On Thursday at the Uni Caesar and I gave the newish Battle Group Kursk rules another tryout, this time with a scenario straight from the book - Surrounded at Komsomlets.
Accordingly the table was set out as shown in the map, although whereas the scenario specifies a 6 x 6 foot table, I stretched it out slightly to a 6 x 8 and also increased the size of the deployment zones, specified as 10" for the Germans in the 3 corners, and 30" for the Russian around the state farm, by about 10% as we were using 1/72nd scale figures. I picked this scenario as it appears the ground is pretty flat, which makes for an easier layout.
This chart has North at the top of the page; the comparison photo below has North on the right - but you get the general gist I hope!
The objective is the 'T' junction.
Although the scenario makes provision for alternate force composition, as I happened to have everything required for the actual historical orbats, I thought why not - particularly as both orbats feature my fave AFV's: T34-76s and Pzkpf IIIs!
The German AFV models are mainly from the Plastic Soldier Company, infantry from AB:
Unfortunately we are still waiting for PSC to produce the PzIII late versions with Schurtzen.
The German battlegroup also had some oFf table 105 barrages, but we modelled this small battery on table, (Matchbox) with a random Bergepanther (PSC conversion) thrown in to symbolise the 'rear areas' - apologies to any RAEME recovery mechanics out there!
The German also got a couple of airstrikes, not from these Ju87-Gs, but from the D dive bomber version, but these models would have to do:
The Russian T34s are Dragon diecasts, the infantry from PSC.
As they say, time spent in recce is seldom wasted, and Caesar considered his deployment options carefully...
I deployed my infantry in an unimaginative all round defensive position on the farm perimeter, keeping only a minimum infantry reserve in the buildings themselves, and splitting my armour to both flanks:
Caesar led off from the North East, moving his infantry boldly forward to occupy the woods my T34s would have to cross if I was to counter attack:
However his bold use of Panzer Grenadiers in launching a desperate teller mine and grenade attack on my tanks backfired, with the Grenadiers taking a casualty instead. But my flanking attack on the panzers was not as telling as I'd hoped, with honours even after the first exchange of fire:
And then my entire northern platoon burning...
Then the first of Caesar's airstrikes struck, doing some pretty telling damage to my reserve infantry in the village!
However all was not lost - I had snuck my other T34 platoon off on a long flanking march down to the South East to attempt to get some side shots into the Pz IV platoon - the only way to make sure of those beasts! Again the brave Panzer Grenadiers attempted to stave off the Red Steel with grenades and mines, but once again came second - I was set to pounce...
So at this stage of the game, bereft of tanks, and despite a brave Soviet Infantry squad rushing out of the trees to knockout a Pz III with Molotov cocktails, I think its fair to say Caesar had the initiative..
However luck was not going all Caesar's way. At this point, with two highly effective Stuka missions complete and surely another strike on the village likely to drop my battle group rating below the line, the German FAC vehicle struck a mine. I cannot deny I had a chuckle! It now looked as if his infantry would have a long and bloody struggle to clear the village of my remaining infantry - at this point we decided to draw stumps. As you'd expect with unfamiliar rules, it had taken some time to get to this stage.
That's not to say the rules aren't easy enough to administer once you get the hang of them. So what did we like and dislike about these rules?
We both felt strongly that the distinction between aimed fire and suppressive 'area' fire, and the ease with which such fire is worked out are a major strong point, and to my mind authentic in terms of encouraging fire and manoeuvre. Generally such fire can lead to pinning the enemy, rather than killing him, and to me this is the essence of infantry combat until one gets face to face with the enemy. (Fortunately I only surmise this from training exercises and reading!)
The main new feature of the Battle Group stable -
there now being 3 or 4 volumes out covering
Normandy, Bagration and Barbarossa
- is the emphasis on your Battle Group Rating. Hidden from your opponent, you draw variable numbered chits which steadily reduce your rating until you get to zero then its game over! To my mind a great way of tailoring an ambitious scenario, in terms of numbers of toys, to fit an evenings gaming, but still getting a result!
I'm not going to say I'm a Battle Group disciple just yet, but if we have as much fun with the next couple of games, I might well adopt these as my 'go-to' set for 20mm gaming....Cheers!