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Subject: Commonwealth Module - Early Design Stages rss

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Hello fellow Band of Brothers system fans! Although a few posts here and there have obliquely alluded to the fact already, I'm happy to (un)officially say that Jim Krohn has graciously given me the opportunity to develop an upcoming Commonwealth-focused module. I'm very excited and looking forward to doing my best to capture the same combination of gaming fun and gritty evocation of reality that the first two modules embodied, this time for the doughty soldiers of the King!

Since he and I are discussing the name and content still, there's no official forum for it yet, so I'm posting here. When an official Commonwealth module entry is created, I'll shift the conversation there.

BACKGROUND


I've been working on (well, on and off) and discussing this module with Jim since just after I posted my thoughts on possible Commonwealth portrayals in this thread:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/748551/custom-commonweal...

... back in early 2012. We're fairly confident we've reached the right numbers and values for Commonwealth units and now comes the long but interesting process of selecting engagements for scenarios.

DIVISION SELECTION

The approach I'm taking is to highlight one division from each of the major Commonwealth nations, much as the first two modules in the series each highlighted a specific unit in WWII (101st Airborne and 11th Panzer Division). I'm largely focused on the period 1943-1945 (more 1944-45) with a few minor exceptions, leaving the early war open to possible future modules.

I've selected the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, the 4th Indian Division and the 2nd New Zealand Infantry Division as featured divisions for their respective nations for a variety of reasons.

I'm looking for input from the board on which divisions to select for the United Kingdom, Australian and South African contingents as featured units.

Here are my top candidates for each nation, but I'm willing to take input/suggestions on any and all:

United Kingdom:

43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division or 51st (Highland) Division
(note: I'm very open to suggestions on British divisions - unlike the other Commonwealth countries, there are so many of them - but I want to focus on divisions which fought in Northwest Europe)

Australia:

7th Infantry Division [6th as a alternative]. I'm intrigued by their self-moniker "The Silent Seventh"
[EDIT] A recent e-mail conversation makes using the 7th Australian Division not feasible (for reasons given in a reply below) so the 6th Australian Division is now the primary candidate.

South Africa:

6th Armoured Division (the 1st and 2nd South African Infantry Divisions fought primarily in North and East Africa, and the 3rd was largely a training formation, so this seems to be the only eligible unit, given the other restrictions of no desert scenarios)

My intent is not to cover the most famous or most decorated divisions, but rather ordinary, line divisions which bore the brunt of fighting. Also, a request from the designer has me avoiding desert scenarios, means that the most obvious choice for the Australians, the 9th Division, isn't very feasible.

I also want to put a spotlight on battles and campaigns which might not have gotten a lot of attention. For example, I'm looking at a scenario for the 4th Indian Division which took place in Eritrea.

I'm hoping the Brits, "South Effricans" and Aussies on the board can offer their 2 pence on the best representative divisions from their respective nationalities' fighting forces.

NOT TREADING WHERE OTHERS HAVE GONE BEFORE

Secondly, I'm quite aware that several squad-level systems have trod this territory before and I'm anxious to avoid the old trap of constantly highlighting the same units, heroes and actions that other Commonwealth modules have already covered.

I own the "For King and Country" module for ASL as well as all the Starter Kits, the Combat Commander: Mediterranean expansion, Lock n' Load "Swift and Bold" and "In Defeat, Defiance" modules. I will be looking at the ATS module which covers Commonwealth forces in the NWE, Scottish Corridor. ATS Players: is there another major module for Commonwealth forces in NWE or Italty/Sicily? I couldn't find one in a cursory search, but I might have overlooked the obvious.

The exercise being to see what's already been published so I can avoid duplicating them, of course.

If other WWII squad-level fans have other modules to point me at, feel free to post here. I'm also aware that there are 2,000+ ASL scenarios and there's bound to be some overlap, but I'm going to try to keep it to a minimum. I'll be digging through ROAR and other online scenario lists to check the battles/skirmishes I select against ones that have already been published for ASL.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES...


Thanks for your interest and input in advance. I'm looking forward to this design journey, and thanks again to Jim Krohn for letting me "play in his sandbox".

