Category Archives: “Rules” Explanations

Explaining stuff that isn’t as obvious as I thought it was when I wrote it.

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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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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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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NOVOGOROD Mar ’43 – NQM Squared

 

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

VELIKY NOVOGOROD sits  astride the River Volkhov, at the northern tip of Lake Ilman. The Command decision Hex Grid Europa map runs a straight rail line between LENINGRAD and MOSCOW, and ignores this inconvenient piece of geography to put NOVOGOROD on the rail line.

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

For this game, finishing the Soviet winter offensive, I put the city and rail lines back where They should be. It was also the first outing of the new squared board, and a chance to see how a Wehrmacht Korps defence in depth fared against a Soviet army of 3 divisions.

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

To the south, 126 Infantry Division held NOVOGOROD, and to the north, 30 Infantry Division held a line 9 km deep.

 

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the VolKhov

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the Volkhov

Facing them was 34th Army with 31, 32 and 33 Rifle Divisions. As in Phil’s original game, we used Tim Gow’s Megablitz SMART counters to codify the tactical stance of the two sides, but we retained the NQM table 12 winning the firefight for resolving combat. Phil’s movement table was used.

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

During the course of the game, 33 Rifle made no progress attempting to break into NOVOGOROD, contenting itself with demonstrating outside. 32 Rifle forced a crossing over the River Volkhov, and broke into the main line of 30 Inf, but was forced to withdraw as a spent force. 31 Rifle was more successful, with one of its regiments finding the northern flank of 30 Inf, and bypassing it.

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

The Luftwaffe  was more active than over LENINGRAD, and succeeded in driving off Sturmovik regiments and inflicting some damage on one of the river crossings, but failing to destroy either.

They Couldn't Hit a Barn Door at this Dist....

They Couldn’t Hit a Barn Door at this Dist….

The month ended with NOVOGOROD surrounded but the Wehrmacht falling back in relatively good order until the Rasputitsa halted all movement in the north for a month.

High Water Mark

High Water Mark

Post Game Ideas that were Discussed:

  1. Allow attacks from troops that share a square edge in common, but not corners.
  2. Ranged support troops (artillery, AA) can be further back.
  3. Air assets can be placed on airfields or baseline at the start of the game. They must roll an appropriate number to activate a sortie (or perhaps get the first one free), then return to base and reactivate when they reach an appropriate score – perhaps reducing the number by one on each subsequent attempt, perhaps not..
  4. Recce and Engineers show hits on their main (E3) or (R3) stand, but the markers can show where the actual effort is going in.
  5. Defences need to be shown in a fairly abstract manner

 

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Dominating the Enemy

cropped-banner1.jpg

Thinking back over the year just gone, it struck me that when players clash with the little lead chaps,  you often see a particular manoevre in close assaults. The attacking player will put his model half over the defender or the defences, to emphasise that he has broken into the position, and is about to overrun the enemy. He does this before a single die has been rolled, in the expectation that things will go his way.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced LineLook at the dancing Cossacks – things have gone their way!

This leaves the defender in somewhat of a quandry. Does one point out this ungentlemanly behaviour and seem peevish, or does one let it slide and invite the player to remove his overly-familiar troops when the attack fails?

KV1 of 16 Motor Rifle Corps Breaks inConfident KV-1 vs. a dug-in doorknocker

A good umpire will, of course, not allow this sort of untidy behaviour, and will invite the attacker to place his troops more decorously until he does actually win the firefight …. or not.

20th Panzer Grenadier Division is Attacked

An optimistic BA-10

As can be seen from the photographic evidence, I have not always been a good umpire, but to be fair to the players involved, I have had to illustrate this article with one or perhaps two Soviet-style propaganda shots!

Happy New Year!

