Monday, August 14, 2017

Blood in the Streets, A Fall of the Reich AAR!

 Well folks, as part of the Potomac Wargamer's series of games, I ran a 1500 point company level game of Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich (hereafter referred to as BG:FOTR). It was a bloody, fun game with well, probably some of the best terrain I have ever laid out, and while I wish we had a bit more time, I do feel with the time we had, we did have a pretty good game nonetheless.

 The game itself was a modified version of the "City Assault" scenario found in the BG:FOTR book, with some small differences, mainly the only objectives for the Soviets were the Factory, and the Government Administration Building. I allowed a one BR penalty for that, as well as allowed the Soviets to have a "color party" of three men who had to get to the building and raise the Red Banner over one of the two buildings for an additional BR penalty to the Germans.

  We also played with some modified orders rules, by which each unit had 1 automatic order, and then each side commander rolled 1D6 for a pool of orders by which they could activate a unit for a second order. If a BG HQ was present, another D6 was rolled for them, by which that result could be pooled amongst the side commanders. It was a good system, but in my opinions, it needed tweaks.

  Anyhow, here was the load of stuff I brought with me for this urban maelstrom:

Good lord, was it a lot of stuff to bring! But the effort was SO worth it.

 For the sides, we had Fred, Brian, and Lou. For the Germans, it was Norm (who was new to BG) and Mike, who was an experienced BG referee and player,and was a huge help to me on Saturday, THANK YOU MIKE.

  The sides consisted as follows:


       1 Inexperienced Volksgrenadier Platoon (with a Pak 97/38)
       1 Inexperienced Volkssturm Platoon
       1 Veteran SS PanzerGrenadier Platoon (with a Pak 40 and a Quad 20mm Flak)
       1 HJ Tank Hunter Squad
       1 Feldgemanderie Team
       1 FO with a battery of off table 120mm Mortars
       1 Panther
       1 Hetzer
       1 Puma Armored Car
       1 Sniper Team
       1 Minefield
       4 Barbed Wire (About 40", I wound up a few inches short, but it did not matter)
       1 Road Block
       3 Barricades
       1 Sniper Hideout
      1 Inexperienced Rifle Platoon (with ATR and Maxim Machine Gun)
      1 Regular Motor Rifle Platoon
      1 Veteran Pioneer Assault Platoon
      1 Company of 10 T-34/85s (+ 1 more as the Battlegroup HQ)
      3 SU-76
      1 Scout Sniper team
      1 M3 Scout Car with a Mechanized Recon patrol
      1 FO with a battery of off table 82mm Mortars

  As you can see, the Soviets had a lot of armor, and some very good and nasty infantry at their disposal. They also had a plentiful number of T-34s. It was hammer against what looked to be a very shaky German anvil, but we would see how this would play out, eh?

Soviet recon forces lead the advance, Urrah!

A shot of the table early in the battle, there's the factory on the left and the government administration building on the right.

  The game began with the Germans losing the recon battle, and ending up drawing two chits for that and the confusion of the urban game, to the Soviet one. it was interesting, considering the events that occurred later. The Soviets led off with their Rifle platoon, though minus it's heavy weapons, which I found to be really an interesting play, and the Germans began the defense with their Volksgrenadier Platoon. 

   As German resistance stiffened, and a few Soviet squads began to get wiped out (2 in the space of a few turns), the Soviets brought in their tanks, and AFV, who began to reduce the German positions one by one (none of the German squads were wiped out, per se, but two out of the three German squads had 1-2 men left, and had shot off their only Panzerfausts in an attempt to slow down the Russian advance, but early on, the Germans were throwing a ton of "1s".

  But, soon, German fire began to tell, first, it was the hapless M3 Scout Car (who has only survived one game, and that was because it hid all game, but that's another story). It hosed down a German position with MG fire, but exposed itself to the Hetzer...and was promptly blown apart.

White Scout Car go Boom!

  It wasn't long before a Panzerfaust found a T-34 and fireballed it as well, but this was going to be the extent of German anti-tank futures for quite some time:

Panzerfaust, meet T-34?
  After some fire between the withdrawing Volksgrenadier, and the advancing Soviets, and some exchange of mortar fire (most of which wound up being called off due to the fact that both sides spotting rounds were redefining the definition of "danger close"). The Soviets continued the advance with the armor in the lead, and using their T-34 mobility to great effect, running down barbed wire and speeding through a minefield (which failed to do much more than give the Soviet players some minor anxiety, as the Germans flubbed that die roll too). 

