Tuesday 12 January 2010

Race to the Vistula

So. My latest game was interesting to me in two ways. First, I had developed my own scenario which I thought could produce a fun game, and second I was going to try out BKC II for the first time.

The idea was to re-create the conditions arising as the German 1st and 4th Panzer Divisions broke through Polish lines and raced towards Warsaw and the Vistula, around the 8th of September 1939. I designed a 6' x 4' terrain, which the Germans would have to traverse along its long axis against Polish opposition, with the objective of exiting worthwhile armoured forces off the far end of the table. The map was as below, with the Germans entering at the bottom (A) headed east. The interesting bit of the scenario was a set of randomly generated arrivals (both Polish and German) designed to represent the confused nature of the German advance and the Polish withdrawal. Zelazna is a Polish village name from the rough area of the fighting, but is used only to provide a little local flavour: the action is entirely fictional.

Initial Forces: Polish
(deploy first)
Deploy anywhere in or east of Zelazna. All except tanks may be dug in.
Infantry detachment: HQ (CV7), 4 infantry units, 1 mg unit, 1 mortar unit, 1 37mm ATG with tow
Infantry detachment: HQ (CV7), 4 infantry units, 1 mg unit, 1 40mm Bofors AA with tow
Tank Detachment: HQ (CV8), 2 Vickers E (47mm), 1 Vickers E (mg)

Initial Forces: German (move first)
Arrive in column along road from A. First movement on table must be along road.
Panzer Bn: 2 PzI, 2 PzII, 1 PzIV, 1 Sdkfz 231 (recce)
Panzer Bn: 2 PzI, 2 PzII, 1 PzIV, 1 SP88mm
Stuka Staffel: 1 Stuka unit
Artillery Bn: 3 105mm units. No assets. Counted as out of range of targets east of the river.

Random Arrivals
From move 2, at the start of each move roll a D12 on the arrivals table. Arriving forces deploy in column along their route for their 1st movement action, up to their maximum move.
Once a formation has arrived at a particular point, cross through any enemy forces with the same arrival point. If a force has already arrived or has been crossed off, re-roll until an eligible force is thrown for.

Arrivals table:
1 - Polish air raid; 2 Karas units arrive and may attack any aiming point not within 30cm of friends, or in woods.
2 - German motorised infantry arrive at A; HQ, 4 infantry units in 2 trucks, 2 m/c units, 1 mg in truck, 1 37mm ATG with tow.
3 - Polish infantry detachment arrives at B; HQ, 4 infantry units in 2 trucks, 1 mg in jeep, 1 37mm ATG with tow.
4 - Lost German lorried infantry arrive at C; HQ, 4 infantry units in 2 trucks, 1 mg unit in truck.
5 - Retreating Polish tank detachment arrives at C; HQ, 3 7TP (37mm).
6 - Flanking German Panzer platoon arrives at D; HQ, 1 PzI, 1 PzII.
7 - Lost Polish recce detachment arrives at D; HQ, 1 Wz34 (mg), 2 TKS (mg), 2 m/c units.
8 - German recce detachment arrives at E; HQ, 1 Sdkfz 221, 1 Sdkfz 222, 3 m/c units, 1 mg unit with truck.
9 - Polish cavalry arrives at E; HQ, 6 cavalry units, 1 mg in taszanka, 1 75mm artillery unit with horse tow.
10 - German Panzer platoon arrives at F; HQ, 1 PzIII, 1 Sdkfz 10/4.
11 - Polish armoured train retreating south arrives at F; Armoured train, 1 T-18 drasine (recce)
12 - German cavalry detachment arrives at G; HQ, 4 cavalry units, 1 mg unit with truck.

Victory Conditions.
The Germans must exit at least 5 AFV units (tracked or wheeled) off the table via point B to win. If not, they lose and the Poles win. Game will last as many moves as time permits.

The Game.

Table set up as per map.

The bridge is well defended: Polish infantry on the east bank, tanks blocking the road.

The other Polish infantry formation holds Zelazna.

The German panzers arrive. The first battalion moves off the road to bypass Zelazna to the south.

The Polish tanks move forward to engage. The MkIV on the hill gave the first result attributable to the new rules: the Polish player rolled 4 sixes in 2 firing actions with his mortar (called in by infantry units in the village), and with no successful saves the tank was KO'd.
First arrivals were the German infantry reinforcements from A who joined the queue on the road behind the tanks.

