that put serious disorganisation of 1/3 onto the dug in division (25pdrs M against dug-in infantry M). The infantry then followed this in, winning the firefight and evicting the first line of defences with 100% disorganisation in the close assault.

Ramke Falschirmjaeger Brigade

Ramke Falschirmjäger Brigade

 

I ruled that, being veteran, Folgore could immediately counterattack with its second line of defence, during the second close assault phase and pull its first line of defence out to reorganise. 44 Div were allowed to do the same in the third close assault phase, ending the turn. In future though, I shall restrict immediate counter attacks in the enemy’s turn to veteran troops.

Pavia and Folgore

Pavia and Folgore

This produced a very satisfying to-and-fro battle that left both sides’ infantry at about 50% casualties, with all artillery ammunition exhausted by the end of 4 rounds of fighting.

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Other rulings were that:

Infantry could not pursue beyond their one square range.

Infantry could attack a diagonal square, but only if they were able to attack it orthogonally from the front or flank without interference from enemy on their own front or flank.

In other words, they could not ignore an enemy to their front in order to concentrate an attack on an enemy to their diagonal front, and they can only do this because the one free diagonal move per game turn that they are allowed places the square they wish to attack in reach.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Artillery, DAK, Infantry, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, NQM Squared, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.

They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.

I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it

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NQM Squared – The Main Changes

164th Light Afrika Division

164th Light Afrika Division

There is not that much that needs to be changed to make NQM compatible with squares. Here is the first draft of the main changes. I have not entirely decided how to manage orthogonals yet. Currently:

  1.  All units may translate one diagonal move per turn. For example, infantry moving one square may always take it diagonally if they wish. units must still abide by rules governing entry to or exit from squares.
  2. Defences may sit entirely in one square or on the boundary of two, or four squares, controlling every square they sit in. They may be close assaulted in every square they are in, during the same move. They may receive fire from every unit that chooses to shoot at them from the same square or across a square boundary for longer ranged weapons. Defenders must choose who they are shooting against.
  3. Attackers must first win a firefight to close assault any square that a defender sits in. They must enter the square that the defender is in to do so. Defenders may have more than one line or position of defence in a square. Each line or position must be close assaulted  and defeated to control the square.

MOVEMENT

MOVEMENT RATES

The Advance in Contact/Assault (A) rate is used for attacking troops who break into a position, or fight through an area forcing the defender to withdraw.

The Road March/Rout (R) move rate normally only applies to Echelon or Transport and HQ units on good roads, or anyone fleeing or withdrawing from enemy contact.

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

The lead fighting elements of a unit move at the Move to Contact (M) rate unless moving non-tactically on roads, in which case they move at the Road March/Rout (R) move rate.

Troops in defences are Static (S)

Happily, these Initials coincide with Tim Gow’s Megablitz “SMART” movement states and are expressed in Squares (but I haven’t felt the need to adopt Tim’s closed decision-making, nice though it is, as defenders can choose to stay or withdraw, unless forced to retire by morale. Defenders are only overrun if the attackers are more mobile e.g tanks or motorised troops overrunning infantry).

MOVEMENT RATES TABLE *

Movement rate Expressed in Squares:

Advance in Contact/Assault (A) – Move to Contact (M) – Road March/Rout (R)

Light Recce: A2 M4 ** R6 ***

Armoured: A2 M3 R5

Motorised A2 M3 R5

Foot: A1 M1 R2

Cavalry/Cycle/Horsedrawn A1 M2 R3

Table 1.

* Further penalize movement for congestion etc.

** Only against Lt Recce, otherwise as for foot or armour

***Also Armour on Tank Transporter units

REAL ESTATE TABLE

Frontages *, Column Depth

Battalion: 1-2Km, 2Km (5cm – 10cm)

Brigade or Regiment: 3-6Km, 9Km (15cm – 30cm, 45cm)

Division: 6-9Km, 12Km (30cm – 45cm, 60cm)

Table 2.

*Use the lower limit in close terrain and the upper limit in open.

Chris Kemp’s Not Quite Mechanised – Umpire guidelines for tabletop operational war games . Copyright 1985-2015

THE RECCE SEQUENCE

RECCE SEQUENCE

To make the recce sequence run even faster in the early part of the game, consider dispensing with the recce’s limit on movement, but only allow them to make ONE recce test per move. If the recce blunders into a hidden defender that it has not reconnoitred, it is ambushed and rolls at -1 to its normal modified score.

This sequence is used for reconnaissance bases or stands (recce) and others coming up against a concealed enemy.

The attacker rolls a Red die, the defender rolls a a Blue die. ROLL THEM BOTH AT ONCE. The recce can elect to look at a position likely to contain enemy, or the defender can shout STOP at a point where the recce is likely to be engaged, with any adjustment being made once the dice result is in the open.

Advancing recce can only look at one area per move. This has the effect of forcing them to adopt a slow low risk advance, or a fast high-risk one. For those who ask, “why does recce not get a bonus?”, their advantage is speed. If you feel they are more skilled than infantry line troops, then upgrade their status accordingly.

Apply the following modifiers:

Elite +2, Veteran +1, Regular 0, conscript/militia -1, Green -2

Compare the scores. The Highest wins.

If the defender wins by:

+1, the attacker may remain in contact,

+2 the attacker withdraws out of contact,

every point over +2 places a pin on the attacker.

If the attacker wins by:

+1, the defender lays out his minefields and outpost line,

+2 his main defensive line as well,

every point over +2 places a pin on the defender.

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