Mission Command – recreational wargaming with a surprising difference!

This post is an introduction to Mission Command, a set of miniatures rules that I’m working on with Pete Connew. It’s currently being written with an expectation of completion before October of this year in a state fit for publication.

Jun44: 1/125 PzGds, 21 Pz Div on dawn manoeuvres

Jun44: 1/125 PzGds, 21 Pz Div on dawn manoeuvres

Mission Command is a set of World War Two recreational wargaming rules for use with miniatures. The rules attempt to capture the essence of operational combat command from roughly company level to army corps level without the bloodshed, fear, death and destruction normally associated with actual warfare. The focus of the rules is on helping players to learn more about the effectiveness (or otherwise) of a national army’s operational doctrine – its way of fighting – during the Second World War using tabletop miniatures.

Why do we need another set of World War Two figure wargaming rules? Mission Command was borne out of a desire to discover a set of World War Two miniatures rules that satisfied our wargaming group’s interest in relatively large operational level games that permitted the use of ‘realistic’ national doctrines. We had experimented for several years with various rules sets, but found that differences in doctrine were rarely covered; for example in one rules set a Dutch battalion’s organisation and capability was almost identical to a Japanese one, when in fact there are some significant differences. In addition many Second World War rule sets focus primarily on tanks and other vehicles, whereas many, if not most, Second World War engagements were characterised by infantry combat or combined arms battles involving large numbers of foot soldiers.

Our distinctive approach with Mission Command is to provide a model that attempts to reflect doctrine, particularly in command, control and communications, and to enable players to integrate the various types of troops in an historical fashion. With Mission Command, if you’re handling a German Panzer Division, it will be a different experience from handling an equivalent Soviet unit. This approach places these rules at the simulation side of the simulation versus game spectrum.

Courland Jan '45: Russian Reserves Moving Forward

Courland Jan ’45: Russian Reserves Moving Forward

A Mission Command game is founded on realistic, historically accurate or pseudo-historical scenarios that present background information and occasionally some pre-game activity. The game itself is run by one or two umpires, who will supervise and facilitate the game for two teams of players. In very large games each side may be divided up into smaller command teams, typically one operational commander, a chief of staff in charge of orders and liaison with other friendly teams, and an intelligence officer responsible for gathering information about the enemy and making appropriate plans. One player in the team may usefully be given command of artillery fire plans.

Pleskau Autumn '44: Death Of A Tiger

Pleskau Autumn ’44: Death Of A Tiger

In Mission Command, the exercise of command, control and communications is not as abstracted as in most modern wargames – there are no command dice, no PIPs and no artificial ‘fog of war’ mechanisms. Each command of company level or above has to be given orders at the start of the game which can be modified later, but orders are brief. Communications and changes of orders are carried out by command units, but as units are restricted by the necessities of combat, players will find that they have to make difficult choices about what they do during combat; fog of war, imperfect information and sometimes confusion emerge naturally from the interactions of players attempting to carry out operations in accordance with doctrinal restrictions and complicated tactical situations.

I hope that these few paragraphs help to convey what we’re attempting with Mission Command. As our review and re-write of the rules continues over the coming weeks, I’ll continue this blog to keep you up-to-date.

Pegasus Bridge, 6 Jun '44: Lucky Luftwaffe

Pegasus Bridge, 6 Jun ’44: Lucky Luftwaffe

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