Thursday, 9 November 2017

BATTLEGROUP REPORT ACTION AT STAVALOT

On Sunday 5th November Myself and two friends Tony and Graham played a game of Battlegroup at the Wyre Forest Gamers Club in Kidderminster. The scenario which was arranged by Graham was based on the action at Stavalot, which took place on 17 - 18 December 1944 during the battle of the bulge, between elements of the US 526th Armored Infantry Battalion and Joachim Peiper' SS Panzers. A first hand account written by Capt Charles A. Mitchell can be found here.

All the German 8 man squads had 2 MG42's mounted on bi-pods and allowed to fire both with one order, this immense rate of fire would prove useful eventually but still took a lot of orders to clear the woods. There were four objectives: 1, a warehouse 2, a bridge (which was set to explode) on the west end of the river and 3 and 4, two houses within the town North of the river.

The US forces commanded by Graham were occupying the town North of the Ambleve river and had forces including Anti tank guns occupying a wood to the South East and a Warehouse on the South West of the board. Me and Tony played as the Germans and were to enter along a road on the South East corner. Tony immediately entered a building and attempted to suppress the US MG squads in the woods, the US return fire under AMBUSH orders. More infantry sections moved to and around the House on the South East corner, and a fierce exchange of fire was exchanged while Panthers moved along the road to the South.
Action at Stavalot
 One section of grenadiers took casualties but elected to fall back supported by a second section and finally a 3rd who managed to pin one of the US 30 cal. positions. The US troops stood firm in the woods and this was proving a stubborn obstacle as our Panthers were unable to cross the field unopposed with 2 AT positions covering the route as our flanks would be exposed, a further position on the South Bank of the river opened up with a QUAD cannon.

I was able to pin the AT position on the South West corner with one of the Panthers and a second was put on reserve move. The US AT gun in the woods was finally silenced and a 30 Cal. team killed forcing Graham to take counters (one of which resulted in an immobilisation token being pulled out the bag and placed on one of our lead Panthers). Never mind we still had its gun to use to support the others, some of which were on reserve move by now.

Turn 4! things were starting to look up and we decided to let the cats loose. I destroyed the AT position on the South West corner of the board with H.E. From a Panther allowing my second Cat to move to a fire position on the corner of the road ready to suppress further Infantry in the Warehouse. At this point the rest of the Panthers and a King Tiger were able to move out across the field with infantry in support. Graham decided to err on the side of caution and retreat from the woods (with Tony hot on his heals). It was now that Graham had forgot to mention a very small but crucial element to the scenario, we needed to hold an objective by turn 8 or suffer a penalty of taking a battle counter at the end of every turn. (No time for chess then).

AT position destroyed
Retreat from the woods









Turn 5. The Quad had been silenced by now and this now allowed us to spread out. Tony would concentrate his forces on the right flank and I had the task of taking the warehouse. Our second Infantry platoon took up position to support the panthers on the South West corner and our engineers moved along the road ready to deploy for the bridge.

Wolverine takes a hit
Turn 6. US reserves move on from the North and are accompanied by two Wolverines. We decide to call in our off board 105mm artillery and target the buildings north of the bridge and manage to pin a squad of infantry and a second troop being carried in a soft skin truck. We also began hammering the infantry in the warehouse with HE from the armour but they survived again and again and again!

Turn 7. My Panthers are fired on from the Wolverines (PING!), the favour is returned and scratch one Wolverine.

Turn 8. The US forces occupying the warehouse finally started to take casualties and retreated to the other side of the river. My engineers who were earlier put on a reserve move now moved at top speed in their half-track to the outskirts of the warehouse during Graham's turn, and deployed in their own turn moving straight into the warehouse. As they deployed within its footprint they automatically entered under cover from MG squads and tanks on AMBUSH fire.

US troops holding the warehouse
New tennants mpve into the warehouse










Turn 9. The Panthers and MG's now begin to pepper the buildings and US forces are pinned.

It was half past six and the decisicon was taken to end the game, it was obvious that Graham would not be able to have stopped us from crossing the bridge with our engineers dis-arming the explosives under heavy covering fire. Any armour or anti tank capability he had, had already been taken care of, already used up or constantly pinned.

 During the many games that are played over the afternoon at the club we were visited by the local Tiger, it would be rude not to give it a mention or have taken the photo.


Monday, 8 August 2016

BATTLEGROUP SCENERY

So there I was the other morning getting ready for work, the wife calls to me “Have a look what some one has done to the car”........ oh crap I thought what is she on about..... So I went out side and some local fool, probably on the way home from the pub had decided to deposit a house FOR SALE sign from further down the road onto the roof bars of our car.

So rather than return it like a good neighbour should do I chopped the wooden stake into pieces for my chimenea wood pile and the corrugated plastic board is now coming along nicely.

