Wednesday, 20 September 2017

BKC II - Prelude To Kursk

Scenario 6 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

The initial layout.
Background
It’s May 1943 on the Eastern Front and both Hitler and Stalin wanted to continue offensives around Kursk. Stalin had been persuaded to absorb the initial German attacks and use the rebuilt Tank and Mechanised Corps in counter-attacks once the Germans had been ground to a halt against the Soviet defences.

In this battle, the Germans are trying to straighten out the front line by penetrating a small salient.

Layout
The initial layout. The table is 6' x 4'.
The game is 14-16 turns long.

The Soviets are defending from the east (far end) and can deploy up to 2/3 across the table - I.E. up to a line just beyond the small hill this side of the farm.
The Germans are attacking from the west (this end).


Objectives
Victory points are available for units remaining in good order at the end of the game. See scenario for details.


OOBs
NOTE : The OOBs for the Germans published in the magazine are incorrect. The full corrected version is in the download version referred to below.
Details for all the battles are in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.
For this battle the free download is available here.

Germans:
Panzer Battalion
1st battalion GD Grenadier Regt (includes half-tracks and some AFVs)
2nd battalion GD Grenadier Regt
Grenadier Regt HQ (represented by CO and supports in BKC)
2nd battalion GD Fusilier Regt
3rd battalion GD Fusilier Regt
Fusilier Regt HQ (represented by supports in BKC)
Off-table Artillery with 6 turns of ammo, and 3 Forward Observers

Soviets:
1/4th Mech Battalion
2/4th Mech Battalion
3/4th Mech Battalion
4th Mech Brigade HQ (represented by CO and supports in BKC)
Light Assault Gun Regiment
Heavy Assault Gun Regiment
Off-table Artillery with pre-registered targets and limited missions


Deployment
The Germans are attacking from the west (this end). One battalion may use a flank attack up to half way along the north or south side.
I deployed the three Soviet battalions defending the farm area, the wooded area and hill alongside, with the third further back covering breakthroughs.

The Game
The Germans throw the might of their Panzer battalion against the defenses on the hill to the south (right of the picture below). The 2nd battalion GD Grenadier Regt move alongside in support.
The two Fusilier battalions move up to threaten the farm.
The main German attack is against the hill to the south

The two Fusilier battalions move up to threaten the farm.
Soviet artillery is already hitting one battalion.

Although the Germans know the area is well defended, the Soviets are dug-in and haven't fired yet so the Germans cannot see their actual positions until they get really close. As soon as they catch sight of the enemy, the panzer battalion commander decides it would be a good idea to dash towards the Soviet defences immediately. These BKC Blunders do mix things up a bit sometimes.


With plenty of support in good order, the well prepared infantry push back the rushed assault.



Now the Russians around the hill have opened fire they can be seen and the German FAOs on the hills can call in artillery.


However the panzers are taking more effective fire than they can inflict against the dug-in Soviets, so they get ready to make another assault.


This time it is better prepared ...


... and most of the Soviet first line is pushed back.



The panzers now use their firepower to finish off some of the defenders around the hill.


A stubborn Soviet machine gun position is outflanked and assaulted, forcing the remaining crew to abandon the position and are machine gunned downed.


In the centre the German infantry are taking a pounding from Soviet artillery and in the north (left) the German infantry advance is very slow.


The flank attack by the 1st battalion GD Grenadier Regt comes in from the north.


They quickly disembark to try to engage the inferior Russian infantry.


The Soviets prove themselves not to be so inferior after all. The flanking Grenadiers take several casualties while the Fusiliers (in the foreground) move up behind them.


With most of their Grenadiers destroyed or running, the half-tracks fall back but at least form a screen for the slow moving Fusiliers behind.


At the hill and wooded area the panzers are getting some support from the infantry behind them, as well as artillery fire being carefully placed by the FAOs.


The panzers push forwards on the hill to try to force the remaining Soviets defenders to route. The Soviet resolve is strong though, and some of the guns in the next line of defence now have targets.


Now it's all or nothing for the Germans. All available forces in the south move up to engage the resilient Soviets in the woods and behind the hill.



In the north, the Fusiliers have little option than to take on the farm ...


...and what is left of the other Fusilier battalion moves up to do what they can.


At the hill the remaining panzers have failed their morale test and pulled out of the battle (see note on formation morale below), while a handfull of Russians cling on on the woods. No doubt they will fail their morale throw next turn, but is too late for the Germans?


Yes it is too late.
The Grenadier half-tracks have legged it as have the Fusiliers in the centre.
With just the remains of one Grenadier battalion and one Fusilier battalion left on the table there is no way the Germans can win, even assuming the Soviets in the woods do route.


