Friday, 21 January 2022

Operation Cygnet - a BKCII Campaign

With the start of a New Year and with the family soon to depart back to Uni and to work, my mind turned to organising a simple solo campaign to be played at my leisure. As with these things there were plenty of options available, but in the end I chose a sort of 'Operation Market Garden' as it was quite some time since my WWII toys had graced the table.

Campaign Mechanics
I chose to use one of the Warplan 5/5 maps as the basis for the terrain generation and movement, as most of the work had been already been done on this front. Also it had the added advantage that each square could equate to a 4'x4' board, which has become my default board size for games these days. Movement on the map would be quite simple, with all units moving one map square per campaign Turn, except for Recce which could move two. The whole campaign would be very much narrative driven, but have an overall objective.

I wanted to try and add in some more detail than my previous SCW campaign, just to see how easy it was to do and how much it brought to the table. In this respect I decided to use the weather board from Charles Wesencraft's superb Practical Wargaming book to bring a bit of unpredictability to say availability of air support, how far units could see etc. 

A must for every wargamer IMHO.

As I would be playing the British, I wanted some simple way to generate an enemy, but without me knowing what and were they were. To this end I went down the counters route, with units written on them but deployed upside down and only revealed when spotted by the British. Amongst these would be some blanks too, to add another level of uncertainty. Some units would be deployed at the start of the game whilst others would arrive on random board edges by a standard D6 die roll.

One thing that has never really worked for me has been the Recce rules in BKC stable. Quite by chance one evening I picked up a copy of Battle Group Panzer Grenadier by DCR Brown. This I had bought some years ago after a chat with Jon, one of a group of friends/gamers that meet up now and then, very cheaply off ebay. Not having given it more than a cursory glance I was not only was struck by how similar the current 'O' Group rules seem (well they are by the same author afterall) but how many good ideas they contain within their pages. So after a few read throughs I decided to try the rules for Recce, Ambush/Concealment and random Air Support, again another issue that I had wanted to tackle. They look to be good but the truth will out I'm sure once the campaign gets under way.

These I picked up for about £5.00 and are worth every penny. Thanks for the recommendation Jon!

Background Fluff
So with the broad mechanics sorted, the narrative was the next on the list, which was quite easy to do, given the campaign is inspired by 'Market Garden. A British Battlegroup is advancing forward towards an objective of securing a bridge over a river to allow the advance to continue forward. Having broken through the light German defensive crust, the Germans are rushing units to the area to support those already deployed.

British OOB
3 x Recce units
1 x Infantry Battalion - A, B, C & D Coy's, each with attached Sherman Sqdns
1 x AVRE troop
1 x 25 pdr Battery
1 x Air Support - Typhoon

German OOB
1 x Fallschirmjager Battalion -1st, 2nd, 3rd & Heavy Weapons Kompanies, plus Assault Engineers
1 x Heer Kompanie in half-tracks
2 x Volksturm Kompanies
1 x Panzer Schule with Pz III & early Pz IV
1 x Pz IV kompanie
1 x Stug III Battery
1 x Schwere Kompanie (Tiger I & Elefant)
1 x 105mm Battery
1 x Nebelwerfer Battery

The main objective is to secure the bridge crossing in square 8 and then the BUA in square 3.
Insert map image. British units will arrive via squares 22, 23 & 24. German units will start in squares 12 & 19, with possibly one other square to be decided upon.

The Warplan 5/5 map that the action will take place over.

Next Steps
Well with everything pretty much set up, it remains for me to kick things off in earnest. Real life has prevented the start that I had hoped for a few weeks ago, but I'm hoping to make the first map moves this weekend. Nothing is set in stone so there may be tweaks along the way but I hope nothing too drastic! I'm really looking forward to playing this  and hope to post some update soon.

So until then stay safe and keep healthy.


  1. Oh, this looks very interesting. Wesencraft's book is a classic. His "With Musket and Pike" is one of my favorites.

    1. Thanks Jon and let's hope it lives up to my expectations. Wesencraft's P&S book is brilliant and deserves to be more widely known and appreciated.

  2. Steve, look forward to his playing out and in particular you ‘admin’ phases to manage the campaign. Interesting to be reminded of the Battlegroup - Panzer Grenadier rules, I had forgotten that they had been written with 15mm and 20mm in mind. it will be interesting to see how his Recce rules perform and how he has tinkered with them on his journey to the ‘O’ Group design.

    1. Thanks Norm and I too am looking forward to the opening moves before they hit the table as it were. Until reading about 'O' Group I hadn't twigged he'd done a WWII ruleset before. Fortunately the rules are easily transferable to BKCII.

  3. Sounds like an interesting campaign Steve.

    My uncle George won the Military Medal in the advance towards Arnhem. Sadly, all the family who knew any more details has passed away years ago. ☹️

    I too have a copy of Wesencraft’s Practical Wargaming. Like you, I have the “original” hardback from the 1970’s, but I know it has been reprinted as part of John Curry’s History of Wargaming project. I do love old books.

    Good luck with the campaign. I look forwards to further updates.
    Naturally, I’m rooting for the Brits.

    Take care & keep safe,


    1. Thanks Geoff. I only found out fairly recently that some family relations were in the War, with one in the Desert Rats. If only I'd known at the time it might have made for some fascinating conversations.

      You can't beat original copies of classic books as they are much, much better than re-prints and often cheaper!

      Fingers crossed for the Brits!

    2. The hardback originals of these classics are far superior to the cheaply produced reprints.

    3. They are also a nice size and have a good weight to them, so are nice to hold in the hand. Also there's that nice second hand book smell to them.

    4. Ah, yes. Secondhand book smell…

  4. Great stuff again Steve..really looking forward to this, as I thoroughly enjoyed your Seelowe campaign in the West Country some time ago.

    1. Thanks Keith and let's hope this can entertain as much as the Seelowe campaign.

  5. Good luck! Looks really interesting but it is always a challenge to meld campaign mechanics with battlefield mechanics, especially if the latter are from a few different rulebooks. But sure you can make it all work.

    1. Thanks! I've played out the first 3 campaign moves and have kept things pretty simple, going with a more narrative approach and thinking what would most likely happen in each situation etc. As it's solo this works fine for me but would need a lot more work to run with other people.

  6. I always found BPG to give a good experience, the scenario books are also great for encounters, using the East Front one and adapting it for my modern stuff.
    Great post Steve.

    1. Thanks Stu and I'd forgotten about the scenario books, which might be worth checking out:)

  7. Steve, a couple of Qs (and apologies if I have missed this anywhere): what scale is the campaign map, and how much real ground do the individual battles cover?

    And one request if I may - would you be able to add an Op Cygnet tag to all the campaign posts; just makes it a bit easier to find them when I am tracking back?

    1. The campaign map has no scale per se that I know of, so you can adjust it to something to suit your requirements. I stand to be corrected of course! For this campaign I'm assuming that each campaign square equates to about my 4' x 4' table, which is approximately 2.5kms x 2.5kms (1.5m x 1.5m).

      I'll see if I can add new tags, which is something for me to bear in mind for future campaigns, which is a good call.