|Latest Stuff: (some items have a section below to discuss them and other items only appear here)
Bill Owen Battlefield Zone chart, see upper right, CDplayaids.xls >
bill tourgrouppro com
|My goal is to help Command Decision players. Here are accessories and some photos. Play Aids designed for a given version might be partly or fully useful for another version. A few are still available for version 3 and new ones are being added for the 4th version which goes by it's initials CD TOB standing for Command Decision: Test of Battle which was released summer 2006. Due to many significant improvements, the ruleset has gained great acceptance. Through a lot of effort they have come up with an easier-to-play game that is much more realistic in many respects.
I particularly recommend Matthew Tyler's free robo-chartmaker which allows you to make a set custom weapon reference charts for a given game.
TOB play aids:
*To make the print even larger, space was tighter on the 2 page versions so: I left off the Ammo Depletion details and the 2-page LTR version has smaller Morale charts.
My version of the GRC has been proofed by several people (thanks to Jake, Jerry & Dudley who have caught the greatest number of typos) on the excellent CD TOB Forum. You'll find a lot of excellent scenarios, discussions and camaraderie on the forum.
CD TOB Forum members in non-English-speaking countries can remake my GRC by translating it (which you'll have to do yourself). Note, you will need a program called InDesign (and fonts like Stencil and various of Helvetica/Condensed family), lots of patience (I didn't construct it for this purpose so it will require some reformatting). The other issue is that I made it in Mac and in theory the PC version of InDesign should open it. But I have found that cross platform file sharing is hit & miss. With all these warnings, send me an email me (below) if you still want it. (I tried to upload it here but couldn't get it to download.) So far, only Arturo has taken me up on this so an Italian version may be available soon.
If you find typos or want to pass on an idea, email me, Bill Owen, at email above left.
Attention Microarmor gamers! Have you considered a scale between Centimeters and Inches? Let's call these little Demi-Inches and they could be 2 centimeters or 2/3 inches (about .78" or .67" respectively). This seemingly crazy idea came up in a game where I was issued an ordinary 12" Ruler to measure with but constantly needed a tape measure instead. But there weren't enough tape measures for everyone.
The other reason for this compromise is the fact that microarmor tanks are too much smaller when used with inch-scale HE Templates. This is more important than it sounds. Otherwise Microarmor used in Inch scale game with HE templates in Inches is substantially a different game: you increase the power of Direct Fire weapons by being able to concentrate more and reduce the power of IDF weapons by keeping them from hitting the same number of targets as in games played with 15mm or 20mm models.
Finally, you have a balance between the Inch scale where micro armor really looks like it's firing at long range ( a good thing) and the extra room to ramble of Centimeter scale (which is good to a point but can be curse if you make the units too large!) So to recap, you don't need to rebase your microarmor (if your vehicles are on bases at all), continue to use full sized Inch Scale HE Templates but reduce the ruler units to .78".
What many of you might say is: "I don't have the patience to make up 6-10 rulers in odd increments". (And this from someone who scratchbuild's 21st Panzer "funnies"?!) Relax, I've made the downloadable PDF files for you! And in 6 colors...
If you want to consider doing this, you'd need 3 things & think about a 4th:
Ready to make Demi-Inch Rulers? Click one of them below based on the color/numbers above:
*Why use bases for microarmor? It's practical for storing tanks on magnetic strips (if the bases are steel!) And without bases, here's another oddity in a game that has 1 vehicle representing 5: it is harder for an HE Fire template to hit several formations (platoons) of Pz II's than Tigers. That's because the models are smaller! But this really isn't right. Putting all tanks on the same sized base (like .75x.75" or .5x.75") solves the problem by representing the "footprint" of the formation. Pz II's don't travel around in tighter formations than Tigers but are supposed to maintain the same minimum spacing between vehicles. So actually their formation's footprint may be smaller by only 1% due to the size of the vehicle.
4) ALTERNATE ORDER CHITS
Here's some of the thinking behind these magnetic order counters. I have tried a probably a dozen (or more) of different systems to consolidate or replace order chits. The looks of the "stock" order chits' are less objectionable in scales larger than micro. In micro scale the chits are ridiculous looking (like a city-block-size monolith from 2001 Space Odyssey) but c'est la guerre. Or read on for ideas...
Above are 2 adjacent Built Up Area's (BUA) and their Fields of Fire (FOF). Click here for a PDF explanations of how BUA/FOF works in CD TOB, OK?
