Multi Player Games subject logo: MILGAM
Posted by: badanov

One of the more endearing memories we have of wargaming are multiplayer games in East Front II.

Borisov is an excellent example of a multiplayer game. This game has a German armor corps and a Soviet Tank Army colliding in a meeting engagement in July 1944, the time and location of Bagraymian, the great Soviet summer offensive in 1944 which eventually ended up with nearly 30 German divisions destroyed. It took a huge chunk out of the German Army Group Center and drove the German Army back 500 miles into Poland.

We have learned several things in multiplayer games. One is location. With two Soviet armor corps and one mechanized rifle corps, that is a lot of platoons and sections: in the hundreds. The same with the German Korps.

East Front II has provisions for determining which headquarters belongs to which units, but it can be tedious at times to keep track of them especially when the two sides close and begin operations.

So you divide the map into sectors, and since the movement is generally east to west or vice versa, you divide them accordingly with one commander taking one sector and ensuring his units stay within that sector. And it can work well; it makes reinforcing one sector from the other easier, albeit a little more dangerous the closer to the front you are.

Now, you are thinking that dividing the map is a good idea and it is but when it does, as with real life militaries, it creates gaps between units and if an opposing player detects and tries to penetrate at the gap, you have the possibility of creating a whole gap in the line if it isn't restored quickly and at great cost to the enemy.

This is one of the things during the first summer of 1941 that made the Germans so successful in maneuver warfare. They looked for and found gaps either through radio intercepts, prisoner interrogations or by having an intel section plot units' location and report their findings of a gap between units to command. Once gaps could be found, the Germans drove their fast units straight into those gaps about 10 to 20 miles. If they hit a gap between smaller subordinate units, the Germans could cut field telephone connections between those subunits making coordination and counterattack tremendously more difficult. Remember, after the first ten days, radios were only available down to the regiment level sometimes only the divisional level in the Red Army. Soviet commanders, once their field telephone lines were cut were not authorized to seek connection with higher headquarters, only with their own subordinated units.

The second is artillery. The Borisov scenario includes all the artillery units of a Soviet tank/mechanized corps which is considerable: At least a brigade of tube artillery ( about 100 tubes.launches )and several regiments occupy the GHQ artillery units. In East Front II terms that's about 24 counters or more for the artillery brigade, not including transport, headquarters, security units, and so on.

And artillery security is an critical part of deploying large (regiment or higher ) artillery units. When you plan to use a mortar regiment ( three to six counters, not including transport and headquarters ) you need security, the closer to the FLOT you deploy them.

We prefer at least one antitank rifle and one light rifle unit per battalion to deal with local penetrations of the line by enemy armor and fast troops.

In a multiplayer game you need a single artillery commander to play your fire, just the Soviets say they prefer to do. It can be one of the other players but we have played a MP game in which our only task was planning artillery fire on the advance.

At least playing the Soviets, as an example, a normal mechanized rifle brigade will have three mortar companies total 12 82mm mortars, one light artillery battalion of 12 76.2mm Z-3 field guns, one mortar battlaion of eight 82mm mortars and one 120mm M-43 battery of four tubes.

As you can see that's a lot of artillery for just a brigade sized element, not counting the other three mech brigades, not counting corps artillery. It is almost a necessity to have an artillery commander.

A third element in a MP game is planning to pass the games quickly. With at minimum three players per side, all of whom must love and resolve combat, it is a task to ensure the game files gets to all six players in q quick manner.

Maybe not a problem for some people, but wargamers are notorously bad about schedules and time.

We recall one player, however, that would return games within ten minutes of mailing the files. You could get half the game done in a single evening. We should have gaming partners that good!

There are other issues we won't cover here, but these three are the main ones.

If you have something to add, Fire Away!

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