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!


  1. Y'know, it's postings like this that make we want to take up moderns! Darn you! I've got to get hold of myself and go paint more Hungarian grenadiers for SYW!

  2. John,
    The lure of moderns is so appealing how can you not?!?! :) Plus there are many rules out there that don't require hordes of vehicles and troops so you won't have to shell out too much hard earned cash! :) Thanks for commenting.

    PS if it makes you feel any better, I'm way behind on my SYW painting...

  3. Pretty inspirational stuff Steven! Having been a big 1/300 moderns fan back in the day, and now a BG Kursk convert, this really appeals to me. I would think that your plan for vehicle stats might be greatly eased by looking at some of the old Command Decision Moderns or the like. I think you'll find much of the work has already been done for you there.

    I really want to break out my copies of "Team Yankee" and "Red Storm Rising" now!

    1. Paul,
      It was alot of fun (the BG games usually are). The game played very fast and accepted the stats from Team Yankee rather well. I need to get more troops and infantry painted up to get on the table! It turns out Battlegroup is a great fit for moderns as well as WW2. I am going to buy the Cold War Hot Force on Force scenario book for some "Battlegroup: REFORGER" scenarios to play!

      Now to get those Americans and additional Soviets painted up...

  4. Very nice. I'm still question for good modern rules.


    1. Thanks, John. I've heard the Iron Fist team is going to be publishing a modern variant to their Battlegroup series but it's not going to be for a little while. I used the stats from Team Yankee and incorporated them into Battlegroup and it worked very well. Lots of fun.

      By the way - I like your blog. It's now linked on the right side of mine here.

  5. Eye Candy Alert!!!

    Very cool post Steven. I need to pull finger myself for my moderns.

    Painting US troops now to catch up.

    1. Thank you, Paul! I did take some neat pictures, one of which I made the new banner photo for the blog.
      I need to do some catchup work on my moderns. Specifically my vehicles. I bought some new Tamiya paints to finish up my US Force (think Team Yankee with M1s and M113s) and the Cav in Bradleys.

      Looking forward to seeing your troops!

  6. Nice BatRep bud! I've got a few small Modern Spearhead games lined up for tomorrow as linked scenarios also featuring the FRG and Soviets. We'll see if the Germans can redeem themselves.

    1. Thanks Ski it was a ton of fun. Modern Spearhead is a great game - where else do you get an excuse to have entire divisions on the table!!

      I would love to know what happens. THe Germans didn't have their big cats (Leo IIs) just the smaller ones! I'll be tuning in!

  7. Great Batrep Steven. Did you fixed some vehicles statistics ? I m building even if slowly three battlegroups in 20 mm (Us FRG and Soviet) and i'm very curious to let them battle. As you can easily guess..till now was not able to properly test the penetration table you sent me..anyway i'm monitoring ebay for a good deal for a used copy of Team Yankee board game....the rwal issue is how to avoid my wife radar!!!

    1. Thanks, Marco. Remember, there isn't a weapon on earth that can successfully evade the wife's radar!
      I was thinking of developing some vehicle cards based on the Team Yankee statistics. I will post them hopefully this week.