Sunday, 6 May 2018

One Day on the Russian Front...

Yesterday I played my first WWII wargame since the mid 1990's.

WWII was my favorite period for a long, long time but for an equally long time, I haven't been happy with any of the popular rules being played. I use to have large forces for the popular participants (German & British desert, German, Brits, U.S. for Italy and Western Europe, Russians...). As it turned out I sold all of them when I was broke during a divorce in 2006. Almost 30 years of collecting and modelling sold.

However, I started collecting stuff again last year and I bought into the Battlegroup rules. But I never got to play any games because I thought no one in my club were interested in them. I was wrong.

I had a chat to Jim a couple of weeks back and tee'd up an intro game. Turns out Pete (my amiable Napoleonic ally) was interested too. So Jim ended up refereeing a game for us.

Jim decided on the Barbarossa supplement book and designed a 500pt scenario. Pete took the Germans (herein know as the Hilterites) and I took the brave Soviets. The objective was the church in the center. At 500pts this was considered a Platoon Level game. So each side must have at least one infantry platoon with various support options.

Jim on the left and Pete (the Hitlerite) on the right.

The game started with a Reconnaissance Phase. The able was bisected with the diagonal line and we placed our forces 10" on our own side of the line. Because we had equal forces there were no consequences for this phase. I had an infantry foot patrol and a BA-10 armoured car, the Hitlerites had a motorcycle and an Sd.Kfz 321 armoured car. They came down the main road and my troops occupied some woods and scouted the crossroad.

Turn 1 - Germans move first. The motorcycles occupied the hedgerow and set up an MG34 team in the corner. The Sd.Kfz 321 took a shot at my BA-10 but missed, and then retreated. In my turn I put my infantry on an Ambush Order and advanced the BA-10 to the crossroad and took aim at the dismounted MG34,pinning them and causing a casualty.

First blood to the Ivan!
Turn 2 - German reinforcements arrived. A lot of them too. A whole panzer-grenadier platoon in Sd.Kfz 251's. These included a mortar, a tripod mounted MG and a 75mm infantry gun. They spread out making a bee-line for the woods on their left and pushing forward on their right.

The Sd.Kfz 321 reemerged from hiding and took another shot at my BA-10, which was obscured by a building, and missed again.
I brought on some reinforcements too. The majority of my motor-infantry platoon which also included a light mortar and a Maxim gun. My guys came in borrowed Hitlerite trucks which dropped them off and then vanished back to the rear.
My armoured car took aim at the Hitlerite armoured can and, with precise Soviet skill pierced its second rate armour destroying it in a blaze of glory for Uncle Joe! It then moved back slightly to the cover offered by the building.

Turn 3- and the German armour arrived in the form of a troop of PzIII's and a PzIV L/24. The PzIII's made a move up the flank whilst the PzIV took up a position covering the main the road and supporting the infantry who had debouched their vehicles, taking up position in the wood setting up the MG and the infantry gun. A second section moved into one of the fields whilst the 3rd section continued to advance on the flank.

Russian reinforcements also arrived and this time I brought on some of my armour - A troops of T-26's and my remaining motor-infantry section. These brave lads made an immediate move forward to face the Hitlerite tanks with superior Soviet Power!
There is a special Russian rule that allows a breakneck charge for the cost of 1 Order point, followed by a round of Area Shooting. So I did this. There are two types of shooting in Battlegroup - Area which is mainly for pinning enemy troops and Aimed which is for killing the enemy. I charged forward but my shooting was useless.

My recon infantry section made a move at the double and occupied the objective whilst my motor-infantry took up their abandoned position with a 45mm AT-gun and light mortar for support. Another section moved to the other side of the road to the base of a hill.
Hitlerite Turn 4 - More Hitlerites arrived but I'd lost count of them by now. However, one of them was a 37mm AT -gun. A door-knocker. A peashooter.

The Hitlerites, ashamed of the loss of their armoured car now moved up one of the PzIII's to tackle my brave BA-10. And blew it to pieces.

They also brought their mortar into play which resulted in stalling the charge of my gallant T-26's. The infantry gun took a direct shot an one of them and, even though its armour penetration is rubbish, blew it to pieces. Are my tanks not as good as the Kremlin propaganda suggests?

