Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday 11 May 2020

Escape from Arras 2 - Five Men at Kursk

Game Two: Retreat from Arras (Five Men at Kursk Test)

I have really felt up for doing some more WW2 gaming recently.  I have been doing a lot of tidying up of my WW2 stuff to enable this, in both 6mm and 15mm, and I think that I may have three or four more days to go in doing this (although I can't help but be tempted with getting just a bit more stuff...!).  But I find all preparing/no gaming a very dull way to proceed, so I set up a small 15mm skirimish game, with the specific aim of trying some of the rules I have that I don't play very often.  I am still working on the full AAR of the first game, so possible more of that later, but for the second game I used Five Men at Kursk, the most recent WW2 offering from Nordic Weasel.


Situation: The survivors of a platoon from 9 Durham Light Infantry have become separated from the main body of their battalion.  They are retreating North, hoping to find their battalion before they are rounded up by German tanks or Panzergrenadiers.

Objective: The British section must exit the board on the top-right hand corner.

British: 1 x JNCO with Rifle, 1 X Private with LMG, 7 x Riflemen
Germans: 1 x JNCO with SMG, 5 x Riflemen

The Terrain:
The British patrol enters from the bottom-left and has to exit the board to the top-right (on the edge between the minor road exit and the stream exit).  There is a small farm complex, surrounded by a couple of hillocks and some woods.

A closer view of the left

And a closer view of the right

And the farm complex - house in the centre, barns to left and right.

The Battle:

The British section moves through the woods (bottom-left)

The British lead rifleman (right) spots the leading German (top-left, just edging out by the edge of the barn) and opens fire

He doesn't do any harm, and the German's reply is equally off target.

The British section attempts to push up the road, but the first man along is hit and is out of the fight.

But the British then shoot the German NCO as he comes up to support his lead man.

More Germans come around the other side of the barn, but some neat British shooting fells another German.

Trying to keep on moving, another Tommy gets hit by a German appearing by the foot of the bridge

The next British soldier attacks him with the bayonet, but the German proves equally adept with his rifle butt has he was with the shooty end.

The British Bren cuts down another German by the barn

However, the Landser at the bridge, is in a state of flow and puts down a third Tommy!

And then a fourth!!!!!!

A scene of the fifth British soldier is hit (centre, by tree)!!!!

The devastated British patrol - the remaining Germans will take any of the living wounded escape from Arras today!
Game Notes:
A good fun game, even if it quickly went very wrong for the British at the end!  My ten-year old was rolling for the British and has learnt a valuable lesson about the fickleness of a wargamer's dice - the German rifleman by the bridge was just unstoppable!!!
Although it is early days for me with this system, I liked it.  It was quite like Nuts! in many ways.  How to put this?  If one thinks of a rule mechanic as a condition (at what point you make a decision and/or roll a die/pick up a card etc.) and a resolution (how you resolve that condition, by throwing x amount of dice, playing rock-paper-scissors, whatever), then the condition part of the mechanics is very similar to Nuts! but, the dice mechanics of resolution are very different.  So for example, Nuts! and FMaK both have a die roll activation system, but in Nuts! one die is rolled and this indicates who can activate; in FMaK a number of dice are rolled and these are assigned to individual soldiers or groups.  Both rules have an action-reaction mechanic embedded with an IGOUGO system, but use different terms (ducked back/hunkered down vs. nervous/scared) for similar, but not the same, game effects.  I am pretty happy with Nuts! in general, although I think that I found FMaK a bit easier to pick up straight off.  I am not quite sure why this is...I think it is probably to do with the fact that Nuts! is definitely easier to play with fewer figures because of the way the sighting and reaction mechanisms work and interact, whereas (within reason) it shouldn't actually matter in FMaK.  But this needs more consideration.

Figures are a combination of Battlefront and Plastic Soldier Company (for late war rather than earlywar, but that isn't going to stop me setting scenarios in 1940!).

Incidentally, I found a very useful You Tube playthrough of Five Men at Kursk here:


  1. Lovely looking game and things went badly wrong for the Brits very quickly! Looking forward to more WWII action.

    1. Many thanks Steve. More WW2 action is indeed on its way, in various forms. Looking forward to seeing more of your action around Salerno too. I wish I had some Italian stuff to have a go at the scenarios too!

    2. You could easily transpose this sort of action to early WWII and use French instead of Italians, Germans insted of Brits. The only downside is you wouldn't have those lovely L3/35 tankettes to play with;)

  2. A great little bit of action there. I have not played 5MaK but have played the earlier one 5 Men in Normandy. I did get 5MaK when it came out but added a layer of complexity to the original so never played. One thing I did find after playing a couple of games is you wait for the right dice to come up before doing something dramatic and found this slowed the game down a little. But that is how it probably would have been - slowly moving troops into the right positions and then waiting for the right moment! I do really like 5 Men in Normandy and prefer it to NUTS! for skirmish games. I found NUTS! has more dice rolling but is over quicker :-) It seems in my 5MiN games the soldiers rally back more often than in NUTS!

    1. Many thanks Shaun. It will be interesting to see how it compares after a few more games.