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 12 June 2023

Villers-Bocagey: Another WW2 Playtest Game

Following on from the earlier Villers-Bocage inspired game, and since I thought that it might work a bit better on a second game, being more familitar with it, I re-loaded the scenario and gave it another go.

Rules are the latest playtest of 'The Farquhar Version'

Scenario once again adapted from one in MW065

Orders of Battle:

British - 'Antforce' Battlegroup:
Bg HQ: 1 x SMG Comd Gp, 1 x Jeep
Motor Coy HQ: 1 x SMG Comd Gp, 1 x Rifle Comd Gp (Deputy), 2 x Trucks
Motor AT Pl: 3 x 6pdr AT guns, 3 x trucks
3 x Motor Infantry Pl, each: 1 x Rifle Comd Gp, 1 x 2" mortar, 1 x PIAT, 3 x Rifle Gps, 3 x LMG teams, 4 x M3 Halftracks
1 x Armoured Recce Sqn: Sqn HQ: 1 x Cromwell 3 x Armd Tp: 3 x Cromwell, 1 x Challenger
1 x Special Support Tp:  3 x Centaur, 1 x Challenger
2 x FOO: Scout Car, FAOwR
1 x FAC: Truck, FAOwR
Air support;  1 x flight of 4 Spitfire IX
Artillery support: 1 x battery of 8 x 25pdr in direct support and 1 x battery of 4 x 4.5" in direct support
British towed 6pdrs have APDS, Challengers don't for the 17pdrs.

German - Kampfgruppe Salz
Heavy Tank Coy: 3 x Troops of 3 Tiger I (1 of the Tigers is the Coy Comd, another in a separate Tp is the deputy). The crew of the Coy Comd Tiger I has plot immunity the first time their tank is KO'd and can take over another Tiger I after d6 turns).
Tank Coy: 1 x PzIVH (Coy Comd), 2 x Troops of 3 x PzIVH
Pz Gr Coy: 1 x SMG Comd, 3 x PzSchrk Teams, with 4 x light vehicles; 3 x Pl of 1 x Rifle Comd, 3 x Rifle Gp, 6 x GPMG (each Rifle Gp has a PzFst), 3 x Hanomag
Recce Pl: 3 x 250/9
SP Arty: 4 x Wespe
SP AA: 4 x SP AA platforms (divided 2 to each tank company)
No APCR for the Germans.

I didn't make too many changes for this second one - the only difference was that I removed some of the German artillery support so the German force had to rely on its Wespe battery only, and mucked about a little bit with the British artillery and air support.

The Set-Up:

As before, the British were advancing from the North (top) and have stopped in the town and on the road parallel (left).  Their next objectives are to seize Hill 201 to the right of the town and the two junctions on the E-W road in the South.  The Germans are approaching from the South (bottom) except a platoon of Tiger I's which are in position to ambush the unsuspecting British.

A weak Panzer IV company supported by a Wespe battery on the hill to the South-East.

A Motor Company supported by a troop of 6pdr anti-tank guns and a troop of Centaurs (with a Challenger) in the rear.

A company of Cromwell IVs and Challengers, about to be ambushed by a Tiger I hiding by the crossroads.

The remainder of the Tiger I company on the high ground to the South-west and along the road

The German armoured Panzer Grenadier company mounted up behind a hedgerow (ignore the actual types of Hanomags!)

A German recce platoon has pushed forward to the village in the East.

A nice wide shot showing as much as possible!

The Battle:

The battle begins! The lead Tiger I platoon ambushes the lead elements of the Motor company in the town. An armoured car goes up in smoke.

Quickly followed by a second!

And the lead Cromwell is brewed up too! So far so good for the Germans I guess, but it could have been worse for the British...

The 250/9 platoon heads for Hill 201.

The British lose another Cromwell (not from the Tiger in shot, but one of the Tiger's far off on the SW hill) as one troop flanks the hedgerow, but the first Tiger I is taken out by a Challenger!

Wittman's Tiger I knocks out another Cromwell at the edge of the town

A wider shot

A man-handled 6pdr firing APDS knocks out the German ace's tank however, and Wittman has to bail out...

