06 June 2012

GameTalk - Amphibious Assaults

Remembering that today is D-Day... how do you wargame an amphibious assault? Do you just assume that waves of guys will hit the shore? What about synchronizing the movement in (and presumably out) of the landing craft? Do you allow for attacks on the ships? How far out?
Are units rated differently for combat on the beach vs further inland?

How do you build a wargame of an amphibious assault?

By: Brant


Jack Nastyface said...

I think it is difficult to model the complexity of amphibious assaults in grand-strategy or even large scale games. D-Day by avalon Hill was the first game I ever played, and the single row of hexes that represented the beaches of Normandy left much to be desired in terms of amphibious assault (even for an active teenage mind).

Perhaps one of the best examples of amphib. assault that I have played was found in the HPS computer game title "The Proud and the Few". The USMC assault on Tarawa (Red Beach 2 and 3) is difficult scenario that requires focused determination and no small amount of luck. The first time I played, I tried taking my troops in as close as possible, and suffered brutal losses in LC's and troops. On a later game, I dumped the troops farther out (much as the Marines did IRL) and didn't suffer as many casaulties, but sacrificed tempo. A third attempt was more successful with a "something in between" approach.

I also recall that one of the toughest fights of that game occured when I realized I couldn't take armor or LVT's over the palm log walls on the beach, and the long drive to the end of the walls ended up costing me all of my armor to a hidden AT gun.

Other beach assault scenarios from Proud and the Few show the importance of naval/air support...and how tough it can be to take your troops across 50 yards of sand.

Yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface

Brian said...

I would really like to see a game that focuses on the actual mechanics of an amphibious assault that involved a bit of planning, as opposed to the "just dumping counters at the water's edge" that we usually see.

The old Jagdpanther game Airborne! had something like this, for airborne assaults. I expected to see something like this in its companion game Marine! but no.

There are games that focus on carrier operations that could possibly be used as a model... hm...

Anyway, the real USMC must work on this a lot! I wonder what they do?

besilarius said...

Back in the early 70s, I participated in a beach assault exercise at Fort Story, Virginia.
My dad had participated in the Pacific War and it was pretty eerie to see how the landing craft performed the same maneuvers as the 1944 island assaults.
First, the boats were put in the water. The difference here was that no one climbed down the landing nets into the craft. The men went into the bays on the landing ships, into the amtracs, and the bay was flooded.
Much better than in the War.
Then the boats formed up. First they would circle a designated point a specified distance from the landing point on the beach.
This would be continued until every boat was out.
Then by command, all the groups went into line abreast. When the line was set, the entire force sped up and moved to land on the beach.
All through this, there would be air and gunfire support from the ships. A lot of time was spent in training for gunfire support by destroyers and cruisers. As an NGLO (naval gunfire liason), it was possible to call down a lot of fire onto points of resistance. Usually, though, it was more specific. Each NGLO would have a section of the beach to clear, with usually one primary support ship. We loved it when you could call in the Newport News, her 8 inch guns were great. (I was too late to have a chance with 16 inch rounds).
When there were bigger targets, you could call in airstrikes, but you had to be careful and exact. They were one shot affairs, after the ordnance was dropped, they could use their guns, but that was nowhere near so effective.

Brian said...

Thanks for the account of the beach assault exercise. I guess there really aren't many ways to do it.

I pulled out my copy of Marine on the weekend for a confirmatory look and there aren't any beach assault rules - in scenarios where the Marines arrive on the map, they are brought in by helicopters leaving the deck of a notional carrier two or three turns away, where choppers can go to reload troops or re-arm if gunships.

Still, the game has only three pages of rules and does a lot with that.