Wednesday 2 June 2021

The Engagement At Kopiec

This little solo battle was used to test the current state of play with my revision of the 1973 WRG WW2 rules. It is, of course, entirely fictional. However, for inspiration it uses the north-easterly advance of the Germans towards Warsaw in early September 1939, in particular the well-known Battle of Mokra where an armoured train helped to hold up an attacking Panzer Division for a day or so.

The structure of the scenario came from the Bolt Action rule book, being scenario 1, 'Envelopment'. This fitted nicely into a narrative of Panzer units hurrying forward trying to bypass Polish units, only to find a determined defence in place backed up by an armoured train. The Bolt Action book only gives basic set-up zones and table proportions, so I had to fill in the terrain detail myself:

The table was 4' x 4', using 15mm figures and models.

The Poles could deploy anywhere south of the line A - B. The Germans started off-table, and moved on from the northern base edge in move 1. The WRG rules use a 1 to 1 scale, with one vehicle model representing one actual vehicle, and infantry based as 'elements' or 'groups', four to a base. In fact, very similar to Flames of War. Forces were:

Company CO.

Infantry Platoon
HQ: command group, ATR group, light mortar group.
3 x sections each: 2 rifle groups, 1 rifle/lmg group.

Tank platoon: 3 x R-35 tanks.

Light Tank platoon: 3 x TKS tankettes

Mortar section: 2 x 8cm mortars (off table). Mortar observer.

Armoured Train: train no.51, Pierwszy Marszalek.

Company CO.

Panzergrenadier Platoon
HQ: command group, ATR group, light mortar group.
3 x sections each: 1 rifle group, 1 rifle/lmg group.

2 x Tank Platoon: 3 x Pz.38T, 1 x Pz.II.

Heavy Tank Platoon: 2 x Pz.IV, 2 x Pz.II.

Mortar section: 2 x 8cm mortars (off table). Mortar Observer.

Normally I would make an attacking force stronger than the defenders, but the Bolt Action scenarios are designed for equal points battles. I decided to give this a go, and in fact it worked well. I used the points from the WRG 1973 book and the two forces came out at around 750 points each.

The Germans would score 1 victory point for every Polish element knocked out, 2 victory points for every friendly element inside the Polish set-up zone, and 3 victory points for every friendly element that managed to move off the table via the Polish baseline.

The Poles would score 2 victory points for every German element knocked out.

The Game In Photos

The set-up.
The green markers show the target points for the German preparatory bombardment.

A couple of moves in.
By some miracle (well, a throw of 11 with 2D6) the Poles have conjured up an airstrike.

The CO of the Polish R-35 platoon was responsible for picking off a Pz.IV.

Move 4 and a Stuka appears. Scratch 2 R-35s!
At top right the German heavy tank platoon has 3 tanks out of 4 knocked out

One of the Pz.38T platoons advances with some infantry support.

On cresting a small rise, 2 more German tanks are knocked out by the guns of the armoured train.

Move 5 and more close air support arrives for the Germans - an HS-123 strike.
More importantly for the Germans, their left-flanking tank platoon
has exited the table to the rear of the train.

Game over. The Polish centre is holding but the train is badly shot up,
 and the Poles have been by-passed.

After 6 turns the score was Poles 20 points, Germans 26. There was no way back for the Poles from this situation.

This turned out to be a fun little solo game, and very valuable in sorting out my revised version of the rules. An armoured train is a particularly tricky subject to make rules for - the 1973 version of the rules doesn't mention armoured trains, and the guidance in the 1988 version is limited. An armoured train is a big unit and has to be counted as a company-level formation. They were heavily armed and can be deadly against both tanks and infantry.

I'm definitely sticking with this project, which seems to offer a simpler experience than Battlegroup with no re-basing and a nice old school feel.

Getting back into face-to-face gaming has been delayed by various commitments in June, which is a shame. It appears even the retired cannot entirely escape from life outside gaming! But at least the summer appears to be here. If you're reading this, I very much hope your own post-lockdown wargaming is flourishing.

'Til next time!


Anonymous said...

Excellent. I had those rules as a 10yr old boy playing with Heroics and Ros tanks and infantry. Masses of Tiger I's obviously as any 10yr old who was brought up on Battle comics would want :)

Dave said...

An interesting scenario that I might try to convert to either France '40 or Russia '41, as I don't have any Polish forces (actually don't have an armored train either, but I have an idea for that). I'm definitely interested to see how the WRG conversion effort goes! I'm curious if you think the game would have been any different if you allowed the Poles to set up further north - e.g. southern half of the table, or even as far north as the northern-most farm - and thus have a little more defense in depth?

Steve J. said...

Good to see your Poland '39 stuff on the table again Keith. Nice to see your mods are going well. I could never settle with the Battlegroup rules, in the end preferring Bolt Action II which to my mind give just as good a game. I ditch the points and understrength sections, going with more historical OOB.

As for finding time to game, despite being retired, it is harder than one would have thought!

Keith Flint said...

As for moving the line A-B further north, I think this would make Polish victory more likely, as the Poles could have a second line which could counter any penetrations of the first line, and also engage the Germans more closely as soon as they entered the table. This would perhaps upset the balance of the scenario. But that's not to say it wouldn't be worth trying.

James Fisher said...

Excellent looking game. Love the figures and vehicles and, especially, the armoured train!
Regards, James

Wargamer Stu said...

I have a copy myself of the rules lurking on a shelf somewhere. I've decided to go the other way with my homebrew rules and do company level with a focus on fireteams and very few vehicles. Its the great thing about WWII all scales can work well.

Owen C Elliott said...

I'm interested in how you go about re-writing the rules. Do you write for yourself or so someone else could pick them up and use them? I've been trying to re-write a set of rules - Contemptible Little Armies - which are a mess but have the basis of a decent game.

Keith Flint said...

These days mostly the latter. It helps my thought processes to write things out thoroughly so another person could understand what was required. It also helps clarify my ideas and helps me to remember exactly what I intended to change and/or clarify, and how.