A wider shot: note that the first Cromwell platoon has pushed through the gap in the hedgerow by the junction (top-left) but another Cromwell has been knocked out.  Also note the smoke in the town: the forward edge of the town has been under fairly constant bombardment from the Wespe battery, causing a few casualties and damaged vehicles; one of the British rifle platoons has moved forwards into the cover of the hedge to get out of the way; the Wespe's are about to turn their attention to the SW quarter of the town (nearest the Tigers)

Note the third Tiger platoon advancing up the road (bottom-left)

The German Panzer IV company advances...

One Panzergrenadier platoon debuses around the farm and occupies it, to prevent any wild British advances

The rest of the company deploy around the central ridge and woodland, to cover both roads

The Tigers advance...

The Wespe's are wrecking the town: fortunately for the British riflemen, they are causing more damage to masonry than men...

One of those 'everyone rolls a 1 for everything moments' - lots of fire, nothing hit

The lead German Tiger platoon (just one tank plus the SP AA) in retreat...

One of the infantry's 6pdr anti-tank guns knocks out a Demag on the hill

The other Cromwell platoon has gone quite wide right-flanking (top-left)

A lucky shot by the Challenger crew knocks out a second Tiger (another one had been knocked out earlier by a British artillery bombardment)

The remaining vehicles pull cautiously back

The rifle platoon from the SW has displaced into the NW quadrant; the other rifle platoon has mounted its vehicles and is driving towards the hill (right)

Another shot: note the other Rifle platoon is also moving up (in dead ground) to support this move

The British flanking Cromwell platoon attacks - but note that another Challenger has been knocked out by the Tigers on the crossroads

The two lead Tigers advance; the rear Tiger stays behind but fails to spot anything!

The two lead Tigers are knocked out in quick succession as they run into an ambush! A Challenger accounts for one, a Centaur(!) for the other...

On the other flank, the Panzer IV company has lost two tanks to anti-tank gun fire, and another to a PIAT!

A wider shot

The position at the end of the battle - note that two more Tigers were knocked out whilst retreating (one centre earlier in the engagement; one left at the end)

Game Notes: 

More good fun, and perhaps this one was more fun than the first - it seemed to play slightly more smoothly for me at any rate.  All the tank and artillery action worked fine; the only thing that was still a bit clunky was the infantry, not so much the rules as the interaction with the terrain. A rifle group of 4 are based on a 30mm x 15mm base, the support weapons on c.20mm diameter bases. That is about 100m of real estate if they are jammed together, never mind the mortar and the PIAT. So a platoon just occupies too much space, especially when interacting with buildings, which are 'kinda' supposed to represent individual buildings (although they are more like a street, I guess). Anyway, some people have a very wise "don't worry about any of this" attitude, but it does get at me a little, for this type of battle - it makes it both fiddly and the infantry even more vulnerable to artillery - which is fairly lethal over the course of time, even in urban areas.  Only trenches and bunkers etc. are reasonably safe.

As a game, the reduction in the artillery support for the Germans made it a much more even battle, although I definitely think the rub of the green went with the British on this one. Incidentally, I have no idea if HEAT for the 95mm was available in summer 1944?  APDS for the 6pdr anti-tank guns is in the scenario, so I am less worried about that one. 

I have a few more technical points I will send to John, but overall, really enjoyed this! Got me really back into the swing of bigger WW2...

Most of the vehicles are from Heroics & Ros (and frankly some of them need a touch up!); most of the infantry are from Baccus.  Buildings are a mix of Leven and Battlescale, I think.


  1. A fine looking game and glad to hear it played much better for you this time around. The smaller scales do make it tricky to equate base size (with a decent number ot troops on them) with rules/ground scale, as you have pointed out, especially when having to differentiate support weapons etc. Luckily in BKCII a base is a platoon, so no issue there for me.

    1. Thanks Steve. Yes, I am thinking that there may be some advantages to playing with platoons as the basic playing pieces in engagements of this size.

  2. A nice sized engagement, that unfolded nicely. The Centaur knocking out a Tiger added a nice twist, enough to put any German player off their stride! I always felt with the system that the infantry were a little awkward and that the system was in the main, a tankers game.

