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 18 December 2022

The Gembloux Gap Campaign Battle 03 - Blitzkrieg on Villeroux

The next action in the Too Fat Lardies' Gembloux Gap campaign continues the German attack - this time against the French defenenders of the hamlet of Villeroux.  All the Germans have to do is get forces off the western side of the table.
Again, the rules used are "The Farquhar Variant", John D Salt's version of the WRG 1950-1985 Modern rules retro-fitted to the WW2 area.

 The Forces:
The French:
1 Rifle Command group
1 Rifle Grenadier group
2 Rifle + LMGs groups
2 Rifle groups
1 Panhard
1 Renault R35
1 25mm anti-tank gun and limber
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that the French platoon is a little stronger than it was left at the end of the last game.  Normally I am a 'let the chips fall where the may' player but John D Salt has made some modifications to small arms lethality which make it much harder for infantry to be eliminated in certain circumstances: this will unduly penalize the French since they have suffered heavier losses and would then move in to a lower casualty environment going forward, making it harder for any fortune to balance out.  With that in mind, both sides were allowed to restore 50% of their infantry losses from the last game (but this benefited the French more, since they lost more).
The Germans:
1 SMG Command Group
5 Rifle groups
3 LMG groups
1 Panzer IIIA
1 SdKfz 221
1 Pak36 and tractor
1 FOO with 8cm mortar battery on call

The Set-Up:
The French are defending the hamlet, while the Germans will advance from the East (right); the wall at the top of the board is like a computer game 'edge of the world' feature to make the board into the correct shape for the scenario.

French infantry in the woods and in the bottom house (centre), with the platoon commander in the L-shaped building.

A closer look: the Renault R35 is located just below the junction, and the Panhard is hidden behind the L-shaped building. the Rifle grenadiers are located in the big building at the top of the village.

Another look at the French infantry in the bottom woods

The remaining French are in the top woods: the anti-tank gun at the bottom-left corner of the wood, with the infantry split between the bottom and the right-edge of the woods.
The Battle:
The Germans arrive by the road: a Panzer III, accompanied by the Pak36 and an infantry squad.

But the French anti-tank gun spots the attackers immediately and knocks out the Panzer III right at the beginning of the battle!

The view towards the French gun at the edge of the woods

The German mortar fire controller arrives, hidden by the wheatfield (in reality, about 3' high)

The Germans begin returning fire towards the woods

The German bullets whizz into the trees but hit nothing

The German infantry move forwards under cover of the hedges

The German mortar fire controller calls in the 8cm mortars onto the woods - French heads are kept firmly down and half the infantry section is hors de combat

The German infantry try to move into position to develop a base of fire....

More rifle fire breaks out from the houses of the village, cutting down the MG34 team

The remainder of the German infantry hug the ground behind the hedges to avoid the crossfire

More german infantry arrive, along with an MG34 in the support role

The Germans bring up the the Pak36; note that the French anti-tank gun limber has been eliminated in the mortar bombardment (which has now lifted)

Everything has gone quiet for the Germans now: the surviving French in the top woods have moved back to the top-left edge, out of the way.

The French platoon commander waves the Panhard forward to cover the open areas uncovered by the withdrawal of the French troops in the woods: the French anti-tank gun is now in its new position at the corner of the top wood.

The German infantry resumes its advance towards the village

But they are cut down in the crossfire by some very very accurate French rifle fire

The Germans are halted but begin to pour fire into one of the located sources of fire, the building by the junction (bottom-left)

The French riflemen are eliminated

But then the German mortar fire controller team (edge of wheatfield) is located by the Panhard at the corner of the big building (bottom-left)...

...and is cut down in turn

The remaining French infantry in the bottom woods re-occupy the building

The Germans change direction and plan to assault the southern woods

More Germans arrive: the Platoon command group, another squad, the le.IG18 and an SdKfz221 - which is immediately destroyed by accurate fire from the Panhard

A wider shot

Discouraged by heavy losses in soldiers and vehicles, the Germans pull back - perhaps not realizing the weak state of the French defences or the damage they had caused

A wider shot of the position at the end of the battle.

Game Results:

The French managed to hold on, just.  The French lost 3 KIA, 5 WIA and a horse-limber team.  The Germans lost a Panzer III, an armoured car, 5 KIA and 13 WIA.

