All posts by MadAboutArmour

Brecourt Manor June 1944

This small battle found recent fame in the excellent Band of Brothers series, but is of course far more important than that to the US Military, and to all military historians, the assault on the 6 June 1944 (being a part of the U.S. parachute assault of the Normandy Invasion of World War II)  often being cited as a classic example of small-unit tactics and leadership in overcoming a larger enemy force.

It was therefore begging to be the subject of a participation game at one of the wargame shows my club WyreForest does shows at. The one chosen was the one run in Halesowen see http://wargamershow.tripod.com/id1.html

The set up

The four gun emplacements with linked trenches can be seen here, one of the two German squads being in the trench at the bottom right. Brecourt Manor is top left.

the-set-upThere is no doubt that many a wargamer has played this battle, but I wanted to use the BattleGroup rules, at least as a base, and thus turned to the WargamersGuild forum where help in the shape of Warwick (one of the authors of the rule set) came to my assistance.

the-set-up-2This view gives a better overall impression, one of the two MG42 nests being visible in the hedge at the bottom. A better view is shown below

mg42-positionsFrom a wargame perspective I had to overcome the problem that using ‘normal’ rules would simply not work, as the US forces would be out numbered (even in this scaled down action) whilst the Germans were surprised (something that is hard to mimic with the ‘Gods eye view’ that wargamers most often have).

I also wanted the game to be really fast and easy to play and thus dropped the ‘Area Fire’ pinning mode (although pinning could occur via Morale tests, the effect lasting for one turn). Plus it was necessary to take into account the panic that set in when Easy Company stormed in and also the fact that the artillery men would not be as good at fighting at close quarters as the US troops.

Pinned Paratroopers

pinned-paratroopersThe BattleGroup method of winning via BreakPoints also I felt, did not suit this short battle, so I opted for Victory Points instead, these being won in various ways.

To make it an even fight (in wargame terms) the Germans were to be given Victory Points for just firing the guns plus 2 points for every gun still firing by Turn 15, the US forces getting points for every gun spiked (this being automatic if their Close Assault was successful).

To mimic the real thing, about a third of the US troops (under Lt Spiers) did not come into play until turn 4. Other important rules were that :-

The Germans could only fire the guns until the assault started.

Once the fighting had started, all of their units had to roll to see whether they would take an order, in some cases this resulting in them opening fire on the nearest gun (as happened on the day at one stage). Here the one German officer added a +1 to the dice if with the unit.

Taking Orders D6
Squads & MG
1 = Fire on nearest gun
2 – 3 = No Action
4+ = Do as ordered

Gunners
1 = Do Nothing
2 -3  = Have to Fire Guns
4 + Do as Ordered

Gunners when Close Assaulted D6
1 – 2  = Run for nearest gun (no casualites on US troops caused)
3+ = Fight (hit on a 4+)

The Gunners would if close assaulted roll a D6 to see if they would stand or run. In the former case their ‘hit’ roll being reduced by -2 (making for hits on 4+), whilst in the latter case they just took casualties while inflicting none, the gun of course being taken and spiked (3 VP’s to the Yanks).

The number of Offices for the USA was 3, but these could be lost if their unit took a casualty, a roll of 17+ on a D20 meaning the officer was hit (and thus an order dice lost). This meant that the USA troops could normally move all their units, whilst the Germans could not, this being an attempt to replicate the command chaos that was evident on the day. Similarly the German officer could be lost when the unit he was attached to took losses.

Every casualty was a VP for the other side.

The Forces used.

USA

3 squads of 5 men plus an Officer

2 * 30cal Machine guns

Germans

4 guns in emplacements with 5 crew each

2 * MG42 to the rear in trenches

2 squads of 5 men, one with an Officer.

How it went

The game was played about 6 times in all, each one taking about 35 minutes, with the first one being played by a 5 year old (his first ever war game). It seemed to go down a treat with all players too.

2 Guns Down – 2 to Go

2-guns-down-2-to-go

Going for the Third Gun

Only two men from the command squad of Germans left here..

paratroopers-making-for-the

The USA troops were successful in all but one game, this being the time we reduced the ‘panic’ effect on the German troops (plus there being some bad die rolls).

About to Close Assault the Fourth Gun

paratroopers-4th-gun

I think this shows how tweaking the rules a little here and there can make all the difference, so would suggest that anyone who wants to play it has a go to find the ‘right balance’ from their point of view.

All Guns Spiked

However, in this action, only a few US troops survived..

all-guns-spikedThe VP system meant that you always played to a conclusion, this being all the US troops killed (happened once), all the guns spiked, or when turn 15 was reached (never happened).

Making Cheap ‘Explosion’ Markers for War Games

When it comes to wargaming, every little thing you can do to make it look that bit more ‘real’ makes the whole game that bit better, both to play and to look at.

So, when it comes to ‘marking’ those ‘dead’ tanks and vehicles, what better than an ‘explosion’ marker. It looks so much better that taking the turret off, or playing the unit on it’s side.

You can of course use some cotton wool, or something similar, but what if you want to use something that looks a bit more realstic (without setting the games table on fire of course)?

