Friday, December 7, 2018

Battlegroup Kursk - Oboyan Road AAR - July 10/43

While our group has very much enjoyed several years of playing and customizing the Battlegroup Panzergrenadier (BGPG) series of rules by Dave Brown, I got a hankering to try something different and decided we should try out the WWII Battlegroup Kursk rules. 

Using the previous BGPG rules, several years ago our group began a whole-war eastern front campaign, beginning with scenarios for Operation Barbarossa. Since then we have worked our way through the eastern front timeline until we are now at Kursk, so the Battlegroup Kursk rules happen to fit right in!

The Battlegroup Kursk (BGK) system uses a common rulebook for all of their supplements (of which there are many.) The supplements contain the army lists and a history for a particular campaign and theatre. So I purchased the rulebook and the Kursk supplement (how appropriate!), plus the Soviet and late German vehicle cards (recommended!). We play on a 6x4 table in 15mm scale with units based on mainly Flames of War sized stands so I had to add a few separate German LMG teams that BGK requires. We use a red marker to denote a unit's order is complete, green for on Ambush Fire, blue for on Reserve Move, yellow for pinned, and a numbered marker for men left in a unit. With these few changes I was able to fulfill all the needs of BGK with what I already had available!

The Battlegroup Kursk system is based on points and has detailed pre-defined army lists that are historical, with a number of generic scenarios to play. I have previously stayed away from points based systems, preferring to set up custom scenarios based on historical battles.

However, for this learning scenario for our group, I stuck with the points system (560 each) at Platoon size and the generic meeting engagement scenario, Attack/Counterattack. I changed the scenario setup zones from diagonal to horizontal, left out the availability of aircraft, and picked vanilla forces for both sides. If we like the Battlegroup Kursk system well enough we will then test how well it accommodates custom scenarios.

This AAR is rather detailed and lengthy so bring a favourite beverage if you plan to read through it all. Or, for a shorter viewing, the photos will tell the story well enough. :-)

Scenario: Oboyan Road - July 10, 1943
Levering off of our last BGPG scenario with Grossdeutschland Division near Berezovka I just couldn't help myself and had to put some kind of spin on the scenario to make it seem less generic!

Historical Overview:
Kursk - South Offensive: As part of XLVIII Panzer Corps, 11th Panzer Division continues to attack north on both sides of the road to Oboyan against the Russian 309th Rifle Division and elements of 31st and 10th tank Corps while on their left flank to the west the Grossdeutschland Division remains occupied.

'Mine And CounterMine Operations In the Battle Of Kursk', by BRTRC.

German and Russian Briefings:
"You are ordered to attack north (German) and south (Russian) and eliminate any enemy in front of you. Also to capture any stockpiles of fuel or materials of value. Air support is engaged elsewhere but you have your Battlegroup mortar battery dedicated to your advance, plus possible Corps mortar support."

Rick (Kapitan Lowellski) and I (Kapitan Chappov) as relative newbies take the Russian side and Tim (Hauptmann Millander), who has already played BGK a little, along with Brent (Hauptmann Pollsteiner) take the German side.


The table displays the terrain that lies near the road north to Oboyan and shows the table entry edge for each side.

Russian Battlegroup: (Kapitan Lowellski & Kapitan Chappov)
Reconnaissance: Sniper & Spotter, BA-10 Armoured Car
Forward HQ: Forward HQ (Sr. Officer, Gaz Jeep) & Communications Relay Team
Frontline Assets:
  Infantry: Rifle Company: Company Command Squad (Officer)
                     1x AT Rifle Team
                     3x Rifle platoons (each with)
                        Rifle Platoon Command Squad (Officer) + AT grenades
                        4x Squads (7 rifle, 1 DP LMG)
  Armour: T-34 Platoon: 3x T-34/43
                T-34 Tank: 1x T-34/43
  Artillery: Off-Table Mortar Fire: 3x 82mm Mortars
  Defenses: For the Motherland! (adds 1D6 to Battle Rating)
Logistics: Supply Column: 2x Supply Wagons
Additional Fire Support: Off-Table Artillery Request: 3rd Priority (5+)

