Saturday, December 12, 2020

Terrain Building for Germantown Part I and a (not so) New WWII Game?

 I was supposed to game with Ken today however my wife was out most of the day doing some Christmas shopping and I was home with the kids and the chores.  Looking at the calendar, I realized it's only 1 week until our Germantown MEGAGAME and I have a boatload of terrain to build...

So I got cracking!  This post is a quick highlight of the plan and what I accomplished today. 

The framework and outline for the Frankford Creek and the Germantown Road on my Cigar Box Mats hex mat (not sure if I'll use this one or the Tiny Battles Mat which is darker - any thoughts?)

For Germantown, I need about 20 creek hex tiles, 20 road hex tiles, and some Colonial "urban" tiles as well.  Good thing I have a huge box of 3mm plywood 4" hexes from Jonathan's recommended woodstore (for my pinboard project).  I'm going with my tried and true method of basecoating my bases rustoleum "camo" light green, then using caulk for the roadway and for the Wissahickon and Frankford Creeks.  Right now the caulk is drying and all of the pieces have their initial "stuff" on them.  Tomorrow I'll paint them all, dry brush the roads, and start painting the creek.

Caulk works great for wargamging stuff.  I "may" have used some for basing my Soviet Sapper Company as well!  These are my road hexes.

The road net for the battle map we're using loosely resembles the Ridge Road (east west), and Germantown Road (north south).

Road Hexes

Junction Hex

Creek Ford hex.  I have some neat ideas about how to paint this

What got done tonight.  In the morning I'll paint them my standard basing colors.  The roads should be completely done tomorrow.

This is going to go over the creeks once the blues are painted on.  Yes, I know green would probably work better for creeks, but blue is the universal map color for water and is instantly recognizable!

So that's it for the terrain today.  I'll also be updating my wooden buildings to make them look a bit spiffier as they're starting to look a bit tired, but most of them have soldiered on since 2004!  Hard to believe!

While I was literally waiting for paint to dry today (on the hexes), I toyed around with an interesting concept of putting a well established wargame INTO hexes.  Heresy you say?  Read on.  I've been on a hex-game kick of late, and nostalgic for games like Panzerblitz, Arab Israeli Wars, and Panzerleader (and I may or may not have ordered "Tank on Tank Eastern Front" game today...)

German tank company in a single hex.

So after rereading all of those rules sets this morning, I felt they were a little bit stale in terms of engagements.  Now onto this "new" WWII game, which isn't "new" for me, it's just new in the sense that I haven't played it in forever.

Soviet Tank Brigade fanning out to assault.  1st Battalion on the Right, 2nd Battalion on the left.

I always liked the Fistful of TOWS mechanisms for combats, and so  I used the Fistful of TOWS free "introductory rules for World War 2" straight from the FFT3 website and wondered about the possibility of applying the FFT game to hexes.  I should mention up front that I also own the actual rules and so was able to get a few more equipment lines for other vehicles that are NOT included in the introductory download.  This next part of the post on my tweaks is going to make alot of you uncomfortable, so brace yourself...

Soviet T-34 company in a hex.  The sister companies of the battalion are in adjacent hexes.

Given the ground scale of FFT's introductory rules, it was not difficult to amalgamate the stats.  If 1" equals 100 meters on the ground, then 4" hexes were now 400 meter hexes, with Panzerblitz-styled stacking restrictions (Germans 3 stands/platoons, Soviets 2 stands/platoons). 

Soviet 1st Battalion fanning out to assault the German positions!  Note there is already a German Panzer IV platoon out of action!

I was able to "boil down" most of the movement and engagement ranges into hex brackets.  Close range is an adjacent hex (makes the +1 close range modifier super easy to calculate!), 2 or 3 hexes is the "effective range" and 4 hexes in most cases is "long range" and suffers the -1 engagement penalty.

Cohesion is no longer 2 inches, it's 2 hexes, or 1 hex.

German payback with the full ROF is brutal!

You target individual vehicles in the hex, unless you're using artillery, which targets everything in the hex now, instead of using a template.  You theoretically "could" just roll a vehicle's ROF against a hex and assign hits if you wanted to as well to save time.  

Most units move 2 hexes.  I opted to allow faster tanks the option to move 3 hexes, but suffer a -1 penalty to hit and to their ROF if they go 3 hexes.

So this evening I ended up fighting a battle between an attacking Soviet tank brigade (2 x battalions), and an attacking German kampfgruppe, reinforced with Panther tanks.  The exciting and nail biting clash did not disappoint!

The German company on the left bugs out after taking 2/3 losses and failing their quality check roll (the blue 1).  The Soviets will surely be able to move on to their objective now!  Right?

The German Panzer IV company occupies the village and surrounding environs in order to bar the door for the Soviets, who are still coming on strong.  The Kampfgruppe commander sees an opportunity for violent counter attack with his panthers.  Time to send them into the woods!

Any guesses as to where the buildings in the village came from?  Shhh!  Dont tell the wife!  The Panthers thrust into the woods and engage the remaining tanks from the Soviet 1st Battalion at close range.  They now hit on a 2+!

But in order to eliminate the threat to the German left flank here, the Panthers have opened up their own flank, and the Soviets take full advantage!  Instead of focusing on the tanks in the village, Ivan takes advantage of the flank shot against the panthers in the woods, and rolls with full ROF!

