Facebook      


  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
"Take St Clair-sur-Orne" - A BKC-II AAR, 12-Apr 2013




 
#1

Quality. Its something we all appreciate and desire when "buying in to" a product or activity. Quality, however, comes at a price, literally. It's rare to find quality delivered without a premium price tag. However, once in while quality comes along at a quality price - thats not to say cheaply, but at what I choose to call value for money.

In BKC, I think we have found a quality ruleset that fits the holy grail of this rare profile.

The game we had last night, I believe, received a positive endorsement from two members of the club that mean we are well on the way to seeing BKC-II see a lot more air time.

The more I play the combination of 10mm and BKC-II, the more I am impressed and get a warm fuzzy feeling that this synergy hits a sweetspot in my main wargaming interest of WWII.

BKC is a ruleset that, while it might feel "lite" in comparison to some, combines its mechanics in a way that gives you tactical depth in the game play. Its early days still, but at the fundamental level of infantry engagements the game delivers results we all seem very comfortable with.

The size, price point and convenience of 10mm was demonstrated again last night.

I have in the past put on games in 15mm, 20mm and 28mm on a variety of board sizes. The comparison in terms of the bulk of stuff required to transport to the club to lay on these games, the set up time and pack away time, is in striking contrast to how quickly and easily I was able to achive the same using 10mm. A fairly complex game board was set up in relatively little time, but represented a gaming area, on a 2 x 3 board, of an equivalent of a traditional 6 x 4 board. The experience is a bit like driving to Scotland in a Mini or a Bentley, the distance is the same but how you feel after the experience is a lot less stressful!

While it might be difficult to advocate 10mm as a display gaming scale, for the club environment it is hard to beat, offering some real advantages over other scales in practical terms, while still being detailed enough to convey the character of the period.

For last nights game, I chose to replay "Take St Clair" from 29 March, for long time Club members, Denis and Russ. Encouraged by positive feedback from a small group of us who started playing about a month ago they wanted the opportunity to try it for themselves. As this was their first game using the system, "Take St Clair" looked a good introductory scenario and is quick to set up.

The pressure then was on: Denis and Russ are two Wargaming Veterans: Been there, Done that. They have been involved with the hobby for along time and it takes a lot to get them "frothy" if you know what I mean. So its a bit of a coup if you can get them onboard. Its early days, but I think we might have landed these fish!

We were joined by Mark, who, having played "Take St Clair" a week or so ago had joined us for the ride as spectator and rules advisor. His help was certainly appreciated and due to his diligent research we were able to iron out some inaccurate quirks of play that we had fallen into. The biggest of which was the fallback mechanic when units are surpressed.

The scenario is an adaption from another system. It's appeal as a tutorial game, is that it focuses unashamedly on an infantry action. While it was not designed for BKC, its adaption has revealed that it allows new players to get to grips with just about every aspect of infantry play the game has to offer in a way that it easily explored and lays a great foundation on which to step up to other supporting arms of a combined arms battle such as Armour, artillery and airpower.

It is also proving to have a good replayablity factor, having a number of ways of approaching the tactical problems at its core in a way that makes it compelling to watch and see what the players who sit down to game it choose to do.

As this was a "Tutorial" both players approached the game with the attitude of "full speed ahead and damn the horses". Which in essence says that we were there to play the game and learn the rules on the job. Mistakes would no doubt be legion, but this approach is remarkable effective for getting you "into" the game. The objective for the night was not so much to win, but to get a feel for how the game played and absorb the fundamentals quickly.

To mitigate Russ and Denis' lack of playing time with this system, Mark and I endeavoured to brief the players, at approbate times, in order to give them context. And all were prepared to roll back on results in order to give airtime to elements of the game that needed better understanding.

To this end, Russ deployed well forward and in some cases out of command of his CO to see what effect this might have on his ability to control the battle. This was a brave decision, as in BKC-II command and control are a core determinant of the game. However, if you want to learn this is a most effective, if sometimes painful way, of getting to grips with were the key levers of the game mechanics lie.

Denis also took a proactive approach: From the get go he "stormed" the river and made all speed for the objective, unintimidated by Russ line of markers in the woods on the opposite bank of the river. This, while risky, forced the pace of the game and got us into resolving combat and other key elements, so while the battlefield might get messy, Denis would see at first hand what were good tactical moves and what would get punished.

