Battle of Britain. The game

Game 1 for this week has been played. This was the PSC/Richard Borg “Battle of Britain”. We played the first scenario “Kanalkampf”. The game only has four turns and the designers say that it should take 1-2 hours for experienced players. Well, we were “straight out of the box” players and it took almost four hours. This is in no way a criticism. The game mechanisms are simple, once you know what you are doing.

There are a huge amount of game cards and tokens to manipulate, so apart from the game board (about 70x50cm), or the larger game mat that we used (106 x 86cm), you have to find room for eight control mats about 35 x 17cm each, half a dozen piles of counters and somewhere to roll the dice. A table about half the size of Canada will suffice!

As for the game mechanisms, they are very much in the Richard Borg style, as in “card driven options, then chuck x number of dice and what you roll is what you score”. Each side has cubic dice with 3 of their own symbol, 1 enemy symbol and 2 blanks.

The German player has 7 “Flights”, each of initially 6 squadrons. Each is dealt a mission card (from a hand of 10) to bomb an airfield, a radar station or a city. It is impossible to cross the English coast without being detected by radar, unless you have destroyed the radar station. If detected the British player may choose to intercept with an entire flight (he has 12 flights of 3 squadrons) or to wait and “dogfight”. But he can only make 5 attacks each turn, so someone will usually get through, only to be attacked again next turn.

I started by concentrating on the two radar stations in my hand of cards, but was intercepted (Total defending flight value vs total attacking flight value) and only destroyed one of them. Those flights that got through (I only had 5 achievable targets*) were attacked by dog fights where you play off one squadron at a time until one side has nobody left. In both forms of combat you have a 1/2 chance of damaging the enemy, a 1/3 chance of no effect and a 1/6 chance of “friendly fire” adding to the enemy’s roll.

*When you have only 1 flight in Norway and 6 in France, and 5 of your 10 possible missions are Newcastle, Glasgow, Middlesborough, Preston and Creswell radar (N. of Newcastle) there is not a lot you can do about it!

The actual models are representative. Details of the squadrons for each flight are on the players’ control boards.

I managed to knock out the Worth radar station in Dorset, and one airfield, but the first thing the British player can do next turn is repair them or replace lost aircraft. German aircraft are out for good. New aircraft and new missions are available, but downed Germans count for the British final score.

Anyway, after the four turns I had with my seven flights achieved three mission successes and two aborted missions. The game ended with one radar station out, one city (Newcastle) damaged and one fighter ace to my credit. My British opponent counted three fighter aces, two aborted missions and innumerable downed German squadrons. The score was; Germans 15, British “too many to count”.

I nearly obliterated Nottingham but when I got there he had shot down all my Heinkels and Dorniers and left me with 4 squadrons of ME109s with no bombing ability!

I’ll hammer him next time! Iron crosses all round in place of this foray’s wooden ones. This is a game to play again when I get the chance.

Gaming Serendipity?

About 3 weeks ago I was searching the internet for an old boardgame: Brittania, which I played once, many years ago. The game covers the early years of the foundation of Britain, from the Roman invasion to the Norman conquest (and beyond?)

At the time it seemed somewhat complex for my taste, and was a pure “cardboard counter” game.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to get a copy of the game.

Suddenly, a couple of days later I received an e-mail to the effect that PSC Games were re-releasing the game, with 3d playing pieces and the addition of a 2 player version.

Then the Kickstarter invitation arrived. I subscribed. The project was funded within 5 hours.

We shall see what develops.

On the horns of a multilemma

Before I start, I should explain that a multilemma is a bit like a dilemma, but with more options.


Mythically a Multilemma is a creature with horns that grow in a manner similar to a “monkey-puzzle” tree. Once every 1500 years it migrates to the coast (normally Bournemouth or Torquay) to indulge in a bit of sea-bathing, in the process of which it invariably drowns due to the weight of the horns when soaked in salt water. (yes: I made that up, just like the folks at Games Workshop used to do.)

