Friday, 21 August 2020

Balkans 1941

With our planned campaign paused and some newly painted armour for it, I decided to have a game of BKCII to give the new toys a run out on the table. I was torn between France 1940, Operation Sealion or Greece 1941 and in the end plumped for the latter as it was viable encounter between the British and Italians.

Both sides had an Infantry Battalion with mixed armour support. The British had Matilda II's, A10's and Vickers MkIV's, the Italians M11'39's, M13/40's and L3/35's. So broadly an even match up but the British did have a small infantry advantage.

Quite a simple meeting type encounter, with the British trying to exit the table and the Italians trying to stop them.

Set in a fertile Littoral Zone, boarded by mountains on one side and the sea on the other. 

An overview of the table, with the British entering from the left, the Italians the right and top.

The Italain left and centre.

The Italian right and flanking force.

The British right.

The British left.

Turn 1
A random die roll saw the British getting to move first, their plan being to cross as quickly as possible over the bridge whilst throwing a flanking force via the ford. The Vickers MkIV's moved swiftly to cross the bridge and took up defensive positions, as the rest of the left flank moved up. The right flank with the Matilda II's failed to arrive.

The Italians plan was to secure the buildings by the bridge and operate a mobile defence. The right flank with the L3/35's and M11/39's pushed towards the buildings but the centre and left failed to appear.

The end of Turn 1.

The British left flank moves forward.

The Italian right flank responds.

The flanking force of L3/35's and AB-41 arrives.

Turn 2
The advance gaurd of the Vickers MkIV's held their positions as the British left flank slowly advanced, with the A-10's making for the bridge. The right flank and Matilda II's arrived, but at a snail's pace as one would expect of Infantry tanks.

The Italian Infantry in the centre arrived, but the 13/40's on the left flank still failed to appear. The flanking force of L3/35's and the M11/39's with their supporting infantry pushed on and reached the edge of the houses by the railroad.

End of Turn 2.

The British right flank arrives.

The slow advance on the British left.

The infantry in the Italian centre push on.

The Italians reach the buildings and begin to occupy them.

Turn 3
With the A10's engaging the Italian M11/39's and knocking one out, the Vickers MkIV's moved over the railway line to try and turn the Italian flank. The Matilda II's and infantry on the right flank continued their steady progress, crossing over the river by the ford.

The M13/40's on the Italian left flank finally arrived, but the infantry in the centre failed to move. As the L3/35's on the flank consolidated their position, the right flank blundered, leading to an infantry unit assaulting the British recce armoured car and knocking it out.

The end of Turn 3.

The British right flank, led by the Matilda II's.

Both sides are engaged in and around the buidlings by the river and railway line.

Despite the loss of an M11/39, the Italian position looks good.

Turn 4
The British left flank moved over and around the bridge to secure the crossing as well as occupying one of the buildings. The Vickers MkIV's moved over the hill on their mission to turn the flank, whilst the right flank carried on its sedate progress albeit aided by the CO.

The Italian M13/40's seeing an opportunity, moved forward an engaged the Vickers MkIV's and Matilda II's, knocking out one of the Vickers. As the infantry advanced in the centre to support the right flank, the right flank with combined arms knocked out an infantry unit and suppressed the A10's on the bridge.

The end of Turn 4.

With targets to their front, the Matilda II's could do with getting a move on.

The action hots up by the bridge, with the Italians having the upper hand.

The M13/40's engage the Vickers light tanks.

The Italian armour helps gain the upper hand.

Turn 5
With gunfire to their front, the Matilda II's and their supporting infantry moved forward and engaged the enemy. The Vickers MkIV's taking advantage of this, retreated form their exposed position without a scratch, despite enenmy fire. On the left flank the firefight continued unabated in the town, but with little effect.

Responding to the appearance of the Matilda II's on their flank, the M13/40's moved and pumped repeated fire into the infantry tanks, managing to suppress tow on the lumbering beasts. On the right flank by the buildings, combined fire saw two more British infantry units knocked out, along with the a10's on the bridge.

The end of Turn 5.

Despite losing a tank to opportunity fire, the M13/40's gave a good account of themselves, suppressing all of the Matilda II's.

The A10's burn by the bridge.

The Italians in control of the buildings by the bridge.

