Sunday, February 24, 2019

BATTLEGROUP: MODERN Meeting Engagement at Ziegenhain

It's been a long time since we played a good game of BATTLEGROUP: MODERN so Dave and I planned on using our newly minted microarmor to play a decent-sized game set around 1983.

Ziegenhain is the populated area to the west.  Schwarzenborn is the purple highlighted area to the east.
Readers will likely not remember the Schwarzenborn series of posts revolving around Kampfgruppe Weber and the Soviet attacks against the town. [click here for a refresher]  Having achieved a breakthrough and some operational freedom within West German III Corps area of operations, Soviet forces have made an attempt to capitalize on the German reorganization of their main lines and have thrown out a reconnaissance-in-force against the urban area at Schwalmstadt, tracking along the Bundestrassen 254 and 454 Federal highways, the Soviets surged forward with everything they could muster - a T-62 tank company, a full reconnaissance detachment, an extra platoon of mechanized infantry, and self propelled artillery.  All in all - a powerful force.

The Germans, still licking their wounds from the battle at Schwarzenborn, have a recon company from Brigade (5th PanzerGrenadier Brigade, 2nd Panzer Division) that is reconstituting and will be thrown in to defend Ziegenhain from the Soviet onslaught.
View down the B254 Federal Highway towards Ziegenhain - Dave made the pine trees.  All of them.  They made the table look good!

View of Local Route 3153 - both approach valleys are canalizing and have various advantages and disadvantages of using them.  While one offers more concealement and cover, it also is constrictive and a good artillery strike would wreak havoc.  The more open route down the B254 is open tank country, but covered by numerous hills from 3 directions.  Perfect killing field.  The Soviets chose the local, more constrictive route today, preferring to bludgeon their way down the road.  It's a ruthless strategy but it paid off this time.

"Have it your way!" Reminders of decadent western capitalism! billboards line the roads!
We play the "recce screen" scenario and roll a 6 so our recon troops will skulk around for 6 turns before the main body starts to arrive.  Dave has 4 SP Luchs with autocannon!  I only have 3 BRDM2s and spend the entire 6 turns hiding from Dave's recon!

Dave's Luchs stalk their prey.

Soviet BRDMs run for cover!
 On my turn when the "main body" arrives, I literally roll a snake eyes for orders, and a "1" for reinforcements.  So my lone T-62 appears on my base edge - only to be ambushed by Dave's Luchs on ambush orders.  Haha - I'm thinking.  There's no way you'll pin my T-62 with autocannon fire from your Luchs.  Right?

Lucky shot - Dave pins the T-62!

West German Leopard Is (bright green are my models)

Marders line up next to the central hill to take on the BRDMs.  Nicely painted Gelbolive are Dave's models blue tacked onto my bases.

Speaking of BRDMs, they're still hiding!

meanwhile a gunfight is starting on the road.  The Luchs trade shots with the T-62s while the Leopards move up to take their place.

My T-62s mass and advance.

 The T-62 and Leopards are trading shots.  We used the stats from REFORGER, so the tanks didn't die as quickly.  Next time around, we're using Richard C's "Battlegroup: Modern" Cold War stats which means this game will go about 1/3 quicker!

Dave's Leo hits manage to pin my T-62s but they're difficult to kill.

Dave getting cagey with the Luchs against my reinforcements.
 More Soviet armor shows up and they start bounding down the highway and using the Burger King billboard sign as concealment!

I love this picture!

Leo I burns on the highway as the Soviet tankers trade shots with the Germans.  We played this game in centimeters so these shots are at extreme range.

The T-62 meets the HOT missile in combat.....

The bulk of the action would happen on the small local road next to the Grenzbach stream.  Next time we will use small clump foliage for the stream so the turrets can see across.  It's important to note that none of the linear terrain blocked LOS - just made it more difficult to spot.

The Soviets send a flanking force through the woods on the central hill.  It's a bad move especially in centimeters and the tanks spend the entire time throwing track, getting lost, and basically not contributing to the fight at all!  Neat picture, though.

Dave's Luchs starting to get knocked out.

Soviet reinforcements streaming up.

Tons of burning, destroyed vehicles both Soviet and German on the highway.  

NATO trying to stop the tide of Russian armor outside of Ziegenhain.

