Sunday, August 22, 2021

Bypassing Isigny: A Battlegroup Overlord AAR

 A dearth of gaming this summer but we carved out some time for a small-ish game (American vrs German, 350 points, 23-26 breakpoints) of Battlegroup at Ken's house with his excellent 20mm kit and terrain.  

The scenario chosen was the "Recce Screen" scenario from the Overlord book and featured a reinforced American platoon trying to outflank the heavy defenses at Isigny, in France.  Elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 115th Infantry are on the move and American forces are keeping the pressure on the Germans in the drive across the hedgerows of Normandy.  

The Germans also have a reinforced Kampfgruppe with recce, an infantry platoon, and a Stug, along with a battery of 105mm artillery in support.  With no shortage of firepower, the Germans lacked for nothing in this game except good luck.

German fusilier recon patrol at the farmhouse!

THe recon phase was an unfortunate 6 turns long- unfortunate because the Americans (Ken and I) skimped on our recon units, choosing a single sniper and a jeep.  Dave's recce force included a 222 Armored Car with a nasty 20mm Auto Cannon, a fusilier squad consisting of an LMG section and a rifle section - 3 units in all - the Americans were "out scouted" and forced to take a chit before the first turn even started!

Dave pushed all of his recce troops up to the farm and the 222 immediately opens fire on the jeep, missing it.  Dave bags the center objective at the farm, causing another US chit pull.  Amazingly, it's a "BREAKDOWN" chit and I play it on the 222.  Dave rolls a 6, which is a catastrophic breakdown.  The 222 catches fire and is a total loss.  Dave pulls a chit now!  Then, on our turn, the jeep bags the objective on the American side and Dave pulls another chit.  Things are NOT going the Germans' way!

US Recce next to an objective

American sniper skulking about - he was absolutely worthless and I could have taken so many other choices

Ken orders me to place the jeep and its .30 cal MMG on "ambush fire" and just in time as Dave's recce section at the farmhouse attempts to open fire on the jeep, we pre-empt him and fire on the LMG crew, pinning it and forcing a casualty.

Note the farmhouse where the German LMG crew has been pinned in the center.

Dave sends the rifle team around to flank the jeep crew.  

By the time the scout battle is over, (Turn 6) Dave's reinforcements march onto the table, singing in traditional German fashion, led by the Stug, who is looking for payback after the destruction of the 222.

Stug trundling down the road followed by Infantry.

Dave pushes the Stug up to the farmhouse, and the infantry fan out behind it, looking to move down into the fields around the house, and also occupy the farm itself.  Dave ensures he brings the FO onto the table to try and call down some pain on the advancing US force but he is not and will not get the orders to do it.  You need an order for the Call for FIre, and an order for each gun.

American jeep's remaining hours are numbered here.

Stug opens fire on the jeep with MGs, destroying the jeep and killing 1 of the crew.  THe remaining 2 GIs fail their MC and run for home.  2  Chit pulls - but amazingly - we pull an aircraft chit.  Dave's been pulling numbers - I've been pulling all of the crazy chits like CONFUSION, BREAKDOWN, and AIRCRAFT.  It's nuts.

Turn 6, US Troops flood the table, including 2 of 3 Sherman tanks and a ton of infantry.
I push the tanks up quick and they immediately get into trouble without supporting infantry.  The Sherman crosses the hedges and takes an "ambush" panzerfaust shot right in the kisser.  Amazingly, Dave rolls "snake eyes" and the Sherman is immobilized.  A mobility kill but he's still in this fight!

The old "panzerfaust through the window" shot!  Gets them every time.

Meanwhile the US platoon storms onto the table!

The  immobilized Sherman next to the farm house starts bringing the hurt onto the German section in the house and pumps HE round after HE round into the house, knocking out ANOTHER German team.  Things are not going the Germans' way this game.  We also end up pulling an Aircraft Chit, and a P-47 Thunderbolt comes in firing rockets at some advancing German infantry, killing 2.  This was a very lucky day for the Americans and a very unlucky day for the Germans.  I dont think I've ever played such a one-sided game of Battlegroup before!

Dave maneuvers the Stug up but is now facing 2 Shermans and I'm continuing to reinforce the treeline as the Americans file onto the battlefield.  This could be the big break that high command needs to breakout of Normandy!

The 2 Sherman tanks ganging up on the Stug at the farmhouse.  Dave's BP is getting pretty high by now.

American infantry breaking through the treeline to get at the farmhouse.
A lucky shot by the Sherman and a high roll on the kill roll knocks out the Stug at the farmhouse and Dave threw in the towel at this point.  I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to play out the infantry battle, and Dave's regulars were closing in on the farmhouse behind the immobilized Sherman.  He'd have been toast if Gerry wouldn't have left the field.

