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NQM Squared (1)

I put (1) after the title as I’m sure there is going to be more to come (however this post ‘is it’ for now) ..

This was a trial game set up by NQM Chris to see how squares (similarly to my ideas in Megablitz Squared) would help simplify the movement and real estate issues of large operational games.

My project was a mix of Megablitz and NQM methodology applied to gridded battle space.  Necessarily Chris’s experiment was significantly closer to NQM.

(over the battleground: a Soviet ground attack mission is driven off by German fighters)

Scales apart (because scales can always be adjusted) the key difference between the two related operational games is in orders/status and combat.  NQM uses die rolls that are varied in value by the weight of attack and defence values.  Megablitz uses strength points (which give you the number of dice in combat and hits that can be taken) varied in effect by the order status of the units.  I like both approaches.

(NQM Squared: a Soviet assault bridge aids a river crossing)

You can have a look at the ideas Chris was resolving here: Novgorod: NQM Squared

How the squares actually work is clearly a key aspect of the approach … how do you treat diagonals?  How do you handle ‘corner to corner’ contacts.  Using orthogonal squares, how do you do ‘2 up/1 back’ deployments (and, then, who supports whom?) …

(NQM Squared: 3 Red Army battalions plus some Brigade HQ assets advance through an area)

Then again, these are questions that come up without squares – just squares make you answer them and give some structured definition.

Squares can make it imperative and advantageous to occupy ground and (for defenders) to hold a coherent line in a way that is sometimes lost in a more free roaming game system.

Whenever we use squares, of course, players will always ask about hexes, and their elegant relation, off-set squares.

This can be a thorny issue for some periods – but I think orthogonal squares are the obvious solution for a period where officers used gridded maps.  They thought, planned, and moved in a squared world so no harm will result if we model it that way.  The same cannot be said for hexes.

(NQM Squared: German Parachute units dug in)

A thought provoking session which I hope will bear fruit.

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Some Heavy Lifting

Zis 10 01

This is another level back from the front and a little exercise to add some extra shunting capacity to my Russians.  The Zis-10 articulated truck …

Zis 10 02

I’ve made it from the Zvezda Zis-5 … it isn’t complex enough a ‘conversion’ to add to the modelling page – but I thought it make a nice little post for the front page.  Something different, it is another variation we can add to the list of things you can do with the excellent little truck models.

Zis 10 03(The Zis-10 articulated truck)

Here are a couple of tractors I made previously (for shifting boats) …

Zis 10 04

Zis 10 05(Bronekater being shifted by road – yes, this is how they did it)

Of course the gun crew is still on the deck as this model is generally deployed on a river.  You’ll have to use your imagination.

Here’s a quick assemby of a new Zis-10

Zis 10 06

I used the Katyusha kit because of the extra axles.   I could have have scratch-built the cargo bed but happened to have a spare one from a cheap die-cast toy that looked just about right.

Zis 10 07(P.B.Eye-Candy – a 1:100 Zis-10 model based on the Zvezda ‘Art of Tactic’ kit)

I’ll base it up properly when it gets issued to a unit – but here it is with some green paint on it.

Zis 10 08

I’m quite pleased with it.

The Red Army has a bigger truck.

 

As we entered the main phase of the operation, Chris gave me a fairly open approach to reinforcements – so, concerned by the scale of the task, I called up more artillery, the Red God of War … indeed, I employed all the heavy artillery the front could muster.

(B3 Howitzers on the road up to Leningrad)

(Ski troops, supported by air, move around the frozen Northern flank)

The old front line gradually became a vast artillery park, ready to reduce the city.

(Gotterdammerung: the Red Army’s guns prepare to reduce Leningrad)

(a TB3 provides air support in the frozen North)

The Russians enjoyed almost complete air superiority for this campaign and it’s elderly supply fleet, reconaissance planes, as well as ground attack wings could operate virtually unchallenged.

Had the Germans put much into the air, they would have found daunting concentrations of ground AA …

(rail artillery defended by a light AA battery and searchlights)

Given these conditions it is perhaps unsurprising that the dive bombers were (finally) able to deliver a shattering attack on the Southern flank which had – until then – managed to hold up the advance on Oranienbaum.

(Heavy v Light dice for the dive bombers … n uncharacteristically hammer blow rich in sixes)

From the North East, the Ski troops were able to enter undefended areas evacuated under the heavy artillery bombardments …

… although stiffer resistance was maintained in the leafy Eastern suburbs and broken bridges slowed progress on the main line of advance.

(Leningrad NQM: Peter Pig Soviet Scouts making hard work of the garden suburbs)

Here’s a look at the situation as the Red Army retakes the city …

Despite stubborn success in some sectors, the German commander had recognised that the city had become untennable and began a pull out before getting cut off.  As the Germans raced for the roads, Russians flooded through the city and swept around the Southern flank …

(Motorised troops snake through Leningrad)

(Heavy resistance to the attempt to cut the road)

This was a race against time determined by local firefights.

(Trapped!  Or not?  … the fight for the line of retreat)

Tactically dominant, at the sharp end, the cavalry again proved unable to press their advantage (game note: bad dice, really ...) … and, beaten off by desperate firing, allowed too much to get away towards Oranienbaum and Kronstadt.

A doomed pocket had been left in the docks, and no more Germans were able to escape from Leningrad.

Final situation …

It was time to dismantle the game and put away the toys.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 01

A couple of visits worthy of mention over the last few months …

Just before Christmas I was down at the National Army Museum in Chelsea – worthy of a blog entry in itself.