Total Points: 558 Battle Rating: 35+1D6 Total Officers: 5 Total Scouts: 2

German Battlegroup: (Hauptmann Millander and Hauptmann Pollsteiner)
Reconnaissance: Sniper & Spotter, SdKfz 222 Armoured Car
Forward HQ: Forward HQ (SR Officer, Sdkfz 251/3) & Communications Relay Team (Kubelwagon)
Frontline Assets:
  Infantry: Ist Panzergrenadier Platoon: Command Squad
                    Rifle Platoon Command Squad (Officer)
                    3x Squads + 3x AT grenades
                    3x MG Teams (MG34)
                    Combat Medic
                2nd Panzergrenadier Platoon: Command Squad (Officer)
                    Rifle Platoon Command Squad
                    3x Squads + 3x AT grenades
                    3x MG Teams (MG34)
                    Combat Medic
  Armour: PzIVH Squadron: Officer, 3x PzIVH
                Panzer Ace! (Elite + bonus on Fire)
  Artillery: Off-Table Mortar Fire: 2x 82mm Mortars
Logistics: Supply Column: 2x Trucks
Additional Fire Support: Off-Table Artillery Request: 3rd Priority (5+)

Total Points: 560 Battle Rating: 37 Total Officers: 4 Total Scouts: 2

Game Play:

Place Objectives (2 each side):
The Germans win the toss since the number of scouts on each side was even so they place the first objective, a fuel dump in the south centre woods. The Russians place a fuel dump near the west woods. The Germans place a destroyed KV-1E on the south road (wounded crew inside needing rescue?). The Russians place a fuel dump near the east woods. The Russians roll a nice 5 for "For The Motherland" putting their Battle Rating at 40.

Scout Phase:
Hpt. Millander places a sniper in the woods near the fuel dump and an SdKfz 222 armoured car nearby. We Russians place a sniper in woods at the top of the centre hill and a BA-10 (proxied a BA-6) armoured car near the west fuel dump.

Turn 1 German: (no reinforcements allowed)
With no Russian units nearby, Hpt. Millander has the German sniper claim the objective (Russians draw a battle counter) and move up to the woods edge. Then he orders the 222 AC to double-move behind the protecting east hill toward the Russian east objective, threatening to claim it. (Rats!, we Russians forgot to place a scout unit near that fuel dump and now we may lose it to that pesky armoured car!).

Turn 1 Russian: (no reinforcements allowed)
Kapitan Lowellski has the BA-10 claim the objective (German draws a battle counter), then move up a bit behind the house. He gives the sniper an Ambush Fire order.

Turn 2 German: Reinforcements (squad+LMG near the centre building, comm team in kubelwagon behind the centre woods, HQ in 251/3 behind centre woods, PzIV on the open at centre).
Hpt. Millander gives the sniper an Ambush Fire order. The 222 AC again double-moves to near the Russian east fuel dump objective, stopping near the building so the Russian east objective will fall into German hands at the end of the German turn.

The German squad & LMG double-move up into the centre building, the PzIV at centre is given a Reserve Move order and the comm team's kubelwagon moves up behind the woods. The HQ in the SdKfz 251/3 double-moves up behind the east hill.

The east fuel dump becomes controlled by the Germans from the proximity of the 222 AC. The Russians draw a battle counter. They draw the specialty counter, Low Ammo!, which the Russians play on the sniper. But a 1 is rolled for no effect. Rats!

Turn 2 Russian: Reinforcements (2 T-34s at east side, HQ in west woods, one squad in east woods).
Kapitans Lowellski & Chappov order both T-34s to move up and shoot that pesky enemy 222 AC. One T-34 must be blind and doesn't spot and the other must have been finishing off his vodka and misses! The HQ is given a Reserve Move order. The BA-10 radios in an artillery request to the Battlegroup's mortar battery and sees the spotting round land near the the top of the centre hill (yellow) so calls in Harassing Fire involving the sniper, and the squad & LMG in the centre building. The squad and LMG pass their cover saves but the German sniper is pinned down! With the sniper pinned, the Russian east squad moves up to the edge of the woods. At the end of the Russian turn Hpt. Millander orders the PzIV to use Reserve Move to move onto the centre hill in LOS of one T-34.

