Flames of War – The Abyssinian War

I stumbled across this rather nice treatment of The Abyssinian War for the rule system, Flames of War – a very popular WW2 as most people will know.

I don’t know who did it or from what site as the direct link I found didn’t come from a webpage so I can’t give credit to the author, who did a rather good job of it all. Whilst there are a few things that might need adjusting overall it’s a pretty good take on the period for that game system. What it really shows is just how the Abyssinian War can be gamed at what ever scale you prefer, from large multi battalion level battles down to platoon level skirmishes. Flames of War pitches nicely in the company level game providing both low level detail but a big enough scale to bring in many aspects of each combatant’s support arms.

As lots of people have WW2 Italians in sun helmets and perhaps some colonial war period white clad African types then a game using this rule set would be achievable using existing resources or minimal investment. The Imperial Guard would be any WW1 British infantry as well. Drop in some vehicles and guns and you are away! There are many actions that can be portrayed at the company level game scale of Flames of War so this does have some appeal all of its own.

One aspect of this rules supplement that is pretty handy for the Abyssinian gamer is the nice terrain set up system. This is rather good as it divides the terrain types into those of the Northern and Southern theatres of operation so allowing for plausible and agreeable table layouts. The descriptions are generic enough that they can be applied to any game system and thus are pretty handy no matter what scale of game you are playing. I’ve included the text of the terrain layout system below for ease of reference and the complete FOW Abyssinian War supplement can be downloaded here.

soldiers-of-italian-colonies-liby-and-somalia-advance-on-ethiopia-1427558486g8k4n

 ..

.

.

 Abyssinian War terrain Set-Up Method

Ethiopian Terrain Guide

The Second Italo Ethiopian War was fought on a wide variety of terrain, from the jagged mountains of the north to the deserts of the Ogaden, bordering Somalia. The countryside is sparsely populated with villages and farms. Rough trails serve as the only roads across this landscape.

This chart provides an optional way to decide what terrain to place on the table.

Before starting a battle, decide if it is being fought on the Northern or Southern front, as this will determine whether you are fighting in harsh mountains or scrub covered desert. Divide the table into 2’ squares, with each player taking a turn to pick a square and roll to see what terrain is in it. This table is intended to be merely a suggestion, and the final layout of the table is up to the players.

.

Northern Front-Ethiopian Highlands

The predominant terrain feature here is wooded hills and ridges, with clusters of farms and villages connected by narrow dirt roads.

1 or 2: Ridges and Hills

roll again:

1 Valley: this area is relatively open, with grassland and a few trees covering the area between two low rises (at least 12” long). The rises are cross-country terrain. It should be tall enough to conceal units on the far side. Try to connect valleys in adjacent squares.

2 or 3 Ridge: A steep rocky outcrop (at least 12” long) provides a good amount of elevation in the area. The ridge is Difficult Going and is much taller than a tank or truck. Try to connect ridges in adjacent squares.

4 or 5 Hills: The area is covered by one to three foothills, descending from the nearby mountains. A hill is Cross-country terrain. It should be tall enough to conceal units on the far side.

6 Rocks: The area is strewn with large boulders, making it a great place for infantry to hide but difficult for vehicles to navigate. One or two areas of rocky ground (at least 12” across) swell from the surrounding grassland. The terrain is Very Difficult Going and provides Bulletproof Cover to Infantry and Gun Teams.

3: Woods

roll again:

1 to 3 Large Wood: A large wood covers most of this area. Try to connect large woods in adjacent squares.

4 to 6 Scattered Woods: One or two small woods (at least 12” across) cover the area.

4 or 5: Villages

roll again:

1 Village: A village of four to twelve houses along a single dirt road. A village must have a dirt road leading to another road or village, or to a table edge.

2 or 3 Hamlet: A hamlet of three to six houses along a single dirt road. A hamlet must have a dirt road leading to another road or village, or to a table edge.

4 to 6 Homestead: One or two houses and a number of crop fields, next to a single dirt road. A homestead must have a dirt road leading to another road or village, or to a table edge.

