Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Narvik PBEM Reset


Sometimes, in the course of human events and wargaming, you just have to call it quits and reset.

I have been struggling with the rules to Narvik. Not the basic rules, mind you, but the myriad of detail rules. I’ve been taking steps to alleviate this issue. I’ve taken ten pages of notes outlining the detail rules so I have a “handy” reference to look at as I screw things up. As if ten pages was handy.

My goal is to play as near a flawless game as I can, where the rules are concerned.

While I have received several message from people saying that they have really been enjoying the reports, I look back on the first two games and think to myself “how many people out there think I’m a complete idiot?” I was screwing up simple rules, like Norwegian mobilization. Maybe I was a bit premature about posting the games, but it helps me to refer back to them and see what I did wrong not just from a rules standpoint, but a gameplay standpoint as well.

The decision to reset the game came about, not just because of the rules, but also because of certain things that happened during the game, and that Alan was itching to get a crack at playing the Germans.

Two things in particular happened, one of which just stuck in my craw and I stewed on it. Mind you, it wasn’t my opponent’s fault. Or maybe it was…. Maybe it was all part of his master plan…..

German bad luck in southwest Norway (click image to enlarge)

German bad luck in southwest Norway (click image to enlarge)

It all started at the Stavanger airfield, AKA Sola Air Station.  I had miscounted the number of hexes from the off-map German airfields to Sola. The transports have a printed range of 25 hexes. Sola is 26 hexes away. In order to air drop paratroopers onto this field, I would need one more transport than I had, then it would have been no problem. Since I didn’t, however, I scrapped the whole mission including the two battalions that were supposed to land as soon as the field was captured.

Then, after the fact, it is discovered per the notes of the late Winston Hamilton (owner of GR/D), that Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) said that it was legal to land a paratrooper one hex short of the target and move the one hex to the target. If the target was an airfield, and no enemy units occupy the hex, the airfield is captured. Then, more transports can land at the airfield and unload their troops (or supply or what have you).

Alan offered to let me perform the landing/capture at Stavanger, but I declined because the whole intention was to land troops at the airfield and move on to Stavanger to support the landing of the 6-4 infantry regiment. We were already into the Allied player turn, and the 6-4 regiment had already been forcibly removed from the port and back to Germany. There are no guarantees that Stavanger would have fallen even with the support of those battalions, but the chances would have been a lot better.

That stuck in my craw the entire (short) length of the game, and because he abandoned Stavanger, I slipped two battalions into the now empty port, losing one of them in the process.

I’m not blaming Alan. It was a major rules screw up, but it wasn’t limited to just that.

During my second turn, I pushed out of Kristiansand towards Evje, where Alan had positioned a 1-4 mountain artillery battery in the forest. I moved an entire regiment to Evje to take it out, capture the 8th regiment mobilization center and open the door to Haugesund on the coast. The regiment was successful in eliminating the artillery battery, but never take anything for granted in this game.

Even though I had 6:1 odds (the highest on the combat chart), that little mountain artillery battery managed to destroy the entire German regiment.

POOF!

At that moment, I knew the dice weren’t going to go my way. It made the Stavanger affair dig even deeper into my craw.

The third and final thing that made me decide to reset was my taking note of the detail rules in the rulebook and making a reference from that. As I was reading the rulebook (for the umpteenth time) and typing notes, I was sitting here thinking “Wait, WHAT???? You mean I could do that????”

Every game, I would fly Ju-52 transports into Kristiansand carrying troops, or Bergen, or Sola, or Oslo or whatever. I would leave them until the next turn and fly them out, sometimes carrying airborne troops home to prepare for another mission.

I found out that I didn’t need to do that. I could land the transports, unload, get the airborne troops and fly out, all on the same turn! No need to take up space at the airfield. I could have gotten fighters into Bergen to protect the floatplane transports that were shot down due to lack of fighter cover as I was attempting to get supplies into the port. I could have had them at Kristiansand and Sola. I coulda been a contender!

As you can see, one thing snowballed into another.

I am much more conversant with the rules than I was when I started this. Still far from perfect, but I hope my notes (and my opponent) will keep me on the straight and narrow.

Some of it was my own fault, but some of it was ignorance of the rules and the little goodies hidden inside them, and some of it was just plain old bad luck.

The only real issue that I have with the rules is that parachute drops are only allowed over clear and rough hexes (hills). The Germans, in mid-April, 1940, dropped a company of Fallschirmjäger on the town of Dombås, at a vital rail junction denoted in the photo above. Although the Germans held out for awhile, they were ultimately overrun. 

Not only do the rules state that if an airborne mission originates in Germany/Denmark, there is a die roll to see if the units drops due to weather. The rules states that if there is no such check if the mission originates in Norway. 

The drop at Dombås was going to be aborted, due to weather, but it was carried out at Der Fuerher’s insistence. So, should this require a drop check like the other drops? Or maybe this is a way for the game to reflect Der Fuerher putting the gun to their heads and making them jump.

Regardless, this operation was performed in real life, so I should be able to do it in the game. Maybe a limit of a single shot at it.

I will figure out a way to capture Oslo on the first turn if it kills me, and it has been, or maybe I’m just spinning my wheels and it is wiser to just take the long, safer route to Oslo.

I think I have figured out a way to hold Narvik, but we won’t know until I get a shot at playing the Germans again.

So, we reset and Alan is playing the Germans this time around, while I have the opportunity to apply my learnings to the Allies.

Alan has started his invasion turn as the Germans. I won’t reveal his entire turn yet, but he has forgone landing in Narvik, opting for the push north strategy.

I’ll give him the opportunity to do a write up for his turn if he so chooses, but if not, I’ll do a write up on his turn, possibly tomorrow.

I hope that this time around, I end up looking less like a moron and more like an ass whoopin’ killing machine!

Sorry. Just had a flashback to my army days.

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