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 8 January 2024

Kampfgruppe Heller: Battle 02, Poland

Hello - I have been continuing with my twin projects of re-fighting some actions of Just Jack's 'Kampfgruppe Klink' campaign and doing some testing of some WW2 rules. Happily, the ruleset is set at a perfect scale for handling these actions, which are to some degree historically inspired, but with the emphasis on good gameplay/good story. In any case, Just Jack's original is here: batrep . Following on from the first action of the campaign in which the German infantry broke through the 'crust' of the Polish defences on the road to Mokra, the German Kampfgruppe commander is now pushing some reconnaissance elements forward. However, they are about to encounter some further strong Polish resistance...

The Forces:

The Germans:
Recce Coy Comd: 1 x Armoured Car
Recce Pl: 2 x SdKfz 221, 1 x SdKfz 231
Recce Pl: 4 x m/c sections (Rifles + Belft-fed LMG - 1 is the Pl Comd Section)*
Tank Pl: 2 x PzIIII
Rifle Pl: 3 x Rifle + Belt-fed LMG sections (1 is the Pl Comd Section), 3 x Trucks

The Polish:
Coy Comd: 1 x Coy Comd (Rifles), 1 x Truck
Rifle Pl: 4 x Rifle + BAR sections (1 is the Pl Comd)
Support Pl; 2 x HMG, 1 x 82mm mortar
Anti-Tank Pl: 3 x 37mm anti-tank guns

German morale is higher '3' than the Polish '2'

* I couldn't find enough m/c+sidecar combo models, so I have used some Kubelwagens too.

The Set-Up:

The Germans are advancing up the road from SW to NE, the Polish defences are broadly linear to the E (right) facing W-SW

The German column: the Recce Pl and the Motorcycle Pl lead, the Panzer Pl and the Rifle Pl follow.

Another view of the Recce elements

The Polish Right: infantry with HMGs in the trenches, an infantry section in the woods (top-right), 2 x 37mm anti-tank guns in bunkers and the company command group in the woods (right)

The Polish left, with the main part of the Rifle Pl and the mortar, with another 37mm anti-tank gun in a bunker behind (top)

One last view.

The Battle:

The German motorcycles are in the van

Polish rifles and BARs cut down the lead motorcycles; the 37mm in the bunker (top-right) knocks out the lead armoured car

The second armoured car is knocked out by the second anti-tank gun bunker (top-right)

The German recce elements are struggling to get either forward or back, so end up in an indecisive firefight with the Polish infantry; the German riflemen debuss to try and go right flanking (bottom-left)

The German Panzer Pl starts its left flanking move...

But more accurate Polish anti-tank gun fire knocks out the lead Panzer III

The German riflemen advance through the woods, unaware of and unspotted by any of the Polish troops; the remaining PzIII moves around the woods on the left (top-left)

More German m/c troops go down in the exchange of fire

Can the flanking PzIII unlock the Polish position and re-start the advance?

No! It too goes up in flames as a 37mm shell smashes through its flank armour as it tries to cross the road...

A scene of carnage along the route of the main German advance

Without any 'punch' left, the German Recce commander retrieves his infantry and pulls back

Game Notes:

Well, that was a fairly convincing Polish victory.  I make the losses around a few Polish troops injured - call it 4 - whereas the Germans lost 2 tanks, 6 motorcycles and 2 light armoured cars; around 10 KIA, 18 WIA (half POW) and 5 unwounded POW.
Without any meaningful fire support or enough armour to overwhelm the Polish defences, the dug-in and concealed Polish anti-tank guns are too strong really for this level of German offensive power. Added to this, in the rules the spotting rules are really well-done, but that restores some of the advantages that towed anti-tank guns actually had in WW2, particularly in early WW2 before the fire support environment started to make this less-and-less healthy. These rules distinguish between 'observed' and 'pinpointed', with the latter being somewhat harder to achieve, so a lot of the fire is conducted at quite low-odds...which is where the more visible vehicle targets come a little unstuck.
For understanding the 'story' of this game, remember that the ground scale is 1mm:2m - thus even this small 2'x2' board is over a kilometre square. Most of the engagment ranges fell in the 200m - 750m range, so support weapons dominated: the only real effect the rifles on either side had was in the initial ambush on the lead German motorycle elements. This doesn't seem unrealistic.
Anyway, all good fun, and I am starting to get a little bit of familiarity with the rules now, smoothing the play somewhat (although there are still a few things I am working on).
German models are a mixture of Baccus (infantry) and Heroics and Ros (vehicles); the Polish are a mixture of Scotia and Heroics and Ros.



  1. Great stuff! Although the poor old Germans did seem a bit doomed advancing in column into an Ambush. It is so hard trying to model real life recce operations in tactical games, but I cant help thinking that irl those recce platoons would have located the Polish positions without all getting blown up! Umm, I know it is Jack's campaign, but 4th Panzer didn't have any Pz III in 1939, just 300 Pz I and II, plus a dozen Pz IV.

    1. I seen to remember Jack mentioning he found out about the no Pz IIIs after he had painted and done the OOBs but went ahead anyway, rather than redo stuff.

