Wargaming Operation Epsom – How Big are the Forces?

In this second post on Wargaming Operation Epsom, I decided to explore the basics of what forces would be required to wargame the battle on a single wargames table. As discussed previously this is a battle that could fit onto a 6 foot wide table at a scale of 100m = 1”, the same scale as Fistful of Tows and some other WW2 rules. The frontage of the attack was 4.5 miles, just over 7 km.

My initial findings were that the British were attacking with 3 divisions. Now this seemed to be a lot fit into one battle on one table. However, having read further I realised that these three divisions weren’t all involved at the same time. In fact, the initial assault was by two brigades of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, with support from independent Armoured Brigades and elements of the 11th Armoured Division. In effect therefore the battle would start with the British attacking with 6 infantry battalions plus supporting units and tank battalions. That feels much more doable on a six foot table – with each battalion having a foot of table as their frontage. At 6mm or 1/300 scale that would work really well I think. I am planning to use “platoon level” rules, where a stand or infantry represents a platoon. So that means an infantry company would be 3 stands, and a British infantry battalion would be 12 infantry stands plus other bits and bobs.

So slightly relieved by that time to press on and do some more research and start planning out what to do next for Wargaming Operation Epsom. I think that will involve looking at the layout of the terrain – how much of the battlefield will be included on the table and what features will be included – for instance would all the villages and roads be needed at this scale?

Wargaming Operation Epsom – some ideas

I am currently reading Max Hasting’s Overlord book. It’s very well written and has also sparked some ideas for WW2 wargaming – particular micro armour/6mm style games. One of the big set-piece operations of the Normandy campaign was Operation Epsom. It was one of the many attempts to take Caen by outflanking it. The attack failed ultimately, although some ground was gained.

The information that Max Hastings provided about it included the fact that the attack frontage for the three British divisions involved was 4.5 miles. That equates to 7.24 km or 7,240 metres. Now there are WW2 wargames rules where the ground scale is 100m = 1″ on the tabletop (such as Fistful of Tows). That means you could fit the attack onto a standard 6′ wargames table. 7240 metres equals 72.42″ at this scale.

Now most wargames even with 1/300/6mm tanks assume that you’re playing with say a regiment or a brigade – not 3 divisions! I am intrigued to see how a wargame of this size might work on a standard 6′ table. I am going to explore possibilities further and will blog again soon about wargaming Operation Epsom.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review

I thought it was about time to write up my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review.

I got the starter set for the 4th edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a while ago and gave it a read at the time, but there is nothing like using the materials to actually get a good idea of how good they are and what they contain. Having now run most of the main adventures from the Adventure Book using a mix of pregen and rolled up PCs, and I have also started using the Ubersreik material to plan out a sandbox campaign, so I now have a good enough understanding to provide a reasonable review for others.

What’s in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set?

First let’s see what you actually get! This is from Cubicle7’s site:

With over a hundred pages of adventures, rules, and setting, as well as maps, handouts, custom dice from Q WORKSHOP, Advantage tokens, rules references, ready-made Characters, a simple GM Screen, and more, this boxed set is the perfect starting point for anyone interested in WFRP.

The Adventure Book invites players of all experience levels into the rich, roleplaying playground of Ubersreik. For beginners, the starter adventure, Making the Rounds, introduces the harsh realities of life in the troubled fortress-town and takes you step-by-step through the rules. For more experienced hands, there are 10 scenarios aimed to expand your WFRP games, offering new locations, new characters, and new horrors to uncover. Coming in at 40 pages, The Adventure Book is the ideal launching point for any new campaign, and can keep your WFRP group busy for several months.

The 64-page A Guide to Ubersreik highlights the bloody history and recent invasion of Ubersreik, examines more than 70 locations in the troubled town, details the surrounding fiefdoms, and introduces a wide array of antagonist cults at large in the area. In addition, each entry comes with two adventure hooks, meaning every location, character, and political pitfall the book presents has examples of how to use them on your games of WFRP.

The quality of the materials is great. The dice are very useful and well designed, and the punch out Advantage Tokens are a must for this game. You can also use the box lids as a makeshift GMs screen – they have a map and some basic rules on the inside. Also there are some useful handouts for players: rumours, basic info on how to play, information about the Empire, which is good if players are new to Warhammer, and also a players and GMs map of Ubersreik and the surrounding area.

