Thursday, June 22, 2017

Battlegroup: REFORGER Playtest Re-Post

So I have been corresponding with Robin from Germany who has been taking my own home-brewed variant of Battlegroup (BG: REFORGER) and vastly improving upon it.  He has been very polite and helpful and has brought a new level of detail and organization to it.  He recently playtested BG: REFORGER and produced an After-Action Report (AAR) on the battle.

I asked him for permission to post it to my blog.  All pictures and words are his.  Reading this report really makes me want to get my World War III vehicles out and have a good battle!  (note what Robin did with the dismount sections which I really like).

Battlereport Germans vs Soviets

Scenario played was ‘Defence Line’ with the Germans defending. Germans were outnumbered but
benefited from a new German national special rule when Germans are the defenders ‘Defending our
homes’ which provides them a single reroll of an order die roll of their choice.
Because of the small number of units we played with, we made some changes to the scenario: no
Pins for the defenders in the first round, reinforcements on turn 3 for attacker, turn 4 for defender.
Only two objectives. We also removed all 4 and 5 markers, as well as Air Strike and Artillery marker.

German Forces:

- Iltis Truck with 3 men forward HQ

- Leopard 2 Tank

- Panzergrenadier Platoon

o 3 Marder

o One 4 men command team (Panzerfaust)

o Two 4 men MG/rifle Teams (MG3 and Panzerfaust) ((I merged them))

o Two 2 men Milan Teams

- 2 Officers, BR 18
Soviet Forces:

- BMP KsH HQ (added this, special rules ‘extended radio equipment’ gains it an additional
order per turn, so two instead of the usual one

- T-72 Platoon

- BMP-2 Platoon

- 3 Officers (+4 bonus because of the special rule), BR 20





No picture of the table. But one road went from the eastern side of the table to the western side,
south of the road was a small river. The northern and central part of the map was had two larger hills
with some forests on and around them. Two buildings formed the center of the German defense.
Germans rolled only 2 for the units to deploy and deployed the Leo 2 and a Marder with a regular
squad + ATGM Team in it.
Soviets deployed their 3 IFVs .

The soviets started with enough Orders to get things going. They had no LOS to the German units and crawled forward, already deploying some of the infantry.

The Germans answered with the Leo getting in position and blowing up one of the BMPs which alreadyunload and missing another one. The Marder unloaded the MILAN Team which got into good firing position. Even with a reroll there were not enough Orders to move the Marder or the Squad.

Turn Two

The soviets had a bad roll for Orders, but managed to spot and kill the MILAN Team... Damn. At least two Spandrels failed to hit their dangerous target in form of the Leo.

The Germans had enough Orders this time. The Leo opened up again, still benefiting from a really
nice firing position. Taking out another BMP-2 but again failing the second shot while standing still.
The Infantry got out the Marder, which drove into dangerous position and failed to spot the enemy
infantry advancing though the forests. The infantry made the spot and killed a single guy at long
range, thanks to the MG3. The enemy unit was pinned too.

Turn Three

A stunning 6 for reinforcements, followed by a 6 for orders for the soviets. The BMP-2K of the
platoon leader opened up at the Leo 2 which stood still last turn and blew a big hole in the frontal
armor. Ouch. Thanks the only tank down even before any enemy tank was spotted. Every unit except
for one T-72 crawled at the board with the Platoon commanders T-72 pinning the Marder.
Not much to do for the Germans. No Officer on the board, Marder pinned. So the solitaire infantry
unit bravely moved into a building and opened up at the enemy infantry less than 30” away but failed
to spot them this time. No good round for the Germans.

Leo destroyed, Marder pinned, the infantry exposed in the building.

Turn Four

The soviets advanced quite fast, pinning the infantry in the building. Not much to shot anyway. Think
the pinned Marder saw a lot of bullets landing nearby, with one finally hitting him.
The Germans were able to bring their reinforcements which raced towards the ground where the
other units suffered before.

Turn Five

Not much happened. The soviets put massive area fire at the infantry still hiding in the house. They
routed after 4 successful tests. The Platoon Commander of the T-72s got hit by a mine after that, but
only received a pin.

Turn Six

Soviets continued their push, with one BMP flanking in the south crossing the river and a T-72
flanking in the north sneaking through the forests.
Germans positioned themselves, MILAN Team got into ambush, an enemy infantry unit lost two men
and got pinned, Marder opened up at the flanking BMP-2 missing with its autocannon.

Turn Seven

Soviet drove into the Ambush and lost their Platoon Commander T-72 in return another Marder went
down.  German situation became worse and worse. The MILAN Team was too close now to the flanking T-72. The Marder missed MILAN shots at the flanking BMP-2. Minor casualties at least were inflicted to the soviet infantry.



