Category: World War II


Deep Battle Design Notes 1 – Musing on Hex/Square Grids

Problem with Hexes - Distances against the grain

What is this relatively recent thing with Steven and hexes? My mate Chris is the hex-meister of the universe but normally I prefer free form tables without a grid. So how come I’ve gone all-hexy e.g. my recent maps for the Battle of Kharkov (10km Hexes; 20km hexes) and operational terrain experiments (River Templates, MDF River, Experimenting, Felt Rivers, Felt Railways)?

A grid offers a handful of advantages which I think are particularly apt for Operational level wargaming. I’m not the only one who thinks so. When I did my Review of Wargaming Rules I could use for the Operational

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Kharkov 1942 Map for Deep Battle with 20km hexes

Kharkov 1942 Map for Deep Battle with 20km Hexes

I’ve drawn a new map for the Second Battle of Kharkov with one hex per 20 km. As you probably know, I’m focussing on the Second Battle of Kharkov as I develop my thinking on Operational Wargaming and my own Deep Battle rule set. A map is an essential part of this.

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Top 20 Pages on Balagan

Balagan Site Stats

I started this blog on 21 Feb 2001 and then Migrated Balagan to WordPress on 15 Sep 2013. So, roughly 4.5 years ago. One of the great things about WordPress, compared to the hand crafted HTML site I had before, is that I get statistics on page views. Apparently I’ve had 1,176,779 views since I migrated and 1,125 comments. My biggest day (23 Feb 2018) brought 2,420 views – this was because Reddit got hold of my Academy of Street Fighting: Tactics during the Battle of Stalingrad post. Today is a typical day with 750 views.

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Rasputitsa – Quagmire on the Eastern Front

Wehrmacht soldiers pulling car from the mud, November 1941

The rasputitsa are severe weather conditions occurring in Eastern Europe, particularly in areas that were part of the Soviet Union during WW2. The rasputitsa occurs twice a year, in the spring and autumn. The spring rasputitsa occurs when the surface level ice and snow starts to melt over ground that is still frozen. The Autumn rasputitsa occurs because of the rainy season. Although the cause is different the effect is the same. The ground, including unpaved roads, dissolve into mud and rivers can become enlarged. The result is transport bogs down, making troop movement and logistics very difficult. The Russian

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Deep Battle: Soviet Doctrine for Operational Level Warfare

Operation Uranus - Successful Deep Battle -Eastern Front 1942-11 to 1943-03

Everybody knows about the German’s Blitzkrieg style of warfare. But I was surprised to discover the Soviets had a similar approach to warfare called “Deep Operations” or “Deep Battle”. This was a well defined doctrine for Operational Level Warfare, was invented during the 1920s, and deliberately applied during WW2. Admittedly Deep Battle had mixed success during the war, but this was probably more to do with the previous purge of Soviet military leadership than with any fundamental flaw in the doctrine. Soviet doctrine in the Cold War period is still based on Deep Battle.

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The Embankment – A Crossfire Battle Report

KB4F02 The Railway Embankment

Jamie Wish and Chris Harrod played “The Embankment” (KB4F), the third game of Krasny Bor, featuring the Blue Division in an epic Crossfire campaign. The Spaniards were defending the area of the Leningrad-Moscow Railway line – the Embankment – against overwhelming odds.

Summary: Jamie’s Soviet both infantry and armour – broke through the thin Spanish line. This will make the fourth battle tougher for Chris.

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2018 Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

Megalomaniac

My inner megalomaniac is back. This post is a follow on from my 2017 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian. The previous post was a retrospective of the last 23 months, which means pointing out my successes. This post is the (overly ambitious) list of what I’d like to get done in the coming year. It is the more embarrassing part. The confession. Bear in mind these are more or less active projects.

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2017 Reflections of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

Megalomaniac 2017

I have noticed that my The Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian of 2015 was literally a confession, describing my overly inflated ambitions and incomplete projects. But the 2016 edition was more a reflection on my progress against those goals. It has been a 23 months since the 2016 edition and it is time to revisit. But I’m going to split the reflection aspect from the confessions bit. So this is my reflection on the 23 months from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017.

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Spaniards in 50 Middle East Commando

Middle East Commando

Over the years Antonio Fajardo has kindly sent me information on Spaniards in British Service during WW2. As a culmination of over 25 years research, Antonio has managed to find the name of every Spaniard in the 50 Middle East Commando unit. He has kindly let me publish the list. In addition to the list itself, I have paraphrased various of Antonio’s comments to give some context.

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What is a Bathtub Campaign in Wargaming?

Bathtub Navy for Bathtub Campaign

I’m not a fan of the Bathtub approach in wargaming. Bathtubbing is a mechanism to use smaller scale rules to fight larger scale battles or operations.

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Kharkov 1942 Map for PanzerGruppe with 10km Hexes

Kharkov Map for PzGruppe

In a moment of enthusiasm I drew a map for the Second Battle of Kharkov at one hex per 10 km. Perfect for PanzerGruppe. I thought I’d share it, although I’m no longer sure I’ll use it.

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Tabletop Operational Wargame Inspired by Drive on Moscow

Balagan Operational Warfare Example Map 2 v2

I’m still looking at my options for Wargaming Rules to use for the Operational Level of War. This time I thought I’d have a look at the iPad wargame “Drive on Moscow” by Shenandoah Studio. It is right up my alley being an operational level warfare and on the Eastern Front. Continuing my experiment of translating other game systems to the table top, I wondered what Drive on Moscow would look like as a generic set of table top rules. I haven’t tried to follow the original game slavishly, just get something with the same flavour.

Previously I did

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Do I have enough Ruins?

I have been collecting, making, and painting Ruins for quite some time. All for my long term Stalingrad project. So I thought I’d get all my ruined buildings, rubble piles, and shell holes out and see if I had enough. What do you reckon … do I have enough ruins?

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Tabletop Operational Wargame Inspired by Hell’s Gate

Balagan Operational Warfare Example Map

During my review of operational level wargames, Martin Rapier put me onto Philip Sabin’s game “Hell’s Gate” within the book “Simulating War” (Sabin, 2012). Hell’s Gate is an operational level board game focusing on the Korsun Pocket of 24 Jan – 16 Feb 1944. I wondered what this game system would might look like as a generic set of tabletop rules for operational level warfare on the Eastern Front. As an experiment, I drafted such a set of rules. Here is what I came up with. It is my work, I have for example completely replaced the combat system, but

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SU-152s Up Close and Personal – A Crossfire Battle Report 4

SU152_093 Ineffective Stuka fly over

Chris Harrod and I played my SU-152s Up Close and Personal scenario.

Summary: Good game. Forced us both to make explicit tactical choices. I got a Soviet victory before the German reinforcements arrived.

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