With the popularity of Chain of Command and the recent release of Ultra Combat Normandy we here at History to Wargames have been toying with the idea of a new rule set to simulate small scale skirmishes. Having looked at the rules for both and liking some aspect of them we decided to give Battlegroup a try at a much smaller point size but a larger scale (1/56) than our normal games.
For this game the larger historical scenario was the fighting in Aachen and the specific scenario was the strong point assault from the rule book. I wanted to include a Panther, so the famous Panther vs Sherman by the church inspired the scenario. The Germans and American were pulled from the Overlord book without modifications. The terrain was the urban table with lots of buildings and rubble to scramble over which was on top of our Cigar Box Battle mat. My philosophy for terrain is to keep it as clean and user friendly as possible. Everything has to be clearly delineated and obvious; it harkens back to my old days of running Flames of War tournaments. Urban action is no different, so ruins have to have clearly marked boundaries to avoid any arguments over who is in and out of cover. I have a big bag of rubble for the dump, but I generally only get that out for photos and convention; they have staff to sweep the floors.
The Germans have one platoon of infantry, one MG and one Panther; much like the John Lee Hooker song, poor choices were made. The Panther wasn’t the best choice as something lighter and faster would have been a better add but I wanted to see it on the table.
The American picked an Armored Rifle squad but didn’t upgrade them to regular. They did add in the halftracks, scout car, Sherman and Stuart. The American Armored Rifle Platoon is one of our favorite around here; it’s the whole package, mortar, bazookas, and .30 calibers.
Orders were 1D6 plus officers, one for the Germans and one for the Americans. This was going to be one of the smallest games we had played and were looking forward to seeing how fast it played and how violate it was going to be with the chits.
The four objectives were placed along with the bunker. The Germans set up in the central ruins with the MG-42 taking up position on the top floor with the command team and a squad supporting them on the first floor. The other squad two set up flanking positions across the street with fields of fire over the best approaches to the objectives. The Panther was in reserve, ready to hit the vehicles as the approached.
The US troops sent the Sherman on the end run, to provide flank support. The infantry platoon massed on the left to make a dash with the tracks into the ruins just in front of the German bunker and central objective. The M8 and the anti-gun were positioned on the central road to provide a screen against a flank attack and to keep the Germans squads from exiting the buildings.
We both knew this was going to be a quick game and the chit bag was going to make sure it was. The Germans pulled three counters on the first turn, the first for being out scouted. Then US player rolled a 6 for orders, so the US troops were able to use the roads to move 24 and dismount all three squads into the cover of the ruins. The squads were being ordered and the German player had to make a tough choice with the MG-42; stay low or use the Ambush. He chose to stay low and that was a bad choice. The American infantry platoon opened fire with two burst and mowed the section. It seemed like the dice and the chit bag were against the Germans.
With the end of the first American turn it was time for the Germans and they opened up with small arms fire. A few brave US troopers were wounded and two squads were pinned down in the ruins but it wasn’t enough.
Things continued to go well for the American and the Sherman showed up adding its weight to the fire going into the ruins and the 3rd US squad pushed up to the face of the building the Germans were in. The Germans continued laying down heavy fire from the third floor of the building across the street but they attracted fire from the M8 and the anti-tank gun. The US guns were accurate forcing the Germans to keep their heads down.
The Panther finally arrived and with a single shot to the side of the Sherman dispatched it; but it was too late. The Germans had taken to many causlties and busted their Battle Rating of 15. Pulling 4 and 5 makes a game fast. The Germans had been forced from one more house and the Americans one block closer to the city center.
We had a good time playing our micro game of Battlegroup. It was fun to play a game that only took about an hour and a half to wrap up. In the small games its import to include enough recon to go out and grab objectives early. The Germans took three counters just from objectives and they were big numbers.
I also like the idea of playing a small 28mm game to set the stage for a larger 15mm game.
Enjoy and check out the podcast here.