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Midwinter Reflection

2 Guards Mechanised Form Upo For the Attack in three columns2 Guards Mechanised form up for the attack in three columns of march

The fall of MOSCOW airfield marked the end of Phil’s visit to the games table. He left his Boxfiles behind as he plans to come back before New Year’s Eve. Naturally, I took the opportunity to photograph some of the contents and slot pictures into the orbats in place of some of my dodgier place-markers. A bit of rounding off happened too, during which the northern thrust around MOSCOW finally broke through the exhausted defenders. A hasty counterattack took back the airfield and southern defences, though not the eastern side of the riverbank. Flying into MOSCOW was going to be a precarious enterprise from now on, as the eastern end of the field would be under fire from across the River MOSKVA.

Over the past 30 years, head-on armoured battles have been a bit of a rarity (as you might expect from rules titled Not Quite Mechanised). During the course of the day I had been reflecting on the last time that armoured forces clashed at GAZALA. The comment then had been that something more formal was needed to cover the gaps. Phil is developing NQMsquared (or Megablitzsquared) and I’m happy that he is troubling to do the work on a system of squares that I enjoy playing, but don’t want to develop myself.

1 Shock Army is about to run head on into 7 Panzer Division in a mini PROKHOROVKA, so the battle rules will run like this:

As the lead elements of mobile forces run into each other, there will be an initial point contact as one or more bases touch each other at the head or front rank of the column. Resolve each combat in the normal way for winning the firefight.

When mobile stands fight enemy stands of different armour value in this way, everyone at the point of contact may choose which stand to direct their fire onto.*

The winner may:

  • Advance in contact (if mobility = or better than enemy mobility).
  • Hold fast.
  • Break off combat (if mobility is better than enemy mobility, or the enemy does not wish to remain in combat) to make contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.
  • Reinforce the combat with any other troops that are mobile enough to enter the combat.

The loser may:

  • Fall back in contact with the winner, if the loser is mobile enough (otherwise the loser can be bypassed if the winner chooses, and be engaged by follow-on forces who so choose).
    • If the enemy does not wish to advance, the loser may remain in combat for another round, morale permitting.
    • If the enemy wishes to remain in contact with the loser, and is mobile enough, he may do so.
  • Break off contact (if loser’s mobility is better than enemy mobility).
  • Fall back behind unengaged friendly troops, who will halt the enemy and engage him.
  • Mobile logistic stands can fight, but must fall back to their maximum limit in the face of the enemy as they attempt to fight.
  • If logistic stands are in prepared defences, they can halt a mobile enemy and fight, but can only halt non-armoured troops.
    • This means that armoured troops can choose to pass through logistic units without fighting them.
    • If logistic troops lose a combat from a defensive position, they must fall back in the normal way.
    • If they are passed through as described they may remain in position.
  • Fall back out of combat, into contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.

Example 1:

  • A PzIII stand (M armour, M gun) contacts a T-70 (L armour, L gun). The PzIII puts a pin onto the T-70 which elects to fall back.
  • The PzIII is joined by a SdKfz stand (L armour, L gun) from the second rank of the advancing column, as it advances to maintain contact. On the second round of combat the T-70 takes two pins and chooses to fire at the (L) Sdkfz causing one pin.
  • The T-70 falls back again to find a logistic stand but the Fascists advance to keep it in contact and are joined in the front rank by a command stand. On the third round of combat the T-70 takes no pins and chooses to fire at the unarmoured command stand, treating it as a (M) gun firing at a (L) target** causing one pin.

It can be seen in the picture at the top of the page that 2 Guards Mechanised Division is formed up in three columns of attack. Each column has armour at the head, followed by supporting infantry, then support (S), command (C) and logistic (L) stands.

*British commanders in the Western Desert complained on occasion that their anti-tank gunners shot up softskins in preference to armour, as it was easier to ‘brew them up’

** Remember that all armour and gun values are relative to each other. We reason that 45mm guns firing armour piercing (AP) at medium tanks would have a light effect, but the same guns firing AP or HE at unarmoured targets would have a medium effect.