Formation Morale Checks.
A reminder, from previous reports in this series, that I have been checking morale for each formation (usually a battalion with supports or similar) rather then for the Battlegroup as a whole as in the BKC rules. It was a suggestion by Andrew Rolph in his articles that prompted me to try this and I like it. It does mean some extra effort before the battle working out the Breakpoint for each formation, and during the battle tracking casualties, but I think it's worth it.



Thoughts on this battle.
The German's better Command Values gave this attack a very good chance of success. The main fault had to be me sending in the flank attack to attack the farm instead of supporting the panzers. In my defence, when I made the plan I didn't think the supporting infantry the panzers did have would be so slow.

In any case, it was a great battle and left me wanting more.


Thoughts on the series of scenarios by Andrew Rolph.
I hope it comes across how much I enjoyed these games and following the progress on the Ostfront.
I was really happy to get my BKC stuff out after some hiatus and this series gave me that chance.
The lack of success by the Soviets in the attack is partly down to some of the differences in mechanics of the BKC II rules compared to Spearhead, but with a little effort this can be overcome. Also the compromises I had to make as playing it solo didn't help, but good fun nonetheless. Probably the main problem was my tactics.
Although I didn't manage to do a report for the battle in Part 4 - A Nasty Encounter, I did play it and had a good time.

There was mention of the possibility of more scenarios to follow. These have not appeared in Miniature Wargames under the new editor, so I was very pleased that the writer, Andrew Rolph, found my Blog and contacted me via the comments. He told me that there is another series of articles which are published by The Journal of Twentieth Century Wargamers.
See their website at http://sotcw.co.uk/shop and PDF Subscription 15 includes six new articles which I have bought and downloaded. Actually the 6th Journal in this series has not yet been published and will follow when it is ready.
I hope I will be able to start on these in the near future.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

BKC II - To The Next River

Scenario 5 of the series, Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time, written by Andrew Rolph and published by Miniature Wargames with Battlegames.

Rules used are Blitzkrieg Commander II by Specialist Military Publishing.

Most figures and models are Pendraken.

Background
It’s early in 1943 on the Eastern Front and, in their counter-offensive, the Soviets are becoming adept at river crossings. They would try to end the current offensive with a bridgehead over the next river so the the next stage of the offensive would start from a bridgehead instead of with a river crossing.

The Germans learnt to counterattack immediately, with whatever they had to hand, to eliminate such bridgeheads.

Layout
The initial layout. I used a table 6' x 4'.
The game is 14-16 turns long.
The river is fordable at the marshy areas.
The Germans are defending the river.
The Soviets are attacking from the east (this end).


Objectives
The main objective for each side is to have units in good order on both sides of the river at the end of the game.
Failing this there are victory points available for holding the town and remaining units in good order.


OOBs
Details are in the downloads mentioned in my previous Post - Blitzkrieg Commander II revival.

Germans:
Flak Battalion (includes an 88)
1/10th Security Battalion
45th Regt HQ kamfgruppe (mainly engineers)
81st Sturm battalion (StuGs)
1/12th Infantry
1/67th PzJaeger battalion (Marder IIIs)

Soviets:
11th Tank Brigade
59th Tank Brigade
Mechanised Rifles of 11th Tank Brigade
Mechanised Rifles of 59th Tank Brigade
99th Motorcycle Btn (with light tank support)
Light Assault Gun Btn (SU76s)
Two IL-2 Stormovik sorties

Deployment
The Soviets are attacking from the east (this end).
The Germans are initially just defending the bridge with a Flak Battalion with reinforcements rushing in.
As I was playing solo I only rolled for the arrival position of the German reinforcements when they were due to turn up.

The Game
The Soviets start well with the 11th Tank Brigade with infantry support heading for the marshy area to the south of the bridge (left in this picture). The 59th Tank Brigade with infantry support head north to threaten the town and bridge, making use of the hills as cover.
The 99th m/c Btn head straight forwards to see if they can rush the bridge.
The Soviets move off as planned.

The marshy area to the south looks very vulnerable with
hills giving protection from the Flak Battalion at the bridge.

With my new gadget it can be seen that once the tanks move clear of the hills
the 88 at the bridge has a flank shot on a T34 ..

... and brews it up with a single shot.

The 11th Tank Brigade get into the marshy area.

But the rest of the units get bogged down and start to cower behind the hills.


On a double one Command Roll the 11th Tank Brigade cross the river while the first German reinforcements close to the woods to support the bridge.


Then the Germans spring their trap. Luckily for them the rest of the reinforcements turn up on the Southern flank, with the 81st Sturm Battalion lurking in the marsh catching the 11th Tank Brigade in the flank.


In addition, German infantry appear in the marsh behind them cutting them off from support.

... and in front of them more infantry with the 1/67th PzJaeger battlion. The 11th Tank Brigade breakthrough has been well and truly stopped.

