Monday, December 26, 2022

The Battle of Golod - A Panzerblitz After Action Report

 Trying out my ideas for a slicker Panzerblitz, or as this project has come to be known as -  "building a better mousetrap."

I threw a bunch of units together, likely from Grossdeutschland PanzerGrenadier Division, during the Kursk offensive, and a handful of powerful Soviet units.  The German OOB featured an infantry battalion, with a mechanized company, and a motorized company, along with a self propelled artillery battery (150mm), 2 armored 8x8 recce vehicles (for artillery spotting), a Tiger-I Company, Panther Company, and a Panzer IV Company.  Their mission is to clear Hill 152 and push on to Golod not later than 1pm.  The Soviet mission is to stop the Germans at Hill 132 with a Battalion of infantry and heavy weapons.  There is a tank battalion in the rear near Golod to counter attack.  

Starting time for the battle is 1000 hours.

The Turn Sequence

The proposed turn sequence from the last post was way too "involved" and choppy while I was playing.  I improvised a little... While we'll still use "Operations Points", OPs can now "do more" and the turns are more flexible IE you have options and are not confined to shooting/moving etc.  Let me explain:

1. Roll for Operations Points (OPs) - Red and Blue both roll a D6.  Higher roll has the turn initiative.  The result on the D6 Blue die is the amount of OPs that the blue player has, same for red.  If you roll doubles, that's a "lull" and everyone with disruptions immediately rallies.

2. Players alternate carrying out Actions. starting with the player who scored higher on the OPs roll  Actions cost OPs.  Actions are:

  • Activate a movement group.  Nominate a single hex as a "group leader" and surrounding, adjacent hexes can move with this order 1OP.  MOve half or less?  You can shoot with half your FP!
  • Activate a fire group.  Units engage a target individually or as part of a hex/stack (just like in the original boardgame)  Same as above except for shooting. 1OP
  • Conduct a Close Assault.  Adjacent infantry can close assault. 1OP
  • Conduct an Armored Overrun Assault.  1OP
  • Rally.  3OPs (!)
  • Artillery Fire Mission. 1OP
3.  Once all units have acted / all OPs are used up or both players pass, adjust Time Clock and Untip units (I cocked them in the hex to show they've activated)

Once both sides have used up all of their OPs for this turn, or passed, I roll 2D6 on the time clock.  The result is how many minutes have passed during the turn.  Game play ends when the scenario clock is up (Golod was 180 minutes).  I figured some things out during play that I'll explain here.

Soviet defense of Hill 132 and Bednost.  Strongly defended by roughly a Battalion plus support weapons.  Note the recce platoon in the rear.  They were artillery and mortar spotters along with the HQs unit (not in pic)

Northern half of the map.  Note the 122mm Howitzer Battery, along with a tank battalion in reserve.  Golod is the village to the NW of the hill.

One cool thing about spending OPs on Movement Groups - you can use them to bring on a stack of reinforcements.  I developed the march order for the GD elements and stuck to it.  I had to live with those decisions in a bit and the motorized infantry bringing up the rear didn't help!
Recon elements, Tiger platoons already on the table.  The stacks to the right were the march serials to feed into the assault.  Costs 1OP to bring them onto the board.

From some earlier playtesting this morning and last night, I realized that constantly rallying was prolonging the game (rallying cost 1OP previously and it was dragging smaller engagements out).  So I upped the cost - 3OPs to rally a hex.  That considerably cut down on the rallying unless the player was desperate and needed the element in the fight to take advantage of a developing situation.  For instance let's say the 150mm fire mission was super effective and wiped out a last defending unit that was on the ropes - this enabled me to get a unit to occupy that hex quickly before the enemy brought any reserves to bear.

ENDGAME - the battle reaches 180 minutes.  Note the casualty pile.  I think for the ground gained, the German casualties are pretty realistic and same for the Soviets.

One really fun aspect of this game was by-passing stubborn defending infantry units and sealing them off with reserves while moving the heavy mobile stuff northward.  The Soviets had a wealth of support units in the rear and it was great fun mopping them up with panthers and panzer-IVs (5D6 to 1D6 over run engagement) and really felt like a "breakthrough" attack.  

The stubborn infantry was another story.  It is HARD to dislodge those strength 16 infantry companies, even with the artillery.  The 5D6 and 6D6 attacks were not easy.  I was hoping that I could whittle them down but while some times the dice were hot, others they were not and the Russians kept coming back.

Interesting aside, whenever DOUBLES are rolled on an OP roll, I immediately attempt to rally every unit that has disruption on it.  This adds a pleasant element of tension and decision making - IE do you try to spend OPs to rally a crucial unit?  Or wait for doubles?

