Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More BATTLE! Eastern Front

I played another game of Charles Grant's BATTLE using Dan Fraser's excellent charts converted from the original book.

Game pitted a German Infantry Company with a Tank platoon in support, attacking a Russian Infantry Company occupying hasty positions on a farm complex.

A few observations and pictures from the engagement:

Some work is needed with the sequence of play before BATTLE is completely ready for the 21st Century, none-the-less it still remains a potent, violent little game.
Soviet soldiers in a trench-line await the German onslaught.
 The first few turns started out uneventful as the adversaries are too far away to effect any real damage.  Visibility is a modest 25" with the Germans adding 2 recce units into their mix.  A Kubelwagen and a Panzer38.

The Soviets have an 82mm mortar stand for fire support and on-call 122mm artillery, called from their platoon command stand.
 The Germans advance (of course, this is after all a 1942 scenario) and the infantry must make the trip to the objective purely on foot, so this will take awhile.  Infantry are moving 5" which is an upgrade from Grant's original time-movement scale.

LMG squad advances past a bombed out building.

Assault group with the HMG, LMG and an infantry rifle squad advance.

The Panzers race across open ground!

Reaching the clearing and the collective farm
 It doesn't take long for Gerry's tanks to reach the clearing (and the enemy!).  The tanks get too close and a lucky ATR shot knocks out a Panzer III!  The battle is joined.  The German player moves Panzer IIIs to move up and fire into the Russian positions, which are entrenched either in the house or alongside of it.  They make decent progress, destroying 2 Russian rifle squads in the process.

German panzer III burns thanks to an extremely lucky shot from a Russian Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR).

 The German player doesn't want to move his tanks any closer to those infantry (I made a 1:3 ratio of ATRs to infantry, so any infantry-LMG team also has an ATR shot with it).  The Germans play like they don't know that.  Gerry decides to send 2 tanks around the small forest to envelop the objective and cut off any reinforcements to the farm.

Infantry clear the village and move onto the farm.  It's slow going.  They can hear the sounds of battle to their front.  Tank gun firing and lots of rifle fire from the Soviet rifles.
 Now the Soviets are losing rifle squads in the forward positions, they decide to move their infantry up to reinforce and a reserve platoon in the garden is standing by!  They maneuver behind the house to try and work their way forward to the trench-line.

Soviet command stand is gone and along with them, the radio and forward observer.  From now on, all mortar fire is through line of sight.
German shooting KO's the Soviet command stand and any hope the Russians had of calling in artillery fire.  This will be an infantry affair...

Soviets re-occupy their old positions among their dead and wounded comrades in the farm house.

meanwhile Gerry reaches the woodline!  
 The Germans reach the woodline and begin fanning out to assault the trenchline soon, as German FOs start calling in smoke to blind Ivan.  Gerry's tanks reach the other end of the farm and start firing at the Russian mortar section, who displace into the wheatfields, never to be seen (or heard from) for the rest of the battle.

German smoke falls but it's not enough!  THe landsers must advance under Russian rifle fire!

A Panzer III breaks from cover to help with the assault as German Rifle squads and LMG teams advance
 The Russians have emerged from the barrages and are firing at the Germans in the woodline now.  If a German unit fires, it is automatically spotted so the Russians don't have to roll to spot them.  Lots of 6's flying now as the Germans start to take infantry casualties from the firefight.  All tanks and artillery guns shift to the trenchline now!

 Ivan throws in the towel when the Panzer III and IV flank the objective and appear behind the trench line.  This battle has ended.

The infantry's rough work.  Suppressing the trenchline with rifle, LMG and artillery fire.

Post Battle Observations:
This game went fast.  Very fast.  despite the slow pace of the infantry advance, the tanks got into action fairly quickly, and I re-arranged the sequence of play to achieve a better balance of play.  My sequence is fairly straightforward:  Administrative Phase (spotting/recce, radio), Movement Phase, Fire Phase.

Some of my recommendations for future "BATTLE" are as follows:

Spotting Markers to work out who's been spotted and who needs to be re-spotted. (the Mortar section retreating into the wheat left the German line of sight, for instance).

Develop rules for tank gun HE fire at infantry positions.  My improvised, ad-hoc rules were on the fly and were too lethal, especially against dug-in Russian infantry squads, who were known for their stubbornness in fixed positions.

Develop rules for suppressing armored vehicles.  The Russians could have suppressed the German tanks in the woods-clearing as they were certainly close enough for LMG, Rifle and SMG fire.  The rules for suppressing are fairly straightforward and it shouldn't be too difficult to modify them to allow for suppression of tanks (very temporary, limited suppression).

Add Morale Rules.  I wonder with the losses Ivan was taking, how long he would have stayed around for?

Develop counters or markers for suppressed units


  1. Nice report, great pics, love the infantry squads especially...

    1. Thanks, Phil! I rebased them for Battlegroup: Kursk and I actually like them based that way better than the 1 1/4" squares I previously had.

  2. Very cool! Great to see an old-school game getting spruced up, brings back memories of childhood afternoons playing on the floor. Don't think my knees would like it too much now :-)

    1. Paul,
      It's definitely one of the classics. Some games you play, you can clearly see Grant's influence on the authors (I'm looking at you, Black Powder and you, Flames of War!)

      My knees couldn't take it either. I once tried to play a huge crossfire game on the floor and wondered how the heck I managed to do it years ago...

  3. It would be interesting to run the same scenario with BG Barabrossa and compare the gameplay

    1. Paul,
      I need to buy it first! I don't have the unit values. I plan on purchasing Overlord and Barbarossa - maybe not necessarily in that order? None of my Western Front Allies are finished as of yet. My GIs need alot of attention, and my British are almost all unpainted save for a handful of Paras. It will be nice though because I can use the same GIs and British for Bolt Action come to think of it.

  4. Great wee action Steven. Nice looking outing.

    1. Thanks, Paul. It was great fun. Ivan never had a chance without his armor. Next time I'll be sure to put more tanks down.

      Sometimes small unit actions make the best gaming.