BUA's are a bit abstracted to represent the point blank Fields of Fire of real built up areas. If it is not clear already, a house on the game board may actually represent several blocks of buildings. If you have a hard time with the concept, it helps to see what is actually being represented. The following is a rough draft of a 2-kilometer-square area of Ouistreham adjacent Sword Beach on D-Day. That would be 40" by 40" in CD:TOB's "inch scale".
The green hexes are 1-kilometer-wide from my D-Day Maps that come in other scales also (from 300 meters/hex to 1 mile/hex). The D-Day maps abstract the towns further by using black boxes to give a feel for the outline of the town, not the actual number of BUA's therein. The red dotted line area is a typical 4" square BUA as in CD TOB. It's obvious that for larger towns, it takes many BUA's to represent them. And the BUA's could vary in positioning and modifiers as suggested in the rules.
If you want to experiment with using chits rather than a dice-roll to determine who goes first. Here are some ideas. First here's a pdf that you can print to make 2 sets of 2-sided counters. And the pdf looks like this:
First, I agree with everyone who likes to just play the game as written. But each of us has a different X number of times before we give in to making rule variants! (quote:) Originally posted by ThomasTheTank: ...let me re-suggest letting the side with higher troop quality decide to go first or second. It doesn't favor any particular army... SNIP ...(though I do let Germans break ties instead of just rolling for it). SNIP ...but does avoid the die roll effect of poor quality troops being able to outmanuver better qualtiy about half the time. Tom
Combined with Shawn's suggestion: (quote:) We did come up with a simple solution to the five minute argument about the winner of initiative choosing to move first or second. The CinC of each side had to place a counter with a 1 or 2 under their command cap designating if they wanted to move first or second if they won the initiative. Consultation on the matter between was strictly forbidden between players and had to be done during the timed order placement phase.
And I'd add that neither side can change that 1st vs 2nd counter once either side has rolled.
When making the maps of the entire Normandy bridgehead/Cotentin Peninsula, I could not find detailed maps of what ALL the bocage-edged fields looked like. There were areas around the beaches that were detailed enough but the vast majority was not mapped (so far as I could find). Rather than ignore it all together, I provided a "sample hex", 1-kilometer wide of what hedgerows would look like. You can see this sample below and the darker green fields are orchards with the white being normal crop land. Now you know.
Note that the general AREA of the bocage is noted on the my maps and I took this from wargames by both SPI/AH. And who knows what they used for their source material! (Although I don't doubt that they worked harder to resources.)
The snippet (below) of the Terrain Key is from the full listing of CD TOB's terrain for West Front scenario 1 which I'm putting on as a training game several times. The pdf file is my first draft noting a cliff notes version of effects on Movement, Line of Sight, Combat, Morale and Misc. I'd made a full listing of a CD3 "TEC" (Terrain Effects Chart) but in retrospect it was "too much information". Most of the terrain listed was needed in a given scenario so the chart @11x17" was too overwhelming. What I did this time was enter the terrain in a database and by entering the scenario code (WF1 in this case), get just the listings needed. See latest version for Benghazi Handicap Scenario 1 at the bottom of this webpage made 3/18/09.
The larger question is "is it worth the trouble?" I leave that to you. But bear in mind that my goal is bring new players up to speed. Admittably it is a sort of mnemonic device and could not take the place of the rules. I note items that really aren't terrain per se (like HE template & Wrecks) but may have notable terrain-like impacts that I tend to forget.
As a preference, I'd rather the rules detail each terrain features impacts on all facets of the game in one place i.e. a terrain section on Rises, itemize all impacts of Rises. Instead the rules take a different approach that may be more space conserving but tend to spread the information around in different sections noting in Movement which terrain bits have Movement impacts, and then in Combat the terrain bits with impact etc. This means that when you play a game with unfamiliar terrain types, you may need to bounce around the ruleset ferreting out the impacts. This can take some time which would be better spent playing.
Another sneaking suspicsion is that many of us (myself included!) may miss self-applying terrain impacts all too frequently. My other goal is to help alert old players about issues that need to be watched for. Anyway, I'd appreciate your input; is it too detailed or too abbreviated? And more importantly do you see outright mistakes? Thanks!