[edit: I should have made more clear - Pacific and desert fighting are largely being left to potential future modules]
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1 vote for the 51st Highland Division
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Additional conversations have nixed presenting Vichy French in this module as opponents for the 7th Australian Division in Lebanon, so I'll put forward the 6th Australian Division and their operations on Crete as the new alternative. I'll have to debate with Jim about whether the Battle of Bardia would count as a "desert" scenario as well.
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Kozure wrote:
Additional conversations have nixed presenting Vichy French in this module as opponents for the 7th Australian Division in Lebanon, so I'll put forward the 6th Australian Division and their operations on Crete as the new alternative. I'll have to debate with Jim about whether the Battle of Bardia would count as a "desert" scenario as well.
As an Australian, I assumed it would have been the 6th, 7th or 9th Australian Divisions as candidates. All three served in both the Med. and Pacific. However, if these theatres are being left to future modules...
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dougadamsau wrote:
Kozure wrote:
Additional conversations have nixed presenting Vichy French in this module as opponents for the 7th Australian Division in Lebanon, so I'll put forward the 6th Australian Division and their operations on Crete as the new alternative. I'll have to debate with Jim about whether the Battle of Bardia would count as a "desert" scenario as well.
As an Australian, I assumed it would have been the 6th, 7th or 9th Australian Divisions as candidates. All three served in both the Med. and Pacific. However, if these theatres are being left to future modules...
Actually, Jim asked me to specifically include Australians, but to avoid scenarios which require desert maps... since, as you know, most of their actions in North Africa would probably require desert maps and features, I'm left with their operations in Crete.

So, it's not so much that I can't do the "Med", I can't do the desert or the Pacific - that's for someone else.

I'm thinking of some sort of action in Crete (perhaps the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_42nd_Street - but that's probably been done before) and maybe something at the Battle of Bardia (which might be simulated by mountainous/hilly maps which are not specifically "desert) for the 6th.

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Chris, don't be too worried if it has been done before. I like that you are trying to avoid actions that have already been gamed, but it is okay if there is some overlap.
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Kozure wrote:
ATS Players: is there another major module for Commonwealth forces in NWE or Italty/Sicily? I couldn't find one in a cursory search, but I might have overlooked the obvious.
I'm by no means an expert but if there is something, it is here: Advanced Tobruk System, ATS, Product List
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Gorgoneion wrote:
Kozure wrote:
ATS Players: is there another major module for Commonwealth forces in NWE or Italty/Sicily? I couldn't find one in a cursory search, but I might have overlooked the obvious.
I'm by no means an expert but if there is something, it is here: Advanced Tobruk System, ATS, Product List
I took a quick spin through those, didn't (immediately) see anything else that related to the Commonwealth in NWE. Lots of North Africa stuff, of course.
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I'd suggest you focus on 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, rather than the 2nd. The former assault-landed on D-Day and fought some important (and tactically interesting) battles before the latter arrived a month later. 3rd Division was also notable for innovative use of "Wasp" flamethrowers at the Leopold Canal, and for two sizable waterborne operations (Breskens pocket and the Rhineland).
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Sunray11 wrote:
I'd suggest you focus on 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, rather than the 2nd. The former assault-landed on D-Day and fought some important (and tactically interesting) battles before the latter arrived a month later. 3rd Division was also notable for innovative use of "Wasp" flamethrowers at the Leopold Canal, and for two sizable waterborne operations (Breskens pocket and the Rhineland).
Definitely the 3rd in my opinion as well for the Canadians. Caen, Falaise, the Channel ports, the Breskens pocket, the Scheldt, the final offensives of 1945. A sizeable scope and range of battle sizes and types. And the units of the 7th/8th/9th infantry brigades reek with history. Heck, you could probably do a module just on The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, if you really wanted.
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Sunray11 wrote:
I'd suggest you focus on 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, rather than the 2nd. The former assault-landed on D-Day and fought some important (and tactically interesting) battles before the latter arrived a month later. 3rd Division was also notable for innovative use of "Wasp" flamethrowers at the Leopold Canal, and for two sizable waterborne operations (Breskens pocket and the Rhineland).
Funny you mention that. I had chosen the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division because I have already done a lot of research (for other projects) on some of their component regiments. Just last night as I was reading through the official histories, however, it struck me that it might be more interesting to focus on a division which fought straight through NWE from D-Day to surrender.

I may still stick with the 2nd, but I will be definitely considering the 3rd as a strong alternative candidate. We ruled out the 1st because Chad Jensen was hoping to do a module on that division for his Fighting Formations series. Also, I have a dim recollection of another designer wanting to do something on the 3rd (plus, a component Brigade, the 7th was featured in Canadian Crucible: Brigade Fortress at Norrey), but that may just be my memory transposing numbers in my head again.

Also in researching British divisions last night, I recalled the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, which has a storied history spanning North Africa to Sicily to Northwest Europe. It gives an ample opportunity to feature battles ranging from Primosole Bridge to Sword Beach to the Nijmegen bridgehead.

Is anyone aware of any games, modules or scenarios which focus on the 50th (Northumbrian)?

