The Numbers of War

 

In one sense, wargames are all about numbers. And contrary to popular belief, the most important numbers are not necessarily those you roll on the combat dice. You can think of the combat dice roll as the culmination of a series of numbers. Some of those less recognized numbers probably determined whether there was to be a combat in the first place, so you can see that it can be worthwhile to pay attention to those.

 

Here, in no particular order, we will examine some critical numbers in the game.

 

Amphibious Attrition

In BiN, attrition is a property of a sealane, as thatís how the amphibious units get to shore. In the Overlord scenario, Allied units in the first two turns use Sealane 4. Sealanes have three properties that affect units on landing: Attrition, Enemy Range and Step Multiple.

 

Attrition: This specifies the dice roll for attrition. For Sealane 4, losses are caused on a 5 or a 6.

Range: For Sealane 4, all enemy units within 3 hexes of the landing unit can contribute to attrition.

Step Multiple: To see how many dice rolls the defenders can inflict, all enemy steps (of any type), within range, are added up and then divided by the Step Multiple, with the result rounded down. For Sealane 4, the multiple is 3.

 

So to work out what exactly is happening at Omaha on the first turn, choose a possible landing hex, add up all enemy steps within 3 hexes and divide this number by 3, rounding down to get a whole number. A unit cannot undergo more dice rolls than it has steps, so compare the number to the number of steps and take whichever is the smaller to get the final number of attrition dice.

 

The most obvious use for this knowledge is in planning your naval bombardment. If there a 9 enemy steps in range, this will cause 3 dice rolls. If you destroy just 1 of those steps, the rounding process will cause the number of dice rolls to fall to 2, which might be very helpful to the men in the landing craft.

 

After Turn 2, all Allied units use Sealane 5, which has different set of numbers. The Attrition number is only 6, but the range has increased to 4, with the Step Multiple remaining at 3.

 

So for units arriving on Turn 3 or later, the chance of taking attrition is lower, but the range is one greater.

 

Note that units belong to the sealanes on which they arrive. If you have Sealane 4 units that, for whatever reason, do not get to land until Turn 3, those units will still have the attrition factors for units that arrived on Turns 1 and 2, even though they may be landing on the same hex as later units in a different Sealane. If you land your amphibious units on the turn on which they arrive, then there will be no problem.

 

Avoiding Overruns

Whichever way you look at it, being on the receiving end of an overrun is a decidedly non-optimal outcome. The AI is guaranteed to know about all possible overruns, and if human opponents use the Combat Advisor, (as they should), then they will know as well.

 

The criteria for avoiding overrun is to have a specified minimum number of combat steps in a hex, at least one of which is entrenched. In Overlord, the magic number for the Axis is 4, and for the Allies it is 5 steps. Donít get them mixed up, or disaster may result!

 

Dealing With Minefields

Since the Allies donít use mines in the Overlord scenario, they are entitled to seize the high moral ground, and complain about their unsporting and unfair nature. This will do them little good however, if their logistics or their units get snarled up in German minefields, so its good to know a little about them.

 

Movement Penalty: For both sides, minefields apply a penalty of 7 OPs. Thatís obviously a problem for movement, but it can also be a problem for supplies. The last thing the Allied players needs is a reduced supply effort because minefields on the beach havenít been cleared.

 

Minefield Duration: For both sides, minefields can take a maximum of 3 Turns to be cleared. Following is what the rulebook has to say about clearing minefields. You really should have a close look at it, but the most important point for the Allies is that an Engineer (or US Ranger unit with bridge repair capability) that ends the turn on a minefield with no enemy unit adjacent will clear a minefield in 1 Turn. Make sure you land these units on your supply hexes as soon as possible.

20.3 Minefield Reduction

 

An enemy Minefield may be reduced by a friendly unit occupying a hex containing it or, under the right conditions, occupying a hex adjacent to it.

If a friendly unit occupies a hex containing a Minefield, the Minefield will be reduced at the following rate.

If the Minefield has an enemy unit adjacent to it, its value is reduced by one per turn.

If the Minefield does not have an enemy unit adjacent to it, its value is reduced by two per turn.

If a minefield does not have an enemy unit adjacent to it and it is occupied by a unit capable of repairing bridges (i.e. Engineer), its value is reduced by three per turn.

If a friendly unit occupies a hex adjacent to a Minefield, the Minefield will be reduced at the following rate.

If the Minefield does not have an enemy unit adjacent to it, its value is reduced by two per turn.

If the Minefield has an enemy unit adjacent to it, its value is reduced by one per turn.

If the Minefield hex is occupied by an enemy unit its value is not reduced.

Enemy Minefield values are reduced at the start of the enemy player turn.

 

Mine Combat Penalty: This value as entered in the Editor is different for both sides, though the lack of Allied minefields renders this point somewhat moot. However, the penalty of Ė3 Shifts for Allied units defending in Axis minefields is quite substantial. Not only could it come into play on the beaches, but the Axis player gets additional minefields to lay during the game.

 

As well as the penalty for defending, a unit attacking from a minefield hex gets no tactical shift bonus for hex control. So as the Axis player, to maximise the benefit from your minefields, you should try to lay these minefields on hexes from which you know the Allies will have to attack, and which you have some prospect of counter-attacking. Depending on Allied progress, the Clear hexes around Caen, or just southwest of it, are good candidates. Other opportunities will doubtless suggest themselves.