The Adventure Book

The Adventure Book contains introductory adventures to get your party started if you are new to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, or roleplaying in general. The first part of it involves the PCs getting involved in a big fight, which provides a great way to introduce some of the basic combat rules. They are then accused of a crime they did not commit (in true WFRP fashion!) and are press-ganged into joining the Ubersreik Watch. After that a number of adventures are presented that the PCs can get involved in. There’s no particular order to these, but the idea is to start of with some fairly minor events and then gradually increase the complexity and threat. There’s quite a lot of opportunity for GMs to treat this as a sandbox. I was a little disappointed with this as I would have thought that a new GM might want something a bit more structured. I thought that with the intriguing political situation, the PCs would be thrust into a thrilling conflict of intrigue, but it’s not like that. You could though use the information in The Guide to Ubersreik booklet to introduce such a campaign.

The adventures included are OK in my opinion. There’s some interesting NPCs there and situations, but I didn’t feel that any of them really grabbed my attention. Maybe it’s my failing as a GM, but I felt that they could have been a bit better. Some of the extra adventures presented near the end might prove to be more attending – the littlest Waarghh! looks fun for instance.

The Guide to Ubersreik

For me this is the more useful resource in the medium to long term. I doubt I would run the adventures again, but the background material for Ubersreik is very rich and contains loads of plot hooks – perfect in fact for the sandbox campaign that I have planned out and am about to start soon. There is some great detail on the political situation, which hints at what is happening more and prompts some ideas for a GM. To me it feels like this was designed to give GMs ideas for their own campaigns – which has been the result for me at least.

I was a bit disappointed not to see the political situation in Ubersreik developed further in the adventures provided, perhaps a missed opportunity to provide an opening campaign, but I can see why the writers perhaps didn’t want to inhibit a GMs own plans either. I have also heard that there is some link with the wider Enemy Within campaign as well with regards to the Emperor taking over Ubersreik – so maybe that will make things clearer.

A Note on the Pregen Characters

For my group we used two of the pregen characters, while the other player rolled their own. Unfortunately, as released it’s not clear how much starting XP and advances the pregens have. They’re not full character sheets and miss off some skills. This has now been rectified with an update to the PDF. But that update was some time after I had started running the adventure. I did guess though that the pregens were quite overpowered, so allowed the other PC some extra XP.

Upping the level of the pregens feels like a curious decision. I would have expected them to be starting characters, but they’re actually a bit overpowered. The lack of explanation also makes them hard to run if you have the full rules or are thinking of taking the adventure further.

On a positive note the pregens do come with a load of back story and also ways to link them with other members of the party, which I liked. The gatefold character sheets look very good as well. There are even mini-adventures in the Adventure booklet for each of the pregens as well,

Conclusion

For your money the Starter Set is a great resource. Although I think you would need to get the main rulebook pretty soon after if you liked the game. The biggest negative is the lack of detail on XP and advances for the pregens. The main positives are the great background material for Ubersreik and all the plot hooks.

Great value for money in my opinion.

You can get the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter set from Cubicle7, Amazon, and most other RPG retailers.

I hope you enjoyed my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Starter Set Review!

Combat HQ 2nd Edition Review

Combat HQ 2nd Edition CoverCombat HQ by Jim Bambra combines a number of interesting game mechanics to produce a satisfying simulation of battalion level WW2 warfare while also providing a lot of fun.

I use 6mm for my games, but it can easily support up to 20mm figures – or maybe even 28mm at a stretch. Each infantry stand or vehicle represents a a platoon and it’s designed for games of battalion sized battlegroups with supporting units. One of the key features are the rules that simulate command – with alternating activations and the possibility of command failure adding to the realism of the game and also providing a challenge to each player on how to use limited command resources. These rules rely on dice chains that can be a bit complicated to get your head around to start with, but are simple enough once you get going and provide an interesting game mechanic.

The other mechanics such as movement and combat also provide a realistic yet easy to understand means to simulate combat. There’s some similarities with dice pool games such as Blitzkrieg Commander – for instance different units or tanks might receive different amounts of d6 to roll – then there’s a target number of hitting on 4+ for example – which is then opposed by the target rolling a dice pool to resist – so very much like Blitzkrieg Commander and other Warmaster style rulesets.

My one criticism is that this book does not come with extensive army lists – but I believe these will be available in a separate volume. You do get stats for the 3 starter missions though for late war UK, US and German forces. The previous edition featured army lists for a wide range of WW2 theatres and armies. The follow on book, Total War includes extensive additional rules and some army lists. However, unlike the 1st edition, only Late War Western European theatre is included – so no Soviets, and no mid or early war stuff, which is a bit disappointing. I am assuming that new supplements will introduce lists for these theatres, but it is a shame that everything isn’t included in one book.

However, despite these gripes Combat HQ is a great system with some innovative rules as well as borrowing some familiar mechanics from other rulesets. For the WW2 wargamer it is well worth getting!

You can order it from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

The author, Jim Bambra, has a great website called Wargames Design, which is a great resource.

I have a blog post about a scenario using a version of the Combat HQ rules, Armour Battles here.