Thursday, October 30, 2014

Modern Battlegroup Game 3: NATO Defend in Sector (Lots of Pictures!)

I played a very, very quick game of Modern Battlegroup (Battlegroup: REFORGER) to test out some theories that we were tossing around over the weekend.  

This battle began with all units starting on the board (something I've always wanted to try) and was a NATO defend mission with a platoon of M60 tanks and 2 sections of mechanized infantry defending the same ground from our Attack / Counterattack mission this past weekend.

The Warsaw Pact threw 2 platoons of T-72s against NATO.  They had no infantry, air, or artillery support, so this was in a hasty attack of sorts for Ivan.

I wont go into much detail regarding our recommended changes to the system as I will post an upgraded quick reference sheet in a follow-on post soon.  I just thought everyone would appreciate some nice eye candy.  These are my hastily painted Petner Panzer T-72s (huge models! not a good scale for 1/100 or 15mm) and my Command Decision M48s cleverly disguised as M60s!!

NATO tank crews scanning for targets!

APCs pull up to their battle position.
 The action started straight away with 1 T72 mobility kill at long range!  Scratch one tank from Ivan's force!  Good shooting yanks!

Pinned and immobilized.  

Warsaw Pact T72s move forward!

Kill!  Ivan KOs an M60 

Business end of a T-72 platoon!  (still somewhat unpainted)

Infantry dismounts (Israeli from quality castings serving as replacements lol)

1 APC packs up and heads for the objective to ambush the tanks in case things go badly on the line

Brutal exchange of fire goes NATO's way eventually, at the cost of 2 M60s.  Also a Dragon gunner from the tree-line opens up on the T72 on the road and this T-72 is history!

And a pinned tank turns into an abandoned tank as the Pact crew bug out of this fight!!!

Final dispositions of the battle - the Pact has no more unpinned units.  NATO was holding on by their fingernails on this one with only 1 serviceable tank left and 1 squad at full strength!  

love this shot!  burning pact tanks in the background

This crew is pinned and suffered heavily from the T72 on the roadway 
Another great game!  And a sorely needed win for NATO that's for sure.  Out of the last 3 battles, the Reds have won 2 and NATO forces continued to give ground until today with the results coming down to the actions of 1 tank crew and 1 mech infantry squad against a Soviet tank company!  I held my breath for each shot between those T72s and the M60 in the woodline.  The Dragon ATGM actually worked well against the early T72's armor as well.  Thank goodness they had one!

I will need to post the new quick reference sheet with WW3 modifications as well as some new vehicle cards (T72 and M60 MBTs).

I'm supposed to work this weekend but will be reading up on the "Sails of Glory" rules in the hopes of getting a small game in one evening.  Maybe even Axis & Allies Naval.  It will be a nautical weekend for sure, Matey!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Template!

I foraged on the internet this morning for a halfway decent woodland camouflage background for the blog, given all of the Cold War posts I've been making lately.  I think we have a winner!

Brings me back to my college and platoon leader days...where did the time go?  The US Army has gone through 2 camouflage changes since!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ambitious, Diabolical Plans Part II UPDATED!

Battlegroup Modern Game: Attack / Counterattack

Volley & Bayonet: Teugen-Hausen

Sails of Glory (just got this in the mail!)

A large "Black Powder" game in the AWI (most likely Freeman's Farm again this year w/pictures)

"The Big Push" Eastern Front German attack into prepared Soviet defenses using Grant's BATTLE rules and my own sequence of play.

A western front battle in late summer of 1944 using my 15mm WW2 GIs and new SS Germans.  Grant's BATTLE rules again.

Axis & Allies Naval Battle - South Pacific

Large "Bolt Action" eastern front battle 15mm

My first Warhammer 40k battle in 15mm

My very first game of Warhammer Fantasy...ever.

strike one off the list!  Next game?  Anyone's guess!  That said, I'm painting up more of my 15mm AWI guys for Freeman's Farm and Hubbardton using Black Powder, and basing even more troops for 15mm Bolt Action.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Playing Modern Battlegroup: Scenario 2 Attack / Counter-Attack

Ken came over today and tried out a home-brewed, unofficial, modern supplement to Battlegroup: Kursk that I like to call "Battlegroup: Reforger." With REFORGER of course being the yearly "Return of Forces to Germany" exercise where US Forces and other NATO allies are airlifted to the continent and married up with their equipment to reinforce NATO.

