Friday, 12 April 2019

Trains, Planes & Automobiles - a BKCII SCW AAR

Earlier in the year my wargaming chum Dave announced that he would be returning to the Bristol area on April 1st, he assured me that this was not an April Fool's joke. So last week we met up once again and, in between chatting and catching up on stuff, managed to get in a 'The Portable Wargame' game, which was perfect for this sort of occasion. Post game we agreed to have a game of BKCII, as Dave had enjoyed an earlier outing in the SCW. So it was left up to 'yours truly' to come up with a scenario etc. 

Background - NE Spain July 1937
The Nationalists inexorable advance has been continuing unabated during the early Summer months, leading to a threat to the Basque country. Republican forces have been mobilised to move to try and stop Franco and his men. 

An important railroad halt (Yuma) lies in the path of the Nationalists, who realise its importance too. Both sides have therefore sent advanced Battlegroups to try and seize control of it before their opponents. A train is due in at 3:10 local time and is rumoured to have useful supplies of arms and ammunition on board. Due to poor communications, neither side knows which faction the train belongs to.

Scenario Details
This is a basic encounter scenario, over 8 Turns, with the added objective of taking control of Yuma train halt. Both sides use Mobile Deployment and may use Flank Deployment as per the standard BKCII scenario.

The train arrives at the startof Turn 3 and reaches Yuma at the start of Turn 4. At the start of this Turn 2D6 are rolled to see which faction the train belongs to:

2-3 A rival local militia that will fight both sides, attacking the nearest enemy units in their Turn.
4-6 Republican
7-12 Nationalist

The train contains 3 Militia units, an MG unit and one T-26
1 x CO (CV9)
2 x HQ (CV8)
1 x HQ (CV7)
1 x Recce
9 x Infantry Regulars 
3 x MG
1 x Mortar
1 x Infantry Gun + truck tow
1 x 37mm ATG + truck tow
1 x Armoured Car
3 x L3/35 Tankette
1 x L3/35 Tankette with 20mm auto cannon field modification
3 x Panzer 1
1 x CR42 Ground Attack

1 x CO (CV8)
3 x HQ (CV7)
1 x Recce
9 x Infantry Regulars
3 x Cavalry
3 x MG
1 x Mortar
1 x Infantry Gun + truck tow
1 x 45mm ATG + truck tow
1 x Armoured Truck
1 x Trubia Naval
1 x FT-17 (MG)
2 x FT-17 (37mm)
1 x 1-16 Ground Attack

Both sides deployed on their table edges, hoping the die Gods would be kind and allow their troops to advance onto the table. My strategy was to deploy my mobile troops on my left flank, with the aim to advance as quickly as possible to the hill, from where I could bring down mortar fire onto the enemy. The centre would advance towards Yuma, whilst my right flank secured the attack as much as possible. That was the plan...

The Nationalists on the left, the Republicans on the right. In hindsight it should have been the other way round;)

Turn 1
The Republicans won the die roll for Initiative, but failed to make the most of the first Turn, as both flanks failed to arrive and the centre advanced as best it could. In contrast the Nationalists were able to advance on a broad front.

The Republican centre is left with its flanks somewhat up in the air. The Nationalists are in a far better position, especially as their armour has raced forward.

The view from the Republican centre, with their mighty FT-17s raring to go in the first battle.

Panzer Is and L3/35s push forward towards the hill, shielded from enemy view.

Turn 2
Once again the Republican flank forces failed to materialise and a Blunder lead to some of the Centre advancing out into the open. The Nationalists continued their eadvance and were able to open fire on an MG unit in the open, supressing it and forcing it to retreat.

With the Republicans stranded in 'no-man's land', the Nationalists continue to move forward and have positioned armour in Yuma.

Caught in the open and with no visible targets in range, the Republicans suffer.

The Panzer Is ready to advance to the crest of the hill.

The Nationalist left flank in a great position behind the hill but ready to move forward to take control of the train track if required.