OT (Glenn) on the forum has spent some time explaining why he feels CD's realism could be improved by making some incremental changes in the AP performance... especially for high-velocity guns. This infamous "88" topic came up again recently and I decided that I could playtest a portion of his suggested changes without too much trouble (my proposal came at the Post dated Thu May 17, 2012 @11:47 pm and continues through May 22 at least):
My playtest changes will be limited to High & Low Velocity AP weapons (not changing 75L40 Shermans and 76mm T-34's)
HIGH VELOCITY, 75+mm & L56+ weapons:
LOW VELOCITY, 75+mm & L24 or less weapons:
So no range adjusments for smaller caliber weapons or larger caliber weapons of L25 to L55. My variant is not playtesting all AP weapons as OT does and no +1 to hit and no increasing extreme range for the high velocity AP. The main impact will be a few weapons in the desert and those open terrain situations in Russia. Bob had given some great input on rationale. Because of Dave's calculations, I added a reduction in Extreme range for Low Velocity weapons. Assuming Dave's gun accuracy tables and adjustments are "in the ballpark", I freely admit that my simplistic range adjustments don't match very well. However I think that they get one closer without having to go recalculate and retype hundreds of weapon listings.
As of May 23 postings on the CD Forum, here is a revised chart that adds a 3rd category of adjustments, with L56+ being called Super and the new High velocity being L46-L55:
Since the math of this new category is more of a pain, it occurred to me that it would be certainly easier for all math-phobes to just look at a chart on the wall that displays the 4 categories (4 if you include the unchanged L25-L45 for completeness). That's called the Simple Math based on the rules to date with new category:
New High being guns from L46-L55 and their Medium range being
Then if you are going to have a chart on the wall, you need not live with uncorrected data and so I made a Nuanced version below the Simple Math version with Formulas for calculating on the fly the 2% of weapons that do not match the 48" Extreme range for High/Super or 36" for Low.
For playtest purposes here is a wall chart of the Nuanced & formula as a pdf here... if the print is too small, print on tabloid rather than letter sized paper.
I made up a page that will help new players know which symbol is for each of 6 orders/commands and 2 bits of info: how that command affects movement... single or double BMA (Basic Movement Allowance) and Fire die roll modifier and some notes associated with certain orders. Click here for a page size pdf that could be enlarged to any size you feel will be visible across the table like tabloid (actually 11x14.3") or 27.5x36"!
Some people are uncomfortable with the Test of Battle's "Determinstic Spotting" (100% chance of spotting a certain distances). So it seems that it would not be a difficult variant to add two new die rolls that utilize the same 100% spot ranges in the table.
Spotting is diced for with the following guidelines
1. At 50% higher than printed deterministic (100% chance) range, a chance of 1-2 to spot
I chose the 50% because it's easy to calculate. This variant could be nuanced in a variety of ways. Fog of war is enhanced. If playing with any hidden units, did you just not get close enough or are you driving closer to a well-camoulflaged ambush?
Important note to new players, I recommend playing Command Decision: Test of Battle "stock" without a lot of trouble to make "improved" accessories (which is mostly wasted in my experience rather than saving time "net")... then try a few improvements after several games. The game is excellent enough that you can put up with some outsize chits or what you think is "weird" for a time.
Notice that he ditched his rigid brown/red rivers above for microfine blue glitter (see below)! Click here to go to the CD3 D-Day Scenario that the above pictures portray.
The glitter rivers look really nice, easy to apply and no trouble to "build" or make fit to the map.
Game pictures at bottom are using the orders/caps. The microfine glitter blue rivers look nicer "in person" than in the pictures. And they're easier and more flexible than store-bought and scratch-built rivers.
Check back for improved versions of these CD*TOB* play aids.
CD game photos (microscale)
|The first 3 photos are from a 2007 CD:TOB game of Canadians heading inland on D-Day. Notice the depot of naturalistic markers above in the boardgame tray.
The table is beautiful but the hills are too rolling to be practical. Under the ground cloth are towels! We are now of the opinion that it is better to use 1/2" insulation foam board cut for the specific scenario. This sounds wasteful but the pieces of the foam board can be reassembled by taping them together and recut for another game! (They're underneath the ground cloth where they're never seen.)
The small rises are an important terrain feature that "expands" the effective size or density of your terrain simply. Mark hasn't made many so you can see only a few here. I make them out of green 3 mm "Foamies" (kid craft foam) colored with various LATEX earthtone spray cans. Enamel spray paint melts the foam! The foamie material is easy to cut (at an angle) with an ordinary hobby knife.
|Note the multicolored "smoke" for eliminated stands (you remove the vehicles in CD TOB because they are available for regrouping.) The various colored cotton wools are stranded together loosely, then taped with double-stick cellophane tape to a yellow push pin, and poofed out.
And the 1:285th scale airplane stuck into the underlying foam board.
I'm a big fan of Mark's microfine glitter rivers and ballast roads. The latter comes in several colors so you can have 3 grades of roads if you like. This is the most flexible and possibly least expensive way to handle these terrain features that are free-form. Certainly the easiest and fastest.
