Sam Mustafa’s Rommel

Sam Mustafa is working on a new World War Two rule set, Rommel. It is designed to fight really big battles, like division and corps. You can learn more about it via Sam’s podcast at: http://www.sammustafa.com/honour/2017/01/honor-podcast-9-rommel/. It sounds very interesting and what I’ve been looking for. Here is one of the Ops Files he mentions in the podcast:

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Sam will post more at his Honour Games website: http://www.sammustafa.com/honour/.

The game will be available later this year in September, and I plan on buying a copy (I still haven’t had a chance to play Blucher yet, but maybe soon).

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12 Responses to Sam Mustafa’s Rommel

  1. Bill Owen says:

    Hi Jeff, two bits of intel on Sam & Frank’s big unit rules:

    1. Sam’s intention is that Rommel can be used at a battalion-per-stand level also (not just company-per stand).

    http://www.sammustafa.com/honour-forums/general-discussion-and-announcements-46/rommel-higher-level-game/?PHPSESSID=vuisp7c3ss3tm0k6ttvj3j4ra5

    2. Frank’s comade, Glenn Kidd writes that Fast Attack/High Command has a new name:

    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

    (They plan to release it via a Kickstarter.)

    http://www.testofbattle.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5288&highlight=&sid=6acdaccb1ce9d1d60ce7e86a69687c80

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    • Bill Owen says:

      The latest from Sam Mustafa’s forum is that he doesn’t have a variant for 1 stand=1 battalion because that warps aspects of the game. I just misunderstood his response to someone who seemed to ask about that rescaling.

      I know that even the 1 stand=1 company is not your preference now but I am curious to see how he pulls it all together. Rommel may be better than Great Battles of WWII which for now is the ideal “mini-campaign” from the standpoint of logistical constraints for a multi-day battle.

      But I acknowledge that CD:TOB is a better, nuanced game for a battle representing several hours.

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  2. […] friend, Jeff, alerted me to this upcoming ruleset in his Gentlemanly Wargame blog. In addition to being a strong wargame fan, Jeff is a historian and ex-US Army. So I respect […]

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  3. Bill Owen says:

    FYI, I heard that playtest games of Frank’s battalion-per-stand game which seems to now be called High Command (although I think should continue their usual subtitle : Fast Attack) continue to appear on convention schedules. I will provide spy reports as possible!

    I have also looked Rommel in as much details as he has provided. A different scale and very different approach than what I understand Frank’s to be (which I know even less about so must reserve even more judgement).

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    • jdglasco says:

      Bill,
      I think a stand = a battalion game is pretty much a board game with miniatures, but that isn’t such a bad idea. I had always wished that my board games had miniature markers instead of flat counters. I’m not sure about even the 1 stand = 1 company scale. It just isn’t the scale I want to do anymore. Maybe a return to Command Decision (TOB) is what I need to consider.

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      • Bill Owen says:

        I feel similarly: CD is a great game system & I think it might even better with only the variant featuring my gunnery tweak; might be worth testing (www.g-design.us/cd/#OT).

        The key benefits to the larger scales like Great Battles (but only potentially for Sam’s Rommel or Frank’s High Command since they are not out yet) are:

        1. how your can play AND finish a battle that really isn’t practical with stand=platoon CD …and

        2. how the style of play changes when you have considerations of logistics, line of communications, reserves, resting/replacements and other things that rarely show up in miniatures rules that represent 1/2 to 6 hours of a battle–not GB’s multi-day mini-campaign approach in 1 gaming day.

        PS I think that Sam’s (and applies to Frank’s) “step reduction” or “hits” on a stand approach would behoove one to put your steel-based micro armor on a magnetic sabot company (battalion) then pull off a stand to show a hit. This could eliminate either rosters or excessive distraction on the counters.

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  4. Bill Owen says:

    After listening to the podcast #15*, I can see now that Rommel appears in the scale of Great Battles of WWII: with each stand being a company. While that seems good since GBoWWII was brilliant in many ways, but underdeveloped, from listening to Sam it sounds like he may not have realized some of the potential of that scale… or maybe he has and it’s not fair to base it on what little can be gleaned from a podcast!

    For those that do not want to the rather long podcast (and only the latter 25% or so is about Rommel), here are some salient points:

    • all the major armies (Ger, Ital, Brit, French, USSR & US) with period adjustments– so 18 army lists (GB only has a limited army list and really does not have much potential for nuancing differences)
    • 200 men (a company) per unit 1×2″ (GB is .75×1.25)
    • Kilometer grid of 6×6″ squares on table (says not necessary to grid if you don’t want to) 167m/inch effectively (GB ~150m/inch)
    • designed for large battles (GB is probably better with smaller battles)

    But a real test in mind is whether he gets into more operational issues of multi-day “campaigns” (even if all played on a long game day) that GB does: reserves, supply, lines of communications. Or whether it’s more of “Have A Battle” ruleset. The latter is the impression he gives on the podcast, but again he may be just focusing on the beer & pretzels player’s use of the game rather than a grognard like me. So I will keep my fingers crossed.

