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.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Kampfgruppe von Luck Campaign: Scenario 002-b, Probing the Hedgerows

This game was the next in the Kampfgruppe von Luck campaign.  It was fought over the same battlefield as the second action (indeed, it is the same scenario) and the Germans are now having another crack with a full-strength platoon.  I made an error in the force allocations for that game - more of which in the game notes later.

 


 

The Forces:

The British forces are based around a platoon from 12 Para.  Some missing elements have returned, but the platoon was weakened during the first action and has thus been re-organized into two sections only:
 
British Para Platoon:
HQ: 1 x Rifle Comd group, 1 x PIAT team, 1 x 2" mortar team, 1 x sniper team
1 Section: 2 x Rifle groups, 1 x LMG group
2 Section: 1 x Rifle group, 1 x LMG group

The platoon was reinforced with an extra rifle group and an extra LMG team for this battle, from stragglers from other platoons within 12 Para.
 
German Panzer Grenadier Platoon: 
HQ: 1 x Rifle Comd group, 1 x Panzerschrek team
Squad 1: 1 x Rifle group, 2 x LMG groups
Squad 2: 1 x Rifle group, 2 x LMG groups
Squad 3: 1 x Rifle group, 2 x LMG groups
 
Possible attachments:
1 x Rifle Comd group (the Company Commander); 1 x Car; 1 x Panzerschrek team; 1 x Unix P107(f) SPW half-track; 1 x Sniper team; 1 x Forward Observer, controlling 81mm mortar battery; 1 x MG42 HMG team; 1 x Werfer strike; 1 x Panzer Grenadier squad; 1 x Pak 40 auf S307(f); 1 x 15cm sFH13 auf Lorraine Schlepper (f)
 
This is the 2nd Platoon of the combined 8th-7th Kompanie force.  I made a mistake in the last action by using the same German platoon as I had in the first, which the campaign rules specifically disallow.  What I will therefore do is rule that the result stands, but the German casualties from the previous battle were all lightly wounded only and will return to action in 1st Platoon's next game.

I am using a variation of the WRG WW2 rules - but more of which later, to explain what is going on with that.

The Battle:

The Germans send in a couple of squads, a Panzerschrek team and an MG42 in the support fire role to begin the engagement.


A wider shot - the British defences (very thin!) begin just after the apex of the wood (centre-right)


One of the German MG42 teams spots movement and fires at the Paras behind the hedgerow - no damage, but the Paras do decide to get out of the line of fire


The Panzer Grenadiers resume their advance

The Paras sneak back into a different fire position, slightly further up the lane; note that their section Bren is further up the lane still (bottom-right)

The Panzer Grenadiers are engaged again when they reach the edge of the hedgerow

One of the MG42 teams is cut down in the firing


The Paras again found the incoming too hot to handle, so pulled back out of sight and changed positions (centre-right)

Meanwhile the Germans on the other side of the track have encountered no opposition at all, or noticed any sign of defence, so they continue their advance.

Leaving the exchange of fire with the Bren gun to their supporting MG42s, the Panzer Grenadier riflemen try to get closer to the next hedgerow.

Rifle and Bren fire rattles out into the advancing Panzer Grenadiers: lots of fire, but not much that was over-accurate; the Germans are suppressed, but no one is hit!

On the other side of the wood, the machine gun exchange continues, now supported on the British side by the platoon 2" mortar

However, the Germans' fire tells first, and the Bren gun team is silenced

A wider shot of the position around the wood: the Paras have lost their LMG, but their riflemen have popped back up (top-left) to help with the firefight; the German Panzer Grenadier riflemen have reached the next hedge line (left)

The other Panzer Grenadiers' rifle group has located the Paras fire from the buildings and the hedge (off-picture to the bottom and right), but the MG42 teams didn't and have advanced forward

A wider shot

A group of Panzer Grenadiers is cut down by rifle, Sten and grenade

And Bren gun fire has killed or wounded the Grenadiers on the other side of the road - only the MG42 teams remain both unscathed and utterly unaware!

At *last* one of the MG42 teams acquires the Paras and lays down some suppressing fire

The other MG42 team (by the wall, between the trees) enfilades them and cuts down 6 Paratroopers in a few moments!!

Another German Squad arrives, this time off to the far flank

A wider shot; difficult to see but the SFMG42 has been able to withdraw slightly to get out of sight of the British mortar team (it is pretty much on the junction)

The remaining British Paras are feeling desperate and their morale is only just holding up - but it has held up well enough for a concealed LMG team to cut down the MG42 team by the wall, which had been suppressed by the concealed sniper (top-right)

The concealed Paras gun down the other MG42 team in the field

The third German squad was advancing under covering fire...

...when an unseen voice is heard across the battlefield, yelling retreat! retreat!