Turn 3
As the train arrives on table, the Republican flanks finally arrive, as the centre attempts to take control of the hill. This move is thwarted by poor command rolls as well as the Nationalist armour gaining the hill and suppressing lots of Republican infantry with MG fire.

The Nationalists are now in a strong position.

The Republican infantry are starting to become suppressed from combined fire, with the FT-17s unable to respond due to either lack of range or inability to see any targets.

The Nationalists now have infantry in Yuma.

The train arrives in the distance, with K C Jones at the throttle.

Both sides wonder what the train holds for them.

Yuma train halt awaits the engine.

Turn 4 
As the train comes to a halt, it is revealed the the cargo is Nationalist, just what I didn't need! Shocked by this, only the Republican right wing is able to move. The Nationalists on the other hand continue to consolidate their position, with another Republican unit being destroyed.

The Nationalists surge forwad to greet their suprise re-inforcements.

A gratuitous shot.

The Nationalists well and truly in control.

The Republican centre has taking a bit of a beating.

Yuma firmly in Nationalist hands.

The Republican right flank somewhat outnumbered.

Turn 5
To try and turn the tide, the Republicans call in their air support, which suppresses some troops, but causes no losses. Not to be out done, the Nationalists do the same. The Republicans are pretty much sitting ducks and continue to take losses.

Huzzah for the Republican air force!

The after effects of their raid.

Yah Boo Hiss! for the Condor Legion.

The CR-42s targets.

The end game as the Republican losses really start to mount.

The Republican right flank is still intact, but faces an unenviable advance against the Nationalists.

No an enticing prospect at all.

At this point it was clearly 'game over' for the Republicans, who wisely decied to quit the field of battle.
Post Game Thoughts
Despite it being a decidedly 'one sided' game, I did enjoy it, as did Dave. Once again BKCII proved to be a great and flexible set of rules. Post game we reflected upon the scenario etc:
  •  The Inter-War and Early WWII periods are really great ones to play. It is nice to have some armour on the table, but it doesn't dominate in the same way as say 1944 onwards. Combined arms is very important in these periods and gives the games lots of nice tactical challenges. 
  • Even though both sides were pretty evenly matched, that 1 command point difference for the CO & HQs was very noticeable. The Republicans simply couldn't get going in sharp contrast to the Nationalists. But then this reflects the better led Nationlists in a very simple yet effective way.
  • It was nice to finally get my train onto the table and has spurred me on to try and finish my long planned amoured train. Whether this happens remains to be seen.
  • It was nice to finally get my FT-17s onto the table, even though they did diddly squat all game. At least they looked great though! 
  • The scenario worked well, which was good, even though I was on the end of a complete drubbing. C'est la guerre.
The plan is to have a follow up game, possibly next week, with the Republicans attempting a fighting withdrawl. This is subject to the usual family and work pressures as well as the build up to Easter. I've some ideas on my head, but nothing finalised yet. Until next time...


  1. This was an enjoyable battle report! I think your should have titled this post, "3:10 to Yuma." !

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Jonathan:). I had originally titled it "3:10 to Yuma" but, post game discussion, Dave mentioned the other film title, which I ended up using. Glad you got the reference though. Both the Glenn Ford film and the more modern one are great and well worth watching. Now I've got to come up with a cathy title for the next game...

  2. Great report, lovely eye candy too.

  3. What a clever scenario, was that a 'throw down' game or is it a scenario from the book? either way, the train aspect brought a good dynamic to the game.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Norm:). I'd been wanting to do a game involving a train for quite some time but just hadn't found anything that clicked. Then leafing through my scenario books for some ideas, one layout with a train track gave me the idea for the game.

      Then it was simply the case of converting a standard encounter scenario into one that involved the train, with the random element of what it contained and who they might fight for/against.

      The beauty of knowing BKCII so well is that I now find it, famous last words, relatively easy to come up with forces, scenarios etc that give a nice game. Well they work for me at least and Dave certainly enjoyed himself!