Tag Archives: ww2

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).

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.

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

Wargaming – It’s a Great Hobby

I used to be a board gamer, but then I discovered, with the help of the WyreForestGamesClub, the joy of playing with models. I have played ‘Ancients’, as well as Napolenonics, but by my real favourite is WW2, and my favourite side the Germans.

I suppose this site gives you a good idea why I like playing the Germans, and that is that their list of types of armour is about the best there is on any side in WW2.

This blog is all about the wargames I have played, plus the shops and models that I have used, seen or am just plain impressed with.