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Sloejack

Building Divisions

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Now that I've had a few days to dig into the Campaign toolkit a bit, I've started trying to research some other divisions and then take that next step of turning that into the appropriate ToI representation.  Looking at the Wikipedia for the 29th Division it was organized as follows:

Organization

  • 115th, 116th and 175th Infantry Regiments
  • 110th, 111th, 224th and 227th Field Artillery Battalions
  • 121st Engineer Combat Battalion
  • Attached unit: 821st Tank Destroyer Battalion

Looking at the Campaign book, we see 10 squad bases with specializations for engineering(2), flame(1), medic(1), and anti-tank(1).

Carving out the Artillery Battalions since artillery is abstracted (though through the campaign [except for the beach landing] they do have an artillery deck available to them so they're represented more or less).  I'm guessing that each battalion is represented by 2 squad bases.  At a high level that all seems to make some sort of sense.

So now I'm trying to apply it to crafting a campaign for the German 352nd Infantry Division (for example).  Granted that may not be the best one to use since they got depleated and re-constituted a couple of times in the course of the war but as the opposing force for the 29th on D-Day it seemed somewhat appropriate and possibly easy to model since some configuration of them is supplied in the first scenario for the campaign.

I'm digging into things to go from say the battle of france up to the normandy invasion but I'm not sure there was any one division to use for a campaign style play.  Perhaps some literary license can be applied without offending too many sensibilities.

Anyway, other than just babbling on here, I'm wondering if anyone else who's looked into the campaign has had any thoughts about how it could be leveraged beyond the published one.

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sloejack said:

Anyway, other than just babbling on here, I'm wondering if anyone else who's looked into the campaign has had any thoughts about how it could be leveraged beyond the published one.

I am still thinking about how to do a campaign generator based on the Axis & Allies D-Day game where the moves on the A&A board generate ToI battles.

In my opinion, the campaign "division" does not represent the entire 29th division, but rather a typical assault company of roughly three boat sections of that division. They just called it a division because they sub-divide scenario forces into divisions for more than two players. I have been wrong before, though. happy.gif

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I'm not convinced yet that it's just a typical or standard build out.  Looking at the german divisisons which from what I understand was actually just a single division of the 352nd Infantry at Omaha (I believe they also were the primary defender at Utah).

The Bloody Omaha German distribution is 13 squads with 3 anti-tank specializations and 1 StuG III.  Since we know that part of the 352nd was held back in reserve for a counter attack against the Allies, as well as involved in defending Utah the alotment for this scenario could be some scale of the actual deployed 352nd.

I suspect that there is some method to the madness in terms of scaling down the real Divisions into a ToI representation I just haven't puzzled out what it is yet I think.

The order of battle for the 352nd looked like this on D-Day:

  • 914. Grenadier Regiment
    • 2 x 15 cm sIG 33
    • 6 x 7.5 cm leIG
    • 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
  • 915. Grenadier Regiment
    • 2 x 15 cm sIG 33
    • 6 x 7.5 cm leIG
    • 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
  • 916. Grenadier Regiment
    • 2 x 15 cm sIG 33
    • 2 x 7.5 cm leIG
    • 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
  • 352. Panzerjäger Abteilung
    • 14 x Marder II and Marder III variant Panzerjäger
    • 10 x StuG III Ausf. G assault guns
    • 9 x FlaKPanzer 38 Self-Propelled Flak
  • 352. Artillerie Regiment
    • 1-9.Batterie - 36 x 10.5 cm leFH 16
    • 10-12.Batterie - 12 x 15 cm sFH 18
  • 352. Pioniere Battalion
    • 20 x Flammenwerfer
    • 6 x Granatwerfer
  • 352. Fusilier Battalion (1. Kompanie was bicycle mounted)
  • Feld-Ersatz Battalion
    • 6 x 8 cm Granatwerfer 34
    • 1 x 5 cm PaK 38
    • 1 x 7.5 cm PaK
    • 1 x 10.5 cm Feldhaubitze
    • 1 x Infanterie Geschütz
    • 2 x Flammenwerfer
  • Supply Train / Signals Troops

 

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I'm currently at work on a campaign for C Company of the 18th Infantry Regiment/1st Infantry Division.

