Jump to content

Turning your favourite wargame into a CM scenario


Recommended Posts

While going about my mellow Saturday afternoon,  I had a thought on the number of paper-and-chipboard wargames I have in my closet:  How would I turn them into a Combat Mission scenario/campaign/game etc.?

Some of them are pretty ripe (I think) for interesting missions.  My personal favourite is actually the first wargame I ever played: Berlin '85 published by SPI.  It details a potential (and at the time, future) attack on West Berlin by Warsaw Pact forces in the 1980s.  It's been criticised as having a somewhat bloody CRT, though from playing CM it seems urban combat on the battalion level is a deadly affair!

I can imagine some interesting scenarios detailing the initial assault over Checkpoint Charlie or defence of the airport at Gatow or Tempelhof for some heavily mechanised urban warfare.  It might even be pretty doable using CM:SF2!

So, what would you do if you had the time/energy/inclination? 😎 

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, HerrTom said:

<snipped>

So, what would you do if you had the time/energy/inclination? 😎 

I approached "translating" boardgame scenario's to Combat Mission as follows:

  1. Look for company/platoon level scenario's.  These are the ones which scale best to Combat Mission
  2. Look for scenario's with clear or easy to identify locations.  These will help me find a google or WWII era 2km x 2km terrain map from which I can make something matching the tactical lay of the land
  3. Look for scenario's with clear Orders of Battle whose units are available in Combat Mission.  These will help me build a balanced force mix.
  4. Look for scenario's with clearly defined mission objectives that can be achieved in 45-120 minutes of game time.  These will help me build good briefings and establish clear victory locations for game play.

I think Squad Leader / Advanced Squad Leader provides the most fertile ground for this.  The challenge is determining which scenario's translate best to exciting CM designs.  I want to investigate Command Ops 2 as another possible source of inspiration as well after they release the pending "Patton's Charge/Bradley at Bay" module.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a danger to being over-ambitious. Green scenario designers often dream big then become discouraged. If you've never built a CM scenario with proper AI orders before I suggest you first make up some tiny scenarios just for fun then play them to see if they work as you imagined. Then work your way up gradually 'til you can tackle your magnum opus.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I echo both @Badger73 and @MikeyD. There is scope to turn some of these games into scenarios but they need to be at the right scale and you need to have realistic ambitions in the editor. I got rid of most of my counter and map games a long time ago, I think the only one I've still got is Ici, c’est la France! about the Algerian war which is not something that would translate into CM at all. A lot of those games from memory had battalion-sized units as the smallest counter and hex sizes of about 1km which makes translating them into CM scenarios difficult.  I also think that, unless you are careful, you will try and force your mission/campaign design to replicate the original game which will not necessarily work optimally in CM.

The alternate approach is to use the historical game as a starting point for your research. So if you have an operational type game which won't translate readily into CM, you can search against the unit titles, places and dates which may yield something that you can turn into a battalion minus sized scenario and you might be surprised at what you will find. To give you an example, my last CMBN scenario 'Assault on Port Cros' actually resulted from a search for something I wanted to do in CMFI. During that search I found the story of Port Cros, looked at the ground and force sizes and thought 'this is doable' and then cranked out the scenario.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I admit, I wasn't really planning on doing this.  I was mostly curious what other CM'ers played and if there were any good ones to add to my cardboard closet. 😎  Perhaps I didn't frame that well.  Nonetheless, I think there's good advice here.  I've made some four scenarios (finished, though without AI - still trying to figure out how to do that well) and can understand quite well how difficult getting something really good must be.

Regardless, my example has battalion-scale units fighting over the whole of Berlin on 1-km hexes on 4-hour turns.  Playing a match earlier had me thinking how the CRT really translates to combat, and how you could really zoom in there to make some interesting Combat Mission scenarios showing, for example, the plight of one of the East German battalions pushing across the Glienicker Bridge into the Grunewald.  It certainly doesn't capture the entirety of the game, but it can capture the essence.  Or capture the stubborn resistance of a police unit facing a battalion of Grenztruppen trying to force their way through their street.

