Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Water Under the Bridge - Battle Group Kursk AAR

Yup, another set of rules to play.

It does seem like I get around a lot, doesn't it?

I had my first taste of Battlegroup: Kursk over the past weekend. Having only played Flames of War before (and only on the Western Front in Normandy), displacing myself not only in time and place, but in rulesets as well, made for quite the shock. And not an unpleasant one, at that. It was also the first time playing for two other people there, so the newb-to-knowledgeable ration was a bit off!

I'm not going to review the rules, by the way - not in any sort of detail. Maybe some small observations here and there, but I certainly haven't been in this hobby long enough to really judge anyone's rules. You can find a great review here, however, and my thoughts on the rules are very much the same.

Ken, our host, dauntlessly led us through the game, throwing useful tactical advice to us new players (and especially to the Soviet commanders - it wasn't as though the Germans needed any advice!)

The scenario was thus: A group of German armor and mechanized infantry were to defend a bridgehead over a small, yet apparently frustratingly difficult to cross with anything but German tanks, river. The Soviet force, consisting of armor, tank riders, and regular infantry, were to assault the village the Germans had dug into, smash the Germans apart, and take the bridgehead. Piece of tea cake, right?

Wrong. So very, very wrong. 

You can never have too many Russians. 

The game began with the Soviets deploying some T-34's with tank riders, a SU-76, and a T-70, who's main job would be to secure the objective as quickly as possible (and force the Germans to take a chit). Starting with only 5 units on the table was slightly worrying.

The Germans started in the town, with a quartet of StuGs, a Panzer IV, and two recon cars. 

The game began with the Soviets rushing forward, tank riders holding on for dear life as the T-34s make a made dash for the village. The SU-76 crawls forward, and the T-70 makes it to the objective.

Long-range potshots are taken, and the Soviets manage to knock out a StuG.

This is were things started to go wrong. Thanks to a ... rules misunderstanding, the Germans were rolling THREE times as many dice for their off-board artillery. This decimated the poor tanks and tank riders who were relatively unprotected in the open fields, and the attack on their side quickly bogged down. At one point, the Germans managed to pin that entire side, leading to an overabundance of unusable orders. This was eventually corrected, but it definitely hurt. Those German's had some real savvy artillerymen that day.

Now, take that last bit and repeat it, and you'll have our game. The dice totally failed me on this occasion, meaning that our reinforcements trickled in, we never had enough orders, and my tanks couldn't hit anything to save their lives (literally!). We were forced to take chit after chit to keep our units unpinned - thank goodness we had such a high battle rating.

The game ended after a failed assault on the town - the Soviets never made it further than the hill and the initial row of houses, although we did manage to give the Germans a semi-bloody nose. Besides, there are plenty more brave Russian soldiers to throw into the fight!

I'd definitely play again, and now I'm eyeing up the PSC bundles for a small German force in 20mm.

And here's the rest of the pictures taken. I didn't exactly get the whole game, as it eventually got to the point where my entire attention was on the game itself!

With the danger of the open fields, I had the infantry come on and move for the woods.

Unfortunately, Stal! Stal! Stal!...

Quickly became "Stall, Stall, Stall!"

The Germans have how many unit?!

A lone T-34 made a dash for the cover of the village.

And it's quickly joined by other elements of the Soviet battlegroup.

Can you guess how much we hated that recon car?

Enough to send a platoon of tanks after it!

But it just wouldn't die!

The Soviets ready themselves to assault the village.

Stal! Stal! Stal! actually works for once.

And a risky gambit...

Turns into a small, personal victory.

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