T-34 about to breach the barbed wire
  The Soviets continued their advance, and after knocking out the hapless Pak 97/38 (which did little more than pin a T-34), looked as if things were looking bad for the Germans, whose reinforcements couldn't have arrived at a better time. The Puma went and reinforced the German left, which after knocking out the M3 Scout Car, looked as if it was doing alright, the Volkssturm also took up positions in the Government Admin building, which made any Soviet prospect of victory in that direction look iffy at best. So, all eyes turned to the factory, and on came the German rolled on with an attitude of "Here Come the Judge! Here Come the Judge!" I thought German fortunes might change at this point.

   Um nope. The Soviets did what smart Soviets did, they massed their fire on the Panther. The first hit pinned it..and the second, forced it to be abandoned. Abysmal morale rolls were just killing the Germans that day.

The Panther, taunting the German players with its ineffectiveness.

  At this point, the Germans were losing faith, and I think Mike had failed his Wargamer Morale Check. He and Norm were drawing up lists of whom to shoot after the game (I pointed out that at the rate they were going, they were liable to shoot just about all the survivors on their side.) But, to their credit, they hung in there and shifted some reserves and brought in the Waffen-SS Panzergrenadiers.

  And that's when German fortunes began to swing...a little. The Hetzer shifted position from the German left, to the center, and quickly picked off another T-34, and the German mortars began to be a little more accurate (but the booby traps proved not to be much of a thing, killing a grand total of two Soviets). 

  By the end, we had run out of time, but the Germans won on points, having lost only 15BR to the Soviet 38BR. There were some complaints as to the randomness of the BR system being random, but morale and the staying power of a force is pretty random in general, if you ask me.

  All in all, I think it was a good game, and the terrain really was some of the best I had ever put out. One person did mention that I should reduce the size of the game, and make the entry of forces a bit more "structured", and they're right, so if I run this at a con, expect to see forces half of what I put on the table.

 But good god, it was fun! And, I just noticed, this is post # 10! I want to thank my players, Fred, Brian, Lou, Mike, and Norm. You guys made a great game. Brian, thank you for hosting us! I more than appreciate it! 

A SU-76 cautiously noses its way forward.

The Soviets roll forward towards the Factory

A German Pak-40 sets up in the open in a desperate attempt to slow down the Soviet advance

Soviet troops occupy the remains of a church

Another panorama of the battlefield.

Another Soviet position

Monday, August 7, 2017

Somewhat OT, but worth mentioning...Someone is suing GW for 62.5 Million.

My only surprise in this whole matter is...what took someone so darn long. If half of the litany of accusations is true, I am surprised the FTC did not come down on GW like a ton of bricks being held in place by multiple kitchen sinks.

The kicker for me is the following, as stated in the article found here, that GW's markup makes the recent markup involving the price of epi-pens look like amateur hour, with and I quote:

"GW sells 1-inch-models like the ‘Imperial Space Marine’ for $30.00 retail online, requiring a ‘minimum’ of $10 Shipping. Stores contacted the V.P. of ‘Double-Grand’ (associate of GW’s Asian suppliers) and received a Confirmed quote of “3-cents-per-figure” for said 1-inch injection molded plastic figures. GW sells mass-produced plastic at 50,000-percent-mark-up! Its not a 100% markup for 6-cents, not a 1,000% for 60-cents – but 50,000% at $30.00!?..."
(taken from the article, and quoted from the original complaint)

If this markup is true, it isn't just excessive, it's usurious, and it is confirming something many in the hobby have more than suspected for some time. The suit is also alleging that GW is in violation of the RICO act, as well as Titles 15 and 18 of the United States Code, which is making this suit a criminal matter.

Your author will keep an eye on this case, but it's just another legal issue for GW. One wonders where this suit will go.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Awesome Historicon Adventure, Part 2.

As I said on "500 Miles...", there was a lot of stuff for my historical side to be engaged in, as most of the games I got into last weekend were of the World War II variety. No complaints at all, but I figured it would be of more interest here.