Tracking MILAN shots from the Marders.  I am not sure if the MILANS hit anything this game.

slooooow going

Pushing forward.  I use a 122mm strike against the Leo and Jaguar at the end of the highway near the town and it is brutally effective in KO'ing the vehicles (lucky rolling)

Soviet commanding officer in an MTLB.

The bloody road to Ziegenhain.
 The Germans reach their Breakpoint of 35 before I reach 38 and the game is over with the destruction of the final Luchs.  Dave and I discussed the pros and cons of the scenario, rules, terrain, and forces with lessons learned in each category for when we play it again.

We would like to host this scenario at Historicon this summer and this was our first playtest of this great scenario.  I love the decisions the attacker has to make regarding which approach to take, and I love the decisions the defender has to make about where to establish the defense.

I will post some of our lessons learned later this week and considerations for the next battle (same scenario).  Bottom line was we had a blast and next time around will play in inches and using Richard C's Modern Battlegroup supplements, instead of my REFORGER supplement.  This game took about 3.5 hours to play.  Also - the microarmor was a huge hit.  I actually liked playing with the microarmor better than 15mm.  Don't ask me why - more forces maybe?

The forces we will use next time.  A full Soviet recce detachment and an additional Leo I platoon and Fuchs platoon.

The table looked great today!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Battle of Liege 1815 (Commands & Colors Napoleonics Game)

Greetings Friends - I got to play in a very large Commands & Colors: Napoleonics game on Sunday at Brian's house with Mark and Ken.  We played with Brian and Rich's magnificently painted 1/72 plastic and metal troops.

  This game was a culmination of a "Play by Text/Email" campaign Brian had hosted of the classic boardgame "Napoleon" replaying the 100 days campaign.  Yours truly played the Prussians, co-commanded by Ken.  Mark played Napoleon.  As fascinating as that campaign was, the subject of this post is the CCN game we played Sunday afternoon - the fictitious battle of Liege.

The strategic situation as it was had us playing a massive battle to decide the outcome of the city of Liege, and the future of the Prussian Army's involvement in the campaign to stop Napoleon in 1815.
Initial setup.  Brian had sent me a map of the field and I placed my Prussian units down where I thought they should be.  Facing the ENTIRE French Army!
 Brian used the status of the forces we had in the boardgame to determine the forces of what we started with.  The Prussian Army consisted of 14 x infantry units, 3 x artillery units, 2 x cavalry units, and 4 general officers.  The French had....well I can tell you they had a shed-load of cavalry!  The imperial guard, plenty of infantry, and artillery.  In short, almost the bulk of the French army in 1815 was coming after the Prussian Army in Liege.
Old Guard, Young Guard, Middle Guard.  It's all Guard!

Prussian forces on the Ridge.  Note the Redoubt on the right.  Grenadiers and Landwehr to reinforce behind pic to the left.

Stacked up Prussians defending the town and a redoubt in the foreground

Eye Candy!  Including some troops painted by yours truly!

Mark (seated) and a very Charles Grant-esque Brian (standing) discussing things.  Mark commanded the French
 Mark's first move is to send light cavalry forward to assault the guns next to the redoubt!  "The ball has opened".  We send Prussian Uhlans out to counter them on our turn.  The Prussian redoubt on the right proves to be a very tough nut to crack.  Mark also sends a unit of Imperial Guard up the center to assault the ridgeline!  An interesting aside, none of my artillery started in redoubts.  None of it!

Charge the guns!

View of the entire Prussian Right flank

counter attacking the French Light Cavalry with Prussian Lights!  Ignore 1 Flag!

Mark sends the Guard forward (well, one unit of Guard anyways) to seize the  central redoubt!
 The major action in this game would center on the ridgeline in the center section of the battlefield and the redoubt located there.  The French would make some big pushes to clear off the ridge, including moving up heavy guns and plenty of infantry and heavy cavalry.  Mark would eventually score a breakthrough with heavy Guard cavalry, but didn't have the infantry to follow up the success.  Mark also skillfully stole the initiative by using his cavalry to keep multiple Prussian infantry units in square for much of the game.  More on this...

The center ridgeline position before the French overrun it!

