Friday, July 25, 2014

Battlegroup Kursk: ATTACK / COUNTER-ATTACK Part I

The second scenario from the BK rules features another meeting engagement coming from opposite corners of the map.  I played a "platoon level" game and also diced for units to appear on the table.  The game had a nice "deploy and fight from the march" feel to it as clusters of armored vehicles or infantry would suddenly appear on the battlefield each turn.

Battle already underway.  Soviets enter from the bottom-right, Germans enter from the top-left.

The Soviets executed a large number of orders in quick succession on the first turn, which enabled them to race some tanks down the table to capture their first objective, and begin probing around the second objective.  The Germans had to work with what they had and only received 2 units on the table, so the Stug III section moved onto the table and provided an overwatch capability of sorts and covered the other units as they deployed.
Stug-III Sections covering the main force as it deploys - these were my only "proper" painted units.  Most other tanks in the game have a simple basecoat or layer of camouflage.  

Infantry were slow to get started as the limited number of orders had both sides moving their AFVs with the infantry sitting at the start point.  The tank-to-tank action heated up rather quickly with the Soviets pinning down a Stug-III with gunnery and the Germans KOing a T-34 with the Stug's deadly gunnery.
Burning T-34s on the first Soviet objective

T-34s engaging the German units at much closer range.
Gradually the Panzer IV's got into the mix and started a flanking move, running head-long into a Soviet T-34 platoon.  This short-range knife fight saw the Germans get the worst of it as 2 out of the 3 Panzer IVs were knocked out, with only 1 T-34 becoming pinned.  I was disappointed in the performance of my Panzer IV's this game but the Stugs were very impressive, accounting for most of the kills in the game so far.
Soviet infantry, however unflocked, make their way onto the battlefield

Allow me to introduce my German 251/1 Halftracks with their make-over.  New paint job, flocked bases, and decals.  Pretty snazzy.

This Pak-38 crew never had it so good.  Being towed by a half track and all!

Panzer IV's getting handled roughly by a platoon of T-34s at close range!

A monster KV-1.  Still waiting to see how this behemoth takes 75mm fire in Battlegroup Kursk.


As I am writing this, one German turn has completed, with a Stug becoming unpinned, and finally getting the infantry into the battle.  The Soviet infantry is still at the start line and has not moved off yet.  It's going to take awhile for the infantry to get into the game and I'm starting to wonder if one force will reach their BP prior to the troops even getting to fight?  The Germans in halftracks get great mobility so I'm thinking it may be a one sided fight.  That being said, after the sharp tank-action that was fought this morning, the Germans are already at "18" out of 27 for their breakpoint.  The Russians are at "12" out of 32.  With all of those infantry squads still to come up, I'm wondering if the Germans will be able to sustain alot of this action.  I'll ask you all who play the game - do the Germans win much in BK???

An enjoyable game so far.  Some things I need to do in order to make it more enjoyable - work on my Kursk terrain and finish my building queue, detail my vehicles, flock my infantry, paint MORE infantry (with 2 and 3 man stands, this is not difficult), and print out the unit data sheets (thank you, Ken) so there is significantly less page-flipping.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Battlegroup Kursk! First Game AAR

I received my copy of Battlegroup: Kursk in the mail roughly a week ago and have been perusing the rules since.  Today I had my first go at playing a small game of BGK.  The scenario was the "introductory" scenario entitled "A Clash of Reconnaissance" and features some recce troops, an infantry platoon per side, and an armored fighting vehicle in reserve.

The Soviets had 2 x T-70 light tanks, an infantry platoon, an MMG section, an 82mm mortar section and their command.  The Germans had an infantry platoon with 1x 222 wheeled recce vehicle, a Panzer IVG in reserve, and a PAK 38 AT gun towed by a Steyr heavy car.

Both sides had an objective to take but Soviet reconnaissance vehicles sped ahead and not only captured the German objective but KO'd the small wheeled recon vehicle.  The crews exchanged fire and the 20mm auto-cannon could not penetrate the T-70s hide on the first go-around.  The Soviets captured the initiative and would have it almost the entire game.


Soviet objective is the crossroads.  The German objective is the small building along the road in the upper left.

