Thursday, September 25, 2014

Project Kursk 31: Yet More German Bits and Bobs

I finally feel like I'm reaching the end of my Kursk project, and starting to extend the forces I have into the late and early war in the east. On the workbench is a second platoon of German Panzergrenadiers and their halftracks, but I've also just finished a Sturmpanzer Iv Brummbaer and Bergepanzer III.

Many thanks to Man Cave Paul for both these models, that he picked up for me at ?Cancon (is that right Paul?) Both are made by Skytrex/Command Decision.

The Brummbaer has a coating of Zimmerit, so really it postdates the battle of Kursk by about 6 months. As a result, I painted it with green and red/brown over Dunkelgelb, rather than the more usual solely green, so that I can use it in games of Fall of the Reich. If I can keep my OCD tendencies under control though I might also use it in Kursk games.

Battle Group has nice rules for recovery vehicles, and I do love the way that the rules give you a reason to include such exotic vehicles in your force. I'm quite looking forward to fielding the Bergepanzer in my next game.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lion Rampant

My copy of Lion Rampant, the new Medieval rules by Dan Mersey arrived yesterday. I'm really looking forward to having a go of these. As with Dan's other set of rules in the Osprey series, Dux Bellorum, Lion Rampant at first glance is beautifully laid out with clear explanations and examples. I like Dan's rules a lot, and this set is going to give me an excuse to paint some more Fireforge Knights and maybe even one day dabble in Perry Wars of the Roses stuff. Just a little, mind you. Nothing extravagant.

Congratulations to Dan! And just quietly, I'm pretty chuffed to see a couple of images of my figures making it into the book...

6mm ECW Reinforcements

In the midst of my current obsession with all things Battle Group, I've managed to finish three more regiments of Baccus 6mm Parliamentarian foot for my ECW project.

As a result, I now have a pretty respectable Parliamentarian army, so it's time to start thinking about painting up the Royalists.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Project Kursk 30: On to Prokhorovka! 1000 Point Game AAR

The stress of command

I've started a Battle Group Kursk campaign, using a map generated from Google Earth. On Monday night we played the first game at the D6 Lounge, Roseville, a 1000 point Defence Line game as the Germans started their attack on the first day of the Kursk offensive. I played the Germans with my friend Paul (proxying for Man Cave Paul), who has never played a miniatures game before and had to be told what 'D6' means. The Soviets were commanded by two recent graduates from the school wargames club. Let's call them Piotr and Lorenz.

Soviet Commanders looking cocky

For those interested in such things, here are the codes for our battlegroups, which can be loaded into the excellent online force builder. German Panzer Division battlegroup:

Soviet Rifle Division battlegroup:

I'll hand over now to the German Commander's report.

'Herr General-Major!

Following an initial bombardment our troops advanced on a narrow front against the Soviet line at 6am. The road on our right flank led through wheat fields to a village, where our observers identified a number of dug-in Bolshevik tanks. To our left was an open field, heavily mined, but with seemingly little covering fire. I therefore began by advancing our StuG squadron on the right as a feint, and in the hope of engaging an exposed Bolshevik KV1.

Our StuGs immediately came under heavy fire from prepared Bolshevik artillery, and remained pinned throughout much of the morning. Our mortars returned fire on the village, where we had already mapped a target point, with some success at pinned some enemy infantry dug in around the houses.

Strong Soviet defences around the village

As reinforcements arrived, I deployed them into the open field on our left. Our Panzer IV squadron advanced to draw the ambush fire of a dug in enemy T-34, allowing a squad of armoured pioneers to advance rapidly and clear the nearest minefield. I have recommended their Unteroffizier for a decoration. Our armour sought to exploit this gap on our left decisively, but suffered considerably from pre-registered enemy artillery which was cleverly sited to cover the enemy minefields, something we had not anticipated.. One of our Panzer IVs was abandoned after taking direct hits from heavy Bolshevik mortars. Our attack was failing to make ground, and to make matters worse the Bolsheviks launched a reckless tank attack which destroyed our battery of Hanomags with Wurframen rockets, although the enemy lost two tanks in return.

