Thursday, December 18, 2014

BGPG Deluxe AAR - "Infantry Tryout"

Yes, this is a return to action "later-than-I-thought-it -would-be." Hope you all had a great summer! Canadian lakes in summer can't be beat. While the sunny days were "outside" days, even the rainy days were good, allowing me to paint up some new 15mm Russian rural houses (Kerr & King), some wooden fences (Ironclad Miniatures), and some low stone walls (Foxhole Terrain).

Wish summer didn't have to end. After being dragged kicking and screaming into accepting the inevitability of another Canadian winter, buttoning up our small cabin at the lake, etc., I began to dig into the new Battlegroup Panzergrenadier Deluxe rules. BGPG Version 2 is my "go-to" set of rules for reinforced company/battalion level and it was with both excitement and trepidation that I approached Deluxe. Will I like it?

The new rule book is hardcover and massive. I felt quite daunted by it after a first read through. A very impressive and high quality production with lots of photos and information, so much that I was wondering how to glean the essentials for game play. Almost as if the author and publisher had read my mind, I discovered a soft cover "Combat Edition" had been parallel published for streamlined use during game play. The Combat Edition contains only the text from the fancy original. Perfect! I ordered it too and consider it a "must-have."

While the core game is still BGPG, the latest "Deluxe" version has quite a few changes. After a long, careful re-read I posted some questions on the BGPG Forum to clarify some points and these were quickly answered by Dave Brown, the author of BGPG. The next step was to undertake an "Infantry Tryout" game and then an "Armour Tryout" game with our local wargame group so we could explore the new rule changes and see how they affect game play.

This game AAR is for the "Infantry Tryout." We played it 100% by the Deluxe rules, except for three changes. First, we used the 20mm ranges for firing and activation since we play with Flames of War sized model bases. Second, we made all the German squads LMG squads and the Russian squads plain rifle squads. The scenario was July 1941 Eastern Front and at this point in Barbarossa the Russians were lucky to even have 1 LMG per squad. Therefore to better portray the huge disparity between the effectiveness of the MG34 in a German squad and a Russian plain rifle squad we made all the German squads LMG squads. Third, we replaced the BUA terrain with individual buildings, "small terrain features," that would hold as many squads as would fit inside.


Very loose historical basis with a rural setting near Smolensk. The Russians are desperate to stop the German juggernaut and are ordering scraped-up forces to attack the flanks of the advancing Hun. The better trained Russian troops near the border at the start of Barbarossa have all been lost and reserves with only rudimentary training are being ordered to attack. This scenario is an all-infantry engagement pitting two companies of inexperienced Russian troops with no support in an assault against a village containing a dug-in company of German regular infantry.

We wanted to see how Deluxe handled infantry alone, without artillery or tanks, and learn the new changes in command control, Fog of War blinds (attacker advances undefined until spotted), and Defensive Fire activation, plus we hoped the horde of Russians would test out the new Infantry Fire and Close Combat rules.

The terrain is woods (Difficult), low crops, low hedge, and low stone walls, plus the usual Russian rural village buildings. For a short game I set the game length to 7 turns on a 4x4 table. To minimize deployment time the German began Turn 1 with a pre-set deployment hidden in trenches, and objective to hold the largest building containing the BG HQ. The Russian attacker's deployment was also pre-set with all units under Fog of War blinds, each hiding one platoon, and objective to capture the same largest building.

While we normally run defined historical games not based on points, for this one I used the BGPG points system with 355 German points and 480 Russian points (ratio = 1.43 Russian to 1 German) to see how it worked. The Russian side will break after losing 17 squads and the German after losing 8 squads.

Tim and Rick played the Russians and Brent played the Germans while I moderated.

German Force
Battlegroup HQ
Company HQ
Rifle Plt (command, 3x LMG squad + 1x light mortar)
Rifle Plt (command, 3x LMG squad + 1x light mortar)
Heavy Weapons Support Team (2x MMG)
Recon Team (command)

Russian Force
Battlegroup HQ
#1 Company HQ
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)
#2 Company HQ
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)
Rifle Plt (command, 4x rifle squads)

Game Play

Since this is a "tryout" game, the blow-by-blow is skipped and only the game start positions are shown with the lines of advance undertaken during game play.