I think the game delivered on the broader objectives for the evening. Mark and I enjoyed ourselves, steering where needed, though to be honest it did not take long for Denis and Russ to get up to speed. For their part, Russ and Denis seemed to enjoy the experience and I was very pleased to see Denis delivering some very positive comments on his first impressions. It's as well Russ liked the game too, as he has already invested in a German Army pack, albeit with a very cunning insurance policy if this initial positive impression should falter (at my expense I might add).

I took a few shots of the game. It ran from about 8:30 to 11pm and we got through 6 turns. Russ had lost three units by this time so had reached his break point and had just started making command rolls to stay in the game. However, his upfront defence had inflicted some loss on Denis who had lost two platoons in the attack to that point. Some highlights of the game that contributed to the nights entertainment were a command blunder on the British FAO call for fire support, which deviated onto a nearby British platoon :the only time the British successfully called in their artillery. So far in this game, the OB artillery has proven more of a liability than as an asset.

The next scenario for the slowly expanding group of novice BKC-II players will introduce armour. Set in Normandy in 1944 this is an iconic clash and I hope will produce another scenario with plenty to challenge the players.

[Image: img3151ks.jpg]

Turn 2: Mark and Denis muse over Turn 2 (or have they just nodded off ?), Russ meanwhile is off for a fag break. hmm...am I missing something here ?

[Image: img3152a.jpg]

Turn 2 Close-up: Denis advances, fairly brashly, given Russ' dispositions across the River, while Russ bides his time for the right moment to open fire.

[Image: img3154rv.jpg]

Russ opens fire at short range on the advancing British Platoons. Unfortunately, while checked the British recover and prevent the Germans from withdrawing from their isolated position. They are forced to fight where they are, but in so doing, are able to hold up the attack on this flank.

[Image: img3156f.jpg]

Hidden dangers lurking in the hedgerows

[Image: img3157gd.jpg]

Now where could the Pak 40 be ?. The not so obvious place for the Anti tank Gun - or is it ?

[Image: img3158f.jpg]

The German HMG, supported by a platoon of Infantry, put up a strong defence amongst the hedgerows flanking the road on the approach to St Clair. They eventually take out the British Vickers MG platoon seen in the distance on the hill.

[Image: img3159a.jpg]

Turn 4: The British can be seen making good progress on their left flank, where some well directed mortar fire weakens Russ' defence.

[Image: img3160ww.jpg]

A German platoon suppressed, in the open and on 5 hits. Not good. The platoon in the woods attempts to support their hard pressed colleagues...Russ takes a personal hand in delivery their orders...

[Image: img3161xqh.jpg]

Turn 6: Final turn of the game. The German MMG in the centre is now on its own, the supporting platoon having been knocked out. The Britsh infantry on the left flank still in good order press the advantage and continue their advance. In anticipation Russ moves a platoon into the far house with his HQ. The battle for the town is still to be fought out but, with Russ' resources diminished it's only a matter of time before the Germans are forced to withdraw...

[Image: img3163v.jpg]

Russ: I could just poke him in the eyes ? Mark: Have you considered the "ooojamaphlip-wallop-whambamthankyoumam" tactic ?

[Image: img3165d.jpg]

Mark: Stitch that Denis!

[Image: img3166l.jpg]

Mark: There, told you so!



The History - What Really happened

I thought that having played the scenario twice now, those involved might like to know what really happened for the battle for St Claire that took place in the early days after the D-Day invasion in June 1944: so here it is in abridged form:

This scenario is adapted for BKC-II, from an RF2 scenario published in Wargames Illustrated 259, by Richard Marsh. In that scenario, it is the Americans of 116th Regiment, 29 Infantry Division that are pitted against the defending Germans of 916 Regt, 352 Infantry Division, and it is based on an historical account on the Americans attempt to take St Clair-sur-Elle on 12th June 1944 in the advance inland after their landing on Omaha Beach.

Earlier on that day the 115th Regiment of the 29th ID had failed to take the village and had been repelled with heavy casualties. Their commander had been sacked on the spot and the 116th was ordered to attack immediately without time to prepare. The 2nd Battalion of the Regiment was chosen to attack either side of the bridge to the east of Clair-sur-l’Elle. It is this battle this scenario represents.

The 2nd Bns commander was only able to give his company commanders the sketchiest of briefings.

G Company was told to lead and rendezvous with Colonel Canham, the 116th Regimental commander, who would fill in the detail. When G Company’s CO asked for 45 mins to prepare Canham told them he had 15. Canham also neglected to mention how the 115ths attack had been driven back under heavy fire and that supporting tanks had fallen to a concealed AT gun.

To aid them in the attack G Company were assigned a FAO from divisional artillery.

