Friday, 28 September 2018

Recce Screen - 500pt Battlegroup Game

I played my third game of Battlegroup yesterday. I took a long, cold, wet drive out to Ballarat to see Adrien (who I first met a few years back) at his house in the wilderness. We talked a lot and then got down to one of the simple scenarios from the Overlord - Battles Beyond the Beaches book.

The game saw a British mechanized infantry platoon meeting a panzer grenadier kampfgruppe as both sides decided to scout a hamlet somewhere in Normandy. Using an intricate random selection process (umm... left hand. Here you go!) I took over command of the kampfgruppe and Adrien, with a regulation cup of tea in hand, took command of the Brits.
Both sides were pretty equal with a mounted platoon each & the Brits also had a carrier section. There were also some other subtle variations. The Germans had an off-board mortar battery waiting so it was easier for them to get small, local stonks into play. The Brits had a 2+ First Target Priority for their artillery. The difference being that they had the chance to call in larger caliber guns if needed. The Brits had a Cromwell platoon in support against the German's platoon of Panzer IVH's.

The Recce Fight

The scenario starts with a small pre-battle fight. All reconnaissance elements are deployed - A d6 is rolled (we rolled 3). So for three turns the recce elements fight it out. The results can gain the players a bonus when rolling for initiative for the first proper turn.

German initial deployment - Sdkfz 250/9 and SdKfz 251 recce.

The British recce consisted of a Dingo Scout Car (in the distance) and an M5 Stuart.
 We played a bit of cat & mouse with the M5 Stuart firing a shot across the bows of the SdKfz 250/9 causing it to pull back an find a better opening. It moved between the buildings and emerged to take on the Dingo. Unfortunately the Dingo called in a very accurate mortar stonk which resulted in a direct hit taking out the German.
The Stuart chased my halftrack back down the road almost into my deployment zone. It was going to take a shot but couldn't get a clear line of sight (missed his observation roll).
So, my brave men lost the Recce Fight but the dice decided that I got the initiative anyway.

The Battle

I brought on my reinforcements first and my first action was to bring on a Pz IV to blast that Stuart. There must have been a thick mist this close to the stream, because I couldn't see the M5 clearly enough to get a good shot in. A second panzer appeared and did have a clear shot. But it went wild and missed. I also brought on a Pz Grenadier section and a heavy MG42 crew.

With things getting hot the M5 pulled back but not before calling in another accurate mortar strike on my cramped troops. The effect was nasty: the halftrack crew abandoned their vehicle, the pz grenadier's truck was destroyed and the Pz IV pinned. Schweinhund!

Adrien rolled poorly for his first turn Orders so didn't do much more. But he brought on the mortar from the carrier section and a Sherman Firefly. That said his mortars did enough damage causing me to draw another two chits (3 so far and it's only turn 1!).

I next brought on some more troops incuding my 3rd Pz IV. This was actually my platoon commander and showed why he was in charge by taking aim at the M5 and leaving it a burning wreck with a single shot.
This gave the Germans the chance to push rapidly up the road and secure the buildings.
As this was happening the Firefly took up a commanding position in the center of the table covering the advance of one Cromwell in the center and the other Cromwell, with supporting infantry in an M5 halftrack making a flanking maneuver behind.
Various maneuvering on both sides now took precedence for a turn or two along with some MG & indirect fire and . I moved my infantry command and an MG34 into the large building and called in some mortars against the Dingo and Firefly but they had little effect. The Tommy's brought on their Forward Arty Observer and brought a 25pdr stonk onto my troops in the buildings and managed to pin a rifle team. I pulled a chit and unpinned them along with the Pz IV previously pinned.

As things progressed I moved the unpinned Pz IV up into a wheat field to take on the Cromwell and infantry trying the flanking maneuver (on my right). I supported the tank with an infantry section and a panzerschreck crew (but forgot to take photos).

In the center, I moved my remaining tanks up the main road being cautious because of the Firefly. This did attract attention from the tank killer which was on an Ambush Order. Lucky for my it failed to observe once and failed to score a hit a second time. My move caused the Cromwell on the road to redeploy closer to the center.

On my right my Pz IV moved in close out of a wheat field and blasted the Cromwell and sprayed the supporting infantry deployed behind a hedge with it's MG's. The Cromwell was destroyed and the infantry took 5 casualties. Deciding that discretion in the better part of valour they chose to fall back and to minimize their casualties.

Unfortunately, this attracted the attention of the Firefly which sent a round into my tank smashing it to flinders. Some newly deployed infantry in the center with a Vickers MG in support shot up my infantry support but they managed to use their cover effectively and took minimal casualties but they did get pinned. Ach du lieber! 

I managed to bring my MG34's into play as well as my MG42. This resulted in pinning the Dingo, taking out and pinning some infantry including the Vickers.