The Germans flooded to the northern half of the map with their armor and eventually the mechanized infantry while the truck-borne infantry attempted to mop up in Bednost.  That single lone infantry company is still there but the Germans seized the town from them.  they were tearing up the road hard when the time clock was called.  One interesting aspect I noticed - Armor is tough but it cant just blast infantry out of a position.  You need friendly infantry to go in and take the ground.  I really appreciated that and the D6 engagement system really highlights it (sure there were some outliers here but most of the time the tanks couldnt do much against those big Soviet infantry companies unless I caught them out in the open and could over run them.)

Final turn.  GrossDeutschland elements just south of Golod.  Note the infantry platoons and the "X" above them - that would be another stubborn Soviet rifle company that just would not die!  I figured out a neat work around for close assault to make it jsut as potent as in the board game

Close Assault Rules
Infantry platoon offensive firepower is not great in panzerblitz which is why they get a powerful "-2" modifier to the die roll in close assault.  You get a column shift on the CRT if you bring engineers along.  With that in mind here is how I'm playing Infantry close assaults:

Count up the infantry firepower score (in the pic above the German platoon is "3" for its attack FP).   In this example we have 2 x German Rifle Platoons with FP 3 for attacking.  So:

German Rifle Platoon Attack FP: 3 (3D6= assaulters do NOT use a ratio - they use the exact amount of attack FP for their dice)
German Rifle Platoon Attack FP: 3 (3D6)
Close Assault Bonus: 2D6
Terrain Penalty: -1D6
Supporting Units (any adjacent or in-hex units that are not participating +1D6 per unit.

So in this instance we get 6D6 for the 2 Rifle platoons (FP 3 each), 2D6 for the close assault bonus, -1D6 for assaulting into cover, and +2D6 for the half tracks supporting.  So that's 11D6, looking for 5+ successes.  

The Soviets have a defending single rifle company stand with a strength of 16.  16/3 = 5D6.  Soviet quality does NOT allow them to round up (Germans get to round up when there is a difference of 2).  They are single disrupted so they lose 1D6 for the "X" on them for a total of 4D6.  

The Germans roll their 11 close assault dice and score 4 successes (5+).  The Soviets roll their 4D6 and score 3 successes (5+).  The Germans win by 1 so every unit in the target hex is disrupted.  If they were already disrupted, it's treated as a NO EFFECT.  If the Germans had scored 2 more successes, each unit in the hex would be DOUBLE DISRUPTED, meaning that additional hits from another attack would eliminate the unit unless it was able to rally.

Heavy fighting around Bednost as the Germans push up onto the hill.  The armor, as powerful as it is, could not help when things got down to the last hundred yards.  The "X" shows a disruption among the German rifle platoons as they prepared to close assault the town.  The result of a Soviet artillery strike using the recon troops as spotters.

Recce Troops 

I loved using the Recon troops as artillery spotters.  The generous movement distance of the wheeled recce means you can put "eyes on" into the enemy rear area and bring down some serious pain if you wanted to (and if your troops didn't need the artillery trying to reduce enemy positions to their front!).  I used both wheeled recce and command posts as artillery spotting platforms.  Simple rule - if the FO or CP moves, it cant shoot.  Pretty neat that I needed truck counters - and an OP - to move the HQs.

Recon troops moving south to serve as spotters for the 122mm battery further north


Any Panzerblitz veteran will tell you the artillery is crazy. powerful  H class weapons have, in many cases up to 60FP (!) so how do you reconcile that on the gaming table?  Great question!  I followed the Panzerblitz rules and halved H class attacks against armor, but even 30/3 was 10D6 so the artillery fired in increments of  1D6 per 10 FP.  The German Hummel with 60 FP fired 6D6 at infantry and soft targets, and 3D6 at armored targets.  It was a decent compromise although I'm thinking of making the artillery a tad more powerful, and a tad LESS plentiful (I allowed it to fire every turn, and like clockwork, I was using it each turn until the Germans overran the 122mm gun battery (that was alot of fun, BTW).  The halving of the value worked well, however, and approximating the firepower into a handful of D6 worked well, too.

OH!  Almost forgot, the Soviets, in an attempt to deal with the Panzers rushing north, used the 122mm battery in a direct fire emergency role.  In that case, I used the ratio value so:

40FP reduced to 20FP for firing at an armored target - 20/3 = 6 for the Soviets (remember Soviets cant round up).  So the 122mm battery got to fire 6D6 direct fire against the German armor rushing towards them.  That was fun stuff.

Time Clock
I used the time clock concept from Norm's Into Battle and from the Crossfire "Mac's Missions" concept.  At the end of each turn I rolled 2D6 and advanced the clock that many minutes.  While this bigger battle had a 3 hour limit (180 minutes) a game with a more restricted end point would cause both players to play much more aggressively and use their resources in a more concerted manner.

