Grognard Wargamer Thread!

I don’t get it—what kind of game needs a flipbook? Is this some other kind of flipbook with which I’m unfamiliar?

I don’t get it either, to be honest.

I guessing because each page has one particular segment of the sequence of play, perhaps? So you flip through one page for one segment. Flip flip flip.

Or maybe we just need a new word for “shortened rulebook where each page outlines a particular segment of the sequence of play in enough detail to play the game without having to hunt around in the rulebook after you’ve read it once and semi-understand it”?

But yeah, I’m not sure “flipbook” is the word I would have chosen for this. It doesn’t feel like a flip book. I’m not going anywhere close to that fast.

I can, but then I would end up teaching the game. :)

At a very basic level, you draw a card every turn to determine which Japanese positions on the map will fire. For instance, here are a couple of battalions of US Marines on the right flank of the landing in my current game (which is NOT going well). The 7th regiment on the right is tasked with taking this jungle area, while the 5th regiment on the left should sweep across the airfield in front of them.

The AI cards are multipurpose, so they’ve got information splashed all over them. During the Japanese turn, we only look at the colored shapes in the dark stripe along the bottom of the card. For now, just look at the colors of the three squares and that final black symbol:

This means all yellow, red, and brown positions will fire, and if there are targeting limitations, they’ll prefer targets with a triangle. We resolve each color in turn, so starting with yellow, every yellow position checks whether it can shoot at a US unit:

The 5th regiment has overrun its yellow position, so they aren’t affected. The two yellow positions on the right can’t reach any US units. We know this because the colored dots in the hexes tell you which positions are vulnerable to enemy fire. You’ll note that yellow emplacement at the top center is smack dab in the middle of thick jungle. They can only reach the hexes immediately adjacent. So yellow does nothing because its fire can’t reach US units.

But then there’s a letter in some of the squares! These letters describe behaviors above and beyond simply firing at US units in range. Each of these letters is a whole range of different actions depending on the situation.

For instance, the letter A in the yellow box is for artillery, assaults, and ambushes, basically in that order. If the yellow position had artillery, they would fire artillery to damage one unit pretty much anywhere on the map with a triangle symbol. Since the yellow positions in the jungle don’t have artillery (most of the artillery is on a mountain range offscreen), the A instead indicates an assault. In the situation above, where the defender can’t actually see a US unit, it will first try to move to a closer unoccupied position if it can. Since I haven’t left it any gaps, it will close combat any position occupied by a US unit within three hexes. So in this case, that face-down chit on a yellow position will assault to try to retake the brown position occupied by 7th regiment’s K company:

If L company had managed to move one hex closer to the yellow position, the yellow position would have instead just attacked normally, and we wouldn’t have to fight a risky close-quarters battle in the jungle for a position we thought he had secured! (There’s a ton of randomness in close quarters battles.)

Then the red positions will fire or do R actions, which are reinforcement, resupply, and overrun (the symbol in brown doesn’t change behavior; it just means brown fire can snipe leaders). This letter systems allows for a range of behaviors that make the Japanese side play more dynamically with patrols, mortars, infiltration in areas you thought were secure, machinegun emplacements, arriving reinforcements, that sort of thing.

What this all means is that every position in the game, even empty positions, have a framework of possible behaviors you have to be aware of. If the 7th regiment sticks to the beach to try to take that blue position hemming me in on the right, it’s safe from direct fire from those yellow and green positions deeper in the jungle. But they can still harry me with mortar fire and ambushes.

It’s random whether it will happen, but it’s a very real risk as sure as direct fire from that blue position I’m going to attack. So I have to weigh the cost and benefit of securing the jungle as opposed to just pushing along the beach to the right.

So that’s what I mean by the AI doing unexpected things, but not randomly or stupidly. That yellow position in the jungle isn’t just going to sit there and wait for me. It has a range of sensible behaviors waiting to be triggered by the right combination of color and letter, and how it responds to that combination is determined by the situation I create on the map.



I thought of you and your gameplay of Peleliu when listening to this great podcast episode on the son of a soldier who fought in Peleliu. Podcast’s summary of this episode, I highly recommend you listen. Hope you like it.

In September 1944 a young Marine name Eugene Sledge landed on the Pacific Island of Peleliu. As a mortarman, stretcher-bearer and rifleman Sledge would fight his way across Peleliu then the Japanese island of Okinawa, arguably two of the fiercest and filthiest battles of the Pacific campaign.

