We are currently working on a number of game-projects, all dealing with warfare in the Nordic region.
On June 22nd, 1941, Germany launched a massive attack on the Soviet Union in what was to become known as Operation Barbarossa. Three German army groups overwhelmed the Soviet frontline forces along a front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. However, in the far north, a war that has largely been forgotten in the stories about Operation Barbarossa, took place.
A week after the main German attack in central Europe, the German forces on the Murmansk front, commanded by General Eduard Dietl, entered the Soviet Union and started their push towards Murmansk - the port city that was vital for receiving supplies and equipment from the West. As the Germans discovered that the roads that had been drawn on their maps were mere reindeer trails, and a lunar-like landscape with no vegetation offered little shelter or aid, they began to question their own ability to capture Murmansk. Over 200,000 soldiers would eventually fight in these harsh conditions, and many would die there.
The Frozen North: WW2 in the Arctic will be a medium complexity wargame, with units being regiments, battalions and companies, representing the forces from Germany, Finland and the Soviet Union that fought on this front from 1941 to 1944. There will be around 200 die-cut counters, representing the military formations, fortifications, markers etc.
The game uses a hexagonal map, covering the area of northern Norway, Finland and Soviet Union where the battles were fought. Supply plays a key role in the game and there are rules for the Soviet use of reindeer battalions for hauling supplies, Soviet use of air supply (or lack thereof...), and the Germans constructing the longest rope road in operation in Europe at the time, to supply their frontline troops.
In 1941, the Germans have to ship in supplies via Kirkenes and transport to frontline supply depots using their limited transport capacity. In 1944 they have to bring these same supply depots back to Kirkenes and Petsamo and ship the supplies out again before the Soviets can capture the harbour at Kirkenes. This race against time is hampered by the need to use transport capacity for moving troops around and Soviet bombing.
Air- and naval operations will also be part of the game, as they played an important role in the campaigns in the area, although we have not finalised whether these units will be handled abstractly by the rules (i.e. use of air points and naval points), or whether there will be separate counters to represent the air-and naval units.
Mirroring the historical objectives, the Germans generally score Victory Points for capturing, holding and ultimately destroying key hexes of territory, as well as successfully evacuating their supplies and main combat units in 1944. The Soviets score Victory Points for destroying German units and capturing supply depots, as well as capturing key geographical hexes on the map within certain time frames.
The game will (probably) have four scenarios:
1. Operation Platinfuchs: The German attack towards Murmansk in June 1941
2. The Petsamo - Kirkenes Operation: The Soviet offensive in October 1944
3. The Arctic Front: 1941-1944 in the Arctic
4. The Norwegian pursuit of the Germans in Finmark and Northern Troms in 1944-45
Historically the front settled down after the German initial advance in 1941, and for three years it remained fairly static with little movement from either side, not unlike World War One on the Western front. There were sporadic fighting, for instance a minor Soviet offensive in February 1942, and the players will be able to recreate these events as well and explore how the front could have developed.
The 3rd scenario includes optional rules and random events that could have affected the war on this front; for instance both armies continuously asked for, and were denied, sizeable reinforcements. What if these reinforcements had been sent?
There will also be a fourth, smaller, scenario, dealing with events after the Soviet offensive died down in November 1944. This is a little known operation where some 3000 Norwegian soldiers, consisting of mountain troops trained in Scotland, police troops trained in Sweden and locally raised Varanger and Alta battalions, pursued the retreating Germans for 1000 km across the frozen tundra, mostly using skis, and harassing the Germans all the way to their new defensive positions at Lyngen in Northern Troms in Norway.
The game will be of medium complexity and can be played solitaire, or by two (or even three) players. Solitaire playability is ensured by using a randomised activation system for formations and units, representing the problematic command and control faced by units in these operations.
1944: Kaprolat - Hasselmann
In April 1944, the SS Ski-Jäger Battalion "Norwegen", consisting of Norwegian volunteers, occupied three strategic hills in Karelia - Peak 200, Kaprolat and Hasselmann. The Soviets had steadily built up their presence on this front and had constructed roads and supply depots to support an offensive.
The Norwegian SS volunteers were thinly stretched, but no reserves were available from their parent Division, 6th SS Mountain Division "Nord".
When the attack hit on June 25th 1944, the three companies of SS men faced an entire Soviet brigade and support troops, some 5,000 men in total.
