German Bias in WWII Gaming
|The Kursk Gold: "Bleed them White" scenario inside the editor.|
"Too bad the scenarios are ahistoricaly pro-German."
I have seen comments like this before in forums about other games, but I can't recall ever seeing anyone say this about a John Tiller game (but according to the person who commented, this is a thing).
Let me first say: I know for a fact, that the JTS/WDS guys aren't "pro-German." They present the facts through their historical setups, detailed notes and with an engine that assigns combat values based on terrain type, range, unit status and supply.
There is however, something called "Unit Quality" within all John Tiller games which assigns values to the units of both armies. Unit quality is graded on a scale of A-F and influences almost any action within the game. Better quality units are less likely to disrupt, breakdown. Better quality units have higher quality fire, higher assault modifiers, faster bridgebuilding, are better spotters and if it is an HQ unit, a greater command range.
But is there a bias built into the unit quality grading of the John Tiller scenarios?
There is a difference. The SS units in the scenario are "A" quality and the Russian Guards units are a "C" quality. But is this bias? I don't see it that way. Higher quality units are just better led soldiers but that doesn't make them any braver.
Let me step back for a moment and say something about my view of the Eastern Front and the Russian and German armies in general. I believe it to be true that early on in the war, German units were better than their Russian counterparts. They had more experienced leaders and troops. Their weapons were better and their doctrines were better, BUT as the war went on this began to change. Russian unit quality rose as German unit quality decreased. Russian commanders gained experience as better German commanders died off. As German losses piled up in the latter part of the war, Soviet confidence grew and all of the factors that go into "unit quality" were improving.
If this is a historical bias on my part, then stop reading. I don't see it that way because I am not questioning anyone's bravery. As an aside, I think one of the bravest units in the entire Second World War is the 13th Russian Guards division. They were incredibly brave. They crossed the Volga under fire as the Germans entered Stalingrad and fought the German advance to a standstill. I don't think they were well led at that moment, but they were incredibly brave and they stopped the Germans cold, buying precious time for the Chuikov and 62nd Army to regroup. This just isn't a bravery discussion for me.
It is a worthwhile question though, because no wargaming company regardless of the period, wants to be known for exhibiting bias.
Back to "Unit Quality"
I don't see "quality" then as a measure of bravery, I see it as: leadership+training+tactics+weaponry+experience.
In 1943, SS units DID have the better equipment, training, tactical leadership, etc but it was waning. In fact, I would argue that it was battles like Kursk, Narva, etc that killed the "quality" off. Russian Guard units just weren't there yet in terms of "quality"but they were improving.
The "Guards" unit title didn't imply a better trained soldier in Russian terms. It was an honorific based on unit experience. It was a way for Stalin to bolster the confidence of soldiers and recognize the heroic sacrifices Russian soldiers were making to stop the Germans. After 42, it represented a different set of units, weapons, etc.
So to say there is a pro-German bias in John Tiller Games is incorrect. There is a unit quality difference, but the difference at this point in the war (1943) is justified.