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The Battle of Bir Bar ‘el – Breaking into the Position

0600hrs – Crossing the Start Line

Bersagliari under Artillery Fire

  1. 14th Infantry  Brigade Artillery (14ARTY) laid a barrage onto the northernmost enemy strongpoint of 1 medium CU scoring 5 against the medium strongpoint, scoring 1 red pin or pip (1M=5>M=1). Bersagliari tested for morale for coming under fire for the first time, scoring 4, which was OK
  2. 1st Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (1BEDS&HERTS) advanced to contact with the enemy and each stand of 3 bases opened fire scoring 2 pins (2L=5+6>M=2).
  3. V Bersagliari Motorised Battalion (5BERGn) returned fire with 1 light die scoring 1 pin (1L=4>L=1)
  4. In the first move, 1BEDS&HERTS have inflicted three pins on 5BERGn and received only one in return, so in the next move they can close assault the strongpoint.

Winning the Firefight

0700hrs – Close Assaulting the Northern Strongpoint

  1.  There were no unwounded stands left in the northern strongpoint, so if 1BEDS&HERTS close assaulted, they would just walk over the position, capturing anyone who was in there.  5BERGn were veteran troops however, and passed a morale test for 50% or over casualties scoring a 6! so the Battalion Commander decided that a fighting withdrawal was in order. 1BEDS&HERTS occupied the position. Their supporting Valentine tanks from 4th Royal Tank Regiment (4RTR) declined to pursue the fleeing enemy until the infantry had reorganised, on the grounds that the enemy had probably covered his lines of retreat with anti-tank fire.
  2. The 1st battalion Black Watch Regiment (1BW) advanced to contact in a co-ordinated brigade attack against the southernmost enemy strongpoint and began the firefight (2L=5+3>M=0).The attack stalled as the defenders returned fire (1L=6>L=2)
  3. 14ARTY laid a barrage  of 1 medium CU scoring 2 against the medium strongpoint to the south, to no effect. The attack remained stalled.
  4. The supporting Matilda battalion of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) began a duel with the DAK 5cm anti tank detachment to their north (DAK PaK). 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=6>H=1).

 Black Watch Advance to Contact

0800hrs – Black Watch Continue the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. The tank/anti tank duel continued in the south with more sound and fury than actual damage: 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=3>H=0), the PaK was now out of ammunition and could only withdraw next move, or sit tight awaiting a close assault.
  2. 14ARTY laid a barrage onto the southernmost enemy strongpoint (1M=4>M=1). 5BERGs had now received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on 2.
  3. 132ARTY fired on 1BW (1L=4>L=1). 1BW had received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on a 2, becoming disorganised.
  4. 1BW settled into a firefight with 5BERGs causing a permanent (black) casualty (2L=4+5>M*=1) and receiving . 5BERGs failed their 50% morale check on a 1, also becoming disorganised**

0900hrs – Black Watch Win the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. 14ARTY continued to bombard the southernmost enemy strongpoint to no effect (1M=3>M=0).
  2. 132ARTY switched fire onto 1BEDS&HERTS (1L4>L=1).
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS closed to effective fire range against the Southern Strongpoint (2L=3+5>M=1). At this stage the combined attack of two battalions had won the firefight and could advance to contact in the next move. [In the picture below, the 3 stands could have black pins stuck into the bases, or be depicted by casualty markers as shown here]

Black Watch Win the Firefight

1000hrs – Beds & Herts Follow Through to the Defenders Gun Line

  1. 14ARTY continued the barrage on the southernmost enemy strongpoint 5BERGs. The fall of shot was doing more damage now (1M=4>M=1).
  2. 132ARTY continued their barrage on 1BEDS&HERTS (1L=5>L=1).
  3. 1BW mounted a disorganised close assault with only one effective fighting base (F1) against the zero strength 5BERGs, which was automatically overrun. RHQ was unable to offer supporting fire to 5BERGs, as they were disorganised.
  4. The Valentines of 4RTR supporting 1BEDS&HERTS brought 132ARTY under direct fire (1L=6>M=1) causing 1 pin.

