Thursday, June 11, 2015

Action At Authie: D+1 Take Three BATTLEGROUP OVERLORD

The "much anticipated" game three of my "Action at Authie" D-Day tribute game series has started! I should note this is also my first "formal" game of Battlegroup: Overlord.

Authie.  2 Canadian squads take up positions in the Apple Orchard on the left and the Toll House on the right.  The road going up towards the top of the picture is the Buron-Authie Road.  The Canadians and the 6 lb'r on the left are in improved fighting positions.
 This game features a much smaller cast of characters than the last 2 battles as Battlegroup is a very tactical-oriented game so you maneuver fire-teams and half-sections around as opposed to squads or platoons.  My modest table can usually only support a "platoon" sized Battlegroup game in 15mm.  When it comes to bigger battles, I will have to use microarmor.

This battle was a "defense line" battle from page 174 of the Battlegroup Kursk rules.  The Canadians are tasked with maintaining a tenuous hold on this small Norman village.  (ostensibly Authie, but the real-life scenario is more of an "attack counter-attack" meeting engagement).

The units include a reinforced SS Infantry Platoon on foot bringing along a medium mortar section, and an HMG section.  The CO is on the battlefield (Panzer-Meyer himself again...) as well as the command section with a panzerfaust.  For armored support, ze Germans have brought along 2 Panzer IVH and their recce section is comprised of 2 x 222 armored cars - because you all know how much I love wheeled recce....

The SS units cost roughly 400 points with a break-point of 26.

The Canadian units have a platoon of infantry however only were able to start the battle with 2 infantry squads, and an AT gun w/carrier on the table.  Oh the CO and the FO are also present.  The Canadians have a 2 gun 25lb'r section on standby with priority 2.  The main Canadian force has 3 Sherman tanks, and another infantry squad coming to reinforce them.

The Canadian units cost roughly 400 points with a break-point of 26.

Squad starts the battle pinned due to the Defense Line rules following a German preparatory bombardment.

North Nova Scotia Highlanders in fighting positions.

German 222 recce arrives.  Normally I hate wheeled recce but this is Normandy afterall - not Kursk.

The recce identifies the Canadians  and opens fire in an attempt to draw out more firing from them.  The NNSH troops know better than to give their positions away! 
 The German reconnaissance team makes its way forward, firing their 20mm at the toll-house, and pinning the Canadians in the toll-house again!

Turn 3 the German main body show up.  And infantry platoon and tank platoon arrive on the battlefield.  The Panzer IV swings into action to contest the toll-house.

German infantry advance

Canadians in the toll house.  Rallied and pinned again...not looking good for these chaps.
 Eventually the constant firing takes its toll on the NNSH squad in the toll house and they high-tail it off the battlefield.  They have slowed Gerry long enough, however, to swing the 6 lb'er around to meet the panzers.
German advance is shaping up!  1 SS Squad advancing through the wheatfield on the left

The colored markers are objectives.  Here the toll-house sits vacant.  Meanwhile you can make out the HQs section and FO in the tree-line next to the thatch-roofed house, and dug in along the apple orchard.
 The FO attempts to call fire down on the infantry crossing the road but to no avail.  HQs says not this time!  The next turn, things would be more successful...

Second attempt, next turn.  The FO successfully gets the 25 lb'rs to fire.  The results are a little more disappointing than I had hoped for.  1 SS Trooper is killed outright even with a direct hit.  All of the other units who receive "pinning" hits pass their cover saves!  
 So I will say this of the artillery - it's alot of fun calling it in.  You have to successfully make 2 rolls just to get Arty, and when you do, you have to hope it's on target.  In this case, the spotting round lands only 3 inches from where I wanted to be (really good rolling there).

Artillery impacting!  The red die is the only casualty the Germans receive from this fire mission.  The guns fail to pin anyone else.  However the fact that they take a casualty allows me to roll 1 more test - so the lead SS squad is pinned in the wheatfield.

Command Group and mortars saunter up.  
 The first of the Canadian main body shows up.  A single bloody tank!  Oh it's going to be a long day...

I used blue beads to tell who has received orders.
 This M4A4 Sherman comes tearing down the Buron-Authie road, and immediately stops and fires at a German Mk IV in sight!  Amazing - they roll the needed "6" to hit but it fails to penetrate the armor!
The next order goes to the 6 lb'r and it hits and kills the Mk IV to its front.  First tank kill of the day.

Mk IV burns almost at the objective.  Note the 2 x 222 cars speeding towards the hill out of the picture.  They were trying to get to the next objective and cut the road.  

The vaunted 6 lb'r.  Note the command group and FO in the treeline.  The Germans got so close next turn the Command Group would have to use their own order to fire at an HMG section trying to set up at the road junction!

German attack is shaping up but they still don't have what qualifies as a "breakthrough" just yet.

Canadian infantry fire on the Germans crossing the road to their left.

end of turn 5.
THOUGHTS on Part I of this Game:
This is a tough one which I'm really glad I started playing.  Everyone who knows me or reads this blog with any regularity, knows that I really like the Battlegroup series of rules.  To date, I have also mostly played meeting engagement battles, so this battle was a welcome change that brings new challenges of resource management and tactical decision making.

I love that some defenders can start the battle pinned.  that's a nice touch.  Also, the trickling reinforcements are also nice and add a level of tension to the game that other games may not add.