The German infantry on their right flank disembarked right in the face of my infantry in the church. The second section moved from the fields and occupied one of the housed at the crossroad.

Soviet Turn 4... I rolled pretty bad for my orders so I just concentrated on concentrating my fire. My infantry in the church opened up and killed three Hitlerites but their moral test allowed them a Beyond the Call of Duty result. This means they had the opportunity to take an extra turn immediately. Peter chose to return fire, killing a few of my guys in return, pinning them and preventing their second round of shooting. The German MG34's are nasty.

The rest of my shooting was concentrated on the infantry in the house. I fired HE from the 47mm gun as well as a full turn of shooting from the infantry in the woods. They were almost wiped out and the survivors were pinned.

My tanks on my right used the special rule thing and charged forward but had no targets to shoot at. I also had several units pinned so with my last Order Point I used a Rally Order to remove the pined markers (I had 4 units pinned and rolled a 4 - Nice and neat).

Hitlerite Turn 5 - The PzIII's moved up on the flank and destroyed on of my T-26's. Not a good start for me. The lead panzer-grenadiers shot at my guys in the church and killed some but failed to pin them. Luckily the rest of their shooting was more or less ineffective. One of my tanks in the center was hit and pinned but was otherwise unscathed.

Soviet Turn 5 - I rolled poorly for orders again. but this time I brought on my big guy: a T-35. It trundled forward at top speed putting fear into the hearts of the Hitlerites

The rest of my turn involved infantry shooting. I wiped out the section in the house with the use of my Maxim gun. I also killed a chap in Pete's advanced section, pinning them. I then tried to motivate my left hand section to charge over the hill and assault them but they decided hiding at the base of the hill had proven a good tactic so far and they were happy to stay there. So they became pinned themselves. I tried to activate my mortars but that failed too.

Three burning wreaks and my position was starting to look precarious.

Hitlerite Turn 6 - The PzIV fired HE into the church and wiped out my infantry section. A PzIII on the flank took on one of my T-26's and... It survived! That was a surprise.

Soviet Turn 6 - I had another section near the church so I re-occupied it and took aim at the advanced panzer-grenadiers and this time I wiped them out. So the German infantry was looking in bad shape. My AT gun took a shot at the PzIV but missed.

On my right my mighty behemoth move forward and took aim at the little peashooter - the 37mm AT gun. As the Hulk would say, "PUNY HUMANS!"

My shot missed.

One of my T-26's - now un-pinned, moved up to the hedge and took a shot at a PzIII but its tough armour deflected my shot.

Hitlerite Turn 7 - The 37mm took aim at the T-35. He rolled a 6 for spotting (so he saw it). He rolled 6 to hit (so he hit it). He needed a 9 or 10 to penetrate it. So he rolled box cars and blew my lovely monster to pieces with a single shot.

The rest of the German turn is irrelevant. It all faded into nothing at the loss of my beautiful beast.

At this point Uncle Joe's men had lost. We had another turn and one more loss just confirmed the worst as I exceded the Moral Point limit.

Oh well... We'll retreat to Moscow and then give it another go. I feel an 1812 type victory is on the what we need.


I really liked the game. It was a bit strange as the rules are very different to the WWII rules of my past. I use to use the old Airfix Magazine rules by Bruce Quarrie and then a local set of rules that were very much based and expanded on Quarrie's rules.

The action was fast paced and Pete and I got a fairly good grasp on the game pretty quickly. I had read the rules prior so I initially had a better grasp. I liked that the Soviets had the upper hand for the first couple of turns but the better German command and superior armour really changed all that. I could't always do what I wanted and had to make command decisions. Overall I thought I did okay with my infantry but my armour was next to useless. - Except for my armoured car which was equal to my tanks and performed better than any of them.

In the end the Pete never managed to get the objective so, although the Russians lost it was a victory at heavy cost to the Germans.

All the models, figures and terrain were supplied by Jim and I'm looking forward to using my own troops sometime in the future.


Oh yes... Hitlerites - This comes from a cheap $2 dvd that I bought years ago. It turned out to be a Soviet propaganda film from 1944. In it the Germans were consistently referred to as Hitlerites whilst the Russians characterized their own troops as brave and gallant soldiers of The Revolution!


  1. It was a good game but none of the figures, models or terrain were mine. I was just a participant to this one.