Thursday, December 23, 2010

1:1 World War II Games

The title to this post should really be "Why I don't like 1:1 WW2 games".   First - read this excerpt from a newspaper article discussing the recent passing of a WW2 Medal of Honor winner, Mr. Biddle.
By T. Rees Shapiro Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It was late December 1944 and a ragtag company of American cooks and clerks were stranded in Hotton, Belgium, about four miles from Mr. Biddle's unit near Soy.

The Battle of the Bulge had just begun, and the troops in Hotton were surrounded and outnumbered by German forces. They needed to be rescued. Leading the stealthy advance through the snowy forests was Mr. Biddle, who took over when his unit's two lead scouts were injured in a land-mine blast.

For his courageous actions during the 20-hour rescue operation, Mr. Biddle received the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. decoration for valor.

Mr. Biddle, 87, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 17 at his home in Anderson, Ind.

"I'm not a hero, not at all," he told USA Today in 1999. "When the Army put me out front, they put the responsibility on me, and you think about that responsibility instead of the fear."

On Dec. 23, 1944, Mr. Biddle came under enemy fire as he crawled toward Hotton through snow and underbrush. In quick succession, Mr. Biddle killed three German snipers with "unerring marksmanship," according to his Medal of Honor citation.

He continued his advance 200 more yards before coming upon an enemy machine-gun nest. After killing its two occupants, he lobbed grenades at a concealed machine-gun position nearby and killed three more German soldiers. After signaling back to his unit to advance, Mr. Biddle moved forward, shot three more Germans and tossed his last grenade into a third Nazi machine-gun emplacement.

As darkness fell over the American soldiers, German tanks rumbled in the distance. Mr. Biddle volunteered to go out alone and scout the enemy armor location. He crawled through the woods, getting so close to German sentries that one stepped on Mr. Biddle's hand. He stifled a groan of pain into the snow beneath his face and returned to his unit unscathed.

Before I type any more - what an amazing action, and a humble and brave man.  We are lucky as a nation to have been served so well by our WW2 vets that are passing each day.

On to the game aspect.   As I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks as to why I don't like 1:1 scale WW2 games - where individuals are represented with single based figures.   Read the combat summary above once again.   Sound familiar?   It sounds like EVERY single figure based 1:1 WW2 game I've read about or seen!  The extreme actions, extreme bravery, extraordinary achievements are present ALL THE TIME in those games.  Plus, add in an unreasonable amount of supporting weapons and armor, and it all adds up to comic book reality.  So - yet another explanation as to why I won't be doing that level of WW2 game.   I am really interested in the command aspect in combat, and when you try to represent the actions and behavior of each figure/person on the table, I think the command aspect goes out the window and it turns into "blam", "boom", and "Medals of Honor for everyone!" types of games.   I know a lot of gamers (the majority of WW2 gamers, in fact) love this scale of game, but its just not for me.

Back to painting....Austrian Cheveauleger  (spelling?   I could check....but does it really matter in this informal setting?  I think not!)


  1. An armée de cheval autrichienne? Well, I don't know my french isn't the best!

    By the way awesome painting on those cavalrymen. I also like the chunkiness of your bases just great!


  2. About the story just awesome a real act of bravery!

  3. I don't necessarily disagree, but takes so much time, effort and money in this hobby to put on a game that I don't really begrudge anybody wanting all their soldiers to fight like Audie Murphy!

  4. Also, I think you're unfairly picking on 1:1 many larger scale games have units only start checking for morale at half strength, fight to the absolute last man, officers never get shot, etc...

    I also feel that some of this MoH mentality is not the rules but the scenario designer. Some people always play veterans, SS, etc...for exactly this purpose.

  5. I don't mean to be "picking" on 1:1 games. In my opinion, I think they're a coffee table version of a WW2 game. In other words, if sold at a bookstore, they wouldn't be the David Glantz book back in the military history section...they would be the large format book in the bargain section with titles like "Big Guns in Hitler's Army", or "Tiger Tanks Rule", or "Hitler's Mighty SS Greatest Battles". I know that some (informal) surveys have shown that probably 90% prefer this level of game. I know I'm in the minority, but for the life of me, I just don't understand the fascination. Other periods don't suffer from the "I can't abstract the troop scale" - yet, it is overwhelmingly the main issue when talking about higher level WW2 games. (shrug) Oh well - I'll keep playing games I like, and they can play theirs. I still hate the Raiders, too.