To that extent, I don't think you need to capture the entirety of anything to get good mileage out of the thought, just a creative microscope.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/28/2019 at 8:52 PM, HerrTom said:

Regardless, my example has battalion-scale units fighting over the whole of Berlin on 1-km hexes on 4-hour turns.  Playing a match earlier had me thinking how the CRT really translates to combat, and how you could really zoom in there to make some interesting Combat Mission scenarios

I agree that using a larger-scale wargame to generate scenarios could be more interesting than just translating from a tactical-level game. I know some people were doing something like this with "St. Lo" in CMBN a few years ago. I was recently playing "Last Blitzkrieg" from MMP's Battalion Combat Series and keeping notes of interesting engagements to game out in CMFB. To my mind the problem with doing this with most board wargames is that success is normally dependent on stacking up enough attacking units to make 3-1 odds, so the only information available to build a CM scenario would be "three battalions attack one." By contrast, BCS (maybe like Berlin '85, which I haven't played) models attacks as essentially one battalion on another, and the variables you need to manipulate to win all translate nicely into CM: unit type, troop quality, amount of artillery for each side, posture (deployed vs. hasty attack/defense), availability (and type) of armor or AT support, terrain, strength levels, and fatigue. Of course, if the attacker is doing his job, most BCS attacks would be lopsided in CM terms, but this is usually achieved through combinations of these advantages, rather than just by vastly superior numbers. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎1‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 5:52 PM, HerrTom said:

While going about my mellow Saturday afternoon,  I had a thought on the number of paper-and-chipboard wargames I have in my closet:  How would I turn them into a Combat Mission scenario/campaign/game etc.?

So, what would you do if you had the time/energy/inclination? 😎 

Once upon a time, I ran a pen-and-paper wargame I designed myself. I often thought about making some CM scenarios and campaigns based on the exploits of my players.

I don't think they'd go down too well though, given they'd be completely fictional scenarios with absolutely nonsense force composition, and wildly different TO&E found on either side.

That comes with allowing my players to design their own weapons, and not enforcing any nationality limitations, so you'd have battles with a mixture of American, German, and Russian equipment on one side, and British, German, and fictional homemade stuff on the other side.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What do you think of the ambush scenario that is extracted from the game of the same name published by Victory Game en 1983
I always dreamed of having it but it was difficult to get it in France in the 80s and the barrier of the language my blocked
I find the scenario CMBN pleasant playing and replaying it including with my eight year old son
I would like to have the opinion of someone who tested it on board game

Link to post
Share on other sites

The one thing I miss from CMx1 was "Biltong's Campaign Rules" in which you took a company of Wehrmacht Mechanised Infantry through a complete campaign on the Eastern Front via randomly generated situations that were then converted to quick battles. This was the closest I ever got to my dream game of CM with a strategic layer for generating battles. I once tried to make a strategic board game layer for Shock Force, with counters representing the Stryker battalions etc., but never finished it.

Edited by Cpl Steiner
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Cpl Steiner said:

The one thing I miss from CMx1 was "Biltong's Campaign Rules" in which you took a company of Wehrmacht Mechanised Infantry through a complete campaign on the Eastern Front via randomly generated situations that were then converted to quick battles...

 

I just mentioned this a few weeks ago in another thread... I miss ROQC RobO' Quick Campaign Generator (Author: RobO at CMODS III) CMBB:  http://cmx1mods.greenasjade.net/mods?author_id=20&amp;game_type=3  and CMAK: http://cmx1mods.greenasjade.net/mods?author_id=20&amp;game_type=2
The automated Excel spreadsheet version was awesome.  I really wish it could work for the CMx2 series.

 

Edited by Blazing 88's
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/30/2019 at 9:23 AM, General Liederkranz said:

I agree that using a larger-scale wargame to generate scenarios could be more interesting than just translating from a tactical-level game. I know some people were doing something like this with "St. Lo" in CMBN a few years ago. I was recently playing "Last Blitzkrieg" from MMP's Battalion Combat Series and keeping notes of interesting engagements to game out in CMFB. To my mind the problem with doing this with most board wargames is that success is normally dependent on stacking up enough attacking units to make 3-1 odds, so the only information available to build a CM scenario would be "three battalions attack one." By contrast, BCS (maybe like Berlin '85, which I haven't played) models attacks as essentially one battalion on another, and the variables you need to manipulate to win all translate nicely into CM: unit type, troop quality, amount of artillery for each side, posture (deployed vs. hasty attack/defense), availability (and type) of armor or AT support, terrain, strength levels, and fatigue. Of course, if the attacker is doing his job, most BCS attacks would be lopsided in CM terms, but this is usually achieved through combinations of these advantages, rather than just by vastly superior numbers. 

Back in 2016, sburke and I were using BCS Last Blitzkrieg to run a KG Peiper campaign with CM2 4.0. 

We’ve found the battles at 3:1 odds are not the ones you necessarily want to set up in CM. But we’ve often found that in the course of a campaign, lots of other, less-certain, oddball engagements happen that make thrilling CM setups. In the Bulge, a single US engineer company holding a bridge vs. A panzer battalion for longer than expected is a huge deal and can cause huge problems for the Germans. Often, we find engagements that look one-sided on paper turn out to be much more interesting and closely fought due to terrain factors, weather (reducing visibility, for example), and localised fog of war. In one battle, I had a US cavalry unit trying to fight a screening/delaying action against Peiper’s spearhead. My nimble little armored cars were able to perform surprisingly well as they shot and scooted from good cover in a village. So my advice is, play the board game and just watch for the interesting and unexpected things to happen. If it’s one of the better-designed games (BCS series certainly qualifies), the game will tell you when a CM-worthy situation appears.

