Saturday, 7 September 2019

Welcome To My Salient

So sang Alice Copper back in 1975 (well, he sang something similar). Today I played a game of Battlegroup in 15mm!

I think this is the first time I've ever played WWII in this scale.

The game was put on by Leith at the NWA, Croydon venue. The action took place in the Kursk Salient 1943 using the original Battlegroup Kursk rules. So plenty of armour, big numbers of troops and some weird and wonderful units were the order of the day.

I played the Russians with my former opponent Tom as my ally this time around. We commanded a battalion sized battlegroup from a Guards Tank Corps. We were facing the Germans in the form of Piotr, Jeff & Leith commanding elements of an unidentified panzer division.

All the models and the table were supplied by Leith. And because this isn't 20mm it won't be appearing on my new blog. Because that would just confuse things even more.

Roll many Sixes.
Roll many Sixes.
For the Motherland Roll more Sixes than the Hitlerites
or you will go to the gulag.
And so will your dog.
(from an old Soviet era battle hymn)
Starting Moves:

The table was pretty large - 12' x 4', and we were playing long ways.
The game started, as many Battlegroup games start, with a little recce phase before the main battle. Unfortunately this recce phase only lasted for 1 turn (determined by a 1d6 roll). So not much happened. So I, Colonel Ivan Hemminksikov. moved our units on the board and that was about it.

We moved into the center. Put a sniper into a house and moved our armoured car to the center crossroad. It was only later in the battle that 2IC, Major Tomazs Tomazsivich realized that we had forgotten to deploy our second armoured car and light recce tank.
 Anyhow, the Hitlerites moved onto the battlefield first and like the facist cowards that they are they lurked around the back and hid from sight.
Unlike our brave Soviet troops who moved boldly into action to crush the Hitlerite menace and wipe them from the face of the world!
Pardon me (we had an NKVD officer so we must be seen to be good Soviets... Or else!).

I, Ivan Hemminksikov moved infantry with some armour support on the left. Tomazs Tomazsivich moved his armoured company with tank riders to the right. We also moved our on board artillery - a Katushya battery onto the table ready to do some hard hitting.
 Onward Soviets. Onward to victory!

Meanwhile the Hitlerites moved onto the battlefield. Like maggots crawling around the carcass of a swine they moved their inferior tanks into position.
The first attempt to call in an artillery stonk was called off due to inaccuracy (see the little spotter-round marker in the middle of the table.)

So our brave troops continued to move forward to repel the Hitlerite menace. We had plenty of orders to use and plenty of reinforcements to bring on. Our main tactic was to use infantry on the left where the terrain was more closed and armour on the right where the terrain was more open. We also moved the second T34 company on to the right as a reserve.
Following the failure of the first artillery stonk the forward observer knew that his future well being was on the line and that he'd better pick up his game. And this time he did well.
This time Comrade Stalin's Organ really gave the fascist invader a good rogering.
Twelve dice: 2 direct hits and 8 pinning hits. Two Pz III's took the direct hits and both were destroyed. Four other units were pinned. Unfortunately a Panther and Marder II were unaffected.

A second stonk from a 120mm mortar battery virtually in the same area resulted in more pinned units and an SdKfz 251 being abandoned by it's crew. Great work by our brave Socialist Artillerists! No gulag for you!

Unfortunately things started to go south from here.
The Hitlerites Strike Back!

Onward Brave Soviets! We moved further on to take up defensive positions. My brave, and loyal comrade; Tomazs Tomazsivich, took another one of our objectives and move his armour up to destroy the invader and drive him from our land. Only a single platoon of Pz IV's faced him. Until a troop of Tigers crested the heights opposite.

 "Take that little green objective Tomazs Tomazsivich.
Take it for the Motherland!"
Meanwhile, I took a much deserved quick break after patting myself on the back for my fantastic artillery efforts and ordering the capture of yet another objective, for which I think I deserve a medal. I returned to find that my subordinate, Tomazs Tomazsivich had lost three tanks to the Hitlerite shooting. One of them was one of mine! He will be breaking rocks in Siberia before this day is out.
Things only got worse. A Panther leading the thrust on the main road targeted the Forward Artillery Observer's vehicle and sent an armour piercing shot into it, instantly killing the FO and his driver. This didn't seem so bad until it was determined that he was the only Soviet officer able to call in artillery. The others were only rated as Mortar Spotters.


The katushya's were once again loaded & ready to fire but we had no one to call in their shots. I can only blame my subordinate Tomazs Tomazsivich for this oversight. As second-in-command it is his duty to remind me that I have forgotten to do important things.

One bonus for us was that the chit I drew for the dead FO was the Breakdown Chit and we played it on the Panther that shot up the FO.
 Look at the dirty Fascist dogs. Moving up and killing brave soldiers of the Motherland. 
So we continued to move up. We moved some heavier armour up to deal with the Fascist Menace but both of us were hopeless when it came to hitting anything. I moved a T34 onto the left flank with the intention of shooting up some infantry in the open. I missed. A Pz IV moved up in support and...
The Hitlerites obviously didn't suffer the same problems as they continued to knock out our tanks in the center and on both flanks.
More mortar stonks did nothing. They chewed up orders for no value whatsoever. I maneuvered tanks in the center and they missed their targets. Apparently, Tomazs Tomazsivich killed some enemy armour but this will not save him from the gulag. He is doomed and I fear that I will be the one who has to report him for his failures.
The troop of Tiger's on the hill took up a commanding position with very good fields of fire. Our T34's had a hard time dealing with them due to their frontal armour. Our 76mm guns were not up up to the task of taking them out.
It was late in the day and I sent my infantry on the left into the wheat fields towards the enemy and then, in what I can only describe as an act of pure tactical brilliance, I ordered an SU122 to move up onto the high ground and take on the Tiger troops. This saw the DESTRUCTION of one of the mighty metal monsters. And I, Colonel Ivan Hemminksikov, deserve a medal.

And Tomazs Tomazsivich should be relieved of command and deserves to go to the gulag.

Here ends my report.

The game ended due to time. We added up our BR Chits and deducted these from our Battle Ratings. The Germans ended up on 102 BR points and the Soviets on 98 BR. So it was a minor victory for Jeff, Piotr and Leith. Really, our battle rating would have been worse if we hadn't drawn the Breakdown chit.

This was a far larger game that I've played using Battlegroup. I did enjoy it but I'm not sure I'd play games of this size very often - Especially with my own 20mm kit  because it would just be too big. But I can see a company sized game in 20mm being interesting.

Using Soviets was interesting. They have a lot of units and trying to coordinate them is tricky. They can very easily end up getting in each others way. If the German commanders had more dedicated artillery assets they could have caused some serious carnage to our infantry.

We had plenty of banter and laughs during the day and the final shot that resulted in brewing up the Tiger was unexpected and pretty funny: "You need to roll a 6. A SIX!" - "You need another 6 on two dice: A SEVEN!"

Thank you to everyone for a great game. I have absolutely no idea what was happening on the German side of the fight and look forward to reading Leith's take on the battle. I know that I've got half the facts out of order and the other half completely wrong. But this is pretty close to the events of the day. This is the official Truth according to Pravda.

P.S. And remember, my friend: If you disagree with "the Truth" you might find yourself airbrushed out of history!.