Sunday, 22 May 2016

Battlegroup Kursk AAR - Germans vs Russians

Hi folks,

Long time no battle report from me! Yesterday I managed the short drive over to my Miniature Modelling Madness buddy Steve for a game of Battlegroup: Kursk.

This game was one of firsts: It was Steve's first game of this, and my first game using the full Battlegroup rules for probably well over a year. It was also my first game since last year! It was also, believe it or not, the first time I have played a WW2 game as the Russians!

Anyway, Steve had set up a cracking looking table:

And we were playing a scenario from the Kursk group (slightly altered to reflect terrain and forces available - we were using 15mm figures from Steve's fantastically painted collection).

I forgot to get a picture of the forces laid out prior to battle, but from memory the Russkies had:

1 x T34 (76.2mm gun)
1 x T70 (45mm gun)
1 x BA-64
1 x Scout Sniper and Observer team
1 x MMG team
1 x A/T Rifle team
1 x 45mm A/T gun with truck
1 x Commander
3 x Infantry Squads

The Germans had:

1 x Panzer IV (G?)
1 x sdfz 222 Scout Car
1 x PaK38 (5cm?) with Truck
3 x Infantry Squads
4 x MG34 teams
1 x Command team

We deployed our Recce units first. With the Russians having 2 Recce units, the Germans were forced to draw a Battle Counter - Steve had a very smart deck of these, rather than counters in a pot.


I opted to put the Sniper out on the right flank, in the corn field. Meanwhile my BA64 parked just off road. Steve's 222 can be seen just behind the top level of the hill.

My first turn I placed my Sniper on 'overwatch' (Ambush Fire) and my BA64 on 'reserve move' (which would allow me to move in the opponents turn. Interesting difference between ambush fire and ambush move - Ambush Fire allows you to interrupt an opponents order, while the move option allows you to interrupt their turn). My plan had been to move in Steve's turn down the road. the BA64 has a on road movement of 24", so two moves could have put me on his objective, forcing him to take another Battle Counter. However...

Steve ruined my cunning plan as his 222 rolled round the hill and put a burst of 2cm Autocannon fire into my BA64. Thankfully no damage was done, but the BA64 crew got out and hid behind the hedge, just in case (unit pinned!).

My next turn I rolled for reserves and got a few units on, bringing in a squad of my leg infantry, my MMG team and my command team. My logic was that as these were the slower units they would need time to move up. The MMG team took up position in cover on the small hill, while the infantry and command team moved into the forest, securing my objective. I then decided to get this BA64 unpinned, so drew a Battle Counter:

At the start of Steve's turn, I used the BA64's reserve movement order (which was still in effect, despite the previous pinning) to get forward and out of the 2cm gunners LoS. Steve then got his own reserves onto the table, with with A/T gun, several infantry squads and their MG34 teams deploying. Steve's 222 tried to fire on my MMG team, but failed to observe (I think?).  His A/T gun deployed covering his objective with a far too good field of fire up the road! The other squads began moving onto the battlefield.

My 3rd turn, on came more reserves. More infantry, my A/T gun, A/T Rifle and T70. Unfortunately I rolled poorly for orders (or the commander was overwhelmed by the arriving forces) and most of these units had to sit on the table edge. I did move my A/T gun forward, just to get closer to the cover of the trees! My BA64 moved round the forest on Steve's flank, hoping to be a nuisance in the future.

Steve's turn 3 saw his A/T gun go onto overwatch, covering the road. His infantry moved forward and his 222 scanned for targets (I don't remember it shooting at anything, but there may have been some successful cover saves on my MMG team).

My turn 4 and I got slightly better orders (for the size of the game we were rolling 1D6+1 orders a turn, with each unit taking 1 order to use).

My T70 risked moving onto the hill, and was engaged by the 5cm A/T gun on ambush fire. Thankfully no damage was done! My BA64 area fired at the MG34 team in front of it, pinning the team and inflicting a single casualty (area fire and Steve rolled a 1 for his cover save). My A/T gun deployed over on the right flank. Infantry and A/T rifle moved up, and the MMG team shifted to fire at the 222 - only to realise they could do nothing to it at long range. 

On Steve's turn the A/T gun went back onto Ambush fire. The 222 may also have fired at the T70, but failed to do any damage (Steve might have to clear this turn up, I forgot to take photo's and I'm a little woolly on what happened!). We did remember that Steve's Panzer IV should arrive in his turn, and my T34 should have also arrived. We deployed these both on the table edge to be activated next turn.

I started turn 5 by engaging the 222 with my T70. The 5cm A/T gun fired at the T70 before it could get a round off, but failed to observe with the first shot and the second shot bounced. My first shot from the T70 hit and pinned, but Steve rolled a 6 on the morale check, resulting in a 'beyond the call of duty' event. He passed the skill test for the 222 and as such his unit got an immediate order. He used this to reverse back, then advance behind the ridge line! His unit was now out of LoS. This is an example of why you roll each of your two shot's in a 'shoot shoot' action individually - my second shot was wasted as the 222 was out of site, and if I had rolled them both together the chain of events would not have worked correctly.

