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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WWII & Napoleon

Having considered my next project options, I compromised.  I bought the Blitzkrieg Commander II rules (ebook version) and deciding to move forward with 15mm single-row based DBN armies - Austrian and French.

My rationale was simple: I had a box full of Nap figures primed and ready to paint, so I resisted the temptation to keep them in the box and buy a lot of WWII miniatures instead.  I was also encouraged by the continuing sale of Essex Miniatures at 50 percent off at the www.wargamesminis.com webstore.  I was planning to buy some hoplites to complete an Arcananian Army for DBA, so buying the Napoleonic figures was a good deal in terms of shipping.  I now have plenty of figures to paint for several months.

As discovered through my comparison of 15MM and 10MM figures, I won't be able to reuse every DBN stand for Lasalle later on, but the difference is minor.  When I buy the final batch of Napoleonic's from another webstore, I'm going to buy a batch of WWII 10MM figures, too.  I might even buy a sample of 6MM for comparison sake.

Another reason that I decided to hold off on WWII miniatures purchases is the VAST range of options, in terms of theater, campaign, and army for this war.  Working on an overseas Army post, I am fortunate that the library has a great military history section, particularly for WWII.  The contrast in the availability of reference material for classical armies, Napoleonic armies, and WWII is stark.

Having started out with an AWI and Napoleonic armies, I easily found reliable material on uniforms (down to button color) and order of battle on the internet and in the county library back in the USA.  I bought a few books that provided solid reference material for my painting efforts, allowing me to paint figures for specific regiments.

In trying to finish a double-row based armies for Lasalle, I ran out of steam with the painting and realization that I wouldn't field two armies for a year or longer given my available hobby time. Discovering the WADBAG Unofficial Guide to DBA turned me on to the Ancients period, and I have had a fun year cranking out multiple armies and actually playing games.  However, the lack of reliable information on many of the Classical/Hellenistic armies in terms of uniform design and colors was both liberating and discomforting compared to Napoleonics.  The DBA lists kept me out of order of battle research, thankfully.  My reading of Xenophon and Herodotus certainly indicate that orders of battle are not very precise in the source material...

With WWII, the material even in our small library is overwhelming.  The BKC Army Lists provide numerous options in terms of armored vehicles and infantry forces.  I will want to focus my initial forces around historical units, so I have some reading ahead of me.  Simply choosing a theater will be a chore!  When painting begins, I won't be short of reference material, that is for sure.  I'm leaning toward Tunisia 1943, but I wouldn't be able to reuse the Germans for the European theater due to the paint scheme.  I picked up "An Army at Dawn" by Rick Atkinson to learn more about the Tunisia campaign.

I will post a Blitzkrieg Commander II review in the future.  For now, let me say that I am very impressed with the rules design, clarity, and integration of the game concepts.  The game appears to have the balance of command and control and combat just right for the intended force echelon.  I have been lurking on the DBA Yahoo Group and watching the debate on DBA rules clarity for months now, so BKC II was a joy to read. The game site is: http://www.specialist-military-publishing.co.uk.

My last post garnered some great comments, thanks readers!  I will share my thoughts in future posts on both the AWI rules and ideas for Army/Corps operations that seem to be lacking in games I have reviewed thus far.  As a teaser...

At the Army/Corps level, logistics, intelligence, and leadership of other leaders are important factors in warfare - can these operational level factors be represented in a miniatures game while keeping it fun?  Using terrain at a larger scale, focusing on the next terrain features more than the current battleground, is also a decision factor.  Can a game depict operations at the operational level successfully?  There are plenty of smaller scale games and theater level campaign systems out there - what about the middle level of warfare?

Finally, I have been thinking about ways to design rules that include features appealing to younger gamers and that teach military history (beyond button colors!) through the gaming process.  My draft AWI rules are an attempt at this goal.  Maybe it is a Quixotic effort, but I would like to see younger gamers get involved more in the historical miniatures hobby, not just in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

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