Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Narvik PBEM2: Post Game Analysis

It’s all over but the shouting. The Allies made a very risky attack near Narvik, and came up aces, as they rolled a 6 to achieve a Half Exchange result, completely destroying the German 3rd Mountain Division. This, coupled with the losses due to half exchanges put the Allies over the 100 point mark, and when added to the 100 VP award for holding Narvik, they scored well over 200 VPs, giving them a crushing “decisive victory” result.

That, coupled with other factors has brought the game to a close.  The German turn following this debacle, resulted in three Half Exchanges and a No Effect. The inability of the die roller to come up with decent rolls during combat seriously hampered the German war effort. Throughout the entire campaign, I don’t recall getting a single DE result, and if I did, they were few and far between.

I did very well when it came to getting units shipped to Norway, as opposed to Alan who was struggling at times to get shipments through intact. I did very well with the Luftwaffe, hitting and destroying almost everything in sight. More often than not, units under attack by the Wehrmacht were disrupted by the Luftwaffe, making it harder for them to retreat, but retreat they did.

All was not in vain, however, as the Luftwaffe destroyed the ports of Haugesund (probably a wasted effort), Andalsnes, Namsos and Mo, while whiffing at Narvik proper. Had the port of Narvik been destroyed, the outcome of the game may have been different.

May have, but not necessarily.

That’s why you roll the dice, to introduce the unknown/factors beyond your control.

I think the Luftwaffe used up all my good die rolls, when one looks at how things average out. But I think the die roller that we used for both games has a problem. The administrators of the site said there was nothing wrong, that they could roll 1000 times, and come up with pretty stable results.

The problem is that they would do all 1000 at once, not in onsie’s, twosie’s as required in gaming.

We have an active sample size of 264 rolls between the two of us. Of those rolls, a 5 would come up 22% of the time between us. Alan got them 26% of the time, which is way too high. To offset this, Alan rolled a two 21% of the time, and a 6 only 9% of the time.

I think I upset Alan by beating him in the first game, because I feel like I had my head kicked in. The push to Trondheim was slow and agonizing, as was the push to Bergen. I held Trondheim, and began to push out of the area, but I never reached Bergen. The biggest issue that I had with Trondheim was that once I had it, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It took me, what, five turns to realize I needed an airfield there?

While it does not guarantee a win (and contrary to what Alan said, I don’t think the game was lost on the first turn), the key result of my experiment was to not go over the top planning the invasion. Just because you can do certain things does not mean that you should.

Trondheim Airfield

I wasted six transports and an infantry battalion in this experiment, when there was an easier way of achieving this objective. One transport crash landed, killing the battalion, while the other five, flying at extended range, ran out of fuel and crashed. The lack of these 6 transports really hurt later, as it took me longer to get units across and into Norway, especially when it came to ferrying HQ units across.

I experimented and paid the price for failure. That doesn’t mean I regret trying, I learned a lot from this experience.

After successfully landing a regiment at Trondheim, both units garrisoning the port fled, one after being disrupted by bombing. The disrupted unit retreated to the airfield. If I had not broken down another regiment of the same division, I could have, in the exploitation phase, broken the regiment down and sent two 3-4 infantry battalions to the airfield while keeping the third to guard Trondheim. Since the Norwegian unit was disrupted, it would have been forced to retreat away from the airfield on the Allied half of the turn, leaving me in possession of it. The Norwegians would not have been strong enough to counterattack. At that point, troops and supplies could have started flying in on turn 2.

The loss of six transports and a battalion of infantry cost me 7 VPs.

The Fallschirmjäger

This is where I really tripped up, handing the Allies 26 VPs when all was said and done. One transport was shot down over Fornebu Airfield (West Oslo), but do I have to take that risk? That’s 9 VPs handed to the Allies in trying to complete that operation. No jumps were made over the airfield, so I had a transport attempt a landing, with the parachutes still aboard. Bad move. Even though a similar attempt was made at Kjevik (Kristiansand airfield) and was successful, I should not have made the attempt with parachute units on board. The Oslo mission, like the Trondheim mission, crashed and burned, leaving me with one parachute company and one transport capable of dropping them.

Later in the turn, the last parachute company made a successful drop over Oslo west, but was left hung out to dry when the panzers failed to break through and reinforce them. Losing all three parachute companies is a costly proposition.


After the destruction of the 3rd Mountain division outside of Narvik, that was another 19 VPs given to the Allies. While I landed free and clear at Narvik, I was quickly driven out, and later surrounded and destroyed because of the lack of air cover and attack supply. The supply depot that arrives from Sweden only provides general supply, not attack supply, leaving any German troops in the are in a conundrum.

In general, landing at Narvik could turn out to be a costly proposition. Alan once said that he felt that a German landing at Narvik was a loser, and having tried it multiple times, I would have to agree.

The first turn invasion wave

To couple the woes created by myself, I lost 4 out of 7 battalions to the Royal Navy pirates on the first turn alone. This puts quite the damper on operations, but it did answer a very important question for me. At one point, I had wondered what would happen if I were to put all my emphasis on the Oslo and Trondheim areas, having the two forces push towards each other.  Since I was essentially forced into this situation, it severely limits the options of the Germans, and allows the Allies to clog the works. Once I started to push out of Trondheim, the Allies reacted, leaving a thin screen to the south, That thin screen continued to do its job and hold up the Germans, even though there were mountain units bypassing it to the north, but not enough of them.

The Game

Having played this game now, four times in a row, I think the balance is definitely in favor of the Allies, especially on the combat table. More often than not, with 6:1 odds, the highest that can be achieved in this game, the end result would be a Defender Disrupted (in hexes with a negative DRM), a No Effect, or a Half Exchange.  Despite having a 50/50 shot at eliminating the enemy units, this was actually very difficult to achieve. I think I rolled more HX results than I did DE results. So I did learn that the Norwegian battalions are capable of standing on their own, by themselves without necessarily having to be absorbed into HQ units.

Four games have been played, and in all four of them, the Allies have won. The VP schedule encourages the Allied player to be cautious, to not use their units to fight, force the German player to take all the risks and put the VPs at risk. There is nothing wrong with this. For every mistake that I made, Alan was there to take full advantage and make me pay for it, but it means that there is little room for error on the side of the Germans. That’s just my opinion.

I did get things rolling after awhile, once I was able to reach the mountains and start to go around him, and started moving out of Trondheim once I realized that I still had an airbase I could place in Trondheim. I figured that out after 5 turns, way too late win the game, but it did turn the tide.

I also cost myself an additional 10 VPs by forcing myself into a position where I had to call in the 1st mountain division. At that point, the 214th division, one of the strongest divisions on the map, was decimated because of a series of half exchanges and foolishness at the beginning of the game.

How does the German player win?

So far, we have not figured out the answer to that one, but I have developed a new plan, one that does not take so many risks (it’s a bit more conservative, but maybe a bit unorthodox), but may place the Germans in a stronger position. I think Alan’s plan was getting close, but he wasn’t quite there.

You can check out my new plan here.


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2 thoughts on “Narvik PBEM2: Post Game Analysis

  1. Alan Tibbetts on said:

    I agree that the German cannot afford to make many errors, and cannot have a string of bad luck. I’ll remember my poor dice while playing the Germans for a long time.


  2. You had yours bad luck with shipping. I had mine with combat. Frustrating wither way!


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