Saturday, 10 August 2019

What a Tanker! - the BKCII variant

After lots of 19thC games of late, which I have greatly enjoyed, I had a hankering for some WWII action. As always BKC is my 'go to' ruleset for this conflict, but I fancied something a little bit different from the norm. After reading an AAR on the Honours of War website, where an all infantry force took on an all cavalry one, it occured to me that an all tank battle might just be the thing.

So I got my little grey cells working and soon came up with a plan for quite a simple game. I did think of using some infantry as part of the scenario, but discounted this as I wanted just AFV's on the table. The broad outline of the scenario and rules can be found below:

NW Europe, August '44. 
The Allies are rushing through Northern France/Belgium on the 'great swan'. They are advancing so fast that they have left their motorized infantry behind, who are mopping up some pockets of local resistance. As they approach a small hamlet by a river crossing, they break out from their column of march and deploy into battle formation, in case it is held by the enemy.

The Germans are rushing any forces they can to try and plug holes in the frontline. Fortunately some much need armour has arrived from the Eastern Front via the railway, and has been sent straight from the train towards the river crossings.

Scenario Encounter Battle - 8 Turns. 
The Objective is to seize and control the bridge crossing.
Use optional Commanders rules from p134 of the BKCII rulebook.
If a command unit is knocked out, another tank in the unit takes over command, but rolls for the CV value straight away:
1-2 CV7
3-4 CV8
5-6 CV 9
Both sides deploy using Mobile Deployment.
The British go first.

The aim of the game was to have fun (as always) and to really see if the game worked well with just armoured forces. So both sides had roughly equal points, based pretty much upon what armour I had available that was painted. I made notes as I went along as it was a solo game, so hopefully the pics and my text will give you an idea of how the game unfolded. So without further ado...

An overview of the table, with the British at the bottom, the Germans the top.

The Shermans have moved off the road just in case there is a nasty '88 lurking up ahead. Note that the yellow die indicate which tanks are the commanders.

The bridge over the river, which is unfordable.

Another bridge, this time scratch builts by yours truly.

The hamlet is nice and quiet at present. It's been quite a while since these Timecast buildings have seen the light of day and i had forgotten how nice they are.

The British arrayed for battle, with the Shermans in the centre and right flank, with armoured cars and light tanks on the left.

The Germans, with 250's on their right flank, Pz IV's in the centre and Stug III's on the left with a Tiget I as their CO.

Turn 1
On the British left, they Honey and armoured cars advanced towards the farmhouse, ready to move off towards the wooden bridge. The Shermans moved out on the right flank and the centre moved up the road to try and rush forward towards the bridge.

The Germans all moved, bar their Tiger I who failed to show. The 250's moved towards the wooden bridge, whilst the PZIV's made for the orchard. The Stug III's advanced, safely hidden from view by the hamlet.

The end of Turn 1.

The British Honey and armoured cars.

The long and not winding road.

The Shermans on the right flank ready to shoot their way into the hamlet if required.

The German advance.

The PzIV's by the orchard.

The Stug III's with their commander in a StuH-42.

Turn 2
As the British right flank advanced, a PzIV opportunity fired at the Shermans, suppressing the command tank. In response, the Firefly returned fire, brewing up the PzIV. Take that Fritz! In the centre, the Shermans advanced and fired down the road. However their shooting was poor (Tiger fear?), but more German opportunity fire from the 250's and PzIV's suppressed the other Firefly and a Sherman.

On the German left, the Stug's moved into the Churchyard and around the hamlet, but were unable to fire and the Shermans in the open. The 250's then Blundered, leading to them leaving the table and out of the game as they had to make a full move backward! The PzIV's moved into the orchard, but were hit by opportunity fire, suppressing some. The Tiger I arrived, but opportunity fire from the Shermans failed to suppress it, but it in return completely missed the Shermans smack bang in the midlle of the road.

The end of the British Turn 2.

The Shermans on the right flank have come under fire.

The Friefly used it's 17 pdr to good effect, but is suppressed.

