Monday, August 8, 2011

Cassino: Wargaming Ideas

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.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Whenever do you see enough terrain on a WWII table? I'd have urban areas as difficult to move around in for armour as jungles.

  2. Interesting points. Not just a climb-test either, I imagine, but a chance of taking serious casualties too (broken glass, collapsing walls, rubble 'avalanches', etc) especially if under artillery or mortar fire as well. In one of the Osprey WWII tactics volumes, there's an illustration of a veritable defensive wall made of rubble constructed (by bulldozers I imagine) by the Germans across an Italian town.
    The new Airfix resin ruined buildings are really nice, by the way - but piles of rubble are needed to complete them. I have made my own mix of materials in a PVA adhesive to pile up stacks of rubble.

  3. Thanks gentlemen for the comments on the rubble - after making the post it has got on in the back of my mind all week about 1) how to flesh out gaming aspect and 2) where to start in making models of significant piles of debris (some ought to be comparable to small hills in dimensions).