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Category Archives: Fall of the Reich

And another game of Fall of the Reich

And another game of Fall of the Reich

So I am still catching up. This time it is another game of Fall of the Reich. This one was played during the first fine week (weather wise) of the year, so we could actually play outside. But even though this one has not been so long ago, my memory is even less precise than the previous one. I can remember, that the American fox consisted mainly of Shermans and infantry in M3´s, while the German force was mainly PzKw IV´s.

The beginning was not too good for the Germans. One PzKw IV was damaged right at the beginning another one blown up by the allied artillery. The Germans tried to repair the former, but failed, so it was two losses right at the beginning. So things did not look too well, but once the Americans got closer, the tables turned and the Germans could make good use of their position behind the railroad embankment. It became a real turkey shoot and in the end the American broke and the game was over. Unfortunately this is the best AAR I can come up with. Sorry! So I hope the pictures tell a good story instead.

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Waiting for the enemy

Waiting for the enemy

Bergepanther trying to repair a PzKw IV

Bergepanther trying to repair a PzKw IV

American advance

American advance

American armour in the village

American armour in the village

American halftrack

American halftrack

German defensive position

German defensive position

76mm Sherman on the attack

76mm Sherman on the attack

Hull down PzKw IV

Hull down PzKw IV

SS HMG team

SS HMG team

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Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

“Wait?” you will shout… “Christmas game… it is only October!” And rightly so! But, as I have had to say so many times this year, I seem to have huge problems keeping this blog up to date. So, here it is, almost 10 months late:

Between Christmas and New Years last year Julian, Martin and I met up for a little game of Battlegroup Fall of the Reich. Please do not ask for the exact composition of the forces… it has been a while. But if I remember correctly, the Americans had a mix of truck and jeep mounted infantry, M10´s, Shermans and Greyhounds (the burning Stuart was scenery). The Germans were a rag-tag bunch of Panzergrenadiere, a Volkssturm platoon, two Hetzer, a Hornisse, a Luchs, a SdKfz. 251/22 and a SdKfz. 250/9. Both sides had some off-board artillery.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

We rolled to see who would play which side and Martin got the Americans and Julian and I the Germans. We were playing the Road Block scenario and the Americans were allowed to set up the majority of their forces as far as the river. Martin put the armoured command car on he bridge with the M10s, some of the truck mounted infantry and a Dozer Sherman behind them. The Greyhounds were allowed to deploy on the German side of the bridge.

The German Volkssturm was dispersed throughout the village and one of the fields on the flank. The Panzergrenadiere and Hetzer were hiding inside the village, while the Hornisse was waiting at the edge of the village with the bridge in sight. We took a slight risk as the German players, by not putting any scout units on the table, which meant we would start the game by drawing a chit. In retrospect this was the best decision we could make, since we drew a breakdown counter, which we played on the armoured command car on the bridge, which got an immobilized result. So Martin had to start shuffling vehicles around to get the Dozer in position.

Things are about to get tough

Things are about to get tough

But while he was doing so, the Germans called in some artillery on the bridge, which took out the command car for good and set the M10 ablaze. So when the Dozer arrived, it had to start by pushing the tank destroyer aside.

American starting positions

Getting the other vehicles out of the way for the dozer

Getting the M10 out of the way

Getting the M10 out of the way

But this was not the only problem for the Americans. when it was clear, that the bridge would be blocked for the foreseeable future, the Greyhounds chose to dash into the village to hide. Which proved to be a bad decision, since the lead Greyhound drove past one of the buildings where the Volkssturm was hiding. A Panzerfaust into the rear was a reward, after which it blew up.

American armour burning

American armour burning

First moves inside the village

First moves inside the village

All in all it took the dozer three turns to even get into position to try to clear the command car off the bridge. During that time the came under constant German artillery fire. To minimise their losses, the American infantry dismounted to disperse and get across the bridge.

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

But while doing so, the American infantry became pinned by fire from the Volkssturm in the fields.

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

And to make matters worse, by now the remaining German armour had arrived on the table and were taking up positions to counter any American moves off the bridge.