With aerial reconnaissance reporting the advance of Soviet armour reinforcements, I considered it vital to establish a foothold in the enemy village. Since the centre of our line was not under artillery fire I launched what forces were able to move obliquely from the left through the wheatfields and into the village. Our Panzergrenadiers attacked with great elan, rapidly occupying some houses and putting Soviet artillery under fire. Despite my own Panzer IV being pinned by heavy fire, two StuGs and the remaining Panzers also managed to rapidly knock out several enemy tanks and crack the front defensive line before the arrival of Bolshevik reinforcements. Seeing this, the remaining enemy withdrew, leaving the village in our hands by 11am.

Through the gap!

My forces are pursuing. Heil!
Major von Durnen.'

As always with BGK this was a cracking good game that had everything - tanks hitting random mines, dogged Soviet tanks refusing to die, air attacks being driven off by Flak... Paul and I were happy to pull off a win on points, with our Battle rating much healthier than the Soviets when we had to finish up, although we failed to achieve the decisive brakthrough I had hoped for. The pre-registered Soviet artillery made it very difficult to get our attack underway, and although it only cost us one tank, we had to take multiple Battle Counters to try to keep our troops moving. Fortunately, once we found a gap through the artillery zones we were able to move decisively enough to force a result.

In campaign terms, our victory saw the Germans bludgeoning their way through the first Soviet line, but failing to reach the second. Our next battle will be a smaller rearguard action or meeting engagement as the German advance units attempt to maintain the tempo of the attack.

Great game, enoyed by all, and Paul discovered the pleasure of tabletop mayhem. Here he is recording his first knocked out tank for posterity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Project Kursk 29: German Extras

Had an absolutely cracking game of Battle Group Kursk last night, which I'll write up when I have a chance. For the game I painted up a couple of specialist German vehicles. The first is a SdKfz 251/16 flamethrower vehicle, which BGK lists as the platoon commander's vehicle for an armoured pioneer platoon. I'm pretty sure that's not accurate, as I would have thought they were used as specialist support rather than command vehicles, but hey. The kit is a standard PSC Hanomag converted using their very handy special conversion set.

Vehicles like StuGs tend to run out of ammo very rapidly in BGK, which makes it imperative to bring along some logistical support. I generally just use supply trucks, but I have a box of the Minairons 15mm Panzer Is that the good people at War & Peace Games sent me, so I converted one as a armoured Munitionsschlepper.

I just had a few photos to work with, but as I understand it the later Munitionsschlepper I just had a box superstructure on top, off-centred to allow access to the side crew hatches. This was much simpler than the earlier version that had a large hatch over the turret ring, but must have much less room for stowage. This was a dead easy conversion, which is no doubt only vaguely accurate, but I'm pretty happy with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

SAS for Battlegroup Fall of the Reich

One of the Recce options in Battle Group: Fall of the Reich is a SAS Jeep Patrol. It isn't cheap, costing 66 points, but it is very powerful. Each jeep carries a three man team, including a Bren Gun, and are classified in the rules as Assault Troops, so are particulalry good at close assaults. The Jeeps each carry two Vickers K guns, and in their Recce capacity the teams are able to act as artillery and air spotters and benefit from the Behind Enemy Lines rule, meaning they can be placed anywhere on the board after the rest of everyone's recce has been deployed and then start the game on ambush fire.

I had a couple of airborne recce Jeeps lying around from Skytrex (I think), so did a bit of rough converting so they resembled SAS Jeeps from 1945 in NWE. There are lots of things wrong with them. The Vickers K mounting at the front should be for twin guns, the shields aren't right, blah blah blah, but I think they sort of look the part, and I'm certainly looking forward to trying them out. I'm also reasonably happy with my first attempts at Denison Smocks in 15mm.