    2. Thanks Martin. Yes, looks difficult - and it was difficult, although I note that in KG Klink's adventures, they managed to pull it off. Not here though...
      And yes, noted on the PzIIIs. Happily it didn't make any difference to the game - 37mm anti-tank guns are going to beat them whatever, at most ranges I think - but will amend going forward.

    3. Oh my, how cool! Three of my favorite wargaming dudes all in one place, and a set of fights modelled on my KG Klink campaigns. Good stuff, John, and can't get too upset about the Germans being roughly handled. I saw how close the German motorcycle troops got to the dug-in Poles and thought, 'holy cow, did I do that?' I had to go look it up, and damn, i actually did let the Germans get right on top of the Poles before the ambush was sprung.

      Regarding divergence in the fights, I think it's down to me making the Germans a bit 'uber-soldier' relative to the Poles, not having to worry about spotting, and the Germans having a bit better dice (I was also wondering about your turreted ATGs as well, where mine were just open-topped and sandbagged, but not sure how you played it).

      And regarding the Panzer IIIs, it actually just gets back to how I go about gaming. With the exception of playing Steve Whitesell's Biazza Ridge scenario (a few times), I've never really tried to re-create an actual fight, I've always worked on an 'in the general area' basis ;) This is why I always set up a fictional force to follow (KG Klink, TF Reisman, my WWII US fighter squadrons, my WWII USMC Platoon, Cuba Libre in general), I can do what I want. In this case, my KG Klink is an independent fighting force attached to 4th Panzer Division at the beginning of the campaign in Poland, not an actual part of 4th Panzer.

      I know it's cheesy, but it keeps me from having to do more research than gaming, and gives me the flexibility to craft my own story (in terms of forces and tactical situation, but not outcome; that is to say, I can re-fight the Battle of Midway and have my own fighter squadron 'lose' the series of battles, but the US Navy will still win, or I could have KG Klink win their series of fights at Stalingrad, but the Germans still lose).

      This reminds me that I need to get back to KG Klink; I've been dying to get Barbarossa started! Real life has posed its unwelcome interventions, and, as usual, other wargaming projects have reared their ugly heads (you'll see, someday), but the real issues is I've tried. I've played three KG Klink fights in the past 12 months or so, using different sets of rules, but it just hasn't worked. Everything is just too big, the scale of Barbarossa is unfathomable! I know it sounds silly because I'm just supposed to be following one little unit (and have done it in Poland, France, and Greece), but there's just something about that has caused each fight to be rather... unsatisfying. I shall endeavor to persevere, but more and more projects continue to pop up.

      I hope everyone is doing well, and I can't wait to see more games from all of you (except Shaun and his nasty games of naked men with pointy sticks).


    4. I have plans to play some more ww2 games. Plans that have not come to fruition for about 2 years. lol. Hence the pointy stick games :-)

    5. Thanks very much Jack. Remembering the ground scale differences, the Germans probably weren't that close when the ambush was sprung...maybe 100-150m from the lead motorcyclists to the Polish riflemen and BAR gunner, maybe 250-400m to the supporting HMGs. The 37mm guns are in full earth bunkers in this scenario the way I played it...although given the lack of fire support for the Germans in this one, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. The real difference I think is the observation rules, which a - generally favour defenders, b - are pretty vicious in these rules and c - are specifically mean to vehicles, especially buttoned up armoured vehices in comparison to troops on foot: this gives a decent chunk of advantage to towed anti-tank guns.
      And I think it is fine to create scenarios which aren't exact recreations of exact orders of battle or specific historical actions, and just go for the spirit of the thing: from a wargames point of view, does it matter so much that Sittangabad is 'based on' and Mollwitz is a 'historical scenario' and 'Road to St. James' is made up? Anyway, I have followed your stuff for long enough now to be well aware what I am getting :-)...
      But we do need to see KG Klink in Russia!!

    6. Sean - Excellent, and please forgive my joking around about the Ancients, that was an impressive amount of games you knocked out there, and I'm envious!

      John - Certainly, the Germans were always going to be in for a rough time, and I definitely take your point regarding the observation rules. And certainly realistic; I've read several of the "Panzer Aces" books, and I've always marveled at how well the German tank commanders (claimed they) did against towed anti-tank guns, particularly on the Eastern Front. Countless stories of 'we were advancing abreast, started taking fire from Red ATGs, moved to line abreast, increased speed and interval, rushed them, no problem.'

      "And I think it is fine to create scenarios which aren't exact recreations of exact orders of battle or specific historical actions..."
      I certainly hope so! ;) I'd love to get to KG Klink, but too much other stuff going on at the moment. Hopefully this year.


  2. A nice little game to kick things off, but a tough start for the Germans. As you say, without some heavier fire support, I think this is a tough ask for the Germans, especially against dug-in troops and ATG's in bunkers.

    1. thanks Steve - and yes, quite right. Obviously everything will depend upon the exact rules mechanisms for just *how* difficult it is - my sense is that these rules I am testing are particularly so.