    1. I think it is, at any rate at these larger ground scales. When i was playing the company(-) actions with a smaller ground scale, then the infantry bases were fine. Basically, if an infantry section can obviously fit in 'a' building, no worries; but the situation gets a little more complex if you can't do that.

  3. The infantry have always been excessively fiddly in WRG. I spent ages trying to work out how to do them as sections and not teams. What we do now for bigger games is just treat the section as a single element for neutralisation purposes, but with two 'lives' for fire and casualty purposes. If it takes a loss, the owner chooses if it is left as an LMG or rifle element. Sounds a bit clumsy but it works.

    1. I can see how that would work, I may have a go at that.

  4. Well the Brits had a better run this time around!

    Having read over the Farquar rules now (but not yet played a game) I am understanding some of the differences better. I played quite a bit of 6mm WRG v1 years ago with 1mm/1m or 1mm/2m and found it OK. We just declared sections to be in buildings etc. The only issue we had was crossing obstacles, where we just had to note or remember their 'real' location if they had to be placed too far forward in order to clear an obstacle etc.

    I've had a few thoughts regarding the rules but want to play a couple of games first and I need to tidy up some figures first . . .

    1. Best of luck - hope they give some good games. As you say, there are definitely some solutions, if partial, to some of the issues that the interaction of the basing with the terrain with the ground scale; it is just a matter of whether the overhead is worth it.

    2. Thinking after I posted (never the best sequence . . .), I remember my first ever WRG games were with 1:76 Airfix, Matchbox (and other) models. We used 1mm/1m then, so an AFV could be as much as 100m or more long. It never bothered us too much but in that respect, but discovering 6mm was a revelation by comparison. It is certainly not an issue that would put me off the rules.

      I've always had a love of the infantry part of the game, rather than the armour-heavy balance, so I like the 1-1 ratio. I think it's something that seemed to work better in WRG v2 than in v.1. I think the v.2 rules, with less emphasis on straight encounter games, gave more scope for infantry to do different, more interesting things, so I'll be interested to see how these rules work in that regard.

    3. I remember playing Tactical Commander with that ground scale & I think it did bother me; it didn't matter outside of 300m but then everything seemed to get confusing: an infantry section had to be pushed together like the 95th Rifles or something to get close to the maximum ground scale a section might cover, and minima were impossible.
      I have only played official 2nd Ed a couple of times, so I can't really comment; I noted it was a 'heavier' game but that was about it! Anyhow, I hope these rules give satisfaction. I particularly like the armour and artillery rules I think.

  5. Another good run with the rules. And a decent sized force on each side to test them out. I don't really notice the crowding when playing with 6mm and I play on a 2'x2'. To me it is a bonus of 6mm in that they troops are not as far in comparison to ground scale (compared to using larger sized miniatures) so does not seem too bad. My houses are also supposed to represent individual houses as that scale but I agree that with the WRG basing is would get a bit out of proportion. My troops are mostly based on 10mmx10mm or a little larger (I bought them that way) so don't see the same problem :-)

    1. Thanks Shaun. And I wouldn't want to overplay any of this, I just notice that it becomes more of an issue as the ground scale gets larger, in a way in which it doesn't at the ground scales I normally play. A full section on a 30mm x 30mm base, or 40mm x 20mm base would probably have worked just fine. I am busy working on that actually, although what I am working on first is slightly changing the rules to deal with built-up areas rather than indidivual buildings.
      10mm x 10mm bases? Gulp. The only rules I have ever seen recommending them was Paddy Griffith's army-level Napoleonic rules. The very thought gives me a slight twinge! I suppose for WW2 it wouldn't be quite as much of an issue...

    2. i agree as ground scale gets larger comapred to figure size it can be noticable. I used to play with my 20mm ww2 figures and rules with a ground scale of 1:1000 but found that the discrepancy was too much for me to accept anymore (after 30 years of playing that way!). One reason I started with 6mm, the other smaller playing space. For my 20mm games, I have moved to rules with a smaller ground scale (around 1:400).