Valentines Charging the Guns!

1100hrs – The Enemy is Defeated

  1. In a bold move, the Matilda battalion 1RTR  passed through the Southern Strongpoint and broke into the RHQ position in fine style but caused no enemy casualties (1L=2>L=0) and received none in return*** (1L=4>H=0). The Tank Terror rule was not appropriate here as RHQ had organic anti tank assets. By doing this, 1RTR prevented RHQ from putting in a potentially devastating counter attack. [See picture below]
  2. 4RTR‘s Valentines closed with 132ARTY causing another pin (1L=6>M=1) and receiving no casualties in return (1L=4>M=0) – I really was not making these die rolls up!
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS mounted a well-coordinated close assault with two effective fighting bases (F2) against the single strength point remaining of  132ARTY (S1), which was  overrun as this strength point was defeated in close assault by the attacking infantry (F3= 6,5>S1=5). [See picture above]

Black Watch Close Assault

This battle would conclude with 14BDE consolidating on the positions that it had won and reorganising. The supporting tanks would reorganise, following British doctrine, behind the defending infantry. Logistic elements would move forward to resupply the infantry and tanks

It is worth noting that throughout, I have tried to describe as much of the ‘battle’ as possible using language that would be familiar to the commanders of the day. I find battles personally more satisfying doing this than if the language of wargaming is used, as I use games to try and understand the history of the period, as well as being an enjoyable pastime.

This worked example supercedes the earlier Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE.

Footnotes:

The notation used here is a sort of Chess-style notation that allows me to record the salient points of solo games for future reference, and to keep track in campaigns. For this game I decided that the first people to come under fire would take a morale check, and everyone would at 50%.

* I count most Atk guns as Medium in defence when tanks are firing against them, to reflect the anti-tank guns’ low profile and camouflage, as here.

** disorganised units cannot take advantage of supporting fire, and are automatically overrun if close assaulted.

*** Tanks do not close assault. They drive into an enemy infantry position as they please, but if the infantry do not surrender or run away, then the tanks are treated as light targets in the next move when close assaulted by the defending infantry  if they are unwise enough to stay on the position. See Männer Gegen Panzer to get a feel for what is going on tactically.

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Battle of Bir Bar ‘el

Since explaining combat in the  Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE, infantry stands have been reduced in strength by 3, reverting to the original version of NQM. See how this works with a combined infantry and tank brigade assault against  a defending battalion with anti-tank support.

2018: For the NQM Corps Scale Orbat, a battalion is s3 as opposed to the s6 example below.

 

Order of Battle – Allies

 Beds & Herts orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el

 Black Watch Orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el

 

Order of Battle – Axis

 

  • 8th Bersaglieri Regiment (Motorised) – 1 Comd car + 1 Mortar + 1 47mm Atk (CS3)
  • Attached from DAK1 50mm Atk (S2) +1 Limber (L2)
  • V Motorised Battalion 2 Trucks (L3)*, [ Bn Comd + MG + 45mm Mortar (CS3)], [ 3Rifles (F3)]
  • XII Motorised Bn detached to support Ariete

*(The Motorised Bn could equally be protrayed as two single truck stands  of strength CS3 and F3. If I do that , I usually put some infantry in the back to show they are not just Logistic trucks)

Italian Orbat for the Battle of Bir Bar el

 

 

 

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Clarifying Mechanised Orbats

When a motorised battalion of infantry with integral transport goes into battle, one of the bases (usually a Support (S) base)  can be an integral part of the transport base. In addition, the transport may carry other bases (usually  Fighting (F) bases) that ‘deploy’ when the stand attacks or defends.  The following scale should provide a rough guide but is not prescriptive :

No  extra bases per jeep or motorcycle combo

Up to 2 bases extra per light truck  or light halftrack (debusses up to 2 stands), e.g. Sd Kfz 250/251

Up to 3 bases extra per medium truck

Up to 4 bases extra per heavy truck

2 wheel trailers may carry 1 base

4 wheel trailers may carry up to 2 bases

If there are a mix of fighting and support bases in the stand, it can be given a hybrid designation, such as  FS, CF, CS, or even CFS.