Also, I'm playing with Darby's Rangers for a Mediterranean campaign.

Of course, I need Normandy first...

TY for letting us know how many campaign specializations there are!aplauso.gif

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So, the net effect here is that you feel pretty strongly that a Battalion is represented by 2 squad bases (in most scenarios).

What about vehicles?

I really very curious about this because I'd like to write a series of interlocking scenarios focused on North Africa.

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Well, IF we agree that 2 squad bases == 1 infantry battalion, then a single squad base represents 250-750 troops (Battallions being on the 500-1500 size according to the great wikipedia).  To keep the math simple, and until proven otherwise, lets say that when trying to convert a real world unit into ToI 1 squad base = 400 troops or each figure spot == 100 troops.

Tank battalions are obviously different so let's puzzle this out some. Following some logic here, because there was no direct answer, a tank platoon is usually 4 tanks, a tank company is made up of four platoons giving us 16 tanks, and a batallion is made up of 3 companies of tanks and a company of support/command so 48 tanks in a tank battalion.  Obviously we can't do the 100:1 scale that the infantry uses for troops to figure, but perhaps 48:1 or 24:1 is appropriate so 1 or 2 tanks of the appropriate type to represent a battalion.  At a high level if you took something like the 502nd Heavy Tank battalion and represented that with 1 or 2 Tiger I tanks you'd probably be in the right level of abstraction.

I think for the campaign idea I have I'm going to do a "Sgt. Rock" and use the setting and equipment but create a fictional division and engagements.  The sad fact is that I'm not a historian and nor do I actually know much about WWII beyond seeing things like Saving Pvt Ryan, Band of Brothers, and reading a few Stephen Ambrose books.  Granted that probably puts me ahead of many, but not enough to build a historical campaign for the game.

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sloejack said:

Well, IF we agree that 2 squad bases == 1 infantry battalion, then a single squad base represents 250-750 troops (Battallions being on the 500-1500 size according to the great wikipedia).  To keep the math simple, and until proven otherwise, lets say that when trying to convert a real world unit into ToI 1 squad base = 400 troops or each figure spot == 100 troops.

Don't you think they're called squad bases because they are squads?  I'm not 'feeling' that 400 troops are snuggling into a trench, a bunker, a house or a truck.  Even if you want to abstract those up to multiples enough to hold that many, do you then think that there are 100 machinegunners or mortars?

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I think that the level of abstraction boils down to terrain, as well. Again. A "building" on the map could be considered a group of buildings for the purposes of this abstraction ... not everyone is in the building (per se); however, the protection afforded by being in/around the buildings provides the cover.

Additionally, it's possible that entrenchments represent something similar. Pillboxes might be a tougher sell to me.

I think the level of scale should be (and probably is) proportional the scenario. Like M'44, a squad base might represent a single squad in some scenarios and a battalion in others.

I'm trying to find what works best for a N. Africa campaign...and the level of scale/abstraction provided by 2 squad bases per battalion might work for me.

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I hear what you're saying about the scale.  I also think Hawaiiirish has the right thinking too in that the abstraction or scale can be dependant on the scenario.

Something else I'm using in my thinking is also summed up rather nicely in the designers series book.  One of the developers mentioned that for some people more pieces means more/complex fun.  It also happens to mean more time involved in a single instance of the game.  While playing some all day slug fests can be fun, it's not fun all of the time so for a campaign I want the abstraction scale to be a little higher.   I want enough units on the board to give the "division feeling" but not too many that the game bogs down into mind numbing piece pushing or book keeping while progressing from scenario to scenario.

So certainly there's a balance and obviously all the stuff I'm sharing here is my framework for how I'm approaching it.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me, it's just a set of ideas, take it, warp it, or leave it as you will :)

 

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US Rifle Company as of February 1944 had 6 officers and 187 enlisted men. HQ had 2 officers, 33 em. 3 platoons had 3 officers and 120 em--3 rifle squads of 12 em and one headquarters of 1 officer and 4 em. The attached weapons platoon had 3 5-man mortar teams and a 2-man hq of one sgt and one pvt. 12 men comprised a 2-man hq and two 5-man lmg squads.

from US Army Infantry Divisions 1944-1945 by John Sayen.

