Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Ardennes 2013 Umpires post

For those who don't have access to the Domgaming site, here is the first Umpiring post regarding the new game......the phoney war is finally over it seems :)

 As a first step the German command team will be invited to come up with a campaign plan. To do that they will be given forces, objectives and constraints and with those they will fashion a plan to conquer the world, or some such! Once that plan is produced it will not change greatly over the course of the week's gaming. So for example the major reserve options thought about in the planning stage will dictate where and when any reserve forces will be fed into the battlefield.

Once I have a German plan the umpire team will "model/wargame" the initial stages giving both German and Allied commanders updates at 12-24 hourly intervals (in game time), based on the intelligence they would have at that time. Note that last was really quite, quite important. At some stage the Allied CinC will wish to institute action, to do this he will have to produce a plan based on the information he has at that time. Note the longer he leaves it the more info he has but the later any reserves that have to move will arrive. Therefore at this point the modelling/wargaming will be suspended; he will be given forces, objectives, and constraints and be asked to produce his plan. Once this is done the "modelling/wargamin g" will continue until a point is reached which gives enough interesting games to employ all the players on days 1 and 2 in Cornwall and also provides a prospect for more games, notwithstanding the outcomes of round 1. That point will be the start point for the games in Cornwall. So the start date could be 16 Dec or any date thereafter, however, as already stated, once we are in Cornwall we will move to game time = campaign time.

I have mentioned forces, objectives, constraints and plans for both sides let me put that in perspective:

FORCES: Both sides will be given forces that were (or could have been) employed in the battle. These will be have a start state in terms of equipment availability, manning, training and morale that best reflects the state they were in at the time, as judged by commentators at the time and reflects a synthesis of a great deal of research done by Mike and myself in the past 8 months or so.

OBJECTIVES: Will reflect what was asked of the opposing forces and will lie within the realm of historical probability.

CONSTRAINTS: As ever there are constraints; on logistics, on road availability, on transport, on weather, on terrain and the like. All the command teams will see are the constraints, any bookkeeping will be done by the umpires. However the constraints will impact on the campaign game and may well have effects on the tabletop games.

PLANS: The German and Allied command teams will represent the highest level headquarters and commanders; OB West (GFM Model) and the Army Commanders for the Germans and Bradley/Montgomery + the Army Commanders for the Allies. The umpires will play Hitler, OKW, Churchill, Roosevelt, Marshall, Brooke, Eisenhower and SHAEF. The plans are likely to be required to include all the normal things associated with such documents; force objectives, boundaries, allocation of rare assets, logistics' priorities, route allocations etc. The intention will be to have Army level plans with Corps boundaries and objectives.

CAMPAIGN AIR: Neither Model nor Montgomery/Bradley had any real control over the air forces. The Allies were allocated CAS sorties on an availability rate in their priority areas, in addition they stated target requests for medium bombing interdiction and Photo Recce. The Germans got surprises (mostly from the allies). This is pretty much how the game will play for the bulk of the campaign. There is likely to be an air game which will/may/could affect ground operations, but it is still under discussion with Phil.

TABLETOP FORMAT: We are returning to the divisional level rules with one stand being one platoon +/-. There has been a substantial revision of these since 2010 taking on board both the very deep and long discussions on the group site that took place in Feb/Mar 2010 and the comments made during and after the game. The final playtesting is still being done but the main changes are likely to include such things as:

o Mortars and rockets will have effects directly akin to direct fire weapons i.e. they will kill if they can, no trying to remember if this is the first or second hit etc.
o Guns will have effects areas based on calibre and number of barrels firing. Kills will be possible on natural 10s.
o Properly defined ability to move operationally out of site/range of the enemy opening up the game more.
o Better definitions of mounted/dismounted etc.
o Woods to be better cover form view particularly from the air but; to become particularly dangerous if attacked by indirect fire. (See the Band of Brothers in Bastogne!)
o Much better descriptions of man-made cover, what can and can't be done etc.
o Easier formats to apply and use
o Less bookkeeping
o However still constraining in an appropriate doctrinal way what a force can and more appropriately can not do. (Adds the chrome that really differentiates a German from an American from the Commonwealth) .
NEW TROOP TYPES: Weapons Developments of late 44.

TIMEFRAME: The intention is for the German command team to be issued its initial briefing pack this month sooner rather than later. They will then have a good month, possibly 2 given my availability in October to prepare their plan. This will allow the umpire to model the plan in November and enter the interactive dialogue with the Allies (and Axis if command decisions are required). I would wish the allies to stay stop to me in November. They will then be asked to produce a reaction to the situation they find themselves in. Although the realities of corporate life in 2012 have to be taken into account I am likely to want this done relatively quickly. I would hope to then model the Allied plan vs the German plan in my time in December or early January and then issue a start state for Falmouth in January.

SUMMARY: This will not be the rerun of the battle of 68/69 years ago. Neither will it be a rerun of 2005. The intention is to give a campaign that reasonably accurately portrays a serious what if? However in the end the campaign is a vehicle to provide 6 days of good wargaming at divisional level and upwards. Will there be massive armour battles or only infantry slogs. Can't tell you, it depends where the command teams put the troops. However in the Ardennes more than anywhere the terrain really does dictate the battlefields. If you learn anything from the history of 40 and 44, it is to do your terrain analysis and ensure the appropriate things go in the appropriate places! Will there be surprises? I hope so, you would not expect anything less from Mike and myself, however for those who were here in 2004/5 I promise you will not be crossing the Rhine. Can I prepare? By all means read as much as you can about the battle. Troop strengths, morale, logistics availability and starting locations are all likely to be reflected in this game. However the plans that are instigated, the results and the timeframe for individual actions are likely to be different, perhaps very different. So don't expect to follow the book(s) chapter by chapter. As ever I am always open for questions.


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