But for our purposes a multilemma is the situation that I face.
In my campaign I have a company of German PanzerGrenadiers in 1944 facing a company of British Glider Infantry, across a bridge. To the right (from the German viewpoint) of the enemy is another company of PanzerGrenadiers, but to their right is a company of British Parachute infantry. The company commander of the southern unit has (by rolling a 6) decided to attack.

My problem is how to play this engagement:

  1. A simple die roll, taking into account the support companies.
  2. Hex and counter boardgame. Each company is 4 counters. 1 hex = 250m. Rules: Memoir ’44.*
  3. 6mm models on hex terrain (similar to option 2 but wth 3D detail), in which case I will probably need to do some terrain building. Rules: Probably Memoir ’44, and my preferred option.
  4. 20mm. I would need to substitute American soldier models for British. As for rules, I have several possibilities. I would probably have to make some quite a lot of terrain, including a river and a rail bridge. Chain of Command rules?
  5. Counters as Sections/Squads with Squad Leader boards and local rules.
  6. Counters as Sections/Squads with Squad Leader boards and 1970s (not Squad Leader) rules.
  • Option 2 has been the normal recent method of resolving engagements, but can be somewhat boring, particularly with small engagements.

So far, from the above, I have a Sexilemma. Not something that I would wish to meet in a wood on a dark night!
But it is looking to me as if the answer may be D6-based. Before I roll the die( and a D3 or a D6) any suggestions?

Thanks for any input.

D-Day and beyond. Part 7

…being the story of a wargame, now in arrears…  Unfortunately my detailed report has vanished into the depths of the internet, but the synopsis is that we chased off the crew of a 105mm howitzer, captured or  scared of a German supply company, deployed two sections of the RA 25 prs which helped drive the enemy at least into cover, and consolidated our position.

Game note.  The Germans having been driven mainly away from board 2 and totally from board 1, board 1 was removed and a new board added to the German side, with all their reinforcements deployed.  The new situation is shown above.  And thus we will start the next day with a German counter-attack.

 

 

D-Day and beyond. Part 6

Being a narrative story of a continuing wargame.

When I had the idea of this project I thought that I would very quickly fall behind the timeline of 75 years to the day.  I was right!  Even without taking into account the restricted weekend gaming time, I cannot afford to spend the requisite amount of time staring at a game board, making decisions and rolling dice.

Anyway, here is the next part of Captain Copley’s report.

8th June 1944.

This morning we began to receive reinforcements.  First to arrive, around 10:00, was a platoon from C Company.

As they arrived, the remains of A Company launched an attack on the Germans who were trying to cut us off from the beach.

One of Lt. Smythe’s PIAT teams moved up into the woods, stalking the SP gun which gave us some bother yesterday.  They successfully put it out of action. They were accompanied by a rifle squad which attacked enemy infantry on the road.  The enemy ran back into the woods, but then the squad came under rifle fire themselves.  To add to their problems they then suffered artillery fire.  None apparently survived.  The PIAT team was also wiped out in this bombardment.

On the left flank Sgt. MacGregor’s platoon began to move southwest towards the main road, and I moved my HQ southwards to keep in contact with the company’s advance.

The Churchill tank moved cautiously up the road and took position in a defile between two cliffs.

I ordered Sgt. MacGregor to try to get his light mortars to a position from which they could attack the enemy artillery, which was believed to be behind the far hill (point 538 on my map).  He acknowledged the order and I observed his platoon moving over the hill crest towards the southwest.  I continued to move my own HQ up to remain in touch with the company.

I ordered Lt. Smythe to keep moving forward.  For the time being I took command of the newly-arrived platoon from C Company, who advanced along the road.  I also instructed the commander of the Yeomanry’s single Churchill to continue along the road, reporting any sighting of the enemy.  After a few minutes he reported that he had found the enemy’s artillery and destroyed one of the guns.  He was intending to pullback behind the cover of the woods.

Around 10:30 I suffered W/T problems and lost touch with both my own platoon commanders, but urged the reinforcing platoon to  push on up the road.

