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"What Makes A Good WWII Scenario??" Topic

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Lee49429 Jun 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

What Makes A Good WWII Scenario?

I'm writing new scenarios for my three sets of rules (listed below) to publish online as free PDF downloads. I'd appreciate your input on several questions …

First the obvious … What scenario would you like to see? What battle, campaign etc.

Second. Besides the obvious (playability, play balance, clear and concise directions). What makes a good scenario?

And third. Do you like scenarios with historical OB's or ones that work with points so you can build and try your own list within the context of the historical battle? Or both.

Additional comments welcome! Cheers! Lee

My rules.

1. Combat Action Command. 10-20mm Company level.
2. Skirmish Action. 10-28mm Platoon level.
3. Armored Action. 6mm brigade/division/corps level.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2017 4:49 p.m. PST

I'm reading about Operation Dragoon right now, and it is very appealing because of the motley array of troops involved: French goumiers vs. German police battalions? You've got it! US armored cavalry vs. Kriegsmarine? Check! There's also a pretty good balance between offense and defense, and none of the actions are too large.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2017 5:50 p.m. PST

>What Makes A Good WWII Scenario?

I would rather address what I think makes a scenario that I find enjoyable.

To be clear, not everyone likes my style of gaming. So what I enjoy might well not be a "good" scenario if you want to please all the people, all the time.

For me:

- Play balance: Matters very little. Some of the games I have enjoyed most over the years were quite unbalanced. If the victory conditions are adjusted to reflect the imbalance in forces it can be quite fun trying to do enough with what you have. Or if the information available to the players is limited, you can often manage your forces well enough to do well, even if the enemy could have run right over you if he'd only known.

- Playability: Yes please. Had too many games fail for trying to stuff a 10 pound scenario into a 5 pound game. It is a constant challenge -- I always want more of the cool stuff, but cool stuff in an unplayable traffic jam of a game is just not the right way to go.

- Clear and concise directions: I guess maybe. Not sure. Can't think of a game I've played where I felt the game suffered because the scenario was unclear. Rules unclear? Yep, that's a game killer. Players unclear on the concept? Yep. But not the scenario. I don't think.

- Historical OBs or point: I lean towards historical OBs. But … variability is OK by me. Give me a choice of units, or a core with a choice of attachments, or a random generation of some portion of my force … all of those are just fine. It won't end up being strictly per the history of the battle, but it will be historical-ish. But I do not favor points-based armies. Unless it's greatly simplified -- as in "1 point per infantry squad, 2 points per support weapon, 1 point per transport vehicle, 2 points per armored/armed transport or scouting vehicle, 4 points per light tank, 6 points per medium, 6 points per off-board artillery gun, 10 points per heavy tank. Here is your list of available stuff to chose from." Yeah,that can work. But the whole "6 men with 2 SMGs and 4 rifles, with a radio, two AT launchers, a glow stick and a book of enchantments is 24 + 14 + 20 + 10 + 22 + 4 + 15 points …" just leads to rules lawyering in my experience. I'd rather focus on the tactical challenges of the game than the tactics of getting the most I can out of the rules or the scenario.

So what would I like to see?

I like Tunisia in 1942/43. I like Torch in 1942. I like Sicily in 1943. I like France in 1940. I like Romanians in the Crimea, and Finns in Karelia, and Italians in the Donbass.

I like things that are slightly off the beaten path, but maybe not too far. Not so enthused about Eritrea in 1938 or Somalia in 1941 … mostly because it's hard to get the right models.

But I also like mainstream, right down the center, core stuff. Kursk in 1943. Normandie or the Ardennes in 1944.

But regardless of where and when, I'm not a big fan of two sides with a bucket of dice and perfectly balanced forces simultaneously advancing on a village / crossroads in the middle of the table.

I like a bit of context for the scenario, and maybe some character -- odd quirks that make scenarios just a bit different. Like discovering an additional victory condition (look at that -- a supply dump!) mid-battle, or having to protect some resource (an aid station?) in addition to whatever else I'm given as objectives.

And I'm a BIG fan of hidden units and hidden movement. On both sides (attackers and defenders). But I don't want a big administrative burden layed on top of the game for it.

Kinda demanding? Oh well, you asked.

(aka: Mk 1)

Lee49429 Jun 2017 9:43 p.m. PST

Great comments! Appreciate the thoughtfulness and ideas. Thanks! Lee

VVV reply30 Jun 2017 1:14 a.m. PST

Well I have done this for my own rules. So here is what I did: meeting engagement, attack against prepared position, breakthrough, take an objective, scout a town, capture enemy prisoners.
There are some scenario books out there for people to play a specific campaign.

Durban Gamer30 Jun 2017 5:07 a.m. PST

Scenarios based on good solid historical research which brings out the quirks and asymmetry and correct orbats of the real action are often a winner. Remember to mention the air situation for those who play aircraft, including dog-fighting.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

Killing Germans. Seriously. Nothing should be unbeatable.
I'm amazed by some games I've played in where the GM ran a game based on one of his favorite historical battles that was totally one-sided. I got wiped out and he sat there beaming "Yeah. That's just the way it happened in Real Life."

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

Please stay away from points and tournaments. In real life battles were not balanced. So deal with it. As Mark 1 said, adjust the victory conditions.

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 3:13 p.m. PST

Ive found less is more. Some of the best battles have been scenarios where both sides can say "I don't have enough of a force to fight this battle." Large table not loaded with a ton of minis. Maneuver is king.

UshCha01 Jul 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

Certainly to me the scenario needs to be believable. Two equal armies attacking all at once is daft and never really happened. If it did one side was stupid. Wait for him to attack and he's dead then walk in.
Most real battles are attack defence. As a bare minimum use blanks and dummies for the defender and any attackers not yet moving. Don't make spotting to easy. Otherwise everybody lines up to spot one dummy then goes onto the next. Even Phil Barker stopped that.

Almost always there needs to be a time constraint. If it's the attacker he has to get to position X by Y. Otherwise play can be implausibly slow.

More complex twists are fun but add to an already complex interaction, so may make it too hard for some.

Any random elements should not make the game out of balance.
I've seen games become uninteresting because of excessive, or implausible randomness. Troops OOB should be plausible, not necessarily identical to the book. Losses in battle can shape the actual forces. Daft time shifts between forces is fantasy and in general should be avoided.

One way to look at a scenario is to look at it as an exercise. Its got to be some sort of challenge that gives you an insight into real battles and their control and tactics.

Oh, and that's the simple ones. Rally good ones take several evenings to play.

Well you asked :-).

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