Monday, 12 August 2019

The Battle for Heimsdorf - a BKCII AAR

With the weather still iffy and a bad back continuing to put pay to any decorating, I was able to have a go at playing a BKC game on a 2' x 2' board, in a mainly built up area, as mentioned in my last post. Luckily I have a 2' x 2' board already for 'The Portable Wargame', so it was simply a case of playing around with some terrain until I was happy with the look and feel of everything. Then it was onto coming up with some forces to play with. 

Given my foray into NWE last game, I decided to stick with this theatre, mainly due to having more buildings for this than Italy, which I was tempted with (think Ortona). With my German infantry painting stalled, it was a case of calling upon my favourite Fallschirmjagers and Stug III's to form the core of the defence. With these soon sorted, it was relatively easy to come up with an opposing British force. The result of my deliberations can be seen below:

Fallschirmjager OOB
1 x CO (CV9)
2 x HQ (CV8)
6 x Fallschirmjager (with Panzerfaust & Panzerschreck upgrades)
2 x MG
2 x Mortar
2 x Pak 36
1 x Pak 38
2 x Stug III 
5 x Gun Pits
6 x Trenches

British OOB
1 x CO (CV9)
3 x HQ (CV8)
1 x FAO (CV8)
12 x Regular Infantry (with PIAT upgrades)
2 x MG
1 x Mortar
1 x Churchill Crocodile
4 x Shermans
3 x 25 pdr Artillery

Scenario 4 - Deliberate Attack
Details as per the rulebook.
Random die roll to see which table edge the British arrive on.
Reserves rule for the British as per CWC & BKCIV.
House rules of hits stay on and units suppressed by unsaved artillery or mortar fire.

I decided to keep the scenario fairly simple, in essence a set piece attack to take the village against dug-in infantry with armoured support. Historically the British would have used an awful lot of artillery in preperation of the attack, but I've found this makes for a bit of a dull game. Therefore I went with an attached FAO just to make things a bit more interesting for both sides. Whether I would regret this decision I would have to wait and see.

My normal house rules were in force, plus I added in the 'Reserves' rule to reflect the British often keeping one or more Company's in reserve, adding them into the battle as required. Having layed the board out, I thought it would be good to randomly roll from which table edge the attack went in from. This way I would not be favouring either side with the terrain I had set up.

Table Layout
The terrain consisted of a largely BUA, with the exception of:
  • Town squares which were classed as open terrain.
  • A hill as normal with the normal line of sight rules.
  • Parks, which had trees in them and counted as orchards for line of sight.
  • Crops and ploughed fields classed as open terrain.

The table viewed from the British table edge.

The British right flank view.

The British left flank view.

A view from the German positions.

The German left flank.

The German right flank.

The British ready using mobile deployment.

Turn 1
A cautious opening turn for the British, as they advanced slowly into the BUA, avoiding the main road in the centre, which was wise as the germans had deployed a Pak38 to cover it. As the Germans had no targets, they held their positions.

The end of Turn 1.

The British push forward either side of a town square. The Shermans make sure they are not getting ahead of their supporting infantry, to try and keep them safe from Panzershrecks or Panzerfausts.

The left flank reaches the field wall.

Turn 2
As the British advance continued, the Germans caught sight of an infantry unit in the town square and opportunity fired on them, leaving them suppressed. The firefight continued in the German turn, with the suppressed infantry unit finished off, but opportunity fire by the British left a German unit suppressed in their trench. A Sherman fired at a Stug III, missing it, but was itself then suppressed and only just surviving brewing up.

The end of Turn 2.

The British left flank and centre in a firefight with the Germans.

The Stug III joins in the action, shooting at the Sherman.

Turn 3
The FAO now having some targets failed to get through to his artillery. On the right flank and in the centre, combined fire sees the Germans lose and infantry and MG42 unit. On the left flank, they advance to the edge of the park and are immediately engaged by the Germans, but niether side is able to gain any advantage. In the German turn, the Stug III's brew up two Shermans, whilst their Pak 36's and Pak 38 fail to hit anything.