This is different to the case of a marching infantry unit that happens to be transported in trucks that are not a normal part of their orbat. For marching infantry, the truck(s) can be accounted for separately as a Logistic (L) stand.

In retreat, all your troops will fit onto the trucks up to a maximum of double the usual extra stands, but no support weapons, so support stands become rifle stands.

Pz Gren Bn    1 Comd Sd Kfz w 37mm PAK + 81 or 50mm Mor (CS3)  which would normally travel with the Bn comd Sd Kfz, 2 x [Sd Kfz with MG + 2 Rifle bases @ (FS3)] (Rifle stands may have integral AT Rifle or Pz Faust  capability).

PzGrenBnGep

So a panzer grenadier battalion has 3 halftracks (each CS3 or FS3 light armour with an integral machine gun  or PaK 37). The 250 will always have an integral command base or may have an integral command/support base (MG or Pak), and probably also has a dismountable support base with it in the shape of a mortar. Each 251 has an integral support or gun base. Regimental gun support can be simulated by modelling the gun on the transport e.g. the Sd Kfz 250/10 or  Sd Kfz 251/10, or as a towed gun, as shown in the picture above.

In total up to 6  dismountable rifle or support bases could be carried by the 3 battalion transports with their integral non-dismountable bases. You could use as few as 3 or 4 dismountable bases to reflect the often-reduced fighting strength of these heavily used units. Of course, if you are asking yourself  “why bother with the dismounted bases at all?” then it is simple enough to just model a CS3 or FS3 vehicle with a few figures in the back. As long as everyone knows what is there, it doesn’t really matter.

Mot Rifle Bn  1 Comd Car + optional 81 or 50mm Mor (CS3)1-2 [Trucks or 1/2 tracks with integral mg support stand + optional 1-2 Rifle bases (FS2-3),  (Rifle stands may have integral AT Rifle or Pzfaust  capability). A total of 6-9 bases per battalion including the vehicle bases, in line with infantry battalions is about right, making a total of 3 stands, as shown below.

MotRflAbt

In total up to 6  dismountable rifle or support stands can be carried by the 3 battalion transports with their integral non-dismountable stands. Any regimental guns will be towed in this orbat. If a truck does not have an integral support or fighting base because you like to show all your infantry companies as dismountable, count it as (L1) and send it to the rear into a laager.

Please note that this does not in any way seek to replicate the actual carrying capacity of these vehicles; rather it simulates the functions of a battalion, whilst still allowing a modeller to produce signature equipment in his orbat. The orbat also gives flexibility without being too prescriptive. If you disagree, run your ideas past your opponent and reach an agreement for an enjoyable game.

Postcript, May 2017:

You can just stick a few infantry onto the same base as a truck (Tim Gow has been doing this for years in Megablitz), or you can make the bases small enough to fit into the back of the truck, as Command Decision does.

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The Battle of Washboard Ridge, an NQM Close Assault Example

Following a question of how big the unit of resolution for a close assault should be, the answer is “usually a battalion”. There are occasions when a regiment, brigade or even division may close assault, but these are rare: Brigadier Horror-Frackley, when asked during staff rides,  how many of his troops he wished to commit to the assault,  would answer

“All of them!”

Fortunately for us, the attack at WASHBOARD RIDGE is being conducted by Brigadier O.H. Tidbury (in command 30 October 1940–27 April 1941), who understands the value of reserves.