6: Water Features:

roll again:

1 River: The mighty Tekeze River cuts its way through your battlefield. A treelined river flows across the table. It flows between two table edges through all river squares. The river is Impassable and must have a road bridge or ford (Difficult Going) in each square it passes through.

2 to 4 Stream: A treelined stream runs through the battlefield. The stream must connect to streams in adjacent squares and must meet the table edge or a river at one or both ends. The stream is Very Difficult Going and must have a road bridge or ford (Difficult Going) in each square it passes through.

5 or 6 Marsh or Lake: An area of wetland or a lake (at least 12” across) or three smaller areas (up to 6” across).

.

Southern Front – Ogaden Desert

The predominant terrain feature here is shrubland, with rocky outcrops and low, sandy hills.

1 or 2: Desert Features

roll again:

1 or 2 Savannah: The area is flat and covered in dry grass.

3 or 4 Sandy Hill: A hill in this area is covered in soft sand, but careful driving should get vehicles over it safely. A sandy hill (at least 12” across) is Difficult Going, and troops cannot Dig In here. The hill should be tall enough to hide units on the opposite side.

5 or 6 Rocks: The area is strewn with large boulders, making it a great place for infantry to hide but difficult for vehicles to navigate. One or two areas of rocky ground (up to 12” across) swell from the surrounding grassland. The terrain is Very Difficult Going and provides Bulletproof Cover to Infantry and Gun Teams.

3 to 5: Vegetation

roll again:

1 to 3 Scattered Scrub: The area has just enough water to sustain a few shrubs and tufts of grass. Areas of scattered scrub do not hinder movement, but provide Concealment for Infantry and Manpacked Gun teams.

4 or 5 Shrubland: The area is covered in dense brush and tall grass, providing little cover but hindering movement. Areas of shrubland (at least 12” across) are Difficult Going, and provide Concealment for Infantry, Manpacked Gun teams, and stationary Light and Medium Gun teams.

6 Baobab Grove: A handful of enormous Baobab trees tower over the surrounding grassland. A small wood (at least 12” across) is in this area. Try to place this adjacent to areas of Shrubland.

6: Villages

roll again:

1 Village: A village of four to twelve houses along a single dirt road. A village must have a dirt road leading to another road or village, or to a table edge.

2 Hamlet: A hamlet of three to six houses along a single dirt road. A hamlet must have a dirt road leading to another road or village, or to a table edge.

3 to 6 Homestead: One or two houses, with a large fenced area nearby for holding livestock. A homestead in the Ogaden does not require any road connection.

Chain of Command – static defence scenarios

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.18.32 pm.png

Field fortifications at Gorrahei

.

Two Fat Lardies produced an excellent World War One supplement in their Xmas special in 2014. It contains rules, army lists and a campaign showing how Chain of Command can be used in a First World War setting. Many of these ideas are usable for the interwar timeframe as naturally it was a period of transition between the First and Second World Wars. A number of ideas helped form the rules of the Abyssinian War supplement we have produced for Chain of Command: Abyssinia.

In The Abyssinian War, historically the Ethiopians developed a series of defensive position in their southern theatre referred to as the ‘Hindenburg Line’. These trenches were built under the eye of the Turkish adviser Wahib Pasha, a veteran of the Great War and the field fortifications at Gorrahei prepared by the Ethiopian Chief, Afewark.

The Italians also dug-in similar defences, notably at Neghelli in the southern theatre as well. Often these defensive position were constructed in an all round defensive arrangement to control the access in and out of the town or village and in the expanse of the Ethiopian countryside they proved vital nodal points of control on the limited trails used to connect town centres. This same pattern was seen in the Western Desert in 1940 by the same general – Graziani. It was used with considerable success in Ethiopia and given the situation on the Egyptian border in 1940 one can see  method to his deployments…unfortunately for him against quite a different enemy.