The surviving Germans call it a day

Game Notes:

This one went down to the wire.  I thought that the Paras were doomed and they very likely would have been if the Panzer Grenadiers had inflicted a single additional casualty before suffering those late casualties themselves.  The Germans looked as if they were going to be a more formidable proposition than in the first battle in this area, but after the large initial group was sent in, then any reinforcements took an age to arrive: the reader will have observed there was no heavy support at all for the Germans beyond the tripod-mounted MG42.
Although I think that the solo rules in general worked fine, I think that in this (and the following) encounter I have been applying them a bit too clunkily.  I am specifically thinking about how to act with Panzer Grenadiers advancing who haven't acquired a target. So far, I have made them advance and not take into account enemies they can't see, which is fair enough.  But I have been simply advancing them, when I should probably use at least one LMG team in an overwatch role to cover these advances over open ground.  
One thing I am mulling over is that the rules for spotting essentially don't differentiate between troops static in cover and troops moving in cover (as long as they are moving quite slowly and the cover is good); this is why the Para rifle element withdrew and then returned in a slightly different position.  On some level, this is good tactics (something similar is part of the British Army's reaction to Enemy fire drill even now, although on a slightly different scale) but I do wonder a bit about whether that is optimally calibrated.  Hidden static Paras are really difficult to spot in real life!!! 
Overall though, an excellent game, the rules worked fine and the tension was up there right to the end.  Those German LMG gunners really need to get better at spotting the enemy though!!!!

The Rules:

In the first two battles of this campaign, I indicated that I was using a variant of the WRG 1925-1950 2nd edition rules. This is not strictly true, although it is probably the closest match of games that are on boardgamegeek - and I will always tend to use closest match if the exact game isn't there on boardgamegeek, I like to kind of acknowledge the designer of the rules which inspired.  What I am using is a non-WRG, non-Phil Barker set of WW2 rules which is inspired by the second WRG 1950-1985 set (i.e. the 1979 edition).  
 
 

 
Veteran wargamer and knowledgeable denizen of WW2 and Modern wargaming message boards John D Salt created a set of rules a couple of years ago which in some ways aimed to be the 'missing link' in WRG WW2 rules; as fans of Phil Barker and/or WRG C20 rules will know, the WW2 rules only appeared in two editions but there were three editions of the modern rules.  These rules were inspired in part by that 'middle edition' of the WRG Modern rules.  Incidentally, I had to smile to myself at a particularly perceptive comment on The Wargames Website, where Guy Farrish, previously having noted that the actual WRG 1925-1950 2nd edition could end up being quite complicated (I paraphrase) with the interactions of force modes,postures and permitted actions not necessarily being that intuitive, mentioned that incorporating the target acquisition system from the 1979 Modern rules into the WRG 1st edition WW2 rules is a pretty stress-free improvement...That modification is in there.  The 'permitted actions' are in there too.  I used to loathe these (they are in Tactical Commander too, which I played when I was a bairn) but now I realize that they are just another way of writing how much stuff you can do in a turn, I made my peace with them.  The way that infantry is organized resembles the modern rules and the 2nd edition WW2 rules (although since my troops are based that way, I have continued to use 1st edition organization - it works fine).  There are some (really good) changes to the detail of how the artillery works, and there are some changes to the granularity of the detail of weapons versus armour, to make more of the gun/armour differences at lower calibres and armour thicknesses meaningful.  But John D Salt is really the person to bext explain the differences.

Anyway, since I am known within our small community for continuing to enjoy using the WRG 1925-50 rules, John sent me his rules (a little while ago now) to take for a spin and very enjoyable they are too.  I don't know if they will ever be published or circulated more widely, Phil Barker would have to give permission (I imagine).

8 comments:

  1. A tight game indeed, which says much for the rules and since they carry John Salt’s credentials, that is hardly a surprise.

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  2. Thanks John. Interesting game. The PzG bimbling forward in the middle of a contact without some overwatch or careful approach does feel odd I suppose. Some sort of 'tactical' advance might make them less sitting ducks but we are back to overcomplicating rules.

    Talking of which...! Thanks for the explanation - I am not surprised John Salt has produced an improved version, I have only played a few of his games 'in the flesh' but they were winners.

    I confess I have never heard of or seen, let alone played the '79 rules under the cover above. I went straight from the '73 version to the '88. You learn something new every day!

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    1. Thanks Guy. John has commented over on The Wargames Website to explain its genesis straight from the horse's mouth.

      And yes, I need to introduce a bit more tactical nous into the opposition tactics, but without them becoming mind-readers or bogging it down in a lot of ...IF...THEN clauses.

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  3. Another good game and I thought that they Paras would be quickly overwhelmed early on, but 'twas not to be. I think that the infantry advancing would invariably have an MG unit on overwatch as it were to cover their advance and provide fire support as required. Pretty much standard practice IIRC. BTW the post game thoughts interesting and informative as always.

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    1. Thanks Steve, appreciated. And you are quite right, something along these lines will be incorporated into the next game (which will be in two battle reports time, the next game was already played by the time I posted this).

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  4. Hello John,

    (I am way behind in blog reading!) Another great run with the rules. I see John Salt's explanation of the rules at TWW. I remember having an online discussion about this a few years ago - would it not have been great if WRG had produced a 2nd edition of their WW2 rules based off the 1st edition of 1950-1975? I used the 1950-1985 rules a few times back in the early 80s and quite liked them.

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    1. Thanks Shaun. It seems there is a decent amount of agreement with you that the 'missing' WRG WW2 set would have been good.

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