German halftracks staging inside the village

German halftracks staging inside the village

Getting into position

Getting into position

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

With the bridge cleared, the Americans finally managed to get their own spotters to a place where they could actually call in effective artillery fire on the German spotters killing them, but it was too little, too late. By now the Germans were in positions where they could target anything moving across the bridge from three sides.

Hetzer moving to the front

Hetzer moving to the front

By now the American force was close to breaking to breaking anyway. And when the Dozer started to push the command car, i was hit by an eighty-eight shell from the Hornisse.

Turkey shoot

Turkey shoot

At this point no coordinated push would have been possible anymore and the Americans withdrew.

 

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

So, after keeping you all excited for days now, here are the game shots from our Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich  demogame at Crisis this year.

To be honest, it is hard to make a coherent game report out of the game, due to all the chatting with people, explaining the mechanics, answering where the vehicles and models came from and so on. But I will at least try for a very short synopsis:

The Germans were a mixed Battlegroup formed around a nucleus of a Volkssturm platoon, beefed up, by a squad of Hitlerjugend tank hunters, a squad of SS Panzergrenadiere in a halftrack, some Wehrmacht Pioniere, a SS sniper team, a Pantherturm, 8.8cm Pak “Scheunentor”, a Borgward Wanze, a Panther and a Tiger II (Commander).

The Russians had a Platoon of rifles, with Maxim, Ratsch-Boom AT-gun and AT-gun team, an artillery spotter team for their onboard mortars and heavy artillery, a squad of Assault Pioneers, one of Scouts, three T34/85, two JS-II tanks and a lone T-34/76 (Commander).

Julian and I started the game in quite classic fashion. The Germans waiting for the Russians to run into the traps they had laid and the Russian tanks trading were shots with the Tiger and Pantherturm at long-range, while waiting for the infantry to catch up and protect them from the pesky Panzerfäuste.

During this time not much happened. Much like the Demo last year, both of us managed to alternate at rolling bad so we did not take out much with our long-range shots. (The funniest exchange was between the Pantherturm and JS-II who had problems spotting each other and one of the JS finally did and hit, he got a snake eyes for the penetration roll [he would have needed a three on two D6] only to roll a twelve the next round.) The most impressive exchange was the Russian sniper and one of the SS snipers killing each other, which left the lone German sniper to kill one the artillery spotters, pinning the other. When the Russina infantry command was also pinned, this effectively rendered the Russian mortars and Artillery useless (especially since the the participation gamers would continuously forget to unpin them). We also found out that a fanatic squad of Hitlerjugend can well take out a squad of Soviet elite scouts at short-range with their SMGs and a little help from the Panzergrenadiere. And that even with our gods eye view of the battlefield, it is easy to drive a T34 around a corner only to find the road blocked with Czech Hedgehogs and becoming a prime target for a PaK as a result.

Obviously things really picked up once the first participants came and played along, driving their tanks and infantry on without regard for losses. At that time tanks started blowing up all around the table and infantry perished left and right. This was also the first time I saw man-pack flamethrowers in use in the game and boy are they deadly assaulting buildings, especially on a squad sporting a fair amount of SMGs! All in all we had a cracking day and I hope the players had one, too. I will leave you with the pictures!

Der Russe kommt!

Der Russe kommt!

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

The Panterturm again

The Panterturm again

LMG position

LMG position

JS-II advancing

JS-II advancing

T-34s advancing

T-34s advancing

Hiding behind the rubble

Hiding behind the rubble

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Enemy at the doors

Enemy at the doors

Volkssturm advancing

Volkssturm advancing

The 8.8cm PaK

The 8.8cm PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

The end of the Pantherturm

The end of the Pantherturm

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

 

Battle of Berlin… small terrain items

Battle of Berlin… small terrain items

So as the last post before the game shots from Crisis… here are the extra items, to add some life to the table.

Before we start… I also painted a whole lot of Tamiya 1:48th scale lampposts, but to be honest, those are pretty boring to photograph as single items, so you will have to wait till tomorrow to see them.

Up first is some rubble heaps. Now these are simple pieces of pink foam cut to shape, covered with sand, plaster bricks, some wooden sticks and painted to match the other terrain. These are just there to represent the bigger heaps of rubble. I think in the long run, I will have to do a few more of these, but for now… these will have to suffice.

