BattleGroup game – The Road to Lokhvitsa

I played in the last ‘BattleGroup’ weekend in 2014, that one covered Kursk and the German’s got creamed, just like the real thing..

I actually played the Russians twice and won, and as soon as I played the Germans got beat, and I love to play the Germans…

The next game covers the Barbarossa campaign, which will be very different indeed.

http://www.guildwargamers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=303&t=37499&p=402619&hilit=lokhvitsa#p402619

i have already bought my German ticket.

Can’t wait myself !!

My latest model – The Revell LSV from WW2

I reckon that wargaming is as much an addiction as a hobby (not that I am complaining) and with this in mind I must report that the latest model that ‘I just had to buy’ was the Revell LSV. It’s 144th scale, (which I reckon is about equiv to being 12mm) so it won’t look out of place (well not too much) with my 10mm models (some of which it could be augued be 9mm, and 12mm…).

For more details see http://www.revell.de/en/products/model-building/ships/naval-ships/id/05123.html

Landing Ships of the LSM-Class (Landing Ship Medium) were used from the middle of 1944 by the U.S. Navy in the fight against Japan in the Pacific. Totalling more than 550 ships they were the main component of the amphibious forces for landing troops and vehicles on enemy beaches. The loading capacity of a LSM roughly corresponded to a mechanized platoon. The steel hull had nine watertight bulkheads. With an anchor located at the stern, the ships could withdraw from the beach without assistance. Armour plating protected the superstructures against small arms fire. The early LSM were mostly equipped with six 20-mm Oerlikon guns for self defence. The open-top cargo area encompassed almost the entire length of the ship and was at maximum 7.9 m (26 ft) wide. By the end of the war, nine ships were lost mainly due to kamikaze attacks. After the end of World War 2 some ships went into service with allies armed forces. In 1958 NATO partners Germany received three LSM and two LSM(R).

BattleGroup Game at the Alumwell Wargames Show – March 2015

I have been to the Alumwell show once before (and came away laden with goodies – some of which are still in their boxes) but have never run a demonstration / participation game at a show, so it was an exciting first for me.

The Alumwell Show

Alumwell Show

I arrived on time and got all set up for the opening time of 10am, not at all sure that anyone would ‘have a go’ at taking the German bunker.

Could You Take The German Bunker?

 

Could you take the German Bunker?

The rules for the  game, as you can guess from the title of the blog were from the Battlegroup series, this one using units in the Overlord version. I had selected forces with about 350 points each, but as the Germans ‘spent’ so much on defence items, they had very few troops (and hence a low ‘Break Point’ – more on this later). However, they had a very strong defensive set up and more still had a Tiger tank that ‘might just arrive’ if things got too hairy…

The Tiger Tank at the Alumwell Show

That ‘possible’ Tiger was not this big boy of course, this was my pet 1/16th pet that was used as a show piece on the table, which was just 6ft by 2ft (and thus the smallest at the show – see this report).

Tiger Tank and BattleGroup field of combat

As you can see the defences were strong, a bunker on the right with entrenchments on both sides of the road, plus two MG pits with MG42’s. As a back up the Germans had a half track with a full squad armoured with panzerfausts.

BattleGroup British forces at the Alumwell

Above are the attacking forces, the tank destroyer at the bottom coming on if the Tiger arrived (needed 8 on two D6 after turn 5 for this to happen). They had 3 Shermans (one a Firefly) a Churchill Petard and 6dr anti tank gun and a platoon of infantry (which had a Piat and a light mortar). Also, in case they were needed an Engineer squad with demolition charges (useful if they could get close to the Bunker).

BattleGroup and Smoke

As anyone who has played Battlegroup knows there are no rules for the deployment of smoke this being covered by the rules on spotting and hitting. Much debate on this has of course been carried out on the BattleGroup Forum and suffice to say that there are pro’s and con’s. However, this was a demo game and I wanted to play it in a way that would entice people into playing it again, so I gave the player a choice, did they want smoke (to cover their advance) or not? I know that had I been a soldier on the field I would have wanted smoke and so it was not a surprise when they said yes, so we employed some ‘smoke rules, including drifting’ that I had ready.

The Orders are given at Alumwell

One of the issues that face any wargamer is  the “Have I used that unit yet?” question as it can be very easy to miss a unit or perhaps to give it two orders when only one per turn is allowed. To help here I use a counter that is placed by the each unit, this being turned over once the unit has moved / fired etc. Here we see the orders placed on the units as they advanced up the field.

Infantry in Close Support

The British Advance on the Bunker

It was a brave move, the three Shermans racing up the field with the mortar laying smoke in front of the Pak 40 and MG pits on the right of the German line. BUT there was a dreaded 88 in the Bunker and that smoke did not cover all the angles…

The Tiger Tank Appears….

