Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Battlegroup - Game 2. Pushing the offensive.

Game 2 was designed to play around with a different scenario and see if it is solo friendly without needing some kind of AI controlling a side - I just tried to play each side as fair as I could. It was pretty fine. It was also meant to practice AP aimed fire, and mortar fire. I think I have the hang of infantry fire, and general fire for suppression.

Last game the German forces fell back a few hundred metres and managed to set up a couple of important MG teams to prevent the Americans advancing further without tank support. The tanks are, however held up and so the American commander decided to halt the advance and wait for further armoured support. This impromptu campaign has zero preparation or planning from me so the forces in this game are going to be recorded and then taken further next game. Any losses will impact what happens. 

In the Attack/Defend scenario, both forces start with a handful of units on the board. Attackers have a strip on their table edge with three units in (plus any recon units, again of which I have none). From turn 3 onwards they get 1D6 worth of units entering at the edge. Defenders begin with recon units and 2D6 worth of units in the middle third of the table. No recon and a low dice roll meant the Germans only had 4 units in their weak defensive line - the Platoon commander, a grenadier squad, an MG42 team and an MG34 team. There is also a preliminary bombardment that means 1D3 of units begin the game pinned - I rolled 2. 1D3 of units may also begin in ambush - I rolled 2. So I have a pinned commander and grenadier squad along with two MG teams set in ambush. 

The Germans are bringing a full platoon to the battle. #
1x Platoon command at the back there.
3x Grenadier squads of 5 men.
3x MG34 teams in the foreground.
2x MG42 teams on the right.
2x blurry Panzerschrek teams and 3 StuG IIIs in the back.
There are two officers - on in Platoon command and one in the StuG command vehicle. Both have officer and while the infantry command has the artillery spotter ability the StuG commander has the mortar spotter ability - neither are useful for the Germans as they have none of that in this game.

US forces:
1 Full infantry platoon consisting of:
1x Command squad of 5 men. They are an artillery spotter also.
3x Rifle squads of 7 men.
3x BAR squads of 5 men.
2x .30 cal MMG teams
1x 81mm mortar team.
1x Bazooka team.
3x M4 Shermans - one is an officer and artillery spotter.

The German defensive line in the centre third of the map. The grenadier squad is meant to be covering the woods, but is pinned from the preliminary bombardment. The platoon leader is also pinned in the centre, while the MG42 team covers the road and field approach. An MG34 is in the woods atop the hill also ready to strike. Objectives are the wooded hill, the centre farmhouse and the farmhouse just at the right edge of the photo.

Turn 1: Not happy to wait it out the US commander decides to probe the wooded hill and see what there is. The platoon HQ, taking up positions in the farm, provide covering fire onto the hill, as it would be a perfect place for an ambush and manage to pin the MG team there. The crew of the MG34 hunker down to avoid the hail of bullets. A BAR squad is ordered to advance under this covering fire. Meanwhile a rifle squad attempts an advance up the left flank towards the German held woods off camera.

I don't know what happens, whether a unit in ambush can be pinned, or can ignore being pinned for the purpose of a surprise action. I assumed it couldn't use the order right now and needed to become unpinned to fire. This effectively shut down the two flanks of the German defense, which isn't a great start for them, especially with such a crap roll for its initial defense line. German turn 1 consisted of doing nothing but unpinning the two pinned units and continuing having the MG42, covering the road and open ground, on ambush. The Germans pull a chit and are now 3/24 of their BR.

Turn 2: The US platoon commander lays down covering fire again, pinning the MG team while the BAR team advances into a better firing position. Hoping to cause casualties they open fire to no effect. The rifle squad bring up the left flank advances beyond the hedgerow in an attempt to rush the woods.

Ambush! The US infantry squad is caught out in the open by the MG42! Withering fire sends the GIs scurrying for cover, although a few unlucky souls don't get down fast enough. It is devastating, leaving the remaining two GIs pinned in the open, scrabbling to keep as low as possible.

The grenadier squad in the woods decide to add their fire into the mix, opening up on the remaining GIs, killing one and forcing the last remaining soldier crawling back to the staging area. He was going to need some time to recover before facing the enemy again.

The US commander take a chit: 3/26. Although in my notebook I have 6/26 for the US commander after this turn, but not sure what for. Maybe I had to unpin something? Getting caught out in the open by an MG42 is apparently...not a great idea. Luckily in turn 3 they can start bringing on reinforcements. The Germans pull another chit and are up to 4/24.

Turn 3: A rifle squad enters the battlefield and awaits orders. The BAR team on the right flank open fire on the MG34...

...killing the crew to a man. This leaves the German flank open wide. There may need to be a reshuffle of the line.

The US platoon commander skirt around the village in order to take up spotter positions on the hill, overlooking the village. The newly arrived rifle squad advances towards the open field again, if nothing more, then just to hold the line against a possible German probe against it. The German HMG team moves position and is now covering the woods and hill to make up for the loss of the MG34. 

So from somewhere the US are on 6/26, which I can't figure out. The Germans are now on 8/24 because of the loss of the MG34 team.

Turn 4: a mortar team and a .30 cal team enter. The platoon commander takes the hilltop woods and is not close enough to the edge to be fired on. Likewise the BAR team moves into the low ground woods. 

German commander pulls another chit because the US have taken an objective. Germans now at 10/24.

The 81mm mortar team move up to take up a firing position back of the line next to the farm.

The German commander, knowing he has reinforcements on the way, but without any clear shot at the advancing Americans orders his men to stay vigilant and be ready to fire at any moment .

