Europa and the Two Week Turn
I had been a casual follower of the Second World War since I had been in the 5th grade, back in 1978, when I first discovered it in the encyclopedia. Yes, those old, archaic, heavy books that we used to use prior to the internet. That encyclopedia was my portal to the history of the war, especially in Europe. I could name all of the major countries involved, the major battles, and occasionally the bad fact that came out of the encyclopedia. For example, and I wrote a 7th grade term paper on the subject, the encyclopedia led you to believe that the Axis won the Siege of Leningrad.
Okay, it didn’t lead you to believe that. It flat out said it, and it made its way into my term paper, and was never challenged by my teacher.
Jump forward to 1985. In our household game pile, we had the game of Risk. I had often wished that they had a game that covered the Second World War. I didn’t know at that time that Avalon Hill published such games.
I go over to a friend’s house one day to hang out, and I see this map spread out on his floor. It is Western Desert, Brits vs. Germans, 1940 to 1943. I was immediately enthralled. He let me borrow it and take it over to my house, where I played my very first true wargame. Of course, I played without the attack supply rules the first time through.
He later turned me on to a monster. Fire in the East. This one took up a lot of space, and certain areas of the map turned brown from having to lean over the map and put a hand or fist down to prop us up while we reached across the steppes of Russia into the Donetz basin or the Leningrad area.
Over time, I gradually moved into apartments or houses that simply did not have the space for that monster. I continued to search for Second Front, but to no avail. In 1990, I was told by a local game retailer that it had been cancelled and GDW had folded. Not one to be discouraged, I felt that they were wrong, that Second Front would somehow be resurrected.
As the internet became more mainstream, I continued my search until I ran across a copy on eBay. It cost me a lot of money, but dammit, I was going to get the crown jewel even if it bankrupted me. In the process, I discovered GRD, just shortly after the death of Winston Hamilton. I ordered the entire backlog of Europa magazines in order to catch up.
Over the years, even though I haven’t had the space to set any of them up, even the smaller ones, I have been able to keep up. I read the Europa mags cover to cover, waiting for the day when I could try some of the variants. I finally found a place with some limited space that would not end up cluttered with garage stuff being placed on the table.
But as I read the magazines over and over, I noticed that some people said that in that monster of all monsters, Fire in the East, they were unable to reach the Russian city of Minsk by the end of the June II 1941 turn, or the end of June when the Germans historically reached it.
It has been suggested that the reason this is so is because of hindsight, because we know how far the Germans got and when, that we set up in such a way to prevent this kind of movement.
I wonder if it is something else entirely.
Europa is a game set up on the premise of two week turns. That is, there are two turns per month.
The problem here is that two weeks means different things, depending on the month. In February, two weeks is 14 days, unless it is 1940 or 1944, in which case, one turn is 14 days while the other is 15 days. During months with 30 days, two weeks is 15 days per turn; 31 days, 15 days for one turn, 16 days for the next.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Let’s assume an 8-6 infantry division is marching through clear hexes during clear weather, no zones of control, nothing to hinder movement
In February, 1941, they would be able to march just under ½ hex per day; 0.428 hexes in order to reach their destination after 14 days.
In March, 1941, they could march 0.4 hexes per day in the first half of the month (15 days), and 0.375 hexes per day in the second half of the month (16 days). Do you see how the time scale is affecting movement rates?
Let’s take the 0.375 per day movement rate and transfer it to February, just to make this clearer. At the rate of 0.375 hexes per day in February, that infantry division would be able to move 5.25 hexes per turn. If we were to switch it around and use the calculated movement rate from February, and plug it into the last half of March, this infantry division should be able to clear almost 7 hexes in the longer period.
Fortunately, we don’t have to do that kind of conversion in order to play, but it is there. It is just hidden from us.
So, does 2 weeks represent 14 days, 15 days, or 16 days?
I understand movement rates are averages, but in the case of Fire in the East, the average is leaving people short. Will it change in Total War? I think it is highly unlikely.
If we assume a two week period is 14 days, we also end up short on the calendar side as well. Twelve months, two turns per month equals 24 turns total. Two weeks per turn times 24 turns equals 48 weeks.
Somewhere along the line, there seems to be 4 weeks missing.
I think this is where one week Europa advocates are going.
But I think there is an easier solution.
Mind you, I have never playtested this, so I don’t know how it works out.
What if there were two extra turns per year?
Using Fire in the East as an example, the Germans are given a free shot invasion turn (on Jun II 41), then they get another full turn after that one.
So, all of this activity takes place in 9 days.
Certainly, the initial German advance was quick, just as it was in other countries.
But you get two 14-16 day turns, but you still can’t get to Minsk?
How about inserting a third two week turn in June and one in December (or January and July if you prefer). It guarantees that you should be able to reach Minsk by the end of June (June 28, 1941 to be precise). But how does it impact everything else?