As for stuff for my historicals, I picked up in 20mm a pair of painted BT-7s and a BA-10 or 32 (I cannot tell the difference) and a Puma (I needed to get a replacement) as well as another M-18 and a M-10. I also got another Stug-IIIG, but it has a broken barrel, and I might have the means to fix it, if someone out there can let me know whether or not the Stug packed a 75L48 or not? I also got some painted Hungarians (11 of them)...and the piece de resistance...a very nicely done factory. It's going to replace my current one......I honestly wasn't nuts about the Gamercraft one...This one is astethically much nicer and I will have some pics of it up soon!

On Thursday, I got into "Battle of the Atlantic" which was a fictional WW-II battleship bash between the Germans (the Germans had some fictional H class ships to even it up) and Italians on one side, and the Americans, British, and French on the other, the French being represented by Dunkurque. I played Iowa and Missouri, and well, the Germans and Italians had a rough day...and I mean rough. On turn 4, we were basically getting hits at long range on the Germans, and we forced Scharnhorst, Geniesenau, Lutzow, Roma, and Vittoria to retire with heavy damage.

So, the Germans sped ahead with their two H-Class monsters, and then engaged the modern American battleline, made up of 2 Iowas, 2 North Carolinas and 2 Alabamas...considering one of the two ships was named after the old Austrian House Painter himself...guess which of the two caught all the fire? I am happy to say, we sank her, and left her sister pretty shot up by game end, which handed the Allies the victory, at the cost of some very damaged British battleships (mostly older ones) as well as Alaska who had gotten the worst of a gun duel with the Italians.

For those asking, Bismark and Tirpitz were there, and were shot up, but still able to fight. My own ships had taken a bit of a pasting, Iowa was getting ready to head off the table, and Missouri was detaching to fight on when the game ended.

Here are some photos of this madness!

The next morning, I played in a Rapid Fire game called "RattenKrieg", which to be honest, I found to be *meh* though most of the company was personable enough. Simply put, the victory conditions as the game was laid out were impossible for the Soviets (being a Soviet player), and I said so after the game was done. We were to hold a block of six buildings for 10 turns...we had lost half our troops by turn 2. We would pop out, kill a few Germans,and then get hard cover. It made no sense to be honest, and smoke was a little TOO powerful in Rapid Fire. I had suggested, that since the ref said we had inflicted more casualties on points than we lost, he should change it to a delaying action aka, come out ahead on points? (We did kill a lot of Germans, especially tanks). I wasn't nuts about the game and I passed on attending another session. But...I did get some photos of the excellent terrain!

I then took a ton of photos around the con, and some of the games were downright gorgeous:

On Saturday, I got into a WWII fighter combat game based on the old AH "Air Force/Dauntless" rules, moderated by smartphone/tablet Java app..and my god it was fun. It was a 4v4 fight of Wildcat v. Zero. Both sides lost one a/c a piece, and I leaned an advanced tactic of "banking" my ability to turn, and it was a tight, fun game...lots of damaged a/c and I leaned, "use the vertical vs. the Zero." I got very good at staying out of other's firing arcs.

Here's some pics to have a look at.

After that, I played some other games as mentioned on "500 Miles.." , and this led to my final game of the con, a Saturday pickup game of Battlegroup: Kursk, run ably by Mike Pierce. I had fun, though there were a few things were some of us went huh, and I consulted Piers Brand today about. suffice to say, I liked the answers I got, and learned something.

The game was a toughie for us Russians, as we had to cross a lot of open ground to take a hill and a village (though the village had some wheatfields for cover). We did have some Katyusha prep fire, and we used it well, thanks to Mike Byrne, who's former life as an artilleryman proved very useful there. Who knew the German commander could roll like a demon! My first wave of tanks got in, but we bled for it, and we took the front face of the hill by game end, the village to our left, however, was a different story, and would probably have fallen to us if given two to three more turns.

Now the question remained, what of the approaching German armored counter attack? They had lost a couple of Mk IVs, but they still had a lot of tanks...we still did too and the fact was, we had the advantage of terrain now, so I think if their assault had gone probably would have chewed up both sides rather badly.

Mike also mentioned that Fall In will correspond with the 75th anniversary of Stalingrad...I really see an opportunity for that factory!!! In any event, I intend to use it soon...probably as early as next month..might roll out my "East Front Cityfight game" again!

And yes, I have some photos here as well:

In short, it was a good end to a great convention. I had a ton of fun, I will be putting some closing remarks and some items of interest to Battletech/Alpha Strike players in Part 3 on my Alpha Strike Blog.