Here is the table at the end of Turn 2 showing the moves and fire.

Turn 3 German: Reinforcements (2x PzIV - one in centre, the Panzer Ace, and one toward the east edge, platoon command plus squad & LMG behind the centre woods)
Hpt. Millander gives the PzIV to the east a Reserve Move order. The second PzIV (Panzer Ace!) in the centre is already in sight of a T-34 and shoots twice at it, missing both shots. Whew! The PzIV on the hill also shoots once at the T-34 and misses, then moves west off the hill to the stone fence out of LOS of the BA-10. Dang! Kap. Lowellski & I were hoping it would stick around for a juicy side shot from the BA-10! The HQ in the 251/3 moves to the centre woods and disembarks. The platoon leader, squad & LMG just move up into the woods. The 222 AC, seeing the T-34s on it's tail, runs like a rabbit into the wheat field near the stone fence to gain some cover.

Turn 3 Russian: Reinforcements: (2 T-34s on centre road, platoon commander in east woods, communication team in west woods corner).
The T-34 near the marsh but closest to the 222 AC decides that being in the crosshairs of the PzIV Panzer Ace is unhealthy and moves around by the building out of its LOS and attempts a shot at the German HQ but doesn't spot him. The other T-34 by the marsh fires at the 222 AC and, despite being obscured, smokes it! (the Germans draw a battle counter. This also means the objective will fall back into Russian hands again so, unless contested, the Germans will draw another battle counter at the end of the Russian turn. The platoon commander in the east woods moves up to the woods edge to peek at the German HQ, planning to bring down some mortar fire there next turn. Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order one newly arrived T-34 to move up the road and fire a hasty shot at the vulnerable 251/3 but it misses. The other T-34 moves up onto the hill, hull down, and also fires at the 251/3 and misses as well (need to bore sight those guns!). The squad in the east woods is given a Reserve Move order. The BA-10 is given an Ambush Fire order to make the west PzIV think twice about advancing. At the end of the Russian Turn the east PzIV activates its Reserve Move and boldly moves to the east side of the hill in LOS of the T-34!

Here is the table at the end of Turn 3 showing the moves and fire.

Turn 4 German: Reinforcements (medic in centre garden, squad and LMG on west side)
The comm team disembarks in the centre woods and the kubelwagon withdraws. The platoon commander in the centre woods double-moves to near the top of the east hill, making a good observation post for mortar fire. The empty 251/3 moves around the hill to the east by the PzIV. Then Hpt. Millander orders the PzIV in the east to fire at the T-34 near the marsh and destroys it! The Russians draw a battle counter (this was an important learning point about the game mechanic where the Reserve Move is used at the end of the last Russian turn to move the PzIV into LOS of the T-34, and then gets to fire right away in this next German turn!)

Then the squad and LMG in the centre house fire at the Russian sniper and get a hit but it passes a cover save. The sniper, angry at being woken up, returns fire at the LMG team using Ambush Fire but misses. The west PzIV fires once at the sniper and misses then moves to a new position further near the west hill.

The PzIV Panzer Ace at the centre board edge is ordered to Reserve Move. The medic and the west squad & LMG do not move (no orders left).

Turn 4 Russian: Reinforcements (4 squads & platoon commander near west woods, AT Rifle team in the east by the marsh.)
Kap. Lowellski uses the Russian special rule Ura! Ura! Ura! to order the blue platoon to move all 5 units south toward the west woods. The BA-10 double-moves over behind the west woods to support the infantry advance there toward the German left flank (and to get away from those hot PzIVs!).

The AT Rifle team sneaks up into the marsh, hoping the 251/3 will dash forward and meet an unexpected surprise. The east platoon commander in the woods calls in mortar fire on the east hill but the spotting round scatters off the table. The T-34 on the road attempts to fire at the HQ in the woods, this time with suppressing fire, but misses. Terrible shots! The Russian sniper fires at the platoon command on the hill and hits with Aimed Fire, causing one casualty! Since he is a sniper he can pick the casualty so the officer is KIA! One less German spotter! No more mortar fire ordered from there!

Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov give Ambush Fire orders to the T-34 behind the centre house and the T-34 on the hill to hopefully deter the advance of the PzIVs. At the end of the Russian turn the PzIV Panzer Ace uses his Reserve Move to move up into obscured LOS of the T-34 by the building, boldly trusting in his front armour. The T-34 uses Ambush Fire to fire twice and misses both! (this looks bad since you rarely get more than one chance against a 75L48 wielding tank and a Panzer Ace to boot!)

Here is the table at the end of Turn 4 showing the moves and fire.

Turn 5 German: Reinforcements (squad, LMG and platoon command on west crop.)
Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner order the PzIV (Panzer Ace) to fire and it smokes the T-34 behind the house! Yikes! The Russians draw a battle counter. The PzIV and 251/3 halftrack behind the hill both fire at the AT Rifle in the marsh with no effect. The HQ in centre woods orders a mortar strike which lands with FFE near the east hill causing 2 pinning hits each on the squad and platoon commander in the east woods. The squad passes both cover saves but the platoon commander is pinned with one casualty. Then the LMG in the centre building fires on the sniper and hits, eliminating the spotter and pinning the sniper (who remains on the board since a sniper can be a pinned single man). The west PzIV is given a Reserve Move order. The medic and squad/LMG in the centre west and the west platoon commander, squad and LMG do not move (no orders left).

After German Turn 5.

Turn 5 Russian: Reinforcements (company commander - only 1 reinforcement!)
The ATR team in the marsh decides to sneak up to the edge of the woods and fires at the halftrack, and hits it but no penetration. Arg! Unfortunately for the ATR team the 251/3's morale check is a 6 which invokes Beyond the Call of Duty allowing the HT to fire back, which continues with lucky dice and KIAs one member of the ATR team and pins the unit, so it is eliminated due to Last Man Standing. Another Russian battle counter draw!

With the loss of the AT Rifle the Russian left flank is weakened. So Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order the HQ to use Tactical Coordination to attempt to unpin the east woods platoon commander which costs the Russians a battle counter. The attempt is successful and the platoon commander is immediately given an order to request a mortar strike to hopefully soften up the German right flank. The spotting round drifts slightly to end up on the centre hill but still close enough so FFE is called in with 3 mortars. One shell hits on the PzIV's armour side and one threatens to pin it but the tank shrugs it all off. The HQ and sniper both pass their cover saves from pin hits. So no effect from the barrage. Sheesh!

The company commander in the centre attempts to call in a Corps level mortar strike but fails the priority check. The T-34 on the road and the BA-10 are given a Reserve Move order. The big Russian platoon in the west uses Ura! Ura! Ura! to move into the middle of the woods. The squad in the east woods takes a shot at the German sniper in the south woods with no effect and then moves back into the woods. This ends the Russian action phase.

The German PzIV near the centre road uses Reserve Move to move toward the top of the west hill but the T-34 on the hill spies him just as he gets his motors revved up and uses Ambush Fire, firing two shots, hitting with one which destroys the tank through side armour! It is now two tanks left on each side! The Germans draw a battle counter.

After Russian Turn 5.

German Turn 6: Reinforcements (squad & LMG behind west wood, medic behind east wood)
With a Manoeuvre and Fire order the east PzIV moves up onto the hill, but before it fires at the nearest T-34 on the road, Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order the T-34 to use its Reserve Move to move south into the woods. Instead, the PzIV attempts to fire on the T-34 on the hill but does not spot it. Then the Panzer Ace moves out into the open by the east hill with Manoeuvre and Fire and fires at the T-34 on the hill and misses.

With the AT Rifle threat neutralized, Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner order the halftrack to advance and MG fire at the Russian platoon commander in the east woods with Suppressing Fire which pins it (again!). The centre medic moves up behind the building. The east medic moves up into the centre woods.