On my center right my Pz IV's were in commanding positions but I failed to take into account a lone Bren Carrier in a field. This turned out to be a mistake as it was carrying a PIAT. These men moved up, deployed and took aim at one of my tanks which, with a great whoosh and a bang burst into flames. Getting cocky they then took aim at the rear of the next tank but (luckily for me) they missed.
 Vas ist das?
Checking line of sight the big boom drew the attention of my on-board 80mm Mortar. Four rounds of direct fire HE later and the PIAT team were all gone. If they had withdrawn after the first shot they would have escaped notice. Greedy Tommies!

For a turn or two, my tanks had been trying to get a shot at the Firefly but kept failing to observe it. But now my single remaining tank got a clear shot, took aim and took it out with a single shot. With the same action it took aim again and destroyed the Dingo. Well done men.

The RAF Save the Day

Once again, misfortune struck the German attack. Even with the loss of a couple of tanks the situation was looking good for the Germans, but then a roar was heard in the skies above and a Typhoon swooped in and fired a salvo of rockets at the victorious Pz IV. The destruction of the Dingo resulted in Adrien pulling a chit and it was the Air Strike chit. He rolled for it at the start of his next turn and it appeared immediately. Eight rockets fired, two direct hits and the Pz IV was no more.

This pretty much ruined the ability of the Germans to continue. They were not broken and still had  about a third of their Battle Rating remaining but the loss of all their armour put them immediately on the defensive. 

At this point we called the game.

Final Result:

My infantry still held a fairly strong position in the buildings and could most likely have held off a British attack although they Brits could call in some strong artillery to try and pin them. In reality the Brits would either hold their positions or withdraw and call for more reinforcements.  Game wise, the Typhoon was still on the table and armed with bombs which could easily take out my less well concealed infantry if we played a few more turns (but it was getting late).


It was a good game. I like a lot of the rules and really have an affection for the importance and use of comms. Not all games have this and even though it's simple I like having them included. 

One thing that I feel the rules lack is hidden movement. It's easy to say the Observation Rules cover this but they don't. It's too easy to react to something you can clearly see even if your troops are supposedly unable to see it. 

We also decided to make our troops observe before taking speculative fire. Both Adrien and I are former soldiers and we know that troops don't just shoot up an area in the hope that something might be hiding there. Personally, I like the Two Fat Lardie's use of blinds and their rules mechanism for them. I'd like to House Rule them for use in Battlegroup.

Friday, 21 September 2018

My Successor Army is Growing

As mentioned in my last couple of posts I'm currently back to painting up troops for my Successor army. The army is a pretty decent size now. I have 4 units of phalangites of 32 figures each, one medium foot Agema (24 figures), 3 units of thureophoroi (18 figures each), two (or maybe 3) units of euzonoi/javlinmen, two units of Thacians, Cretan archers & Macedonian archers, Macedonian & Thessalonian cavalry and, two elephants.

If I want to,  I can also add about a dozen units of allied Greek hoplites, some cavalry, peltasts & slingers. I've never set them all out on the table, but it will makes up a pretty formidable force if I do.

But I still need more - Especially sarissa (pike) armed heavy infantry. My plan is to make three more units of pike as well a unit of hypaspists. I've also started prepping some Companion Cavalry.

However, I've finished a few more little units recently - My 2nd unit of Thracians and my 3rd unit of thureophoroi. One thing I think I'll need to do is enlarge the Thracian's from 4 bases to 6 bases each.

I also painted up a bolt thrower.

All figures are Xyston 15mm.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Republican Roman Test

I haven't done much worth posting but, as it is, I'm back to painting 15mm ancients at the moment. I've painted up a bunch of phalagites to finish up my Successor pike blocks (they were three ranks deep but I wanted them 4 deep). I also finished up a unit of Thracians foot & Thessalonian horse.

I should take some photos and post them. Maybe when I've done more.

I also painted up a few 15mm Republican Romans that I was given a few years back just to see how they looked. I've been wanting Romans for a while because they fought everyone so they're rarely out of place. I did do some 28mm Cesarean Romans a while back but I decided to sell them as I prefer ancients in 15mm.

Anyway, I painted a few up. They were easy to paint but I wasn't happy with them. The consensus of the Collective Wargaming Mind of Nunawading Wargames Association decided the shields were too plain: and I agreed.

So I did a quick freehand design. It's not the best and I took all of 20 minutes out of my busy day to do them. But they do look better and I'll put more effort into them when I start these guys seriously.
I do have a mixed bunch of Xyston figures to get me going but I've ordered enough to make 2 legions. Looking at various rules it seems 4 bases of Hastati, 4 bases of Principe, 2 of triarii and 6 of Velite/militia constitute a legion. But I'm not convinced. I think double that is probably better. (I don't want crappy little battles. I want battles of epic proportions).