 

The Infantry Advance, but they have lost their armour support

Thus all three Shermans were lost in quick succession, this despite the 88 missing on several previous occasions. The problem here for the Brits was of course that they could not silence the bunker. They hit it several times, but the saving throws (which equate to an 88% chance of not taking casualties) literally saved the units, only one of the gun team being lost. The Tiger tank also did some damage, but not as much as it might due to poor dice rolls..

 

An overview of the battlefield

The Brits still had their Churchil Petard tank (this being specifically designed to knock out strongpoints with it huge shells), but it was very slow and took sometime to get into range (only 20″ on this scale). It fired at the bunker twice, missing once. But as with the other attacks, the saving throws saved the occupants. The Churchill itself was soon lost too, a hit in the side armour from the Tiger being enough to finish it off.

Things were looking very bad for the British now, but could the 6pdr save the day by rushing to support the beleaugered infantry? Well it managed to knock out the Pak40 crew, but itself was lost to machine gun fire, so it was down to the M10 tank hunter.

A Tank Hunter's view of a Tiger tank

Here we can see a ‘hunters eye view’ of a Tiger tank. The good news for the British that gun (the fantastic 17pdr) used in the Achilles managed to knock out the Tiger…

The British Break and Withdraw.

However, even with taking Battlecounters for all the losses (and having to UnPin) their troops the Germans were no where near their ‘breaking point’ of 16, whereas the Brits had reached the end of the road for that day, having used up all their points, so they had to withdraw, the Germans had won this particular day.

You Don’t Have to Annihilate the Enemy to win

Some game rules are all about decimating the enemy, to win you  have to ‘kill them all’, but this is not how it was, in ‘real life’ in most circumstances a force that is badly mauled will pull back to re-group and so be able to fight another day. This is the way that the Battlegroup rules work, each side having a level of ‘punishment’ that it can take before it quits the field.

To make it even more fun, the counters that you take (when you take a casualty etc) have random numbers, so you can take a ‘hit’ of between 1 and 5, or if you are lucky, you can take a counter that you can play on the enemy (to their disadvantage).

This  is not the place to discuss the rules in detail, for that you should (a) buy the Battlegroup rules and (b) join the Wargamers guild forum.

In any case the Alumwell show was a great success for myself and my fellow WyreForest wargamers.

The Fearful Tiger 1 and a Very Interesting site..

If you mention WW2 and tanks most people will immediately think of the German Tiger tank. It was probably the most feared weapon there was, which is strange when you think only some 1700 were made (compared to 60,000 T34’s and Shermans).

One of the reasons they were so feared of course is that the shells the allied guns fired at them just bounced off (at least to start with) and even towards the end of the war a Sherman had to get very close (or attack from behind) if it was going to make a kill.

Things changed with the development of the 17pdr gun that equipped the Firely of course, but they were not around in the Desert where the Tiger was first encountered by the British.

So just how good or bad were our guns at penetrating the armour of a Tiger 1?

The chart below (from the wwiiequipment site) shows the effect of a 6 pdr gun using an AP shell in 1943 (the Tiger is facing the 0).

The red and orange areas show when you might get through the armour, and as you can see, you have to get very close if you want to get through the front armour (something under 500yds). The chances are better on the flanks and from behind, but you still have to get close without getting killed yourself..

6pdr v Tiger 1

 

Things got a lot better when the 17pdr came into play:-

17pdr v Tiger 1

Here we can see that the 17pdr can beat the Tiger at long ranges, something that gave the Firefly’s a chance in battle.

Well, the http://www.wwiiequipment.com can answer all your questions on the matter, and is well worth a look, certainly explains why the Tiger was so feared and why wargame rules make it so hard to knock out a Tiger tank…

Warwick Kinrade’s BattleGroup Blog

Warwick is the man behind the great BattleGroup series of games and he has his own blog that details the ‘battles’ he has fought (well some of them) as well as new and views on the wargame world.

This is just one photo from his latest Blog post:-

 

The Russians are Coming…

 

 

If you would like to see his blog and check out how the battle went, click here

BattleGroup Demo at Alumwell

One of the best ways of ‘putting across’ just how much fun playing a wargame can be is to have a participation ‘Demo Game’. Here people can have a go at the game and see just how easy it is and just how much fun you can have pitting your wits against the opponent (not to mention ‘Lady Luck’ who may well be on holiday just when you need her).

At the Alumwell wargames show being held on March 8th in the West Midlands, I am going to be running a very small game (on just a 2ft by 4ft table) with the Allies facing a difficult challenge, that of knocking out a German bunker just after D Day in 1944.

It is not going to be a reinactment, but there were similar small battles being fought all over Normandy as the Germans desparetly tried to stop the Allies breakout from the beaches.

The forces involved will be small, but will include Churchill Flame Throwing and ‘Petard’ tanks as well as the dreaded German 88 and Tiger tank.

A BattleGroup Wargame

The shot above was from a BattleGroup game played in October 2014. I was playing the Russians and won (but when I played the Germans, I got beat !)

It’s not to be missed, watch out for the map and briefing next week.