We played the second scenario from the Battlegroup: Kursk rules "Attack / Counter-Attack" featuring a Soviet breakthrough and West German counter attack to blunt it.  This battle featured 2 platoons of T-62s and a mechanized platoon of infantry in BMP-2s against a Leopard IA5 platoon of 3 tanks, and a mechanized infantry platoon in 4 Marders with Milan ATGMs.

The Soviets and NATO also had a reconnaissance section with the Germans fielding their Spahpanzer Luchs (with the ace crew from last battle!) and the Soviets with a BRDM2 scout section.  The Soviets also had some divisional anti-tank with a BRDM/AT5 vehicle in support.

This battle was a meeting engagement.  Soviet Breakpoint was 27, German Breakpoint was 21.

I didn't start taking pictures until well after the game started so bear with me!

Even though this was a meeting engagement, we both rolled pretty high and received the bulk of our forces fairly quickly.  Ken  playing the Soviets took some objectives relatively quickly and forced me to grab counters but luck certainly was on my side as I grabbed some very low counters and also a "beyond the call of duty" counter early on (my great rolling and good luck would burn out soon enough!).  The NATO right flank heated up with Ken's T-62 and my Leopard I's exchanging fires.

West German right flank!  My ace crew Spahpanzer was knocked out...  A Leo burns on the highway and you can see Soviet infantry creeping through the treeline to your right!!  A lucky "Low Ammo" marker was placed next to the Soviet infantry in this picture however they had already forced my Leopard I crew back!
 I decided to guard my left flank with the mech infantry and they raced through the cornfield to occupy the far tree-line.  Ken had moved some units over there and I was thinking it would have been a good place for him to try and flank me.  I kept my Marders back and when I did eventually move them forward, the BMP-2s autocannon chewed on my infantry for awhile, eventually KO'ing a whole squad!!!

T-62s on fire after some tank gunnery duels on the West German right. (yes, they are actually T55 models.  Substitution is the name of the game!)

The T62 in the treeline and the Soviet BRDM.  Another T62 fell victim to German gunnery but this wasn't enough to stem the tide!

German (actually US figures) dismounts in the treeline.  Some turns against Ken's BMP auto-cannon would make short work of these guys.  And their SAGGER ATGM finished off the Marder.  That big, yellow die is the ammo counter for the ATGM shots.  We didn't end up counting all of our tank gun and auto cannon fires but we did count missile shots.

Marder IFV burning and a pinned West German fireteam.

The Soviets forced a pin and subsequent KO of a Leopard tank that brought me to my breakpoint and the Germans bugged out, leaving some Leopard and Marder carcasses all over the field.  This was a Soviet victory and the Russian march West continues!

Initial Thoughts and Observations:

Overall this was an enjoyable game, and even with more "combined arms" the game didn't become too bogged down in complexity.  We had about 10 to 11 vehicles per side including command elements in their own tracked vehicles and the game progressed nicely.  Ken gave some great and very helpful suggestions and recommendations about this unofficial supplement, which Id like to go over here.  (BTW Ken if I'm misquoting you, let me know!)

Modifying the System for the Modern Battlefield:
One of things I need to do for this supplement is codify the differences between the WW2 rules and this modern supplement.  By the mid 1980s, sophisticated fire control and stabilization had made its way down into older NATO tanks to such a degree that firing on the move with a "good" degree of success could be expected.  The shooting penalties from movement in Battlegroup: Kursk reflect the realities of shooting from a World War 2 vehicle with the firer having moved, and there should be some differentiation in achieving a hit between the WW2 game and a modern version.

A reasonable suggestion because in my opinion, one of the things that sets modern vehicles apart from their WW2 counterparts is sophisticated fire control, ballistic computers, laser range finders, and upgraded sights to spot the enemy.  With that said, I'll be looking to "tweak" the spotting rules as well as the modifiers to firing.

ATGM Firing - Realities
My rules for ATGM fire included "restricted fire" rules straight out of the Team Yankee rules book.  Simply put - a vehicle wanting to fire its ATGM could not move that turn.  Ken brought up a great point about giving the target unit a reaction save and that's something worth putting in the game I think.  There are active countermeasures that vehicle crews can use against wire-guided ATGMs and that is something that needs more thought and design implementation.

Also, in BGK, anti-tank fire is allowed up to 5" within woods at a spotted target.  How about wire-guided ATGM fire?  Would a crew even bother with a shot like that if a tank within a woodline with brush all around it?  something to consider for the next scenario...

