Saturday, 10 May 2014

20mm East Front 1942 Battle of Butsk (second go)

I played a second game with my friend's 9 year old son at Easter.  After playing that game, I then played the same scenario against my friend.  I did as well as I did in the game against his son i.e. not well.

We used the same rules as the earlier game.  We did not us any spotting rules. The rules are here (opens a pdf document).

I used the same scenario - Battle for Butsk, east front August 1942 - that I have had electronically for a long time but never used. I was laying the Russians and to balance the game a little added an extra mortar and some extra infantry compared to the morning game.  It made no difference and was not enough to balance out the German advantage of occupying the town first.  For another replay, I would move the town a little further towards the centre OR increase the Russian forces by an extra unit of infantry OR add 2 more T34s and another AT gun.
German (W---)
3 Panzer IVJ
2 Panzer IIIJ
2 Sdkfz 250/9 (as I do not have any Sdkfz 222)
1 HQ
    1 halftrack
    4 rifles
1 Armoured Panzer Grenadier unit:
    9 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 halftracks
1 Motorised Panzer Grenadier unit:
    12 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 trucks

Russian (me)
3 T34/76
3 T-70
1 Tank riders
    9 SMGs
1 HQ
    3 rifles
    1 truck
2 infantry units each:
    12 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 Trucks
1 Support Unit
    1 45mm AT gun
    2 82mm mortar
    1 truck

Table setup
As per last game but to repeat: River running roughly down the centre and crossable by 3 fords only.  A village in the central area, but closer to the German edge. The objective is to hold more buildings of the town than the other side.  There are scattered woods and wheatfields.  The Germans have a good advantage as they can get to the village and occupy the building first.  This is what happened in this game.

The board, same as last game!
The Game
W--- split the forces in two - one to go directly for the village, the other to skirt around it to the left and come at the village that way, and also protect the left flank.  I, as the Russians, opted for something similar.

Germans in from the left, Russians from the right.  An overview of movement during the game.
W--- (Germans) very quickly realised that he could get his trucks down the road and into the building before I could. So he did that, taking over most of the buildings by turn 3.  The buildings are the objective, so it was a good focus.  By the end of turn three, I was still a move away form the buildings that W--- had already occupied.

The Russians coming in down the road with T70s leading.  Another unit of infantry in trucks makes its way over to the right.
The Germans have occupied all the building on their side of the road (to the left in this picture), backed up by the PanzerIVs.  Note we tend to remove transports once used as they just occupy space otherwise.
The Russians unloaded most of the SMG infantry off the back of the T70s into the woods just before the crossroads.  This was an excellent position for the German to machine gun them, which they did.  A single rifle figure fires with 1d6 while an MG uses 4d6 (and also fires out to 36" while a rifle is only 18").
The T70s unloading infantry into the adjacent woods. View is from the German held buildings.
It was I noticed the range from the SMGers to the closest building was more than 6" (the normal move for infantry) but less than 9".  In my rules, infantry get a 9" move if charging into close combat.  So I said to W--- "I know I haven't mentioned it, but infantry get a +3" move if charging into combat.  No, really, I am not making it up - it is in the rules".   I charged in and defeated the 2 Germans defending the building.  This was the only building I actually got to see the inside of, but I did kick him of of a few more (see later).

The building on the left bottom that was charged by the Russians and successfully occupied by them. Note all the other building have Germans in them.
The game turn is driven by a card deck - it had about 11 black cards, 8 red cards and a joker.  Cards are shuffled at the start of a turn and flipped over one at a time.  Black = any one German unit may activate (move and fire), Red = any one Russian unit may activate, Joker signifies the end of the turn. While there is about the same number of units on each side, the extra black cards represent the better German command and control (compared to the Russians).