Well you can but some really good looking explosion markers and they are not too dear at about £2.50 each, but what if you could make something that looked pretty good for as little as 50p?

Well you can, at least for as long as HobbyCraft keep selling their candle tea lights  for £1 for 4. Then, all you need is a bit of white and some brown or black toy stuffing / hair, and with a lick of grey paint and some glue you have your very own ‘explosion’ markers.

The ones I have made are far from perfect and others will do a LOT better with the same materials, but they are still good enough for my oppenent to comment “it was almost worth losing my tank to get that on the board”, which was a really nice thing to say.

Check out the pictures and if you feel like making some, head over to HobbyCraft (or their website) and get some tealights (you even get the batteries for the £1).

The bits and the finished article

 

flames2 flames1

 

Holding Carentan

Had a very interesting game on Sunday using the ‘Holding Carentan’ scenario, I played the US side, whilst Tony, who is learning (fast) the rules.

I think I took the ‘holding’ part of the title a little bit too litterally as I placed my troops (and there are not a lot of them in this scenario) at the front, whereas I reckon a sensible commander would have kept them back, but hey you have to try these things out.

I also have to point out that I had to use Brits for the Paratroops and did not have enough Stugs, but heh it still looked good.

initial-set-up

 

 

 

 

 

ready for the germans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

awaiting the attack

This first map shows how the USA troops were deployed, thecommand squad in the centre with the 2 squads being shown, one having started out with the idea of covering the road soon having to run for cover when the Stugs arrived (black lines). Meanwhile the German troops (black blocks) pounded and pinned the command squad and set up their own OP in the house on the bottom left.

Carentan first turns

stugs deploy to bombard

The problem for the US side is they only have about 35 fighting men, with no re-enforcements until turn 5. All the while from turn 2 the Germans get stugs and more men, all of which makes it an ‘interesting’ game.

carentan under attack

As I said, I had placed my Command Squad in the very front of the action, the idea being that I would be able to drop the arty support I had on the German front line, but needless to say, it was repeatedly pinned and soon wiped out.

second wave of stugs appear

The second squad was forced out of one of the other buildings by determined fire from the stugs, this eventually being wiped out by some German arty strikes. The last squad was reduced to hiding in the trees, the fact that they had a bazooka keeping the stugs at bay.

The US side was taking chit after chit in the game, but did manage to hold onto the East side of the village, eventually moving from the woods into a building that was shielded from stug fire as they retreated in the face of the appearance of the first wave of Shermans.

shermans-advance

carentan invasion

 

The second map shows the Stugs moving forwards and the USA’s last squad moving into the Eastern building. The Stugs moved to cover the village as they had heard the rumble of Shermans. The German infantry advanced, but only really took the Western house by the time the game ended.

Carentan mid game

 

Then more  Shermans came on, together with an armoured platoon, but we ran out of time before we could complete the game.

usa-armoured-push-forward

The last map shows the Sherman advance, the Stugs holding their ground but starting to take causualties. The Armoured platoon was also advancing and starting to cause casualties, would have been good to have been able to conclude it.

Carentan end game

On a points basis, it was a very good win for the Germans, but I consoled myself with the fact that the Germans never took the village and were forced to withdraw from their high water mark.

final-positions

Great game, but I should have played it better and placed some units out of harms way at the start, that way I may have got some more arty into play.

A-german-victory

Road Race BattleGroup BlitzKrieg 10mm Game

Very interesting game was played last night, with no less than 6 players, three as the Germans and three as the intrepid Brits.

The British player controlling the staff car and escorts tried to lure the Germans forward and then make a cross country dash with the car, but with the Vickers only being able to PIN (and then at 10cm – we replaced all inches with cm’s as playing at 10mm) the battle was unequal and the staff car was lost.

In the map below we see the route taken by the Brits, the staff car and 2 tanks moving towards the EXIT, with the other one trying to distact a German Recce unit. But it was to no avail…

Road Race - Staff Car Stage

The German advance their Recce units…

German Recce advanceSo, the real game begun, the Brits advancing on their right, the Germans pushing forwards in the centre and then holding position whilst a daring thrust was made around the back of the Brits position.

The Brit main ‘battle tanks’ deploy

A13s-and-A10s-deployAnd ready for action

British left flank ready for actionThe map here shows the route the Pzr2 platoon took (in red), with the centre group of 3 T35’s taking the road in the middle (black arrow). They took a lot of fire and the lead tank was Pinned 3 times, but survived.  The other platoon of T35s took the right wing (dotted blue) and by using Reserve Move kept the Brits wondering where they were really going. The last unit to come on was the Pzr 4 (dotted black line), this also used Reserve move, but it did not work out, more later….

Road Race 3The Germans bring in their T35’s

The-T35s-arrive

Meanwhile, on the British Right Flank, the A10’s move towards the weak German left, one armoured car having to withdraw due to no ammo, and the tanks being only Pzr 2s…

A10-and-Vickers-deploy

More A10 deployment

A10's move round church

But soon the A10’s see the centre group of T35’s

A10 spies the 35ts!