Breakpoints & Point Values:
I based the point values and breakpoints in both games against values used from the BGK rules book.  I'd like to come up with a points system and break point value more reflective of the fighting on NATO's central front and not simply based on WW2 equivalencies.  (IE A Panzergrenadier platoon from GrossDeutschland with 251/1 Halftracks and infantry costs what a Marder IFV equipped Bundeswehr platoon costs).

Ammo Consumption Rules Formalized:
Although today we played with just counting missile shots, I think it would be useful to track tank gun shots and even Auto-cannon shots.  As Ken put it this could make a world of difference towards actually taking a shot versus holding your fire until next turn when the enemy is closer and you have a more reasonable chance of success.  Plus, as I think Piers puts it, you get to paint up cool resupply vehicles for when you run out of ammo!  Giving the larger IFVs 3 ATGM shots was a good idea and I will do that again.

Tactical Primer:
Having lost today, I'm hardly the one to come up with a tactical primer for success but when you're on the business end of an auto-cannon and one of your infantry squads is wiped out before your very eyes, you tend to learn from these kinds of lessons!

In Battlegroup you have lots of tools at your disposal - be sure to use them and not discount any of them.
Co-axial machine guns, and pintle-mounted machine guns are there for you to use as well and can do lots of damage to exposed enemy infantry.
Guard your flank with vehicles on "ambush" orders!
Area Fire (to pin) and HE Fire are also things...using AP fire all the time is a good way to lose the game (as I found out)
Aggressive maneuver, tied to capturing objectives is a good way to win the game.

Final Thoughts:
Great game.  As I was telling Ken, I love Battlegroup for the uncertainty and the system itself.  Realistic casualty rates, and a decent fog of war mechanic where you do not always get to move everyone each turn are key aspects that I enjoy about the game system.  Any game that can model on-board machine guns as a valuable tool when it comes to enemy infantry is a good game in my book (not all games do that). When your force breaks, the casualties left on the table are realistic and not overdone.  This is a supplement I will continue to drive on with and modify.  It goes without saying that I will continue to play the WW2 version as well.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ambitious, Diabolical Plans

There have been a ton of games I've been wanting to play lately but either haven't found the time or haven't had enough miniatures painted.  Here is a list of them I'd like to play and of course publish the AARs to afterwards:

Battlegroup Modern Game: Attack / Counterattack

Volley & Bayonet: Teugen-Hausen

Sails of Glory (just got this in the mail!)

A large "Black Powder" game in the AWI (most likely Freeman's Farm again this year w/pictures)

"The Big Push" Eastern Front German attack into prepared Soviet defenses using Grant's BATTLE rules and my own sequence of play.

A western front battle in late summer of 1944 using my 15mm WW2 GIs and new SS Germans.  Grant's BATTLE rules again.

Axis & Allies Naval Battle - South Pacific

Large "Bolt Action" eastern front battle 15mm

My first Warhammer 40k battle in 15mm

My very first game of Warhammer Fantasy...ever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Modern Battlegroup: Battlegroup REFORGER Vehicle Stat Cards

Moving on with my Battlegroup modern, home-brewed, unofficial supplement "Battlegroup: REFORGER," I thought I would post an example of a unit stat card I've been working on.  It's not very "sexy" but it gets the job done...

Remember, all penetration and armor data comes from "Team Yankee," the GDW board game.  The penetration table I use is an expanded, 2D6 table based on the Team Yankee Combat Results Table.  The MG ROFs have been slightly fudged along with the movement for the game.  These are the stats I used for last post's game "A Clash of Reconnaissance."  Ken has expressed an interest in playing this supplement so I'm forging ahead with producing some cards for the next scenario in the campaign.

Please sound off with what you think - is this useful?  There are some experimental rules in here IE "wide tracks" which is similar to the "T-34 mobility" rule from Battlegroup: Kursk."  Also, I threw in some advanced fire control and enhanced spotting supplemental rules to reflect the Leo I's EMES-18 fire control system on the Leopard IA5 and the PERI-R12 night sight.

and of course the Marder.

and the Luchs - all West German vehicles from my game the other day.

Also to whet your appetite, here is an OPFOR vehicle.  A T-80.

I'm working on more tonight and tomorrow.

For anyone interested, the penetration table is below.  All I did was take the Team Yankee CRT and expand it for 2D6.  Cross reference the Penetration with the Protection value to give you the "To Kill" roll for an engagement.  Very straightforward.