Rubble

Rubble

But another important feature in the battle of Berlin were anti-tank barricades. These took various forms. Some were just boxes made from squared timber, filled with rubble. Others were ramparts made from rubble with railway sleepers driven into them. I wanted some of either version. Again these were just done like the rubble heaps above.

Barricades

Barricades

Barricades

Barricades

Barricades

Barricades

In some places barricades were simply created by taking tram cars and rolling them into the street. At times these were filled with rubble to make them harder to cost or move away. Now tram cars are virtually impossible to get in 28mm. Well over a decade ago I found a 1:45th scale Tokyo tram model on eBay and bought it. The previous owner had already converted the kit, so it could pass as a German tram. So all that was left for me to do last week, was to actually assemble it and paint it. I am really happy I bought this all those years ago, since I never saw any again and it makes one really nice piece on the table.

The Tram

The Tram

Tram from the front

Tram from the front

Tram drivers postion

Tram drivers position

But what would any good defense of Berlin be, without a decent Pantherturm? This model actually came up as a left over piece. A couple of years ago I converted a Tamiya 1:48th scale Panther into a Bergepanther, using a conversion kit for a Solido model. This left me with the unused turret and upper hull. So a cut the hull out around the turret ring and build a bunker under it using plasticard. This was the based, and rubble added and I had the Pantherturm.

Pantherturm

Pantherturm

Pantherturm

Pantherturm

And last but not least… some objective markers for Battlegroup: FotR. One is simply an ammo cart from a Kettenkrad. Nothing special about this… just a place a soldier would seek out to get some more ammo.

The next is an eagle and Swastika ornament that has fallen off one of the buildings and scattered on the ground. I think this makes a good objective marker to show the final days of the Third Reich have come and it now lies scattered on the ground.

The last is a piano someone carried into the street from one of the houses. Whenever I see the opening scenes from Band of Brothers (or the scene in the episode,) or any photo from a warzone of a soldier standing besides a piano, I feel it is a stark reminder of how war changes the reality. In peacetime music and such fine instruments have a role our lives. It is about beauty and what humans can create with their imagination, their compassion and their soul. In war all that changes and no longer is life about things like beauty and creation. It is only about survival and destruction. So I felt a piano would be a reminder of that. I am still thinking about adding some weapon to the top of the piano, to underline this and enhance the conflict between the two. What do you think?

Objective markers

Objective markers
[Image was edited to comply with German law]

 
 

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

Battle of Berlin infantry… scraping the barrel

So in the effort to catch up with all the stuff done in recent weeks for the battle of Berlin game, here is the first step… the last additions to the German infantry.

After having played WWII for well over a decade now, I have been in the comfortable position not to need too many new miniatures for this years game. Having nearly 300 Russians and more again when it comes to Germans (regular Wehrmacht and SS), there was not much to do there. Except for some of the more uncommon troops that were sadly thrown into the meat grinder during the last weeks of the war.

I know many people have reservations about using these units in their games and for some time I contemplated this as well. But as sad as the use of children and the elderly in fighting units may have been, it is still a part of history. And at the same time, very few of us (as long as we play ancients) have reservations playing Spartans, who were taken for training as soldiers at a far younger age, or Romans, who would eventually sell their vanquished foes as slaves. So I made the decision to use units of Volkssturm and Hitlerjugend in the game as well.

Before I start with the pictures, please note, that some of them have been edited (blue dots) to be in line with German law. Here it is a criminal offense to show certain symbols in public on models and such.

Up first are a few Volkssturm I did about a decade ago, which formed the nucleus for the force (and which I wanted to show for completeness sake). These are all Victory Force miniatures. The NCO wears the uniform of an Allgemeine SS NCO. Probably someone who managed to evade being send to the front all war long and now finds himself leading a squad of Volkssturm during the final days. And who will probably disappear to “get some orders at HQ” when the bullets start to fly. This model is a Wehrmacht mortar operator with his uniform repainted. All the rest of this squad are from the French Resistance line. Some had their headgear converted to make them look less French and more German and all have had the Volkssturm armbands sculpted on.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Up next are a bunch of vintage Bolt Action Volkssturm miniatures. Always loved the guy with the old WWI Bavarian helmet and was very pleased to finally paint them up, after they collected dust for ages. The guy with the Greatcoat came unarmed, but I felt he did not look like a medic, so he got a Panzerfaust from Victory Force.