So, the next turn starts.  Red card.  I charge another building and win.  Red card again.  I fire on another building, causing them to be pinned.  Red card again.  Fire on the pinned units and they are forced to retreat.  Red card again.  Fire on another building an cause a pin result.  Red card again.  Fire on another building and cause a pin.  Two more red cards but no further damage.  7 red cards in a row.  W--- was getting a little flustered with my run and was seeing all his hard work disappear.  But then the string of black cards came out (I think about 7).  Rallied the retreating unit, pinned and eliminated the units from the buildings I occupied.  Re-occupied the building with other troops.  KO's a couple of T70s. All the Russians gained lost and more. My hold was fairly tenuous so it was not going to take much to push me out again (and it didn't).
View from the Russian side - 1 T70 and all the infantry left on that side (about 30% of what I sent down the road)
Meanwhile, the German left flank was going well also. The Russians had sent one infantry unit down there but was facing the two Sdkfz 250/9, the PanzerIIIs and also an already occupied village.  I managed to get the infantry close enough to be protected by a stone wall and with a good shot at one of the buildings.

The Russians get a unit ready to assault the building to their front.

If we actually see what is around the building, we can spot Panzer IIIs to the right, the Sdkfz250/9 rumbling to the rear of the building, and infantry is in the building.
I believe my infantry survived one turn behind the stone wall - they were pinned, lost most of the figures in the unit and then quietly routed. A unit check morale when it loses figures and may become pinned.  If already pinned, it will retreat.  If it has lost at least 50% of the figures, there is a chance it will rout. 

The same happened in the central area.  My remaining two infantry units, already down to less than 50% each, routed under withering fire from the Germans.  It was at that point the Russians withdrew.  Without any infantry to control the building and half the armour gone, it was time to retreat. There is an overall force morale check when more than 40% of the units on the board are pinned or routed.  The Russians did not pass.

Panning back a bit further we see that there are no Russians behind the stone wall to the right.  The remaining T70 is pinned (white smoke) and you will not be able to spot a single Russian infantry figure - they have all gone. 
The T34's stayed to the rear but did not do much.  One was lost to PanzerIV fire.
The PanzerIVs also stayed in the rear but were in a good position to machinegun the Russian infantry approaching the village, or fire at the T34s.
Another excellent outing for the rules.  They are working well.  And I finally got to play a WW2 game with W--- after about 10 years of it first being mentioned.  A good time and the whole game was over in 2 hours.


  1. Shaun, good narrative and nice looking game. Can units activate a multiple number of times in a turn or does a different unit activate with each drawn card? I have some T-70's on order, they seem quite 'punchy' for light tanks.

  2. Thanks Norm. Units can only activate once per turn - each card must be use to activate any unit that has not activated yet. With the joker ending a turn though, it can be that a single unit activates a number of times (over a number of turns) while other units do not get a look-in. I do not mind the IABSM mechanism of named units activating on a card, with leader cards providing the opportunity to activate units of choice (well, choice is where the leader is!) and event cards. But I found that slower than the simple pick a unit. And my rules were all about how fast I could make them but still provide some representation of WW2 combat as I see it.

    I have always liked T70s but did not acquire any until about 2 years ago. I now use them at every opportunity. They would have to be my favourite Russian tank of WW2. They have good armour and the 45mm gun is not that bad for the time they were in action.

  3. Good looking fight, Shaun, and I'm envious of you having an opponent! I do my card activation the same way, minus the 'end turn' card; I always found the IABSM card-tied to unit/leader concept to limiting (for me, some folks love it).

    Great looking table and troops, but where's your campaign? ;)


    1. I like the end turn card as it fits into my world view of battalion sized combats and how units really miss what seems like obvious actions when I am playing a game. I can only go by what I have read, which is not that much, so my mind can be changed! But I believe you roll for activation as well as using the cards.
      With this combination, there is no need for an "end turn card".

      The Campaign is coming. Promise. I have nearly written up game 5 and prepping the table for game 6.

  4. (W) - Its was a Good game - I was looking at a route if he kept turning up Red cards :) - in the mid game I had lost 3 of the 6 buildings, (S) said it was harder to dislodge an infantry unit once it was in the building but his incoming fire begged to differ :)

    1. ..but once I was in, you very easily got me out again! And I needed a lot of fire to get you out :-)