Sunday, January 21, 2018

Modern Battlegroup Action

On Saturday, Ken and I played a game of Modern Battlegroup using Richard C's (of Cold War Hot Hot Hot Blog fame) home-brewed Battlegroup variant.  He has made all of his incredible and thorough work available for free download on his blog.  You can get to the rules here [CLICK], and the army lists and equipment stats are in subsequent pages.

Somewhere near Fulda - the covering force battles.  Soviet forces looking for the US main line of resistance.
 We played Attack / Defense from the BGK book with 600 points roughly per side and a breakpoint of 43 US / 40 Soviet.  The points were pretty much equal.

The US Force.  Forward HQs in a M577, M1 Tank Platoon (straight M1 with the 105mm gun), and a mechanized infantry platoon with the ITV support option, M901 with the improved TOW.
 The Soviet Forces had a T-72A tank company (x10), forward HQs in a T-72, a mechanized infantry platoon in BMP-2s, and a recce platoon of 3 x BRDMs (forgot my BRDMs at home so we subbed BTRs).

One of the objectives but I really loved these cornfields.  Going to make them like this!
 2 x of my M1s started with Ambush.  2 x other started hull-down awaiting the enemy.

I will say right off the bat that Richard really thought of everything with this supplement and the Army lists are incredibly well thought out.  I love how the US Tank platoons are in "wings" with the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant commanding each wing, and these are purchased as their own section (this is incredibly realistic).

Another US M1 on Ambush Fire
 There are some great rules in Richard's supplement that we used, more or less, in our own modern Battlegroup variant.

Advanced Stabilization cancels the -1 modifier if you moved prior to firing.  There's also rules for Advanced Armour, Advanced Fire Control, and Advanced Stabilization.  The T-72s had advanced stabilization but no other of the fancy upgrades.  Advanced Armor is cool as it allows you to roll a D6 which can add to your armor protection level when hit.  These were very subtle, but important changes to the Battlegroup game but what I liked the most was that they kept the Battlegroup rules relatively untouched and instead enhance the game. 

The additional realism and period feel came with the modifiers and also the army lists.

Hull down M1s

Here comes Ivan!

Ken makes an impossible shot!  Then we realized I was reading the flank armor column...
 I will say you need to thoroughly read through Richard's supplement as it's quite lengthy.  I probably should have taken more notes prior to playing as this might have saved some time flipping around to look things up, but I will say by the end of the day we were playing almost from memory.  I also could have made up a cheat sheet with the new rules on them for convenience, as well as an Army page printed out that had all of the pertinent stats on it already.

We did not play with rotary or fixed wing aviation this time around but that's coming to a battlefield near you.

M1 breaks from cover to engage a trouble-making T-72 in the factory.  I just couldn't help myself.  

Another shot of those excellent corn fields.  

Ken rushes a hill east of the factory and starts shooting up my exposed M1.  He's toast.

 I made some bad decisions as the NATO player.  The Pact forces outnumber me by more than 2:1 for tanks and I should have been way more mobile and cagey instead of trying to stand up toe to toe with the T-72s.  I paid the price!

burning M1

BMP's arrive on the scene.  Ken uses the Stal Stal Stal order and rushes them up as fast as they can go!

Burning M1 on the right, abandoned one of the left.  The crew bailed and ran off!  They're gonna court martial me!

US commander in the town.

infantry platoon leader with his RTOs.  I was using dice to track BR as I forgot my chits at home.  we would roll an average die for BR.  Unfortunately this meant we didn't get to pull any cool chits but we really wanted to test the rules out anyways.
 The M1 platoon is wiped out with 2 x M1s destroyed, and 2 x bailed for good.  The Infantry Platoon has the lead for the battle now and moves up into the town on turn 6, taking up some halfway decent positions but this is Ivan's game to lose now, with 2 x objectives already in hand and most of my solid combat power out of action.

Dragon team with SAW team moving up.
 My infantry teams get good positions at the edge of town and the dragon teams are all in decent cover waiting for Ivan's tanks to come over the hill.  If Ken had any artillery or mortars I'd be in bigger trouble (if that's even possible at this point with all my tanks gone).

The next turn I'd end up shipping the APC's out and off the table.

Dragon team up front.  I can hear Ivan's tanks sir!

Lots of forward firepower including all of my platoon's dragon teams.  2 x to the left of the road and 1 to the right.

