As you can tell by my blog, I am a bit fan of the Piquet Field of Battle rules. I started out with the regular Piquet system and generally liked them, but I found they took a great deal of time to set up the units, the morale challenges were often forgotten, and the initiative swings left one player as an observer for long periods of time. Also the rules tended to work best with only one player per side, and really ground to a halt with more than two or three players per side. Also they tended to work best for the horse and musket periods, adequately for the ancient/medieval era, and not so well for the 20th Century wars. Because of my not so successful experience with Piquet and World War Two, I was very happy to see that Brent Oman had adapted Piquet Field of Battle to the World War Two era. I was also most excited to see that the focus was larger games, up to a division per player, rather than a skirmish game or the one stand equals a platoon that I had played with Command Decision for years (plus a few games of Spearhead).
I quickly purchased the rules and found they were as well thought out as the regular Piquet Field of Battle rules and used the same basic systems. However, there were some things that really took me some time to wrap my head around. Piquet Field of Battle WWII is a very different approach from the endless one stand equals a platoon or a squad games in that one stand in the rules equals a full company. That is an excellent scale choice as it allows players to put an entire division on the table and to actually be able to run that division in a game in a reasonable period of time.
However, my World War Two gaming brain was so set to the platoon level games that it took me some time to make the intellectual transition to the new scale and many of the new game concepts. In FOB WWII players are not concerned with things such as company mortars (those horrible little weapons stands in Command Decision). Instead players need to figure out how to use the components of their division in a coordinated and supporting way (oddly just like real life). Once I got used to the scale, there were some things I opted to change. The Piquet Field of Battle WWII rules as written are pretty streamlined and best suited for your German panzer division versus my American armored division sort of game. That is not unusual as I have found that as written, Piquet games tend to be more on the toy soldier side rather than the historical side.
The rules are historical enough, but the emphasis on game rather than history, left me wanting a bit more. Over the past six months I have been thinking about how to modify the games to better fit my interests. For example, I am working on ways to better reflect the abilities of various companies rather than the generic listings. Also I wanted some of the things that FOB WWII had cut out from Piquet WWII such as engineer, machinegun and antiaircraft companies, which often played an important tactical role. I also worked out a more complex and comprehensive way to determine an infantry company’s antitank rating. I am also going to a system where each weapon has a unique two band range system rather than the generic two range systems.
Does that make my variants better than the rules as written? My answer is no. What it does is produce a slightly different take on wargaming, one that is a bit more historical at the cost of a bit of streamlined game play. That is fine with me as I have all the time I need for solo games and my monthly games with Mark allow us to play a six to eight hour game, where speed of play is not of the essence. As I work out more of the details, I will post them on this blog.
Right now I’m working on basing. I am coming from playing Command Decision or Spearhead in 6mm so I have a lot of miniatures (plus more unpainted). I like the way that a half scale game plays (meaning ½ an inch on the table equals 1 inch in the rules) so I am exploring a basing scheme that supports that. Right now my basic idea is to use 2 AFVs on a 1.5” by 1.5” base, 1 artillery piece and crew on a 1.5” by 1.5” base, 5 infantry figures on a 1.5” by .75” base, and antitank, antiaircraft, and infantry guns on a 1.25” by 1.25” base. Trucks will be one truck on a 1.25” by 1.25” base. I had thought of putting two trucks on a 1.5” by 1.5” base but then I realized I didn’t really love trucks that much and that they did take up a smaller unit footprint than combat AFV units. Commanders will be on round bases for ease of identification, probably 1” for battalion commanders and 1.5” for brigade/regiment and division commanders.
The first historical era I will try out will be North African (1940-42) as I have a fair amount of figures painted and just about everything I will every need unpainted (except for 3.7” British AA guns which only Navwar makes, and make a pain to order from). As I am more interested in campaigns than fictional games, I am looking first at the Gazala 1942 campaign and then the 1940-41 campaign (just Commonwealth troops and Italians). If all this works out, I’ll work on campaigns for the other North African campaigns (Rommel’s entry 1941, Crusader, and El Alamein). And if that works, I’ll see what I can do with my later war Germans and Americans (plus a few British) – maybe D-Day, Italy 1943 or Market Garden. While I might have to bathtub some really big campaigns like Barbarossa or the Invasion of France 1940 campaigns, it will be nice to play a campaign where the units don’t have to be reduced to replicate the actual campaign. Like I said, as I figure more out how I want things to work I’ll post them on this blog, some in rough draft and some in a more finished product.