Sunday, October 6, 2019


This week both Alex and Ken turned in their orders to me for the Ponyri Campaign game we're playing.  Today I hosted the first tabletop game of the campaign at my house - the Battle of Buzuluk, which is a strategically located sliver of ground on the way to Ponryi.  Control of it isolates an entire Soviet regimental sector to the north of it and brings the Germans one step closer to Ponyri.  Fighting in person were Ken, Alex, Brian, and Mark.
The Orel-Kursk rail line and road.  The house on the right would be the scene of bitter fighting.

While there were 3 other battles being fought (Hill 242.2, Kastenwald, and the Soviet thrust against Maslovo) I decided to play out Buzuluk due to more "parity" between both sides.  Alex committed his Pioniere platoon and heavy artillery, both firestorm resources, to Buzuluk.  Ken committed his T-34 tank company to Buzuluk and given that Ken did not commit elsewhere, this was the closest battle in terms of combat power.

The field overall - typical terrain of the Kursk battlefields.
Small cottage in the sleepy village of Buzuluk.  Things are about to get alot less sleepy!
 It's interesting that in this battle, the exact opposite of what I thought would happen...happened.  Teh Germans defended while the Soviets tried their luck at assaulting!

Germans dug-in and waiting for an opportunity to move forward!  

Soviet "Hero" Battalion in 3 x companies across the front.  Note the rune markings denoting German objective.

Alex and Mark conferring 
Germans taking up fighting positions in Buzuluk

 The Germans got a steady stream of reinforcements.  The Soviets didn't begin rolling until turn 3 but afterward, seemed to get all of their reinforcements including the infantry "assault group" dressed up like Naval Infantry, the tank company, and the AT gun company.
Naval Infantry move out!

 T-34s taking losses!  I told Ken "dont lose these, wahtever you do!"

Stugs of the 244th StuG Abteilung move up along the rail line!

Meanwhile the German Pioniere lurk in a nearby woods!

Soviet assault group passing the objective (remember that)

Germans dug in.  

Soviets moving up to assault the Germans in the wheatfield
 Alex and Mark were good at massing their fires and using indirect fire and crew-served weapons to lock down the open areas on the table.  Wherever the Soviets went they got pinned.  A lucky break in a turn enabled a Soviet "Hero" Rifle Company to move forward!

Soviet advance on their left flank is stopped dead in its tracks by indirect fire!

A bailed Stug along the rail line!

German landsers holding out under the Soviet 76mm barrage!  on your feet, men!

Soviet guns punishing the German invaders!

Soviet reinforcements making their way up to the stone wall into the German positions

Soviet attack against the left of the German platoon is beated back!  they are mosre successful on the right!
 The assault on the far right was stopped dead in its tracks by the Germans who destroyed a number of teams.  In the center, the Soviets pushed into the German positions and forced a platoon back.
Ken had to leave at this point and transferred command to me....we all know what happens then!

Alex, who noticed the Assault Group Naval troops had advanced up to the house, decided this was the moment ot win the game.  A Soviet objective was undefended and only a 1 turn march at dash speed from the Pioneer troops, who won battle honors by rendering the entire Soviet position untenable today!  While they couldn't occupy at dash speed, they were literally a turn away from contesting and my troops would not have made it in time.  Sorry, Ken!

heroes of the battle - the German pioniere!

So Buzuluk went to the Germans today as did their other attack objectives as well - Hill 242, Kastenwald, and Maslovo, which we diced for.  The Germans won all of their Day 1 battles on schedule.  Interestingly, they also lost a mixed Panzer III/Panzer IV platoon in the Maslovo fight.  They were the only ones to lose a firestorm unit this week.

The map has been updated and is below.  I'm really hoping Brian and his crew play out one of the games over the next few weeks.  The more games being played, the happier I'll be (and then someone's fate won't rest on ME rolling a D6!)  Note that Tank Hill and Kleninskoye are cut off an have an "S" in them for supply check reminders.  So far, I'm very happy with how the campaign has gone on turn 1.

Flames of War worked well but I'm still keen to try some other games in the mix as well, like Battlegroup, the Neil Thomas rules from "Wargaming: An Introduction" which to me is like "Battlegroup Lite", Alex's Up the Blue rules, and even Bolt Action.  The sky is the limit!

 Looking forward to more games coming up!  Wanted to also extend a hearty thanks to Ken, Alex, Brian, and Mark for stopping by today and for their patience as we relearned all of the nuances of Flames of War again.  I hope the teams had fun today.


  1. Superb start and you were right at the outset to feel there was a good game in this battle situation. It does make a huge difference seeing an individual game within the setting of a bigger campaign.

    I got a copy of Battlegroup the other day, together with the unit cards, so hope to see you get those rules to the table.

    1. Thanks, Norm. When Ken told me where he wanted the tanks committed, i knew we'd be fighting at Buzuluk and it was really exciting to see the players show up, look at the map and then the table to see where they'd be fighting. I think the group has been excited overall about playing in a campaign.

      I think Brian's crew will be fighting one of our battles in the next few weeks, too.

      Battlegroup is an outstanding WWII game and as you know it is one of my favorites. Ill make sure we get a game or two on the table for you to see how play develops.

  2. What a great looking game, gorgeous pictures...and congrats to the German pioniere!

    1. Thank you Phil, they certainly covered themselves in glory! Perhaps candidates for a unit citation?

  3. The Pioneers will settle for a double-soup ration and the vodka they found stashed near the objective - after all, that is what motivated them forward in the first place!

    We are looking forward to seeing the campaign progress. 38 years of gaming, and I don't recall completing a campaign, so I'm eager to see this happen.

    1. Cheers, Alex. Double soup rats for all! Our mess sergeant has found a lovely recipe for borsch!
      I just put out a call for your orders by Thursday. Turns out i have friday and monday off so plenty of gaming this weekend i hope!
      The pioneers may receive battle honors for the game. I have not yet done this in a game but id like to.

  4. Great action. Looking forward to seeing more.
    I hadn't realised that Neil Thomas Wargaming an Introduction could be described as Battlegroup Lite. That is interesting.

    1. Thanks, Darren. I think the players are really digging the idea of a series of linked actions where the actions matter.

      Ive always felt there were some similarities between battlegroup and WAI WW2. Maybe because of the individual firing i guess?

    2. Yes, I see what you mean. Is there a mechanism for firing during the opponent's movement in WAI. Though I guess, it's easy to put one in.
      Have been reading through it again.

    3. I dont think there is but you could definitely put something in. As you used to say, it's infinitely hackable :)

  5. Cool fight man, but it's not a campaign unless you play ALL the fights! ;)

    I would volunteer to play some for you, I've got at least a battalion's worth of infantry for each side (in 10mm), but I think I sold all my late war armor... I can do infantry only fights, if you've got any of those!


    1. Jack,
      Im working on it! Just sent a nudge to the commanders today to send me their turn 2 orders NLT Thursday.
      Hey you can definitely join in. Infantry only fights are welcome most of the formations are infantry type formations anyways. Honestly i just need a result, so set up your stuff as a skirmish or a bigger fight. Doesnt matter. Ill give you the rough terrain youll be fighting over and some strategic or operational context. Ill also link your post to ensure it is recorded in the campaign history! Let me know. Id love to have another player participate.

    2. I could do something in 20mm with Rapid Fire if you'd like?
      Just offering services, but you have everything covered, no problem.

      Everybody wants a piece of this one LOL

    3. Darren, i thought you'd never ask! Youre hired. 20mm Rapid Fire is perfect. Youll be pushing whole battalions around which is exactly what we need! Ill shoot you an email with specifics when i know which battles will
      be fought!