Anyways, I'm going to continue on developing the vehicle cards for future games.  So far this has proved to be alot of fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Modern Battlegroup: Battlegroup REFORGER AAR

I started toying around with some ideas for playing the awesome Battlegroup: Kursk rules with Cold War era forces set in Central Europe in the 1980s.  The home-brewed results I assembled were satisfying enough for me to launch a test-game of them using my West Germans and Soviets.  Quite a few industrious individuals have already been playing their own home-brewed and unofficial modern supplement for Battlegroup so I thought I would join in.  I have read that the design team behind Battlegroup is planning a modern supplement but that is way down the pipeline.  Who can wait that long?!?!

Coming up with all of the Armor and Penetration data proved to be too big a job so I went with tried, tested, and true data for my Battlegroup: REFORGER supplement - I used all of the attack and defense values from excellent Team Yankee board game, as well as a modified combat results table morphed into a 2D6 armor penetration table.  The result looks very similar to the Battlegroup family of rules penetration table and if you've ever played Team Yankee, you know it's a well-researched game with solid combat values.

I played the scenario "A Clash of Reconnaissance" as it fits in nicely with a "D+1 Soviet Advance" scenario.  The Soviet recce elements are attempting to locate and fix the NATO main line of resistance (MLR) and the NATO covering forces want to stop them.  I used similar forces to the scenario in the BGK book:

Soviet Recce: 1x BRDM-2 and 1x PT-76 track
Soviet Mechanized Infantry Platoon: 3 x BMP-2 with dismounts
Soviet Armor (reserve): 1 x T-80 MBT
Breakpoint is 15

NATO Recce: 1 x Spahpanzer Luchs
NATO Mechanized Infantry Platoon: 3 x Marder IFV with dismounts
NATO Armor: 1 x Leopard IA4
Breakpoint is 18

This game is a meeting engagement.  AAR follows with lots of pictures!

Soviet BRDM2 during the opening minutes of the war.
 The game started out with the Soviet recce units working their way forward onto the objective and by turn 2 they were mixing it up with the Luchs.

Looking west from the Soviet entry point.  The BRDM2 is visible just next to the gasthaus.  The PT76 track is in the woodline next to the cropfield.  The Luchs is behind the small pine forest to the west.  Objectives are marked with a Soviet Guards token and a German WW2 First Panzer Division token.
 Units were slow to come on with both Infantry platoons arriving piece-meal.  The biggest difference between Battlegroup Kursk and my modern supplement is the speed at which the units get into the fighting.  The IFVs have great mobility and when I played this as a WWII game, the recce action was over before the infantry got to shoot at each other.  This was much different with the battle unfolding almost from turn 3 on.
West German Luchs stalking prey.

reaching the objective.

Soviet infantry arrived.  I diced where they would start from.

Luchs trading fire with the PT76 scout.

Pinned and subsequently destroyed.  The lesson learned here?  If you can be seen, you can be hit.  If you can be hit, you can be killed!

 The recce action heats up as the BRDM goes for cover and the PT76 misses its one and only shot to kill the Luchs.  The auto-cannon chews through the PT 76s obsolete armor and it brews up right on the objective.
The battle so far.  Soviet infantry working their way forwards towards the hill while the Luchs is holding its own.
 German infantry arrives all at the same time and uses their speed to get around the pine forest and reach the objective for a counterattack.  Ivan must be stopped!
German Marder IFVs making their way towards the crossroads for a local counter attack.  I like this picture.

View from the Soviet perspective at the crossroads.  The BRDM is a sitting duck!
 One of the Soviet BMPs moves up and the infantry dismount around the objective to cover it with RPG, RPK and small arms fire.  Their comrades work their way up to the hill.

BMPs approach the hill and the German objective.  
 The Russian BMPs get into position along the dirt road, ready to flank the hill and engage Gerry.  The T-80 arrives on the battlefield and just in time.  Meanwhile the BRDM falls prey to good German gunnery as the Luchs adds another kill to its tally, and it's only day 1 of the war!
Turn 4 the T-80 arrives!

The BRDM burns, and I am continuing to learn a valuable lesson about wheeled recce...

Marders creep into position around the objective to set themselves up for a good ATGM shot next turn.

Heer Infantry (actually US infantry but what the hell...) dismount and take up positions around a destroyed house to contest the objective.
 The beginning of turn 4 sees the arrival of the Armor and it's important for me to introduce a "new" rule to this supplement - Explosive Reactive Armor and saves as all of my infantry fighting vehicles are equipped with lethal Anti-Tank Guided Weapons (ATGM).  I gave the T-80 a 5+ save when hit by an ATGM to see if the ERA can deflect the shot. Also I used the restricted movement rules from Team Yankee so if you want to fire an ATGM, you must remain stationary.  