I'm doing several based on platoon level combat since it could be portrayed 1:1. I'm also thinking of bumping nco's up to TOI "officer" status...

10 squads=1 platoon at full strength?

Any ideas or suggestion?

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7times7is49 said:

10 squads=1 platoon at full strength?

Any ideas or suggestion?

I usually base my organizations around the Flames of War intelligence briefings. There, a platoon consists of three to four squads, depending on nation and company type.

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Some food for thought: Will treating "squads" as platoons, companies, or battalions cause problems regarding ranges?

For me this game works very well on the level it purports to represent - company level combat. I've been a wargamer for 45 years, and have seen tactical simulations get more and more and more "realistic," becoming in the process, less and less like the real thing as they bog down in minutia. I am an infantryman and noncom from the early 70s era (25th Infantry Div., with Vietnam training, doctrine and leadership) and an artillery F.O. in the AZ Army National Guard in the late 70s. In my opinion, this game does a very good job of recreating small-scale combined arms combat of the mid-20th century without becoming hopelessly bogged down in the details. In doing so, it puts players in approximately the same decision cycle that a company commander (or bn. commander in the larger scenarios) might find themselves in during the real thing. It feels like tactical combat.

This game seems to be intended to be played on a small scale, and it captures the critical elements of small-unit combat quite well. That's the level that works for me. I can "feel" the battlefield, and identify with the troops as they struggle towards their objectives. This game reminds me of the sand table exercises we would try out before doing the real thing in the field

By all means, tinker and experiment - games are like recipies - one can always find something to make a whayt they like a little bit tastier. But for me, Tide of Iron is what I've been looking for in a boardgame for many years - it seems to be  a game that reaches the exquisite equiibruium between realism and playability.

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I think it's important to recognise that scenario designers can set the level of abstraction at whatever level they want. The designers of Normandy have clearly decided that modelling an infantry division - or a major oart of it - is appropriate for the battles they are simulating. Although I do believe the higher you go, the less plausible the game becomes. Division level is about as high as you'd ever want to go I reckon.

Personally, I consider anything above battalion level command to be pushing the boundaries of what one might call "tactical" level combat. I'd prefer to see the abstraction in the game move downwards if anything, ie one to one, Ambush style, but I'm guessing the designers prefer to portray "famous" battles, rather than skirmishes involving platoons or companies. Which is fair enough.

The scenario I am working on is at the company level, one infantry company plus a tank company on the US side versus a couple of companies and a tank company on the German side, and the game works perfectly at this level.

I am also looking at a Salerno scenario, which would have to be at division level on the US side, with two or three kampfgruppe on the German side. This is proving to be much harder to model.

My idea - and it is just an idea - for a campaign is to do a set of scenarios following the 756th tank battalion, which fought in North Africa, at Cassino, in southern France, the Ardennes and Alsace.

I have two books on this unit, one for Cassino and one for southern France, and there is a decent amount of material online, so it could certainly be done.

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aplauso.gifWell said.  It is a game of small unit actions. A squad is a squad , a tank is a tank.

For larger unit actions, build from the basics up.

                                a platoon is 3 squads

                                a company is 3 to 4 platoons

                                excetra, excetra, excetra

if you are going to build and game at the regimental level, you will need a few copies of the game and will need more than a two board wide front. While gaming on the regimental level can be fun and interesting, it will take a lot of resources in boards, bases, figures,  different weapons and time to play. My group has done it, but we had a 9 board wide front, with 3 players per side using a three board front per player. Incidently our debth was 4 boards ( longside)  for a total of 36 boards. We had 4 copies of the initial game, two copies of Days of the Fox and two copies of Normandy. It was a play test of two fictional regiments in a meeting engagement. We used  a seperate command figure for each player, with a command radius for activation of his units. The idea for this was so that the left flank players forces did not end up all the way to the right flank without someone to lead them

It was a fun encounter, bloody, back and forth, and winner not determined until the end. ( 5 points dif, with 100 total availble)serio.gif

However it did take 3 sessions to resolvelengua.gif

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Sorry about the pictures, we were to busy keeping track of what was going on, we forgot to take pictures. As to the game set up, I may be able to reassemble the orders of battle , the boards used,  the starting setup, the victory point objectives and special rules. We did have recon(armoured cars) mobile artillary (priests and Wespes) revised rules ( for tanks,such as flank and rear shots, facing) , vehicles not included in the games basic lists, additional engineer functions. As an example, non turreted vehicles could only fire in the 45 front arc (no stugs firing to the rear when their barrel is pointed forward.