End of Game
At this point I had called the game and gave the Italians a win. Not because of the position of things at the end of Turn 5, but because of several 'phone call interruptions from our home insurance company, after we had found some water leakage under our floor boards. These calls meant I had lost track of things and so it was easier to call it a day rather than plow on with further interruptions

Post Game Thoughts
Aside from the above calls, it wasn't a bad game and it was nice to have some new toys on the table, which I had been meaning to paint for several years. So as always some thought son the game:
  • For a quickly put together game it was OK, but it did all feel a bit rushed. Normally I would set things up the night before and then in the cold light of day, tweak a few things here and there. I didn't have this luxury and it showed.
  • Related to the above I think I had a bit too much terrain, but it's hard to tell due to the premature end of things. 
  • I missed the game being part of a campaign, which has been the main focus of my gaming this year. The actions had no consequences and this felt somewhat unsatifying compared to the narrative a campaign generates.
  • I think I had too much armour on the table, with the infantry largely relegated to a supporting roll. I didn't mind this too much as I wanted to 'blood' my new toys.
  • Not having off board artillery or air support seemed strange, as normally I would have one or the other, sometimes both. I had planned too but the rushed nature of things meant they got left by the wayside.
  • Recce. Even with the new rules in BKCIV, I never feel Recce real works that well. I find I use them in the first few Turns to help get things moving with the CV bonuses if they can get through, but after that I tend to forget about them. I'm not sure what the answer is. Maybe in certain scenarios they are of more use, but I rarely find this the case.
  • One thing the game did do was spur me on to paint up some of those odds'n'sods that I have been meaning to do for years, so that I can have a good core of units with which to game and then add to these as and when required.
Aside from getting things painted, I'm not sure what I want to game next. My friend Keith is developing some Napoleonic rules which I've been meaning to give a run out, which will be a nice diversion from painting WWII kit. As always plenty of options to choose from, so until next time...


  1. Nice looking game Steve, before your comments of ‘too much terrain’, I had thought the terrain was intentionally denser and that the table looked good for that. Those Matilda II’s are a meaty opposition and their hulks look good on the table.

    1. I'm glad you liked the look Norm and I could be wrong about there being too much. It didn't alter the game flow so maybe it was OK. The Matilda II's took a hell of a lot of hits, showing they are tough old beaties. The Italians did well to suppress them. When the Germans get to meet them with their Pz I's and II's it could get interesting...

  2. Steve, having an a Italian blunder move meet success in taking out a RECCE unit was a surprise. With that positive reinforcement, Italians should hope for more blunders.

    When I first saw your table layout,I thought, “that’s a lot of terrain!” For me, having so much terrain, your 6mm units tend to disappear into the terrain in the photo retelling of the action. Still, I always enjoy the visual spectacle of your layout.

    Being a huge fan of HoW, I would enjoy seeing Keith’s Napoleonic rules in practice.

    Good looking in resolving the water leak.

    1. I didn't think the Blunder would end well for the Italians, but fortune favours the 'brave' as they say;).

      The figures are 10mm but even so, with camo etc it is hard to take 'photos and show the story without completely breaking up the game. A point that Jon Bleasdale made before taking a break from Blogging.

      Keith's rules look good but the truth will out once on the table.

      The insurance company are on the case and so far no more water, so hopefully all going in the right direction.

    2. Ah, yes, 10s. Sorry about that!

    3. To err is human and all that;)

  3. Nice looking game's a shame real life intruded to bring it to a premature end! Too much terrain? That really depends on the theatre of operations I guess...if it is D Day Normandy, you really cannot have too much, but I don't know what the Greek countryside is like so can't comment for the Balkans....

    1. Thanks Keith. I tend to use Google maps and books where I can to get an idea of what it might have looked like back then. I didn't do it for this game, hence my feeling of there being too much. I could be wrong of course!

  4. A very nice looking tabletop and always enjoyable to get new toys on to the tabletop. I agree with your thoughts on campaign games generally being more enjoyable or having more narrative to them.

    1. Thanks Peter. I'm already planning my next campaign and just need to paint a few more units before kicking things off.

  5. Looks great Steve, campaigns or linked games certainly give a better game experience.

    1. Thanks stu and completely agree that campaigns give a better game experience.