Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BGPG - Armour Clash

It seems fitting that the first AAR posted here should be one from the opening day of Barbarossa. The scenario, “Armour Clash,” was adapted from the Skirmish Campaigns' scenario book “Russia '41 – Drive on Minsk”. We played on a 6x4 table with 15mm minis and used the excellent Battlegroup Panzergrenadier Version 2 rules with some house rules added in. Check these three links if you wish to see a review of BGPG V2, a detailed example of play, and the house rules.

Armour Clash is a meeting engagement with lead units of the veteran German 3rd Panzer encountering advance elements of the inexperienced Russian 22nd Tank Division sent to intercept. The terrain is not tank friendly with an alternating series of low ridges and gullies, with gullies and woods being Difficult Terrain (Bog Check for vehicles). The German setup area is near the west end and the Russian near the east end. The objectives and victory point conditions were supposed to be secret from each player. However, there was just two of us playing tonight so instead of moderating I played one side and therefore knew all the secrets. The German secret objective was to exit 4 AFVs off the east side of the table by the end of Turn 10. The Russian secret objective was to exit 2 AFVs off the west side. Achieving an objective earns 5 victory points and every enemy KIA earns one additional point, with highest total points the winner. My initial feeling was that this was going to be a German cakewalk and therefore be pretty historical. It turned out to be not quite a cakewalk, but still pretty favourable to the German.

Tim M. and I diced for side, Tim winning German and I the Russians. Tim brought a bag full of Russian military hats he had collected so we had to try them on. He thought his grey hat was perhaps a border guard hat. I really liked the huge peaked cap I tried on and Tim thought it might be a dress parade hat for the air force.

We both secretly marked our initial deployments down on paper maps and then placed our units on the table. Hidden deployment was not used for this meeting engagement. We presumed that advance scout patrols had reported in.

Tim's German Force (Hauptmann Mueller):

Battlegroup HQ + Truck (+2 bonus on initiative roll)
Company Commander + Kubel
4x PzIIC Recon Light Tank Plt (3x + 1x command)
2x PzIIIg Medium Tank Plt (1x +1 command - on Turn 2 west edge)
2x SdKfz 222 Recon Armoured Car (1x + 1x command)
Recon Motorcycle Plt (1x squad + 1x command HQ)
Recon Schutzen Team (1x squad + 1x SdKfz 251/1)

My Russian Force (Kapitan Chappevich):

Battlegroup HQ + Truck (no bonus on initiative roll)
Company Commander (Kommissar)
Infantry Plt (2x squads + 1x command HQ – one squad can start hidden in the neutral area)
3x T-26 Light Tank Plt (2x +1x command)
3x T-26 Light Tank Plt (2x +1x command)
2x BA-6 Armoured Car Plt (1x + 1x command – on Turn 2 south-east edge)

Game Start:

Turn 1: Tim won the initiative roll on Turn 1 and the Germans went first.

Hauptmann Mueller moved all of his main force over the first ridge line and kept his armoured cars to the south to cover his flank, ending the German turn. It looked like he might go for the northern route to the west table edge. For the Russian turn, as Kapitan Chappevich, I was really wishing for a module or two of artillery support to catch the enemy massed behind the ridge. One of my T-26 platoons took up hull down positions on the east ridge and the other in the south moved up between the east and centre ridges screened by the woods to try and catch the German armour in a cross-fire. My strategic plan was to hold the south T-26s back and then after the Germans bypassed them on their way to the east table edge, I could race them west and exit them for the 5 VP. My plan didn't survive to fruition.

Turn 2: The German continued with initiative in Turn 2. Hauptmann Meuller got a nasty PzIIIg plt for reinforcements and then advanced his main force toward the north gap around the gully and into LOS of the T-26s on the ridge, betting their small size aspect and poor DRMs from the Russian gunners defensive firing out of arc inside their single-man turrets would minimize the damage. The good thing (for me) was these Russian gunners got incredibly lucky with 11 and 12 rolls which brewed up one PzII and caused another to retreat with suppression and damage!