With the Old Breed has proved to be highly influential and has been used as source material for the Ken Burns PBS documentary The War (2007), as well as the HBO miniseries The Pacific (2010), where Eugene Sledge was played by Joseph Mazzello.

Yep, I’ve seen The Pacific and I have Sledge’s memoir here on my desk. Thanks for the heads-up on the podcast and especially that Ken Burns documentary. I didn’t know about that one!


Thanks for laying that out Tom. That’s a fascinating bit of mechanics

HBO’s The Pacific was just OK first time I watched it, but after reading Sledge’s book (and other first person accounts) and re-watching it, it blew me away the second time through. What really struck me was how random the deaths were, how totally filthy everyone was, how hell on earth the battlefields were. After watching that and then a couple of other movies, such as Flags of our Fathers, it struck me how clean and ironed the uniforms were, how much more “organized” the battles were in other movies. I knew a guy when I lived in Iowa who lied about his age and joined the Marines and fought in the island hopping campaigns in WWII (including Pelelieu) and after we got to know each other really well (I used to take him fishing, he needed help due to his age and issues) I got him to talk - a little bit - about the Pacific war for a young marine. He talked about crawling through mud filled with intestines and eyeballs and other body parts, how random death was (the guy next to you just suddenly having his head explode or his stomach torn open from enemy fire) and how literally unreal it felt. The latter part of the Pacific gives a tiny taste of that.

@tomchick thanks for the explanation. I played board wargames when I was an early teen, just playing both sides and trying to pretend I didn’t know what the other side was doing. Since I started playing them on the computer, back in the early SSI days, I haven’t played board games and I’m thinking of dipping my toes into solo board games.

0600 hours, June 6, 1944. The first wave of Shermans heads for shore. What could possibly go wrong?

Those are some beautifully clipped counters, Mr. Blitz.


Thank you, sir! I’m finally getting the clip-pull back-quarter turn-push forward flow down. When you get dialed in, you can just motor through counters.

Jeff, if your last taste of board wargaming was in the 1970s, you should pick up a game like Enemy Action: Ardennes or D-Day at [Invasion Land] and see just how sophisticated things have gotten. Of course, those are both John H. Butterfield designs, who was designing things 40 years ago as well. But still.

As good as Enemy Action: Ardennes is, I wonder if it might be a challenging place to start? I’ve really enjoyed some of the submarine solo games (The Hunters, Silent Victory) and have heard positive things about some of the more gamier David Thompson titles, like Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms or By Stealth and Sea. I think they might be more accessible for a first shot?

In other news…

I’m through the basic rules of D-Day at Omaha and am playing the learning scenario, basically one half of the beachhead for the first 4 hours of the attack…

0715 June 6, 1944 - Elements of the US 29th Division reach the shingle, attack, and are repulsed. We’ll need the navy (not likely) or some Shermans to crack this defensive strongpoint. We must take this position or all will fail; the next 30 minutes will be decisive.

The layout is so different from Peleliu! For instance, you’ve got Easy and Fox company right up against that emplacement, but they’re only in steady fire hexes. Meanwhile, the intense fire extends out one hex to King company. It’s representing a gun emplacement aimed farther out on the beach to hit target tangled up in the bobwire and dragons teeth and whatnot. Meanwhile, the men who stormed up the beach can take cover in the bluff around the emplacement.

There’s nothing like that in Peleliu (or Tarawa, I don’t think). I guess because the beaches on Peleliu weren’t the main focus of Japanese defenses?

Also, what’s up with the font on the German unit designations? That is ridiculously metal. And why do some of the units have a two-digit number to the right of the NATO symbol? What is that?

Well, assuming the rules are the same as Peleliu, you’re not taking it in the next thirty minutes. Without artillery, you’ll need to attrite the depth marker with the first attack, which you’re not going to be able to do unless you get two more points of attack strength. And even then, you’ll have to hope it doesn’t get another depth marker before you finish it off with an attack one turn later. So that’s at least three turns unless you’ve got a naval fire marker or a tank just offscreen. :)

The Peleliu landed opened with tanks that could have cracked that position. I’m just sayin’. :)


Those are indications that the German Unit possesses Artillery units, and what size guns they are (75mm, 88mm, etc.) Starting with Turn 4 the Germans, in addition to their normal, colored position firing, may (not will, as it’s also card controlled) also fire Artillery if there is enough of the specified type(s) on the card available to the German side.


