We played the second scenario from the Battlegroup: Kursk rules "Attack / Counter-Attack" featuring a Soviet breakthrough and West German counter attack to blunt it. This battle featured 2 platoons of T-62s and a mechanized platoon of infantry in BMP-2s against a Leopard IA5 platoon of 3 tanks, and a mechanized infantry platoon in 4 Marders with Milan ATGMs.
The Soviets and NATO also had a reconnaissance section with the Germans fielding their Spahpanzer Luchs (with the ace crew from last battle!) and the Soviets with a BRDM2 scout section. The Soviets also had some divisional anti-tank with a BRDM/AT5 vehicle in support.
This battle was a meeting engagement. Soviet Breakpoint was 27, German Breakpoint was 21.
I didn't start taking pictures until well after the game started so bear with me!
Even though this was a meeting engagement, we both rolled pretty high and received the bulk of our forces fairly quickly. Ken playing the Soviets took some objectives relatively quickly and forced me to grab counters but luck certainly was on my side as I grabbed some very low counters and also a "beyond the call of duty" counter early on (my great rolling and good luck would burn out soon enough!). The NATO right flank heated up with Ken's T-62 and my Leopard I's exchanging fires.
|T-62s on fire after some tank gunnery duels on the West German right. (yes, they are actually T55 models. Substitution is the name of the game!)|
|The T62 in the treeline and the Soviet BRDM. Another T62 fell victim to German gunnery but this wasn't enough to stem the tide!|
|Marder IFV burning and a pinned West German fireteam.|
Initial Thoughts and Observations:
Overall this was an enjoyable game, and even with more "combined arms" the game didn't become too bogged down in complexity. We had about 10 to 11 vehicles per side including command elements in their own tracked vehicles and the game progressed nicely. Ken gave some great and very helpful suggestions and recommendations about this unofficial supplement, which Id like to go over here. (BTW Ken if I'm misquoting you, let me know!)
Modifying the System for the Modern Battlefield:
One of things I need to do for this supplement is codify the differences between the WW2 rules and this modern supplement. By the mid 1980s, sophisticated fire control and stabilization had made its way down into older NATO tanks to such a degree that firing on the move with a "good" degree of success could be expected. The shooting penalties from movement in Battlegroup: Kursk reflect the realities of shooting from a World War 2 vehicle with the firer having moved, and there should be some differentiation in achieving a hit between the WW2 game and a modern version.
A reasonable suggestion because in my opinion, one of the things that sets modern vehicles apart from their WW2 counterparts is sophisticated fire control, ballistic computers, laser range finders, and upgraded sights to spot the enemy. With that said, I'll be looking to "tweak" the spotting rules as well as the modifiers to firing.
ATGM Firing - Realities
My rules for ATGM fire included "restricted fire" rules straight out of the Team Yankee rules book. Simply put - a vehicle wanting to fire its ATGM could not move that turn. Ken brought up a great point about giving the target unit a reaction save and that's something worth putting in the game I think. There are active countermeasures that vehicle crews can use against wire-guided ATGMs and that is something that needs more thought and design implementation.
Also, in BGK, anti-tank fire is allowed up to 5" within woods at a spotted target. How about wire-guided ATGM fire? Would a crew even bother with a shot like that if a tank within a woodline with brush all around it? something to consider for the next scenario...
Breakpoints & Point Values:
I based the point values and breakpoints in both games against values used from the BGK rules book. I'd like to come up with a points system and break point value more reflective of the fighting on NATO's central front and not simply based on WW2 equivalencies. (IE A Panzergrenadier platoon from GrossDeutschland with 251/1 Halftracks and infantry costs what a Marder IFV equipped Bundeswehr platoon costs).
Ammo Consumption Rules Formalized:
Although today we played with just counting missile shots, I think it would be useful to track tank gun shots and even Auto-cannon shots. As Ken put it this could make a world of difference towards actually taking a shot versus holding your fire until next turn when the enemy is closer and you have a more reasonable chance of success. Plus, as I think Piers puts it, you get to paint up cool resupply vehicles for when you run out of ammo! Giving the larger IFVs 3 ATGM shots was a good idea and I will do that again.
Having lost today, I'm hardly the one to come up with a tactical primer for success but when you're on the business end of an auto-cannon and one of your infantry squads is wiped out before your very eyes, you tend to learn from these kinds of lessons!
In Battlegroup you have lots of tools at your disposal - be sure to use them and not discount any of them.
Co-axial machine guns, and pintle-mounted machine guns are there for you to use as well and can do lots of damage to exposed enemy infantry.
Guard your flank with vehicles on "ambush" orders!
Area Fire (to pin) and HE Fire are also things...using AP fire all the time is a good way to lose the game (as I found out)
Aggressive maneuver, tied to capturing objectives is a good way to win the game.
Great game. As I was telling Ken, I love Battlegroup for the uncertainty and the system itself. Realistic casualty rates, and a decent fog of war mechanic where you do not always get to move everyone each turn are key aspects that I enjoy about the game system. Any game that can model on-board machine guns as a valuable tool when it comes to enemy infantry is a good game in my book (not all games do that). When your force breaks, the casualties left on the table are realistic and not overdone. This is a supplement I will continue to drive on with and modify. It goes without saying that I will continue to play the WW2 version as well.