In this battle, the Canadians got to choose which table edge the Germans started from.  I though I picked the edge that afforded the Germans the least amount of cover, but in actuality it's a bad spot.  The Germans are really close to the forward edge of the battle area when everything kicks off so the Canadians have a tough fight on their hands.  The Germans are also "veteran" ranked as opposed to regular.  That makes it a little tougher on the Canadians as well.

The best part about the Battlegroup series is that you can use all your toys, and everything makes some kind of an impact.  So yes, even my crappy 222 scout cars have their lethal 20mm autocannon that tore up the guys in the toll house on turns 1 through 3.

My only beef with BG is that there is much preparatory work to be done before you play.  I spent a day building up forces, calculating breakpoints and researching how the scenario was going to go.  It's not a game where you can just break out all your stuff, throw it on the table and go at it.

That being said, the results and enjoyment from playing the game are well worth the effort.

THOUGHTS (actually ramblings) on Part III of the "Action at Authie" Series:

Well so far I've played this battle with the Rapid Fire rules, as well as Blitzkrieg Commander.  I still need to complete this game, then play the scenario with Charles Grant's BATTLE, and the GHQ rules and that should bring this little experiment to a conclusion.  I have to admit that so far, my favorite rules have been the Battlegroup rules hands-down.  Lots of excitement and variety which is important when you're looking for a go-to rules set.  Battlegroup has really gone way past the other rules sets in this competition this far.


  1. Ciao Steven
    As always is a pleasure to read Your AAR. To my opinion you got the point regarding BG rules.i do like them a lot also but find too long the pre game activity. I asked several time both in Ironfist Publishing FB discussions and in The Guild if they could made available some speed up army list and scenarios. It would be great to have some ready forces organized per points and type (i.e. Infantry east front 400 points 1000 points etcetera).this could let us concentrate on planning. Anyway really curious to see how this BG game Will end.a Great ciao!Marco

    1. Ciao Marco!
      Grazie! It's good to hear from you sir. I love playing BG. I really wish they provided more canned scenarios - I would play it alot more.

      The "Skirmish Elite" series was recommended to me as being perfectly compatible with BG. They make a "GrossDeutschland at Kursk" and also a "Red Guards at Kursk" scenario book but they're a little expensive. I'm personally still looking for a good scenario book that has the Canadian and 12th SS Battles in Normandy. The GHQ book has great scenarios but all stands are platoons.

      This game could go any way - the Canadians are in bad positions but have 2 more Shermans and an infantry squad arriving on the field hopefully soon. The Germans have their mortars in the way of artillery but that's it!

      Thank you for commenting!

  2. Another great instalment in your AAR series and comparison of rules. A few quick thoughts:

    1. Yes game prep takes time in BG, but sometimes making different army lists is fun too in these rules set (and more than most I think). I have built a few 'generic' lists - Combined Arms, Infantry Heavy (for built up/rough terrain), Armour heavy (for one terrain etc). That way I can get into action quicker.

    2. Those 222 armoured cars make for great sets in the scouting phase. I think they are the best option for the Germans actually.

    3. Your table and figures are again wonderful. Most especially your Infantry bases. Awesome.

    PS I have the GD at Kursk book if you want more detail about whats inside. I quite like the series actually. I had other years ago but sold them unfortunately. I'm looking at buying some more in the future too.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Paul!
      I think that's a great idea - keeping ready-made lists available so you can throw stuff on the table quickly and have a game. I think the one thing that keeps me from playing BG more often is the fact that I have to build the lists and calculate Breakpoint (ok, ok the "Battlegroup Builder BGK" website in my links section calculates it - but I still have to plug the forces in!!!). I am a lazy gamer so I'm always looking for a game where I can just take the stuff out of the tray, throw it on the table and fight straight away.

      Arrghh! The wheeled recce! So I have to say - every time I've played a Battlegroup: Kursk game on the Eastern Front, I would use my T-70s as recce tanks. So in the "scouting phase" usually the first turn or two, my 222 cars ended up as smoking craters and barely chipped the paint on those T-70s. Now BGO in Normandy was a completely different story. Note how the 20mm kept the Canadian infantry's heads down in the Toll House while the rest of the main body moved up.
      I also found a new job for them - wheeling into the rear to capture an uncontested objective. It just so happened that the Shermans arrived on the table when I had that idea :)

      For me, I liked tracked recce for Eastern Front operations, wheeled recce for Normandy. Maybe wheeled recce if I'm facing an infantry heavy force, and tracked recce if it's an armor heavy force. Does that make sense?
      Even in my modern supplement, my Soviet BRDMs never made it to the other side of the board. And my ATGM trucks would stay hidden on the Soviet side of the table until a NATO unit would pop out.

      Thank you sir - although I still am not happy with my terrain or table, it's always going to be a work in progress :)

      I am going to buy both the Red Guards at Kursk and the GD at Kursk Skirmish Elite books. I just wish there was one covering the Carpiquet Airfield battles!

  3. My buddy loves to uses snipers as his Soviet recon elements on the Eastern Front, so my 222s do well. I hope he doesn't read your advice above!

    1. I hope so too - those things go down very easy. If you look at some of my first BGK games on here, there's a line of smoking 222 hulks in every post!

  4. Nice setting and a great report Steven. With 87% of NW Europe being able to be accessed with wheeled vehicles, the recon element makes sense...Economic sense anyway.

    1. Thanks Paul. This was the first time I've ever successfully used the 222s. Also the lists wouldn't allow me to use my Panzer II recce track. Either way, they were terrific nimble things that really chewed up enemy infantry.

    2. Paul, if anything, this battle has taught me the value of the bigger, more heavily toothed wheeled cats!