Thursday, March 18, 2010

Market Garden for WH40K?

Well, I’m still not back in 40K and scratch building, but at least my thoughts begin to revolve around 40K again, so maybe this is my cure to WOW.
Somehow I was reminded of “Operation Market Garden” last week – can’t recall what triggered it, but I immediately thought:
Ah, what a daring operation. It screams to be converted into a campaign!
So let’s see what it is all about.

Historical overview:
Operation Market Garden was a combined Air Landing and armored breakthrough operation of the Allied forces in 1944. In September 1944 the Allies had shattered most of the German defenses in France and were pressing towards the German border. Most German forces were in a rout and fleeing the Allied juggernaut. The daring plan of Operation Market Garden was to use a large airborne operation to secure vital bridges along a narrow corridor, which would then be used by a huge armored thrust deep through the Netherlands and right to the German border. If it succeeded it would cut off a large amount of German units between the coast and Germany as well as it would secure a direct path for future operations into the industrial heart of Germany.
This was the plan.
On 17 September 1944 an armada of transport aircraft dropped British, US, and Polish airborne troops in their designated landing zones between Eindhoven and Nijmegen. These forces were to secure vital bridges across the Maas and two arms of the Rhine River for the armored thrust from the south.
The initial landing operation was successful and several bridges were captured by the airborne troops. Unfortunately however the armored advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhemina Canal. This initial setback delayed the capture of the main bridge across Maas until September 20. And the British 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem encountered a far stronger resistance than expected. In the ensuing battle only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them they were overrun on the 21st – as depicted in the popular movie “A Bridge too far”. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated and the 25th. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force, and the Rhine remained a barrier to their advance until the offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945.

The geography of the area of operation is what makes it so interesting. Highway 69 – also nicknamed “Hell’s Highway” – leading through the planned route was two lanes wide and generally raised above the surrounding terrain of polders, dykes, and drainage ditches. The ground on either side of the highway was mostly too soft to support heavy vehicle movement. The Dykes tended to be topped by trees and brushes and roads were lined with trees, seriously restricting observation and offering excellent ambush terrain.
Along Highway 69 there were six major obstacles between the starting line at Lommel and the objective at Nederrijn. These varied from the 30 meter (100 ft) wide Wilhelmina Canal, to the 91 meter (300 ft) wide Nederrijn, and the 260 meter (850 ft) wide Waal River at Nijmegen.
The overall plan hinged around the capture of these bridges with “thunderclap surprise” nearly simultaneously – any failure to do so could result in serious delay and even defeat.
As the commander of the XXX Corps (the armored spearhead) recalled “The country was wooded and rather marshy which made any outflanking operation impossible

In hindsight such limitations for an operation seem to virtually scream for failure and defeat. Simply too many things that could go wrong – well, that did go wrong and stalled Allied operations into Germany for almost 6 months.

MG as a wargame?
What makes Market Garden so intriguing for any wargame is exactly the above limitation of the terrain, the combination of airborne operations together with a large armored assault (Panzersturm or Tankhammer anyone?). Placed on a nice map, with 4 sections, and maybe 10 campaign days (each a potential battle), together with a nice mix of forces, limited pool of available forces and reinforcements, plus maybe some Battle Hardening for the survivors, is really an exciting idea, isn’t it?

Warhammer 40.000 idea
So here’s my idea and I will need a lot of help from you guys to see if it can be done.
1. To simulate the historical terrain and situation I’d say:

“Zon Prime” is a lava world(?) with a very small continent formed like an stretched hour glass floating on the lava. However at the one end of the continent is a "portal” that connects to the huge sub-terrain complex of “Aarnbeck” with a hive, some research facilities and huge mining. The other end of the continent is dominated by a star port and several logistic facilities.
This world is now attacked by the Orks, which already control the surface and
are about to break through the portal to Aarnbeck. Since the hive also
contains a sacred shrine of a very important martyr, it is of utter importance
that the Xenos is denied of any access to Aarnbeck.
A planetary attack by the Imperial Navy re-captured the star port and allowed the landing of strong ground forces. But in order for these land forces to reach the Aarnbeck portal, they must get across the bottleneck of the continent and cross several bridges.
To secure these bridges three groups of airborne forces will land in their Landing
Zones (LZ’s) and capture the bridges before the Orks can move reinforcements or
blow the bridges…..

2. Basically I’m thinking of up to 8 players that can battle each day simultaneously over 4 map sectors
3. Good vs Bad
3.1. Good: Imperial Guard, Space Marines (all loyal chapters), Inquisition (Demon- and Witch Hunter)
3.2. Bad: Orks (I’d be reluctant to mix any other army with da Orkse, but maybe you have a good idea)
4. A fixed pool of available forces
4.1. Each unit lost is permanently removed from the roster for the remainder of the campaign
4.2. Damaged units/vehicles are retained and can be repaired via die roll (i.e. fixed and operational, remains damaged and may be used in next battle, damaged beyond repair and removed from campaigns)
4.3. Surviving units can attempt to be “battle hardened” between battle and maybe get extra equipment or capabilities (Veterans)
5. Option to receive reinforcements from the fixed pool
6. Supplies for the airborne troops? Maybe a between scenario check that would determine if supplies arrived, and if not …well, I dunno, what would be practical? A modifier to the die rolls or to the reinforcements?
7. Scenario Results must award the something to the winning player, but must also keep the looser away from a “funnel of death” that will make it harder with each loss. Depending on the previous result there could be alternations to the set up
7.1. for example both sides must enter from off-board,
7.2. or the defender is prepared,
7.3. or simultaneous but hidden set up (maybe a little screening between both set-ups, so no player sees where and how the other sets up)
7.4. or alternations to the reinforcement rolls
8. Airborne units are infantry and heavy weapons only – no vehicles
9. Initially all “Good” players attack
9.1. The Armor player attacks form the “Star Port” via land
9.2. The 3 other players attack via Aerial Landing
10. Initial goal for the “Good” player is to capture the landmarks (bridges) and defend them for the following days, until the Armor player establishes contact
11. The “Bad” players are initially in the defense, but will soon be forced to re-take the bridges and at the same time prevent the “Good” armor player from linking up
12. Once two “Good” players have linked up, they can combine their forces and continue to the next sector (of course the two “Bad” players link up too)

So what do you think?Is this worth your time? Any ideas, feedback, recommendations?