VIII Corp, the game, has been completed – keep a look out for adverts!!
So where to now? VIII Corps attempted to give an idea of the issues experienced on the first day of the Somme for the Corps that failed to hold any objectives.
As a game I intended it to be an introduction to the game mechanism and reflect what was a simple historic fact – the British didn’t get to the German Lines. It is interesting when developing a game you have to ask yourself how much of history do you wish to follow, or how much you want the players to divert from history.
In VIII Corps I felt it was essential that it was still possible for the British to win, it can be done. It is a game that replicates some of the issues present that day – it is not a simulation, and never could be. By approaching it this way it allows this game to be an entry level to the Somme games.
So what is next? Well the 4th Army had 5 Corps in the Somme battle. The other Corps all had varying success on the first day, some capturing and holding objectives, others making larger inroads capturing villages. It is enough to say the 4 further Corps had a different experience and so it would be appropriate to look at VIII Corps southern neighbour, X Corps.
X Corps had two divisions up to attack on the first day, the 36th and 32nd, whilst the 49th waited in reserve for the breakthrough. The 36th, the Ulster Division, a New Army Division, was detailed to assist the flank of VIII Corps north of the River Ancre. Its main task for the first day however was to capture the Schwaben Redoubt and consolidate on the Support line.
The 32nd Division had a harder task – to take the fortified village of Thiepval, and the Leipzig Redoubt. I’ve walked the Somme and visiting the Thiepval memorial and cemetery leaves a lasting impression.
On the day the 36th swept through the front line and gained the two main trenches of the Schwaben Redoubt. However the Germans counterattacked throughout the day, using artillery to block any support moving up and then to bombard the Redoubt itself before launching infantry attacks. By 10pm the 36th was beaten back to their start lines. Casualties, as elsewhere were unspeakable. Schwaben Redoubt was not actually captured for good until the 3rd September.
The 32nd had a similar experience to the VIII Corps in attacking Thiepval and didn’t make any headway towards it. Thiepval was finally captured on the 26th September.
The 32nd however launched itself towards the Leipzig Redoubt and swept over it. It held this against increasing German counterattacks and was still in control of it the next morning. The 32nd as with others took considerable casualties.
The major difference and interest of the X Corps over the VIII Corps is that it actually got into the German lines. This means the game needs to be very different.
Back to the plastic card holders and the china graph pencil!!!!
The Somme Series is published by Vexillia Limited. For more details, free samples and links to Wargame Vault visit the Vexillia web shop