Next to land was a troop of 25pr guns.  They were a sight for sore eyes!  I suggested to the Troop Commander that he should move to point 621 and deploy behind the crest.  He agreed and advised that the whole regiment (16 guns) would shortly be landing.

I could not raise the Yeomanry tank commander and feared the worst.

I heard shooting to the south and looking around from my vantage point on one of the bluffs I was able to make out a column of enemy infantry moving up the road on our left flank.  They  were already engaged With our infantry on the left.  I immediately called up Sgt. MacGregor, who told me he was already taking action to redeploy his platoon to meet the new threat.

Lt. Smythe reported that he had cleared the immediate threat from the west and was turning to assault the hill to his left flank.

A few minutes later Sgt. MacGregor reported that he was in a spot of bother on the southern flank.   One of his Bren teams had “bottled it”, disturbing the chaps behind them as they ran.  I ordered him to hold as well as he could while I attempted to reinforce his position.  On the right I ordered Lt. Smythe to push on up the hill as he had planned.  I had no response from third platoon commander.

As the first 25pr troop began to set up their positions a second troop arrived, followed by another infantry platoon from C Coy.

Sgt. MacGregor established a defensive line against the enemy infantry arriving from the south.  Lt. Smythe pushed on up the hill, encountering some disorganised infantry in the woods.

The first artillery section took position and their observer moved forwards and established an OP in the woods on the forward slope.

I looked at my watch.  11:00.  Had all of this happened within only one hour?

…to be continued…

 

Arnhem Rail Bridge part 2

18th September 1944, 12:00

Situation:  3rd Polish Parachute Battalion (3 PP) and 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (7KOSB) had joined forces across the rail bridge west of Arnhem.  Two companies of 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division (3/9SS) were still holding out in bunkers at each end of the bridge.  A flight of German fighters was threatening the allied troops.

General Urquhart sent his congratulations and ordered that the remaining enemy troops in the bunkers be eliminated.

Forces.  7KOSB.  3 companies, 10 platoons.  3PP. 4 companies, 14 platoons, including 2 mortars and 1 HQ.  3/9SS. 2 companies, 7 platoons.

Turn 1. 12:00

7KOSBs – Move Out (4 infantry units)  The three companies moved to positions to close assault the northern pill box.  A. 2 infantry. 2 hits  B. 1 infantry, 1 star. 1 hit. Unit eliminated and pill box captured.

3/9SS – Behind Enemy Lines.  Fighters left the table with no appropriate command card.  The company in the south bunker made a break-out.  Moved 1hex,  attacked a Polish rifle company in a defended position. 1 flag, so Poles retreat.  Moved 3 +1 for the road and exited the board, so a successful break-out was acheived.

Casualties.  Germans: 2 of 14=14%.  Allies: none.

Arnhem Rail Bridge18/09/1944

Despite spending over a month preparing my terrain and 6mm specialist infantry bases for this game, bad weather forced me to play it indoors as a board game.

Five companies of SS Panzer Grenadiers were defending the rail bridge.

They were attacked simultaneously by four companies of Polish parachute infantry from the south and three companies of British glider infantry from the north.

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The Poles (at the bottom of the picture) were represented by Russian tokens and the British (at top right) by US tokens.

Because of the peculiar nature of this game, and with the Anglo-Polish side suffering communication difficulties and a potential language barrier I played this game with three independent sides.  Each nationality received one command card for each company.  All troops were rated as elite (Special Forces rules apply.)

Both the Germans and Poles were cut off from their supply base, so a reduction of 1 die was applied for any distant shooting.  The Poles had the benefit of two mortar platoons.  I ruled that if a grenade (1/6 chance) was rolled when attacking a bridge hex with HE, then a second roll of a grenade would damage the section.

The battle would end when either side scored 3 Victory Points for destruction of enemy unts.

Order of play was British, Germans, Poles.

Turn 1. 11:00

British.  Assault left flank (all 3 companies)

The 3 rifle companies manoeuvred to a position from whence they could all fire at the German company defending the end of the bridge at 2 hexes (500m) range.