Sergeant!  Set up this missile next to this massive fuel dump!  (objective marker).

My unfinished US Army from the 1970s/early 80s proxy as a SAW team.  Note the shiny boots!
 Ken starts moving down the road and over the hills to maneuver against the town.  I let loose a barrage of missiles against his lead tanks.  I pin a bunch but I keep rolling "equal" to the armor!  Crap!

Another thing I'd point out about Richard's rules are the ATGM rules, which are superior to my own in that there is a "sweet spot" for ATGM engagement.  Likelihood of hitting your target actually increases from the 20 to 40 range brackets (3+ base to hit) then gets worse.  The dragon missiles hit harder than they do in other games, which was a relief in this game as I could still somewhat threaten those T-72s until they completely closed the range on me.  Ken starts lobbing HE rounds at me and it wipes out 1 dragon team.

dragon team takes out a T-72

Hunker down men!

Ivan bags another objective and swarms through the woods.

Reminder for the "backblast" rule.  Yes, Richard included a backblast rule too!

Ivan's trying to over run us!

Ken causes some more casualties and I conceded a mere 2 x BP away from 43.  I'd love to blame this loss completely on my bad rolling (which was present in force yesterday!) but I made some bad decisions about how I used my M1s.  The 105mm gun has a tough time (not impossible just tough) against the T-72's armor so you're better off using the great mobility of the M1s to get flank shots.  Just make sure you have an escape plan when Ivan's tanks maneuver up during their turn.

Some interesting stats here - 10 total turns played in about 3.5 hours.  Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

Richard's rules are very well thought out with, I believe, solid representation of the equipment used during the period.  I also very much like how the army lists are put together and he includes substantial upgrades that will include all of your Cold War favorites (US PASGT, AT-4s, LAWS, Electronic Warfare, etc).

I really appreciated the "advanced" rules for stabilization, fire control, armor, etc as they give NATO tanks advantages, but they're subtle.

  If you do plan on using his rules for a game of modern battlegroup, you may wish to make an "army list" that lists the stats of your troops and equipment as this will save you some flipping time.

I urge anyone to check out Richard's work.  He has lists for the key NATO allies' heavy units (US, UK, West German, Canadian), as well as Soviet heavy units with motor rifle and tank division lists, equipment lists, Soviet naval infantry lists.  The work is all done for you!


  1. Exciting AAR and a goodly gamer, sharing his hard work.

    I am not over familiar with the period, but it was interesting to see that Richard’s take on the standard M1 is that it is a very good tank, but not a super-tank as sometimes seems portrayed in games. I was reading a somewhere recently a post suggesting that M1 crew did not feel the need to bail, due I imagine to supreme confidence in the vehicle. I don’t know enough to comment, but your AAR seemed to have a right feel to it. I have MBT by GMT, which seems an accurate sim, I will explore this further.

    (Thanks for all the photo’s)

    1. Thanks Norm. I was impressed with Richard's supplement. It's extremely detailed and thorough and I tried to give that impression in this AAR.

      Very modern feel to this and I feel as if the BG rules lend themselves to the period nicely. (ie not just WWII with better tanks).

      Yes the M1 was an outstanding tank. in Battlegroup when you take any kind of hit you take a morale check. If you are pinned already on that morale check and you roll a "1" the crew abandons the tank! That happened twice and it took alot of shooting to make that happen.

      MBT is an outstanding game. Once upon a time I owned IDF.

  2. Great game Steven. Glad you are enjoying the rules and it looks like you pretty much got them down pat on your first run through. Well done.
    I always seem to end up playing the Soviets, but in my mind the trick to the M1s and other advanced NATO tanks is to always be moving as they are never -1 to hit when moving. This can be hard as you lose one of your two shots, but can make you harder to hit in turn. And they are really fast too which helps.

    Thanks for playing my BG variant and keep it up!


    1. Cheers Richard. I play alot of Battlegroup so adding in your mods wasn't too hard. Just wanted to make sure I got everything included! The page and chart flipping slowed down as we got further into the game which was good.

      The M1's super mobility and advanced features are definitely key. I should have used them properly so shame on me for not! Lesson learned here. Looking forward to playing again soon.

  3. Steve,

    Good looking fight man, looked like lots of fun, but you're Army-ness showed through in you being roughly handled ;) But a fun read, nonetheless!


  4. I hope Ivan got a ticket for running that poor civvie vic off the road!