The amoured cars use the cornfields for some form of cover.

The end of the German Turn 2.

The Shermans on the right flank are somewhat exposed.

The Shermans face the Tiger I in the distance and the PzIV's in the orchard.

The 250's that left the battle and their first outing too.

The Tiger I dominates the road.

The Stug's in the graveyard.

Turn 3
The Shermans on the bridge open fire on the Tiger I, but completely miss it (real Tiger fear!). Other Shermans knock out the PzIV HQ and the replacement HQ in the following phase. In response a Sherman is brewed up and another suppressed. On the left flank the armoured cars move onto the bridge, whilst on the right the HQ tank is knocked out (the new replacement is CV9). The Shermans fire back at the Stug's suppressing them.

The German Turn has little effect, due to suppressed HQ's or failed command rolls.

The end of Turn 3.

The armoured cars in the process of turning the German flank.

Tanks on both sides are burning across the battlefield.

The Stug's suppressed in the churchyard.

Turn 4
The Shermans open up on the Stug's in the churchyard, destroying the HQ StuH-42 and forcing a Stug III back, suppressed. At the bridge, the Shermans and Tiger I exchange fire, leading to the loss of the Tiger I. With so many losses, the Germans wisely decide to withdraw at this point.

The end of Turn 4 and the game.

The Shermans have fire ascendancy.

The Shermans control the bridge as they survey the burning German tanks.

The view from the German side as they prepare to withdraw.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was fun, fast and furious! It pretty much did everything I was hoping for and reminded me of some childhood games with Airfix and Matchbox tanks and simple rules. As always, a few thoughts on the game:
  • The overall mechanics worked as planned and gave a good game. Certainly for a purely AFV clash they worked well. More games will be needed and some different terrain to mix things up a bit to see if any issues crop up.
  • The very open terrain did give that feel of the open Dutch and Belgian countryside. I'm sure a 'Hell's Highway' scenario would work with the rules as written. It has made my hanker after some Western Desert games which again take me back to childhood battles. Too many other projects on the go at present (as always) but you never know.
  • It was nice to get the Timecast buildings out of their box after so long. They are the right size for this 'smaller' game, but I much prefer Leven Miniatures 6mm buildings for my standard games.
  • The beauty of the BKC family of rules is that you can tweak things here and there or bring in bits from previous editions, with out breaking them as a set of rules. I can see why people don't like them due to the C&C system, but for me they never fail to give an excellent game.
  • If time permits, I would love to play an even smaller action (AVBCW/SCW) using Bolt Action II, but first I need to paint up some infantry etc.  I have plenty of spare figures, it's just a case of finding the time and not being distracted from other projects.

With unseasonable weather at present and SWMBO away for a few days, I might try and get in another game, but this time fighting in a BUA using a 2' x 2' table. I tried something similar last year but, having seen Norm's recent AAR, it has inspired me to have another go. My terrain won't be as bespoke as this, but will be enough, hopefully, to give me a  challenging game. Time to get my thinking cap on...


  1. Steve enjoyed the narrative. The blundered 250's and the lost Tiger are good highlights as to how well this rule set delivers dynamic play and enhances solitaire play.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Norm. I love the C&C of the game that is perfect for solo play. In many games the Tiger I would sit there pretty invulnerable, shooting the living daylights out of any Allied tank. The fact that it did brew up shows that they were vulnerable when not in good defensive positions, as many were in Normandy etc.

  2. Tough day for the Germans in this one. Your battle and action report was very enjoyable. While I enjoy the photos and in-action dialog, my favorite part of your BatReps is your post-game analysis. Love it!

    You, Norm, and many others are building a desire to return to WWII gaming soon. I have a few figures on the painting desk now.

    1. Yep, things just didn't go well for the Germans. I was expecting it to be a really tough day for the Brits, with many 'Tommy Cookers/Ronsons' on show. Glad you like the post-game bit, as it allows for reflection and it is something that I love on Norm's Blog too.

      Great to hear that we have been able to inpsire you for some WWII gaming and am really looking forward to seeing your figures and games.