Below is a picture of a 10/08 game of CD:TOB's West Front Scenario #1 in micro scale. Alas, my less beautiforus terrain. Not scratchbuilt like Mark's but tolerable. I tried heavier application of ballast roads and glitter rivers (far left). Maybe unnecessarily heavy.
Over 7 years, Bill Owen drew in Adobe Illustrator (10) full color maps of 91 miles of Normandy bridgehead area including the Cotentin Peninsula. This is from the tip of Cap de la Hague on the west coast of Cotentin to Caen and Troarn on the east edge of the beachhead area... 18-36 miles deep and 30-70 miles wide. This covers virtually all of the battles of the first 7 weeks of the invasion and build-up.
These were originally designed as Campaign maps for Command Decision 3 at a scale of 1 kilometer per 5/8" hex. I can't see anything in the latest version, CD TOB, that would make these maps obsolete. They are very detailed so you can make up miniature battle terrain for one-off battles or campaigns. Based on a Michelin 1947 road map with 3 levels of roads, town blocks & names, rivers, beaches (low & high tide lines), gridded hexes PLUS tons of info added: 20-meter contours, with ship ranges, forts, forests, swamps, drop/beach zones, bocage areas. Drawn with Adobe Illustrator in dozens of "layers" and I originally printed the 13x19" maps myself (each of the 10 maps represent approx. 12x18 miles in area). I found that heavy use of my inkjet printer wore it out (Epson 1520; now I have an Epson 1280).
After having to buy a new printer, I discovered Cafe Press and the Print on Demand concept. I joined forces with my Judges Guild co-founder, Bob Bledsaw, to make these maps available in a Cafe Press store called Judges Guild. The maps are available on line in 3 different scales and sizes:
(note that standard boardgame hexes are 5/8" or .625")
The other nice feedback I've gotten is that I cannot remember any one asking for their money back but Satisfaction Is Guaranteed anyway. If you don't want to order on the web, you can call Cafe Press toll free at 1-877-809-1659. You will need the shop name (JudgesGuild) and at least section number in the URL section (preferably actual item numbers). Shipping costs start at $4 for 1st map and $1/map after that (they have faster, more expensive options also).
There are 2 main sets of D-Day Maps. The latest (4th) set has 1 scale and covers much less ground: 300 meters per hex and 1/4 the area of the other 3 map series. You can see the area covered below (just 5 of the 10 maps).
This set was designed for Mein Panzer players who requested it because of their game scale of 25 meters/inch and utilizing Geohex (12" wide hexes) thus 300 meters per Geohex. The map numbers correspond to the series 1-3 maps below. The 4th series above are really just the immediate area behind the beaches covering only one quarter of the North-South map area of series 1-3. The other oddity is that series 4 has two 17x22" maps to be placed side by side (called Map A & B). The 2 maps are printed vertically because Cafe Press only has 23x35" maps not 17x44"! So you cut them apart and if you buy all 5 in series 4, you'll end up with a 17x220" (1.5x19 feet!)
The following set of maps cover much more terrain and have 3 scales as follows. The kilometer-per-hex was originally designed for Command Decision or Spearhead, mile-per-hex for Great Battles or Division Commander and the 600 Meters per hex for a more skirmish oriented ruleset that I've forgotten the name of! It's great for CD players with Geohex and 50 meters per inch scaled games though.
The snippets below show the same area around Ouistreham in various scales so you can see how the hex size encompasses differing amounts of terrain.
Snippet of map #6, area around Ouistreham showing hex size:
Painting below from: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwii-eur/normandy/nor4o5.htm
|PDF version of Terrain Key for Benghazi Handicap Scenario 1|
|Bill & Chris at Decatur Gamers mini-con playing of West Front Scenario 3 Task Force Gillis written up in the local newspaper September 2009.
Below is a diagram showing common ways of adjudicating Front/Flank arc,for now one is called RAW (Rules As Written) although that is open to interpretation. And the other is called Matthew for the intrepid robo-chart designer from the UK... who advised this is how they do it. Discussed on the forum here.
Small scemario of US Paratroopers under counterattack on D-Day. Designed for CD3, it could work for CD:TOB too. Was originally designed to "test" the beautiful terrain my friend has just finished after a few decades of effort! After spending 30 years building his collection and making the terrain, he didn't want to jinx it by calling it a "game", instead a "test". It was small enough to finish and have a lot of fun with. You can see pictures from that game above by clicking here.
NOTE: so you can see what the map looks like, a low resolution verison is below. The map's square "battlefields" are 6x6 miles which equates to 18x18' tables in CD's inch scale! Obviously you will want to slim down the battlefields to match your table size! (Typically a 6x9' table in inch scale represents 2x3 miles.)