With overwhelming superiority in numbers, the Russians pushed forward under blinds until spotted and then the MMGs opened up first. Here is where the first big change from Version 2 surfaced. Deluxe allows Defensive Fire fire against more than one infantry squad in an advancing Combat Group, depending on the weapon firing (no -1 DRM as for V2's Sustained Fire). MMGs fire with 4 times the effect of a rifle squad! LMG squads fire with double the effectiveness of a rifle squad! This makes MGs a lot more powerful than Version 2 and very quickly demonstrated that advancing in the open into close assault against an unsuppressed MMG position is pretty much suicide (unless Lady Luck awards the MMG a low roll and a miss!).

On the Russian left flank, rifle fire from Tim's platoons hoped to suppress one MMG but was ineffective against the dug-in German, so the game plan had to shift to Rapid Advance to close assault and hope to overrun the German position with superior numbers.

In the photo below one of Tim's platoons (upper left) close assaulted the building with the damaged roof, trying to outflank the MMG position. The defending German squad LMG fire at close range was decimating and a draw on the assault rolls caused both sides to retreat.

Another of Tim's platoons was pinned with losses due to MMG fire when attempting to cross a road to the building (right). MMGs are nasty!

From the Russian right flank (out of sight in this photo), Rick advanced one platoon taking huge Defensive Fire losses and close assaulted the building (right), winning the action and forcing the German squad to retreat.

This next photo is the view from the German right flank MMG position. Nice view right down the road. Perfect area denial!

While the German right flank defense held secure, the Russian attack against their left flank had more success. Two platoons rapid advanced across the crop taking heavy losses, closed on the German line, and close assaulted. The Russians won the assault, pushed back the Germans to a second line of defense behind a hedge, and most importantly, suppressed the MMG. However, the MMG rallied and the Russians winced at what its next fire would bring.

After starting with 12 squads in his company, Rick was now down to 4 unsuppressed squads and 3 suppressed, facing imminent devastating fire from the MMG unless the Russians won initiative next turn and managed to suppress the MMG again before continuing to advance into close assault.

At this point we ended the game since we felt we had a pretty good idea of how infantry plays in Deluxe. We had also spawned a number of questions about how Defensive Fire groups behave when being close assaulted. This is a big change from Version 2. These questions were answered quickly on the BGPG Forum.

Here are the final positions.

Tallying up the score:

The Russian side lost 7 units and the German side lost zero! At game end the forces remaining on the German left flank were 6 Russian and 5 German, not enough for the Russian to survive a Defensive Fire and win another close assault. Therefore the game was declared a German win.

Some Things We Liked About Deluxe

1. The new Infantry Fire Table (IFT) matrix elevates the effectiveness of MGs.
2. The new Close Assault Result matrix is easy to use and yields damage to both winner and loser.
3. Command Control requirements for activation, plus national differences.
4. -1 DRM for attacker firing during Tactical Move & Fire order.
5. +1 DRM when fired on during a Rapid Advance order.
6. Stationary Infantry -1 DRM .
7. More order choices. Nine possible orders, up from two in V2.
8. Defensive Fire as Combat Group vs. active Combat Group. Eliminated V2's "soaking-off" tactic.
9. New Terrain Effects chart (we may need to add entries).
10. Fog of War blinds for attacker.
11. New Exploit Phase adds uncertainty into next game turn.

Some Things We Are Not Sure Of

1. Other than suppression, no loss of effectiveness to infantry units required to disengage (same in V2).
2. Ahistoric use of the BG HQ, moving it behind advancing Combat Groups to keep them "in contact" as if it were a Company HQ.
3. Fixed rate of Tactical Move (eg. 6 inches) instead of variable in V2 (eg. 2d6).

Things We Got Wrong - (see answers on the BGPG Forum)

1. How Defensive Fire groups work vs. an assaulting Combat Group.
2. Definition of "... in the open" to trigger Stationary Infantry DRM.


With our main questions answered we just need more game time to get into the subtleties of Deluxe. The big "hooks" for me are the new Infantry Fire and Close Assault Tables that are matrix based and the changes to Defensive Fire. These are definite improvements, so far driving me to want to "migrate" to Deluxe.

With this "Infantry Tryout" under our belt, our group moved on to an "Armour tryout" game where we explored the changes in Deluxe for Tanks and Guns. Tune in soon for that AAR! - Gary


  1. Nice to see you guys are back at it!

    1. Thanks, Tim! It's all good fun! I frequently read your blog and wonder at how you do it all. So many games, so little time...

  2. BGPZGR are an excellent set of rules and I find the new Deluxe set plays a bit faster than 1st/2nd edition
    Nice AAR

    1. Thanks, Gary! Always good to hear from a fellow BGPG appreciator, and your endorsement of Deluxe is a bonus. I really like your blog and don't know where you find the time to do it all (grin). - Gary


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