Grognard Wargamer Thread!

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.


They had ‘em at The Deedz, too. They sank.

Three miles?! That makes no sense.

Sea conditions, mines, and some skittishness in the naval crews, from what I’ve read. No one wanted to launch that far out, certainly not the poor sods in the tanks.

Yeah, I get a sense that every game will have a “play the hand you’re dealt” type of strategy to it. The landings are going to get all messed up somewhat randomly, with units delayed, destroyed, and largely scattered all over the beach. In this case, I ended up with most of the first 3 waves in the middle of the landing zone. That seemed to say, “hit the position just to the west of the draw.” If we can take that position, it’ll give us relative safety and potentially open up the draw to its left. But then German reinforcements arrived to that exact position, and I keep drawing firing cards that activate that position. I am one card away from disaster.

I’ve heard he’s going to fix Iwo Jima after Saipan is released, but yeah, I think I’d limit my purchases to the Butterfield trio.

I think people have answered your other questions, but I have a full company of Shermans on the shoreline right behind that attacking infantry. My plan is to push them behind the two infantry companies next to the fortification in the next 15 minutes. Then in the 15 minutes after, I can have one infantry company and the Shermans attack (attack strength 8 vs defense of 7, with the right weaponry). That’ll take out the front position.

The problem with the “plan” is if the German position fires in the fire phase, they’ll have 4 firing “shots” (it’s a double position, both with depth markers). I’m not sure we’ll survive that with enough firepower to take out the position.

We desperately need some command structure and leadership on the beach. The two actions per turn is a killer. I need six actions per turn! :)

Ah, so the scale is dramatically different from Peleliu. Peleliu’s turns are an hour. So assuming the hexes are smaller, does that mean there’s no stacking of chits? That’s one of my pet peeves in wargaming. I despise that element of the hobby and it’s astonishing to me it continues to be widely accepted.


@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.


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: @Zilla_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.