It was actually pretty funny when Paul hicks passed by the table at Crisis and actually spotted some of his old Volkssturm and Russian minis.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

Now I needed some numbers to field them as a complete Volkssturm platoon under the Battlegroup rules, so more minis were needed. These days this is easy, with the set from Warlord, although I still needed a Wehrmacht LMG team. So all the minis in the following pictures are by Warlord. Some of these are regular SS or Wehrmacht soldiers, but those either served as NCOs for the platoon or as part of the Panzergrenadier squad also used in the game.

And these later minis are up first. I had some bad luck with the fat SA officer, since the mini was slightly miscast, but Warlord send me a replacement in time. The battle never got close to him on Saturday, but if it had, I bet he would have joined the Allgemeine SS NCO from above to get some new orders at HQ. The NCO in the middle and the soldier with the Luftfaust to his right feature heads from West Wind productions. At one point I had used up all the not-so-cartoonish heads from the Warlord set and had to find something proper. The gas mask on the Luftfaust seemed proper. I know some soldiers operating the Panzerschreck without the blast-shield would wear gas masks to protect against the backblast, so it seemed sensible for this mini as well.

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

Volkssturm (leaders and NCO)

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

SS Grenadier with curved barrel attachment on his StG-44

And now the regular Volkssturm.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The guys on the left and right got field cap heads from Victory Force. Again, I had only the cartoonish faces left for the set, so this seemed sensible. Plus if you look at the guy on the right, he is sculpted in a way, not a single helmeted head would have fit him. Even with this one, he still looks a bit like Quasimodo. Anyway, between these three, the one in the greatcoat for the vintage Bolt Action set and the one from Great Escape games (see below), there is almost a whole squad in greatcoats, which is nice, too.

Volkssturm

Volkssturm

The platoon also needed a HMG and I loved the option to give them a MG-08. Rummaging through my boxes of minis, I found a WWI HMG team from Renegade Miniatures. The size of the minis was right and since they were lying on their bellies, no huge difference in their uniforms could be seen. So I just took their heads off and replaced them with ones from Victory Force. At first I had decided to just paint them in the brownish Feldgrau uniform, to represent the cheap uniforms made with cheap dyes late in the war and given to the Volkssturm. But with their regular headgear and a lack of rank insignia (the lowest Volkssturmmann would not get any) I felt they could still be mistaken for regulars, so the armbands were a late addition.

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

Vollkssturm MG-08 team

And last, some Hilterjugend (and Flakhelferinnnen). 6 of the boys and girls would form a tank hunter squad, with the rest of them (and the Volkssturmmann) beefing up the numbers of the Volkssturm.

Up first is the set from Great Escape Games, which was easily my favorite from all these minis, for all the character put into the youngsters.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferin

And the remaining minis come from the Warlord set once more.

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

Hitlerjugend and Flakhelferinen

 

Preparations for the Battle of Berlin

Preparations for the Battle of Berlin

The time has come to prepare everything for this years game at Crisis in Antwerp. The obviously theme for this years Crisis is Waterloo, in line with this years bicentennial. Am I going down the same road? No. The Battle of Nations game two years ago was largely ignored (even though it was the bicentennial as well) and I would have been hard pressed to get all the minis painted in time. So what was my choice? The Battle of Berlin, after all that one has its 70th anniversary this year.

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

So where to start? Since most minis and vehicles for that were done years ago hardly anything remains to be done except for the scenery. Last year I already did  few test pieces and the lessons learned from that were put to use this time.

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

Again all the buildings are by Commission Figurines, with some added rubble (homemade from foamcore, sand, matchsticks, wooden strips and bricks cast from plaster), wallpaper and doll house furniture. As I did last time, I also added an extra floor to some of them using coffee stirrers and matchsticks.