It will take some time to reassemble all the information, as several of us put it together. If I can get it done, I will post it

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While I know the unit scale is actually dependent on the scenario, I generally think of it as each base or vehicle represents a platoon, so, if I remember correctly (while since I played), most battles (where the scale is not mentioned or implied) end up being battalion scale battles in my mind. Also makes a lot of sense for what you have on a board (at least in the games I have played). Mainly infantry, with integral mechine gun and mortar support, plus some extra divisional or higher assets in play. The way casualties are done is too abstract for a squad based (each unit is a squad) game in my mind, and any higher and it just starts to get daft.  Squad based doesn't fit the way tanks are done either (as a tank would be a tank), as in that case a tank sort starts to fall apart when shot at, which isn't really the case, but I think it feels ok for a tank platoon gradually loosing vehicles and so decreasing in strength. Also, If I remember correctly, it takes about 4 "hits" (light damages) to destroy a tank, which would represent roughly (depending on the army, the British and the Russians having 3 tanks to a platoon, Americans, and the late war British, having 4, and the Germans having 5) a "light damage" being the loss of one tank.

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borithan said:

While I know the unit scale is actually dependent on the scenario, I generally think of it as each base or vehicle represents a platoon, so, if I remember correctly (while since I played), most battles (where the scale is not mentioned or implied) end up being battalion scale battles in my mind. Also makes a lot of sense for what you have on a board (at least in the games I have played). Mainly infantry, with integral mechine gun and mortar support, plus some extra divisional or higher assets in play. The way casualties are done is too abstract for a squad based (each unit is a squad) game in my mind, and any higher and it just starts to get daft.  Squad based doesn't fit the way tanks are done either (as a tank would be a tank), as in that case a tank sort starts to fall apart when shot at, which isn't really the case, but I think it feels ok for a tank platoon gradually loosing vehicles and so decreasing in strength. Also, If I remember correctly, it takes about 4 "hits" (light damages) to destroy a tank, which would represent roughly (depending on the army, the British and the Russians having 3 tanks to a platoon, Americans, and the late war British, having 4, and the Germans having 5) a "light damage" being the loss of one tank.

 

I don't understand why you think each base representing a platoon is a more acceptable abstraction than one base is a squad. Nor why one tank equals a platoon is better than one tank represents a tank.

Why is light damage, heavy damage, eliminated more appropriate for a platoon of tanks than for a tank?

Not sure I agree with that.

 

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gasha1 said:

I don't understand why you think each base representing a platoon is a more acceptable abstraction than one base is a squad.

Nor why one tank equals a platoon is better than one tank represents a tank. Why is light damage, heavy damage, eliminated more appropriate for a platoon of tanks than for a tank?

It just what I instinctively felt as I played it. It uses the term "squad" in the rulebook, but that mainly struck me as a game term which was easier for those without experience with WW2 history or military terms to understand. It also just felt weird to represent a squad that way. I like squads to either be represented in more detail (with each man represented, often with individuals operating as seperate figures) or more abstractly (a squad represented by a single unit that is removed in one go, rather than a gradually reducing unit). 4 men just didn't feel right. If you are going that detailed in the first place why not go the whole hog?

Any higher also didn't feel right (machine guns and mortars wouldn't normally really be your concern if you are commanding a regiment/brigade or higher).

Tanks don't really take "light damage" "heavy damage" etc. If you are going to represent an actual individual tank, keep track of what kind of damage it is taking, as it will have very different effects on its abilities. Being immobilised will not mean that it can shoot less well (though truthfully, immobilised tanks would be abandoned if it is safe enough to do so...), while getting a weapon damaged beyond use doesn't mean that the tank will move any slower. However, if it is representative of a platoon, the gradual damages represent a general loss in ability, as the numbers of effective tanks is reduced and the remaining crews become increasingly wary of the enemy.

 

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