Grognard Wargamer Thread!

@tpholt mentions this a bit, but Omaha is carved up into 2 distinct “games”:
The first 4 hours are 15-minute turns (0600-1000), so turns 1-16.
The next 8 hours are 30-minute turns (1000-1800), turns 17-32.

The game gets more complex after turn 16, as you add in more complex German tactics and another seven sections of rules to cover them.

There is a two-unit stacking limit that has to be met by the end of the US Actions phase. If you have more than that during the German fire phase (which happens with the landings getting tossed about) there are firing bonuses for the Germans on that particular stack.

Reading your explanation on Peleliu from yesterday, I feel like the two games are quite different in interesting ways. Omaha is really fun because you’re dealing with cliffs and trying to gain control of the draws off the beach (it’s worth 5 victory points in this scenario) so you can get your forces inland efficiently. The altitude adds a whole level of challenge that I’d guess is absent from Peleliu?

Okay, that’s weird, because the units are company sized in both Peleliu and Omaha, but the hexes in Omaha are obviously smaller, as are the time slices. So why do both games have the exact same rules for stacking?

I’m guessing the answer is “because gameplay”. But if I were a grognard, I’d probably start grumbling about now.

You would have made a great naval intelligence officer in World War II! That’s certainly what the Marines were told leading up to the landing. What they discovered was very very different.

Peleliu has an entire mountain for the Marines to contend with. It’s got more than enough elevation to go around. That’s a big part of why it was such slow going. Long before the Marines were bogged down in ash at Iwo Jima, they were contending with unexpected elevation and terrain at Peleliu.

-Tom

I think I started with Panzer Leader and Panzer Blitz. I’ll check those out.

I love sub games, so I’ll definitely take a look at those too! Thanks!

Not necessarily. Numerous designers point out that stacking limits are almost never “how many units can you physically cram in this hex.” Rather, they are a combination of command control and doctrinal factors that dictate how large a group of units you could either effectively control in a hex (allowing for effective tactical movement) and how many units the historical combatants actually placed in a hex (allowing for doctrinal variation and unit frontage). While I don’t know the specific design decisions that led to the stacking limits being the same, it might represent differences between D-Day and the Pacific. And the Japanese and Germans.

re: @Godzilla_Blitz’s recommendations of The Hunters and Silent Victory, my only comment would be that there is no clever AI or anything in those games. Those are random story generators along the lines of B-17: Queen of the Skies, which came out 40 years ago. The Butterfield titles–to me–represent actual design achievement. Those submarine titles represent … well, I won’t go further.

P.S. Haha bobwire!

They are largely hard to get now, except for Beneath the Med, the Italian one. I’d not recommend starting with The Hunters, as it’s pretty brutal. If money isn’t a factor, I’d hunt around for The Hunters and/or Silent Victory, but Beneath the Med is quite good as well.

I totally agree with this, although I do think there is more agency in the submarine games than I expected given what I’d heard about them. But yeah, you’re basically playing percentages against a static system. If you are focused on intellectual challenge, I’d pass on these. It’s a much lighter beer and pretzels experience, but I just love the stories the games generate. For a simple system, it does a remarkable job of generating drama, tension, and unique campaigns.

My only thought is that the Butterfield titles, especially Ardennes, are a tough climb for someone just getting into tabletop wargaming. To play Ardennes solo you have to learn the two-player rules, then the solo rules for whatever side you’re playing. And there are a lot of rule exceptions. (It was my second game to get and try after getting back into wargaming last year, and I bounced off it hard then. I think I’m more ready for it now.) Having gotten another few hours in with the basic game of D-Day, I think this series is more accessible than Ardennes, but I still think it might be tricky for a beginner. I’d definitely recommend all of these after getting a couple of other games under the belt.

And I know that @tomchick doesn’t like Sherman Leader, but some of those Leader games look to be pretty good intro experiences. Isn’t Hornet Leader one of the better ones? They’re on the border between games and wargames and definitely take huge liberties with accurate simulation, but I think they’d work well for someone just getting started.

Back in France…


0745 June 6, 1944 - A hero emerges! Private Pinder deftly blasts a path through a nest of barb wire to spearhead Easy Company’s assault on the German fortification. We’ve got troops off the beach!

Got to echo Tom’s comment - they really are beautifully clipped counters. What are you using to do the job?

Almost certainly a plastic corner trimmer from Oregon, I’m guessing 2mm or 2.5mm…

Decision Games has computer versions of D-Day at Omaha Beach and D-Day at Tarawa. Cannot recommend them. Too many bugs and a crappy UI:

Necro-ing myself back to the forums since I asked @tomchick a few days ago about the Leader series on twitter.

Down here in SoCal with some space to fill and can finally jump back into solitaire games (famous last words). For some reason I instantly thought of my brief time playing Phantom Leader on the iPad. It’s a shame it’s not available anymore.