2 dice per company.  A. 2 tanks rolled, no hits.  B. 2 flags rolled = 2 retreats. Enemy fell back onto the bridge.  The retreat was then blocked by friendly troops, so one platoon was lost. C. (Reduced to 1 die tue to increased range). Grenade = 1 hit.

Germans. Assault Centre (all 5 companies).

The company at the south end of the bridge fired at the advancing Poles at 2 hexes range.  2 dice -1 for short supply. Grenade = 1 hit.   The company in the bunker were unable to shoot at the enemy at 3 hexes range due to the need to conserve ammunition.  At the north end of the bridge the company that had been driven back moved forward again and fired at the enemy infantry on the river bank.  1 die. Grenade = 1 hit.  The company on the centre of the bridge moved to the north end and shot at the same enemy company.  1 die.  Tank was a miss.

Poles. Probe Center. (2 units).  HQ increased this to 3 units. The Two flanking rifle companies moved forwards through the polder.  Three companies fired at the German company in the open at the south end of the bridge.  A. At 3 hexes, no firing, conserving ammunition.  B. At 2 hexes, 1 die due to ammo restrictions. Tank was no hits.  C. At 2 hexes, Star was no hits.

Turn 2, 11:10

British. General Advance. (2 in each sector, all 3 companies included).  A. Shooting at 2 hexes. 2 dice, Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  B. Shooting at 2 hexes. Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  German unit eliminated. 1 VP.  C. Shooting at 3 hexes, Infantry = 1 hit.

Germans.  Recon Center. 1 unit +2 on the move.  Company at south end of bridge shoots at nearest Poles at 2 hexes, 1 die. Star is a miss.

Poles. Dig In. All 4 units improved their defensive positions.

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Turn 3. 11:20

British. Probe Center ( 2 units).   Two companies fired at enemy in the open at 2 hexes.  A. 1 grenade, 1 flag.  1 hit, 1 retreat.  B. 1 grenade. 1 hit.

German. Air Sortie played with Left Flank.  One fighter arrived on the left flank. Air check rolled tank, so the aircraft was OK.

Poles. Recon Center.  The centre company  fired at the enemy unit in the open defending the bridge.  At 2 hexes, 1 die. Grenade was a hit.

Turn 4. 11:30

British. Probe left flank.  One company made a close assault on the German bunker at the north of the bridge.  A second company advanced to the north of the bridge and fires at the company on the bridge.  A. Close assault vs bunker. 2 dice. grenade, star. 1 hit.  B. Shooting vs infantry in open at 3 hexes.  1 die. star was a miss.

German. Probe Left Flank used for Luftwaffe support.  Moved 4 hexes east.  No target available.

Poles. Assault Centre.  3 companies advanced to contact. Close assault, left company.  2 dice, 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit, 1 retreat. Germans fell back onto bridge, Poles took ground.  Right company. Vs bunker 1 die. No effect.

Turn 4. 11:40

British. Firefight. 4 units not adjacent, +1 die.  Centre Company at 3 hexes vs bunker was 1 die. Tank was no hits.  Left company at 3 hexes is 2 dice. Flag, star was 1 retreat, but retreat was blocked.  1 platoon lost, unit eliminated.

German.  Direct from HQ. Ordered all 3 infantry and 1 LW unit.  LW. Air check OK.  Strafing missed.  Unit in N Bunker.  2 dice at 1 hex.  1 hit.  S. End of bridge. 2 dice at 1 hex. 1 hit.  Bunker at S. end. 2 dice ar 1 hex. 1 retreat.

Poles. Recon in force.  1 unit each section, increased to 2 units center for HQ.   Left company. 1 die. 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit.  Unit eliminated.  Poles took the bridge.

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Losses:  British.  2 of 12 = 17%  Poles. 2 of 16 = 13%  Germans. 13 of 20 = 65%

But the Germans still hold pill boxes in company strength at both ends of bridge, even if the allies hold the bridge itself.  We shall see what progresss…