Leaving the start line at 7:30pm that evening, the lead platoons soon reached the river. As they forded the river, concealed Grenadiers opened fire along with an AT gun. Decimated, the lead squads pulled back, using 60mm mortar fire to destroy the AT gun. Unfortunately, the forward observer’s radio malfunctioned and no contact could be made with the Divisional artillery.

To the right of the bridge, E Company also encountered stiff resistance. As the attack ground to a halt the Bn commander and then Colonel Canham paid a visit to G Company.

Canham impatiently demanded the attack got going. Luckily this coincided with the arrival of medium MGs and mortars from H (Weapons) Company.

The attack was resumed, only this time with the support of the mortars and MGs raking the opposite bank. However, heavy fire stalled the GIs attack. Finally at 8:20pm contact was made with the Divisional artillery and this made all the difference. Enemy troops were observed retreating down the road to St Clair-surl’Elle. The Americans opened fire and stormed across the river, advancing to within spitting distance of the village. Here G Company halted to reorganize and report its position. It was nearly Dusk.

At 10pm, G Company was ordered to continue its attack. It was now dark. The only resistance was from an MG42 firing wildly into the dark. By 11pm the Americans were suffering from fatigue. Fortunately, F Company had arrived and the decision was taken to push on. G Company led F Company to the first building of the village and the discovery of empty German trenches.

By 3am on the 13th June, having penetrated the outskirts of the village but with the men practically asleep on their feet, the CO decided to deploy for all round defense and continue the attack at day break. Just before dawn, at 5am, the Germans counter attacked under cover of early morning mist. The Americans got the better of the Germans in a short-range firefight and the Americans advanced. German Grenadiers were soon seen making a break for it some on bicycles. The Americans pursued and advanced to the far side of the village where they were joined by E Company and Bn HQ. The Americans had finally seized their objective and prepared to repel any further counter attacks.

G Company had suffered 27 casualties. The Germans suffered 19 killed and 17 taken prisoner.

An Analysis of G Companies attack was eventually used as part of the US advanced officer-training course at Fort Benning.

Colonel Canham comes in for much criticism for going over the head of 2 Bn Commander, concealing the strength of German defenses (which had given 115 Regt a bloody nose) and putting speed ahead of preparation. It was presumed he felt pressured by the deadline placed on the capture of St Lo – a deadline that was to prove impractical in the long weeks and months of fighting that took place before it was taken on 18 July.

The game ignores the night element and compresses the action into an afternoon. This is to represent Canham’s pressure on the Battalion commander to push on.

The German force is conceptual, put together from accounts on the day. In the battle for the village they choose a forward defense along the river bank. The American made the best of a bad job due to inadequate preparation and paid the price. Though they made their objective, it was undoubtedly with heavier casualties than might otherwise been the case.
Chris

"from mud, through blood to the green fields beyond..."
Brigadier General Hugh Elles

Blackadder: Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words "I have a cunning plan" marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?



Reply




 
#2

Thank you so much for this elaborate battle report, Chris! Highly appreciated. Makes me feel less left out smilie and at the same time makes me want to jump on the "BKC-II-in-10mm-train" rather sooner than later. Well, train ticket is purchased (rulebook) and a seat reservation is made (Russian Horde). smilie

With regards to the game, I am very impressed about the fact that BKC-II seems to allow a fast game-play which enabled you to complete six turns in a bit more than two hours during a first introductionary game! Very impressive.

I also start to fall for 10mm as the advantages are very clearly visible (and one can actually sit during the entire game as opposed to standing and walking around a 6 x 4 table, an increasingly important fact in my old days...) smilie

Looking forward to seeing similar reports or even being part of one of your next games after 1st June!

All the best, Chris V.

I game because I am happy- I am happy because I game - it's a vicious cycle!

My Blog for the 15mm WW2 enthusiasts



Reply




 
#3

(04-13-2013, 10:42 AM)Chris Wrote: Thank you so much for this elaborate battle report, Chris! Highly appreciated. Makes me feel less left out smilie and at the same time makes me want to jump on the "BKC-II-in-10mm-train" rather sooner than later. Well, train ticket is purchased (rulebook) and a seat reservation is made (Russian Horde). smilie

With regards to the game, I am very impressed about the fact that BKC-II seems to allow a fast game-play which enabled you to complete six turns in a bit more than two hours during a first introductionary game! Very impressive.