The soviets continuously advanced. The German Panzerfausts failed to penetrate T-72 armor but
pinned them both. First objective was taken in Round 8, with only some units left for the Germans
and 3 points away from breaking. Soviets were 5 points away, due to some unpinning. In Round 9 the
soviets took the second objective and the Germans broke, having only the HQ, the Iltis and one
MILAN team left.

Conclusion

The soviets greatly overwhelmed the Germans. The Leo 2 as long as he was active was deadly. ATGM Teams did good for the Germans. Some really bad spotting (I went back on some spotting values to the original rule values) for the Germans did not help them. But most of the stuff felt really right. The Leopard 2 sitting still was a mistake which payed of for the soviet player. The predicted estimate of one NATO tank facing three Pact tanks taught the Germans a tough lesson. The Leo 2 in this circumstances is definitely not to strong, as it’s, while having a superb punch, is vulnerable too. Next time the Germans will get some defenses and the Battlegroups will be enlarged. But we had a great game and loads of fun, with the flanking BMP-2 taking 3 turns to cross the river, even though it’s not wider than 5” and the dumbass German infantry failing to spot anything.




Thanks to Robin for a great playtest and write up and also for the inspiration to make me want to play REFORGER once again!  I had forgotten how much fun it was!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Work Proceeding According to Schedule!



Just about there with the Battle Bunker.  Last night, Dave came over to tour the fortifications and the Battle Bunker so far.  He was pleased with the results!

So, 90% of the work has been completed, save for painting the stairwell.  Right now I'm focusing on putting stuff back onto new shelves and organizing my hobby stuff.  As Rommel might say "turning this rabble into something of an Army!"


First view is from the stairwell looking into the sitting area and fireplace.  You can barely make out the gaming table.  For those who remember, I moved the painting desk against the other wall so as to open up room to get around the table.

Besides those hideous mirror tiles above the fireplace, the gaming bunker is almost complete!  We're looking at tile backsplashes for the fireplace now (I wonder if the Wife will let me hang a Brown Bess there????  Should I press my luck?)

The gaming table!  With a Battlefront mat on top.  Unfortunately it is 2" short but overall I'm pleased with it.  I found the extra piece of wood paneling for the ductwork and put it back into position so it will need to be painted so the reader will excuse the unpainted wood paneling in the upper left...
Note the desk in the back corner and nice sitting chair.  Trying to make gaming in the basement a little more comfortable for my guests.

The new Battlefront gaming mat in all its glory.  Also my piles of junk all over the place!

Looking from the storage room into the gaming area.
My wife wanted me to use the gaming table as a sort of dividing line (DMZ?) from the family room to the gaming area so it's been turned 90 degrees.

Storage solutions.  New shelves that house all my gaming stuff.  This is looking into the storage area.
So as you can all see, we're just about ready to start gaming.  With 1 week until summer, I think I'll be ready to kick off "the summer of Battlegroup" close to or even right on schedule.

Caesar and Napoleon back into position!  Caesar is a tourist souvenir from Rome and Napoleon is a tourist souvenir from Paris and both were bought specifically to grace my gaming  room.  Both of them have excellent stories behind them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

PSC T-55AM2 Kit THE UNBOXING!

Look what arrived in the mail today straight from the UK!  The long awaited PSC T-55 15mm kit!  It's finally here!!


After unboxing, you notice the kits are placed in there efficiently and tightly as one would expect from a PSC box.   They also include instructions to assemble into the various T-55 marks from the Warsaw Pact.  I didn't realize we were going to get all of these potential marks: Polish, Czech, Soviet, and East German.

I am VERY happy with the quality of this kit.  The detail is very nice and the kit is crisp and clean. Check out the detail:




and finally, I love how it says "suitable for Battlegroup" on the back of the box.



Now, I'm no expert by any stretch but after seeing those words on the box, I arrive at 2 conclusions:


  • There were no T-55s that fought in World War II.
  • Battlegroup "Modern" is really happening.  Now, truthfully, I already know that it is happening eventually, but seeing it on a T-55 box from PSC only builds my excitement!  


Great job PSC.  Can't wait for more of your modern kits to arrive.  5 stars!  These guys will get a different paint job than my other T-55s - most likely a camouflage paint job.  Cannot wait!!

Stay tuned.  The Basement Battle Bunker is taking shape!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

MORE Gaming Bunker Updates & The Summer of BATTLEGROUP

If you're a "regular" reader of SOUND OFFICERS CALL, then you're probably getting pretty burned out on these "Basement Bunker" updates.  While it's slow progress, it's progress none-the-less!