I skimmed through all of the For King and Country and Combat Commander: Mediterranean scenarios last night and am going to read further in a few ASL scenario databases this evening.
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Jim Krohn wrote:
Chris, don't be too worried if it has been done before. I like that you are trying to avoid actions that have already been gamed, but it is okay if there is some overlap.
I'd echo this please. couple of points

1) If it's been done before, it's likely because it was important/significant/fun/interesting/balanced....

2) Not all of us have played every module of every system, so although it may have been done before that doesn't mean we've necessarily played it before

3) Even if we have played it before, that previous game system may no longer be as attractive to us as BoB and we'd like to play it in BoB. (For example, any games on the 101st prior to Screaming Eagles?)

I want the BEST scenarios, not necessarily the most unique.

My two cents, and thanks for your work on this!
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blockhead wrote:
Jim Krohn wrote:
Chris, don't be too worried if it has been done before. I like that you are trying to avoid actions that have already been gamed, but it is okay if there is some overlap.
I'd echo this please. couple of points

1) If it's been done before, it's likely because it was important/significant/fun/interesting/balanced....

2) Not all of us have played every module of every system, so although it may have been done before that doesn't mean we've necessarily played it before

3) Even if we have played it before, that previous game system may no longer be as attractive to us as BoB and we'd like to play it in BoB. (For example, any games on the 101st prior to Screaming Eagles?)

I want the BEST scenarios, not necessarily the most unique.

My two cents, and thanks for your work on this!
Oh, I assure you I'm not trying to be obscure solely for obscurity sake.

So far the scenarios I'm considering are set in a variety of well-known operations (Overlord, Charnwood, Fustian, Compass, etc.) but not always the "highlights" of those operations or the most well-known units which participated.

My intent being is that a lot of these battles/units have already gotten a lot of attention but there's plenty of other interesting and challenging scenarios to be examined.

For example, Pegasus Bridge has a scenario about it in almost every system, Hill 112 has a whole module dedicated to it, Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, etc. I'm not denying that all of these are interesting and fun, but there's lots of other operations, for example, Varsity, Veritable, Blockbuster, which get comparatively little attention.

What I definitely don't want to do is to portray exactly the same battle at exactly the same point in the battle with exactly the same units as has been done before (for example, Pegasus Bridge).

I'm aiming for a variety of offensive and defensive operations, with a variety of scenario sizes and a variety of force mixes (inf/armour/guns), but always with the overarching goals of scenario balance, fun and challenge.
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blockhead wrote:
Jim Krohn wrote:
Chris, don't be too worried if it has been done before. I like that you are trying to avoid actions that have already been gamed, but it is okay if there is some overlap.
I'd echo this please. couple of points

1) If it's been done before, it's likely because it was important/significant/fun/interesting/balanced....

2) Not all of us have played every module of every system, so although it may have been done before that doesn't mean we've necessarily played it before

3) Even if we have played it before, that previous game system may no longer be as attractive to us as BoB and we'd like to play it in BoB. (For example, any games on the 101st prior to Screaming Eagles?)

I want the BEST scenarios, not necessarily the most unique.

My two cents, and thanks for your work on this!
Agreed. 100%
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Also agree.
In fact, I think I would prefer seeing familiar situations as this means I can better compare the different systems way of showing history (a comparison that often favors BoB)
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brian asklev aursen wrote:
Also agree.
In fact, I think I would prefer seeing familiar situations as this means I can better compare the different systems way of showing history (a comparison that often favors BoB)
Yes, that should have been my 4th point, it is fun to compare the same action with different systems.

As to Pegasus Bridge, well, I'd like to see it in BoB!

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blockhead wrote:
brian asklev aursen wrote:
Also agree.
In fact, I think I would prefer seeing familiar situations as this means I can better compare the different systems way of showing history (a comparison that often favors BoB)
Yes, that should have been my 4th point, it is fun to compare the same action with different systems.

As to Pegasus Bridge, well, I'd like to see it in BoB!

Tell you what; if a Pegasus Bridge scenario doesn't make it into this module, I will create it as a downloadable PDF.
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Will there be anything on Market Garden? meeple
 
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Gorgoneion wrote:
Will there be anything on Market Garden? meeple
Not sure if that's a serious question, given my earlier comments about heavily-covered battles. I'm not doing Arnhem proper, but I am considering a neat engagement during Operation Market Garden on D+6 near Veghel which had units from the 50th (Northumbrian) Division and the 101st Division (specifically the 327th GIR) fighting side-by-side against heavy German counter-attacks.
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Having a mixed force sounds VERY cool.
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Kozure wrote:
Gorgoneion wrote:
Will there be anything on Market Garden? meeple
Not sure if that's a serious question, given my earlier comments about heavily-covered battles. I'm not doing Arnhem proper, but I am considering a neat engagement during Operation Market Garden on D+6 near Veghel which had units from the 50th (Northumbrian) Division and the 101st Division (specifically the 327th GIR) fighting side-by-side against heavy German counter-attacks.
I know, when it comes to certain battles, I become just a baby.
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Great news Chris, I'm really looking forward to your module!
 
