Monday, 4 July 2016


Well, I have just returned from Battle Group South 2016, at Bovington Tank Museum. This year we ran a Battlegroup Campaign Weekend, with three 400 points games over the Saturday and Sunday (so plenty of time for sight-seeing and shopping too). We had 7 Allied players (5 Brits, 2 US) and 7 Germans (various Panzer, Ersatz Panzer and one Fallschirmjager battlegroup) facing off, to earn campaign points for their side.

Without describing all 21 games fought over the weekend, in the end the Allies had scored a solid win over the Germans, compiling 31 VPs to the German's 16. But, before the German-ophiles cry foulplay over another hefty campaign weekend defeat, at the end of Saturday, both sides had won 7 games a piece, and only a few 'better' Allied victories gave them a slim lead. Sunday, well, the wheels came off for the Germans, losing 6 from 7 games and getting a pasting... I'd say that was the relative experience of the players, the Allies had a few more 'old heads' who knew the game well than the Germans.

My first game was a narrow win for me, only due to some hefty artillery calls to Corps' 155mm gun batteries which caused havoc with some accurate shooting. Until then the game was very close, and my US infantry was badly pinned down by incoming MG fire (as ever), with their M10s losing their gun-duel with the StuGs (as ever). Artillery saved the day. M10s are useless!!

For my second game, I switch forces to a cavalry recce group made up of M8s, Jeep teams and M5 light tanks, to face an all infantry German force (elite, dismounted panzer grenadiers with a lot of MG42s and Panzerfausts, no vehicles). A very different battle, which my light armour (having lost a few M8s to suicidal 'faust attacks) was getting the better of, until the Luftwaffe suddenly showed up. A FW-190 bombing run scored 4 direct hits with its bombs, destroying my FHQ in his M3 halftrack, and 3 Jeeps and with the air attack counter, inflicted 7 chits... that disaster broke my force... with their commander dead, they had to pull back. The Germans had just 2 BR left... defeat snatched from victory.

On Sunday morning I faced a German panzer force in an Attack/Counter-Attack scenario. Eek, my infantry, artillery and M10s were hard put to it against 3 StuGs, a Pz IV and a Tiger II! I lost all 3 M10s again (like they stood much hope verse a Tiger II with Panzer Ace), for scoring 1 StuG kill (at least they got something this time). My artillery caused its usual harassment, but no actual losses... and with the tanks closing in, MGs strafing my all-but defenceless (and bazooka-less) infantry, I was taking my last counter (32 BR gone from 33), when it was a Mine Strike (a last revenge before throwing in the towel I thought). The mine blew his advancing Panzer IV sky high, only for that tank to be his senior officer, and those 2 drawn counters broke the Germans. Pure fluke... but a memorable battle, I had won by 1 BR and a miracle of good luck. My opponent took it very well... cheated by the fickle Gods of War.

Here are some (lots) of photos of the weekend's action. It was great fun, all played in the right spirit. Playing as part of a larger team really kills off the worst competitive instincts of true 'tournaments'. And in BG the match-up are always historical too. We shall do it again, next time, in the desert.

My first game, getting everything onto the table in a Defence Line scenario. The German had a strong position in the houses, which I flattened with repeated artillery bombardments (the US way).  

The StuG reinforcements, too much for my M10s to deal with.  

 See!! This always happens. 

 My frontline, pinned in the orchard by MG fire... the Normandy experience for my GIs. 

Victim of a 155mm arty strike direct hit.  The last straw and the Germans withdrew... phew!
A close one. 

 The other US player (Mick) racing forwards and getting onto deep trouble fast. He only took over, using my models, at the last minute. Green commander... 

 Ouch! Trouble (and Sherman) brewing. 

 Pier's 21st Panzer battlegroup... or the wacky races? We laughed, but then those that fought it found out the hard way that the Arkansas Chuggabug is not to be taken lightly. His Hotchkiss H-39 knocked out a Sherman!! Multiple rocket launcher and multiple mortar halftrack do spread a lot of pinning. 

Sean's Brits and their Cromwell about to 'go-in'...  

 Not forgetting to bring the Firefly with them... of course. 

Gaining ground for their first win. Sean's very well rounded British force (regular infantry, Cromwells (later Shermans) and some mortar support won 3 from 3. 

Churchill were the Brit's tank of choice, and they did well (mostly).  

My cavalry squadron's Jeep teams, dismounting to fight on foot. The Willy's park would be a costly mistake when the bombs rained down (should have got them off the table sooner).

 My M5s on an 'end-run', around the elite Germans holding the farm. Speed and MGs doing the trick to avoid the 'faust.

 Elite Panzergrenadiers holding in the hedges. Get to close, and eat Panzerfaust. A very small but tough force.

As my M8s found out. 2 from 3 knocked-out trying to take the hill (mound) top objective.  

 Last 2 M5s close on the other objective (marked by small tree). 

 But the Luftwaffe's arrival was critical, and devastating... 7 chits in one attack... ouch. OUCH!

Not all Churchills fare so well. Pz IVs and Churchills match up in a eve(ish) fight (makes a change).  

Crossing hedges, it's a slow grind with Churchills.  

US armoured infantry in support of their Shermans... like it is supposed to be done, except don't roll dice like Mick... unlucky sir....

One 'necky' British M5 goes for glory, misses, and so got a Panzerfaust in return... goodbye!  Piers' 1 Pz IV scored 4 tank kills and was never knocked out in any game. Well played sir...

Pier's 21st Panzergrenadiers close in to assault the houses, they switched hands several times in close-range carnage.  

Sean's Achilles scores a Panther kill on his way to win number 2.  

Firefly gets a Mine Strike counter and brews up... gutting... 

And still the Churchills grind on...  

With their infantry helping out... 4 British players had Churchill-based battlegroups.  

Panzer grenadiers take cover in a farm, winkling them out would be a theme of the weekend.  

 Andy T's Humber AC... scored a tank kill... get in! A heroic moment. 

StuGs roll up to face down my M10s.  

With serious fire support from this beast, unstoppable, but I pinned it twice with arty fire... 
that's something! 

 My M10s, with their usual poor performance, three more lost for one kill scored... 

The Battlegroup commander in his Pz IV, nice idea, until he hits a mine and it costs you the battle... an undeserved fate for a well-conducted German panzer assault that had my US force on the ropes all game.