Action on the right flank!  Mark had some fearsome combat power on his left / Prussian right, but didn't have the cards to use them!
 Mark does a great job of clearing off the initial line of defenders on the center ridgeline.  I made sure to keep elite Prussian Grenadiers and also Landwehr in the woods behind to reinforce the ridge.
Breakthrough!  Mark tears a hole in the Prussian line on the ridge.

The right mostly quiets down....for now

Prussians in the town.  The Prussian left would not see much action, save for action around the redoubt.

French right.  Plenty of Infantry and Cavalry!

Old Guard!  Painted by Yours Truly!  Brian has done them a great service by basing them and I'm super proud they make up part of his Army - even if they don't look as good as Brian's other troopers!

 The battle starts to take a different turn as 2 of 3 Prussian batteries are wiped out and Mark unleashes the full might of his Cavalry to start "taking out" units and/or forcing infantry into square, then pounding them to dust with infantry or artillery.  It's a good strategy.  The Prussian Cavalry gives a good account of themselves but the Prussian "Fire Brigade" Heavy Cavalry can only do so much!

A French unit forced into Square!  Yes, Brian has units in Square!
 Mark's Heavy Cavalry charges into the fray!  Mark has 5 units of very good quality cavalry and they certainly earn their pay today.


Our Heavy Cavalry (lower left) go in, fight, retreat 1 or 2 hexes.  It's the same each turn!
 Probably worth mentioning that the victory counters are about even here and this game has been SUPER close the entire time.  Both sides are neck and neck.  10 are needed for victory and I think we both have 5 or 6 when this picture was taken.

Prussian Grenadiers in the redoubt now!  They would take severe punishment for the entire game being forced into square, coming out of square, and going back in.  

Heavy Cavalry Breakthrough!  The French force their way onto the ridgeline!

Blucher's Fire Brigade!  (Lower Left)

Speaking of Old Blucher....

Ken (in Bicorne)

Mark brought up more (MORE) Cavalry and forced more Prussian units into Square.  We don't have the cards to effect our plan and get these guys out of square.  At one point we had a single card on the cardholder.  

Polish Lancers Assault the infantry next to the redoubt!  

Three Prussian Infantry Units in Square

French Heavy and Guard Cavalry threatening the Squares.  These 2 untis in Square have 3 hits each.  They're brittle and ready to break!

We have reinforcements behind the ridge but are they enough?
 The battle pretty much from here on continues to rage around the central ridgeline and redoubt.  Ken and I are trying to feed units from the left flank over to the center but it's hard with only 1 or 2 cards!  Meanwhile Mark is doing his best to break our squares.  He eventually breaks the grenadiers' square, captures the redoubt (forcing out the officer) and gets another victory point.  A joint assault from marauding heavy cavalry finally finishes the job and Mark takes the field 10-9!  What a close run thing!

French Heavy Cavalry - the Most Valuable Players of the game!
WOW What a fight!  Believe me when I say this was a nail-biter.  Both sides were neck and neck the entire game.  Mark handled the French perfectly and I have to say Ken and I didn't do too bad with the Prussians.  I was expecting this to be a "jail-break" with the French pretty much running rampant from every direction.  Not so.  The Prussians are a stubborn force and have enough good quality units to give a good accounting of themselves.

I can honestly say I've never played a CCN game quite like this before, with so much cavalry, high quality units, and dramatic reversals of fortune.  In hindsight, I definitely should have put my artillery in the redoubts to begin the game with.  Probably also should have started with more infantry in the center position, instead of the town.  In terms of moves during the game, I'm not sure we could (or should) have played any moves differently (Ken may disagree).  While we surrendered the initiative to Mark with so many units in squares, we also prolonged the battle long enough to continue to attrit the French.  If the board game (the strategic campaign) continues, we definitely took a good sized chunk out of the Corsican Ogre's Army!

This was super-fun and just what I needed with my gaming-funk.  Brian's outstanding figures and terrain are always a joy to game with.  This was a splendid afternoon of Napoleonic gaming and I am still quite tempted to single-base my 15mm units specifically to play CCN, a game that I have always very much liked.

As an interesting aside, I think I'll do a separate post on the campaign, complete with the orders I sent Brian as Blucher, and some screenshots Brian sent me of the map.  Brian has some great power-point files of the progress of the campaign.