On the west side the platoon commander in the crop calls in a mortar strike on the west woods with the Russian platoon hiding in it. The FFE barrage lands just on the table edge but near enough to pin one squad and pin the platoon commander with one casualty. The squad & LMG in the west crop move up to the edge of the crop and the 2 squads and 2 LMGs behind the west woods move up into the woods. There is now a major German infantry presence in the west. The objective there looks to be a tough nut to crack for just one Russian platoon. At the end of the German actions the Russian BA-10 uses its Reserve Move to move up onto the west hill, thinking some mortar fire on the woods full of Germans is needed.

After German Turn 6.

Turn 6 Russian: Reinforcements (4 squads & command in the centre)
The BA-10 orders up an artillery strike on the west crop but the spotting round drifts out of LOS behind the west woods and is lost. Drat! Two Russian squads in the west woods move up to the edge of the woods. One fires at the platoon commander in the west crop and pins it! That should hamper their mortar spotting! The second squad fires at the LMG at the edge of the crop and pins it as well!

Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order the newly arrived platoon to use Ura! Ura! Ura! to move into the centre woods. The company commander attempts to call in a Corps mortar strike but again fails priority. Hoping to try again for the Corps mortars, the HQ attempts to unpin the east platoon commander using Tactical Coordination, causing a battle counter to be drawn, but the attempt fails. The T-34 on the road in the centre woods fires at the LMG in the house with both MGs but no effect. The other T-34 on the hill, now in a crossfire from two PzIVs, one a Panzer Ace, decides it is getting too hot and double-moves to the west behind the centre woods out of LOS.

After the Russian Action phase, during Rally, the Russians draw another battle counter and unpin 3 units, the east platoon commander, the sniper, and the west platoon commander. Here is the table at the end of Turn 6 showing the moves and fire.

Turn 7 German: Reinforcements (2 supply trucks in the east, 1 squad & LMG in the east woods)
The 251/3 moves up into close range and fires at the understrength platoon command in the east woods but misses. Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner decide to intensify the fire on the crippled unit and orders the PzIV on the hill to advance and also fire at the platoon commander, and this time eliminates it! The Russians draw a battle counter.

The 2 squads & 2 LMGs in the west woods move up to the tree line. The squad in west crop shoots at the Russian squad in the west woods and hits, knocks down two men and pins it!

The LMG in the centre building fires at the sniper and hits but the sniper passes a cover save. The squad and LMG in the very east woods advance to the edge of the woods while the supply trucks hold position.

In Rally Phase the Germans draw a battle counter and unpin 3 units, the platoon command on the hill, the platoon command in the west crop, and the LMG in the west crop.

After German Turn 7.

Turn 7 Russian: Reinforcements (the last 3 squads plus a medic in the east woods, supply cart in the west)
Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order the squad in the west woods to fire at the German platoon command in the west crop with Suppression Fire, which pins him(!), before moving east to the woods edge out of LOS of the LMG & squad. The platoon command and other squad in the west woods also move east into the house and garden behind the stone wall.

The sniper fires at the LMG in the house and obtains a hit and casualty but the nearby medic rolls 5+ and patches up the casualty so no effect! The platoon in the centre north woods uses Ura! Ura! Ura! to move toward the centre woods. The two T-34s are given a Reserve Move order.

The company command spots for mortar fire on the east hill which drifts a bit but stays in LOS. Three pin hits on the PzIV and 2 pin hits on the halftrack but both make all their cover saves so no effect. The Russians run out of orders too soon and have none left for the BA-10 or supply wagon.

After Russian Turn 7.

Turn 8 German: Reinforcements (none left)
The LMG and squad in the west crop both fire at the Russian squad in the woods causing casualties and the Russian squad rolls a 1 on it's morale check so Routs since it was already pinned! The Russians draw another battle counter. The 2 squads & LMG in the west woods fire 6 shots at the BA-10 to try and suppress it and all miss.

Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner order an LMG in the west woods to sneak up within 10" of the T-34 and fire at it, pinning it! The squad and LMG in the centre building see the juicy exposed Russian squad on the hill and fire at it with 2 shots each. The Russian squad takes casualties and is pinned by the first German squad fire. The second LMG fire causes more casualties forcing a second morale check which rolls a 2 and the Russian squad Routs! Another Russian draw for a battle counter! The total of all these battle counters is starting to get serious!

