Saturday, 8 June 2019

Blitzkrieg Commander IV - In Defence of Buron

Some months ago I did a hexed version of a scenario centred on the German counter-attack at Buron, against Canadian forces. I quite like taking the same situation and applying it to different rule sets, as it helps in defining the difference between systems and helps fine tune the scenario.



So here is a presentation of that scenario, applied to the new Blitzkrieg Commander IV rules from Pendraken, together with a brief overview as to how the game went. It has the advantage of being a small action, so is being played on a 4’ x 3’ table with Pendraken 10mm figures.


please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.


scenario - In defence of Buron.
On 8th July 1944, during the fighting around Caen, Canadian troops took the village of Buron (6km North West of Caen) in an attack starting at 0730 hours and with generous artillery support, taking the village by 0830 hours. Preparations for the inevitable German counter-attack started immediately. 17 pounder armed M-10 Achilles were brought up, helping to hold against the attacks and knocking out several Panzer IV’s and Panthers in the process.


Orders-of-Battle.


Canadian - elements of Hamilton’s Light Infantry and support (B Troop - 245th Battery).


Tactical Doctrine - Normal
HQ (CV8) - Can only Command the M10’s (Optional Fixed Formation rule)
HQ (CV8) - Can only Command non M10 units (Optional Fixed Formation rule)
FAO(CV8)
Infantry Veteran x 5, each upgraded with PIAT
Machine Gun x 1
M10 Achilles - 17 Pounders x 2 (plus 1 potential reinforcement - see special rules)
Off Table battery of Medium Guns (25pdr) x 1


German - elements 12th SS Panzer Regiment and support (25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment).


Tactical Doctrine - Flexible
HQ(CV8) Can only Command the 3 non-mobile infantry platoons and 1 machine gun platoon (Optional Fixed Formation rule)
HQ (CV8) Can only Command the vehicles and the three infantry that are allocated to the half tracks. (Optional Fixed Formation rule)
Infantry (Heer) x 6, each upgraded with Panzerfausts
Machine Gun x 1
Sd kfz 251/ x 3
PzIVh (75mm long) x 2 (upgraded to good armour)
Panthers x 2
Off Table battery of Medium Guns (105’s) see special rules re pre-game bombardment.


Administration - The Germans are managed by player 1 and their forces start off map. German command rolls to bring their units onto the table are modified by -3 to help bring the units into play.


The Optional, smaller artillery Fire Zone of 10cm x 10cm will be used by the Canadians due to the tactical nature of this scenario.


The scenario lasts for 8 turns.



Set-Up - The  Canadian player sets up their infantry and machine gun in Buron, each of the five buildings must be occupied. The M10’s deploy anywhere on the table. The artillery observer is placed in the church building (assuming the steeple position).


The German player then conducts a single pre-game, pre-registered artillery concentration strike using off board artillery procedures against each and every enemy target in Buron. Spotting / accuracy is automatic. Simply roll 3D6 against each target unit, needing 6 to hit and units in buildings get a save roll of 5+ and will then test suppression on confirmed hits, needing a 6 to suppress.


The game then starts with the German forces trying to enter play on turn 1 anywhere along their own board edge. German HQ’s attempting to enter play get a dice roll modifier of -3 on their command roll, but the entire HQ's force must enter the table at the same time if successful.


Victory Conditions - Victory is calculated at the end of the scenario. Both sides get 1 VP for each enemy base that they remove from play. In addition, each player gets 1 VP for each building in Buron that they were the last to occupy by the end of play. There are 5 such buildings.


Special Rules - The wheat in the fields is mature. Non-vehicle units can claim partial cover (hit 5+). LOS accords with the fields being low area terrain.
Rubberised fields from TimeCast
painted and flocked.


The village must include a building designated as a church (for the observer to use). While the observer is in the church (assume they are in the spire), any part of the board will be visible to the observer.


When (if) the first M10 tank destroyer platoon is knocked out, the Canadian player at the start of each subsequent turn will test to see whether the third M10 platoon is available to reinforce the action. Roll 2D6 and on a 5 or less, the third M10 platoon becomes available and will automatically get their first command, so that they can enter under a move order that turn at any point on the Canadian baseline within 30cm of the road.  Deduct 1 from the reinforcement dice roll for every German tank still in play at the time of testing.


Important - It is recommended that the optional rule of retaining all hits into subsequent turns is used, so that there is an accumulated effect of hits.



Play.
The opening German artillery barrage, is not particularly effective. Casualties are taken in the café and the machine gun nest in the bakers is both hit and suppressed.


As the artillery fire dies down, the expected German assault starts. On their left, tanks and halftracks advance, trying to use the woodland to hide their approach against the village. On the right the 2nd Infantry company are advancing on foot, intending to use the large woods to get them up towards the lateral road and then enter the village from that direction, in an attempt to envelop the village defences from two sides.


The Canadian M10’s (Achilles 17 pounders) that have been laying in ambush in the upper left woods, fire on the approaching Panther tanks, scoring some hits. The German tanks lose their momentum (failed command test) as they scan for the origin of the fire, but are spared further harm as the M10’s stop firing (fail their own command test!).


