Tuesday 10 April 2012

Change of Plan

Despite what I said a few weeks ago about a Flames of War campaign in a hypothetical Scandinavian front, however, things have changed. I decided that the map I'd designed was going to lead to a complicated campaign which risked becoming bogged down and losing the interest of the participants. Having a somewhat short attention span when it comes to wargaming (this blog is evidence of that) I tend to prefer campaigns which are short and intense or longer and more casual. So I began to cast around for alternatives.

The first option was the Infantry aces campaign from 'Cassino' book. This had a lot going for it: it has a short, four round structure; it's an escalation campaign so the games get steadily bigger; there's a built-in big multi-player game to round off; there's a narrative element as players' commanding officers (their 'Infantry Ace' gains additional skills and abilities). It seemed perfect.

Unfortunately there was a problem. Well, several problems actually. It turns out that very few players at the club only have armoured companies and don't have enough infantry to run the campaign. I was a bit puzzled why nobody had mentioned this when I first mentioned the Infantry Aces campaign, and also why I didn't already know this from previous games of Flames of War...and then I remembered this...

...and this...

...could it be that my fellow clubmates have been avoiding me and my tank-eating Panthers? :)

It also seems that mid-war is much easier for folk to do (I knew this was the case for one, but wasn't aware that it was true for others), so Cassino was abandoned.

I returned to the the mid-war period (1942-43) and an idea I'd originally had for a late war 'Race to Berlin' campaign. This idea uses the 'Axis of Attack' campaign format and has the three major allied powers (USA, Great Britain and the Soviet Union) competing to reach Berlin first along three separate quasi-historical routes. However, I needed to transfer this concept to earlier in the war when the allies were fighting on different continents. I was also limited to a point after America's entry to the war.

A little bit of research revealed that in November1942 three very significant events happened at roughly the same time. Firstly, the British won the second Battle of El Alamein, turning the tide of the war in Africa and beginning the Eighth Army's long push along the coast to Tunisia. Secondly, the Russians launched Operation Uranus to encircle the German Sixth army, and despite several major German offensives, saw the Russians break out and eventually capture Kursk several months later. Finally, an American led force launched Operation Torch, landing in Morocco and Algeria, easily defeating the Vichy French and then forcing the German and Italian troops in Tunisia to fight on two fronts.

This gave me my three Axis of Attack lines. The British and Americans would move from opposite ends of North Africa to drive the Germans and Italians out of Tunis, and the Russians would break out of Stalingrad and push the Germans, Romanians and Hungarians back to Kursk.

Here are the maps (the North Africa one is adapted from a map on WWPD.net):

The aim for the each Allied nation is to reach their objective before the others. The aim for the Axis powers is to stop them. However, to liven up proceeding and bring in a greater level of variety, I've decided to allow players to use both Axis and Allied armies. However, they must choose to be in the British, Soviet or American factions, and they cannot play games against players in the same faction, but they can play as the Axis against the other two Allied factions in an attempt to slow them down.

Hopefully this plan also gives the couple of players with only German armies a focus as they have to fight on three fronts and can only win if all the Allies are held back (a difficult and fairly historical objective).

I've had an idea to run the campaign as a relaxed, long-term affair with the start date being November and the end being May reflecting the historical time frame, and see if the players can beat their historical counterparts. As such, I'll probably not make it straightforward to capture the next territory along the track. I also suspect that I'm going to throw in some special rules when the campaign reaches certain locations and dates. (The Americans shouldn't be looking forward to the Kasserine Pass!)

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