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

What I changed were some of my techniques. Last time I applied virtually all the paint by hand. This time I only did that for the outside walls, windows / doors and stonework applications. All the rest was airbrushed. I deliberately over-sprayed the bricks a little bit to create an impression of brick-dust in the spots where the plaster had come off the buildings. I also over-sprayed the rubble to create the impression of a heavier layer of dust around the rubble heaps. All the buildings also got a slight dusting with the colors I used for the rubble, to create a general dirty look.

Ruins (inside)

Ruins (inside)

Ruins (inside)

Ruins (inside)

But there are also a few more lessons I learned. First I glued some tile and wooden floor imitations to the base, just like I did with the pieces last year. The more I do that, the less I like it. A lot of that gets covered up by rubble anyway and there is always a chance of warping. So in the future I will probably just cover up the whole ground floor with rubble.

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

The other thing is, that I must pay better attention to the floors that come with the buildings. For some reason I picked floors, that were all oriented the same direction. Obviously, that meant, that they did not fit for two of the corner pieces and I had to clip them down to prevent them from touching. I can not be helped anymore (and it eventually means that I will get the same problem on a mother two corner pieces later on), but I will have to make sure I do not botch up once more.

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

1st complete Berlin ruins city block

Up next will be some minis (actually tomorrow I will post some pictures of a Borgward Wanze), but then it is back to more ruins.

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR (somewhere in Germany)

Friday I finally wanted to give my newly painted British an outing, so Julian, Martin, his son Max and I met for a game of Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich.

Martin and Max played the British (decided by the roll of a die). Their troops consisted of a forward headquarters on foot, a forward observer team and a scout team, each in a Bren Carrier, a veteran infantry platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three rifle sections, a 2″ mortar team and a combat medic) as well a troop of Shermans (two regular ones and two Fireflys) and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 25pdr. guns and a medium priority artillery request up the chain of command.

Julian and I played the German defenders. They had a forward headquarters team and a forward observer team in a Kübelwagen each, a sniper, a grenadier platoon on foot (consisting of a command squad, three grenadiers squads, a combat medic, an HMG team with extra ammo carriers and a 7,5cm PaK40 with extra ammo carriers) and a PzKw IV H platoon with three tanks and a supply truck. The forward observers had access to a two-gun battery of 8.8cm guns and the whole force  benefitted from two special abilities which raided their battle group rating (for those not familiar with the rules… the point where the whole battle group breaks).

The Germans were defending a small village somewhere in the west of Germany. The village was overlooked by a large hillside on the British table edge and surrounded by woods, an orchard and some yet unplowed fields. There was also the wreck of a Tiger tank left from previous fighting. We played the delaying action scenario, which meant that either side had to bring the others battle group rating down to zero to win. If neither side had managed to do so by the end of round 9, it would be a German win, since they had managed to hold up the allies long enough. For those not familiar with the rules: each time one side looses a unit (or something just as traumatic happens) or if the other side takes an objective, it has to draw a random chit. While some indicate random events, most carry a value used to reduce the battle group rating. For completeness sake, we had four objectives on the table, but these had little importance on the game since each side took the two closest ones.

The British started with just their scout team deployed on the road leading down the hill, but would get continuous reinforcements every turn. The Germans had to roll for starting forces and did badly. So the only troops on the table were a squad of infantry, minus their LMG element hiding in one of the ruins with and objective marker, the observer team hiding in the upper floor of one of the intact houses (leaving their Kübelwagen in the front garden) and the sniper hiding under the roof of yet another house. One of the PzKw IV started on the table as well, but kept behind the row of houses not wanting to present a good target to the tons of British tanks that might come onto the table in the first round.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

The British automatically got initiative on the first round, but rolled badly for their reinforcements (just two units and they picked one of the Fireflys and the forward observer team). So the scouts just raced forward to the woods on their right flank, while the observers in the other Bren carrier raced forward to a hedge to hide there and claim their first objective marker. The Sherman just rumbled forward on the road. There was not much for the Germans to do, except for the infantry to claim to objective marker by their ruins and for the Panzer to drive towards the left flank, to get a bearing on the Firefly, while hopefully being in a position where other British tanks would not be able to get a shot at it once they arrived on table. The forward observers though called for an artillery strike on their British counterparts which was not right on spot, but close enough to pin the British observers and rattle the crew of the Firefly.

