Sunday, 30 April 2017

Blitzkreig Commander III - a first game AAR with thoughts and comments.

As planned, I managed to get in a follow up game today, based upon yesterdays scenario and forces, but this time using BKCIII. Initially I had thought to use the army lists from BKCII, but I decided to go with those in BKCIII, as there didn't appear to be any glaring errors with the troops at my disposal. The same was true of the scenario, as the Assault one in BKCIII is quite different from that of BKCII.

Some points to note that are different enough in BKCIII to warrant a mention in advance of the AAR:
  • The Italian L3/35 tankettes have the Vulnerable rule, which means they can be affected by small arms fire when within 30cm of the enemy. They also have a longer range with their MGs, now shooting out to 60cm.
  • At least 25% of the Italian troops must have the Veteran special ability, which broadly makes them more durable on the battlefield, but easier to suppress when shot at with opportunity fire.
  • The Russians are all Green, which is the closest I could get to make them similar to Conscript. They are harder to suppress with opportunity fire, but cannot dig-in as per other troops.
  • Mortars and Infantry Guns can now fire smoke.
So onto the game. To keep things consistent, I continued to use my house rules of hits stay on and mortars and infantry guns using indirect fire automatically cause suppression when they hit a unit.

The Russians had to set up 20% of their forces within 30cm of an objective which is placed centrally in the table. I chose to use the bridge over the river as this was close enough to the centre as made no difference. The rest of the Russians deployed in a similar position to yesterday, but with a more all round defensive posture due to way the Italians could deploy. The Italians had to use a mix of static, mobile and flank deployment, which was quite a change and certainly made for a different game from the off.

Both sides arrayed for battle.

The Veteran Italian cavalry and supporting L3/35 tankettes.

The rest of the Italians, with the centre using static deployment and the CO mobile deployment.

The Russians deployed by the objective...

... with the rest in the orchard and pig pen.

Turn 1
As the Italian right flank moved onto the table using flank deployment, they came under fire from the Russian infantry gun, which missed. As the tankettes closed, they came under small arms fire and, being vulnerable,received hits and were suppressed. The centre got off to a flyer, rolling a double 1, which allowed them to advance to the fence line by the cornfield. The CO managed to move his units onto the table as well.
In response, the Russian infantry gun on the left flank penend up once again, but was destroyed as a result of opportunity fire. Not a great start, one which was compounded by the other command units all failing their command rolls.

The Italians advance on all fronts.

The vulnerable Italian tankettes narrowly avoid being destroyed.

The centre has pushed forward, whilst their armoured support lags behind.

Turn 2
On the Italian right flank, the L3/35s destroy two infantry units and suppress another due to increased range and firepower in BKCIII (3 base, +1 for half range, +1 AFVsfor shooting at infantry within 20cms). At the same time, the Russian troops by the bridge are caught in the flank, seeing the loss of an MG unit and the suppression of an infantry unit. In the centre, the Italians shoot at the units along the fence line, but only manage to hit the 45mm ATG. The FAO then manages to call down an artillery strike on the same gun, destroying it. The Italian CO moved his tankettes forward and deployed the infantry gun, which was suppressed by mortar fire. In response the tankettes opened up on the mortar, destroying it.
The Russians had a bad Turn, with their right flank failing, their centre blundering after some desultory shooting and the CO failing his command roll.

The Italians in a good position with the Russians under pressure right across their front.

The Italian veteran infantry and their supporting tankettes have managed to gain the upper hand on their flank due to their combined fire.

The Italians have reduced the Russian along the fence line that are either suppressed or in retreat.

Suppressed by the Italians, the only active Russian unit has to retreat as the result of a command blunder.

Not quite pigs in sh*t, but the Russians aren't in a good place.

Turn 3
This Turn it was the Italians who didn't get any good command rolls, with their right flank, FAO and CO failing. At least the centre managed to get some shooting off, resulting in the loss of another Russian infantry unit. 

At this point I called a halt to the proceedings, as the Russians were in a pretty poor position, once again having lost the heavy support weapons and being close to their break point.

The Italians in all but complete control of the game.

Not much stands in the way of the Italian centre and left flank.

The view from the beleagured Russian positions.

Post Game Thoughts
Even though the game was over pretty quickly, I learnt a lot about BKCIII. So first I'll go into some specifics about this game, and then the new rules in general. 
  •  As with any new ruleset, it will take time to get used to the nuances within the rules. This is certainly true of all of the units and any abilities that they may have. As an example, the L3/35s are much more effective in their shooting, but are rather vulnerable if they get too close to any infantry units. I'm used to having to get them rather close to the enemy to be able to shoot or to be in a positon to pose a threat.
  • The new scenarios are quite, quite different and will take getting used to in terms of set up, the terrain used etc. They also need some clarification in certain areas.
  • I liked the 'Vulnerable' rule, but feel that it should only apply to MG units and not general infantry.
  • Broadly the rules worked well and certainly have a feel like BKCII, which is good.
So now onto the rules in general. Firstly I should point out that I helped with the playtesting and development of these rules, but hopefully I will be able to give an unbiased view.
  • To begin with, I must talk about the elephant in the room. There are certainly some issues with the army lists, but these are being addressed and the guys at Pendraken will sort things in due course, have no fear. 
  • With that out of the way, there are some nice additions in the lists for the Italians, with the L3/35 cc AT variant appearing as well as the L5/21 (Fiat 3000). These were not in BKCII, so I'm happy that they've made an appearance as they allow me more options in terms of scenarios, such as the L5/21s in action in Sicily 1943.
  • The rulebook is beautifully produced and well layed out. There are page references in the text where relevant, making it very easy to find things during the game
  • It comes with a nice card QRS, which is not always the case with rulesets.
  • I really like the Special Abilities that some units have. These will take time to digest, but they hold a lot of promise.
  • Command units no longer have an inherent AA ability.
  • Shooting at aircraft has changed, but I haven't studied this in detail as I've been concentrating on the basics.
  • The Recce actions have been clarified and are certainly easier to understand.
  • The Assault section has been tidied up and is easier to understand, but personally I never had a problem with that in BKCII.
  • There are areas that require clarification, some more than others, but then that happened with BKCII when it was first released.
  • As with BKCII, there are optional rules, which you can take or leave as you see fit.
  • So overall I think BKCIII are a good set of rules. The issues are really to do with the army lists and scenarios, rather than the core rules themselves. 

So there you have it. Will I use BKCIII rather than BKCII? For the moment I will stick with BKCII and import some of the good ideas from BKCIII, such as the special abilities. As I read BKCIII more and get used to the nuances within the rules as I play more games, then I may move over to them lock, stock and barrel. I am glad that I've got a copy of these rules. However this old dog finds it hard to learn new tricks!


  1. Thanks Steve, good to get a comparison so soon after your first game. I suppose the fact that in each game units will pass/ fail their command rolls differently just because of the dice (not the rules), potentially producing a different outcome in the same scenario, upsetting comparisons between sets a little.

    Having regard for the way that both scenarios played out, do you think the Russians need a little light armour help, perhaps a swap out for the 47mm?

    1. Hi Norm,
      the reason I went with identical forces and terrain was to get as good a comparison as possible, taking into the vagaries of the die rolls etc. Hence my being able to see the effectiveness of the L3/35 tankettes shooting, but at the same time their vulnerability to small arms fire.

      In terms of the scenario, I know from experience that a T-26 seems like a Tiger II to tankettes. Now that the Italians have access to their L3/35 Solothurn AT rifle armed variant, this may be less of an issue. Certainly a nice excuse to bung the minis on the table for another game to find out.