I also start to fall for 10mm as the advantages are very clearly visible (and one can actually sit during the entire game as opposed to standing and walking around a 6 x 4 table, an increasingly important fact in my old days...) smilie

Looking forward to seeing similar reports or even being part of one of your next games after 1st June!

All the best, Chris V.

Hi Chris,

I am beginning to feel really guilty putting these not so obvious distractions in the way of your truly remarkable willpower to stay focused on your no 1 priority Icon_redface. However, I do understand the "stay away" philosophy. I have had to employ it myself on several occasions.

I am having trouble finding the flaws in BKC-II/10mm ecosystem presently (too old in the tooth not to know there will be some) and keep reminding myself to keep my feet on the ground and that its early days so I should not get too carried away. Slow burn, Slow burn is the mantra.

Too many wargaming projects burn themselves out in the heady enthusiasm of the initial rush for something new. I'm really not interested in that, I am after long term sustainability.

I can't disguise my good vibe about this though, as posting this AAR might indicate. I've surprised myself at how quickly I've sat down and bashed this out. Thats usually a good sign.

Hopefully therefore we will be waiting with open arms and with undiminished enthusiasm for BKC when you are back in the fold after 1st June.
Chris

"from mud, through blood to the green fields beyond..."
Brigadier General Hugh Elles

Blackadder: Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words "I have a cunning plan" marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?



Reply




 
#4

Thanks for posting that up Chris.
I have to say, I really enjoyed the game. I haven't played much over the last year or so and I don't know if it is because things were getting a bit stale with all the other game systems, but this one really has got me excited again! I think the advantages with 10mm has been highlighted before so won't go on about that!
The rule system in my opinion, makes a fast and flowing game. It's relativly easy to pick up and once you get into the flow of things, moves along at quite a rapid pace. I like the different phases - mainly the initiative phase followed by the orders phase, it almost makes the game play almost 'real time'. Although it is turn based, there's enough going on for both sides to be doing something at once!(?) whether it be defensive fire, interuption fire or just plain sitting back and watching your opponant coming on to you, it makes for an action packed and exciting game.

The game Denis and I played last night was a brilliant insight into the rule system. While I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my troops, Chris and Mark gave us both tips which I found really helpfull.
I deliberatly deployed my forces in a way as to try and cover most scenarios that we might encounter. I went with lots of troops on my left flank (lots of hills and hedgerows) while on my right, I was quite week to enable Denis to advance on the building towards my rear - that way, we could fight in just about every scenario - whether it be wooded, open, or in built up areas. I also left my command stand well back, just to see how the troops up front would behave on their own.
Although I was rolling dreadful dice in my command phase, I was still inflicting casualties on Denid troops which is a small victory in itself! Denis on the other hand, was rolling like a deamon!
All in all, a fantastic night was had and I would like to thank Denis for being a worthy foe, Mark for his tactics and help and Chris for laying on the game.

Next mission - pick up figures at salute and get them painted and on the board - Can't wait!!!



Reply




 
#5

Purchased my copy of BKC II rules this morning !



Reply




 
#6

(04-13-2013, 01:11 PM)denis_jackman Wrote: Purchased my copy of BKC II rules this morning !

denis, where did you order your copy?

I game because I am happy- I am happy because I game - it's a vicious cycle!

My Blog for the 15mm WW2 enthusiasts



Reply




 
#7

(04-13-2013, 05:08 PM)Chris Wrote:
(04-13-2013, 01:11 PM)denis_jackman Wrote: Purchased my copy of BKC II rules this morning !

denis, where did you order your copy?

Directly from the designer's site ( http://www.blitzkrieg-commander.com )
as a PDF. I figure I will print it and organise how I need it instead of breaking up some nice binding.



Reply




 
#8

(04-13-2013, 06:25 PM)denis_jackman Wrote:
(04-13-2013, 05:08 PM)Chris Wrote:
(04-13-2013, 01:11 PM)denis_jackman Wrote: Purchased my copy of BKC II rules this morning !

denis, where did you order your copy?

Directly from the designer's site (http://www.blitzkrieg-commander.com/)
as a PDF. I figure I will print it and organise how I need it instead of breaking up some nice binding.

I have mine on my iPad Big Grin
Chris

"from mud, through blood to the green fields beyond..."
Brigadier General Hugh Elles

Blackadder: Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words "I have a cunning plan" marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?



Reply


Digg   Delicious   Reddit   Facebook   Twitter   StumbleUpon  


Users browsing this thread:
1 Guest(s)


  Theme © 2014 iAndrew  
Powered By MyBB, © 2002-2017 MyBB Group.