Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Summer of Battlegroup! Drive on Ponyri 425 Pt Game

Dave came over and we played the inaugural game in the "new and improved" gaming bunker today (aka the remodeled basement), opening the "Summer of Battlegroup!"  This past week I developed a campaign centered around 1st Battalion, 507th Infantry Regiment's (292nd Infanty Division "The Pomeranian Division") drive on Ponryi Station during the Battle of Kursk. 

We played roughly 425 points to a side with plenty of added extras like heavy artillery, assault pioneers, minefields, trenches, and, my personal favorite?  Pre-Registered Artillery.  This was our first game with lots of "extras" like that included. 

Soviet breakpoint (mine) was 15.  The German (Dave) breakpoint was 22.

We played the defense line scenario from the BGK book.  The Germans, naturally are the attackers.  They are breaching the initial Soviet covering force line on 5th July headed towards the "Kastenwald" or the "Box Forest" which is their primary objective for the first day.

Looking towards the Soviet side.  Soviets in their trench line on the left of the pic.  To the right, in the wheatfield they are in foxholes.  
 The Soviets started with 7 total units on the table.  Their full 4 squads, the MMG section, an AT Gun, and the FO.

FO Section looks on.  With all of the TRPs out there, I never even had to call for fire!
 I also had a minefield between the "German Hill" (hill with a German objective on it) and the cornfield.
Soviets in foxholes in the wheatfield.
 This was also the inaugural game for the Battlefront gaming mat.  Not bad although it runs a little short (about 1 inch on each of the long table edges).
My makeshift trench-line until I get something better built.  My secret?  clamshell molding!  I textured and dry brushed some of it
 Dave gathered his forces slowly.  Since we had no reconnaissance units on the table, he basically chilled out, out of line of sight of any Soviets until he could gather up enough forces to launch an assault.  The use of our pre registered Artillery TRPs came in handy here.  Dave started smashing the wheatfield where the Soviets were in foxholes as he sited his artillery there.

Soviets overwatching the cornfield.  Artillery about to start crashing down all around them.  Big stuff, too.  150mm.

The Soviet reserves.  2 additional squads, Company commander and the mortars
 Dave's artillery fell right around the wheatfield.  We used an old FOW "ranged in" marker as the TRP.  It's important to note here that Dave couldn't get his reserve roll to get anything higher than a "1" for a number of turns, so those Germans must have gotten bunched up in their assembly areas.

Artillery crashing down!

Hopefully I'm not confusing anyone with my unit identifications.  They are based for Crossfire.  In this case, the units with "2" on them had LMGs.  Saved us from using our old eyes to look down at the 15mm troopers.
Soviet squad is pinned.
Another squad pinned.  Unpinning them was a luxury I could ill afford with a breakpoint of 15!

 Dave finally gets some good reserve rolls (after switching out dice) and brings the Stug up.  I note that his main effort seems to be the wheatfield side and I also note a lack of assault pioneers.  Whew!  Wasn't looking forward to facing that flamethrower...  But there is still a Stug III to deal with.

Company Commander on the scene to lend "tactical coordination" and an additional order.  Dave made extensive use of the "tactical coordination" order this game, especially as the assaults on the wheatfield begin in earnest.

 Dave doesn't yet know it but his men have advanced right into a Soviet killing field of artillery!
The Stug passes right over a Soviet 122mm TRP
Left Soviet squad in the wheatfield bugs out after failing a morale test.
 The beginning of the Soviet turn sees the soviet god of war unleashed!  Faithful to history, the Germans are paying for every yard.

Splash!  122mm rounds plaster the Germans.  Not alot of chances to damage a Stug but at least it forces a morale check.

The Stug is pinned (and unpainted.  The reader will forgive me - I'm in the process of repainting all of them).
 Meanwhile on Dave's turn, his other pre registered target goes for the FO and AT gun section in the woods.
 And in what was characteristic of this game?  Dave BOLOs the arty strike and gets a handful of "1s"!

