Thursday, August 25, 2016

GrossDeutschland at Kursk Skirmish Campaigns: BATTLEGROUP: KURSK

Awhile ago, "Paul of the Man Cave" planted the idea that The "Skirmish Campaign" series (available at Brigade Games) would make excellent scenarios for BattleGroup: Kursk games so I thought I'd give it a try - being my "stay-cation" and all.

The first scenario is entitled "Prelude" and is a vignette from the fighting in the dusk hours prior to Operation Zitadelle kicking off.  Up and down the lines, German forces attacked and cleared Soviet forward OPs and trenchlines in order to secure jumping off points.  According to Glantz, some of these battles were savage affairs and were a gloomy omen of the battles to come as, in some cases, entire German infantry battalions broke themselves trying to secure their pre-offensive objectives the day before the Battle of Kursk officially started.

German Platoon Leader and a Rifle Section moving up to attack the forward Soviet OP
 The mission for GrossDeutschland is to eliminate a forward Soviet OP that will be calling down artillery onto GD's advancing elements.  The task falls on you!

GD moving out.  A rifle and LMG section moving up to a small hill overlooking the objective
 The Germans are "Veteran" ranked for BGK and the Soviets are "Regular."  Both sides have 2 full squads, an MMG section.  The soviets have a forward observer and the Germans have a platoon commander.  Per the scenario, the Soviets also have 3 guns standing by of 76.2mm artillery.  Oh great!  These scenarios were definitely written PRIOR to battlegroup kursk as they have no idea how powerful that stuff is in these rules!  Anyways onto the action.

Oh the Soviets' breakpoint is "10" and the German breakpoint is 13.
The Soviets have fortified an old animal pen, making it virtually impervious to fire!  

Soviet squad moves into position to the woods in front of them.  
 The Germans move their 2 squads quietly towards the objective, hoping to flank it and force ivan to withdraw.

Ivan reaches the tree line in time to see Germans to his front!  The battle is joined!

Soviet MMG and loader crew, along with the Forward Observer team.

battlefield looking south from the Soviet lines
 I played with my individually based troops who were originally based for "Bolt Action" but found themselves right at home playing Battlegroup: Kursk!

Germans advancing up to the hill.  Note the woods on the left where The German Platoon Commander and lead squad are moving

 As the Germans exit the woodline on their left flank, artillery screams in overhead, erupting in blossoms of fire, shrapnel, and earth.  The fire is mixed with bursts of Soviet fire from the woodline to their front!  The Soviet FO scores well on all his die rolls and the first salvo of "crash booms" pins the weary Landsers!

Couldn't find my artillery explosion markers.  

GD Soldiers in the woods overlooking the objective!

German LMG section moves up foolishly in the open!

Another Soviet squad comes in on the their left flank!

meanwhile on the German left theyre still trading fire with Ivan!

Barrel is red hot from the MG-42!
 Neither side has been able to get an advantage over the other for the time and both are trading away shots at each other.
The Soviets start taking casualties as German fire from the hill shifts.
 The firefights develop in earnest as a German LMG section pays the ultimate price for moving into the open, and the Soviet squad facing the German left passes test after test taking a ton of casualties before finally breaking.

Then, miraculously, as the Germans draw a counter for losing an LMG section, they draw the "low ammo" marker.  The Soviet MMG is low on ammo and rolls - they're completely spent!  The crew beats feet out of the area!!!

Then the Soviet squads on both the left and right decide they've had enough and quit the field.  The Soviet left flank took off after losing only 2 troops. 
 The Soviet squad on the right takes 2 casualties and realizes they've had enough!

The Soviets reach their BP and leave the field.

German MG 42 position set up in the treeline


  1. Cool looking battle report, though the Russkies tossed in the towel a bit early on ya. Ces't la guerre. I've always been interested in the Battlegroup rules, but the price of the books has put me off. I need to take another look now they've gone PDF. I've never seen anyone say anything bad about the rules.


    1. Jack,
      That's the great thing about Battlegroup, you never know when the game is going to end. It's even better with 2 people when it's usually a complete surprise. Ivan had 2 squads break almost back to back and that was that but the one squad held on after 5 guys or 6% of the squad got hit, which is amazing, while the other squad beat feet after 2 dudes were hit. The results are always in question, which I love.