The PzIV on the hill takes an Ambush Fire order to guard the north end of the woods in case a T-34 bolts that way. And the PzIV Panzer Ace stays on Ambush Fire to guard the south exit, trapping the T-34s behind the woods. The LMG in the east woods repositions a bit to the west and the squad there takes a Reserve Move order. The HQ orders a mortar strike near the advancing Russian platoon in the centre but the spotting round drifts out of LOS behind the trees. Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner order the 251/3 to move to the extreme north board edge and fire at the exposed Russian squad there in the woods but after arriving it fails to spot the squad. The Germans draw a battle counter and unpin the sniper and the platoon commander in the west crop. (No end of turn photo.)

Turn 8 Russian: Reinforcements (medic in centre)
The company command tries to call in Corps artillery and fails to get priority for the 3rd time. Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov order the BA-10 to place an artillery request near the west woods and the spotting round lands in LOS. The FFE strike causes squad casualties in one squad, which rolls a 6 on its morale check for Beyond The Call Of Duty. The squad passes it's experience test and decides to advance and close assault the BA-10 with AT grenades! Full marks for guts, but the squad rolls a 1 on the assault and takes casualties. The squad Routs on a low morale check roll with no effect on the BA-10. The Germans draw a battle counter.

The squad in the east woods is given a Fire and Manoeuvre order, firing at the 251/3 and pinning it before moving out of LOS into the woods! The Russian squads do not have AT grenades or it might have been worthwhile assaulting, like the German attempt against the BA-10.

The centre medic moves up behind the sniper. The sniper fires at the squad in the centre building causing a casualty (medic fails his roll ) and pinning the squad. Before moving the T-34s, hoping to draw the Ambush Fire from the PzIV Panzer Ace, the platoon in the centre woods takes an Ura! Ura! Ura! order and moves to the east edge of the woods. No luck since the PzIV Panzer Ace holds fire. The German sniper fires at a squad and misses. But now the Russian squads are exposed to the German small arms.

Kaps. Lowellski & Chappov decide to go 'all of nothing' and give a Manoeuvre & Fire order to the T-34 on the road with only 1 AP round left. The T-34 moves around behind the woods to approach the PzIV Panzer Ace with front armour. The PzIV uses Ambush Fire and fires, easily destroying the T-34 before it can get off a shot. Rats! The Russians draw another battle counter. Then the HQ uses Tactical Doctrine to successfully unpin the second T-34, costing another battle counter. The last T-34 repeats the order, moves into LOS of the PzIV, and fires at the PzIV getting a solid hit on the side armour and destroying it! So the Germans draw a battle counter. One for one!

Now that the PzIV on the north hill doesn't need to guard against a T-34 dashing out the north side of the forest it uses Ambush Fire to fire at a squad and pins it.

End of Russian Turn 8.

Turn 9 German: Reinforcements (none left)
Hpts. Millander & Pollsteiner order the German HQ to move back out of harms way since there is about to be a major small arms firefight. All available German units fire, or move & fire, at the Russian platoon in the woods. It is like shooting ducks in a pond!

The LMG in the east woods double fires and the east squad moves up and fires. In the centre woods the sniper fires and then the LMG & squad move up into LOS and fire. One high point for the Russians is when the squad fires it causes a Beyond The Call Of Duty which the Russian squad passes so it unpins and returns fire getting 5 hits (wow!) and the German squad fails all 5 cover saves (amazing!) and is eliminated! The Germans draw a battle counter. The command squad on the hill plus the PzIV on the hill continue to pour on the fire.

After the smoke clears all the Russian squads are pinned with casualties but all amazingly survive their many morale checks! The north Russian squad has 3 men left, centre squad has 4 men left , and the south squad has 5 men left!

The damage is not quite over yet. The LMG in the west woods fires at the T-34 and pins it! All the squads and infantry in the west woods fire at the BA-10 and miss. The LMG in the building fires at the sniper and misses.