Next to arrive: Polish cavalry east of the railway and river move to join in the defence of the bridge.

Stuka strike! The new rules again take effect as the Stukas pick off 2 Polish tanks in 2 separate moves, using the 'concentration' rule and the new effect rolls.

The second panzer battalion bypasses Zelazna to the north. The Polish 7TPs arrive, but they merely provide target practice for the well drilled German tanks and the deadly SP 88mm. In 2 moves they are all KO'd. The PzIs move ahead quickly to bypass the flaming wrecks.

More German panzers arrive at D. The Polish light tanks are being overwhelmed but manage to delay the German advance.

The Polish cavalry dismount and consolidate at the bridge. The defence here is looking very strong.

More arrivals: German cavalry are moving along the railway line from G. They are headed for trouble.

As the game reaches its climax, Zelazna is bypassed to the north and south by German panzers and supporting motorised infantry.

Polish infantry retreats from Zelazna. The mortar and the remaining Vickers tank fire off a few last rounds to delay the Germans.

The Stukas appear again and attack the bridge area. But with 3 Polish Command units in the vicinity they encounter a storm of AA fire and are knocked out of the game without affecting their targets. (CO plus 2 HQs plus the Bofors = 9 attacks. 4 hits achieved with no saves possible).They will be unable to return. Note the severely reduced German cavalry. They encountered heavy fire from the Polish dismounted cavalry who were in cover, and eventually lost 3 of their 5 units.

Final positions. The Germans have done reasonably well, but the defence of the bridge area is far too strong. Note further arrivals: more German armour has arrived at F (lower left), and more Polish infantry arrives from B (left). As the Germans advance precipitously against the Polish second line, they lose a PzI to AT rifles, and the Sdkfz 10/4 to the Bofors. The PzIII is suppressed by the 75mm and 2 infantry units and 1 mg unit are lost from the dismounted motorised infantry, all in the final move. There is obviously no way through at the moment. The Poles have won.

8 game turns were completed in a little under 3 hours. The new rules worked perfectly, and I had no problems with any of the changes. The new cover saves made the Polish infantry in Zelazna difficult targets for the German artillery: despite having 9 attacks very little was achieved, but this is probably realistic. Overall, this is definitely an improved set.
As for the scenario, it was hard to judge the balance as the random arrivals provide a great deal of chance and variety. Nevertheless, perhaps the defence was a little too strong. If we refight the battle, I will reduce the Vickers tanks to 2, and attach 1 to each infantry formation, so that the Poles only have 2 formations initially. This actually fits in with the 'penny packets' rule added to the Polish army list. I should have listened to Pete! A little tweaking of the Polish arrivals should make the German task a little easier as well. I would also remove the range restrictions east of the river for the German artillery.

Thanks for visiting. Comments welcomed as usual!


Mad Carew said...

Great looking game - Happy New Year

robertpeel999 said...

Great stuff Keith and goof photos. I have received my copy of BKC2 and was pleased to read your favourable - and judged comments. I look forward to reading more of your AAR's.



Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I'm with Tone - what a well written post... a clearly laid out and inventive scenario (which I intend nicking and using in a western desert setting!), and a good game write up with interesting information about how the rules caused specific incidents.... as a confirmed BKCI user I have v2 on my to buy list - just waiting for the first show so I can save postage! :o)

Ross Mac said...

Great report! I like the classic look of the game.

BKC2 has arrived in town here but I haven't had a chance to see or play it. Hopefully sometime in Feb. I'm glad to hear your positive take on it.


Todd R said...

I'm seriously considering buying this ruleset - I've never miniature gamed, but the writeups and what I read about this system it sounds like a fairly easy one to get involved in. I boardgame, including ASLSK, so I'm fairly confident I can figure out the rules.

I also like the fact that your scenery looks doable. I don't mean this as a back-handed comment. I just get a little overwhelmed when I see some of the mini game photos and there are these elaborate terrains that look real. Frankly, it's a little discouraging because I'm not sure I have the talent or time...or money for that kind of set up. What I'm trying to say is that you give me some hope that I can do this.

Now, if I can just paint the minis in a decent way. Oh, I want to play with 6mm, so we'll see.

Thank you for a great writeup.