Turn 5: A platoon of M4 Shermans arrive and immediately zoom up the road. The plan is to take up firing positions and plaster the village with HE.

I actually forgot to do a double move here. I moved them their road allowance which is 14 inches, but they could have made it 28 and been ready to Open Fire! next turn.

Radio message arrives from platoon HQ. Mortar fire is requested to soften up the defenders before sending troops into the village. The mortar fire isn't accurate, and while it doesn't land where it was intended, it does cause the grenadier squad and MG42 team to become pinned.

So it took me about 20 minutes of reading and re-reading and looking back between rule book and army list to work out how to fire indirect artillery with a medium mortar. It can't do direct fire so had to be indirect. Basically there was meant to be a communication check, but I couldn't figure it out so just said they passed. However, the spotter round was 2D6 off target in a random direction. Luckily that spotter round put it right on top of the grenadier squad in the woods, and the barrage would still have been in range of the MG42 team. 

Another shot of the advancing Shermans.

The platoon HQ, now closer to the edge of the woods comes under fire from the German platoon HQ and becomes pinned. The officers hunker down and hope for the fire to end. Luckily plenty of German reinforcements arrive in the shape of a StuG battery and another grenadier squad, all of whom begin advancing up the road.

German commander manages to unpin only one unit - the MG42 team. They pull a chit, taking them to 12/24.

Turn 6: The US rifle squad on the left flank open fire on the pinned grenadiers in the wood.

The fire is highly effective, causing a number of casualties! The survivors have had enough and break and run, luckily deeper through the woods where they can't be fired upon further.

The squad of 5 took 3 casualties and failed the morale test by rolling a 2, which meant they would become pinned, or if they are already pinned, they would break and rout. German command pulls a chit: 15/24. That grey mini-die is the spotter mark for the US mortar. I left it there in case it was important later. I don't think it would have been, but in the wargame rules Bolt Action, if you fire at the same spot again and again your chances of doing damage goes up, and this might have been similar.

One of the M4 Shermans comes off the road to open fire on the lead StuG III. The shot penetrates the armour, destroying the vehicle. The commander manages to escape, but the rest of the crew are KIA.

The burning StuG. The other Shermans move into firing positions behind the hedgerow while infantry advance. The US forces can feel they might win this fight.

The shot was good. My Sherman needed a 6 to hit and got it. I hadn't remembered that it would suffer a -1 penalty for moving, and a -1 penalty for the StuG moving. But got lucky. I then needed a 9+ on 2D6 to penetrate, which was successful. In hindsight, I probably should have been more conservative, but just wanted to do some tank vs tank pew pew pew! German commander pulls a chit: 18/24. The US commander pulls a chit to unpin...himself and goes up to 10/26.

One of the surviving StuGs advances up to a hedgerow and takes a shot at the Sherman that killed his buddies. Unfortunately the shot goes wide.

The MG42 team and German HQ open fire on the US platoon commander, killing some of the runners and pinning the squad. Luckily the commander's morale holds and he stays on the radio.

Incoming fire obliterates the StuG III that is behind the hedgerow. Again, it was a tough shot, but the crew of the M4 Sherman know what they are doing and slam a round home, turning the assault gun into a burning hulk. 

Germans pull a chit: 21/24. Ironically at this point it is 23:30 at night, my wife and I just finished watching series 1 of Belgravia and she asked me how long my game has left. I told her I do not know, but it is nearly over.

The other Shermans open fire on the infantry in the village in an attempt to finally break the Germans.

The MG42 team falls in a hail of shrapnel from the 75mm HE rounds. This is it. The platoon commander witnessing his MG42 team fall decides they should withdraw, even though there are reinforcements incoming. The US forces have the high ground and are coming around the flank towards the woods. This position is now indefensible. 

Germans pull a chit: 24/24. Game over.

M4 Sherman: you da real MVP. Two StuG III kills with fairly tricky shots. I am impressed. I might need to make up some kind of reward for them for the next game if I am going to be turning this into a campaign. Maybe a free upgrade to veteran? Maybe a free pass of a morale test or something? I remember from like the two times I have ever played DnD or Pathfinder that the GM would give out stuff like a free re-roll or a free magical item for helping him set the game up or for certain in-game actions. Meta gaming? Maybe. But cool nonetheless. 

 I wonder if my table is to bare. Do I need more terrain? I feel like it doesn't look the best, but there are open spots and it gives a few tactical options in terms of attack and defense. The hill was important. 

I feel as though the Germans had a really rough start. If they had had more units on the table at the beginning then they might have won. When that US squad went down early, I got worried for the Americans, but I needn't have been. Although there were two quite lucky shots from that M4 Sherman that went a long way towards winning the engagement. 

Well, there we go anyway. Game 3 I think will involve the US Battlegroup holding the line against a German counter attack. I might build a German Battlegroup from Panzergrenadiers so I can use my Panzer IV and maybe a Tiger. I also want to use a deployed ATG, so that will likely be a 57mm cannon if the US are the defenders.


  1. Great fight! I left more comments over on TWW, but wanted to get on here as well.


  2. Great battle report! It looks like you have a good amount of terrain, and have got a good grip on the rules. I personally think they are the best ruleset for ww2, bar none! If you want, check out the Battlegroup forums if you have any questions, etc. . The authors of the rules are quite active on there as well! Hope to see more from your troops!

    1. Thanks RJ. I intend to play again soon, I am just in that place where I am doing a bunch of different things in different wargaming projects. I am a member of the Facebook group and used to be a member of the Guild forum, but seem to remember them suddenly closing down. Did it ever get replaced by anything?