Over twenty feet of various lengths of road section including junctions and crossroads : )
A visit to the pet shop for the necessary base material (sand / grit ) only 70 pence for a good sized bag of it. Then pop next door to the pound shop, Brown Emulsion £1.00, Grey Emulsion £1.00, PVA glue and filler £1.00 each and a small mixer pot of the paint I already have in the shed as a substitute for Bleached bone / Iraqi sand along with a few drops of white emulsion.

Not bad for under £5.00 and an hour or two here and there. Here's hoping that some one may decide to leave approximately forty square feet of 2 inch insulation foam outside the front gate then I can start my new gaming table. : )

Stage 1:
Cut the board into your required lengths, twelve inches is a good start as most gaming boards are in feet. Use one of your miniatures or vehicles / carts for an estimation of the width. I then cut square sections to use a junctions and intersections. Using these I then reduced the lengths of some of the road sections -1 and then – 2 of the square sections from each length. This gave me options to create various intersections while maintaining 12 inch lengths.
Stage 2:
Mix your PVA glue and Filler in a pot to a 50 / 50 ratio, and apply this to the road sections to create the required finish. You may want to create ruts etc. On a few of the sections I applied thicker applications and formed it with my finger to create shell craters. Random pieces of the lager grit can also be added to the middle of the road sections not forgetting to build up the edges to create the higher mounds on the side of track roads this can also be created by applying your first lot of base material (the grit) along the edges while the solution is still wet. Next sprinkle the sand generously over all the sections that have been coated with the PVA filler mix. Shake off the excess into a tub to save for the next time and leave to dry (a good 24 hours) maybe less.

Stage 3:


Base coat all the sections in your required colour, I chose brown watered down a little to allow it to flow into all the gaps of grit and sand. Then allow to dry thoroughly before applying your first Highlight, by dry brushing a lighter shade of the base coat (this is where the white emulsion is added to the original colour) some experimentation will be required. An even lighter colour can be
applied later with an even more sparing dry brush.

Stage 4:

Once the emulsion is completely dry you can then pick out individual pieces of grit with the Bleached bone.

Stage 5:

You may want to further embellish the road sections with foliage or pieces from your bits box.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

THE BATTLE OF BLOODY GULCH.

The Farmhouse viewed from the Western woods
Had a game of Battlegroup with a friend from the Alumwell Wargames Society on Saturday gone. Set around the German counter attack after the initial battle of Carentan. The scenario is actually in the Battlegroup Overlord Book and it plays out as it was on the day, early morning of 13/6/44. Interestingly the area remains largely unchanged to this day. I decided to take control of the German forces, and wish I had taken more notice of the historical records. To be honest the game pretty much played out as was in reality.

The Stugs Capture objective 2

The board has 3 objectives and the Germans start by holding objective 1 a small building on the South West corner. The Yanks initially hold Objective No 3, the farmhouse and the Germans deploy Fallschirmjaeger along the Western edge of the board. These are quickly reinforced by 3 Stug IIIs
The 1st Stug falls

 

Then again in turn 3 another 3 Stug IV's and     a  Pz Grenadier platoon from the Western edge. Turn 4 see further Pz Grens Platoon and an AT Tank Pak 40 on Western edge. To win I needed to hold position 2 a junction on the South East corner and capture and hold objective 3 from the Yanks.



The remaining Stugs ambushed
The American Paratroopers were holding on by the skin of their teeth against a lot of German armour, but turn 6 and 7 see 2 troops of Shermans ten in total coming on from the Eastern board. As I decided to send most of my Stugs down the road they were mere target practice for the late arriving Shermans and the lack of turrets allowed them to be fired on at near point blank range with no chance returning fire.






Off board mortars and Artillery also played an important part, the Americans to begin with causing devastation amongst the pinned Fallschirmjaeger, and again later on when the Germans zeroed in on the Farmhouse. I did manage to get the farmhouse by deploying grenadiers who were riding on my surving Stug, but would not have been able to hold it as the americans still had a platoon of armoured infantry in reserve. If played to it's entire conclusion we agreed that my friend would have eventually hammered the remaining pinned German troops with HE, whilst retaking the farmhouse with his Armoured Infantry.

More reinforcements
Lone survivor almost there

As you are probably aware it did not fair well for the German forces, but it just goes to show that you recreate history on the gaming board.


Half time was look in the loft at his H/OO model rail layout, and a much needed bacon and egg bap. We also discussed a new rule set command HQ and thought about combining the combat phases from this rule set with the battlegroup setup. It would play similar to the Napoleonic games we recently played, which themselves were a combination of Lassalle and Principles of War. Each battle group have a number of dice and 1 set can cancel out the other and the loosing force pick up detractors which when reaching the maximum loose the group altogether. The beauty of this is that 1 vehicle can represent a whole troop or squadron and the combat phase is more fluid.




His pride and joy, needed to restrain myself from taking on another project after seeing this.



As you can see from the battle group tokens the Germans suffered heavily after an initial assault the Airborne troops were able to hold them off until armoured support arrived.


 A test play of an ambush scenario with the alternate combat rules.

And another test play, in this instance a superior gun on the Jagd can easily take on a advancing troop of Shermans.