Lone BMP-1 scans the horizon for targets.
 The walls are officially "up" down there now and last night I painted (primed, actually) the remaining wood paneling around the ductwork and atop the windows.  The previous paneling was so cheap that we would not have been able to get paint to "stick" so we painted it with a thick white primer to enable the panels to be painted.  The priming was what I did yesterday afternoon and evening.

The floor is being installed on Tuesday/Wednesday.  Expect another update!

Walls up!  You're looking at where the table will go.

Another view of the where the table will be.

The "sitting area" portion.  We will have a TV here and bookcases.  Usual family room setup.
I cannot wait for the floor to be installed but this adds a layer of complexity since I'll have to use drop-cloths when I apply the "real" paint.  The keen observers among you will also notice that not all the ceiling tiles have been replaced completely.  We purchased additional packs of ceiling tiles but I'll have to purchase more track for them.  That seems like a project to complete next or even the following weekend.

Looking into the storage room from where the table will be.  On the right I used to have some shelving mounted to the wall.  At this point I'm still racking my brain trying to figure out what to do now there.  Probably free-standing shelves.

All that work...Primed with 2 coats of stinky, toxic primer, but at least it's ready for the real paint now.  2 x ceiling tiles will go into this void here.
Summer 2017 Objectives:  The Summer of Battlegroup

If you've gotten this far then I applaud your tenacity!  So I did manage to get together with Dave this past Friday and we were daydreaming about wargaming plans for this summer.  I typically like to have a wargaming theme during the summer and for this summer I'm kicking off "The Summer of Battlegroup."

While I'm more of a megalomaniac, Dave is more subtle in his approach.  So I voted for Battlegroup: Kursk and Dave voted for Battlegroup: Barbarossa.  Since any progress that guy makes is good progress, I threw in the towel and went with Barbarossa.

Like me, Dave loves the Gross Deutschland (GD) Division, so we're going to do a build and paint and plan a campaign around the GD's fighting in the summer of 1942 on the Eastern Front during Fall Blau (Operation Braunschweig).

Hopefully this culminates in some great 15mm campaigns on the tabletop in the new gaming bunker!  More to follow as we start to plan this out but I'm already eyeing up some StugIIIB's from Zvezda as well as some more Panzer IIIs, and I guess I'll need to order some Panzer Grey spray paint!

Anyways,that's all for now.  Busy day today and unfortunately none of it revolves around getting any work in the basement done.





Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017 & Gaming Bunker (Basement) Progress Update

This is Memorial Day weekend in the United States where we honor those who have fallen in battle.  Most civilized nations have a day such as this that pays homage to their honored dead.  You can read about the history of Memorial Day in the US here.  While I feel joy that "such men lived," it's always with a heavy heart.  There is an avalanche of data and statistics about the costs of war but the price that these men paid is not even able to be calculated, let alone fully appreciated.  I was lucky enough to know and serve alongside some of them.  Forget what you read about American politics.  Soldiers are the credentials of the United States.



Well it's been awhile since I've posted a progress report on the gaming bunker (basement).  I have to admit that I really didn't appreciate that space down in there in the basement but it definitely is something of a sanctuary for me.  

The wife and I spent the majority of the weekend replacing the aged ceiling tiles down there and we are at about 90% but won't be able to finish the rest until the walls are complete.
New ceiling tiles.  right side of picture you can make out the new wall panel.
The above picture might look identical to our previous ceiling but I can assure you it is not!  These are brand new ceiling tiles and it's gratifying to know that the old, disgusting tiles are in the trash.

 You can also note the black insulation panels with steel supports that our new walls will literally bolt onto.
The gaming area facing where my painting desk used to be.  I may move the desk to the wall under the window.
Speaking of the walls, they completed the wall around our storage room.
The new walls look like this.  We will be painting the old wood paneling that is still around the ductwork.

Picture is taken from where my painting desk used to be.  Obviously all of the hobby stuff is under the plastic.
Lots of work remains in the basement.  This week the electrician will install the outlet boxes for our receptacles, and the contractors will finish up the walls.  Then we will arrange for the new floor to be installed.  The floor we chose is a "luxury vinyl tile" which is a vinyl floor but laid down in planks that gives the appearance and texture of a wood floor.  
This is what the floor will look like.  Neat huh?
Looking out the window.  I might have some shelves placed where the large wall panel is laying.
That's about it for the update.  We're nearing the end of phase one of the project.  Phase two will be the installation of the floor and finally phase 3 is the touch up work.  I'm really excited to get the floor down because that will herald the beginning of gaming and hobbying in the room again!

So that's all for now.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Useful Unit Labels for Crossfire

"Steven's Balagan" had an interesting post today regarding Steven T's approach to unit identification in Crossfire and the inclusion of special-marked identifiers for personal Anti Armor weapon-carrying squads.