Enemy in sight! Engage!
Where did he go?! I swear we hit the fascist dog!

My BA64 engaged the infantry to it's front with it's LMG, but did no more damage - the MG34 team was still pinned.

My other units moved up, where orders allowed!

In Steve's turn 5, he decided to take on my A/T gun with his 222. Despite the close range, the Armoured Car failed to observe the deployed gun. I think the gunner was recovering from the T70's near miss!

His Infantry also advanced, while the A/T gun went back on overwatch:

While his Panzer IV waited on my T34 being activated (because we had messed up when these tanks arrived, Steve waited till mine had gone first).

There is a really nice camo pattern on this tank, which I am going to steal!
A better view of the camo! This is a Forged in Battle vehicle.
Over to me for turn 6, and my 45cm gun zero'd in on the 222. An AP shot tore through the vehicle, setting off the ammo... (Observed, rolled to hit, rolled to penetrate - boom!). Steve was forced to take a Battle Counter. My T70 attempted to move, but was shot at by the 5cm A/T gun. This caused the tank to become pinned. This did mean I had less to worry about for my T34's movement.

My T34 roared forward, ready to bring death to the enemy! Despite me calling it a Sherman several times... in the end I kept it behind the hill, away from the A/T gun. My infantry also moved forward, the squad in the forest moving into the corn alongside the T34, while the other squad moved into the forest. In the centre my infantry moved into the corn to follow the A/T rifle team, which had moved into the hedge line beside the T34. My MMG team moved forwards, into the corn field. I took a BR card in order to unpin my T70 (I was hoping for a special event card! But got a 4.

View of the end of Turn 6 from my side.
View from Steve's
In Steve's turn 6, he 'moved moved' his Panzer IV over onto the flank, in order to support his infantry (pictured above). Thankfully he had no chance to shoot at my BA64!

Errr... Driver, we must return to headquarters... step on it!
His infantry made the hill top hedge line, along with a MG34 team. his infantry in the corn above also shifted away from the BA64's line of fire into the treeline. The 5cm A/T gun goes back on overwatch!

In my turn 7, my BA64 bugged out, and got behind the forest. My T7p0 moved forwards, again being hit and pinned by the 5cm A/T gun. This time, I rolled an 'above the call of duty', and my tank rolled forwards! This meant I got to use the order I had given, and then another order! the T70 'moved moved' and then 'shot shot' at the A/T gun, pinning it.

My T34 moved onto the hill, along with a squad of infantry. The T34 fired at the Panzer IV, but missed. My turn ended! In Steve's turn he moved the Panzer IV to get a shot at the T34 and present it's front armour. He also missed.

His infantry on the hill top were joined my a second MG34 team, which shot at my advancing squad. A lot of dice later, and I decided to use the 'withdraw!' rule, which means a infantry unit taking two or more hits in one lot of shooting can only suffer one casualty but falls back 10" (or into cover) and is then pinned. The commissar will be having a word with the survivors after the battle!

His infantry in the woods moved to the tree line, while on the other flank his infantry advanced along the base of the hill. At the end of the turn he took a BR counter in order to unpin his A/T gun and his MG34 team.

In my turn, I moved my T70 around the flank, to get a side shot at the Panzer IV while the T34 engaged it from the front. Two lots of shooting from the T34 and one from the T70 did nothing (we had decided as this was our first game not to track tank ammo).

My MMG team brought the infantry in the woods under short range fire. Steve then decided to use the 'withdraw' rule to fall back into the trees, away from the deadly chattering Russian machine gun!

Concerned about the tank battle, I limbered up my A/T gun and started to move it back into the centre - although I was going to struggle to deploy it with the Germans still holding the hill! My Sniper, who had been on ambush all game in a position where he could see nothing, moved up onto the bottom of the hill.

In Steve's turn he engaged the T70, but did no damage. He also limbered up his gun and began to move it forward. One of his infantry squads moved towards my sniper team around the rear of the hill. Fire from this squad was ineffective against the scouts.

Over to me again, and my MMG team took the track and towed A/T gun under fire. Three hits saw the truck destroyed, and the gun crew of 3 men took 3 casualties - knocking out both units. Steve then had to draw two Battle Counters. At this point I offered to let him rewind and change his orders to the truck and gun, but he was fine just to continue.

My sniper team fired at the infantry squad - killing the sergeant (no real effect in game terms) and causing the squad to fall back and be pinned (Steve decided to use the 'withdraw' option again when I inflicted two casualties).

The firing at the Panzer IV resulted in no hits from the T34 and a pin on the Panzer IV from the T70.

Steve suffered in these later turns with really low orders dice. I think he had 2 orders only for 2 turns.

In his turn Steve attempted to shoot up my A/T rifle team, but no damage was done. At the end of his turn, he unpinned his Panzer IV and infantry.