The bad thing was that the A/C222 Plt moved up to the centre ridge line and the combined A/C222 and PzII return fires suppressed two T-26s hull down on the east ridge line, ending the German turn. On the Russian turn the remaining unsuppressed T-26 withdrew behind the east ridge and the south T-26 plt moved up and fired at the exposed M/C plt, wrecked one squad's motorcycles, and forced the squad + LMG to dismount suppressed. In the Rally phase the damaged PzII and one of the T-26s rallied but the other T-26 and the M/C squad failed and remained suppressed.

Turn 3: The German won initiative again, and moved the PzIIIs up to the first ridge line in hull down positions and fired on the eastern T-26s (missed – whew!). The A/C 222 plt came north and positioned hull down to gain LOS on the south T-26 plt but their fire missed as well. The PzII fire before moving smoked one T-26 on the ridge and suppressed the other (the yellow bead is not visible). Then the PzIIs, halftrack, and one M/C squad continued their advance along the north table edge and the C.C. in his Kubel moved over to help rally the suppressed M/C squad + LMG. All the defensive fire by the Russian was ineffective.  End of German turn. My Russian turn had the south T-26 plt holding in position and firing at long range which adds additional negative mods so was pretty ineffective (Hindsight is a wonderful thing – I should have moved the south T-26 plt right to the woods edge – out of LOS from the centre ridge line forcing the enemy to move in the open into defensive fire). In the Rally phase only the German M/C squad rallied.

AAKKK! Big head slap! I forgot to bring on my A/C BA-6 plt reinforcements in Turn 2! Tim and I agreed that they could be placed behind the east ridge line mid-way across the table as if they had come on in Turn 3.

Turn 4: German initiative continued. Hauptmann Mueller gave orders to the PzIIIs to move up to the centre ridge line hull down and paste the enemy T-26s to the south. They missed! The A/C 222s were ordered to move north and join the main force but rolled snake eyes on the movement roll, meaning a Bog Check for all. One passed and fired with a miss before moving, but the other got stuck for a turn with no fire allowed. The German main force continued east along the north side, the loaded halftrack reaching right to the eastern gully unscratched by Russian defensive fire from the lone T-26. However, the BA-6's firing from long range AGAIN rolled an incredible 11 and a 12 against the advancing PzII plt, brewing up one and causing another to retreat suppressed! What great shooting from those green Russians! As a bonus, the rest of the German fire was ineffective and the German turn ended. All of a sudden it looked pretty good for the Russian side. Two PzIIs KIA, another one damaged and one more suppressed, with only one T-26 gone. All I needed now was to pull the south T-26 plt toward the woods and out of LOS of those nasty PzIIIs. So of course I rolled snake eyes on the activation losing all my CPs, plus lost the initiative roll after thus ending the Russian turn leaving the T-26's exposed! Ouch! In the Rally phase neither the T-26 on the ridge nor the PzII rallied.

Turn 5: The German maintained the stranglehold on initiative. Their first order of business was to smite the now terribly exposed south T-26 plt with the heavy PzIIIs on the ridge. This is where it began to go south for the Russian. One brew up and one retreat with damage! Then the PzIIIs moved north-west toward the main force. The A/C 222s followed up this blow with a direct charge against the remaining T-26 to get into close range, who was obviously rattled and completely missed his defensive fire. After moving up, one A/C222 missed with snake eyes, earning a blue low ammo marker, but the other A/C 222s didn't miss and the last T-26 was lucky to get away with just a retreat. Then the M/C squad + LMG moved to the mid-line gully to be joined by their command HQ who dismounted there and consolidated on foot. No further movement by the north main force was attempted to avoid triggering defensive fire from the BA-6s and T-26. Fortunately for the Russian, the German fire from the damaged PzII on the T-26 was ineffective, ending the German turn. On the Russian turn, I moved the BA-6s closer into effective range. Luckily, the defensive fire was ineffective, but so was all the Russian return fire. Then the Russian infantry plt commander in the south woods was ordered to move up next to the nearby suppressed T-26 in the south plt to aid its rally chances, ending the Russian turn. In the Rally phase, the T-26 rallied but the other T-26 nearby stayed suppressed, as did the T-26 on the ridge which seemed only interested in staying suppressed. The only consolation was the PzII didn't rally either.

