I have been reading Matthew Parker's book on the campaign for Monte Cassino and thought I would share some thoughts I had on rubble in wargaming.
The bombing of Cassino - which was even more brutal than the bombing of the monastery - and its subsequent assault by Commonwealth troops gave me a lot of ideas for wargaming certain aspects of the terrain conditions. Rubble piles - some measuring 20 feet high - and craters blocked the progress of infantry and armor alike. Like quite a bit of the natural terrain of the campaign area, this forced the Allies to channel troops under fire and countered advantages in numbers and mechanization. Storming a building or strong point might happen, but the town would not be simply and quickly overwhelmed.
I think huge piles of rubble need to make more of an appearance in street fighting scenarios, at least in heavily decimated and contested areas. Offhand, I think of the Ruhr Pocket, Stalingrad (and probably most Eastern Front city battles), and of course, Cassino. I see a lot of ruins and rubble on tabletops, but not often like the way they described in personal accounts. They should be more than table dressing and maybe something more/other than difficult/very difficult terrain.
In games like Flames of War, where the infantry have a steady movement rate regardless of terrain (if I recall correctly), I think some of these debris areas should require a successful skill check to ascend or move across. I would probably consider them impassable to vehicles. Really, I think that might be ideal for most skirmish games in regards to the infantry; heavy movement penalties for entering rough terrain has its place, but I think that requiring a plodding one-quarter move up a debris hill the size of a building as taking away from the fast-paced action one associates with a firefight. I think pass or fail on a climb check seems more like it.
I love history, mythology, and games. My favorite projects allow me to mix them liberally and turn readers onto something new and different. When it comes to games, players ought to do more than roll dice, flip a card, or move a piece – they ought to feel immersed. I look for this in my favorite pastimes and I bring this attitude to the table and my work. This blog features my thoughts and experiences about the games I play and my contributions to the hobby.