Saturday, March 30, 2019

Arnhem Bridge - Part 1

I've started work on recreating Arnhem Bridge and the surrounding area captured and defended by John Frost and the paras during operation Market Garden.

Overhead view. North at the top. Bridge just off picture in the centre off the southern edge
The buildings I'm using are what I had to hand from several different sets of buildings and are not exact replicas for the originals.

Aerial view. Bridge to left. Road running through the centre left to right
I intend to base the buildings separately from the terrain so I can use them elsewhere.
The area covered isn't actually that big but there are about 100 individual buildings here.
The bridge is scratch built and has taken about 5 hours so far. It's not my best work but I'm just doing it for kicks really.
I'll probably game the battle to recapture the bridgehead but its likely to be a one off. I don't think the fight will be particularly exciting. The Germans are going to win but they are going to get badly hurt in the process.
I'll post more once I've painted the buildings and created a base.
Keep gaming. Charles the Modeller

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Heights and their effect on the battlefield

I’m working with some friends to produce a set of WWII war game rules and I've written about our approach to activation and actions before. We’ve now drafted some rules for hills, heights and depressions that we think reflect the impact that height and height differentials have in battle and we’re seeking feedback on the approach.
The game we have developed could work at any figure and unit scale but is primarily designed for use by smaller scale miniatures at 1 stand represents a platoon and using the battalion as a manoeuvre group. Ground scale is flexible but is in the 1” is 50 -100 yards range.
The rules we have drafted are as follows; 

High Ground

Height advantage in AHLL is based upon the difference in height between two the opposing units or formations. Each change in ground height is referred to as a tier. A battlefield is likely to have multiple hills or ridges, some of which may have multiple tiers. When applying the high ground advantages, it is the differential in unit height which is important, not the height of the hill.

1st Tier benefits

  • Units can see 6” further providing that light and weather conditions allow.
  • Direct fire does not suffer the long range to hit penalty (the penalty to hit infantry at long range still applies)
  • Units benefit from cover when direct fire is targeted at them, even if they are in open ground.

2nd Tier benefits

  • All the benefits of the 1st Tier
  • Units can draw a line of sight over Linear Terrain features, such as hedges and walls
  • Disguised/ Dummy formations are detected and removed if they move to within 24” of any unit or formation on the tier. Genuine formation counters still deploy at 12”
  • Any FO or HQ calling in supporting indirect fire or aircraft rolls twice and selects the highest result.

3rd Tier or higher benefits

  • All the benefits of the 1st and 2nd Tiers
  • Units can draw a line of sight over Tall Area Terrain, such as woods and villages, providing the target is at least 6” beyond the furthest edge of that area terrain
  • Indirect fire controlled by a FO or HQ unit gains a bonus to hit reflecting improved spotting and fire correction.


Areas of terrain below the general height of the battlefield such as depressions or perhaps riverbanks and beaches below bluffs, limit sight in and out of the depression. Depressions no matter how deep have only 1 level.

Units within the depression cannot see units above them unless these units are on the edge of the depression, and vice versa. Units on the edge of the depression benefit from the 1st tier height advantages.

Blocking Line of Sight

Higher ground has a number of impacts on drawing a line of sight to units on a hill.

  • Higher ground blocks line of sight.
  • Units on the rear slope of the highest tier of a hill may be declared as hidden by the controlling player. Units forward of these units may not draw a line of sight to them, nor call in fire targeted on them, and vice versa.

Firing at Units on Higher Ground

  • Units may fire at visible targets which are on higher terrain as long as their line of fire does not pass through another unit which is within 2” of that higher, target unit.

Heights Example

An American tank formation is on a low hill (tier 1) looking down a valley. Below the tanks a German mechanised formation is attacking a village held by American infantry. Beyond the village the ground rises sharply up a larger hill (tier 2). A formation of German tanks is deployed on this hill.

The American player measures the range and finds he is at medium range against the German infantry and long range against the tanks.

The American tanks have tier 1 advantage against the mechanised formation. In this case providing cover to the Americans against any direct fire from that formation.

Should he fire at the German tank formation, the Germans gain the benefits of tier 1, granting cover against the American tank fire which remains at long range.

The German tanks however have tier 2 advantages over the American infantry defending the village and tier 1 advantage against the American tanks. German tank fire at the American tanks would be treated as at medium range and the American tanks would not be regarded as in cover

Feedback please

What do you think?

Does this adequately reflect the impact of height?

Is it too complicated?

Have we missed anything?

Keep rolling those dice!

Charles the Modeller

Friday, March 8, 2019

Arnhem Second Lift - Battle Report

A short while ago, over two consecutive Friday nights, the AHLL group fought the battles around the dropzones at Arnhem on the 17th September 1944. The was a major play test of the rules system we’ve been designing and the chance for one of the group to filed figures he’d painted years ago but never fielded.
Here’s what happened!
Both sides got the following briefing.