This 2012 example uses the old NQM method of giving an infantry base a strength of (S3) and has been superceded by taking NQM back to its roots and grouping three (S1) bases into a stand of (S3). See the more recent 2014  Battle of Bir Bar ‘el for the current way of conducting combat :

In 2018 the NQM Corps Scale Orbat (CSO) brought back the S3 stand as a 30 x 50mm stand of approximately the same size as a FoW base. This was to allow the use of bigger, simplified formations on the tabletop without dramatically increasing the workload on players. Bright Pink and Bright Blue items do not appear in NQM CSO

The Brigadier has ordered his anti tank rifles to be left behind as he is facing a reduced (regular) infantry battalion  (2nd) from 115th Infantry Regiment:

  •  Comd  (C3), 3/1 Rifle (s3), 8.1cm Mortar (F3), MG42 (F3)

asslt01 The plan is for a silent attack on a frontage of two battalions (all regular). The picture shows ammo markers in three different ways. The Beds and Harts (2BH) nearest the camera have three group markers (one is taken off each move if the battalion fires).  The York and Lancaster Regiment (2YL) have individual ammo markers, and the Black Watch (2BW) in reserve have a single marker with three green pips on it to remove each move that the battalion fires. The marker to the right has a grid with numbers on it to stick pins into if you don’t like heaps of counters on the table. Brigade attack. Chris Kemp's NQM A Echelon for a brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM Move 1 The battalion commander of the grenadiers elects to split his fire onto each of the attacking British battalions; (if a player declared otherwise, I would want to know if the leading companies in defence were cool enough to ignore the enemy bearing down on their position. I would probably allow the supports to concentrate fire but not the lead companies) (CSO does not use supports, because each stand is a battalion)115th Infantry Regiment before Tobruck. Chris Kemp's NQM Because this is a brigade attack, the reserve battalion could lend the supporting fire of its MMG and mortar if it was ordered to. In this case it is not felt necessary, and on the first move, the 2YL wins its firefight, so can close assault in the next move. The Beds and Harts  do not fare as well, so their attack goes to ground and grinds to a halt until reinforcements arrive to unstick them (this does not mean that they cannot continue to shoot in the hope that they will win the firefight in the next move, BUT THEY CANNOT CLOSE ASSAULT WITHOUT BEING REINFORCED). Brigade attack in the Western Desert. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault in the North, move 2 Close Assault. Achtung Schweinhund!Chris Kemp's NQM Battalion Attack in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM 2YL win their close assault causing two pips of damage and receiving none. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate their position, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL. Battalion Attack breaks into heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Note the black heavy die rolled against the Brits to account for the effect of an uncleared minefield in front of the defensive position. In traditional fashion, the heavy die rolled a two! Firefight in the South, move 2 Battalion Attack goes to ground in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM 2BH initiate another round of fire with the two grenadier companies south of the ridge. This time they win the firefight and are reinforced by a Black Watch  company, so that they can close assault next move. Battalion Attack regains momentum in front of heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault in the North, move 3 2YL win their close assault causing two more pips of damage and receiving one. The two forward grenadier companies that received red pins are forced to vacate again, being replaced by the two forward companies of 2YL. Note that they can only carry one ammo marker out of the position with them as they each only have one strength point left. Battalion Attack finally clears heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM Close Assault  in the South, move 3 2BH win their Close Assault narrowly, causing one pip of damage, and noting with relief that the minefield die was an equally miserable one! (Although it looks as if the black die is matched aganst the die below, it is not. It is acting as one heavy die of fire at contact). The grenadier company with 3 red pins on it has no fighting strength left. If it gets another hit before it reorganises, it will be destroyed. Battalion Attack fighting through heavily defended company positions. Chris Kemp's NQM At this point, 2nd/115th are forced to take a morale test, which they fail, withdrawing in good order to fight another day. Brigadier Tidbury is content that the position has been taken. He calls for his ‘A’ echelon to come forward and begins the task of reorganising and digging his brigade in before the inevitable counter attack. He will bring forward his transport with engineering stores, anti-tank guns and more ammunition.

*Volltreffer (direct hit) – Often shouted on ski slopes when a novice skier has wiped out a snowboarder.

**Achtung Schweinhund! Harry Pearson’s eponymous book is highly recommended.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Land Battles, Logistics, Western Desert, WWII