I couldn't make this up.  Had to take a picture of it.  Note the minefield marker in the upper right.  This is it until I make something cooler looking like "ACHTUNG-MINEN" markers.
 Meanwhile the Soviets are fighting for their lives in the wheatfield.  As one squad buys it, another runs into the foxholes to take their places.

Soviet reinforcements moving up!
The last of Dave's reinforcements arrive - the assault pioneers.  They have the flame thrower and the demolition charges!  Differentiated by their helmet covers.

Soviet platoon leader moves into the wheatfield to spot for the mortar battery.  The 82mm tubes so far have been silent this game.
 Dave and I both start close assaulting each other at the hedge-line but numbers are starting to tell.  Dave whacks a squad, and I send in a new one behind them.  It's just like reading a story about the fighting during the Kursk battles.

Dave orders a medic into the fray but is it enough?

Dave's men going over the top in the background

The MMG lending fire support
 With all of the pinning and unpinning I am getting perilously close to breakpoint here.  Dave's pioneers end up winning the engagement without even firing a shot as they cross "German Hill" and I end up taking a battle counter.  It's enough to send me packing and I reach my breakpoint.  The remaining Soviets bug out.

The games will get progressively bigger as Dave, er, the German player closes on Ponyri Station.  I think I captured the scope of the battles thus far.  Dave did a solid job of breaching the covering force defenses and his next mission will be the Ochka River crossing.  The Kastenwald is in sight!

This was a great way to open the "summer of Battlegroup" with a small-ish introductory game.  As we proceed into the summer, we'll play larger battles until we reach the final cataclysmic battle at Ponyri Station and possibly beyond, depending on how the Soviets do (there is still alot of ground to cover between here and Ponyri).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Battlegroup: NORTHAG!

Admittedly I'm a little late to the party with this post but boy oh boy is it about time they started work on this baby!

 I could not be more excited about it and as echoed in the previous post, will break out my BG: REFORGER supplemental set just to whet my appetite until BG: NORTHAG is actually released.

 Probably will be awhile but I've been patient since we first starting hearing about this so at least it's good to know it's formally on the drawing board.  No timeline stated yet but that's okay.
In the meantime there are plenty of homegrown REFORGER stats to use and practice with!  Watch this space.

And if that news wasnt good enough, Plastic Soldier Company is forging ahead with a 15mm Leopard I box.  Now I pretty much only need about 3 more Leo I's to have an understrength company and PSC has said via "Social Media" that they will try and make a Gepard option in the Leo I box!!  Pretty sweet!

Okay that's all for now.  Stay tuned.  Looking at a Battlegroup: Kursk "Drive on Ponyri" campaign game tomorrow.  More to follow!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Battlegroup: REFORGER Playtest Re-Post

So I have been corresponding with Robin from Germany who has been taking my own home-brewed variant of Battlegroup (BG: REFORGER) and vastly improving upon it.  He has been very polite and helpful and has brought a new level of detail and organization to it.  He recently playtested BG: REFORGER and produced an After-Action Report (AAR) on the battle.

I asked him for permission to post it to my blog.  All pictures and words are his.  Reading this report really makes me want to get my World War III vehicles out and have a good battle!  (note what Robin did with the dismount sections which I really like).

Battlereport Germans vs Soviets

Scenario played was ‘Defence Line’ with the Germans defending. Germans were outnumbered but
benefited from a new German national special rule when Germans are the defenders ‘Defending our
homes’ which provides them a single reroll of an order die roll of their choice.
Because of the small number of units we played with, we made some changes to the scenario: no
Pins for the defenders in the first round, reinforcements on turn 3 for attacker, turn 4 for defender.
Only two objectives. We also removed all 4 and 5 markers, as well as Air Strike and Artillery marker.

