46 MINIATURE WARGAMES 352 AUGUST 2012
FRANCE 1940 BATTLE OF THE BREAKTHROUGH Mark Freeth from the Wargames Holiday Centre presents a battle report from one of their recent large games
Here at the Wargames Holiday Centre (WHC) we run a number of battles covering several periods in history but I wanted to bring you a taste of one of our very own WWII games.
I have chosen the France 1940 scenario in an attempt to give you a better insight to what playing with thousands of figures and vehicles on 420 square feet can feel like. The scenario involves an attempt by a combined force of French and British to cut off the German lines of communication as they advance into France. The majority of our battles have a historical stage defined for them and place names are accurate but this is one of our exceptions. It represents something of a ‘what if?’ scenario and, as such, the map is purely fictitious and I have given the towns and villages geographical positioning names purely to help with reference. There was a large town in the centre of the table, with a village to the north of it and two villages to the south of it, one directly south and the other a little more to the south-west.
We used a derivative of Flames of War with a few tweaks and adjustments to suit our large playing area. One of the additions is a series of useful Combat unit cards that provides an immediate oversight detailing the formations available to the players. The parent unit is the Division, the card being A4 in size, with the various regiments that form part of these large formations then broken down into a Top Trumps kind of card. These smaller cards have images of the units, name and statistics for that particular unit. This means that the players have the information available to them without having to leaf through long lists of weaponry to find the weapon, or armour value for a particular tank etc. These proved very useful throughout the weekend. As this was our first ‘live’ game using the WHC version rules, I asked my good friend Sid to design the scenario and perform the umpiring through the weekend. Sid has a wealth of experience with the rules, having several armies of various nationalities of his own. He has also run quite a few events within his own club and quite frankly has a knack for creating excellent, exciting scenarios for this period. It’s something of a passion for him.
On the Friday, the players all arrived at around 16.00 and, as is usual here at the Wargames Holiday Centre, they chose sides and determined the best strategy for their army. This involves getting to know the guys on your side, their strengths and weaknesses (excluding beer) then moving into the rest area in order to formulate a plan. As we had the Combat cards available, we set up the figures on trays; these were then placed directly onto the table in the division’s respective area. Objective markers were laid out by the umpire in key positions around the battlefield. These were double sided with differing values for each side - as units moved to within six inches, the cards were turned to reflect ownership and the resulting number added or subtracted from their respective forces. The Germans started with 54 victory points at the start, while the Allies had none.
Ground Fighting The beginning of the battle saw the British entering the board through the south-west town and along the south-western table edge. The French were given the option of a flank march and, while this gave them an advantage, it did mean that a whole Cuirassier division was out of the game for a while, along with an attached Mechanised battalion. The rest of the French army entered from the north-west and along the northern half of the western table edge. When this came on, along with the British army in its allocated deployment, this presented quite a daunting sight to the German forces that were deployed to the east. One of the Panzer divisions was deployed along the eastern table and the HQ and divisional assets were deployed in the town along with a Panzer regiment. There was one battalion on the western table, the infamous SS regiment Totenkopf, somewhat isolated, or at least that is what the player commanding them felt like.
German armour rolling forwards. ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE AUTHOR.