It's also important to note a minimum ATGM firing distance so the 0-5 bracket is prohibited for ATGM fire.

Leopard I arrives on the field

Here is a nice shot with the progress of the battle along with the trusty Team Yankee rulebook and my own Armor Penetration table, based on the Team Yankee CRT and modified for 2D6 firing.  In this picture you can see the BMPs next to the hill and the lone T-80 working its way up the road.

Soviet infantry fighting vehicles moving forward.

Marders moving into position.
 I resumed the game this morning and the T-80 raced up to the objective to attempt to knock out the Luchs vehicle and some of the reported Marders.  Meanwhile the Soviet infantry advance on the hill and dismount their carriers, with 1 squad remaining to cover the objective.  One of the German Marders is in a perfect position for a shot and during the German turn, it fires on the T-80 with the ERA saving it!  Another Marder takes a shot and the T-80 fails its ERA save.  The penetration roll is successful and the T-80 is toast.
moving past the burning BRDM this T-80 is on the prowl!

meanwhile the Soviet infantry fan out.  The BMP in the upper left is in a perfect spot to guard the Soviet flank.

Burning T-80.
 Speaking of ATGM fire, one of the Soviet BMPs spots a Leopard I moving up across the field!  Permission to engage is instantly forthcoming!! (are you crazy Serzheant?  Open fire immediately!)  The BMP2's AT-5 Spandrel missile makes short work of this small cat and both tanks are effectively knocked out of the game.  Man, keep your infantry with your tanks and suppress the enemy at all hazards!  These ATGMs are no joke...

Victorious Soviet gunners watch the Leopard brew up.  Meanwhile the Soviet infantry begin the advance on the hilltop.
 The infantry fight heats up now as the Soviet squad covering the crossroads fans out to engage German infantry.  Their fire causes a West German morale check and subsequent "Beyond the Call of Duty" move and the fight is on!  Soviets in a still-smoldering building (destroyed by well-planned Soviet artillery of course) trade vicious automatic weapons fire with the Germans on the other side.  The Soviet infantry on the right cautiously moves up the hill and secures the West German objective.  The resulting counter sees the Germans reach their breakpoint and the game is over with Gerry pulling out.
On the Soviet left a fierce firefight breaks out with a West German squad and the Soviet squad covering the objective.  The Russians attempt to flank the objective, only to run straight into German small arms and crew served weapons!!

Soviet infantry armed to the teeth standing on top of the German objective.  Crossroads secure comrade captain!

Germans mixing it up with the Russians at close range.

Spahpanzer Luchs - next game they will be an Ace Crew!!!
 What did we learn today?

  • Move your units tactically behind cover and out of enemy line of sight whenever possible.  
  • Suppress enemy IFVs whenever possible.
  • Cover the objective and kill areas with fire.

A game set in the 1980s should have mug with a slogan from the 1980s  to hold its tea.  Anyone remember this??  
Well if you've reached this part then I applaud your patience.  This was a very exciting and fast-paced game that was extremely enjoyable and again, I can see what is so attractive about the Battlegroup rules.  Things move fast and the combat plays out like a real narrative from a modern fight.  I like the more realistic casualty rates as well.  The results of this battle are what I would expect from a real battle, with units pulling out still retaining much of their combat power, but their position becoming untenable and their morale failing, they pull out.

Making the switch to moderns was relatively easy with the Team Yankee values used for armor and penetration data.  The penetration table was a little bit of work converting it to 2D6 but the results are a convenient combat results table that delivers satisfying results for gaming.  with that said, there's still a little work to do:

I still need to work out better small-arms values for infantry weapons.  The modern era has a plethora of lethal shoulder-fired devices that can kill vehicles so suitable values need to be developed.

Spotting rules come from the original World War II rules and there should be a slight enhancement in a vehicle's ability to spot other enemy vehicles.  I added +1 to all of my vehicle spotting rolls and this might be good enough.

I should develop "vehicle stats" like in the BGK book that lays out penetration values at range as well as any special rules the vehicle brings with it.

Lastly I need to paint more infantry and vehicles!  I had to use some stand-in infantry as well as my VDV infantry for Soviet dismounts.  Next time, Id like to have more infantry painted up for both sides.

ATGM limited shots.  This is a very important feature - ATGM shots should be limited just like main gun shots in the WW2 game with resupply available as an option for larger games.

I am looking forward to incorporating mortars, more tanks, artillery and combat air support into the mix,  I have all those 1/144 Hind and Apache models, it would be a terrible shame to not use them!