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).


  1. Nice report Steven, great looking game...with courageous guys, and Stug! Your explosion markers are fantastic additions, looking so realistic!

    1. Thank you Phil! We had a great time! I love the effect that the blast markers give the table. I will be making more of them.

  2. Excellent! More please :)
    I love the trench line and the artillery. So you're building a campaign narrative with the scenarios; that will be epic.

    1. Darren,
      It's already built! There are 6 inter-locked battles where players are awarded points for completing their mission ir ending the battle with certain mission orders. Ive followed the 507th's progress at Kursk and the games follow that exact sequence. We are still only midway through the first day but it will be grinding forward all the way to the village.

      Next up will be the Ochka River crossing and then the Kastenwald.

      Epic for sure! Stay tuned!

  3. Steve,

    Wow, what a fight, absolutely fantastic! The back-and forth in the wheat field was intense, I can't wait for the next fight.


    1. Jack they dont get more exciting than this! Pretty hardcore fight in the wheatfield and tons of heavy artillery falling everywhere. You gotta love Battlegroup for the narrative it produces.

    2. Cool man. I'm enjoying your "Summer of Battlegroup," really enjoying your Road to Ponyri batreps. I particularly love the infantry-heavy flavor; so often you see Kursk games and it's nothing but armor. Keep up the great work!


    3. Wasnt your boy Klink of KG Klink fame at Kursk? ;) i think he served as a Luftwaffe LNO on the XXXXVII Panzer Korps staff.

      Yes Kursk had lots of tanks but the foot slogging grunts had the fight of their lives especially at Ponyri. Lets see if the battle hardened 292nd can cross the Ochka River under fire!

  4. I think that terrain mat looks really good

    1. Ken,
      It's the battlefront double sided mat. I really like it it's just a little short about 2"