Sidi Rezegh using BKC 4 leads to questions of scale and spectacle
|Carrier Platoons of the Motor Companies shelter in a wadi, Sidi Rezegh.
Two carriers to carry a ‚platoon‘ looks far better than one, though they only count as one for hits, etc.
As you know, I’m very lucky in that I have a war games room with a permanent table. This means I can leave games set up between weekly gaming sessions enabling big battles to be fought out over two or three weeks. All well and good but, sometimes I wonder if this arrangement leads me to be a little over ambitious to the detriment of some of my games.
|II Battalion 104th Schutzen with engineers in tow (red edged bases) attack the Second Escarpment, Sidi Rezegh.|
Getting down to cases: Battles in the desert in late 1941 tended to be ‚Brigade Group‘ affairs, or larger. Sometimes several hundred tanks could be operating in what might be regarded as my war gaming table space; to a degree, to my mind, I have to think ‚Big Battle‘. The battle at Sidi Rezegh on the 22nd November 1941, for example, involved four ‚battle groups‘ (200 tanks) operating on a battlefield measuring about two miles by three. We are currently playing that scenario using Blitzkrieg Commander 4 rules and the game looks great but, so far, we have played just 5 turns in about 5 hours. My scenario has 112 Blitzkrieg Commander combat units fighting it out, and that is a lot of units for a one player a side game.
|22nd Armoured Brigade (depleted) begins to arrive, Sidi Rezegh.|
The mechanics of BKC 4 can handle games this size, for sure, but the dice rolling on multiple activation takes a lot of time to get through without the help of many hands. We have had several dozen units activating three or four times each turn – a single battalion rolling 100+ dice in a turn has happened at least four times: A big, two player, BKC game equals a slow turn game, and there is no getting around that fact. I like the level of detail and easy game mechanics in BKC 4 but, twenty units a player would be much better than fifty plus.
|A13 command stand representing Brigadier Davy, 7th Armoured Brigade, Sidi Rezegh|
The problem is, I don’t want to play tiny bits of actions – which is certainly doable – because I want to see how one bit of the battle interacts with the other bits. I’ve never quite got on with scenarios which have narratives that go something like „…and there is a massive tank battle going on just off table to the west but, don’t worry about it, it will not affect this action….“; though, inevitably, that kind of scenario is sometimes the only way to do an action.
|A15 Crusader in racing to the rescue, Sidi-Rezegh.
Those red and white Operation Crusader stripes will give the Germans something to aim at!
As I said in the first paragraph of this post, sometimes I think my ambitions are to the detriment of the game. The answer is easy, just hard for me to swallow.
|German command stand representing Major General Ravenstein, Sidi Rezegh|
Having recently reassessed how I’m going to tackle the ‚Peninsular War‘ project going forward by ‚downsizing‘ the size of my divisions, I’m now pondering a scale reassessment for my Operation Crusader 1941 non-project (it’s not a proper project, it’s a ’now and then‘ sideline).
|25 pdr in action, Sidi Rezegh.|
Currently, I’m playing my WW2 games at a figure scale of about 1:5 with about ten model tanks to a tank battalion and a dozen or so infantry stands to an infantry battalion. Now, I’m wondering, if big battles are my intention, should I halve my numbers and go for a figure scale of 1:10? Are five strong tank battalions big enough? Five or six ‚units‘ are normally big enough for a ‚command‘ but, are five or six stands?
|Looking north east, Sidi Rezegh. End of turn 5.|
The downside is obvious. Can I bear the loss of aesthetic spectacle? As a game, I think it would work much better if the game involved less stuff. Can I square my circle?
|PzKpfw IV D, Sidi Rezegh.|
More upsides to downsizing:
- Downsizing would mean I have enough tanks to field the whole of 7th Armoured Division, representing about five hundred tanks and its supporting units, including the hundred or so 25 pounder field guns, at the same time (there would be no room to manoeuvre, even on a 12′ x 6′ table, but I could do it).
- It would mean I could field the best part of a British infantry division when required to do so. It would also mean I could field two Panzer Divisions (15th and 21st) instead of only one, which would be quite useful for some scenarios.
- It would mean I could probably afford to add the Italians to the collection, at divisional strength, at some point in the future – I probably couldn’t afford the painting time or money otherwise.
- It would mean a more open battlefield, my desert (table) would start looking much bigger and more open, like a desert.
- It would mean I have surplus stuff (some of which is already painted) which I could sell to buy Italian stuff – now, that’s a definite upside!
But, the loss of spectacle.
|Brigadier ‚Jock‘ Campbell’s HQ, and officer commanding 4th Field Artillery, Sidi Rezegh.|
Do I keep things as they are but keep the option to go half scale when required, or do I plumb for 1:10 and go for it, full steam ahead?
Oh, the loss of spectacle.
|10.5 cm L28 howitzer. Something meaty for close support, Sidi Rezegh.|
Strokes beard. A lot to ponder. At 1:5, the spectacle is ‚ambitious‘.
|On parade, the teeth of 15th Panzer Division at 1:5 (approx).|
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Autor: JAMES ROACH / Olicanalad’s Games
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