It’s a mixture of traditional exhibits from almost anywhere and anytime with more up-to-date and politically correct meditations on the nature and impact of conflict.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 02

And a timeline of the British Army, of course …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 03

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 04

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 05

Whilst I was there, in addition to the permanent collection, there was an fascinating exhibition of military art … tracking the history and themes through time.  Very much what I have been doing though much of it more modern than my current topics.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 06

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 07

Here’s a look at the detail in this massive and meticulous scene from the Raj …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 08

… and a classic example of lost commander pathos …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 09a

These are scenes intended to convey the meaning and emotion of the event – not to be taken as a ‘photographic’ record of the event.

Waterloo Uncovered

For the toy soldier enthusiast, of course, one of the prime exhibits will always be Siborne’s Waterloo.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 10

… and, indeed, Waterloo was the purpose of my visit: TV’s Dr Tony Pollard (2 Men in a Trench; Nazi Megastructures etc.) is closely involved in Waterloo Uncovered – the archaeological project for combat veterans (follow the link) and had organised a meeting to launch/trial an idea for a massive wargame.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 11

Here’s me. the Perrys and a few others from the team trying out a conventionally sized wargame.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 13

… with obvious exceptions, most were not wargamers, so this was to see if reconstructing the battle with model soldiers would actually work for them as well as to kick off Tony’s dream of an impossibly big version.

You may well have read about this in WSS, but the plan is to recreate the battle as a Guinness Book of Records attempt at Glasgow University on the anniversary next year …

Delapre Abbey

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 14(a scene from the opening festivities at Delapre Abbey)

Finally a brief word on the progress at Delapre Abbey in Northampton.   It is mostly out of the P.B.Eye-Candy period but will go nicely with my Museums thread and is now open to the public.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 15

It is an immaculately refurbished country house on the original site of the nunnery beside which the battle of Northampton was fought – and features Battlefield Rooms in which I and colleagues at Northampton Battlefields Society were able to make an input.

Although there will inevitably be disappointments, a new battlefield interpretation facility is something to praise to the rafters – so here’s a brief look …

Delapre Opens 07

Delapre Opens 11

The best book on the battle remains Mike’s volume published by the battlefields society.  You can get it from us at an event or at Amazon (perversely not from the Museum shop – which is a whole other story) …

Delapre Opens 12

Apologies if WordPress mailed out the link before I completed the revisions – that happens sometimes.

Links:

The National Army Museum

Waterloo Uncovered

Delapre Abbey

Northampton Battlefields Society

This is the first part on a big WWII Operational Game being fought out over a number of evenings mostly between myself and NQM’s Chris … I’ve titled it the retaking of Leningrad because that is what we must do.

It’s a long way to the Front but these wastes will fill with men and materiel as the operation evolves.

There is a lot of kit being directed at this task.

(First contact …)

A little bit of PBI

Thanks to Will we were back on WWII and back on PBI but this time with his 20mm figures.

Quite an old school look, then, to this brave attempt by the French to hang on to a farmstead in the face of escalating German advances.

Will and Patrick took the Germans, ‘NQM Chris’ and I the French.

The Germans had a lot more automatic firepower than we did and slightly better tank support.  I doubted our 25mm Hotchkiss would stop them and expected to be overrun quite quickly.

(Patrick and Will deploy – withering fire and an assault seems iminent on our weak front)

We got some extra troops on sooner than the Germans and they had to swing left to help protect the Hotchkiss from an infantry attack.  Turret MGs proving sufficient for this as the Germans had already broken cover …

(Ooh la la … What a target mon ami!)

The Germans hastily responded but in doing so presented a perfect taget to the little French pop gun.

Rarely do I do ‘dice shots’ on P.B.Eyecandy but requiring 9 to hit, the French gunners excelled …

The remaining German troops on that flank (coutesy of maximum roll for action points) mounted an immediate grenade assault on the mixed French force.  They managed to strip away the infantry with preparatory shooting then trusted to their Manner gegen Panzer training.   It was messy.

(PBI: infantry assault armour … the red tokens are casualties)

It was heroic but ultimately failed.  As a game mechanism, they did get to roll more dice, but the vehicles get to roll to save (the foot do not): 2 hits a-piece, but the tanks saved one so the infantry are repulsed losing 2 stands.  The surviving stand was lost in the disengagement roll.

This, combined with a failed morale test on the other flank (after a mortar stonk) meant the German plan to wrap around the position had not worked.

They still had the means to mount a frontal attack.   But fresh French troops were now reinforcing the near empty position and the game clock was running down.

Against expectations, this hastily organised French position would hold on just a little longer.

If you follow Chris’s NQM Blog (and you should) you will have seen all the technical details of the Battle of Vyazma.  This grand operational game saw the first action of some of the snow soldiers I have been tinkering with of late* – so here is their photo story.**

In still freezing conditions, the Red Army was heading West …

Minefields took a toll but the Scouts pressed forward

… onwards …

… as resistance stiffened, the Sturmoviks screamed in, following the road …

The first wave of reinforcements pushed North around the Viazma pocket …

… and now an armoured column appears on the road West ..

… and crashes straight into the main defences …

… not without losses …

Although the centre of Vyazma holds til the last man, armour quickly bursts through defences to the South ..

… and more armour streams to the front …

The Battle for Vyazma is fully committed when a German column crshes into the flank of the offensive.

But not early enough to stop the Northern encirclement …

As Vyazma finally fell, way to the rear German stragglers are brought into a Soviet aid post …

For them the war is over.

Kudos to Chris for managing such a mass of material in such a compact space.  It all made sense at the time.

*objective 1: get them painted; objective 2: get them into a game!

** as I suggest, for the narrative details, see Chris’s post.