What’s your experience been with the leader series? (Tom recommended Hornet Leader)

I’m cheating a bit here because I know @JeffL and am pretty sure he can tolerate the complexity. He was Computer Gaming World’s flight sim guru for years, played the heck out of the SSI titles, and owned and played Avalon Hill games as a kid. So I think the solo Ardennes experience is something he could assimilate pretty readily. Plus he has a PhD in super-complicated chemistry stuff :)

My rule is 2mm for counters up to 5/8”, 2.5mm for counters larger than that.

image

If I were a grognard, I would gladly go toe-to-toe with you on this, because my suspicion is that the only reason for the change in scale without a commensurate change to certain design concepts is because they’re jamming a square gameplay peg into a round historical hole. Furthermore, if I were a grognard, I think this might bother me enough to care. :)

Instead, I’m a boardgamer enjoying a solitaire boardgame design, and I’m totally okay with whatever scale abstractions Butterfield feels is necessary to make a good game. But I do feel the differences are worth pointing out, since they affect how each game plays.

I’m almost tempted to divide boardgames into two separate camps. There are too many “narrative engines” masquerading as game designs these days. As much as I’ve enjoyed The Hunters and look forward to getting back into Silent Victory for some (superior, natch) Pacific action, there’s no meaningful design in those games. I feel like that’s an important distinction too often lost on people because it’s seen as a criticism. Which, to be fair, it sounds critical. Saying “there is no meaningful design” isn’t exactly a box quote. But the kind of work Butterfield put into the D-Day series is very different from the kind of work Gregory Smith put into his submarine games, and I don’t see a lot of what I consider “game design” in the latter, even if I enjoy it.

I can make a similar observation about non-wargames, but this is a thread for wargamers, so you guys would have no idea what I was talking about.

-Tom

This is the correct answer. @Brooski; System apologist?

Nope. Brooski: unwilling to make a definitive statement without supporting data.

@brooski had a great rejoinder when I was bending his ear about how D-Day at Peleliu doesn’t do very much to express what makes Peleliu unique as a battle in the Pacific theater. Namely that the invasion that was supposed to last four days instead lasted over two months, and was of negligible strategic value, and probably should have been called off, and in fact probably would have been called off if the opening three-day naval bombardment hadn’t gotten underway. Those are the things that come to mind when I see the title of the game and start learning to play. Yet there’s virtually no gameplay about those fundamental fact of the invasion. Instead, you just play the opening two days on the beach and then everything slams shut and you’re done.

To which @Brooski replied: Well, it’s called “D-day at Peleliu”, and not “Two Months at Peleliu”.

I didn’t have a lot to say to that, because he had a point. :) I’d make a terrible grognard if I’m going to be that easily dissuaded from my grumbling.

-Tom

You could say, operationally, that the Japanese scored a success the moment the invasion was launched.

Thanks! I’ve never received compliments on my counter clipping skill. This is a big day for me.

Yes, I’ve got the 2mm Oregon one, as linked by @sincilbanks.

I’ve heard from a couple of counter clipper experts that the Heavy Duty one is more durable, but so far my regular version has held up. If/when this one breaks, I’ll try the heavy duty version. I like the 2mm version on everything, and in my head wonder if the difference between 2mm and 2.5mm might mean less torque on the clipper, and therefore the 2mm would have a longer lifespan than the 2.5mm. But my understanding of physics is pretty much limited to knowing things will hit the ground when I let go of them.

I might shelled for this, but here goes…

My experience with the Leader series so far has been with Sherman Leader, and I really enjoyed the campaign I played with it. I love the dynamic campaign, the story that evolves as you play through your battles, the leveling up of your leaders, the frustrations and last-second victories. Very much a beer and pretzels sort of experience, but there are enough meaningful decisions in the gameplay to satisfy me. I really liked it as a gentle way back into wargaming.

There are caveats.

  • There are places where the rules are unpolished (we’ve discussed them here). I agree with @tomchick’s take on this point.
  • My underlying game board warped after a few months.
  • It’s a game, not a simulation. Combat is unrealistic. Your mortars and Stuart tanks can take out Tiger tanks pretty efficiently. If that sentence bothers you, you will hate this game.
  • There’s a good bit of randomness and luck involved. Sometimes you’re going to lose a campaign because of one unlucky die roll (more likely in campaigns against the Japanese).

I’m not sure how much the other games in the Leader series vary from Sherman Leader. I’d like to try Hornet Leader at some point, and would be inclined to start with that one if I were to start over.

Digs foxhole, puts helmet on.

Ah, yes, that makes sense then! Point taken. In that case, what about something like Empire of the Sun as well? And I think we’re forgetting what some consider the best solitaire game out there: RAF!

You could also say the US won the moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. (Or was that the Germans?)