Back to World War Two

I have been at an impasse with my attempt to use Piquet Field of Glory World War Two for my games. Basically it was an issue of scale, not scale of figures, but scale of unit represented in the game. The World War Two version of Piquet is designed for each player to run part or all of a full division. That is a very effective scale for reproducing much larger military operations like campaign games that replicate a full North African campaign or the Battle of the Bulge. The downside of that scale is it doesn’t work well for smaller campaigns, like the many I had done a great deal of research on in my Command Decision days. I still have nearly complete campaigns (still unplayed) for the western part of Crete 1941, Operation Battleaxe 1941, and a hypothetical Axis invasion of Malta in 1941 or 1942.

Another factor was I like the scale where 1 stand = 1 platoon. I think this is what attracted me to rules like Command Decision or Spearhead. I never loved either of those games, but I did like the scale (which is why I played them off and one for several years). I think that comes from my interest level as a player. My friend Ian Croxall once stated that for every period he had a vision of what that period meant to him, and he wanted his games pitched at that level. For Ian, World War Two was at the squad level, but his marvelous War of Spanish Succession games were designed for each unit to be an infantry battalion as he identified with each battalion. I found his concept very revolutionary to me in terms of getting what I want out of a game. After all, the games are for fun aren’t they, so they need to be designed at the level that you have fun playing. For modern periods, that meant a battalion to a brigade per side for me. I think that comes from my own military experience, which included some time as an infantry battalion plans officer (the guy who has to do the dirty work of making battalion-level combat planning). I never worked at the division level so that level of gaming seemed a bit obscure to me. That helped me realize that I wanted to see battalions and brigades rather than divisions in action. I also found that my days as a platoon leader made me interested in a squad level version of Piquet Field of Battalion World War Two as well, but that was a secondary interest.

That means my initial efforts will be oriented to producing a variant for Piquet Field of Battle World War Two with each stand representing a platoon rather than the regular company per stand scale. I have done the basic revisions, but need to produce orders of battle and data charts (yes I like those and I know that they are the bane of many wargamers) to try out the system. However, I do want to be able to still play these rules with each stand equals a company and maybe even each stand equal a squad. That means I need a flexible basing system that is not tied to only one scale. At first I was a bit perplexed at how to do that until I reread the “Basing and Unit Representation” part of the Piquet Field of Battle World War Two rules. I noted that it stated “Multiple stands can also be used to make up each unit, as long as the total frontage is roughly approximate to the values given below.” That gave me the idea that I can use multiple stand units for the one stand = one company game and one stand = one platoon or squad for the lower level games or even one stand = one company for really big multi-division games with the original rules scale. That was the flexibility I needed to continue with this project (maybe I overthink all of this a bit too much!).

After thinking about what base size to use, I have settled on all units having a 1″ frontage with my 1/285th or 6mm scale figures. The depth of the stands will be figure dependent, but basically 1″ for most vehicles and guns, 1.5″ for really large vehicles and guns, and .75″ deep for infantry units. I can put two stands together and play the regular game scale with a 2/3rds size ruler; basically 1″ will then equal 150 yards and all measurements will have 2/3rs of an inch equal to 1 inch in the regular game. That works for me as I don’t have a massive game table and the 2/3rds scale will allow me to have a big battle field with only a moderate size table. The older I get, the less excited I get about trying to play on a 6′ x 9′ table. I think I like playing a game sitting down rather than standing for hours. I can also just use 1 stand for the company level game and use centimeters for measuring. I can also use this basing for a platoon level game in which 1″ equals 100 yards/metersSo that’s where this project is now. I’ve got to rebase figures to 1″ wide stands and work out some charts and miscellaneous rules, but once I do get it working I will post the revisions here. That may take some time as work and life keep interrupting my wargaming

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