The threat from the German left flank is eliminated now thanks to the quick thinking of the panther company!

Great shooting, Ivan!  A Panther platoon is out of action
Despite their best efforts, the Soviet tank brigade, after combat with the German kampfgruppe, is wiped out.  The 2nd Battalion also fails its quality check and bugs out after 2/3s casualties.

The aftermath

Really awesome picture of my still unfinished German tanks in the village!

Playing FFT with hexes opens up a ton of possibilities for scenario generation and replaying my older Panzerblitz, Panzerleader, and Arab Israeli Wars scenarios, not to mention the scenarios from Frank Chadwick's "Blood and Thunder" among other games.  I may even see how this ports over to the Cold War era in Central Europe (I'm sure that it's fine since FFT3 was originally written as a Cold War-into- Moderns and Ultra Modern game).

I need to get cracking basing my microarmor!  You will be seeing more of these quick knife fights in the future.  I may even look at tweaking the ground scale for 1:1 engagements (FFT3 gives guidance on how to do this in the main rules), reducing the hex size a bit, and enabling the bigger 15mm battles to really shine on the hex mat.) Stay tuned!  Back to "all things Germantown" in the morning!


  1. Looks like a very productive day for you. Are the kids still there?

    1. Jonathan,
      After a quick check, I've found them and determined they're still here :)

  2. Nothing like a gaming deadline to focus the mind, as I know from bitter experience!!! I loved the look of hex WWII game and some very nice shots of the action too.

    1. Thanks Steve! It has given me just the motivation I needed!

  3. Steve, super post will all of the elements that interest me. I like what the caulk is doing on the hex tiles and of course boardgame conversion is right up my street.

    How are things going on over there with the virus and could it impact the MegaGame? Here (UK), we have come out of another lockdown, but most of the country is in a control Tier, class at level 3, the highest, so non-essential shops can open, but households cannot meet other households indoors. For me, the restrictions have meant no face to face gaming since March!

    1. Norm,
      You bring up a very good point and it's probably one of the main reasons my "mega" game isnt so "mega" this year. Technically I dont think we are supposed to be gathering in large groups and so this year's has really been scaled back in terms of people and the game itself.

      I have been fortunate enough to have been gaming with a friend since August. We started outside and came in when the weather turned. I have slowly introduced 2 other buddies back, but it was rare when we were all present at the same game, and so this year's game will have only 3 people including me, it will be at a much larger location than my basement, and it will be a game that should not take longer than 2 hours. I know, some mega game right? But this is the world we live in now I suppose.
      So I'm probably not completely abiding by some of the rules in this case but again, small group of people who mostly work from home and dont go anywhere themselves.

    2. Hope it all goes ahead, I know you have put a ton of work into this.

  4. Great looking terrain for Germantown. Really looking forward to it.
    Interesting you mentioned FFT3; whilst tinkering with First Battle, I was also looking at the introductory WW3 version of FFT.
    Great minds etc. LOL

    1. Thanks Darren I already wrote you back. The FFT game, which I'm now referring to as "Fistful of Hexes" worked perfect.

      Now if only I could find some hex rules for Ancients and Medieval I'd be good to go!

  5. I like the light green mat. That’s the nearest thing I can get to a useful comment today! Like Norm, I’m still curtailed but in a Tier 2, which means my neighbours don’t touch each other as much as Norm’s. When life gets going again I will have a crack at the Fields of Honour rules you suggested. Until then, I will take my toy joy from your mega game!

    1. Thanks Jeffers! The fields of honor rules are very good solo rules, too.
      I dont know if would call our Christmas game a "mega" game anymore but it will still be fun regardless!

  6. Nice looking models. Nice and crisp photos too.

  7. Clever use of Monopoly houses!

  8. Is there a reason you opted for drawing such dark and thick hex lines in the tank game? Think hex lines that are thinner and have less contrast with the background mat look better.

    1. It was just the way the mat came. I dont like the thick hemlines either. That's why I bought the tiny battle mat. The lines aren't as thick.

  9. It sounds like you have achieved an interesting blend of hex and non-hex wargaming. I really like the photo of that Panther in your new woods.
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James. I have been having alot of fun with hex based gaming of late. I tend to switch around. It was a cool photo from the game wasnt it?

    2. The tank game looks like fun. Im going to try my hand at making a hex table mat using thin unobtrusive lines on cloth batting. My friend and I use 2 ranks of Baccus 6mms based on small 20x20cm magnetized mdf bases, with two bases side by side atop a 2" mdf sabot base with a label area. As such, 2 1/2 inch hexes seem to be the right size to represent a brigade. That size should also give us enough room on the table to impart a sense of movement and manueuver to a battle, similar to that in a boardgame.

    3. Excellent! Hope it turns out the way you want it! I played many a game on a homemade felt hexmat using 4" hexes. 6mm will be perfect for that board-game turned real look! Keep us posted on how it goes!

  10. Great work on the tiles so far. I’ve NEVER been able to do anything remotely close while watching the kids and doing chores! My children must be monsters compared to yours. 😀

    1. I dont know, Stew. See no evil, hear no evil...

      That only works as long as I stay in the basement lol!!!