      This game was tough to put together because the units are so small and the breakpoint values had to be "fudged" for instance Ivan should have probably had a full strength platoon with all the trimmings (MMG, mortar, ATR, and light ATG) but I really wanted to play the scenario almost as it was in the book so as you said, "that's war."

      When you get down to the nuts and bolts, Battlegroup is probably my favorite of the options out there. It is a little too granular if you want to play vast, sweeping battles but as we have discussed previously there is a certain amount of BS I want to dispense with, with the full realization that there is also an amount of compromise that goes into finally accepting a rules set.

      The pros of the BG series are many. You don't have total control of your units (must pass an observation test before any firing as well as a morale test before entering close combat just some of the ways - artillery is also really tough to get, but when you get it watch out it's devastating as it should be [King of Battle].

      The biggest detractor from BG is the amount of work you have to do to put a game together. You have to calculate your breakpoints based on the forces you're using. It also helps to have all your gun and armor values written down before hand unless you're playing a simple game like the one I played yesterday. All these things take up some time so that's my sole biggest complaint about battlegroup.

      Check out any of my Battlegroup: REFORGER games which is my homebrewed modern variant of the BG series to see how it handled modern combat. I would say pretty darn well.

    2. Steve,

      Thanks for the rundown. I'm not much for pre-battle book work (I get enough of that just with my campaign units/characters), but I do love the force morale system. Might be a little crunchier than my tastes run, too, but I'll probably pick them up at some point.

      Where are your hills from? I like the look, and need to upgrade mine.


    3. Jack,
      For hills check out the link. I bought a ton of these for Command Colors Napoleonics as they fit nicely over my hex mat:

      Just be careful when ordering because some of the hill heights are for 28mm so read the descriptions before you buy (that one comes from experience lol).

      yeah that's the biggest drawback to BG - the pre game mental gymnastics you have to do (okay they're not that bad but you can't just have a pick up game without calculating breakpoint unless you use the vanilla MTOEs straight from the book).

      You can pick up the basic rules without any of the "chrome" for pretty cheap I think and there should be enough scenario material around the internet for a good, quick fight.

      You might want to try HAIL OF FIRE if you like the force morale system but don't want the pre game bookwork. They're definitely worth a look.

    4. Very interesting, and thanks for the link Steve.


  2. A nice report with beautiful pictures (love the close-ups!), great looking game...

    1. Thanks Phil - these guys are so photogenic! There is a big variety of poses in there so I think that makes a difference.

  3. I played that scenario a year or so ago using Rate of Fire. If I remember correctly, the Germans were sitting pretty until I realized it was a timed scenario and had to rush the house at the end. Very cool to see the same scenario run by someone else.

    1. Thanks Ski, these scenarios would be perfect for ROF. Yeah you get D4 turns after turn #8 to get that strongpoint cleared out.

      I got lucky with BG because there is no fixed number of turns, and Ivan ran off before the men could come to grips. Otherwise it would have been tough to close with the Soviets since they had that MMG in the strongpoint.

  4. Great commentary. I can hear the bullets whizzing past as I read it.

    I'm in two minds what ruleset to try next for WWII (given time of course). Every time I read one of your posts on BG games, it makes me want to try it.

    How owuld it have worked with 'The Last 100 yards' or with 'Hail of Fire' - different level of game?

    1. Glad you liked the write up Darren. It was a great fight.

      You should definitely try BG. It's one of my all time favorite games. Very well thought out and a slight departure from what we're used to.

      I think TLHY or HOF are a slightly higher level - not necessarily as granular as team on team/squad fighting?

  5. Great write up Steve- looks like a cracking game

    Glad the suggestion for Skirmish Campaigns worked well. How did you modify the system to use BG rules?

    1. Worked very well, Paul. Reconciling the points was tricky though, and like I said the Russkies probably got more BP for less troops, which sucks for them but the whole idea of playing 2 squads and a support weapon on a short table gave a good game.

      Basically the Soviets got less of a platoon, but artillery support (per the scenario) and I increased their BP to 12 so they'd stay in the fight longer. The Germans I calculated their BP from the website calculator and got 13 for 2 squads, an MMG team, and a platoon leader element.

      Squad level game, Germans had D6 + 1 order. Soviets had D6 orders. It was great!

  6. Nice looking game Steven. Surprising result all right. Well shot in the photo department as well.

    Good skills.