PzKw IV in firing position

PzKw IV in firing position

The next round the Brits had the initiative (actually we just forgot to roll for it and just handed it to them). Again they rolled poorly for reinforcements and only got the forward HQ on table (with the intention of quickly unpinning the observers) and some infantry. All the British units advanced, with the exception of the scout, who just stayed put. The observers were unpinned. Now things were handed over to the Germans. They only had a 33% chance for reinforcements every turn from this the second onwards, but they got some on the first try and even 5 units at that. So onto the table came the other two PzKw IV with the supply truck as well as the PaK and HMG teams. All these advanced towards the front, with the Panzer that had already been on the table loosening off a shot at the Firefly, but missing it. Again the German observers called in their artillery and this time it was true on target blowing the Bren carrier with the observer team up and killing two of the soldiers in the British forward HQ. This meant that the British would be unable to call for artillery of their own for the rest of the game.

PzKW IV

PzKW IV

The next round was actually quiet uneventful. The Germans just kept on advancing and the Panzer on the left flank and inside the village fired at the Sherman but found their shots just bouncing off or missing. For once during the whole game the German observers were unable to contact their off-board artillery which gave the British some respite. The German HMG team took the other objective while moving forward and that was about it. The British rolled good for reinforcements and got another infantry squad, the two regular Shermans and the supply truck on the table. The forward Firefly shot back at its assailants, but missed both its shots. Otherwise the rest of the troops just advanced.

Sherman firefly

Sherman firefly

Holy cow... the British are advancing

Holy cow… the British are advancing

The next round was actually quiet with the two PzKw IV trading shots once more with the Firefly with similar results. The Panzer on the right flank advanced and began to fire at the scout team. The German artillery tried to take out the supply truck, but only managed to kick up some dirt. Again, the troops on both sides just kept advancing, with the British infantry taking another objective as well. Also the Germans moved the supply truck forward (they had previously parked it outside of view behind a row of houses) in anticipation of ammo running low on the two tanks that had seen firing for some time now.

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV [photo had to be edited to conform with German law]

Truck moving into position to resupply one of the PzKw IV
[photo had to be edited to comply with German law]

British lines

British lines

As usual, the next round began with the Germans taking initiative and again the Panzer traded shots with their targets, with the usual nonexistent results. The one on the left flank, which had started the game on table revered to take up ammo at the supply truck. The HMG team set up position in the middle of the village and the PaK moved forward for the final time on the right flank. And again the German forward observers called in artillery to take out the British supply truck. The fire only managed to shower the supply truck and the forward Firefly with dirt, but one shell landed directly on the rear Firefly, setting it on fire. The British also got their final reinforcements on table.

View from the village towards the British

View from the village towards the British

That is why the Germans called it the "Tommie Toaster"

That is why the Germans called it the “Tommie Toaster”

On the British side the infantry and regular Shermans advanced, the later to finally get within firing range. The remaining Firefly got off one shot before it ran out of ammo. And this shot hit the freshly reloaded Panzer, punched through and exploded it, too. The British were happy that they finally had been able to destroy a German target, but it was short-lived, when we drew an Air Attack counter instead of one that would reduce the German battle group rating. But no German plane showed up, so at least no insult was added to injury.

British advance

British advance

The next round saw the Brits actually win initiative the only time during this game. They rolled poor on orders and so there was only a limited advance. The Firefly was resupplied, while the lead Sherman fired at the PzKw IV in the village and set it on fire, too. Again Martin and Max rejoiced the fact that the Germans had to draw a chit, but this time insult was indeed added to injure, since Julian drew a Breakdown counter, which resulted in the remaining Firefly to run out of fuel, being immobilized for the rest of the game.

Shermans advancing on the village

Shermans advancing on the village

With initiative shifting over to the Germans, the artillery now started concentrating on the poor bloody infantry, wiping out half a squad on the British left in the process. The PaK finally opened up as well, but missed all three shots directed at the lead Sherman. The remaining Panzer fired at the Sherman as well, but failed to hit. But as an icing on the cake, the Germans finally got further reinforcements, too. So now the forwards HQ, one more infantry section and all three infantry sections LMG teams entered the table as well.