Soviet infantry platoon enters on turn 2!  Lucky dice rolling allowed the entire platoon with its support to arrive on the battlefield at the same time.

The 222 knocked out.  You can see the T-70s creeping forward on the hill.

Meanwhile the Russians dash towards the objective - the small knocked out building 

Germans advance!
 The Soviets diced and received all of their platoon at once, as did the Germans on their turn.  The Germans had to advance through a huge open field to get to any suitable cover.  They immediately came under fire by the T-70s.  Luckily for them, Ivan was a lousy shot today!


The Germans deployed the PAK 38 to cover the infantry's advance after the Soviets brought up both T-70s.  Meanwhile, the Soviet infantry is slow to get going off the start line but eventually their squads reach their own objective and the Germans begin to accumulate battle counters, which are random points that, when added up to equal your force's battle rating, force you to withdraw from the field and lose the game!  By now, the Germans have accumulated counters for losing the 222 recce section, having fewer recon units than the Soviets, and the Soviets taking 2 objectives.
For the Motherland!  For Stalin!  The Soviets reach their objective...

meanwhile Gerry deploys his Pak-38 to try and keep those T-70s at bay

Turn 4 sees the arrival of Ivan's lone T-34 and it races down the road to engage all that kraut infantry

Soviets crossing the road


The T-34 is pinned thanks to lucky German "Area Fire" rolling!
  The action heats up as both sides get their armored reinforcement.  Both Ivan and Gerry push their infantry forward.  A lucky HE hit from one of Ivan's T-70s KO's the Pak-38 crew killing all of them, and good shooting on behalf of the Panzertruppen as the Panzer IVG kills the T-34.

Soviet Maxim team reaches the hilltop and scans for Gerry.

This squad was filled with some of the most valorous toy soldiers ever to grace the gaming table, constantly rolling "6" on their morale checks and passing the "beyond the call of duty" test twice!  This enables them to move into cover and pour fire on the Soviet Maxim crew next turn.


Meanwhile, another German squad pinned by the T-70s.  The platoon leader was overheard saying "we've got to do something about those damn tanks!"

Courage was everywhere today.  The German squad breaks from cover and engages a T-70 with suppressing fire!  They got their 6!  
 The Germans are able to push one squad up into the woods just as the Soviets occupy the hilltop to their front.  A brutal "back and forth" breaks out with the Germans getting the worst of it.  The Russians were mighty mad after losing that Maxim team.  Heavy small arms and MG fire rains down into the woods and pretty much destroys the German squad.  Unbeknownst to me, a squad that is pinned and reduced to 1 man is eliminated.  I kept Hans on the table for a little longer than I should have.  But it was a great chance to learn the close assault rules.  The Soviets flushed the forest out with 1 squad from the hilltop taking heavy casualties.  After I realized my mistake, I took Hans off the table, and "regenerated" the Soviet casualties...


Panzer IV shot immobilizes a T-70.....The German PL was hoping for a solid kill but will take what he can get.

The Germans receive another 5 counters for un-pinning a pinned squad and that brings them one away from their breakpoint, with the Soviets 3 away from reaching theirs.  THis is going to be close but you can see which way the wind is blowing!  The loss of the German squad adds yet another counter to the pile.  A 1 is drawn effectively ending the game.

I apologize for the unflocked stands but they were just rebased for Rapid Fire recently.  
INITIAL THOUGHTS
Overall, I enjoyed Battlegroup Kursk.  I have to echo what everyone else has said in the avalanche of reviews that are already out there on these rules.  "These aren't my go-to rules...yet."  The engagement system, penetration rules, rules for pinning and suppression are solid and unlike other games, victory is in no way a foregone conclusion.  A clever commander can snatch victory from defeat.  Look at this game for instance.  The Soviets came out on the bottom of almost all the actions they fought in, but still won the game.  (wow if that doesn't sound familiar).

A 6 x 4 table is probably just the right size for a "squad" or "platoon" level game.  With all of the forces on the table, this game was still rated as "squad sized" which is interesting.  With a little book-keeping, solo play is not out of the question but this game is probably way more fun with other human beings to play against.

I also like the fact that you don't have to have huge armies to play a game.  1 platoon with accompanying support functions is more than enough to have an enjoyable 2 hour game no-problem.

