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World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020
with David McElhannon

With the help of Battlefront and friends, I was able to introduce 11 middle school students to the joy of tabletop wargaming this summer. The camp was held in June and featured a campaign to secure the Overloon salient. Participants were given figures, taught how to paint them, and then used them over a four day campaign set in October of 1944. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, even though it got competitive at times (gamers!).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Overloon campaign (sometimes called the battles for the Peel Marshes), it was fought to clean up the lines between Eindhoven and Nijmegen after the failure of Operation Market-Garden. It featured the US 7th Armored division and Commonwealth 3rd Canadian and 11th Armored divisions going up against the kampfgrupped remains of the 107th Panzer brigade and the KG Walther pushed up against the Maas River. This campaign presented both sides with all kinds of fun toys to use while learning the game.

The campers were provided with infantry and armor figures, which were preassembled and primed, that was to be their company for the week. I allowed them to choose the nationality the wanted, with the exception that there could only be four German players, and the Allies were divided between Commonwealth, US, and Soviets (we bent historicity a bit, but I wanted them to have a choice). Part of the fun of an experience like this is learning the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen nationality, something that Flames does a pretty good job of doing. At the end of the week, they were able to take their painted figures home with them.

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020

As you can probably imagine, painting was the most difficult task for them. I set a historical standard (no crazy paint schemes) and showed them lots of guides and actual painted figures to work from. Some struggled more than others, but at the end of the day, everyone’s companies looked pretty good. To encourage them to take a bit more time, a prize was offered and given to the participant judged “best painted.”

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020 World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020
Once the paint was dry, we engaged in a test game, to familiarize the kids with the rules. They took to it fairly easily although, like any game, we did find ourselves repeating how to do some things fairly frequently. By the end of the week though, most had it down pat. What was really cool to see was that as they began to learn how their units worked, the players really became much better players.
After many tense attacks and defenses, they Germans won the campaign by a small margin. They were helped by the weather, which only allowed Allied air to fly on one day, and the swampy, muddy, terrain. While disappointed, the Allied players still had a great time, swapping “war” stories and “might have beens.” The Germans were just pleased with themselves for stopping the Allied tide short of the final table.

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020

World War II Through Wargaming: Summer Camp 2020
All in all, it was a great introduction for these young men into the hobby. In addition to the “best painted”, I was able to award a “most clutch die roller”, “best sportsmanship”, and “best general” for each side and give away tons of models. Thank you Battlefront for helping me out with the prizes for the camp. The kids liked it so much, they have convinced me to start an after school miniatures hobby club for next school year!

~David


Last Updated On Thursday, July 30, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront