I’m on deck to run a game for TGS in January (I’ve mentioned it, briefly, before); there’s a lot to do for it, so it’s occupied pretty much all of my hobby bandwidth for the past month or two and I expect it to continue to do so until game day. That much work requires constant motivation, and since I’m starting to slow down on it, I might well start blabbing about it to keep the gears turning.
For starters, it’ll be the first day of the Battle of Amiens: Aug 8, 1918, The beginning of the Hundred Days Offensive was very much the beginning of the end of WWI. In a war where advances were measured by yards, this first day was measured in miles.
This is going to pose a challenge: the Germans are gonna lose, but that doesn’t mean the players on the German side should be there simply to remove casualties; that’s not fun. I have a solution for this (that I’ll get to later).
I’ll be using Bolt Action as the ruleset. Bolt Action’s great for a mess of reasons. Also, I found some scenario/house rules for WWI Bolt Action, specifically intended for Kaiserschlacht scenarios: GAJO Bolt Action – Unofficial World War One Modifications. I’m deviating from these a bit: the weapon rules are inappropriately fiddly (one of BA’s strengths is that it doesn’t try to differentiate between different weapons by weighing them down with rules minutia; it just says an LMG is an LMG is an LMG) but it’s absolutely been my starting point. I also played in a pair of Flames of War scenarios that used some house rules written before Battlefront put out their Great War rules: I’m stealing a little from these but in many places they jived with what I’ve been planning, which was a nice validation that I’m on the right track.
I’m downshifting scale, though. Instead of running it at 25/28mm, the models will be 15/18mm. Currently, the plan is to change nothing else save the size of the models. Movement and weapon ranges will remain unchanged. This might change; but until I’ve gotten in a playtest game or two it’s the plan.
The map will look something like this. Each square is 1′. The trenches are pretty fixed, the rest is pretty fluid. The plan is to, as I get into December, start looking at some aerial photographs of the region to come up with a more interesting and realistic spread.
The Germans were caught off-guard on the morning of August 8, 1918. To reflect this, the distance between the trenches and the edge of the board: very small. The Brits have mostly crossed No Man’s Land by the time they realize what’s up.
Scoring is based (almost entirely) on how quickly the Brits are able to cross trenches. This is why their location is mostly fixed: if they’re physically not able to reach a point by a turn, there’s no point to scoring on it.
As you can see: the longer the Germans can hold off the Brits, the more successful they are. The Brits should be certain to cross, but the Germans can still count themselves the winners if they can delay it as long as possible. Numbers might need to be tweaked here, and I’d like to introduce some secondary objectives to make things more interesting, but I think that’ll come from playtests.
Obstacle. Does not block line of sight of provide cover. If an infantry unit Advances over it, roll a d6 – on a 1-2, the unit is Entangled: it must stop movement before crossing the barbed wire and takes a hit. An Entangled unit may not benefit from a Down order.
A section of Wire is removed when a tracked vehicle moves over it, or when a unit with the Pioneer rule and two or more models in contact with it at the start of their activation is given a Run order; this consumes all of the movement of those models. A tracked vehicle may only remove one section at a time (ie: it cannot drive over two adjacent sections) but may remove more than one section in a single movement (ie: drive over one line of barbed wire and continue on to drive over a second, third, etc).
Trenches provide Heavy Cover as if it were a building. When a unit is hit by an HE round in a trench, roll a d6 – on a 1-5, the Extra Protection rule is not ignored (it is ignored on a 6). Vehicles may not cross a trench except where a fascine has been deployed.
Units may fire at other units down the length of a Trench, but all weapon ranges are reduced to 6″.
This is a line across the width of the table. It begins 12″ in from the Allied table edge It gets its own Activation die. When its Activation die is drawn, it will advance 2d6+6″ towards the German table edge.
Shooting across it provides heavy cover. (I know it should entirely block line of sight, but I think it’ll make it less boring to allow some, heavily penalized, firing through it.)
Any unit within 6″ of this line is Caught in the Bombardment – roll when giving the unit its order or when a unit moves to within 6″ of it:
- In Heavy Cover:
- If given or on a Rally or Down order, or is given an Ambush, Advance or Fire order and fires only against another unit in the same piece of terrain (trench line, building, etc) ignores this: roll on Entrenched
- Otherwise: roll on Dug In
- Not in Heavy Cover
- Cannot be given a Rally order.
- If on a Rally or on or giving a Down order: roll on Dug In
- Otherwise: roll on Out in Open
War to End All Wars
The scope of this conflict ranges for miles and miles and miles along the line along the front. Any unit entirely removed from play is placed into Reserves.
