Friday, December 23, 2011

Prokhorovka Playtest Turn 4

This will be an ongoing record of my first play test of my Prokhorovka (Kursk) scenario using the Field of Battle: WW2 (FOBWW2) rules from Piquet.  The units are companies, the commands are battalions and brigades, and 3 turns (AM, PM, and Night) make up a complete day of fighting.

This battle report is for Turn 4, the PM turn of July 11, 1943.  If you want to get more information on this battle and the scenario, search this blog for other articles with the same tags.

The Germans fired to great effect in the beginning of the turn.  They hoped the Soviets would fail a few morale checks with their damaged brigades, but after no Morale cards appeared, the Germans focused on destroying the remaining Soviet companies defending the Oktiabrskii State Farm on the the northern side of the table.

The Soviets used a Move card to occupy one of the Psel River villages with a Guards infantry battalion.  The Germans then pulled another Move 1 Command card and managed to seize the Oktiabrskii State farm after heavy fire devastated the defending units.  The Germans appeared to be in great position to advance and gain ground before nightfall, but a tied Initiative roll ended the turn early!  It must have been those damn minefields.  As night fell on July 11, the Germans were in practically the same positions as their historical counterparts.

The Germans plan to fortify their defenses during the Night turn.  They've received word from II SS Panzer Corps that major Soviet armored assets have been committed to the battle.  5th Guards Tank Army will be arriving during the night with the 29th Tank Corps and the 18th Tank Corps.

The good news is that both the Das Reich and Totenkopf SS Divisions made progress on the flanks and advanced a foot.  Great job guys!  Now, please try and catch up.

(BELOW) Infantry of the 287 Guards Rifle Regiment occupy Prelestnoe on the Psel River.

 (BELOW)  These are my Heavy Weapons markers for the Soviet infantry.  These reflect the heavy weapons in each infantry company.  They can be assigned to an attack to give an UP1 modifier to combat.

(BELOW)  A German panzergrenadier battalion seizes Oktiabrskii State Farm.

(BELOW)  The Soviet defense is looking a little thin from this viewpoint from behind the northern defenses.  5-6 infantry battalions and a company of KV-1's.  5th Guards Tank Army is coming just in time.

(BELOW)  Staging area for the two Tank Corps of the 5th Guards Tank Army.  That's a lot of T-34's!!!  This isn't their actual position on the table.  I just lined them up to make sure I had the tanks I needed for the Soviet counterattack.

(BELOW)  Here are the Marder III companies of the 1st SS AT battalion.  10mm miniatures by Pithead.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Prokhorovka Playtest Turn 3

This will be an ongoing record of my first playtest of my Prokhorovka (Kursk) scenario using the Field of Battle: WW2 (FOBWW2) rules from Piquet.  The units are companies, the commands are battalions and brigades, and 3 turns (AM, PM, and Night) make up a complete day of fighting.

This is battle report is for Turn 3, the AM turn of July 11, 1943.  If you want to get more information on this battle and the scenario, search this blog for other articles with the same tags.

 I'm still working on finishing all of the miniatures.  Once they're done, I'll focus on upgrading the terrain. I initially put the labels for the units behind the stands, but then I just taped them to the bottom of the stands.  The white backside of the labels just bugged me too much.

The Germans have been making good progress, but now they ran into the 9th Guards Airborne Division and its anti-tank defenses.  These defenses were less formidable than the defensive belts elsewhere in the Kursk salient, but they could still pose problems for the attacking SS armored units.

 (BELOW) The 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment arrived along with the division's AT Battalion.  The regiment consists of three battalions, each with three grenadier companies and a Stug company.

(BELOW) Soviet airborne infantry and anti tank guns were dug in on a defensive line anchored on the Oktiabrskii State farm.

 (BELOW) A panzer battalion prepared to assault the next village along the Psel River valley (north table edge).  The anti-tank ditch and anti-tank mine fields have been disovered by the Germans.  They are marked on the table by the brown cloth.  Suppressions are marked by the orange flames.  Smoke means a unit is unloaded (has already fired). 

 (BELOW)  The panzer battalion quickly occupied the village and the Germans now outflanked the Soviet defenses in the Oktiabrski State Farm.  Black smoke plumes are spotting rounds.

(BELOW) The other German panzer battalion blasted away at the farm's defenders from the opposite side of the AT ditch.

 (BELOW)  The German division commander redeployed two battalions of the newly arrived panzer grenadiers to lend extra weight to the assault on the northern farm's defenses.  The Germans won initiative 11 to 1 and were able to flip ten cards in a row before the Soviets could flip their ten cards.  The Germans rolled especially well when they rallied their units and were able to get most of their units back into the fight and recover/repair damaged tanks.

 (BELOW)  A view of the German reinforcements from the Soviet perspective.

 (BELOW)  A Soviet airborne regiment and a KV-1 regiment waited behind the state farm to support the defenders.

(BELOW) Meanwhile, on the opposite (southern) side of the railroad embankment from the farm, more airborne infantry and T-34 tanks from the 169th Tank Brigade enjoyed some quiet time in their defensive positions.

(BELOW)  As the fresh 1st SS panzer grenadiers attacked the Oktiabrskii State Farm complex, the KV-1 regiment lumbered forward to support the defenders, but two consecutive German air support cards wiped out half of the regiment with devastating Stuka attacks.  Vicious fighting around the farm destroyed a company of panzer grenadiers and several Soviet infantry companies.