German Forces:

- Iltis Truck with 3 men forward HQ

- Leopard 2 Tank

- Panzergrenadier Platoon

o 3 Marder

o One 4 men command team (Panzerfaust)

o Two 4 men MG/rifle Teams (MG3 and Panzerfaust) ((I merged them))

o Two 2 men Milan Teams

- 2 Officers, BR 18
Soviet Forces:

- BMP KsH HQ (added this, special rules ‘extended radio equipment’ gains it an additional
order per turn, so two instead of the usual one

- T-72 Platoon

- BMP-2 Platoon

- 3 Officers (+4 bonus because of the special rule), BR 20

No picture of the table. But one road went from the eastern side of the table to the western side,
south of the road was a small river. The northern and central part of the map was had two larger hills
with some forests on and around them. Two buildings formed the center of the German defense.
Germans rolled only 2 for the units to deploy and deployed the Leo 2 and a Marder with a regular
squad + ATGM Team in it.
Soviets deployed their 3 IFVs .

The soviets started with enough Orders to get things going. They had no LOS to the German units and crawled forward, already deploying some of the infantry.

The Germans answered with the Leo getting in position and blowing up one of the BMPs which alreadyunload and missing another one. The Marder unloaded the MILAN Team which got into good firing position. Even with a reroll there were not enough Orders to move the Marder or the Squad.

Turn Two

The soviets had a bad roll for Orders, but managed to spot and kill the MILAN Team... Damn. At least two Spandrels failed to hit their dangerous target in form of the Leo.

The Germans had enough Orders this time. The Leo opened up again, still benefiting from a really
nice firing position. Taking out another BMP-2 but again failing the second shot while standing still.
The Infantry got out the Marder, which drove into dangerous position and failed to spot the enemy
infantry advancing though the forests. The infantry made the spot and killed a single guy at long
range, thanks to the MG3. The enemy unit was pinned too.

Turn Three

A stunning 6 for reinforcements, followed by a 6 for orders for the soviets. The BMP-2K of the
platoon leader opened up at the Leo 2 which stood still last turn and blew a big hole in the frontal
armor. Ouch. Thanks the only tank down even before any enemy tank was spotted. Every unit except
for one T-72 crawled at the board with the Platoon commanders T-72 pinning the Marder.
Not much to do for the Germans. No Officer on the board, Marder pinned. So the solitaire infantry
unit bravely moved into a building and opened up at the enemy infantry less than 30” away but failed
to spot them this time. No good round for the Germans.

Leo destroyed, Marder pinned, the infantry exposed in the building.

Turn Four

The soviets advanced quite fast, pinning the infantry in the building. Not much to shot anyway. Think
the pinned Marder saw a lot of bullets landing nearby, with one finally hitting him.
The Germans were able to bring their reinforcements which raced towards the ground where the
other units suffered before.

Turn Five

Not much happened. The soviets put massive area fire at the infantry still hiding in the house. They
routed after 4 successful tests. The Platoon Commander of the T-72s got hit by a mine after that, but
only received a pin.

Turn Six

Soviets continued their push, with one BMP flanking in the south crossing the river and a T-72
flanking in the north sneaking through the forests.
Germans positioned themselves, MILAN Team got into ambush, an enemy infantry unit lost two men
and got pinned, Marder opened up at the flanking BMP-2 missing with its autocannon.

Turn Seven

Soviet drove into the Ambush and lost their Platoon Commander T-72 in return another Marder went
down.  German situation became worse and worse. The MILAN Team was too close now to the flanking T-72. The Marder missed MILAN shots at the flanking BMP-2. Minor casualties at least were inflicted to the soviet infantry.

The soviets continuously advanced. The German Panzerfausts failed to penetrate T-72 armor but
pinned them both. First objective was taken in Round 8, with only some units left for the Germans
and 3 points away from breaking. Soviets were 5 points away, due to some unpinning. In Round 9 the
soviets took the second objective and the Germans broke, having only the HQ, the Iltis and one
MILAN team left.