It is the second day of Operation Market Garden, September 1944. The first drop of British paratroops landed yesterday but things have not gone to plan. The north end of Arnhem road bridge has been captured but only a small force managed to reach the bridge. The rail bridge was blown by German defenders who are more numerous and better organised than expected. Urqhart is missing presumed dead or captured and the radios aren’t working so nobody knows what is going on and allied air support is uncontactable. Whilst the parachute brigade tries to battle towards the bridge to reinforce Frost’s command, the glider borne troops must hold the landing grounds to enable the 2nd lift due this morning to bring the division up to almost full strength. The Germans rush everything they can scramble and attack!
Arnhem 2nd Lift Map. North at the top. Each overlaid square is 12" by 12"
We got the table put together and organised the forces the night before. Before any figures went on the table it looked like this.
Looking north over the Neider Rhine with Renkum in the near ground and gliders from the first drop on LZ-X
1 inch on the tabletop represented 100 years and each turn about an hour.
The battle is pretty big with lots of formations on both sides. Some of the British battalions were very large and given the size were split into several formations to reflect the operational approach taken on the day. Some of the arriving troops were down scaled in size to support playability.

British Briefing
You must hold the three key landing grounds DZ-Y where paratroops will jump, LZ-X where two glider formations will land and LZ-S where another glider borne force is due. Out of nowhere German units have appeared and they are attacking! Fortunately they don’t seem to have too many armoured vehicles – but there are a lot of infantry!
Push the enemy back, destroy any AA units you see and hold the landing grounds!
Initial British Forces
4 formations infantry with armoured jeep support. Very limited artillery support off table.
2 are veteran, two are regular, jeeps adopt quality of unit they attach to.
British Reinforcements
The British player dices for the arrival time of the incoming troops starting at turn 5. Whilst all forces historically arrived together for the game they would be split. The supply drop by Stirling’s was excluded from the scenario.
Airlanding Turn 1
DZ-Y in the first turn the airlanding begins. 3 Bns parachute troops.
Airlanding Turn 2
Elements of air landing brigade, gliderborne, 1 bn on LZ-X
Airlanding Turn 3
Elements of air landing brigade, gliderborne, 1 bn on LZ-S
Airlanding Turn 4
Elements of air landing brigade, gliderborne, all land on LZ-X

German Briefing
Harry the enemy! Hit him and hit him again. The British are due to land more troops this morning. Your best chance is to hurt them before they can organise. Grab whatever you can get your hands on, anybody who can carry a gun and attack! If the enemy lands you must hold the line.
German Forces

7 infantry formations, 1 veteran, 3 inexperienced - two of which are badly officered. Some off table artillery and limited air support. The Germans also had a number of AFVs an AA units available to cross attach.

Game Duration and Victory Conditions
The game ends at the discretion of the German player as long as it is the end of a turn. It may finish no earlier than one turn after the arrival of the last British airborne forces.
At the end of the game points would be awarded for removing or killing ground units with Brits counting for more than Germans.

The Brits had to beat the German score.

The Game Itself
We had 4 players and so split 2 German and 2 Brits. I was one of the Germans and so this report will be heavily focussed on the German view of the battle.

The table all laid out looking south from the north table edge. Drop zone DZ-Y is the lighter patch on the near right
Initial placements saw the British place their troops in DZ-Y and LZ-X. The Germans came on from along the north and western table edges.
Pretty soon the Germans had begun skirmishing around DZ-Y. This would be the location of most and the bloodiest fights during the game. 
First Contact!
The Brits deployed to cover LZ-X but leave LZ-S virtually undefended!
The Germans pushed closer and closer!
DZ-Y comes under attack from the north.
The British rolled really badly for the arrival of their reinforcements. Whilst the Germans just kept on pushing.
German infantry pushing the Brits hard
The Germans attack at LZ-X!
The Germans begin to make inroads - British losses mount, the heaths begin to burn, flanks are turned.
Where oh where are those aircraft?
One part of the SS Wach Battalion has had enough. You can just see some of it disappearing on the left.
The British get stuck in at LZ-X. It turns out that half the British force on the table has been pinned in place by the SS Wach Battalion 3, a formation that could be argued is the worst unit fielded by the Germans on the western front. It doesn’t take long and they break and run. LZ-X is secured.
Here comes trouble! 3 battalions of paras!
Finally the airlift arrives. Bang on time historically, but maybe a bit late for the Brits?
The sky fills with parachute canopies
Watch out for the burning heath!

We call the other landing zones. Landings at LZ-X would be unopposed, whilst landings at LZ-S were clearly going to be very badly chewed up. The Paras landing at DZ-Y were going to have to fight!
And they fought very hard.
Very hard indeed.
And we called it - a German victory.


Looking back on it I think the British players should have done a few things differently. The placement of their troops was very conservative - understandable given the size of the enemy they were facing, but it didn't create any challenge for the Germans. Greater use should have been made of detachments further forward - vulnerable to be sure - but this was a game about holding ground to buy time. 
I don't think the Brits were aggressive enough, particularly at LZ-X. This allowed the Germans free rein over their concentrations on the battlefield and allowed us to attack with numbers where we wanted.
The Brits appalling dice rolls for the arrival of their reinforcements clearly didn’t help and given the historical situation it was very tough for the Brits to win. They did better on the day than the British players did and Arnhem was still lost. 
All very easy for me to say - most of my units (SS Wach I'm looking at you!) routed off the board.

However, the game played out very well, the rules stood up well to the playtest and both sides enjoyed it. The game looked amazing and we’d all be happy to give the scenario another shot.
Enjoy your gaming!

Charles the Modeller

Battle of Scarif - All Finished

So in my last post I said my next blogpost would be on building the citadel tower. Well I am so far behind in posting updates on my blog tha...