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"What is the objective behind big battles?" Topic

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UshCha10 Jul 2020 5:46 a.m. PST

Some interesting threads going on at the moment and it got me wondering. Our own games in isolation cover a few hours, the actual combat section where progress in the modern world against difficult opponents is about 1 mile per hour. Off ten it's a 2 up one back like the real thing, so 2 platoons up, 1 back for the attacker and probably 2 squads up 1 back for the platoon in defense. In the real world it's a few hours of real time with some luck ammunition supply is not too much of an issue in these timescale's so can be ignored in general easing the burden, possibly a bit unrealistically on the player letting him concentrate on tactics. However command of a company is sometimes not enough and in our big long games we extend sometimes to almost half a division. However in doing so the interest is in the longer timescales. Committing all the troops at once would be suicide the commander's job now extends to considering what resources are needed over at least a 24 hrs. period, where troops may well need to be replaced at the cutting edge as fear, fire, ammo, and fatigue become an issue. Also rear guards are need as stays behind troops not encountered or bypassed become an issue needing estimates of the resources to be made and allocated. Also Artillery become an issue, replenishment takes time or very high risk if supplied in situ if counter battery fire is encountered. Is this what big games are about? The more logistic and time dependent nature of battles were all the resources cannot be used at once so that the retreat if the battle is lost does not become a rout, and if it wins there is sufficient resource to exploit the situation.
On this basis what is the timescale of a big game? Hours, where on it's actually a small series of small battles; or the longer term where deployment needs to take in the logistics and necessity of running an army 24 hrs. a day.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 6:08 a.m. PST

Not all of us game in the modern period so the logic would change dramatically.

Try telling a Roman centurion not to commit his century all at once – just send a few forward against 100 Gallic warriors and see what happens. Even those numbers are really a skirmish in ancient times.

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 6:39 a.m. PST

Isn't the objective of large battles to get all of your figures on the table?🤔🤔🤔🙂

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 7:04 a.m. PST

I imagine the objective of a big battle is to play a big battle. While logistics are important, it sounds like your focus is gaming logistics rather than gaming the actual battle.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 8:12 a.m. PST

To be honest, most big modern games I have seen simply ignore 90% of the issues you raise.

The point is to play "Division Commander" and have fun.

Black Hat Miniatures10 Jul 2020 9:13 a.m. PST


I have never been totally convinced that fun is something the OP wants in his games…

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 9:47 a.m. PST

Careful examination of wargames has convinced me that the object of big battles is to show off all the miniatures.

Korvessa10 Jul 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

I think big battles, of whatever time period, just look cool.
Oh and what Robert P said too.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 11:59 a.m. PST

I like big candy bars, big cars, big houses,big bank accounts, not big women, I like the GRAND Canyon, the GREAT lakes, the GREAT plains, the PACIFIC fleet, etc.
Why would I not like BIG battles with my LITTLE men ?

Russ Dunaway

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 1:41 p.m. PST

What Old Glory said!

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 2:06 p.m. PST

"Fun" is a relatively meaningless way to describe the objective of a game. They are all intended to be "fun" in some way, but my "fun" is not like Ushcha's "fun", which is probably not like your "fun". No one gets to define for everyone what is fun and what is not.

Aside from that:

1. Spectacle. Lots of nicely painted miniatures on terrain lovingly crafted to complement a larger perspective is a thrill in itself. But that's not all of it . . .

2. Accommodating a larger group. If you have a gathering of a half dozen gamers and want to provide each of them with tactical challenges and meaningful decisions, a larger battle is the way to go. A larger group also offers a richer social experience.

3. Exploring different command levels. A platoon does not fight like a battalion, which does not fight like a brigade, which does not fight like a division. Each level of command gives the officer a unique set of challenges, which can be reflected in the choice of rules and scenarios.

Not just one of these, but "All of the Above".

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2020 4:18 p.m. PST

I think War Artisan says it well.

I'd include showing off the miniatures, terrain, etc., as well.

gunnerphil10 Jul 2020 10:29 p.m. PST

Not really sure what he is trying to say. But for me bigger battles clearly need different rules to smaller battles. So most of that stuff is factored in.

There are some great section/platoon level rules, try and take them up to Battalion and they fall apart. Same with company\ battalion rules they do not work at section leve, or division.