PaK 40

PaK 40

During the eighth round we saw more of what we had seen before… tanks and AT guns fringe at one another, but hitting nothing. Again the German artillery shifted targets to the scout team still hiding in the woods. This time their fire scattered badly, but landed virtually directly on the 2″ mortar team which had been sneaking up through the woods, wiping it out. With only one round to go and hardly any chance to bring the Germans to breaking point, the British decided to call it a day. Which was probably a good idea, since the German battle group rating was only down to 31 (from 37), while the British was down to 8 (from 32).

Shermans in the orchard

Shermans in the orchard

It was a bit sad, that on the German side the only damage was dealt out by the artillery and on the British side only by the tanks. But this was mostly down to the dice luck. Another deficit (and this was entirely my fault), was to give the British infantry no transports, which kept them out of firing range for the game, once we Germans were happy to stay inside the village. I guess i must really tackle some Kangaroo models or another M5 soon so we can use a whole mobile platoon for late war games soon.

PzKw IV in the village

PzKw IV in the village

But I think, that it still was a fun and taxing game. Had the British managed to keep their observers in the game (or even fired at ours), this could have turned around easily and Julian and I certainly felt that spectre hanging over heads.

 

 

 

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR

We have lately been looking around at some other sets of WWII rules and I fell in love with the Battlegroup series. Martin and I had been trying to find a suitable date for a game for almost two weeks now and over the weekend we both realised that we would be available on Monday, so we met up yesterday morning for a game. What a way to start a week, right? And to make things even better, the weather had turned fabulous here in Germany over the weekend, so we spontaneously decided to have he game outside (this resulted in a board set up, which is a little more basic… Sorry for that!).

I had been in the mood for a late war game when creating the forces on Sunday, we went for the Fall of the Reich supplement and these are the forces (those marked with an asterisk were randomly determined to be reserves and arrived on turn 1 for the Russians and turn 2 for the Germans).

The German defenders had a Tiger II* as their forward headquarters unit, a PzKw II l Luchs reconnaissance and PaK 43 as support. The main force consisted of a squad of Volkssturm with two Panzerfäuste* and an armoured Panzergrenadier platoon. The later consisted of command squad in a SdKfz 251/10, a medic* and four eight-men Grenadier Squads (one started in reserve) in SdKfz 251/1. Their machine guns had been upgraded to MG-42s. They also had to special rules to raise their Battlegroup rating (more on that later).
The Soviets had a forward HQ, a VVS Air control officer* both in a GAZ jeep and a wire team*. There was also a T34/85 platoon* and a single JS-2 tank*. Their reconnaissance was provided by an infantry foot patrol. Oddly enough, I thought I had chosen a sniper and put a according mini on the able instead. (Good thing I actually put the sniper besides a bush that had virtually the same colour as his uniform and forgot about him all game long! :-P) There was also a rifle platoon, consisting of a command squad, four eight-men rifle squads (one would start in reserve), a Maxim HMG team*. They also had access to a two-gun off-board Zis-3 battery and two on board 82mm mortars*.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Martin chose to play the Germans, so the Soviets went to me. Set up was fairly straight. The Soviets deployed virtually even spaced along their deployment zone (10″ into the table). The German PaK deployed to the rear and in the centre, the Luchs on the road running the length of the board, with one of the halftracks behind. The other Panzergrenadiere and their halftracks deployed in the shadow of the village and the village square itself.

Table from the Soviet side

Table from the Soviet side

The first round saw the initiative go to the Russians. Not much going on there. All units (including the tanks and infantry from reserves moved forward). Two rifle squads and the Maxim were driven forward by their commissar and made extra speed under constant cries of Ura, Ura, Ura. The air control officer tried to call in the artillery, but after he saw the spotter round go wide, decided to call it off. I would have loved to fire the JS-2 at the PaK, but thought twice. Ammo is a bit abstract under the rules, so the JS-2 carries precious few ammo for that. Since I had not bought a re-supply unit for either side I had to think twice when to shoot and when not.

JS-2 in the fields

JS-2 in the fields

The Germans still lacked their reserves, so their actions were limited to advances by a few units and by the PaK firing. Well rather failing to spot a target and when it had, to hit it! ;-).