Speaking of Rallying, I allowed the Soviets to roll 2D6 needing a 5+ to rally.  Each success removed a level of disruption.  So scoring a single 5+ would take a unit from disruption to normal.  Or double disruption to disruption.  Germans rolled 2D6 needing a 4+ to rally.  Scoring 2 successes would return a unit to normal.

The final casualty tally.  The Germans definitely were bloodied in this fight losing 2 panther platoons, 2 infantry platoons, and a truck company! (the Soviets in the final 2 turns close assaulted the truck park outside Bednost and absolutely destroyed everything in their path)

If you're thinking this sounds fun and satisfying, you're right.  This gave a great game and I'm excited to continuing to work the bugs out so I can make a proper QRS.  If you have a copy of Panzerblitz, Panzerleader, or Arab Israeli Wars, you can use it to fight your games out and they'll feel a little bit more like a miniatures game while still retaining the spirit of the original Panzerblitz Boardgame.  My plan is to put this on the table with microarmor and my hexmat as soon as I feel like its ready to do so.  We're getting closer!


  1. Things pretty much seem to have withstood ‘first contact’. Good to see recon doing ….. recon! and the inter-actions between the rule blocks also look pretty stable. The rally option on doubles being rolled is a helpful counter-balance to putting the cost of rallying up.

    Does the straight D6 for OP’s at the start of the turn run the risk of several bad rolls on the run making things a bit ‘swingy’ for one site or the other?

    I had forgotten just how high some of the combat values are in this game.

    The design is really moving forwards at a pace.

    1. So far, so good Norm. The changes have all been positive so far with all changes leading towards streamlining and making the game flow more smoothly. I was very happy to have the recce troops actually spotting for the artillery. By enforcing that rule, the players are moving the reconnaissance units and pushing them well forward so they can strike into the enemy rear area. Stable is a good word for how things felt with this turn sequence.

      The straight D6 was interesting. As you stated there were many bad rolls with the Germans and the Soviets rolling 1 whilst the other rolled a 5 or 6. It did seem to even out (you could count those dice pairs and see how many turns there were. (I think there were 25 or 26 turns) but to stabilize it you could add the number of HQs and Recce units towards that number or have a "Staff Rating" value that added to the roll - this would smooth things out a bit.

      Oddly enough, I thought the D6 would be inadequate to cover all of the units, but with allowing "Group Moves" and "Group Fires" it worked out fine and actually added to the tension of the decision making which was nice.

      Yes the Tiger I tanks are FP 15 and the Soviet Infantry Companies are Defense 16 (and the Guards are 18!). It was tough whittling them down but I was determined to use the existing data. I could see "nerfing" some of the stats if I was to make any adjustments, or use Soviet platoons vrs Companies.

      Thanks for your comments and support, Norm. This has been a wonderful endeavor and I'm pleased with how it's progressing.

  2. I love the OPs points Steve, and so easily managed with the way you have simplified the system. This could be used for many levels of game, and I can feel the excitement during gameplay that you mention. Superb stuff.
    Recon units that work and group fires - this is excellent stuff.
    Also, the multiple dice with success/failure is a neat system. I know we see it sometimes in rpgs, but it makes so much sense here.

    My youngest daughter is a massive video game fan. She got an alternative ww2 game called 'Valkyria'. Now this is SO based on wargames rules (and is a Russo-Finnish war meets Anime thing). Each turn, you have operations points based on leadership, then each character/tank has 'action points'. Some are more difficult to activate with OPs than others - and OPs run out quickly, and some have more APs than others, but it works very well, and I see the advantage of OPs points across both systems. Playing it reminded me of what you have designed so far, but your system has so much more flexibility and group orders, that it can be used across C20th periods and existing GDW scenarios. Plus - you have really tense decision making mechanisms here which I love.
    You are onto a winner here I think. Will follow this with great interest. :)

    1. Glad to hear it, Darren. The First Battle games all are rated the same (attack, range, defense, movement) and so the FB scenarios could be played straight from the box. The engagement system here works nicely coupled with the OPs I feel like it models units reporting in, catching their breath and requesting follow in orders when the situation changes. So they might not be able to move in every turn.
      I might add some mods to the OPs for HQs units and scouts on the table which I think would give a nice spread of guaranteed points.
      I'm already itching to break out Arab Israeli Wars and okay one of the scenarios from it here
      The system still feels a bit disjointed and I wonder if that's from the limited OPs or the fact that you work really hard to disrupt a unit and next thing you know it's back and fully mission capable .
      Anyways plenty to ponder on here and I will keep pushing the development until it's ready to share.
      I do hope I'll get some playtesters to try it out?

  3. Sign me up!
    (But then you knew I was going to say that didn't you ? :) )

    1. You're hired, Darren! And yes I figured you'd be good to go. This might be the ticket for a Fulda / V Corps campaign!