In The Abyssinian Crisis such fortifications also appear on the French and British Somaliland borders, pre-dating the real French Somali Maginot line that was built by 1941. Though nothing compared to the defences of the Great War or real Maginot Line, there were nevertheless concentrations of such defences such that at the point of contact the defensive positions reflected something more than just a minor defensive position. Suffice to say, there are numerous opportunities for players to engage in attacks on defensive position in the style of a WW1 attack in The Abyssinian Crisis.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 8.34.41 amTherefore, the following rules reflect such improved defensive fortifications using the six scenarios in the main Chain of Command rule book, but with the following amendments to reflect situations where a static defense line is attacked in the style of the Chain of Command scenarios described in their WW1 supplement. All games played on the usual 6’x4′ table.

.

.

The Scenarios

Scenario One – Patrol

This scenario represents the clash of two patrols in No 􏰀Man ’s􏰀Land. No trenches will be present (unless abandoned and largely destroyed). No armour or artillery may be used in this scenario. This scenario may be played across or along the table.

.

Scenario Two – Probe

This scenario represents an attacker probing against forward positions ahead of the front lines. The defender has three squad sized entrenchments which they may place within 24” of their table edge. One sap runs forward from their friendly edge to one of the positions. The attacker has 1D6+6 points of support. The defender has 1D6 points of support. No armour or artillery larger than infantry guns may be used on the table in this scenario. An artillery barrage may be selected by the attacker. This scenario must be played along, not across, the table.

.

Scenario Three – Attack & Defend

The defender has either of the following:

  • A stretch of front line trench running across the table up to 24” in from his base line. One communication trench runs forward from their friendly edge to the front line trench.
  • Three concrete/earthen bunkers and three wood and sandbagged bunkers with up to 24” of communication trenches between them.

The attacker has 2D6+6 points of support. The defender has 1D6 points of support. Armour and artillery may be present on the table. An artillery barrage may be selected by the attacker. This scenario must be played along, not across, the table.

.

Scenario Four – Delaying Action

The table is either of the following:

  • A stretch of front line trench running across the table 24” from the attacker’s base line and a similar stretch of trench running across the table 24” from the defender’s his base line. Two communication trenched connect the two, there being at least 24” apart. A single communication trench runs from the defender’s friendly edge to the nearest trench line.
  • One concrete bunkers 24” from the defender’s edge; one concrete bunker and one wood and sandbagged bunker 36” from the same edge; one wood and sandbagged bunker 40” from the same edge. One damaged building will be within 24” of the defender’s table edge.

The attacker has 2D6+6 points of support. The defender has 1D6 points of support. Armour and artillery may be present on the table. An artillery barrage may not be selected by the attacker. This scenario must be played along, not across, the table.

.

Scenario Five – Flank Attack

This scenario represents a breakthrough battle once the initial defensive belt has been penetrated. As such, the defender must place three 12” sections of trenches or squad sized defensive positions based on damaged buildings. A mix, such as two buildings connected by 12” of entrenchments, is allowed. These must be at least 24” from the defender’s table edge.

The attacker has 1D6+6 points of support. The defender has 1D6 points of support. Armour may be present, but no artillery heavier than infantry guns may be present on the table. No artillery barrages may be selected. This scenario must be played along, not across, the table.

.

Scenario Six – Attack on an Objective

This battle represents the final attack on the main objective and, as such, it is behind the enemy main defensive lines.

In addition to the main objective, the defender must place two 12” sections of trenches or squad sized defensive positions based on damaged buildings and one concrete bunker. A mix, such as two buildings connected by 12” of entrenchments, is allowed. These must be at least 24” from the defender’s table edge.

The attacker has 2D6 points of support. The defender has 1D6 points of support. Armour may be present, but no artillery heavier than infantry guns may be present on the table. No artillery barrages may be selected. This scenario must be played along, not across, the table.

.

.

COC ABYSSINIA LOGO - R

As an aside, for those wishing to see how some of these WW1 style Chain of Command play out, check out Scrivsland for the many games of WW1 CoC that they have played. Do a search on WW1 and Chain of Command to see the many games played.