Battalion per Stand Rules

Photo is from Bob Mackenzie’s BBWWIIB

This page is a work in progress and serves now as a pointer to where rule sets at the battalion-per-stand are available. The big advantage of this scale is that one can easily represent a battle between divisions because each stand of troops or vehicles represents a battalion. However the downside is that it is closer to boardgame with little or no “ranged fire” aspect, except for artillery of course.

Division Commander

About 2004 I saw Division Commander by Bruce McFarlane but because the scale didn’t appeal, I did not get into the game. Since the rule set has been around for several years, there are wide selection of supplements of various theater’s scenarios already made up. Click here for his page. He only sells via PDF not hard copy rule books, A down side is that there is little support for the product. While the CWG’s Yahoo group (click) exists for the rule set (and GBoWWII), there is little traffic and so not likely to get answers, ideas etc.

Bloody Big World War II Battles

Bob Mackenzie has made available a variant to Bloody Big Battles (BBB itself covers mostly pre-20th century and is not needed to play Bob’s) a World War II version that I find intriguing, BBWWIIB if you like big acronyms. It is actually at two scales: one battalion or even one regiment per stand. This ruleset is free of charge from Bob’s website. It is in a beta, 2nd, edition (click). I haven’t played this either but the feature I like a lot is how he recommends using micro-armor models to represent strength points of the stand. So when you take losses, you just pick up a model! No record keeping. The models need not be precisely the right type because the whole stand fires, not the models/SPs; they are just a tracking device to avoid needing rosters to mark casualties. One could mix the models to be a roughly accurate representation of the battalion’s components but that’s just for looks. At an hour or (two for regiments) per turn, the stands need the partial-elimination feature of SP losses. I assume that the BBB_wargames Yahoo forum (click) will continue to see Bob answer questions and develop other player interest.

Road to Victory

Frank Chadwick and Glenn Kidd are designing a game at this level which he will release via Kickstarter towards the end of 2017 called Road to Victory. It had several working titles so this could change again, like: Fast Attack (which I liked) and High Command. Each day has only three turns (including a night turn) so I would guess that movement rates would be larger BBWWIIB.

Frank is an innovative designer and this scale is quite different than the norm. The game will be available from the site. I presume it will have a fair amount of coverage at the TOB forum (click) depending on the level of acceptance by the Command Decision crowd (and there are a lot of them). I mention this because Frank’s skirmish level Men Against Fire did not gain as much acceptance. From the CD Forum, Glenn writes:

Here’s a status on what Frank and I have been working on. The current working title is, “Road to Victory” its been changed a couple of time, let’s hope this title sticks. This game is a corps-army level game. The basic formation is a regiment/brigade or small division. Each formation has a HQ stand and several battalion stands. At the higher level, there are commanders but they have a different function. Each day consist of 2 day and 1 night turn. The ground scale is 1” = 500 meters, basically 3” to the mile. Direct fire is 2”, artillery has a range rating. Most stands have a 2” ZOC.
Each battalion normally get 3 combat dice, hitting on whatever their combat rating is, usually between 4 thru 6. A stand is in one of 2 states, combat efficient or disrupted. If a disrupted stand fails its cohesion it is removed and counted as combat ineffective. Formations start with a basic cohesion level, usually from 5 to 8; 5 being awful, 8 being great. Each time a stand takes a hit it must retreat (there are a few terrain exceptions). If the hit stand fails it cohesion check it is disrupted, if already disputed it is eliminate, also a cohesion failure causes the formation’s cohesion to be reduced by 1. Cohesion can be regained by rallies by its HQ of higher level commanders.
Each formation is always in one of three missions, Attack, Defend or Reorganize. To change to Attack or Defend a cohesion test must be made, a failure causes the formation to change to Reorganize. The missions define how well a formation attacks, defends or regroups it stands.
Artillery may barrage or add support; HQ stands may add support.
Basically, that’s the game. Of course, the devils is in the detail.
Glenn E. Kidd

Having lots of micro-armor makes me think of using it to try a game at this level—just not sure which one yet! I think that larger scales like 15-25mm would look ridiculous with a tank 4″ away unable to fire at a target. Incidentally, one could use 3mm for any of these for a scaled-down project for both economy and smaller tables. My microarmor is based on steel stands and so making up magnet lined battalion “sabot” stands to hold them is a snap. However, Bob M. points out that he and others just place them on the stand and gravity (plus the friction of terrain grit) does most the work of keeping them from sliding off.

Update: since posting this topic in August 2017, in March 2018, Jake mentions the “new Breakthrough rules covering the first 3 to 4 day breakout over the Meuse” so the Kickstarter may be still on but regardless they want it out for “later this year”.

It appears that the working title is now Breakthrough. Perhaps it could have a one or more subheadings after a colon the way Test of Battle was added to Command Decision and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Anyway, I know that along with me, you and the 17 other followers of this blog are waiting to hear of its release. Seriously, I am hoping that the ruleset might be a bit simpler and well-developed than other rulesets. Partly that might come from the worldwide fanbase of Command Decision players who could give it more testing and feedback than the average local group might be able to.

I have been working on a multi-level project for just that campaign (Meuse breakout) like with Command Decision or Great Battles in 6mm and Battlegroup in 20mm. So glad to hear of the possibility that this game is still on the docket… a battalion-per-stand ruleset would be better especially if simpler.

August 2018: Listen very carefully, I will tell you this only once. There are rumors that an abridged ruleset of Breakthrough may be out soon before the Kickstarter to get feedback from those of us who are early adopters.

An update as of November 23, 2018:

While still no edition, I thought about a possible scale issues. One wonders whether much terrain detail “disappears” at this level like roads and all but major rivers and very rough terrain. With 3”=mile, the entire Normandy might fit on a 4×8’ or at least 5×9’ board. I am hoping for some logistical aspects but that may drop out too.

Not necessarily an option

But on Sam Mustafa’s Honour forum (click), a player indicated that he might play Rommel (click for my take on it) on a scaled basis. So instead of company-per-stand as the rule set describes, one could just call each a battalion. I asked about this and Sam did not say that he has a tested a variant for this. It’s just like gamers to start making new versions of rule set that is not out yet! Click here for Sam’s online store.

Where are you coming from?

It may help to know where I am “coming from” to explain my comments above. I like Command Decision: Test of Battle a lot as an excellent game about a several-hour battle with each stand of one weapon type which at this level are varied. But I have gravitated towards a more logistical view of WWII battles. The ideal with CD would be a campaign game of several linked CD games on numerous game days that had real word constraints of line of communications, supply, replacements and reserves. The problem with Campaign Games is that they rarely manage to get enough players to show for the second game day! Either one side feels outclassed or real-world issues crop up and make it hard to get every one back again. The other issue is the amount of work to set up a campaign and administrate it.

So for now, my favorite compromise is Great Battle of WWII. In one gaming day, one can play out several days of battle, have LOC, supply constraints with reserves and replacements. By using the word compromise, one must be aware of the game’s limits and I deal with that in that rule set’s category (click). But out of the box, with no variants needed GBoWWII is the best and really simplest, elegant rendering of this level. Unlike the battalion-per-stand rules, one has ranged fire and less “homogenized” weapon types in each company stand.



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