Umpire Ploys – How to Spice Up a Wargame

Nikolas Lloyd suggest some ploys the umpire can use to spice things up if a table gets bogged down. Lloyd suggested them in the context of Crossfire but they apply equally to other rules.

To mask that the ploys occur in an arbitrary manner you can randomly roll dice during the game and mutter “Nothing yet” to yourself. That means you can also roll a die and announce …

“Hurrah for the air force!”

Choice of:

  • If plane has been over the table for too long, then either:
    • “Blast, the fuel tanks been hit!” The plane is arbitrarily driven from the table.
    • “Fighters at 12 o’clock!” The plane is attacked by fighters. Each side throws 1d6. The plane survives if it scores higher, is driven off table on equal scores, is shot down if it scores less.
  • “Thank god, it’s one of ours!” If there is no plane over the table, but one side needs it, then a plane arrives to help them.

“Oops! That’s a minefield! It’s not on anyone’s maps, sorry.”

This is particularly apt at Kursk as both sides were laying new mine fields all the time, and troops lost track of where they were. Standard mine rules apply.

“You receive this radio message with new orders…”

Example orders (feel free to make them up)

  1. “You are ordered to detach some of your forces and send them away to help with operations elsewhere.” This might be permanent or for a short duration. The destination might be:
    • Another player on-table.
    • Off table.
  2. “You are to receive reinforcements.” For example:
    • If German armour is largely intact when Russian Counter-attack force arrives, replace the Russian SMG company and include one platoon of tank riders. That means 3 x T34-76 in addition to the normal allocation. The squads must be mounted until they gain LOS to enemy. Aside from passenger limit of one per tank, normal APC rules apply.
    • If Germans have taken a hammering in the German attack phase, then let them get one or more replacement companies.
    • If German armour has taken a hammering during the German attack phase then give them more. Priorities would be Ferdinand, Tiger, Pz IV, StuG III in that order.
  3. “You must press ahead! If you haven’t fired a red flare from point X by time Y then you are for the chop!” Particularly apt for the Russians.

“The lines been cut!”

Choices are:

  • Reinforcements are deferred until line repaired.
  • Indirect Fire artillery is unavailable – remove an FO.

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