Sunday, 3 July 2016

Game 43 - Thanksgiving in Tunisia (1st Armoured vs the 10th Panzer Division - 1st December 1942)

I’ve mentioned Field of Battle WWII before as I was introduced to these excellent rules by Sgt Steiner.

They are based on Piquet (wait…don't switch off?!?!?), which tends to get a bad name in some corners of the wargaming world, but I have to say that these are the most interesting rules I’ve seen in years, and I really do need to graduate to full Piquet.

The scale is the same as ‘Great Battles of WWII’ so we are looking at a 3x1.5” base representing a full company (and I get to use all those lovely scenarios).

This means that heavy weapons and  machine guns are subsumed into the company stand; opportunity fire from infantry represents AT guns etc. and that you are looking at a much bigger representation of the battlefield and thus the simulated battle.

The card driven mechanic, with deck designed around the force competencies (or otherwise), therefore represents the degree to which the side can ‘hang on’ to the initiative, and the nature of the card play means that better command structures will get more opportunities to carry out flanking moves, heavy firepower cycles and out-manoeuvre the opponent.

It’s a great system.

The scenario was taken from an old ‘Clash of Armor’ scenario book – Thanksgiving in Tunisia from Rommel’s Battles. A nice scenario with 8th Army/US Armour vs Afrika Korps – what’s not to like?  (Clash of Armor uses the same scale as Spearhead/Rapid Fire/Command Decision, but we were able to adjust the scale quite easily).

The Yanks have raced to Tunisia to join offensive operations, There have already been some indecisive battles, and this encounter represents the first in a series of armoured clashes between the Allies and Rommel's expanded North African forces.

 View looking east toward Terourba 

Elements of Kampfgruppe Gruber

...and Kampfgruppe Neider on the high ground, poised to attack.

 Kampfgruppe Ost makes early move toward the British positions at Terourba. 2nd Tank Battalion of Combat Command B respond to German activations.

A decisive armoured battle threatens in the centre.

 British armour is a little weak under the rules, but nonetheless proved effective.

German Kampfgruppes advancing, putting pressure on Allied positions.

Good overview of the centre. Afrika Korps infantry advances on Terourba.

The Allied left, where German armour is both capturing Chouigui and flanking the US armour.

A massive firefight erupts on the allied right, around Terourba.

The centre, as promised, becomes a 'Clash of Armour'.

Check your six...

The M3 Lees behaved a little better than reputation would suggest.

US and British armour holds the line...

...though the Germans capture Chouigui.

Mid game - and the Allies are being put under considerable pressure, though at a great cost to the German morale points...

Armoured grind...

...though good movement rolls, mean that the Germans can make real advance against the Allied right, after having taken Terourba.

In the end however, the Allies managed to hang on, and grind down the German morale. The turn of a morale card and the resultant die roll, meant the German attack, simply ran out of steam...but a great game.

These rules are pitched just at the right level for large games and extended campaigns.

Here's the real advantage though. Market Garden could be completed with three sequential games, with the time that XXX Corps leave the table being recorded, and thus the time that they appear on the Arnhem table being predicted. In the final game therefore, we could stipulate just how long the British Airborne have to hang on for - a perfect scale for WWII. Now that's WWII wargaming !


(Addendum - pdf of Order of Battle below)


  1. Duc,

    A very interesting fight; I love the idea of company-stand level fights in North Africa particularly, though your Market-Garden idea is pretty cool too.

    But I must admit, I'm one of those that purchased 'full' Piquet and unfortunately I must say I'm not a fan. It's very interesting to me that you're playing Field of Battle but thinking you should move 'up' to Piquet; I've actually been told that even though I don't like Piquet I might like Field of Battle because a lot of things from Piquet have been streamlined.

    Thanks for posting, I look forward to more. If at all possible, could you expound a little on how the game mechanics of Field of Battle work? If not, no problem, I understand, that was quite a large game and a serious undertaking to photo and post. In any case, cheers!


    1. Thanks for post Jack.
      Yes Sgt Steiner introduced me to FoB and it is probably a little more approachable than full piquet.
      That said, the mechanisms are based on card draws. The deck is composed differently depending on the quality of the commander - I.e. Better troops might get more advantageous options. For instance, the Afrika Korps in the game above had a deck with more command options, better firepower and less 'lulls' which meant a potential change of initiative. The allies had more lulls and suffered accordingly.

      The number of cards in terms of initiative is based on the leadership roll. In the example above we had German with a d12 vs Allies with a d8, so there was a greater likelihood of Germans getting the initial card draws.

      As example, a move card was drawn, and the Germans rolled high and got three moves, with the Allies only able to respond with opportunity fire - depending on whether they had previously fired. This allowed an entire flanking action later in the game, but it all made sense in the narrative.

      It sounds awfully complicated, but the card draws make things very intuitive, yet the fog of war is uniquely present. You play with the 'luck' you have, yet you can still use a form of plan to break down the enemy's morale. Every hit ebbs that score down - so you can have a fast moving elite force and a large cumbersome one - it's the interplay between good card draws with less morale points...and every game is very closely balanced.

      For more commentary check the last two Boyne games- they were played with the horse and musket version of Field of Battle. Personally they are becoming my rules of choice. I have been looking for a long time :)

    2. Have also added an OOB for the game above, which shows combat and defence dice. This shows the difference in quality between good and bad troops.

    3. Duc,

      Goodness, thanks so much for taking the time to spell that out for me, I really appreciate it! And thanks to Steiner for pitching in as well. It sounds very interesting.


  2. Full or Original final Piquet for WW2 are pitched at 3 scales squad, platoon and Bttn and also work well (once you accept the abstractions) but (and same holds true of horse and musket) they play a tad slower than FOB and I feel are a bit less 'dramatic' overall despite offering a few more tactical options. But still great system and we will get to try them

    1. Yes, should try it for one of our next games. Field of Battle seems to work ok in 20mm so can try that too next time you're down mate :)