(Not very much gas was used at Amiens. I probably won’t use it here, but I came up with what I think will be effective rules for gas masks and poison gas, so I’m including them. I might decide to use them so they don’t go to waste.)
A unit given an Ambush, Down, or Rally order may put on or take off their gas masks. (This applies to vehicles as well.)
A unit wearing gas masks may not be given Advance or Run orders. A vehicle may not be given a Fire, Advance, or Run order.
A model wearing gas masks is at a -1 penalty to hit with shooting and always fight last in Close Combat.
Poison Gas functions as a smoke fired from a Heavy Howitzer (6″).
When a model is contacted by a poison gas cloud, roll a d6:
- The model is wearing a gas mask: The model is killed on a 6. Veterans may reroll.
- The model is wearing a gas mask: The model is killed on a 2+.
If a vehicle is ‘killed’ by this roll, treat it as a Knocked Out result.
Ludendorff described the first day of Amiens as “Schwarzer Tag des deutschen Heeres,” the Black Day of the German Army.
If an Allied unit is able to cross the first trench, for the rest of the game Veteran units roll morale as if they were Regular. Regular units roll morale as if they were Inexperienced. If an Allied unit is able to cross the second trench, for the rest of the game all units roll morale as if they were Inexperienced. This does not affect Reserve rolls.
B1 – Infantry, B2 – Australian/Assault, B3 – Tank
- B1 – Reg. 1st Lt, Rifleman x1
- B1 – Vet. Medic, Rifleman
- B1 – 4x Reg. Infantry Squad – NCO, Rifleman x12, LMG + Loader
- B1 – Reg. Mark V
- B1 – 2x Reg. MMG (Off-table)
- B2 – Vet. 1st Lt, Rifleman x1
- B2 – 4x Vet. Assault Squad – NCO, Rifleman x12
- B2 – 2x Reg. Mark V*
- B3 – 3x Reg. Mark V
- B3 – 4x Reg. Whippet
The British get split 3 ways: one player gets a bunch of bodies and a pair of off-table MMGs, one gets a bunch of assault troops (and some Mark V*s if I can source some), and one just gets a ton of tanks. The Somme separated the British and Australian divisions, but I like the idea of compressing them into the same table too much, so we get an Australian player. All Australian units have Tough Fighter.
- ¼ British units begin within 6″ of the table edge
- ½ British units begin the game in First Wave
- ¼ British units begin the game in Reserve
G1, G2 -Infantry, G3 – Command
- G1 – Vet. 1st Lt, Rifleman x1
- G1 – 2x Vet. Infantry Squad – NCO, Rifleman x6, Sniper, LMG + Loader, Reg. Light Mortar Team
- G1 -Infantry Squad – NCO, Rifleman x6, Sniper, LMG + Loader, Reg. Flamethrower team
- G1 – Reg. MMG
- G2 – Vet. 1st Lt, Rifleman x1
- G2 – 2x Vet. Infantry Squad – NCO, Rifleman x6, Sniper, LMG + Loader, Reg. Light Mortar Team
- G2 -Infantry Squad – NCO, Rifleman x6, Sniper, LMG + Loader, Reg. Flamethrower team
- G2 – Reg. MMG
- G3 – Vet. Captain, Rifleman x2
- G3 – Vet. Medic, Rifleman x2
- G3 – Vet. MMG
- G3 – Reg. Medium Mortar
- G3 – Reg. Medium Mortar
- G3 – Reg. Light Howitzer
- G3 – Reg. Light Howitzer
- G3 – Reg. Medium Howitzer
Germans are almost out-pointed (using the GAJO points) 2:1, but they’re supposed to lose and are defending a dug-in position. I’m not concerned about adding to them: I more than half expect I’ll have to remove some choices. Two players are roughly the same, and the third is the command with artillery that would be off-table… save for the speed of the advance.
The infantry squads are a little tricky: I want to give them options, but I can’t afford to take out an additional mortgage to buy Order Dice. So, one Order die will activate the Infantry squad, the sharpshooter, the LMG, and the mortar/flamethrower at the same time (but they’ll act independently).
- Vet. MMG begins in the forward trench
- Command Artillery may not be begin the game more than 12″ from the table edge
- Up to ½ German units may begin the game in First Wave or Reserves.
- Any other units may begin the game anywhere from the first trench and back.
Currently, this is what I’m looking at. I’m almost done painting the Germans, and have just started in on painting the British. The dream is to get all of that done by the end of November (ha! let’s say mid-December), which will give me a month or so to work on the table itself.
Probably should start playtesting it soon. The longer-term hope is that I’ll be able to run this at Historicon/etc and go on to use these minis and table to do other WWI Scenarios (blissfully not starting from scratch).
Any thoughts? Comments? Criticism?