On the right, the German infantry find moving through the wood hard going (more failed command rolls!).


The German tanks grind to a halt as they prepare to engage the M10’s at long range. Their left most Panzer IV platoon cannot see anything as hugging the woods edge to stay out of view is now working to their disadvantage.
M10's ....Smokin'



One Panther platoon has taken very heavy damage, but their return fire on M10’s hit and suppress both of the lightly armoured vehicles, stopping them from firing and taking the advantage in this gun duel significantly over to German favour, who then bring all of their tank fire against the wood edge. Both M10 platoons are destroyed. This is a pretty devastating for the Canadians.
1/2 tracks approach the small copse



The company of German Sd Kfz 251/1 ½ tracks race up to the small copse next to the road, intending that the panzer grenadiers start their attack against the town from the cover of the trees.


The 3rd M10 Platoon (reinforcement) arrives. They had been held up a mile or so further back as two of it’s vehicles had received track damage from mines. Seeing smoke coming from one of the Panther platoons, they halt, unwisely in the open, to finish that job off. Though their fire is on target, they don’t manage to penetrate the enemy armour and ‘that’ Panther platoon (already holding 5 hits) continues it’s charmed survival.


The Artillery Observer in the steeple calls artillery down fire on the half tracks, who still have their passengers bussed up. They escape lightly, but one platoon becomes suppressed, as do their passengers who deploy out into the woodland.


On the German right, the infantry company gets to the woods edge, set up their machine gun for covering fire, but then hesitate in starting their assault on Buron (failed command tests), perhaps they want to see the left flank attack actually move into the village before they commit to the advance over open ground!


At the copse, the panzer grenadiers dismount from the half tracks and move through the woodland ready to attack Buron from below.
Buron

The Panthers see off the third M10 platoon, which being the last capable defence against the German tanks, should have played a shrewder game of cat and mouse amongst the trees and buildings and at least kept the German tanks distracted, but it’s loss has allowed the German tanks to turn their attention on the village and start pumping H.E. shells against the Bakers shop and the Mayor’s Residence


The Panzer group’s energetic commander (luckily gets 4 commands on the run) organises the assault on Buron, which results in the clearing and occupation of the Mayor’s Residence, but the third platoon, running towards the Bakers shop is hit in the open by fire from the occupants, chewing it up pretty badly and pushing it back (70mm).
Canadian view from the Baker's shop



The fighting for the Bakers shop intensifies. The German threat from the Mayor’s Residence obliges the defenders at the Bakers to defend that facing of the building, but there are mixed blessings for the Canadians as the occupants of the Bakers shop are very lucky with save rolls, but the force as a whole is repeatedly failing command rolls.


The German half tracks have moved into the open to lay down sustained machine gun fire on the Bakers shop, though this just draws the attention of more Canadian artillery fire onto them, causing the loss of a platoon.


Pretty much all of the German fire is now falling on the Bakers, taking out the Machine Gun nest. There is heavy cross fire between buildings within the village as Canadian infantry in the café, church and bakers enter the fire fight against the Mayor’s Residence, though with little luck.


The decision of having the 2nd company go through the woods on the right to attack the far side of the village has not worked well for the German plan of envelopment. Without their assistance in putting pressure on the far side of the village, the panzer group alone does not have enough infantry to attack deeper into the village and hold it. But with the machine guns being knocked out at the Bakers shop, the right at last begin to move out against the bakers and the church.


(The absence of a CO in this game is being felt, that is just part of my learning curve).
Panzer Grenadiers attack the Baker's shop
 from the side



While the Canadian section in the Bakers is engaged firing across the street into the Mayor’s Residence. A Panzer Grenadier platoon attacks the bakers from the flank and it’s all over for the defenders.


With the two houses at the front of the village now in German hands, they can push forwards from positions of cover and bring their half tracks up into the village for fire support. The tanks, wary about entering the streets of Buron, instead choose to skirt the left of the town and start firing into the Café.
Half tracks move up the main street



At the Church, the occupants re-orientate their defence towards the front of the building to prevent an attack launched from the Bakers. At the same time, the German infantry company on the right are reaching the village, moving against the church, the café falls to assault teams attacking from the Mayor’s Residence and by now, it is becoming obvious that this is pretty much all over for the defence of Buron.


Victory.
Based upon losses and building control, the Germans can claim 9 VP’s and the Canadians 4 VP’s. Is the scenario skewed? Perhaps, the Panzer Group did quite well for activations, while the German right was tardy, but it was the Canadians in the village that suffered turn after turn of failed command checks, which had they been luckier, may have narrowed that Victory Point difference.


The scenario is most likely missing a commanding officer per side, I will run the scenario again, with a CO on each side and see if the spread of victory points changes in any particular way. Also more thoughtful handling of those M10’s would not go amiss!


(EDIT, I have played again with the same setup and without adding CO’s, this time the M10’s smashed the German tank assault, who had command problems. I think this win for either side is not reflecting that the scenario is balanced, but rather it reflects the need to include a Commanding Officer to smooth out the effects of a run of poor command dice in such a small battle, so for the next game, each side will get a CO(CV8). I don’t want to go straight to a CV9 in case it throws the command issue totally in the other direction and makes a small force too effective in its turn. The alternative might be to drop to 1 x HQ(CV8) and instead have 1 x CO (CV9) just as a gentle nudge against command fails, though the forces, especially the attackers,  may feel compelled not to spread out too much).