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joshaubry wrote:
blockhead wrote:
Jim Krohn wrote:
Chris, don't be too worried if it has been done before. I like that you are trying to avoid actions that have already been gamed, but it is okay if there is some overlap.
I'd echo this please. couple of points

1) If it's been done before, it's likely because it was important/significant/fun/interesting/balanced....

2) Not all of us have played every module of every system, so although it may have been done before that doesn't mean we've necessarily played it before

3) Even if we have played it before, that previous game system may no longer be as attractive to us as BoB and we'd like to play it in BoB. (For example, any games on the 101st prior to Screaming Eagles?)

I want the BEST scenarios, not necessarily the most unique.

My two cents, and thanks for your work on this!
Agreed. 100%
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Good news to hear this is going forward and will be in good hands.

Some thoughts from me, in no real order, after reading the points above.

The Leopold Canal crossing. There were two attempts to cross the Leopold Canal. The first crossing was actually just as interesting. It came at Moerkerke in September 1944, but unfortunately was not by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, but by the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Div. They were the last ones to the party of all the Canadian divisions and might make a good candidate for a formation, if there is still a question of who to include. They had four good tank regiments (their armoured recce was equipped as a regular armoured regiment with Shermans, and had two excellent regimental histories written about it with lots of technical detail included) and four infantry battalions.

The second attempt to cross the Leopold Canal crossing is famous because of the Wasp attack, but after that 15-second hosing of the far bank, the battle pretty much descended into a brawl.

There are some details at my website:

http://canadiansoldiers.com/history/battlehonours/northweste...

External image


As you can tell by both the scale and the dates, it was mostly a slow-moving mess as far as the infantry was concerned. The Regina Rifles spent five days hugging the canal bank and both sides blasted each other with artillery.

It would be great to see a Commonwealth module highlight the differences between Commonwealth troops and equipment and the other combatants (or, indeed, how Canadian troops differed from Australian/British/South African, etc.) and if scenarios could highlight those differences, this will do what other games have struggled with.

Whichever formations and battles are selected, I would like to see a product that does reflect the "way of war" of Commonwealth troops, and reward the player for fighting in ways that Commonwealth commanders historically did. This would include doing things differently from other games, which have traditionally given Commonwealth troops "morale" and "marksmanship" bonuses based on interesting interpretations of history. The Militia and "natural soldier" myths kind of come to the fore in the research. The Crescendo of Doom and Advanced Squad Leader rulebooks even remarked that Canadian soldiers were all volunteers who should be considered "elite". In actual fact, their numbers included remustered tradesmen lacking basic training thrown into action as reinforcements, and in early 1945, thousands of draftees entered the mix.

I was disappointed with Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy – Commonwealth Forces in a number of ways; Canadian forces given British equipment (no T16 or Windsor carriers, use of British trucks which Canadians simply didn't do, etc.) and especially the lack of specialized equipment. The original SQUAD LEADER board games threw in a bunch of trucks and jeeps for the Americans as nationalistic "flavour", saying it would be un-American somehow not to portray Americans as having lots of gadgets. But British and Canadian units in NW Europe came ashore on D-Day in good order thanks very much to the use of "funnies" and made effective use of special armour - AVsRE, flame tanks, flails, amtracs, armoured trucks, carriers, etc. This may be seen as mere 'chrome' but just about every major operation included some form of heavy logistical support. They invented new types as they went along - the APC being the major one.

Going back to the Leopold Canal example; it may be that stripped of their logistical support - their tanks, their carriers, their flamethrowers and AVsRE - the reason the attack was such a mess was that the infantry really was hard-pressed to move forward on its own. It is used as a criticism in some quarters, but they were trained to make effective use of all that logistical support, particularly artillery. Their FOOs were good, and could call it down in a hurry. Certain tank formations got very well-practiced at working with infantry - I mentioned 4th Cdn (Arm'd) Div above. There were certainly others.

The other side of the coin is in accurately depicting what the Germans were doing; defending in depth, lightly outposting their positions, and heavily mortaring and counter-attacking, using armour/SPGs at close-range. The strength of the module will be in its scenarios. The overall situations may well not really matter if these scenarios are staged well enough. Even the Leopold Canal situation had its local moments of high drama that would make a decent scenario.

Looking forward to news of this as the module develops. Have enjoyed the previous discussions and sneak-peeks of the artwork. All looks very good so far.

51st (Highland) Division is a good choice. Any Canadian Division is a good one, really, as they all had a share of any number of interesting situations and there was more than enough fighting to go around.
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