Posted 7 Feb 2006
For me the power of Engle Matrix Games is setting the context for battles. Some arguments will result in table top battles, but good players will use their arguments to build up their forces, or otherwise get some tactical advantage, before committing to battle - in a similar way to real commanders.
The battles can be fought using any tactical rules but I'm most likely to use Crossfire. If you don't want to go to a table top game then consider using the abstract Battle Resolution for Engle Matrix Games.
Before starting you'd have to have an overriding framework - the Matrix - including the historical background, the forces available, the map, the passage of time, any movement rules, and how to transition to a table top battle. You will also need an umpire who is fully up to speed on this Matrix, as they will have to make judgements on the strength of the player arguments.
The main Tarnopol page has sufficient material for historical background.
The forces available
The main Tarnopol page lists the forces available to the Germans, although you'd probably strip it back and exclude the last minute reinforcements. These could be reintroduced during game play.
The Russians had four infantry divisions around the city, other units interposed between the city and the German Lines, and could call upon Army and Front reserves.
Both sides could call upon air support.
The passage of time
The campaign would start on 8 Mar 1944. It would progress day by day, until any of these conditions are met:
- The Russians control locations 1-8.
- The Germans control locations 2-9.
- The campaign reaches 19 Apr 1944 (last argument on 18 Apr).
The player alternate turns/arguments, with each argument taking a day. The Germans start. That means the first German argument is 8 Apr, the first Russian argument is 9 Apr, etc.
The maximum time span is 40 days, from 8 Mar to 18 Apr, so 20 German arguments and 20 Russian.
The map and movement rules
The "map", such as it is, is a line basically from east to west:
- Russian lines
- Country side
- Northern/Eastern/Southern suburbs
- Inner city (Railway station)
- Western suburb (Zagrobella)
- Country side
- Country side
- Country side
- German lines
The locations in bold are initially held by the Germans. The Russians start in the Russian Lines.
The Russians, but not the Germans, can move directly from the Russian Lines to any Country Side location, without passing intervening locations; this simulates their control of the surrounding area. Otherwise all movement must pass sequentially through each location, at most one location per argument (day).
Germans can never enter the Russian Lines, and similarly, the Russians can never enter the German Lines.
The city is only considered under siege when the Russians take any of the western country side locations (6-8). German break out and relief force arguments are only allowed after the city is surrounded.
Artillery can fire from the Russian lines into the entire city. German artillery can only fire into adjacent locations, simulating their shortage of ammunition and its limitation to immediate use. Aircraft, of either side, can attack any location.
How to transition to a table top battle
If using Crossfire the follow these guidelines:
- Use the current and previous arguments to define the map and forces.
- Work out equal forces as a starting point including giving attackers a 50% advantage against hidden defenders.
- Tweak for any combat advantage successfully argued.
Example of game play in a Matrix campaign
I heavily fortify the approaches to the city. This succeeds because I have engineering and veteran troops available, plus sufficient man power to get the job down quickly.
No battle here. Just trying to tip the odds in any subsequent battle. Personally I'd rate this as a relatively weak argument as they didn't have many troops, and certainly didn't have time and supplies. But they might be lucky and make the roll.
A better German argument would be:
I rush in last minute reinforcements, including armour and anti-tank weapons, before the Russians surround the city. This succeeds because there are local reserves which are near by and the land route is still open.
This would have a good chance of success, but still doesn't lead to a battle.
I surround the city and cut off land links between the city and the German lines. This succeeds because I have overwhelming odds (four divisions in immediate vicinity and more near by) and the German lines are over 20 km away.
A pretty good argument which once again is setting the scene for a latter battle.
Despite the siege we get ample airlifted supplies and armaments. This succeeds because the Luftwaffe is committed to our succour, has ample planes, and there are supply dumps nearby.
Another relatively weak argument. A better argument given the circumstances is a toned down version, e.g.
We get a steady trickle of airlifted supplies and armaments. This succeeds because the Luftwaffe is committed to our succour, has sufficient planes to keep up a small airlift, and there are supply dumps within range.
I take the city at the first rush. This succeeds because I have overwhelming odds and the city is surrounded.
This would be impossible because it undermines the purpose of the game. A better Russian argument would be:
I attack the city on all sides and gain a tactical advantage from superior numbers. This succeeds because I have overwhelming odds and the city is surrounded.
This would lead to a battle regardless of the result of the argument roll. But a successful argument roll would lead to some advantage in the battle. A failure would not. In this case the argument is about average. With longer preparation, i.e. more successful preparation style arguments preceding the attack, the attack argument would be stronger.
The battle is fought, and the result applied. The result would follow some pre-existing campaign scheme, i.e. may the Russians have to break through several layers of the city to win: out side city; city outskirts; inner city (Railway station); last ditch stand.
Assume the Germans win and the arguments continue ...
Having repulsed the Russian Horde we redeploy our troops so the front line is strengthened with anti-tank weapons and fresh troops, and the armoured reserves can come to the assistance of any threatened sector. This succeeds because we rushed in last minute reinforcements and we have time as the Russians have to build up their forces again before having a second go.
This would give them a tactical advantage in any subsequent battle, in particular the chance of armoured reinforcements during a battle. It is also a pretty good argument as it is based on a previously successful argument.
I pound the city with artillery and bombs. This succeeds because as Russians in 1944 we have lots of artillery and aircraft.
A slightly poor argument. Although the reason is true, there was no previous argument suggesting these resources had been deployed. A better argument would be:
I mass artillery and air support in preparation for the next attack on the city. This succeeds because as Russians in 1944 we have lots of artillery and aircraft.