Turn 6: The Russian wins initiative! The lone unsuppressed T-26 in the south plt fires at an A/C222 and misses, then reverses behind the trees, dodging defensive fire from the A/C222s. The nearby Russian infantry plt commander runs over to the other T-26 to help rally it but is suppressed by fire from the PzIIIs. Fire from the 2 BA-6s and the lone T-26 fire misses the halftrack, but does destroy the damaged PzII! End of Russian turn. The armour force behind the east ridge is holding! Things seem to be picking up a bit for the Russian!

The German turn started out fairly benignly. The C.C. in his Kubel activated the halftrack which passed his Bog Test through the gully, evaded defensive fire from the T-26, and moved to the base of the hill. And the C.C just moved over to contact the suppressed PzII and help his rally chances. Then in a bold surprise flank attack, Hauptmann Mueller ordered the A/C222 plt to suddenly move east right up to the east ridge line into hull down positions behind the BA-6s and the lone T-26! Arrg! One BA-6 missed on defensive fire, but despite the bad DRMs for being out of arc, single man turret, small, fast target, the other BA-6 managed a great shot and caused one A/C222 to retreat damaged. But the other A/C222 bagged a BA-6 in return. Ouch! Since the Russians now had no defensive fire capability left, the already-fired PzIIIs moved quickly east to take a position near the burnt out PzII and in LOS of the last BA-6 and T-26.  The M/C infantry plt moved east, heading toward the easternmost gully, and the German turn ended. In the Rally phase only the last PzII rallied. The suppressed Russian infantry plt commander in the south rolled snake eyes to become dispersed. Sheesh!

At this point I kind of slipped up in the game tracking since I forgot to get a photo after Turn 6.

Turn 7: The German won initiative so got to act again immediately and continue the slaughter. Without moving any units to trigger defensive fire, the A/C 222 on the ridge fired and destroyed the unsuppressed T-26 and the PzIIIs fired as well, destroying the remaining BA-6 but missing the suppressed T-26 on the ridge. OK, a sudden wipe-out! Check out the shattered Russian armour!

With no further threat of defensive fire the last PzII moved east to beside the PzIIIs. And the loaded halftrack moved over the hill and exited the east edge untouched! The M/C Plt also moved east into the last gully and the C.C. in his Kubel moved part way toward the suppressed A/C 222 to help him rally, ending the German turn. On the Russian turn Kapitan Chappevich finally concluded the main German force was heading for a breakthrough at the northeast edge at the hill so ordered his C.C. and a squad guarding that sector to move north to a last ditch blocking position behind the hill. The south T-26 attempted to individually activate without a leader, but rolled low with no CP help available from the HQ. The Russian turn ended and no units rallied in the rally phase.

Turn 8: German wins initiative again. The C.C. and Kubel moved to the suppressed A/C222, the M/C plt moved east to the base of the hill. After moving east to the last gully, the PzIIIs and PzII fired at the last T-26 on the ridge, miraculously only managing to cause it to retreat. The A/C222 on the ridge stayed to protect the other A/C222 from the south T-26s while it rallied, ending the German turn. Kapitan Chappevich, in desperation, activated a hidden infantry squad in the woods on the middle ridge and attempted to rush them into close combat with the suppressed A/C222 and C.C. However, a poor movement roll stopped them short. The south T-26 advanced toward the A/C222 on the ridge, but was suppressed by its defensive fire. Depleted of Russian CPs Kapitan Chappevich could not help his C.C. on a low activation roll so the squad and C.C. could not continue to move north behind the hill for a better blocking position, ending the Russian turn. No Russian T-26s rallied in the Rally phase but the A/C222 with the C.C. rallied (The photo shows it incorrectly still suppressed but it was not suppressed next turn since it moved then so we must have forgotten to remove the yellow bead or to apply the C.C. DRM and it actually passed???).

