2 Operational Level wargames within a fortnight sandwiched my trip to the Plassenburg. NQM is the original ‘event led’ Op Game designed by the Doormouse years ago (even I have been part of the playing group for 20 years, now!). Megablitz is a more codified game inspired by the NQM project. When NQM stepped down to 15mm for space reasons a decade ago, much of the 20mm collection went into the Megablitz stables (so even some of toys are the same).
The two games couldn’t have been more different. Fall Gabel (NQM) was played amongst a small group on a single evening just on one table; A Battle Lost? (Megablitz) was played all day on six tables with around twenty players.
In Fall Gabel we were channelled straight into the combat zones so spent just about the whole game running higher level combats; in A Battle Lost? the French were determined to dig in, while the Panzer Corps (at least) were given strict orders to by-pass enemy units and not to fight any battles (so the game was mostly a traffic game).
Neither game featured any player engagement with the logistics rules. Which, originally, was what these Operational Level games were about. What made them interesting.
Air power is another important part of these operations but was Umpire controlled in both games … in A Battle Lost? this combined with an ‘all in one basket’ policy imposed by high command to mean the Luftwaffe played little part in the conquest of France.
Here are some more pictures:
(Fall Gabel: the remnants of the Division reorganise a safe distance back from the smoking wrecks of its combat units)
(Fall Gabel: nightfall – the tattered Red Army are driven out of all their positions into a confused cauldron around the rail head; Gross Deutschland poised, brimming with confidence, before the morning’s assault)
In truth, blend the two games together, add back the missing logistics and air liaison – and give all the players enough to do … and you would have the perfect wargame. At the moment the Operational Game seems to have settled into a formula which everyone enjoys (me included) but which runs as much because of the fudges and bits left out as it does because of the rules which are played and work.
The games are very well organised and the lunch at Shrivenham was first rate.
My thanks all round.
I played Germans in both games. In Fall Gabel I commanded 4PD which bounced off, but which had softened the position sufficiently that we took it in the afternoon, and I commanded Gross Deutschland which methodically destroyed everything in front of it. Unfortunately we were at the end of our (unplayed) logistic chain, so the thrust was doomed to fail.
In A Battle Lost? I played Fast Heinz whose XIX Corps of three Panzer Divisions was allocated a 2nd echelon birth with orders to break through to the coast.
Despite all the traffic trouble, the infantry getting in the way, and lack of allocated road priorities, by Day Two we were threading our way through. We took 3 or 4 small towns, the main Front airfield, cut off a full enemy Division and were first to the Sea with 2 of our 3 Panzer Divisions (Rommel up front); indeed, at the airfield we were just minutes behind the departure of the French C-in-C! Job done I guess.
I took personal command of the Albert (airfield) exploitation phase so as to free Rommel up for the race to the coast. Had the Luftwaffe been properly about its business it would have forced the still visible Bloch transport down, enabling us to capture the top brass. As it was, they ignored air identification flags and flares, ignored the priority messages sent 2 hours earlier concerning the capture of the assets, and instead shot up the German Staff detachments and wrecked the captured planes. Thanks guys.
Not to worry, of course, it is the kind of hokum Umpires enjoy throwing into games but which doesn’t really happen: my father’s cousin won his DFC in this campaign and always insisted it was easy enough to tell the French from the Germans from a plane in 1940!
Operational games are like proverbial buses (unusually I used a real one recently) … you wait for too long then several come at once. I am pleased to have been able to join in.
NQM vs Megablitz
NQM has too many stands (you don’t need so many stands at battalion level if they are all going to do the same thing) … Megablitz is better in using company stands for recce (who disperse at that level) but battalion and similar stands for other troops.* I prefer scaling by relevance, so might compromise by allowing 2 stands to a full strength battalion so I can show a difference between transit and combat moves.
I do like NQM giving different values in attack and defence compared with Megablitz Strength Points – I like the way artillery can be strong supporting an attack but relatively weak if caught unprotected**.
I like Megablitz‘s codified movement concepts but still have a soft spot for NQM‘s variable (event led) length bounds. One day that sort of system will be harmonised into a working game mechanism that requires less umpire fudge than tradition has allowed.
Megablitz has a very efficient orders/posture system that reduces confusion. NQM is more ‘old school’ (and free-wheeling) …
Both games are great value and should be played more.
*NQM gives an infantry battalion up to 6 stands, varying strength by the number of stands present. Megablitz uses one stand per battalion, varying the strength by varying how many strength points the stand can contribute (and absorb) in combat. Megablitz feels less cluttered as a consequence.
** NQM rates a stand Heavy, Medium or Light for its firepower and similarly H,M,L for its target value. It means that, say, a Katyusha unit e.g. can be H in its hitting power but only L when taking incoming hits. Megablitz uses the same SPs for hitting and taking hits (so tough units are equally tough in attack and defence): this is a very useful and quite justified simplification which does the job relatively well – I just prefer the more subtle detail the NQM mechanism allows.