T34´s on the roll

T34´s on the roll

Now the second round saw initiative go to the Soviets once more. Their officer tried to call in the artillery again, but once more their spotter round went wide and they were not ordered to fire for effect. The air control officer wanted the mortars to fire at the PaK, but had to find it was too far away, so the mortars just advanced. So did the other infantry and tanks. The JS-2 had now almost run into the Luchs and decided to take a shot at close range. It hit and ripped the small tank to shreds.

JS-2 vs the small cat

JS-2 vs the small cat

Now the German reinforcements arrived on table. Unfortunately Martin had rolled very few orders, so it was mostly about moving the reserves up. The Königstiger in the middle with the Volkssturm in its wake and the halftrack racing up to the village. The only shot fired was the PaK which took its chances on the JS-2. It scored a lucky hit and blew the big tank up. But this did not prove a happy occasion for the Germans either. Battlegroup works not just with unit moral, but also with a moral for your whole force. For every tank or unit lost you pick a random counter and it’s value gets deducted from your Battlegroup rating. So I had to take a counter for the loss of my behemoth and actually managed to pull a special out of fuel counter from the bag, which I then played on the Königstiger. We rolled for the result and lo and behold… It ran out of fuel and it’s crew chose to abandon it. This is a fate of war.

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

The next round saw initiative go to the Germans. But again a poor roll for orders meant that essentially not much happened. The Volkssturm advanced further, the reserve Panzergrenadiere still raced towards the village and the PaK was back to not hitting anything!

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm
[Photo edited to comply with German law]


For the Russians it was still a general advance and again some of the troops were pushed forward by the commissar in charge. The most impressive event of this round was that the Russian artillery finally had run out of Vodka (or had they managed to fill up enough?) and were finally able to hit the village square. Most of the infantry and halftracks got away with a scare, but the Panzergrenadier command was mauled by the barrage, lost their nerve and ran off the table.

Panzergrenadier reenforcements debussing in the village square

Panzergrenadier reinforcements debussing in the village square

The next few rounds saw the fighting pick up, now that the Russians were in range of the village. This also meant that the Soviet artillery chose not to fire for effect, for fear of hitting their own troops with the exception of one very effective barrage on the newly arrived reserve Grenadiere.

Moving towards the German village

Moving towards the German village

To block some of the troops moving up on the German right flank one of the MG-42 teams moved out of the village and fired at the advancing Russians. They only managed to pin them down and as a reward were ripped apart by a high explosive round and machine gun fire from one of the T34’s.

MG-42 team firing from the village

MG-42 team firing from the village

The Russians un-pinned themselves and close assaulted one of the German unit in the village square, wiping them out for the loss of five of their own.

Close Assault in the village

Close Assault in the village

 

Together with one of the rifle squads, the Maxim managed to wipe out another one of the German grenadier units, while the wheat fields saved themselves from punishment. The PaK finally found its Mark,and managed to wipe out the two centre T34’s.

Russian advance

Russian advance

But not before that happened, one of them had killed the MG-42 team that had deployed together with the other Panzergrenadiere from their half track on the road.

Panzergrenadiere debussing

Panzergrenadiere dismounting

The mortars also found a good target at last and destroyed first the infantry in the fields and then the halftrack that had brought them there. Sad thing is, that the halftrack had previously led a blessed life with two shots from a T34 missing it.

Russian Mortars

Russian Mortars

On the last round, I was getting a bit worried. Unless I could the Germans to exceed their Battlegroup rating, it would be a loss for me. I knew Martin had pulled a huge number of counters already, but I did not know their value. And
I was running out of targets. My remaining T34 was behind the village and most German units were out of line of sight anyway. So my infantry started shooting at one of the halftracks and the command halftrack. While they never stood a chance to destroy either, they forced both crews to abandon them, which meant two more counters for Martin. And the last one pushed him two points over his Battlegroup rating which meant a last-minute Soviet win.

Russian Infantry advancing

Russian Infantry advancing

All in all, we were both very pleased with the game. It was fast paced with a good historic feel and we both felt that just a little more experience, would make it even more pleasant. So,we are looking forward to the next installment!