Turn 9 Russian: At this point the Russians concede the game since the Russians total of their battle counters is 39 and the game is lost when it hits their Battle Rating of 40. With 4 infantry units pinned, most with heavy casualties, and the last T-34 pinned there is no way to draw a battle counter to unpin even one of them without losing the game. If the Russians don't unpin then the next German turn will be a repeat heavy German Fire which will likely eliminate at least one of the 3 squads and require a battle counter draw anyway. To make it official, the Russians draw a battle counter, a 3 which puts the battle counter total at 42.

Here is the table at game end.

Tallying The Score:
The Russians drew 13 times plus the 14th to end the battle for a total of 42 for battle counters and the Germans drew 10 times during the game for a total of 21 for battle counters. Three of the Russian draws were due to the use of Tactical Command, otherwise the total number of draws for losses and rallies would actually have been pretty even! But the Russians had an average draw value of 3.0 so were not as lucky at the draws as the average draw value of the Germans at 2.1. In addition, it was fortunate for the Russians that air support was not used in this scenario since two of the German battle counters drawn were aircraft which would have resulted in some nasty surprises!

Historical Aftermath:
Grossdeutschland's swing to the west to aid 3rd Panzer Division left 11th Panzer to go it alone, resulting in little further headway along the Oboyan Road due to determined Russian resistance.

Comments On The Scenario:
This Attack/Counterattack scenario and the force mix were a good choice to use as a BGK learning game. It requires use of all of the game mechanics for infantry, armour, and artillery. A key learning is that minimizing the draws of battle counters is most important! No more last minute charges accepting heavy losses just to secure an objective! We Russians didn't think that taking draws for Tactical Coordination to unpin single units would cause us to reach close to our Battle Rating so quickly! The Russian late game advance with infantry and T-34s toward the German east objective ended up being too costly and certainly proved the ineffectiveness of advancing against a well defended enemy position without adequate troops supported by heavy artillery and tank support!

This game took about 8 hours to play over three evening sessions, but we are just learning the game and are generally slow players at the best of times!

Comments On The Battlegroup Kursk Rules:
The bottom line is that our group feels it is fun to play and we will try a historical scenario next to test out how it works with that!

From my point of view only, when I started to write down how I feel about the BGK rules after this first game with our group, it prompted a general analysis session with myself about how BGK compares to other miniatures rule sets. This led to what ended up as a rather long list of things I 'like' about BGK and a shorter list of things where BGK falls outside of my 'sweet spot.' Obviously more game play is needed to verify these initial conclusions. It went like this...

Each of the many sets of miniatures rules fall somewhere on an artificial line, with Abstract (eg. Chess) at one end and some sort of interpretation of 'Heavy Simulation' at the other which represents 'realism' and 'historical accuracy'. Even if it were possible to achieve a very high degree of simulation in a game, it is not really desirable since it sacrifices playability. Trying to approach the simulation end of the line with tabletop gaming rules faces many design issues as discussed in Warwick Kinrade's interesting article 'Move to Contactin his wargames blog. 

Therefore, to be a playable game, all rule sets must be abstracted to some degree, determined by the designer. The interesting part is that all players will gravitate towards rule sets that are at or near their personal "sweet spot" along the Abstract/Simulation line. Hence the many, many different rule sets, each with their own following that swears by them. It's all good!

One thing that I look at is the degree of 'consistency' that a rule set maintains on the Abstract/Simulation line. Are some of a game's rules "spread out" along the line more toward the simulation or abstraction ends? Or are all of the game's rules mostly clustered near the same point on the line. For me, rule sets that are more consistent lead to fewer head scratching moments during game play when an abstracted rule is suddenly being played along side a more 'realistic' rule. So when when rationalizing whether a particular game rule from any rule set perhaps needs a house rule modification, it is important that the new house rule still be consistent within the target design target level for Abstraction vs Simulation of the original rules and that it does not 'naturally' drift away too much, usually toward the simulation end that we all seem to seek.

