Sunday, December 21, 2014

BGPG Deluxe AAR - "Armour Tryout"

Previously our wargaming group gave the new BGPG Deluxe rules a whirl using only infantry. After playing the "Infantry Tryout" (check it out here) we played an armour game to explore the changes in Deluxe for tanks and guns.

Our "Armour Tryout" was played 100% by the Deluxe rules, except for two changes. First, we used the 20mm ranges for firing and activation since we play with Flames of War sized model bases. Second, we replaced the BUA terrain with individual buildings and called them "small terrain features."


Same map as the "Infantry Tryout" Same loose historical basis with a rural setting near Smolensk. The Russians are throwing everything at the advancing German colossus. This scenario is an armour meeting engagement at a small village. A German spearhead meets Russian armour determined to halt the enemy. The Germans are regulars but the Russians are all scraped-up militia, no match for a trained enemy. But will their numerical quantity win the day? Only tanks and AT guns were fielded, without artillery or infantry, so we could learn how armour works with Deluxe.

Same terrain, woods (Difficult), low crops, low hedge, and low stone walls, plus the usual Russian rural village buildings. Same game length of 7 turns on a 4x4 table. No objective was defined for each side except to cause the enemy to lose by reaching Battlegroup Break Point (50% loss). A duel to the death!

Again I used the Deluxe points system with 700 German points and 780 Russian points (ratio = 1.1 Russian to 1 German) to see how it worked. I decided to give the Russians a little extra since they were crappy militia. The Russian side will break after losing 7 tanks and the German after losing 5.

Tim played the Germans and Rick and I played the Russians.

German Force
BG HQ (Radio Truck)
AFV HQ (1x PzBefWgn)
Light Tank Platoon (command Pz35(t), 3x PzII)
Medium Tank Platoon (command PzIIIH, 3x PzIIIH)
Anti-Tank Team (1x 37mm AT Gun, 1x Truck)

Russian Force
BG HQ (BA-6 Armoured Car)
AFV HQ (1x T-26A)
Light Tank Company (command T-26, 4x T-26)
Recon Tank Company (command BT-7, 3x BT-7)
Medium Tank Company (command T-34A, 1x T-34A)
Anti-Tank Team (1x 45mm AT Gun, 1x Truck)

Game Play

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

Rick and I lost the coin toss and had to deploy first. We liked the open field on the left flank and put our two light tank companies there, with the T-34 platoon on the road. The AT gun went on the right to screen our flank.

Tim deployed second with his light PzIIs in the woods (not concerned about bogging down!) to face off against the Russian light tanks. The PzIIIs in the centre to counter the T-34s and the Pak 36 "doorknocker" there too.

Now we looked to see what advantages and disadvantages the Russian might have and quickly realized that Deluxe tightened down even harder on Militia crews than Version 2. Enemy fire on Russian militia AFVs now get a +1 DRM in addition to Version 2's DRMs of -1 for Firing, -1 for Morale tests, and -1 for Rally tests. Another change in Deluxe is Russian tanks are classed as Inferior so when firing under a Tactical Move & Fire Order there is a -1 DRM and no long range fire allowed. Plus an additional -1 DRM if turning turrets in Defensive Fire.

Thinking about this, if a Russian militia AFV is under a Tactical Move and Fire order, the DRM is -1 for militia, -1 for Tactical Move, -1 for Inferior AFV, and no long range fire allowed. That's a -3 DRM before any cover or LOS hindrances the target may have! If the militia AFV is taking fire while moving under a Rapid Advance the enemy gets a +2 DRM (+1 for Rapid Advance, +1 for militia) and if a Tactical Move and Fire order just the +1 DRM for militia. Might as well paint a bulls-eye on them!

OK, Rick and I thought about this and decided that our only chance was to Rapid Advance to close the range to get the +2 DRM to counter the militia/Inferior handicaps. So we decided to go hell-bent-for-leather and try to get the BT-7s and T-26s on the PzIIIs right flank and cross our fingers, hoping the PzIIs would bog down in the woods. Meanwhile the T-34s would close on the PzIIIs left flank and maybe give someone, somewhere, a side shot on the PzIIIs. The plan should go like this...

Well it didn't quite work out that way. Tim advanced the PzIIIs up the road while most of the PzIIs got to the woods edge and both his Combat Groups seriously shot up the BT-7s and T-26s before the T-34s arrived. The BT-7s and T-26s rarely hit while moving plus the PzIIs are a small target and in cover. When they did it was either a ping or a disengage. The German fire, without the Russian handicaps, was pretty deadly, forcing those that survived to disengage back into the crop, suppressed, where one-by-one they perished (-1 to Rally). One PzIII brewed up on a critical hit and one PzII was abandoned deep in the woods on a Bog Test. The only good thing was after their 4th tank flamed up, the Russians passed their 25% Break Point test to lend a bit of hope.

Meanwhile on the Russian right, the T-34s advanced up the road but couldn't get any effective hits on the PzIIIs. Without any need to guard the right flank, the 45mm AT gun also moved up and unlimbered near the T-34's. A lucky shot from the AT gun caused one PzIII to disengage.

Just when the T-34s advanced further up the road, looking for a juicy side hit on another PzIII or two, fire from the PzIIs bagged the 7th Russian tank in the crop field and ended the game. Basically a turkey shoot!

Here is what the table looked like at game end.

Tallying up the score:

The Russian side lost 7 tanks and the German side lost two, only one to Russian fire! A major German win.

Some More Things We Liked About Deluxe (beyond those listed in "Infantry Tryout")

1. AT Fire is similar to Version 2 so it is easy to migrate to Deluxe.
2. Ordinance vs infantry (in this case vs. guns) is nicely incorporated into the new Infantry Fire Table (IFT) matrix.
3. National differences (Command tank, Inferior tank)
4. Crew quality effect (militia crews are awful!).

Some More Things We Are Not Sure Of

1. Terrain LOS hindrances (low walls & hedges) are -1 DRM but shown N/A for AFVs (we used them).
2. A small armour force with one AFV HQ must use the BG HQ to activate an AT gun "in contact."


Everyone liked the game play and are looking forward to playing more BGPG Deluxe. The armour rules have changed in some areas, but much less than for infantry, so we were on more familiar ground after Version 2. We felt the battle yielded pretty much historical results for the militia Russians "charging the enemy" tactic we chose. If the Russian had had the time to play cagey and wait, making the German player attack into a planned defense so the Russian's could fire from cover without moving, and be at short range, the results would likely have been closer. However, mixing it up this way got us to the meat of the armour rules.

It is unanimous that we all want our next game with Deluxe to be a full combined arms scenario with infantry, tanks, guns, and artillery. Looks like that should be on the table some time in January 2015. Until then, thanks for reading here! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! - Gary

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