Edited by Broadsword56
Link to post
Share on other sites

For my long abandoned CMBN Dien Bien Phu opus, I accepted early on that a campaign would necessarily need to include a 'bigger picture' hex wargame to cue up and link the various scenarios.

On 10/19/2012 at 4:29 AM, LongLeftFlank said:

Here are some examples of traditional wargames where, in contrast to CM, the scale is too *high* to provide any meaningful insights into what went down at DBP, other than "he had more guys (counters and combat factors) than you, and eventually you lost". True, at bottom, but not insightful to my mind.

dbp.jpgt-dbpvv.jpg

So the scenarios would all take place on les femmes bastiones. Most of the siege though, (while the outcome was determined at the commencement of the bombardment) was a whole bunch of this taking place at night....

On 11/17/2012 at 12:53 PM, LongLeftFlank said:

Those bo doi and dan cong (coolies/porters) were some busy beavers:

DienBienPhu_Trenches_sketch.jpg

 

Not riveting CM material; maybe one trench raid to give flavour...   

(for those unaware, I ultimately shelved the DBP  project because of the engine's weak treatment of fortifications, which regrettably persists to this day in spite of a few minor improvements).

Edited by LongLeftFlank
Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, the best grand-Tactical board Wargames have command-control mechanisms (e.g., chit-pull, op sheets, objective control markers that restrict route of march and unit boundaries, activation points) that limit and vary how much a player’s units can do (if they activate at all).  So in those games, an attacking player is often having to push on in less-than optimal circumstances — without all the assets one should have, for example, or giving too big a mission to too small a unit because of time pressure, or having to depend on a fatigued, spent unit to win an attack. It’s those games that generate the variable soft factors and surprisingly interesting setups for CM, not the I go-you go ones that let a player methodically build up 3:1 odds and let you move troops at will all over the map.

Edited by Broadsword56
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/29/2019 at 5:09 AM, theforger said:

If you are looking into building/translating 1980's scenarios then this is an inexpensive source from Amazon

The Bear Marches West: 12 Scenarios for 1980s NATO vs Warsaw Pact Wargames

Also, the World on Fire series although you would have to make some adjustments since there are no NATO units, other than the Americans, in Black Sea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For Cold War Gone Hot type scenarios, you could look at Assault!, Fireteam, MBT, or Lock n' Load Heroes of the Gap. For WW2, you have Squad Leader/ASL, Tobruk/ATS, Combat Commander, all the WW2 Lock n' Load games, Fighting Formations, and the TCS series by the Gamers/MMP. 

Basically any board wargame where the counter represents a squad to platoon would probably be more amenable to direct representation. Some larger ASL battles might want to be split into multiple scenarios, because some of them are RIDICULOUS. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Loved AH Tobruk, now Tobruk/ATS.  I even ended up using those rules (AH Tobruk modified; 1"=1 hex) for tabletop miniature WWII wargaming back in the '80s.  Also, the reason why I loved Steel Panthers so much (still do sometimes with SPWaW).

Edited by Blazing 88's
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, absolutmauser said:

For Cold War Gone Hot type scenarios, you could look at Assault!, Fireteam, MBT, or Lock n' Load Heroes of the Gap. For WW2, you have Squad Leader/ASL, Tobruk/ATS, Combat Commander, all the WW2 Lock n' Load games, Fighting Formations, and the TCS series by the Gamers/MMP. 

Basically any board wargame where the counter represents a squad to platoon would probably be more amenable to direct representation. Some larger ASL battles might want to be split into multiple scenarios, because some of them are RIDICULOUS. 

Funny, I used MBT and IDF to generate some Steel Beasts games.  Its harder using them with CMBS, but there is some alignment with CMSF-type OOBs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Take any number of scenarios from the Flames of War series games(15mm tabletop). Those provide plenty of action, and there are a ton of them available. Hell, you could just take their generic battle maps that give you deployment zones and rules to abide by.

Alternatively, Ambush Alley games makes a series that has a ton of scenarios available as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Firehead said:

Take any number of scenarios from the Flames of War series games(15mm tabletop). Those provide plenty of action, and there are a ton of them available. Hell, you could just take their generic battle maps that give you deployment zones and rules to abide by.

Alternatively, Ambush Alley games makes a series that has a ton of scenarios available as well.

Yes, tabletop wargames are rife with opportunities! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...