In my turn, the T70 moved forwards to point blank range.

A round from the T70 whacked off the Panzer's side armour and cause the tank to be pinned. The T34 then joined in, hitting the front armour with it's 76.2cm gun and causing another pin check.

Steve rolled a 1, and the crew abandoned the tank. Steve was forced to take another BR card.

With that, Steve's BR rating was equal to his remaining force strength, and he had no anti tank guns left. The Russian's were victories!

A great game, Steve had laid out a cracking table and seemed to enjoy the game, despite the poor dice towards the end. We did spent a lot of time looking up vehicle and gun stats, due to the layout of the books - but this will be resolved by the use of unit cards next time we play. All in all a great day out for me, and I hope we can make it a regular occurrence. It's also the first time we're aware of where MMM members have met and arranged a game through the group!

I also really enjoyed getting to see Steve's cracking collection of various periods and scales, all painted to a fantastic standard! If your not familiar with his work, you should be! Check out his blog here.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

MMM May Challenge, Week 2 Update

Hi folks,

Slightly later with this weeks update, mainly due to lack of having anything interesting to show!

Last night I got the 1st matt varnish coat on my 2nd batch of German infantry, leaving me with just one more lot to do... and the basing, guns, mortars, etc.

Painted and varnished, awaiting basing - the M10's are not part of the challenge, being finished last month.
So with these now off the painting table, I'm left with:

Only this lot to do - the mortars themselves also need built and painted, but I will do them once I have started the basing. The guns are at an early stage here as well.

In other news, our community (Miniature Modelling Mayhem) got a nice mention in the Miniature Wargames with Battlegames magazine this month (June edition). Really nice to get some recognition for what we're doing and for our use of technology as part of our hobby activities. If you don't use Facebook, you can also join our Google+ community group here. While I'd encourage people to join in on our hangouts, we have lots of nice stuff posted to our Facebook group from community members - as well as it being a great place to ask questions and get tips.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

MMM May Challenge, Week 1 Update

Hi Folks,

Not much to show off currently, I've been blocking in the basic colours of the 115 German Infantry that I currently have on my desk. Something of a thankless task! I'm planning on starting to tidy up the base colours and get a wash on the first smaller batch this week.

In other news, I revisited my research on 89. Infanterie Division, and with a little luck and the help of my German speaking friend, I came across another source. Which led me to this:

Not very clear on these images, but basically these are from interviews conducted with one of the divisions officers at the end of the war. They are not quite perfect sources, being taken more from recollection. But I'm happy that they are more accurate than most other information I have come across.

What they tell me is the specific information I was looking for about the units OOB during Totalize. That the infantry units had 7.5 cm and 5 cm A/T guns, that the A/T company only had 7.5 cm guns, that the artillery had 2 batteries of German 10.5 cm guns, unusually 1 battery of 88 cm guns and one of French 15.5 cm guns. The SP gun and AA elements were not present, being 'on the way'.

There is a reference to the unit possibly having 'no rocket projectors of the heavy type', which may mean Nebelwerfers or possibly, in the context, Panzershrecks. Russian 'howitzer infantry cannon' were used instead of infantry guns.

I've some other documents which I have yet to read, but cover the unit through August into September. I hope they might shed some more light on what the unit went through. It also reveals this units perspective of what happened during Totalize.

I'm really happy with this - I also now consider that I'm better informed about this German division than the authors of the few books on Totalize I own!

To catch up on what some of the other members of MMM are up to in the challenge, check out this recording of our Saturday chat (hosted by myself).

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Miniature Modelling Mayhem May Painting Challenge

Hi folks,

With the end of April and the MMM April painting challenge comes the start of May and a new opportunity to join in!

Given the success of the April challenge and the growth of the Miniature Modelling Mayhem (MMM) community, we decided to run the same challenge again starting on the 1st of May through until the 31st May.

To take part, all you need to do is commit to painting, within the month, a number of units that will be a challenge for you. That could be one single 28mm figure or an army of 6mm figures. We're trying to encourage participants to use this as an opportunity to pick a unit or units that you have been putting off or that are a particular challenge to paint.

Personally I'm going to be continuing to work on the FoW Germans. With them being mainly infantry they are a real challenge for me to get done in a decent time frame.

This months goal for me is to finish:

5 x PaK40's with 26 crew/command.
8 x 8cm mortar teams with 39 crew/command - 2 teams for my HQ using battlefront models and a platoon of 6 teams + command.
6 x snipers/spotters - 3 teams of 2 men each for my HQ
1 x sniper character - no plans to use in army!
1 x Pioneer platoon (48!!! Infantry/command) - 3 squads of 15 riflemen plus command.

Our community Facebook and Google+ pages have more details of what we managed to finish last month, and what everyone is aiming to finish in May. The hope is that people try out the Google+ Hangouts we are holding or post to the community sites, sharing your progress and giving other community members a boost by liking, following and commenting on their efforts. Feel free to check our pages out and join in!