The Rifles of 11th Tank Brigade try to move into support but are held back by the Germans in the marsh. The motorcycle battalion is starting to get hit by the 88 in the town by the bridge.


It's too late for the 11th Tank Brigade as the StuGs sweep through them.

With the Soviet tanks in the marsh dealt with, the German infantry and StuGs can turn to face the remaining threat from the east.

And the 88 turns its attention onto the 59th Tank Brigade which managed to move hardly at all while all this has been going on in the south.


With additional support from the PzJaeger Battalion and infantry, the remaining Soviet threat in the north is held back.


An overview at the end from the Soviet edge. The Soviets have very little armour left and can't get close enough to hit the German defences hard.



Final Comments
The 88 in the town did remarkably well considering they are usually the main target for any available fire. It held Soviet units back at long range and took very few hits long enough for the German reinforcements to arrive.

The Soviet 11th Tank Brigade very nearly made the breakthrough, but was unfortunately left unsupported and caught in an ambush that couldn't have been much better if it had been planned.

As I said earlier - I was playing solo so I only rolled for the arrival position of the German reinforcements when they were due to turn up. It was a total fluke they turned up on the southern flank, let alone the actual position on that flank.

The Stormovic failed to make any successful airstrikes due to failed command rolls or being driven off by AA fire.

It was an enjoyable and well balanced game with the Russians let down again by my poor command rolls for them, and the amazing German ambush in the marsh.

Monday, 8 May 2017

First Bull Run using BBB

A nice scenario for the First Battle of Bull Run on 21 July 1861, early in the American Civil War.

The scenario, written by Vincent Tsao for the Bloody Big Battles rules, is available for download from the Files section of the BBB Yahoo!Group.

There are five objectives, all indicated on the table by small white tents. All objectives are held by the Confederates at the start of the battle. The game is 9 turns.
Union win if they hold 3 or more objectives at the end.
Draw if Union hold 2 objectives.
Confederates win if they hold 4 or more.
Reinforcements are due to arrive at various points during the battle.

Unfortunately I didn't have enough rivers and streams to include all the waterways. In particular Young's Branch would have improved the Confederate defensive position.

The Game
After the first turn:
Burnside (Union) is facing Evans (Confederates) on Matthews Hill.
Cocke (Confederates) has taken a risk by leaving Ball's Ford to be defended by artillery and is pushing towards the bridge.
Along the road, Porter (Union) is trying to make ground towards Henry House Hill and Bald Hill before Bartow and Bee (Confederates) get firmly established there.
Matthews Hill on the left (actually should be the second level of a much larger hill).
Henry House Hill is the large hill to the right of the bridge.
The edge of Bald Hill can just be seen to the right of Henry House Hill.
The objectives are at the bridge, Henry House Hill, Bald Hill, Ball's Ford and Newmarket

A couple of turns on and reinforcements have arrived on both sides.
Burnside and Evans are still at it at Matthews Hill.
Sherman, Keyes and some artillery (Union) have crossed a ford to approach Evans from the rear but Jackson (Confederate) has raced straight past Henry House Hill towards the sound of the guns to support Evans.
Cocke is in the woods by the bridge.
At Henry House Hill Bartow has held back Porter, but Howard and Franklin (Union) are moving up to assist in the attack on the two hills.
Bee holds Bald Hill. The Confederates still hold all the highest ground.
An overview showing all the action.

Porter (Union) threatening Bartow at Henry House Hill

Schenk (Union), on the far side of the bridge, had a miserable day. He took his time moving to the bridge which he found blocked. When he did finally break through he was quickly routed.


Franklin, supported by Wilcox (Union), attack Bald Hill. In this photo Franklin has just pushed back Bee who has forgotten to take his label with him in the rush. In the background you can see Howard has just taken Henry House Hill.
Franklin attacks Bald Hill and in the background Howard has taken Henry House Hill

At Matthews Hill the Confederate counter-charge is being pushed back. Evans has gone and been replaced by Cocke. Jackson has taken many casualties and pulled back to the wood where he is in a better position to hold the objectives. Sherman is in pursuit.


Howard is still holding Henry House Hill against massed artillery and Kershaw (Confederates) approaching through the woods. They held this objective to the end of the game.


Franklin and Wilcox are still contesting Bald Hill but are about to be pushed off it.


Franklin, Wilcox and Porter, who made the initial attacks on Henry House Hill and Bald Hill, are all Spent and just trying to survive the day.
Porter and Wilcox prepare to defend themselves while Confederates swarm over Bald Hill towards them.

And that is pretty much how it ended. The Union managed to take one objective and threaten two others, but the Confederates' aggressive tactics pushed them back.
A good scenario with opportunities for both sides with the arrival of reinforcements at various stages of the battle.