The soviets greatly overwhelmed the Germans. The Leo 2 as long as he was active was deadly. ATGM Teams did good for the Germans. Some really bad spotting (I went back on some spotting values to the original rule values) for the Germans did not help them. But most of the stuff felt really right. The Leopard 2 sitting still was a mistake which payed of for the soviet player. The predicted estimate of one NATO tank facing three Pact tanks taught the Germans a tough lesson. The Leo 2 in this circumstances is definitely not to strong, as it’s, while having a superb punch, is vulnerable too. Next time the Germans will get some defenses and the Battlegroups will be enlarged. But we had a great game and loads of fun, with the flanking BMP-2 taking 3 turns to cross the river, even though it’s not wider than 5” and the dumbass German infantry failing to spot anything.

Thanks to Robin for a great playtest and write up and also for the inspiration to make me want to play REFORGER once again!  I had forgotten how much fun it was!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Work Proceeding According to Schedule!

Just about there with the Battle Bunker.  Last night, Dave came over to tour the fortifications and the Battle Bunker so far.  He was pleased with the results!

So, 90% of the work has been completed, save for painting the stairwell.  Right now I'm focusing on putting stuff back onto new shelves and organizing my hobby stuff.  As Rommel might say "turning this rabble into something of an Army!"

First view is from the stairwell looking into the sitting area and fireplace.  You can barely make out the gaming table.  For those who remember, I moved the painting desk against the other wall so as to open up room to get around the table.

Besides those hideous mirror tiles above the fireplace, the gaming bunker is almost complete!  We're looking at tile backsplashes for the fireplace now (I wonder if the Wife will let me hang a Brown Bess there????  Should I press my luck?)

The gaming table!  With a Battlefront mat on top.  Unfortunately it is 2" short but overall I'm pleased with it.  I found the extra piece of wood paneling for the ductwork and put it back into position so it will need to be painted so the reader will excuse the unpainted wood paneling in the upper left...
Note the desk in the back corner and nice sitting chair.  Trying to make gaming in the basement a little more comfortable for my guests.

The new Battlefront gaming mat in all its glory.  Also my piles of junk all over the place!

Looking from the storage room into the gaming area.
My wife wanted me to use the gaming table as a sort of dividing line (DMZ?) from the family room to the gaming area so it's been turned 90 degrees.

Storage solutions.  New shelves that house all my gaming stuff.  This is looking into the storage area.
So as you can all see, we're just about ready to start gaming.  With 1 week until summer, I think I'll be ready to kick off "the summer of Battlegroup" close to or even right on schedule.

Caesar and Napoleon back into position!  Caesar is a tourist souvenir from Rome and Napoleon is a tourist souvenir from Paris and both were bought specifically to grace my gaming  room.  Both of them have excellent stories behind them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Look what arrived in the mail today straight from the UK!  The long awaited PSC T-55 15mm kit!  It's finally here!!

After unboxing, you notice the kits are placed in there efficiently and tightly as one would expect from a PSC box.   They also include instructions to assemble into the various T-55 marks from the Warsaw Pact.  I didn't realize we were going to get all of these potential marks: Polish, Czech, Soviet, and East German.

I am VERY happy with the quality of this kit.  The detail is very nice and the kit is crisp and clean. Check out the detail:

and finally, I love how it says "suitable for Battlegroup" on the back of the box.

Now, I'm no expert by any stretch but after seeing those words on the box, I arrive at 2 conclusions:

  • There were no T-55s that fought in World War II.
  • Battlegroup "Modern" is really happening.  Now, truthfully, I already know that it is happening eventually, but seeing it on a T-55 box from PSC only builds my excitement!  

Great job PSC.  Can't wait for more of your modern kits to arrive.  5 stars!  These guys will get a different paint job than my other T-55s - most likely a camouflage paint job.  Cannot wait!!

Stay tuned.  The Basement Battle Bunker is taking shape!