Ah, that makes sense. I probably could have inferred that from the 88. Also, I see now the symbol for artillery – a dot, really – laid over the infantry symbol. What is the significance of different sized guns?

The artillery in Peleliu is activated the same way, with card draws, but the emplacements are baked into the map instead of tied to chits, since the chits in Peleliu can move around. There are even a few edge cases where you have to make sure a chit won’t abandon its artillery.


In game play terms, there is no significance. When a German Attack indicates a possible Artillery Attack, it also indicates the number and types of guns that must be available to the Germans.
In the example, there needs to be at least 5 total of 75/88/105 guns available. Also should be noted that there is “off-board” artillery available that is counted in this as well, and they can only be “eliminated” by Controlling the board hexes that are “spotters” for them.


I like the flavor added with the gun sizes, but they definitely streamlined all that in Peleliu.

@tpholt, have you played Tarawa or Peleliu? It looks to me like Omaha is different enough from Peleliu that I’ll probably end up picking it up one day. I especially like all that crunchy tactical detail around the beach, which is just flat-out missing from Peleliu. In Peleliu, the beach is just a single hex your guys have to run past.


I’ve played Tarawa, and really like it. I found it to be slightly easier than Omaha Beach, especially the first scenario. I do not have Peleliu, but it’s on my short-list. I also have Iwo Jima, and it’s a train wreck. Stay away from it until/if the rules are ever re-done (not a Butterfield design, nor is the upcoming Saipan).

One thing I really liked about Tarawa, and Peleliu has this as well, is the Close Combat. Nothing like this in Omaha Beach. But, D-Day at Omaha Beach is one of my favorite games. Currently in my 34th play. Losing has never been more enjoyable (Ha!)

One thing I really notice/like about Omaha Beach is that the landings control so much about what your future strategy is going to be. You can have a plan from the start, but once the landings take place, you really do have to “Start the war from here”. Also, Omaha Beach is a little different in that the lettered actions for the Germans do not kick in until after turn 16 (the half way point). It’s almost 2 games in one…the beach landings, and then if you do well enough (or even if you don’t…I recommend continuing on with the 2nd half of the game even if you don’t get the requisite victory points from the Beach landings) you have the “Escape the hedge rows” part of the game.


Aww, rats. I knew Iwo Jima wasn’t Butterfield, but for some reason I assumed he was doing the Saipan game.

Whoa, really? That’s huge! I love how the close combat system is so important, and how it plays so different from the rest of the game. Whereas most combat is strictly deterministic, close combat is sheer randomness and therefore extremely dangerous. High stakes, lots of random events, very very scary.

I can totally see that in Omaha.

There’s some of that in Peleliu, but it’s not very well surfaced in the design. Basically, Peleliu is three separate games: the first day of the invasion, the second day of the invasion, and a literally separate scenario for the Umurbrogol Mountains, where the Japanese were dug in with artillery, shelling the airfield even though the US controlled the rest of the island.

It’s my opinion that the real meat and potatoes of Peleliu is the second day. This is where you have to carefully match your forces to the Japanese defenders, and where you have to more carefully navigate the map, deal with command and control issues, and contend with events related to thirst, the jungle, cliffs, and so on. Yet most players will never get this far.

That’s because there’s no standalone scenario for the second day, because it’s always going to take shape based on how the first day went. Rather than having a tactically crunchy beach in a geographical space, Peleliu just shreds your forces for a full day – its “beach” is more of a temporal space – and then leaves you to work with what’s left on the second day, when all the different unit actions come into play and the Japanese are most dynamic, when you’re set loose on the wider map, when you have to weigh which positions to attack to meet your victory conditions.

But so few players are going to get that far, so they’re left with a game about a bunch of US Marines getting chewed up as they deploy onto the island. If they’re following the victory conditions (i.e. the rules), the game will almost always slam shut before they get that far. GG! I can’t tell if it’s a design oversight, a statement on the futility of taking Peleliu, or just an intentionally punishing wargame. Probably some combination of the three.

But I’m with you on the “losing has never been so enjoyable” perspective. I’m not really playing Peleliu to win. I’m playing it to see if I can do better than I did last time.