Big battles need rules for big battles, with some stuff is more abstract.

Martin Rapier10 Jul 2020 11:01 p.m. PST

As noted, the main aim of big battles is to get as many toys on the table as possible :)

Having said that, I generally aim for WW2 operational games to cover an absolute minimum of one day, and preferably several days. All sorts of interesting and fun stuff happens overnight which doesn't otherwise get represented. The decision cycle for a division is 24 hours, and when you are looking at days of action, resupply, rest and reorg become vital to maintaining unit effectiveness.

A one day action can be fine to cover a specific operational phase though. 6th June 1944 was a pretty long day:)

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 12:07 a.m. PST

War Artisan pretty well nailed it. I can only add one thing:

4. Recreating actual big battles. Historical battles have many different sizes and scopes and stakes, and each has a way to simulate it.

Big battles don't have to be fought as a single game. A couple years back I decided it would be fun to recreate the interactions between sea, air and land forces that decided the Guadalcanal campaign, but rather than game it as a single very abstract board game, I organized a series of 5 linked tactical miniatures games: two air games, two naval games, and a final land game. The first four games influenced the starting forces of the final game, so there was an incentive in each game beyond just "beat the enemy".

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP11 Jul 2020 12:09 a.m. PST

Having said that, I generally aim for WW2 operational games to cover an absolute minimum of one day, and preferably several days. All sorts of interesting and fun stuff happens overnight which doesn't otherwise get represented. The decision cycle for a division is 24 hours, and when you are looking at days of action, resupply, rest and reorg become vital to maintaining unit effectiveness.
What rules are you using?

- Ix

UshCha11 Jul 2020 1:05 a.m. PST

YA Ditto what rules Martin?

Not sure I understand the figuers bit. Some "Big battle" rules seem to have no more figures that small battles. 4 figures representing say a Platoon for example would allow a higher command structure for the same number of figures.

It supprises me that all bigger battles don't use smaller figures, or bigger tables, so as to have a more representative figure to ground scale.

2mm seems to me to have potential, but I have not found a set of rules that really addressed the command and control issues at higher levels.

Martin Rapier11 Jul 2020 9:06 a.m. PST

My own,but heavily influenced by Megablitz. So strength points, unit modes etc. A fairly generous ground scale (I did the 1967 Six Day War at 1" = 5km).

The Sandhurst Kriegspiel and 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame (both published by the History of Wargaming Project) cover similar ground.

I ran Operation Goodwood remotely recently. Writeups below.


Der Krieg Geist16 Jul 2020 2:44 a.m. PST

The point is to get the maximum amount of our lovely miniatures on the table as we feasibly can. :D

UshCha16 Jul 2020 4:17 a.m. PST

That really means nothing Der Krieg Geist. You could do just do bigger 1:1 games with more figures. Thats not a bigger battle its just more figures at least to me, which is not the same. Plus in a big battle there would be more unknowns so proably more dummy markets on which may or may not represent a threat.

Der Krieg Geist16 Jul 2020 11:22 p.m. PST

I had not answered in seriousness( note happy face in previous post)
A more honest answer seems just as obvious to me, however.
Some want to create the intimate feel of close,personal, one on one action, hence skirmish games. Others want to create the grand sweeping strategies needed to command a dynamic battlefield full of detail and decision making.

I have played firefights between single squads, fun for sure but I am not considering the effect that firefight
had on a larger Battles outcome.

I have played conflicts at the platoon and company level. Also fun but I did not consider the effects that level had on a military campaign.

I have played games at the Divisional level allowing me to consider the challenges of fighting as part of a front or at a corp level, perhaps the whole front of a war.

Each level of command has entirely different challenges and complexity to consider.

Does this answer provide more satisfaction?

UshCha25 Jul 2020 11:59 p.m. PST

Der Krieg Geist,
No offence taken ;-).
So at divisinal level so what timescale roughhly to you fight on? I assume a minimum of 24 hrs for a game and proably considerably more. Our own tiny games need a minimum of 24 hrs to include the critical issueS of replacing troops in combat who in a tough fight will be exhausted, out of ammunition and in need of re-fuleing and re-arming, even lo0nger if the game covers moving more than a couple of miles where relocation or re-arming points and re-location of shorter range artillery becomes neccessary.