After heavy fighting, the fortified Hasselmann position falls first, followed in short order by the Kaprolat position. What starts out as a regular retreat soon turns into a rout, and many SS men are shot while trying to flee across marshland or trying to swim across a lake to safety.
Remains of the fallen are still in 2020 found in the forests of Karelia.
The game will be a tactical/operational level game with units being platoons and sections for the SS units, and companies for the Soviets.
ULFHEDNAR: The Civil Wars in Norway 1130-1240
The civil war era in Norway began in 1130 and ended in 1240.
During this time in Norwegian history, some two dozen rival kings and pretenders waged wars to claim the throne.
In the absence of formal laws governing claims to rule, men who had proper lineage and wanted to be king came forward and entered into peaceful, if still fraught, agreements to let one man be king, set up temporary lines of succession, take turns ruling, or share power simultaneously (matriarchal succession with queens was not customary in this era).
In 1130, with the death of King Sigurd the Crusader, his half-brother, Harald Gillekrist, broke an agreement that he and Sigurd had made to pass the throne to Sigurd's only son, the bastard Magnus Sigurdsson. Already on bad terms before Sigurd's death, the two men and the factions loyal to them went to war.
In the first decades of the civil wars, alliances shifted and revolved around the person of a king or pretender. However, towards the end of the 12th century, two rival parties, the Birkebeiner and the Bagler, emerged.
For almost thirty years the civil war raged on between the two sides. When they reconciled in 1217, a more ordered and codified governmental system gradually freed Norway from wars to overthrow the lawful monarch. The final attempt to overthrow ta king came in 1239, when duke Skule Bårdsson became the third pretender to wage war against King Håkon Håkonsson.
He was defeated in 1240, bringing more than 100 years of civil wars to an end.
1240: The Norwegian Civil Wars will be a medium complexity, strategic level wargame, where the objective is to keep your faction in power (i.e. control the King) for as long as possible.
The game involves uniting smaller clans and regions to control as much of Norway as possible, producing goods and resources in order to afford ships and men at arms, and avoiding (or utilising) intervention by foreign powers.
1016: The Eternal King of Norway
On Palm Sunday, 25th March 1016, two rival fleets clashed outside Nesjar in Vestfold,in what would become the largest sea battle in the history of Norway.
The outcome would be crucial for the process of Christianisation of Norway under King Olav II Haraldsson - St. Olav.
The massed fleets of King Olav II Haraldson and Ladejarl Svein Håkonsson, the latter supported by an alliance with Sweden, faced off against each other, and on the table was nothing less than the future of the Kingdom itself.
Olav could muster some 22 large ships and around 2,000 men - most of them experienced and hardened warriors that had followed Olav on viking raids for years and many had served under Olav during the wars in England just a few years earlier. His ship, "Karlshovde", was an impressive vessel with as many as 120 of his best warriors onboard.
Jarl Svein had gathered a larger fleet of some 45 ships and almost 3,000 men, although many of the ships were smaller than those of King Olav. He also had the support of local chieftains and petty kings, notably Einar Tambarskjelve (Einar "Bellyshaker") and Erling Skjalgsson from Rogaland.
The battle started when King Olav attacked the stationary fleet of Jarl Svein, and the battle raged on for a few hours. IT was a bloody affair and in the end Jarl Svein was forced to retreat to Sweden and King Olav remained victorious on the battlefield.
The legend states that he had a large cross raised on the shore, as a symbol of divine intervention in the battle.
1016: The Eternal King will be a low to medium complexity wargame about the Battle of Nesjar that confirmed Olav Haraldsson as the King of Norway. The player controls either the forces of King Olav, or those of Svein Håkonsson and his allies. Units are individual ships, units of viking warriors as well as individual leaders.
1612: Battle of Kringen
In 1612 a force of Scottish mercenaries, led by Lt.Col.Alexander Ramsay landed in Norway intending to join the Swedish forces in the Kalmar War between Sweden and Denmark-Norway (1611-1613).
Marching across the mountains from western Norway, the Scots were screened by Norwegian militia and when they arrived at Kringen, just south of Otta in the Gudbrandsdal valley, a Norwegian militia force ambushed them.
In what has later been known as The Battle of Kringen, the entire Scottish force was killed, some were even massacred after their surrender as a revenge for Swedish massacres of Norwegian conscripts earlier in the war.
With just a few hundred soldiers on both sides, this will be a tactical level game where the Scots will attempt to fight their way out of the trap.