The T35’s then started to take fire from both the A10’s and the A13’s, but despite being pinned three times, they all survived..

With the right and centre of the British line engaged (and the Vickers tanks all hiding in the bushes), the T35’s started their pincer movement…

T35s-starting-their-pincer-

Reserve Move was used to confuse the Brits…

Reserved-T35s

A13-on-Ambush-T35-on-Reserv

The Brits weren’t fooled though and stated putting units on Ambush (the swines… – anybody would think I was a German player).

To counter the Ambush actions and to divide attention in the centre, the German Pv4 was moved into action, using Reserve Move to get into a firing position (without being fired upon), but it did not work, two misses meant the end when the A13’s guns spoke..

Pvr-4-on-Reserve-Move-T35s-Meanwhile on the British right flank, the A10’s were moving up on the hapless Panzer 2’s, whilst the last MG equipped Vickers tried to cause problems… It did distract things and it ended up in quite a brawl..

Mk VI trying to avoid Pzr II's

Vickers-trying-to-survive

A charging Panzer 2 met its end attacking an immobilised A10

German Pzr II's burn up

But the resulting Chit drawn by the Germans was a ‘Call of Duty’ which they played on a Pinned T35, one of the ‘pincer movement’ tanks having been hit. This really turned the whole battle, the T35 taking out an A13, and two Vickers in short succession.

Call-of-Duty

 

T35-on-the-rampage

The-T35s-Strike

The Brits Left Flank collapses

Pzr 35t's demolish British left flank

And the Chits are all just too much.

The-british-chits-and-rapan

So the battle ended, it all really hinging on that ‘Call of Duty’ chit and some really good luck (the battle plan was not bad either though, well I would say that….)

Pictures courtesy of Richard and ‘SteamingDave’

Another GREAT BattleGroup Game..

Making Scenery for your War Games

Making Scenery for your War Games

 

Playing wargames means more than just having the model tanks, infantry and guns, as to make it REALLY work and look the part, you need to ‘set the scene’ too, and that means scenerey.

You can buy all that you need of course (I and have bought quite a lot myself) but it is also fun to make it yourself.

The chap in this video has a fantastic channel on this subject, so please have a look (and some fun too).

First 10mm War Game – BattleGroup Kursk

Up until very recently I had only intended to build and play with 20mm (1/72nd) scale models in my BattleGroup games, BUT then I got hooked on 10mm as well..

German Forces
The German Forces

The 10mm scale offers the chance of putting a lot more toys on the battlefield as well as allowing a greater range of ‘clever’ manoeuvres like encircling or outflanking (at least if you can manage to conceal your real plan before your opponent sees it), whilst also allowing the greater range of the German guns to be felt (20mm playing areas normally don’t allow this important difference to be noticed, things being so close to start with).

The Russian Defences
The Russian Defences

Also, by enabling a much bigger scale of operation to be laid out, you can really start to see a replica of the battlefields you have seen on the historical TV programmes like World at War.

A Battlefied view
A Battlefied view

With all this in mind we set out to play a BattleGroup Kursk game based on pg 176 in the book, the Strongpoint Assault. This was basically the Germans trying to take a number of Russian strongpoints, one of them being a Bunker (which is hard to damage in BG rules).

Battle commences
Battle commences

The game was played on a 9 * 6 ft board, some buildings and scenery being used, but no t much as the battles around Kursk were mostly fought in open country.

Panzer III's backed up by armoured infantry attack
Panzer III’s backed up by armoured infantry attack

BattleGroup uses a points system, this allowing each player to choose which units they want to have in their ‘army’, whilst at the time giving some balance to both sides AND most importantly causing the armies to look like the real thing in the machines and men used.

More action around the woods in Mini Staliingrad attack.
More action around the woods in Mini Staliingrad attack.

It was a big game, perhaps on hindsight too big, over 2,500 points being used up (to give you an idea, a normal 20mm game will have between 400 and 600). In this scenario, the Germans started on the board, with the Russian having only 50% of their forces on the board to start, the rest ‘feeding in’ over the course of the game, but only after a few turns had been had.

This delay should have been enough for the Germans (me) to make a good dash across the board, BUT the Russians had decided to blunt and slow down the attack using some T34 and T70 tanks, these managing to slow the advance right down. Besides these tanks, two groups of infantry armed with AT grenades and ‘Mine dogs’ lurked in some buildings just inside the Russian set up area. This and some poor German planning meant that not enough ground was taken quickly enough.

To make things worse for the Germans, their flanking force arrived early and quickly the area around them became a sort of mini Stalingrad, more and more German forces being sucked into take a small village, whilst all the time the Russian’s tank reinforcements were also arriving.

In the end the Germans did win on a points basis (there are no draws in Battlegroup) but they had not played well and so in my view it was a draw, the Russian tactics (and bravery) being so very good.

The game was in all played for about 6 hrs, but at the end of it we were all a bit ‘battle happy’ and think that next time, we should keep it to just 4 (or 5 as a max), hopefully, at times being able to leave the game up and play it though at a later date.

All in all though, another really great day!

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).