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.  
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


  1. Your new wallpaper is quite interesting.

    1. Thank you sir! I try to keep it interesting. I thought it was appropriate for all the WW2 posts I've been making lately.

  2. I've got rules I use for bigger battles using my 6mm stuff. I am however in the middle of testing rules for using my new 15mm kit for "skirmish" actions. A platoon a side.
    I've tried Bolt Action, Chain of Command, Rate of Fire, Fubar, a heavily modified Blitzkrieg Commander...none of them do it for me, yet. I'm still working through some of them.

    I've recently been following BG as an option 'cause I've been hearing you can play te game at many different levels. Including squad and platoon.

    You make it sound as though it works well at this level.

    I need to find a US distributor of the small book of rules to get a feel for them.

    Thank you for the timely report.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Itinerant. These rules are very good and from what you've written, we have the same problem. I am wanting to write my own because none of the rules capture what I'm looking for.

      BG is a solid set of rules and you can play at different levels of Command ie platoon, company and battalion but the scales remain the same. 1:1 I think.

      To be perfectly honest, I am always drawn to Panzerblitz and GHQ's WW2 rules best because 1 stand is a platoon and I can fight larger battles. Charles Grant's "Battle" is very simple and unfortunately takes a really long time to play.

      I have written my own rules where a stand equals a section and they mimic very closely Epic Armageddon with unit activation rolls.

      You can purchase the mini Battlegoup rule book from "The War Store" online for 17 Dollars US. They post from New York. www.thewarstore.com

  3. Steve, you wrote that the German infantry pinned the T-34 with a lucky shot. Note that infantry can't pin armor with small arms Aimed Fire. They can pin them with small arms Area Fire, but they have to be at close range (10" or less ) and roll a 6.

    1. That's exactly what I used.

      My understanding of the rules is that Small Arms Area Fire is a single 6 sided die. Small arms aimed fire is the number of dice corresponding to the Rate of Fire. And it was a lucky shot as they rolled a "6" effectively pinning the tank.

    2. Yes, you have it right. Surprised the T-34 got that close to the infantry. In BGK at least infantry can have AT grenades (not so in BGO) so you were taking quite the risk....

    3. It was one of those cases where I was still learning the unit capabilities as I was playing. The T-34 used a movement order to race down the table. I was reading through the rules, and then "discovered" the infantry could attempt to suppress the AFV with area fire. I gave it a shot and rolled the six. If you look at the pictures, you get an idea about where that little copse of trees is in relation to the road. I think it was about 5 or 6 inches.

      Anyways it was a great learning opportunity.

    4. Watch out for the morale rules on tanks. A tank that takes a morale check and rolls a 1 or 2 with enemy infantry within 10" but no friendly infantry within 10" is abandoned. That rule once allowed me to eliminate a Tiger that had advanced without infantry support into a village occupied by Russian infantry!

    5. I like that the rules reward good tactical decisions (or punish bad decisions?). So far I have to say I'm impressed. They're no "Holy Grail" (are those rules even out there?) but they're definitely some of the best, most satisfying I've played in awhile.

      I still need to muscle through "Chain of Command" however. I have heard nothing but great things about them, too.

      I've just finished reading through "Panzerfaust: Armored Fist" and they are great looking rules/mechanisms once you get past the daunting rules book and small print! Going to give them a go as well. They are available as a free download on Eastern Funker's blog (in my blog list on the right).

  4. If people are looking to purchase the BG rules I recommend NWS online store . They have the best price in the USA

  5. Mini rulebook purchased at NWS. Ken, your commission check of 0% is in the mail!

    Always look forward to a new ruleset. My first two purchases, if I like the rules will be Barbarossa and Blitzkrieg.

  6. Well if you're in the Philadelphia area and would like a game I can host a BGK or BGO game to show you the system.