Watch out with your infantry as well.  Aimed small arms fire is absolutely devastating if they're not in cover.  And don't drive your armor too close to enemy infantry in cover either.  These rules are refreshing in that "real world" tactics, techniques, and procedures work for your troops on the table.  There aren't too many games that can make that claim.  So look for more, bigger games of Battlegroup on this blog.


Ivan sweeps the forest.
Final dispositions - the Soviets held the initiative for almost the entire game by rolling straight 5s and 6s for their orders while the Germans rolled a "1" or a "2" each time...


82mm Mortar section just finished setting up when the Platoon Leader called the game!

Ivan advancing down the road

second squad and the platoon leadership arrive at the forest as the game ends









Thursday, July 17, 2014

PANZERBLITZ in miniature!

I have often commented on this blog that Panzerblitz would make an ideal miniatures rules set and those of us who cut our teeth on Panzerblitz, Panzerleader, and Arab-Israeli Wars have a miniatures rules set to try out on a rainy Saturday.

Dan Fraser, on his excellent wargaming wiki "Canuck Commander" has posted an re-write of the famous Panzerblitz family of rules for the miniature world.  (found here)

Those of you who enjoy fighting real battles where a unit equals a platoon or a Soviet company will not be disappointed.  SOUND OFFICERS CALL fought a "small" battalion action recently using Mr Fraser's rules and found them to be satisfying and true to the original game.

 The game pitted a German infantry battalion on foot with 2 Stug-III platoons and a Tiger I platoon, along with 2 batteries of 105mm towed artillery and 2 ME-109 bomb-equipped airstrikes.



eager German Landsers cross the line of departure
 So besides some neat pictures what else do I have for you?  Well some observations really.  If you are a fan of platoon-based stands, and like fighting large battles without alot of hassle, then this game is "probably" for you.  If you want to spend 30 US dollars, you could also buy a copy of GHQ's WWII MicroArmour: The Game as it is based off of many, many, many of the same mechanisms and procedures that Panzerblitz was founded on.   (actually, you can download GHQ's WWII rules for FREE in color now from their website...that's right.  Absolutely free.  With the infantry rules and everything).

 Panzerblitz, and Mr Fraser's re-write use a Combat Results Table although I have to admit, I'm partial to Mr Fraser's combat results table over the original game, where engagements can now lead to morale checks with varying degrees of severity.
Soviet infantry platoons dug in are targeted by German artillery!
 Panzerblitz in miniature is clean and the action happens FAST.  With a battle generally decided within an hour or two.  Probably just like playing the boardgame.
Result 1 platoon DISRUPTED.

Air arrived on turn 2 but the bombs missed...Never send a fighter pilot to do a real man's work.
 Okay so this is probably also an attempt to show off my 15mm Germans...again!




recon 223 hit by the SU-76!  The action is heating up.  The lead German elements come under accurate Soviet Artillery fire as you can see in the background.
 Forgive my incomplete painted models.  I'm doing an overhaul of basically all of my WWII Germans...

Soviets await the attack

No man's land as the German battalion advance heats up.  Soviets move more infantry platoons in to reinforce.

mortar platoon and the CP stand.




Lessons Learned:  Oh boy is this going to sound familiar to any of you who actually read my blog...

Combined Arms: Just like GHQ - you have to use your artillery and direct fires to achieve a "disruption" result so you can move in and close assault or over-run the enemy while they are disrupted.  Opportunity fire from Panzerleader and Arab-Israeli wars is introduced so use smoke to obscure movement if you have it!

Slow Infantry:  Did you ever notice, just like a paper defending a thesis, Avalon Hill games always seem to have a "theme" the author wants you to subscribe to.  Squad Leader was basically to move in cover and out of sight wherever you go.  Panzerblitz seems to be that infantry are slower than molasses and should be transported, ideally in armored halftracks wherever you go.  I increased their movement to 4" which was still barely nothing compared to the 16" and 18" movement of my tracked vehicles...

Anyways, this is my daughter's birthday weekend everyone so don't expect too much gaming, painting, or war-like transmissions from this net.  Looks like it's all Peppa Pig and Minnie Mouse for the next 48 hours.

Six Out...

My daughter playing piano at my Uncle's House.  She likes playing on that piano as much as I do!