Der Krieg Geist27 Jul 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

I actually trained Army officers how to use the JESS for Corp sized war games, and participated in said maneuvers. Those ran 48-72 hours, but yes 24 hrs was feasible.
I have also played Micro armor games at divisional level, in truth they bored me to tears.
As much as I love war gaming I did not find the real thing all that interesting. What you seem to be writing about is the logistics of large scale warfare also.I found the idea of that way more fascinating then the game playing of it. To much like real work and not enough action.
It Goes a long way to explain why I prefer games 1:1 scale,company sized and below. I am more fascinated by the in your face nitty gritty of small scale battle then the grand sweeping actions of higher commands.

Der Krieg Geist27 Jul 2020 2:26 p.m. PST

I guess my questions for you would be, what are your objectives in playing big battles? Are you fascinated by the challenges of higher command and logistics, is this enough for you to want to play? Or are you interested in what motivates others to play at that level?

I realize I am probably ill suited to answer you on this thread because high level command games no longer appeal to me.

UshCha28 Jul 2020 8:35 a.m. PST

Der Krieg Geist, In answer to your questions.

I love company level 1:1 games, they are the meat of wargaming to me. However its our opinion that this can be improved massively by playing the company games with an input from higher level.

In our big games we have a "virtual Table" 16 ft long so with the way we subdivide it probably 6km long of terrain with no "duff bits" effectively all the interesting bits of a road that in reality may be several times that long. The way its laid out, the Table has multiple routes so the defender is unsure where the attacker will go. The routes are relatively narrow about wide enough for one platoon defending and 1 company attacking.

Therefore with limited resources on both side, more of course on the attackers side, it becomes a battle for information and trying to outwit the enemy. It generates scenarios that would never be taken seriously as one offs but become vital to both sides as kit has to fall back as it is exhausted, and the attacker can even temporarily run out of range of mortars, or general ammunition making them vulnerable to counter attack. Plus in bypassing you need to decide how much to defined the bypassed area if you decide to press on.

No we think we have a good solution but are always willing to learn If anybody can do it better. Our aim was always to reflect the higher level limitations with out it dominating the brawls at lower levels except to define the objectives of the low level games. You suddenly need to be aware of when to quit, fighting to the last man MAY be bad news if the other guy is ready with fresh forces and you have used up too much and are waiting for stuff to come back after resting, refueling and re, arming.

Wolfhag28 Jul 2020 11:22 a.m. PST

Those are good ideas, I've been thinking along the same lines regarding input from a higher level for pre-battle set-ups.

Realistically, a Company/Battalion Commander is going to get some type of enemy intel briefing. It should be limited to the type of units (reg or division designation) they'll be up against. This would give them an idea of what weapons and vehicles they'll be facing. It should also let him know what artillery and air support he'll have and expected times it would arrive or be on standby.

It could also be determined by the level of intel each side may have.

The player can make a decision to use artillery or air support for interdiction to slow enemy reserves arriving and maybe cause some causalities (friction/suppression).

At the Rgt and Division level, they'd be prepared for overall disposition. This could determine the level of support they'll have from higher-level formations:
Attack: Planned/Deliberate, Hasty, Meeting Engagement/Recon by Force

Defense: Planned/Deliberate, Hasty, Spoiling Attack

A Planned/Deliberate attack could include a pre-assault bombardment and attachments from Corps level artillery and below. A Hasty attack might have only Regiment/Battalion level artillery available for bombardment and attachments. A Meeting Engagement/Recon in Force might only include units at the Company level.

A Planned/Deliberate defense could include a defensive/FPF bombardment and attachments from Corps level artillery and below. A Hasty attack might have only Regiment/Battalion level artillery available for bombardment and attachments. A Meeting Engagement/Recon in Force might only include units at the Company level with minimal support from Battalion and Regt artillery.

Defenses for a Hasty Defense could include man-made concrete pillbox/bunkers, barbed wire, planned minefield belts, etc. A Hasty Defense might be limited to trenches, barbed wire, and hasty/scattered/limited minefields.

A Spoiling Attack is pretty much like a raid with limited assets from higher-level command.

This would help create a pre-game Fog of War.


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