Sunday, 29 January 2017

Battlegroup - first game impressions

A few weeks ago, Keith invited me over for a game of 'Battlegroup', using the recently released hardback core rulebook. I had treated myself to a copy of these as a Xmas present so it was the perfect opportunity to give them a run out. So after a bit of bedtime reading  in the week to get to grips with the core mechanics, I set off on a wet and cold Sunday morning to have a bit of wargaming fun in the Cotswolds.

Keith fancied trying out the first scenario from the rulebook, 'Recce Screen', using his lovely Poland '39 forces. The forces were broadly a couple of Platoons a side, with some additional units in support. Due to the nature of the scenario, things would start off small and then build up as reinforcements arrived. So really a perfect scenario to get a handle on things.

The game was played on a 3' x 3' table (more of which later) with a nice mix of terrain and 3 objectives. By chance I ended up commanding the Polish troops, which I was more than happy with, as you've just got to love their tankettes! No detailed notes were kept as a lot of the game was spent making sure we got things right, which broadly speaking we did. However I took plenty of pics which will hopefully give an idea of how the game went.

The Polish deployment zone was the bottom corner by the woods. The farmhouse in the centre of the table was one of the objectives. Looking at the open terrain to the left, I chose to deploy most of my troops along the road and the houses adjacent to it, with a screening force in and around the wood.
The few German troops basically deployed along the road with a small flanking force on their right.
Things got off to a brisk start, with the Polish forces forcing the German crew  to abandon their vehicle after it had broken down in the middle of the road. Both sides pushed their infantry forward to try and dominate the centre of the table. No reinforcements would arrive until the start of Turn 5, so we had to husband out troops to the best of our abilities.
The Poles push forward.
As both sides began to exchange fire, the Poles moved their infantry forward into the farmhouse and the objective, whilst the Ursus armoured car manouevered to get a flank shot, then promptly failed.
The Polish troops are in the top farmhouse, whilst the German infantry lined the wall to the left of the smoking vehicle.
Armed only with a machine gun, the German armoured car wisely retreated, as concentrated Polish fire saw the demise of a German section.
The German 'heavies' arrived in the form of three Panzer II's, which outgunned most of the Polish armour.
The other Panzer II's pushed round the Polish flank to threaten the tankettes.
At least the Poles had a 'heavy' gun of their own in the form of a horse drawn 37mm anti-tank gun, which was by far and away the most powerful gun on the table.
The Polish tankettes respond to the threat on their flank.
Unable to get a shot away, the Polish 20mm armed tankette is quickly brewed up by the Panzer II. German infantry arrive and their combined fire with another Panzer II sees the Polish section in the farmhouse reduced to half-strength.
The Ursus armoured car moves to try and threaten the German right flank.
'Yours truly' using Keith's new toy to check line of sight for the Polish anti-tank gun and remarkably useful it is too.
Through out the game the Germans had steadily been taking casualties, but how badly of course I could not know. When I lost a unit I drew the 'Air Attack' counter quite by chance. This proved to be a turning point in the game. So off Keith trotted to his den to give his Kara bomber its annual outing. I chose as my aiming point the infantry just behind the wall, the little round disc of which can be seen just in front of the right wing.
The deviation and distance roll led to the attack landing right on top of a Panzer II and German mg unit...
... the result of which was one blown up tank and no more mg unit. This loss put the Germans well beyond the breakpoint and so the Poles had won the game.

Post Game Thoughts.
Well for a first game with a new set of rules, I must say they were pretty easy to pick up and a lot of it felt intuitive. Naturally it helped that Keith had played a few games before. So as always some thoughts on points that may be of interest:
  • Rather than giving too detailed a review based upon just one game, I would recommend that you read Keith's review on his Blog. 
  • We both agreed that a 3' x 3' table is really too small for most games, unless you drop down to just a Platoon with a few additional units. A 4' x 4' table is really much better, giving more room for manouevre, deployment, terrain placement etc.
  • I must say that I really enjoyed the game and think that these rules work very well for Company level actions and below. I tried to like 'Chain of Command' and whilst a good set of rules, they just did not give a good game IMHO. For larger scale action I will continue to use Blitzkreig Commander II.
  • The command and control mechanics I liked and work well for solo play. Ditto the way loss of units add a variable amount to the break point. Not cumbersome but enough to give a nice level of 'friction'.
  • Knowing that I will not have to re-base any of my existing units is a great bonus. A few additions here and their for things such as anti-tank rifles and 2" mortars are easilt achieved.
  • I will certainly be picking up the 'Blitzkreig' supplement at Salute as it gives me another option for some early war games and even tweaking for use with my SCW/AVBCW forces. Having to buy a supplement I do baulk at slightly, but the books are superbly produced and are lovely to read. At least the hardback rulebook has lists in it for Canadians and Germans in Normandy, which will cover my late war gaming.

So first impressions have been very favourable. I look forward to trying out some more small games soon as well as reading the rules with the benefit of having played a game.



  1. Thanks, I was most interested in the table size and on checking Keith's blog, he seems happy to use the rules on a dining table. I wasn't sure however whether you were using 15mm or 20mm.

    I did have the original Kursk book and stupidly sold it, but now, several volumes into the series, the 'codex' style of publishing is putting me off to re-entry. I do have the mini basic rule book.

    1. Hi Norm,
      the figures are all 15mm as that is Keith's preferred size for WWII. Dining table sized games are perfectly feasible, with possible adjustments for deployment distances.

      As I understand it, the new rulebook incorporates some amendments to the rules plus clarifies some areas that had caused a bit of confusion before. The big advantage is not only the Canadian and SS lists, which are basic I believe, but a good mix of scenarios.

      Postage is a bit steep at £5.00, but worth checking out at a show if at all possible.

  2. 'Toy'? That's a precision wargaming instrument you were using there. Absolutely indispensable!

    But seriously, nice report Steve. Maybe that Karas will get few more flights in this year!

    1. Let's hope the Karas gets to see some more action as it is a lovely model. Just ordered the 'Blitzkreig' supplement so expect more requests for games from me using your lovely Polish kit.

  3. Steve - Better tha Chain of Command in 15mm?
    I would be interested in your thoughts, as CofC is not giving me the right feel for Late War Germany and I am not a fan of Flames of War. I guess I am looking realism without pages and pages of stats....

  4. Hi Stu,
    I think they do give a better game than CoC and much more fun IMHO. If you bought the rules you get some stats for Canadians and SS as well as a mini-campaign, so not too bad for a Late War intro.

    There are a few quirks, such as no rules for Line of Sight, or hidden units, but these are easily resolved with common sense. There are some annoying typos, which do bug me, but they do not detract from the game.

    I hope to do a more detailed review soon, but if you want more info, just drop me a mail.

    1. Thanks Steve. I ahve some Paypal funds burning a hole in my pocket so I might be tempted. The 15mm WW2 stuff does just not get enough table time.