Panzerleiter: Operation Goodwood (2mm)

Operation Goodwood was a British offensive to the northeast of the French city of Caen in Normandy after the D-Day Landings (18-20 July 1944). Its aim was to make a limited advance against German defensive positions, making their continued resistance in Caen untenable, while also pinning down German armoured reserves in order to allow the American forces in northwest France to launch Operation Cobra.

Having put on a 3rd battle of Kharkov game in July 2016, I again mustered my collection of 2mm WWII armies from Irregular Miniatures - with newly painted British figures to hand - and put on a Goodwood game at the club on Friday 1st December 2017. The battle had large armoured forces on both sides which made it an attractive prospect for a large-scale operational game using small-scale figures.

Mal, Tim, and Pat played the British, with three armoured divisions and two infantry divisions; Mal was British C-in-C. Phil and Noel (German C-in-C) were on the German team, with three panzer, three infantry, and one Luftwaffe field divisions - all under-strength. Over 200 units were in play, with each base representing half of a battalion. We used my old 'Kampfgruppe' rules, slightly tweaked, and re-designated Panzerleiter. I introduced new Recce units and limited aerial attacks to 1d6 sorties per side per turn.

The British could only cross the Orne River/Canal at two points to the northeast of Caen - their bridgehead having been established by British paratroopers. I later allowed Pat to construct a Bailey bridge to cross with his forces closer to Caen.

The German side did not wait for the British to advance, with Noel moving forward to strangle Mal's advance before it got started. Phil deployed his armoured units and artillery to good effect, outflanking and destroying Tim's Guards Armoured Division, and threatening the whole British position. Repeated British bombing sorties barely held off the German assault. Patrick arrived with his armoured division and began to cross the river north of Caen, giving Noel hell with his artillery.

In the end, however, the Germans achieved their objective of stemming the British advance. The Bourguebus ridge - the historical target for the British assault - remained in German hands, and the main British attack did not get far beyond its initial bridgehead. German casualties were marginally heavier than the British however - the reverse of the historical operation, which succeeded in making a bigger advance but for the loss of 400 British to 100 German tanks. Just as in the historical battle, the British were hampered by bottlenecks and a lack of coordination of their ground forces.

Many WWII rulesets are incredibly complicated and time-consuming. I wanted my Panzerleiter rules to enable fast-play epic battles. While happy with the decisive outcome of the game and the enjoyment had by all players, it is inevitable that some sacrifices of realism or fudges are necessary. The range of artillery, and the ground scale, are 'virtual'. In other words, the figures, terrain, and table, are not strictly to scale; this is similar to Rob's Battle of Britain game. 2mm battles are also inevitably both operational and tactical in nature: so there is a combination of different levels of warfare and ground scale being depicted, which can't be easily separated.

Nevertheless, I believe this is counter-balanced by a straightforward game system and the enjoyment of deploying and using masses of figures in a 'playable' game of 2-3 hours.