7 Armd Div before being slimmed down
The collection of models for ALAMEIN (and later, Tunisia and Italy) is coming on nicely, but I’m hitting some hard limits on (a) storage space, (b) how much board space I need to lay ALAMEIN out, and (c) the sheer numbers of infantry needed . YesthatPhil previously posited that the players would be happier with a more formal game sequence and squares to help with directions (I believe the original armies had similar problems with maps and compasses), so there may be some mileage in going to NQM Squared.I’m still not a fan of rectilinear military thinking, but if it gets the job done, it’s a compromise that I’m willing to make.
Phil has paved the way there with Megablitz Squared in an elegant blend of NQM and Megablitz, using PBI 6″ squares. In addition, the work that Bob Cordery has put in with The Portable Wargame concept has made squares much more acceptable to players.
My initial sums on the back-of-a-fag-packet led me to believe that the ALAMEIN front of 40miles (65Km) could fit onto a 6.5m tabletop at 10cm per Km (1:10,000). Trebian’s Shedquarter table is 11 feet, or 22 x 6″ (150mm) squares. If the scale is halved to 1:20,000 then that makes a square about 3Km across. A battalion normally holds a frontage of about 1Km or 50mm.
Megablitz divisions are roughly half the size or smaller than those in NQM, but I have been fighting the Eastern Front at between half and 1/3 scale anyway. It would make sense to write orbats for these army-level games that more accurately reflect what we are actually doing. This makes a lot of sense for 1943 onwards, where on the Eastern Front, the numbers of units increased along with their firepower, but the manpower shrank as the battlefield emptied in response to the increasing lethality of the weapons employed.
This halves my problem for ALAMEIN. It means some sacrifices in orbat chrome to achieve game room for higher level functions, but the die-rolling grind should be halved:
The first simplification is to remove the distinction between support and fighting stands within the infantry battalion. If a battalion is now S3 instead of S6, this no longer matters. The support will sit at regimental level, and headquarters will sit at divisional level.
I will need to make explicit the defence tactic of dispersed defence in depth to reduce the lethality of artillery barrages, whose main effect seemed to be to impose disorganisation on defenders, and disruption/delay on attackers with casualties as a by product. The German defenders at ALAMEIN do not seem to have suffered excessive casualties from a heavy set piece bombardment conducted to WWI standards of planning by a highly professional artillery arm, but it did stop thenm from interfering with minesweeping and the initial advance.
Divisional supporting battalions such as Anti-aircraft Anti-tank and artillery will have to express their effect over the area of the division. squares should make this easier. This should free up time for logistic matters that are usually ignored when the combat becomes heavy. I have felt for a while now that I only need to track artillery ammunition and fuel for armoured divisions: no-one else ever really reported running out of stuff down at battalion level.
Small markers that don’t really play a part in the came or occupy real estate can be subsumed into units – namely RMP and FOOs. Single figure markers may be useful here.
7 Armoured Division. Corps-Scale Orbat (March 2018)
The first stage is to play a trial game to make sure that the balance between infantry, armour and artillery is still intact.