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.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Grigork. It was a fun game and I'm looking forward to more. Lots of nail-biting action with the battlegroup rules.

  2. Excellent report - and these rules seem to suit 80s cold war admirably. I have the older 'Kampfgruppe Normandy' which I think are the same basic rules. I'll maybe use your mods to give them a try with my 20mm stuff. Your pics are very evocative of the period too.

    1. Thank you, Duke. It was a fun game with a definite "cold war feel" to it. I am looking forward to expanding this home-brewed supplement to include other theaters of World War 3.
      A few days ago on this blog I posted some Cold War vehicle stats. If you like, I can post more. Please let me know.

    2. I'd be very interested in that Steven. I've just ordered the BGK rules so will try something with the mods. Good to see some elements of Team Yankee creeping in too - so your mods really make sense to me.

      It will be good to get my 20mm stuff dusted off.

    3. Excellent, consider it done.
      When I thought about developing a home-brewed modern supplement, Team Yankee immediately came to mind as the weapon data, defensive (Armor) data, and combat results table were already done.
      Instead of trying to pick apart BGK's penetration data and modernize it, I figured why not just make Team Yankee's CRT a 2D6 CRT and go with it from there?
      So far I have played 2 games of "Battlegroup: REFORGER" and it has been alot of fun. The next challenge is to ensure it is truly "modern" and not just a "WW2 game with modern tanks" and that will take a little bit of though and trial over the next few weeks. I will post some vehicle cards, the pen table, and maybe a quick reference sheet over the next few days.

  3. Good to see these on the table mate. Nice looking game.

    1. Paul,
      These Cold War troops and vehicles are getting lots of mileage on them! Exactly what I was hoping for!