Finally, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and we have the time to get the 15mm toys painted over the winter onto the table. I also want to use these figures to try out the “PanzerGrenadier Delux” and “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” sets, but for this game we chose the “Battlegroup Overlord” rules, which come recommended by Sgt Steiner (see his blog on my blog list for some great reports) and Mr Pentland, whose wonderful artwork illustrates the rulebooks. (that’s a lunch he owes me 🙂 )
The theatre was Normandy, the game size was Platoon – each side had a basic infantry platoon with extra supports on each side, along with some armour support in the form of 3 Shermans, a Sherman Firefly, an Achilles and a Wolverine for the British and 3 Panzer IVs, a Panther and a Tiger for the Germans. We played the first scenario from the rulebook, where each side bumps into each other via their recce units and reinforcements arrive on the table via a random D6 roll each turn. Corner deployment meant that we were playing lengthways across the table to start with.
Each building on the table was an objective – in a nice twist you can’t ignore these as you lose force morale with each building the enemy captures, and lose instantly if he controls all 4. You can also win by breaking his battlegroup through losses or pinning units, forcing him to counters which deduct random amounts from his force morale or give random events.
We placed our recce units (which can also spot for on and off-board mortars) and we were away. The Germans rolled quite poorly for arrivals initially, and as they weren’t motorised like the British, they had to foot-slog their way across fields and through hedgerows to take the first objective (a hayloft). Interestingly, a German squad is split into 2 sections and it takes a separate order to activate each. With only 1 order remaining after this, the Germans put the recee 250 on overwatch to cover the road.
The British had 5 units arriving, so the mobile Carrier Platoon, a squad of infantry in a halftrack and a Sherman deployed – the intention was to use the infantry’s mobility to seize and hold the 2 objectives on the right flank while the rest of the force arrived – they had reckoned without the successive 1 rolls for reinforcements over the next 2 turns though 😦
Things then started to go wrong for the British. Reinforcements slowed to a trickle so the lone Sherman decided to take on the Panzer IV covering the road. He managed to hit it, but the double 1 rolled for damage merely immobilised it. In return the Panzer IV put 2 rounds into the Sherman and that was the end of that.
In order to secure the central farmhouse before the foot-slogging German infantry could reach it, a Motorised squad drove across the road towards it. The immobilised Panzer IV on overwatch fired but missed the half track, so the infantry inside disembarked and took control of the central farmhouse.
In response, the Germans sent a tank and infantry towards the furthest two objectives while their Panther came on and moved towards the immobilised Panzer IV. With a Panzer IV and infantry threatening the 2 right flank objectives and a 1 rolled for reinforcements, the British had to do something drastic. The PIAT from the Carrier Platoon was chosen to “volunteer” to take on the approaching Panzer IV – after rushing up the road in their carrier while dodging 20mm cannon fire from the 250 they deployed behind the hen house. This triggered more overwatch fire, this time from an LMG, but they managed to survive that as well. They then rolled a tough to hit roll (moving and target moving) and a high damage roll to blow the Panzer IV up. How we laughed – medals all round – until the German morale counter drawn was revealed as air strike 😦 At the start of the next German turn a German plane might turn up. To seal off that flank, the British sent their Firefly up the road towards it to confront another Panzer IV.
An air strike was by no means certain to arrive (needs 5 or 6), but of course the German dice roll of 6 made sure it did, and another roll revealed it as a FW190 with bombs – great. More great dice rolls followed, so by the time that Fokker zoomed away, every British unit in the centre (including the infantry in the farmhouse) was pinned.
More German armour moved up while they also moved their artillery observer to the hilltop to get a better view. The Panther continued its advance but revealed its side armour through a gap in the hedge when it stopped.
I rolled low again for arriving reinforcements (another 1!), but hoping to re-enact my stunt with the PIAT I deployed my towed 6pdr, raced the Loyd carrier across a field, unlimbered and fired 2 quick shots into the Panther’s flank. Because they were rushed shots, both missed (moving before firing and firing at a moving target negatively affect the to hit roll), and with that went my last chance of staying in the game. I drew a morale counter in an attempt to unpin D6 units, but another roll of 1 meant only the Firefly could be unpinned.
With the Sherman Firefly just unpinned and unable to respond, the Germans were able to destroy it and threaten the 4th objective so I conceded.
These really are fast-play rules – even without knowing the rules and struggling to fathom out the artillery sequence, we came in at under 3 hours – that said, we didn’t see a lot of artillery action in this game. For all their attempts, the British artillery observers only ever managed to get into contact with the 25pdr battery once which resulted on a mere pin on the Pak40 anti-tank gun, while the one time the Germans fired their mortars the spotting round scattered too close to their own troops, so the fire for effect order wasn’t given. The air strike, which uses the same rules framework as for the artillery was another matter – every unit in the beaten zone pinned and zooming off for another pass next turn – I hadn’t twigged that units on overwatch can attempt to drive it off through MG fire, but then I never had enough orders to do this 😦
Motorised infantry are really useful when faced with unmotorised infantry – if you have enough orders you can move the transport, disembark the infantry (an order for the vehicle) then the infantry can take their 2 actions. We didn’t see a lot of infantry firing but what we did see seemed to give plausible outcomes – I like the fact that infantry suffering more than 1 casualty can choose to fall-back to cover, taking only 1 casualty but ending up pinned.
Based on this try out, I’m definitely going to give these rules another try very soon.