A gaming friend of mine once said, "There is no such thing as a perfect set of miniatures rules." So far I have found this to be true. All of the many, many sets of rules I have played needed some house rules. The ones that didn't need many changes, that were close to my 'sweet spot', got house rules. The ones that didn't seem to fit my preference were just dropped.

The previous WWII rules that our group has used for the last few years are Dave Brown's Panzergrenadier series that we like well enough to customize to our taste. My feeling so far is that Battlegroup Kursk lies a bit more toward the abstract end than the Panzergrenadier series, but not too far, not out of reach of our sweet spot. Knowing this, I still have to slap myself to not bring 'baggage' from that previous rules set to our BGK game. Pleasantly, so far I find the BGK rules to be inherently reasonably consistent with just a few peculiarities noted below under 'things that jump out'!

Things To Like:
- It is fun to play which overrides a lot!
- Low unit density on the table provides opportunity for manoeuvre.
- Hidden Battle Rating system to end the game and inject special actions.
- Separate suppression and aimed fire mechanics. Most rule sets undervalue suppression.
- The fire mechanics seem to yield pretty reasonable results.
- The Beyond The Call Of Duty rule.
- All the special rules that add flavour. For example: Ura! and Stal! that highlight Russian tactics.
- Separate German LMG teams, like an extra squad, but more brittle and needing a separate order.
- Low man-strength Russian platoon commanders having less firepower and being more brittle.
- The artillery resolution rules, initially daunting, later become fairly easy to use and seem to fit well with the game, plus neatly avoid the use of a template.
- The limitations and composition of unit choices when playing a points based generic scenario seem quite historical.
- Active support by players and designer on Facebook and the Forum (Thanks!).
- Company support with release of numerous theatre supplements and vehicle cards.

Things That Jump Out:
Allowing for BGK's design level of abstraction, these peculiarities stood out for me:
- No infantry platoon benefit for squads being near their platoon command (except for Ura!).
- Indirect Fire by on-board artillery at tabletop vs. historical artillery ranges is too hard to for me to rationalize even given the game's sliding range scale.
- The ability to spot close-range tactical mortar fire from a Russian reconnaissance armoured car is quite generous.
- Mortar spotting from both German and Russian platoon commanders using the same communications roll probability as for a dedicated observer seems overly simplified.

House Rules Used:
- LOS into/out of woods is 1". LOS is 2" between units inside the same woods. LOS is blocked for any woods that intervene between two units that are not in the woods. Wrecks block LOS.
- Units may not fire through friendly units unless either the target or firing unit has a height advantage.
- No On-Board indirect artillery fire is allowed except by mortars and the German 75mm Infantry Gun (minimum range of 30 inches).
- If the spotting round goes out of the LOS of the spotter, the artillery strike is cancelled because the spotter could not see the fall of the spotting round. LOS to a drifted spotting round is valid past low obstacles but is blocked by high obstacles. Low = low hills (level 1 or the 'green' portion of our high hills). High = woods, buildings, and high hills (level 2 or the 'brown' portion of our high hills).
- A vehicle that is moving to a new location and initially pivots more than 90 deg from its initial facing loses 1D6 movement on its initial movement.
- A hit from Aimed Fire at a turreted vehicle will strike the hull on 1d6 roll of 1-3 and the turret on a 4-6.

I am looking forward to seeing how the BGK rules will work in a historical scenario. If it performs well we will likely devise a few more house rules to further accommodate our perceived local 'preferences'. Our group meets in my basement to play custom historical scenarios, so for these we don't need to stick to the rulebook that is the standard when playing scratch games at our excellent local gaming store.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this AAR! Next game will still focus on a Kursk battle so it seems very appropriate to use the Battlegroup Kursk rules!

Until next time...



  1. Thanks again for setting it up Gary. It's always fun to play with you guys and I'm looking forward to Ponyri Station!

    1. Thanks, Tim! Yes, that was a fun game! Glad we had our full crew to play it!

  2. Nice report...

    Just do as I do, and take off table artillery... for me BG really shines in historical games but that's perhaps because we play as many historical scenarios as we do points based games.

    1. Thanks, Piers! Yes, we will take off-table arty! Glad to hear that BGK works well for historical battles! Cheers!


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