Category: Operational

Operational art of war, both warfare and games


Deep Battle Design Notes 2 – Musing on Operational Game Resolution

Soviet Levels of Military Action

Things are shaping up in my head for my proposed Deep Battle rule set. One of the key decisions is what game resolution to pitch the game at. Obviously Deep Battle has to be Operational – that is the whole point of the exercise. But, unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. In fact I think Deep Battle has to work at two game resolutions: Front Operations and Strategic Operations.

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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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Operational Terrain 5: Railways using Gingham Printed Hard Craft Felt

4Hex039 Gingham Hard Craft Felt Railway Line

Following my Experiment with Felt terrain on Hex Grid, I was unsatisfied with using a grey felt strip for a railway line. So I went looking for a patterned felt that I could use. And I found it: Gingham Printed Hard Craft Felt in Black.

This is all part of my ongoing search for Operational terrain to inform the set of rules I’m thinking about called Deep Battle.

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Operational Terrain 4: Making Felt Rivers, Roads, and Railways for 4 Inch Hexes

4Hex368 Materials for felt linear terrain

In response to my Experiment with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes, Doctor Phalanx suggested I use 1cm wide felt for rivers and roads. So I gave it a go and added railways into the mix. This is all because of my interest in Operational Games and my, as yet unwritten, Deep Battle rules.

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Operational Terrain 3: Experimenting on a 4 Inch Hex Grid

4Hex821 Hotz Mat with rivers road rail hills wods and towns

I got my Hotz Mat with a 4″ hex grid so I thought I’d try out my Operational terrain so far. This is part of my experimentation to inform the set of rules I’m thinking about called Deep Battle.

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Operational Terrain 2: Making MDF River Sections for 4 Inch Hexes

4Hex819 Hotz Mat with painted MDF rivers

I’m really keen on Operational Level Wargames at the moment and have a mind to write a set of rules called Deep Battle. I thought a good starting point would be with the table top. Get a table that looks like the kind of game I want to play, and use that to inform the rules. So I’m going to continue experimenting with Operational Terrain.

One of the ideas from my Experiment with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes was to get a company to produce my river templates in MDF. Warbases kindly agreed to do this for me. They

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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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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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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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Operational Terrain 1: Experimenting with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes

Rivers for 4 inch hexes – Templates for most likely options

Quite a lot of the Operational Level Wargames I looked at recently use a hex grid. And 4 inch hexes seem about the right size for the table top – at least to me – so I have been wondering what to do about terrain. My normal terrain will sit on hexes fine. But rivers are different. That realisation lead to experimenting with templates for generating river features to sit on top of a hex mat.

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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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What Wargaming Rules to use for the Operational Level of War?

What Wargaming Rules are really for the Operational Level of Warfare

I’ve tried Megablitz a few times but I wondered what other wargaming rules there are to use for Operational Warfare in WW2. I quickly found there are a lot of game systems that claim to be large scale rules. But you have to careful in this space as many rules that claim to be Operational are actually Tactical. Others are Operational-Tactical and a fourth group are what I call Operational-Map-And-Tactical. These groupings are from my categorisation scheme using my criteria for what makes a set of wargaming rules operational level – both found later in this post.

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