I've always liked Steven's methodology, which is technically counter to the US Army's Battle Staff nomenclature that I grew up with as a cadet and young officer but darn it, it looks so cool on the table!
Soviet platoon moving up with my Crossfire stands during a game of "Iron Cross" with Dave

German gamble assaulting a KV-1 during the same game.  Note the Crossfire unit marking which I really like.


So, what are the primary differences?  Well, for starters, the US Army starts with Company letters (vice numbers) and the use of a dash or a slash is indicative of whether or not the unit's command & control is organic to the highest echelon.  So, for instance, Battery A, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery would look like this:

A/5-3 FA

The slash denotes that Battery A is a child unit of the 5th Battalion.  The Regimental numbering is part of the US Army's Regimental lineage system and is NOT an element for Command and Control so there is a hyphen vice a slash.  2nd Platoon, Battery A, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery would look like this:

2/A/5-3 FA.

Steven T's nomenclature (which I have adopted) has the Battalion designation first, then the Company, then the platoon number.  So G-1-1 would be the Grenadier Battalion, 1st Company, 1st Platoon.

What I like about Steven's method is that it's much cleaner and gives me much more flexibility in my unit choice.  So for example, the GrossDeutschland fought in the southern pincer at Kursk, so making a GD based and labeled unit would feel out of place for me with my OCD.  However, a more generic Grenadier Battalion would not, hence the reason I adopted the "Balagan Method."

If anyone is interested, I've posted a picture and link to my labels which would give you a good place to start in using these:


If you'd like to download these and change them for yourself (I made these when starting my second German and Soviet companies) here is a link for you to do so

I made enough for a German, Russian, Afrika Korps, 8th Army Desert British, and NW Europe British but you can alter them however you see fit.

Friday, May 26, 2017

SA-9 (9K31 Strela) Gaskin Platoon

The last of my wheeled support units, the SA-9 platoon is up next to provide my Soviet or East German forces the "top cover" they need when assaulting.  These will be fielded as a platoon for a Company level game (Sabre Squadron or Team Yankee), or each vehicle would serve as a platoon for Rapid Fire "Able Archer."



This platoon is from "Butler's Printed Models" and is 1/100 scale.  Very simple work up here.  Basecoated dark green then sprayed with PSC Russian Armor Green, washed with Agrax Earthshade, and drybrushed with VJ Khaki.  The tires are a mixture of black and pewter gray acrylic.


You can read about this bane of rotary wing aircraft here.


The tires were "fun" to paint and I'm not really looking forward to all of the BTRs that are up next...


Still need decals but they're covered up by junk in the basement right now so they'll roll off the assembly line without the decals!


Remember the plan.  Regular front line forces and Cat II / Allied units get the PSC Russian Armor Green.  Guards get the Dark Olive to differentiate commands.


Meanwhile NATO intel sections are hard at work determining what kinds of vehicles are moving into and out of Pact staging areas in East Germany.  SACEUR received his daily brief and staging areas and Army-level maintenance depots in the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany received extra attention in the daily brief this morning as many of the depot facilities have seen a significant uptick in activity.

SHAPE J2 attributed this activity to the expanded fielding of the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle and also routine maintenance activities where vehicles approached their maintenance ceilings.  Additionally, the new Soviet commander of the Western Strategic Directorate recently issued guidance to formations that readiness and preparation were top priorities and NATO intelligence agencies have been anticipating additional Soviet range and field training exercise time......




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spandrel AT-5 Platoon

More wheeled Pact vehicles knocked out.  This is the AT-5 "Spandrel" platoon.  These are 1/100 models from "Butler's Printed Models" of the UK.

You can read about the missile here.  There are also some nice pictures of the system mounted to the BRDM hull. 

This is all part of my wheeled supports going towards my Warsaw Pact forces as they assemble to invade West Germany.  These guys will do double-duty as Soviet or East German as all of my East German and Regular or Cat II Soviet units will be painted in this color.  This ensures their inter-operability on the table and gives me maximum flexibility to the unit I want to field.


 Primed with light green, basecoated with PSC Armor Green, washed with "agrax earthshade,"and drybrushed VJ Khaki!  That's it!  The tires are a mix of acrylic black and "pewter gray."


No decals yet but I'll work on that.


 This team is easily at home playing Sabre Squadron, Rapid Fire Able Archer, Team Yankee, Fistful of TOWS, you name it!

Probably worth noting here that this is about the only weapon I'll have as the East Germans that can kill Leopard IIs so watch out!  (might be the same for Sabre Squadron as well).




The SA-9 Gaskin Platoon is up next!  Stay tuned!