Thursday, July 2, 2020

Converting Borrowed Scenarios for Tigers at Minsk!

I'm always on the lookout for good company-level games (maneuver element is a squad/section) which is one of the reasons I love Norm's "Tigers at Minsk" World War II rules so much, and have played many a game of them on this blog.

Cover art from "Tigers at Minsk"
I'm also inherently lazy, and sometimes I just want to throw down a game on the table and play, instead of doing research, assembling units, counting up points or cost values, and breakpoints.  This is probably a roundabout way of saying I want/need more scenarios for Tigers at Minsk, and World War II in general.  It's also a reason I don't play nearly as much Battlegroup as I would like to - because the pre game work is extensive and on a Friday night I'd rather get right to playing.

A Tigers at Minsk game played with Alex - we made square grids and played this way instead of on a hex mat
The other day I happened upon some of my older CROSSFIRE posts which led me back to the "Balagan" blog (a treasure trove for Crossfire enthusiasts.)  Then I remembered Mr Thomas posted some quick and easy Crossfire scenarios for newcomers, written by Mr Dick Bryant.  (If this is all very confusing, go here, and then go here.)  The premise behind these short scenarios is to introduce newcomers to the tactically challenging and realistic Crossfire rules. 

I want to use those 2 x 2 Crossfire scenarios for Tigers at Minsk.

I took a screen shot of the scenario card highlighted on the "Steven's Balagan" blog post where he showcases the 2 x 2 Crossfire Scenarios for use in a convention.  I used his example scenario - The Woods:
Taken from the Steven's Balagan Website here.  No challenge to the author intended - used without permission.
If you've played Tigers at Minsk, or read the rules, you'll notice you literally have everything you need for a game within the scenario pack here.  (And Mr Bryant was kind enough to lay out forest shapes in hex form!).  There are a few calculations needed to finish the job, however, and we'll walk through those steps now.

1.  Morale Level
TaM has a slick mechanism whereby your side's morale level (calculated by dividing the number of units by 2) is reached through attrition of your units.  Say you start with 8 units, your morale level is 4 for that scenario.  When 4 units are lost, bad things can start to happen.  To convert the Dick Bryant scenarios over to TaM, we'll have to do a little bit of math...

The Soviets have a reinforced platoon of 3 x squads, 1 x HMG, and 1 x on-table mortar.  That would effectively give you a morale level of 3 for TaM.  The German morale will be higher at 4.

Troop morale isn't taken into account quite like Crossfire, where stands have inherent values like Veteran, Regular, etc.  Instead, you can alter your final morale level to make troops more or less brittle.

2.  Time Clock
While there is a "time clock" feature in the Crossfire supplement "Hit the Dirt", TaM has a time clock used for the advance of each turn in every game.  In the main rules, scenarios can run from the passage of 40 minutes to 80 or more minutes, calculated by the roll of 2 D6 each turn.  For the Dick Bryant scenarios, the end is based on either attrition or achieving the scenario victory condition.  For Norm's TaM rules, the game is significantly more tense and enjoyable with the added pressure of the time clock and so given the small amount of forces for the scenarios, it's probably easy to go with 50 minutes, at least for "the woods" scenario.  This would keep both players on their toes.

Now we're ready to set up a proper Tigers at Minsk scenario, borrowed from the 2 x 2 Crossfire scenario.


Dick Bryant's 2 x 2 Crossfire Scenario Map "The Woods" taken from Steven's Balagan Blog - used without permission

Scenario:  "The Woods" Map looks like it could be 9 x 9 hexes or 10 x 10 hexes.

Morale: Soviet Morale Level 3 German Morale Level 4 - both infantry can make smoke.

Setup:  Soviet Player Deploys First in Squares "D" and "C" on the map.  German player deploys second in Squares "A" and "B", south of the Red Line.

Admin:  Game starts at 1100 hours and ends after 1150 hours.  German player goes first.

Victory Conditions:  the side that reaches breakpoint first loses.  If the 1150 hours is reached before breakpoint, the side with a higher remaining morale level is the winner.

Fire Support:  both sides have 4 x 50mm mortar fire missions and 4 x 82mm (Soviet) / 75mm IG (German) fire missions.

The fire support piece - I wonder if that's way too much given that your average game of Tigers at Minsk you will likely receive 1 or 2 salvos of fire support.  That's definitely worth experimenting with in the game to see if it's too lethal/generous.  It could be scaled back to 1 fire mission each.

Anyways, I thought I would post some of these ideas I've been scheming up over here.  I will set up my hex grid after our ACW Altar of Freedom game is completed.


  1. Another set that you have made me want to try Steve.
    I simply must get these on the table at some stage.
    Of course, being a hacker - I also see 'Tigers in Nam' and 'Northag Tiger' options LOL

    1. Cheers, Darren. I think you could easily make an Arab-Israeli '56 or even '67 or 'Nam "supplement" to these rules pretty easily. Frankly I think the system would be perfect for high and low intensity combat in Vietnam.

  2. Good to see some of my work has inspired you. You are welcome to use my stuff and I'm sure Dick Bryant would feel the same.

    1. Thanks, Steven. I was sure to cite your work and thank you for the use of it. As it turns out, your SELWG convention pack will work wonders for pickup games for TaM.

  3. Steve, thanks for the TaM mention. That does seem a lot of fire support on the face of it .... but if using these low calibre weapons as off-board art, they would not be coming in at the usual 3D6 (which is representing a medium artillery battery). The 50mm would only be 1D6 and the 82’s 2D6 as per the onboard mortar rules. To stay within the scenario bounds, you could control the fire by having just 1 observer per side. A further limitation could be to use the rule from ‘on board mortars’ that has mortar ammo running out on a raw die roll of ‘1’, but that might be a bit too much of a wild card.

    Or you could just just give each side 1 or 2 normal off board artillery strikes (simulating 105’s with their 3D6).

    The problem that an artillery observer will face in this scenario is all of that cover will restrict viewing distance.

    Regardless, looking forward to seeing whatever you do. Cheers. Norm.

    1. Thanks, Norm. When I saw these "on the shelf" scenarios, organized nicely I thought they might work well for Tigers at Minsk and so I'm keen to give them a go. There is even a random scenario / battle generator over on "Steven's Balagan" called "Mac's Missions" which I am tempted to try with TaM as well. I recently received a hex mat from the UK (tiny mats) for my table which I fortunately received before the big price hike!

      Anyways thanks for the guidance on fire support. As soon as we wrap up Shiloh I'm going to put TaM on the table.

    2. Steve, I should also point out that most WWII rules make artillery a bit more deadlier when firing at woodland (air burst type rules), TaM doesn't (and perhaps that is a mistake) and so the TaM artillery may even have a weaker effect than the Crossfire scenarios intend. I don't have Crossfire so can't tell.

    3. That's a great point, Norm. I will look into that. I dont intend to modify or change any of the rules for this.

  4. Hi Steve. This scenario has a lot of woods and a lot of fire support. I will be interested to see how this plays out.