Monday, March 27, 2023

Somewhere in Europe

For too many reasons to go into in this post, I've embraced the idea of scaling back my 54mm WWII collection. The Hammer of Democracy games convinced me not to unload the whole collection, but further rumination revealed to me that I have far more figures and vehicles than I want in this collection.

Rather than rid myself of it entirely,which would throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I plan on reducing it to the size that brings me the most joy in this scale: squad vs squad with MG support, and some vehicles for flavor. Which coincidentally could give me two squads per side with support for Hammer of Democracy.

To test this concept, I've turned to Five Men in Normandy to generate a squad to follow through a short campaign. The result was an 8-man US squad consisting of one pistol, one smg, one BAR, a scoped sniper rifle, and four rifles.

For tactical rules, I am not totally keen on Five Men in Normandy. When they work for me, I think they are the bee's knees, but I have had too many games that have bogged down into a dice rolling fest with no result in the middle of the action. So, instead, to play the game, I broke out One Hour Skirmish Wargames ( OHSW ). OHSW is one of my favorite sets of rules and although I've had issues using it for some scenarios in the past, I believe it had to do with my setup, not the rules.

As part of the force generation in Five Men in Normandy, you can add some characterization. Similarly, in OHSW, you can assign some skills to your soldiers. I used the former and then tried to find equivalent skills in the latter. My intent is to learn about my squad as I play, so only three figures are defined as characters so far:

  • "Sarge", Sgt. Tony Sergente - "the 2nd most famous Italian-American singer in South Philadelphia"- is the squad leader. He is Leader(3) and Inspiring.
  • One of the kneeling poses is a sniper and politically motivated working class idealist, Pvt. Leupold, with deadshot(2). 
  • The 2nd in command, who loves his little brothers and mom's apple pie, is Cpl. Baker, Leader(2).

For their first mission, they are tasked with holding a building and giving the advancing Germans a bloody nose, before falling back.

In game terms, the US must eliminate 50% of the Germans (who, by an act of random generation, have eight men as well and fortunately for the Americans, no LMG) before their mission is complete.

I set the turn limit to 8 turns for the US to complete their mission - if not they will either be overrun or they will fall back, but fail their mission, which has an impact in terms of the Five Men in Normandy campaign rules.

A random setup event indicated there is a thick fog for the first two turns (Because turns in OHSW are variable in length, I opted to treat this as four phases instead)- which limits LOS to 4".

My table, by the way, is 38" square. Given WWII unit frontages, this means I more-or-less, and unintentionally at that, have a matching ground and figure scale. Color me surprised.

In any case ...somewhere in Europe:

The US squad set up first - the BAR, Cpl. Baker and two rifles in the building. Sarge,  Pvt. Leupold and two rifles set up in the trees alongside the road.

The Germans advanced in a line, using cover and avoiding the road

Feldwebel Able issued commands from the safety of the trees.

The BAR opened up in a big way.

The sniper took aim and unleashed devastation on the fascists.

The Germans, perhaps too cautious (although, given the BAR gunner's accuracy and the sniper, who can blame them?), stayed in cover and concentrated fire on the house. They did manage to knock the BAR out of the fight but Cpl. Baker ordered one of the other rifles to pick it up and so it was back in action almost right away.

The deputy squad leader bravely (?) crossed the the road to try and harass the G.I.s over there. Sarge had other ideas.
The poor German had no chance - each got bonus card draws equal to their Leader skill. 3 to 1 in favor of Sarge.

A last ditch effort by the Germans to clear the house with grenades failed, although it temporarily knocked one of the GI's for a loop.

OHSW worked a treat.

The game went the full eight turns, but the US inflicted 50% casualties on the Germans and so completed the mission successfully.

The US finished the game with two casualties of their own. For the campaign's sake, I drew a card for each casualty to learn their fate. One returned to the fight, the other is out. The squad is down to seven men for the next mission (whenever I might play it).


  1. It looks fun, John, with some nice photos to view.

    1. Thanks, Michael. It was a fun game, easy to set up, played in an hour, and felt like comic book/movie WWII - which is what I am going for with this small number of figures.

  2. OHSW certainly provide some tense and fun games.

    1. I find drawing cards for resolution builds tension in a way that rolling dice does not, generally speaking. Kevin White's, The Kokoda Trail ( , was the first I ever encountered that and I've been a fan since.

  3. Another excellent game John! I really like how you have pared things down, but still get an exciting and great looking game!

    1. Thanks, Brad! Reducing my stuff for 54mm WWII has removed the sense of guilt of having all this stuff but not using it. I live in an apartment where space comes at a premium and it was taking up a lot of space. Plus I needed room to store my growing forces for Venus :D