As I delve deeper into these rules, there is much to like. There is quite a bit of chaos with the command system, which is a great strength in my opinion as it leads to a more challenging and dynamic game for the players.


Resource Section
My sister webspace COMMANDERS will be getting some posts about this system over coming weeks. LINK




AAR of the hex based version of this scenario. LINK



27 comments:

  1. Thanks for this Norm - a fine small game. I'll be getting some BKCIV action in myself next week, after a long absence from using these rules. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank Keith, I am at the learning end, but enjoying it very much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great little scenario Norm and really glad you are continuing to enjoy these rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve,I am advancing enough to better appreciate the value of the optional rule to hold hits over and accumulate them, rather than wiping the slate clean at the end of each turn ... the town brings that into sharp focus!

      Delete
  4. Looks very nice, map, minis, terrain...and scenario!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Phil, it all gave an enjoyable afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with Phil, nicely presented game and interesting results.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, the system does generate a good narrative style of play.

      Delete
  7. A very nice game and write up Norm. Thank you
    Plus - You have made me consider for the first time in ages, whether a CO is mandatory!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Adam, I'm still quite unsure what to do about a CO and am not familiar enough with the system to be guided by experience. I am thinking that just adding an extra CO per side in this scenario will make a side potentially too effective in their part of the turn.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post, Norm. I really dig the "fixed formation" optional rule. IIRC, that was not in the first edition of BKC?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve, the optional rules are available via the Pendraken website, but there are 3 blank pages at the rear of the rules reserved for 'notes'. Since I could never bring myself to write in a rule book! I think that space would have been a more universally useful space to put the optional rules.

      Delete
    2. Agreed. That optional rule sounds like it came from a house rule IMHO.

      Delete
  10. Interesting scenario - just the thing to try out using the Portable Wargames system (or using Neil Thomas's OHW game system)! When I looked at the forces involved, I thought this would be a tough nut for the Germans, without realising until well into the narrative that, their position having been developed, the Achilles' survivability takes a bit of a nosedive if they have unsufficiently damaged the panzers betimes.

    I've not heard of the 'Blitzkrieg Commander' rule set before. Your opinion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the scenario as it examples that classic situation of being able to reliably predict that the Germans will typically respond to a local difficulty with an immediately assembled counter-attack, not always with the greatest advantages in numbers. Likewise, the Allies need mobile anti-tank platforms, to get defences in place before the counter-attack comes in, so we get to understand the role and necessity of the light M10's. My part of the learning curve is how best to use the M10, to its strengths and negate the weaknesses.

      The heart of the rules have something in common with the Black Powder type games, with commands / orders being rolled for, blunders being possible and fighting revolving around hits and saves and the accumulation of hits. All aspects that I quite like in a game and are solo friendly. I very much like that everything is one rulebook, so avoiding the Codex route.

      The accumulation of hits on units, particularly vehicles works and feels right because each base is representing a platoon, though it can encourage ganging up to see a unit off.

      My two playings of the scenario as exampled above, gave two very different outcomes, but that variable not only came out of the usual 'luck' that surrounds hits etc, but also around the fact of whether things can activate etc and that being beyond player control is probably the single aspect that will decide the system for gamers - I like it.

      Delete
  11. Excellent! This will be my bedtime reading tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Jonathan, I hope it doesn't send you you to sleep :-)

    I am a huge fan of tactical WWII and in particular at the 'one tank is a tank' level, so things like straight knock-outs are part of that interest, so I have been a bit surprised at how much I have enjoyed moving up a level to a base equals a platoon and can accumulate hits. There is mileage in this set for me.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good looking game and it did seem that the Canadians had a run of bad luck but I guess the M10 needs careful handling as it's not an all round tank!
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
  14. Iain, I am as lucky with my M10's as I am with my JSU 152's :-) neither seem to last long in my games.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice looking game and scenario Norm. CO’s are certainly vital in our Blitzkrieg games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matt, this latest experience has pretty much convinced me of their importance to the game.

      Delete
  16. In theory I like the idea of taking a scenario and trying it out across different rule systems. I’m jealous that you’ve done it in practice because I never seem to pull it off. 😀
    Nice write up and use of 10mm troops. This reminds me of the constant tweeking a scenario needs, and often dictated by the rules used.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks Stew, I have been enjoying exploring these rules. I dug out my original basic Squad Leader (Avalon Hill) game last night, just to see how the anti-tank system worked and it made me pause to think just how many WWII tactical systems have crossed my path since the mid 70's - I don't think I could probably even recall half of them, if that!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very cool historical scenario, Norm. Love the amount of vehicles and nice terrain.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks Dean, the 10mm scale does allow for more vehicles and terrain on the smaller table.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent battle report

    https://www.10mm-wargaming.com/

    Take care

    Andy

    ReplyDelete