Turn 9: German initiative again. The M/C plt moved up into hard cover behind the hill crest line into LOS of the exposed Russian squad that missed with defensive fire. The M/C squad + LMG fire dispersed the Russian squad. The PzIIIs and last PzII whacked the nearby T-26 into oblivion and then made a dash for the hill. Two made their Bog Checks as they raced through the gully, but one PzIII bogged down there, suppressed and damaged. Then the damaged A/C222 and C.C moved east so the C.C.'s Kubel was atop the last ridge and the A/C222 near the end of the east gully. Not sure why the other A/C 222 didn't move???? Maybe he was having a schnapps break! That ended the German turn. There were no Russian actions in the Russian turn. All remaining units of potential use were suppressed. In the Rally phase the only good thing was that both remaining south T-26s rallied, one with boxcars making it Battle Hardened (+1 dice roll for all dice rolls)! It is a race for the finish now that Russian resistance has collapsed.

Turn 10: Hauptmann Mueller won initiative and exited a PzIII and a PzII off the table. But the A/C 222 plt got a poor movement roll so the one at the gully could not exit through the woods and just ended near the north east hill. The other A/C222 on the ridge just moved off north. The C.C. & Kubel moved off the ridge to the north as well. The M/C plt moved up to the crest line and suppressed the Russian C.C on the hill, ending the German turn.

On the Russian turn, the Battle Hardened T-26 was promoted to commander by Kapitan Chappevich on a good die roll. Then the new T-26 commander activated the other T-26 and the infantry squad. To try and get one more VP with a KIA, the T-26 commander decided to try for the east ridge top and a final shot. A last gasp of dedication to hopefully ward off the Kommissar's bullet for cowardice in the face of the enemy. Boxcars were rolled for movement, giving one more dice which was also a 6! 18 inches movement! All moved to the ridge top. Pardon the blurry picture...

The damaged T-26 fired at the easternmost A/C 222 and missed, the other fired at the A/C222 by the Kubel, suppressing it as shown in the photo. Then realizing the Battle Hardened +1 mod should be added in, the suppression was upgraded to a retreat. The infantry fired on the Kubel, dispersing it and causing the C.C. to dismount suppressed, ending the Russian turn. Rats! No KIAs. In the Rally phase the Russian C.C., the German C.C., the retreated A/C222, and the bogged PzIII all rallied. Since the Russians had lost 8 units, more than half of their force, a Battlegroup Withdrawal Test was required in the Rally phase which they passed otherwise it could have been a game stop with an automatic German win. Therefore the game ended because Turn 10 was finished.

Tallying up the score: Neither side achieved their objective for 5 VP but the German was close. So just 1 VP for each KIA. The Germans got 8 KIAs so 8 VP and the Russians got 3 KIAs for 3 VP. A hefty German win!

I think a contributor to the Russian demise was leaving the south T-26 plt to slug it out in the open with the hull down PzIIIs and A/C222s. But the real turning point was the bold A/C222 plt charge to the east ridge that caught the BA-6s and T-26 out of arc and took all their defensive fire so the PzIIIs could move up and crossfire them. Well played Hauptmann Mueller!    Moreover, this battle which was almost all armour vs armour seemed to work very well with the BGPG rules, which I already appreciated as being great for infantry battles.

There are a couple of things to think about for the next scenario, like perhaps a variable ending. Also this scenario yielded a historical German result that could easily have been even more one-sided. If the last PzIII hadn't bogged or the easternmost A/C222 had a better movement roll and didn't bog down in the woods, the German would have achieved the objective of exiting 4 AFVs for 5 more VP and the score would have been 13 to 3, which seems too much of a blowout. But I'm not sure how much my tactical error contributed to the German effort (not placing the south T-26 plt near the woods out of LOS). Or with their inexperienced tank crews, single-man turrets and poor long range accuracy would they have quickly lost the slugfest anyways. So do I add another Russian unit, like maybe a 45mm A/T gun? Also I'm not sure if the awarding of victory points is balanced. Is one VP per KIA is the best? Maybe as Tim suggested it should be 2 Russian VP for each German unit KIA'd? Or 2 VP for every 3 German units KIA'd? Hmm...

Regardless, it was all good fun and stay tuned for the next scenario in the campaign “Defending Kobrin” which should be played in early November. - Gary

Thursday, October 17, 2013


This kick-off post is to welcome all to the site! The plan is to post AARs of miniatures wargames played by our local wargaming group here in Saskatoon. Stay tuned as the AARs will begin soon!