Game Notes:

All very good fun and it could have gone either way: some very accurate French shooting at key moments made the difference - plus the moving forward of the Panhard at the right moment.  It should be made clear perhaps that the French had less than 50% chance of each of those vehicle kills - even less for some of the infantry kills. The Germans might have made another flanking move rather than the central advance that their deployment suggested, but it isn't particularly clear that that would have worked better.  And the Germans simply hadn't located the other French positions. The German mortar fire was pretty effective and the various artillery control mechanisms are a real strong point of these rules.
The change to infantry lethality worked quite well: small arms and machineguns were very effective against infantry that was moving, but high explosive was needed to winkle them out of cover, which feels all as it should be.
In any case there was nothing that happened which seemed unbelievable which is always a good thing.

The German figures are by Baccus 6mm, the French by Adler.  The vehicles are mainly Heroics and Ros, with the exception of the Pak36 tractor (a GHQ).  Buildings mainly be Leven, I think.


  1. Another fine looking installment. Not stretching your sensibilities is a good sign in a set of rules. Knocking out the PzIII at the start was a good bit of shooting.

    1. Thanks very much Jonathan. Sometimes the defender does get lucky in these games and a tank slews straight into the sights of an anti-tank gun on the first turn...I try to take the smooth with the rough!

  2. Another good game and the loss of the German AFV's, especially the Pz III right at the start, must have made it harder for the Germans? Still a close game and I think the Germans were wise to call the attack off when they did.

    1. I think it did, very much so: one can compare it to the previous battle where the Panzers pretty much carried the day.

  3. Great stuff. You've inspired me me to revisit John's WRG variant (he sent me a copy) and have another look. It all seemed a bit complicated at the time.

    1. Thanks Martin. It perhaps looks more complicated than it is (true to the WRG source material?!?!)

  4. Hi, I'm intrigued by these rules being a modification of the WRG modern set, when there was the later edition WWII (1925-50) set. Having had many fun games with the original WRG rules, I liked the new set (but having had a break, was late to the party and others had moved on). My recollection was, downsides:
    1 enormously time consuming to draw up lists (for points based games),
    2 I seem to recall the off table artillery rules being unbalanced (but I can't remember how!),
    3 losing track of who had spotted who, and
    4 I was tempted to take 1 off everything's chance to hit and reintroduce the '4+ for required hits above 6 (eg 7 = 4 plus 3 - 6 etc).
    Up sides were the different movement modes (my green US infantry mostly just walked forward, then lay down, as I recall) and the more granulated but still simple armour classes.

    So I'm intrigued to know what a modified version of WRG moderns has that works better than WRG's own WWII set. I've been looking around for a WWII option and not really liked the rules I've seen.

    1. Hi John, I have a fair amount of experience with the first edition of WRG 1925-1950 but very little with the second or with any of the Modern-era editions, so unsure thay I am best placed to answer. From what I know, the spotting and actions look a bit similar to 2e. John D Salt has re-designed the off-table artillery so it is neither 1e nor 2e. The armour classes are more granulated than 1e, they may be similar to 2e, although John has done some work previously in this area and may have incorporated it; I think there are a few more of the niche WW2 weapons in there for those who need them.
      I think the intention is to try and publish these in the (relatively) near future.

    2. Just been reading over your Panzergruppe Von Luck series of games. Reading it reminded me of some of the movement mode rules in 2ed WRG 1925-50. Depending on the skill level of the troops, various movement modes are available. Troops like Wehrmacht are skilled, so get the full range of options. Basically:
      Stalk - move slowly, hard to spot, don't shoot.

      Skirmish - Penalty -1 when shot at
      ---Armour in Defense: 1/3 -- 2/3 of a subunit (platoon) shoots once and withdraws. The rest move up and shoots once
      ---Other: 1/3 - 2/3 move without shooting. Other 1/3 - 2/3 shoot once or twice. So leapfrogging.
      All skirmish shooting counted as at halt

      Attack - Shoot once, then move

      Hold - Shoot once or twice

      There's more but they're the main ones. I noticed that shooting twice was always better than shooting once with the minus one to be hit, so I would always use hold rather than skirmish when defending with armour. Hence my thinking another -1 penalty for 1st and 2nd shot for anyone shooting twice. My green US infantry used to attack, get pinned, then shoot, because they couldn't skirmish. Stubborn Soviets would stalk, then attack or assault at close range. Germans and late war Brits would skirmish when advancing, but (in my experience) hold in defence. I thought the basic idea was good. You seldom had more than 2 troop types in an army (eg most US infantry are green, armour dashing), so I don't think I found it too hard to juggle the various modes, actions and morale categories.

      I feel inspired to experiment a bit again, thanks to reading your games.