    On balance, I would rather have a company-per-stand game than battalion-per stand but maybe the latter is what I need for the size of battles envisioned.

    *http://www.sammustafa.com/honour/2017/01/sam-interviewed-by-the-brit-the-yank/

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    • jdglasco says:

      Bill,
      I didn’t get the impression that Rommel was a beer and pretzel game, especially looking at the charts. I think that was more the view of one of the other people in the podcast who had never played the game or read the rules.

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  5. Bill Owen says:

    Sorry for the delay in responding. I am very interested in all these too!

    1) There’s just a bit about Fast Attack on the CD forum:
    http://www.testofbattle.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5187&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0&sid=1dc6dbe03922db8d4ac56971fd9ec938

    Excerpts:
    Daniel (Grumble)… players have to choose the posture of each unit: Attack, Defend, or Reorganize. The unit suffers from loss of cohesion as its sub-units suffer hits. In Reorganize posture, hits may be removed and/or the unit may regain cohesion points. Units that do not — or cannot — pause to Reorganize are soon decimated.

    Jessee… one stand (3 inch square or 3×1.5 inches if a rectangular base with 20mm figures on Saturday) is a battalion, so a division is about a dozen or so stands. Stands are classified as light, heavy, mixed, or artillery. A tank battalion would be heavy, infantry as either light or mixed.

    A division (or independent brigade) has a cohesion level, shown as a d10 on the HQ stand. One player would typically run a division.

    Daniel described the divisional postures: Attack, defend, or reorganize.

    Units typically roll two dice in combat (d6), and have ratings describing their attack value (hit number), defensive rating, and movement all labeled on the unit base.

    As a unit takes a hit, the division makes a cohesion roll with 2d6, attempting to roll the cohesion level or less. Success the hit unit retreats, failure the unit retreats, disrupted, and the division cohesion drops by one. A disrupted unit taking a second hit is eliminated. Few units die, until the division loses cohesion.

    In the game at Historicon, three turns per day: morning, afternoon, and evening. Players alternate actions within each turn.

    2) On page 4 of that same CD forum thread you can see pictures of Bob’s battalion stands… Bob McKenzie’s BBWWIIB is in its 2nd edition with more diagrams that help to get across some of the concepts. E.g. placing steel-based tanks and inf stands as “strength points” on a magnetic sabot (I have 3×3″ steel stands from V&B* with magnetic material facing up).

    You can get a free copy by joining the BBB Yahoo group (BBB_wargames; which is mainly a mass battle musket/early-rifle era ruleset) and going to their file section. He has a couple of 1940 scenarios: Aras and Italy/Greece battle Pindos Detachment at Bob’s page. https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/files/BBWW2B/

    *To avoid having to make up rosters, this is my current favorite approach for V&B with “ranks” (actually blocks) of 3mm “troops” as SPs/”regiments” but now 2×2″ based for 4×6′ table (and I am testing 3x3cm brigade sabots too for 72x108cm kitchen table).

    PS Arturo and I are trying to “crack the code” on GBoWWII “activation points” which I post an interminable discussion about at my blog page: http://wargamecampaign.blogspot.com/2017/01/scenario-design-assigning-activation.html

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  6. jdglasco says:

    Bill,
    Do you have any particulars about Frank’s Fast Attack? I really like his games and I am interested in this one as well.

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  7. Bill Owen says:

    Thanks for this. I don’t know anything about Sam’s games but assume they must be a good balance of realism and playability for you or you wouldn’t have bought one of his other rule sets already.

    If his initial scenario is about Afrika Korps, then that hits the mark with a lot of gamers who started out with that as their first exposure to wargames with games like Avalon Hill’s AK. However, playing skirmish or platoon-per-stand games does not give you the wide sweeping movement of either the offensive against the Italians or Rommel’s counter-attack. To me, key issues will be how he handles limiting factors like logistics, wear & tear friction and doctrinal factors.

    FYI, re larger-scaled games Frank Chadwick is testing a game called Fast Attack and a CD fan Bob Mackenzie made a variant of BBB for WWII (Bloody Big Battles). So much interest in this scale. Of course, has to be better than just a boardgame with miniatures slapped on giant counters to overcome the obvious scale distortion. My initial take is that Bob’s is a bit more involved than I presumed it would be. I trust that Frank will try for an elegantly simple design (at least relatively so) and so worth a look too.

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