Stug burning and General Bradley gets his breakthrough!

Note the German squad only 1 field away from the damaged and immobilized Sherman!

Americans advance!

So that's it.  A quick, brutal game and Dave was getting very close to his breakpoint at 17.  Ken and I were only at 5 at this point and Dave called the game.  The Stug was the centerpiece of his defense and so without it I guess he wanted to break contact.  Poor Dave had about every bad thing that can happen to you in battlegroup happen this game including a bunch of turns where he rolled 1 for his orders, had  a CONFUSION, and a BREAKDOWN chit played against him, and an AIRCRAFT chit played against him (which statistically is somewhat anomalous).  This was a good refresher game but honestly there was much rulebook(s) flipping (BG Rules, BG Overlord books) since we haven't played the game in awhile.  If I'm honest, it was exhausting.  Had we been playing Flames of War, I think the game would have been over much more quickly given our level of familiarity with it, but I definitely want to explore this scenario more with other rules (like Flames of War or Norm's Tigers at Caen or even Rapid Fire).

  This would be a good contender for the FoW "dustup" scenario which I'd like to try next.  I hope everyone has a great week!  I have lots of AWI on the table at the moment, and more 10mm Eylau painting to do....


  1. The 20mm infantry are a charm. It's surprising how hard it can be to get back into a ruleset, even after just a few months away, especially when playing such variety in the meantime.

    I recall you saying that you were a big Battlegroup fan, but that had got a bit burned out on it. I like the rules, but it sits here with O'Group and I really only want to keep one of those sets.

    I like the ideas being the slim Rapid Fire Reloaded set, but think it needs a tweak on the penetration table, so that gun / armour relationships are moved there instead of being in the 'to hit' part of the process.

    Like you, I would rather see a game a bit more through to the end, even if things look a bit inevitable, but perhaps with rules exhaustion, it was an okay place to stop.

    1. Thanks Norm it was a fun, sharp little fight. I think I used to enjoy BG because of all of the "friction" it had and how it played differently each time. There was a perceived sense of "realism" it brought with it, along with the thrilling sense of not knowing when an opponent would break their morale. Those things created wonderful environments for games.

      That said, I feel like I'm moving away from BG nowadays because (take yesterday for example) the amount of work that goes into setting up a proper game is significant. Additionally, there are many important rules scattered all over the book(s) and at some point yesterday, we wanted to confirm a rule about panzerfausts. That's it - just confirm something. We had no less than 3 hardback books open, scattered across the table and couldn't find the answer, and Ken left a question on the FB page to which Piers responded with such a mean spirited and snotty response that it just took the wind out if our sails (he removed it since).

      Rant over. I think the other thing I'm noticing is that when you have combined arms BG games, the action is decided before the infantry come to grips. That and the propensity to get "stuck in the mud" when an opponent rolls 1 after 1 after 1 for orders really bogs the game down.

      Battlegroup has a sweet spot I think and that would be games with a platoon on the table and an accompanying vehicle.

      The future is wide open for me and WW2 games!

  2. That's a lovely looking game but the Germans certainly were deserted by 'Lady Luck!'. I tried the Battlegroup rules some years ago as they promised so much, but rather like Chain of Command, they never clicked for me. In the end I've stuck with BKCII which I know and love, even for smaller scale actions.

    1. Hey Steve we were commenting that we've never seen that happen before and weve been playing BG since 2014-2015. The Germans really took a beating with bad American chit pulls and worse order rolls.

      I havent played BKC in a long time! I've played Norms Tigers at Minsk quite a bit, and also "Iron Cross" and Flames of War. Those are my go to sets lately.

  3. Looked like a fun and tense game, Steve. If you are in want of more gaming action, we can schedule another remote AWI battle. What AWI activities do you have on your gaming table?

    1. Greetings Jon! It was a fun game even if we didnt finish it. I'd love to schedule another remote AWI battle. Right now I have Norms TFON on the table but with AWI forces. I wanted to see how the skirmish rules played out and they are very good I'm finding.

  4. Great game - and I do love that 20mm stuff.
    Did someone say AWI :)
    Also, is it worth setting up something digitally for Rapid Fire sometime?

    1. That sounds outstanding Darren. Perhaps your hex based Vapid-Fire??

      Yes sir! AWI on the table now!

  5. Great write up mate. I do love the chaos the a chit pull can bring, but not when I thought I was doing something nasty to the enemy and then they turn it back on me :-)

    1. Thanks Paul! It's one of my favorite parts about the BG rules!