The end of Turn 3.

The left flank in the park come under fire from the dug-in Germans,

The British centre and right flank are making head way but have lost their supporting Shermans.

The brewed up Shermans.

At this point I stopped the game as it just wasn't working as I'd hoped it would. So rather than carry on, I thought I'd take stock of things to see if I could make any changes, tweaks etc to get the game I was hoping for.

Post Game Thoughts
I made some notes as I went along of things that occured to me, which I've put down below in no particular order:
  • As the line of sight is very limited (5cm or 10cm), you are suddenly upon the enemy and then straight into combat, as you cannot spot them until then. Having some Recce units may help with this issue.
  • Due to the above, having an FAO is almost pointless, as to be able to call down fire, he has to be so close as to be caught in his own barrage. Pre-planned artillery therefore makes sense, but not smoke as there is no advantage in it due to the already short lines of sight. Even then artillery is not that effective in wearing the enemy down, unless you take an awful lot of it. I'm currently reading 'The Fighting Wessex Wyverns' by Delaforce and was amazed at how much artillery was used to  help shift a couple of Companies from a French village, sometimes even AGRA shoots. Now this is possible in the game, but I don't know if I'd ever want to use it, as it would possibly make it too one sided.
  • The game by the nature of the terrain and only hitting on 6's by its nature becomes very attritional. Add in saving throws for trenches (5+)  or stone buildings (4+) only adds to this. Now I know that fighting in BUA's was very attritional, but I'm looking at it from making it an entertaining and challenging game, for both sides.
  • SMG armed troops, assault engineers with flamethrowers or flamethrower tanks really aid the attacker, due to the above. 
  • For both sides it is hard to support other units due to the very short lines of sight. This was immediately apparent until the fire fights started. This makes planning an attack or defence quite hard, as it's almost one or two units against each other, with it feeling like who gets lucky on the die roll, rather than good tactics etc.
  • Fighting in BUA's works OK in a normal game where you may have one or two villages, so the footprint is much smaller than this game, which was 2' x 2'. Then you can mutually support, try to get flank attacks in etc. Maybe I was trying to be too ambitious and the rules simply weren't designed for this type of game?
  • Despite all of the above I think you could make it work, by tweaking the line of sight to say 10cm for everything, having more broken or open terrain that was classed as Low Area Terrain, some houses classed as Strongpoints, some Trenches etc. I would have to think on this but it might just be possible. The other option of course is to play this type of game with a different ruleset, one that is maybe more skirmish in style? Afterall I want it to be fun, which this game really wasn't.

So what next? Well I will certainly reflect upon the above, re-read BKCIV for some inspiration and maybe re-visit this at some point in the future. Game wise I feel the need for something different as well as getting back to the painting table, now that the weather is cooler. So until next time...


  1. I enjoyed reading your battle report.

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    Take care


  2. What next? I suggest you continue nurturing your ailing back so that you may continue generating interesting BatReps rather than decorating!

    Really enjoyed your post game analysis.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Jonathan, but I do need to finish the bathroom, as I'm half-way through it. Glad you find the BatReps interesting as well as my Post Game Thoughts. Not sure what next, maybe some skirmish games or time to get my wooden blocks out...

  3. Thanks Steve, enjoyed the look of the game, a 2 x 2 is definitely ‘bad back friendly’!

    Really interesting to see how things just failed to give you the game you expected and I would be interested to hear your continued thoughts on the subject, especially as you are so familiar with BKC. Do you think it work better if the buildings were put onto big bases, say 3” x 2” to 4” x 3”, so that they represent a sort of city block type presence and that the fighting might then default to a sort of block by block attack / defence, with them becoming the focal point of attack, to measure gain or loss by.

    1. My back certainly appreciated th compact gaming space!

      Going forward having distinct areas with building/s on it and a mix of open or rough ground would certainly help make it easier to measure gain and loss as you say. I think 4" squares would probably work as that is infantry movement rate as well as spotting distance for AFVs. I need to think on this more, as it would be nice to be able to use BKC for say Stalingrad, Berlin, Ortona etc.