(BELOW) In the center of the battlefield, the German grenadiers began clearing some of the minefields.  They received heavy fire support from the Tiger company and other German armored forces.  The Soviet defenders suffered multiple suppressions and strength point losses.

(BELOW) A view from behind the Soviet north half defenses.  The 58th Motor Rifle Brigade is arriving on the bottom edge of the photo and establishing hasty defenses behind the battered airborne division.

 (BELOW)  Long view of the battlefield from the German edge.  The AT battalion had been very slow to move.  The 1st SS recon battalion is garrisoning Storozhevoe in the right side of the mid table while a panzer grenadier battalion garrisons the captured Psel River villages along the left table edge.  Since the adjacent SS divisions have failed to make any progress along the flanks, the Germans have to leave units behind to protect the flanks of their division.  One SS panzer grenadier battalion is helping to occupy the woods and anchor the German right flank.  Storozhevoe was captured after that same grenadier battalion shot the crap out of its defenders.

 (BELOW)  Long view of the battlefield from the Soviet edge.  The Soviets need to hold on through the next turn (11 July PM).  After that, 2 Soviet tank corps arrive with enough combat power to punish the Germans.

The AM turn ended when both sides tied their initiative die rolls.  The Germans made great progress during the morning, but at a pretty high cost in resources, equipment, and manpower.  They would really be doing great if they could get a foothold in one of the city sections of Prokhorovka itself next turn!

The Germans lost 12 more strength points this turn.  Strength points remaining: 29 out of 48.

Several Soviet brigades have run out of morale points and have to check morale whenever the Morale card appears.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

9th Guards Airborne arrive! 10mm Soviet Infantry for Kursk

I play WW2 games using the Field of Battle: WW2 rules from Piquet.  If you want to learn more about this project, click on the Kursk or WW2 tabs.

 While I've been developing my Kursk: Prokhorovka scenario, I've come to realize that  it is going to require a ton of Soviet infantry to recreate this epic battle.  On July 11, 1943, the approaches to Prokhorovka Station were defended by the dug-in infantrymen from the 9th Guards Airborne Division.  27 infantry companies.  At two stands per company, that means I'll have to paint 54 4-figure stands of 10mm Soviet infantry to field the division.  I've also discovered a few motorized infantry brigades that I was previously unaware were part of the Soviet counterattack on July 12.

All of the bags of Pithead 10mm Soviet infantry arrived in the mail and I began basing them onto 30mm square Litko bases (BELOW).  I had to spread out all of the different poses into piles to make sure I had a good variety of posing on each base. 

 I then primed the figures, glued the ground ballast on the stands, and started the base coat painting (BELOW).  When I do this again, I would glue the ballast on after I finish with the painting.  I often base first and it seemed like it would be easier, but as I painted some of the loose ballast kept getting onto the figures and mixed in with the paint.  Annoying

 I also took some tank commander figures and glued them onto the plastic pre-painted tanks I'm using for tank brigade command stands.  Pithead makes a cool 10mm figure that is waving a signal flag.  Love those Soviet radio systems!  The tank commander next to the red flag waver is a Pendraken tank commander.  He's kind of cool because he comes with his hatch lid (BELOW).

The Pithead infantry packs are great.  The figures have animated poses and plenty of deep creases where an ink wash can settle.  12 different poses per pack.

They are primed black.  The paint colors are:
  • P3 Rucksack Tan: Uniform
  • Black:  SMG's
  • P3 Khardic Flesh:  Skin
  • P3 Bootstrap Leather:  Boots, Rifles wood
  • Vallejo Russian Green: Helmets
  • wash with Dark brown Wonder Wash
Some advice when painting these little guys.  Don't get too wrapped up in painting the figures perfectly.  The ink wash is very forgiving and most of your careful detail painting will be invisible to anyone who isn't wearing an Optivisor.  Even the pictures in this post are zoomed closer than anyone will see with their eyes.   Get the basics done and let the ink do the rest.

(BELOW) This tank commander is waving a yellow flag.  "Caution, tanks ahead?!"  I've read that the Soviet flags were red, yellow, and green, but I don't know what they signified.  probably not STOP, CAUTION, and GO.    

(BELOW)  Here is the  infantry force so far.  41 stands with 20 stands left to paint.  Almost seven battalions.  It can be pretty tedious, but I've found that if  I paint them 6 at a time, I'm doing a battalion at once and it seems less dreary.

And BELOW are the obligatory close-ups:


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Prokhorovka Playtest Turn 2

This will be an ongoing record of my first playtest of my Prokhorovka (Kursk) scenario using the Field of Battle: WW2 (FOBWW2) rules from Piquet.  This is Turn 2, the Night turn of July 10, 1943.

Night turns are an interesting part of  FOBWW2.  Each day consists of 3 turns:  the AM turn, the PM turn and the Night turn.  A lot of action happens during the Day turns, but when the Night turn comes it's time to reorganize and repair the damage done during the day's fighting.

During the night turn the following rules change:
  • Initiative dice are DOWN 2.  So instead of rolling for cards with a German D12 vs. a Soviet D10, we have to roll a German D8 vs. a Soviet D6.  This means less chance for a large difference between the dice ( and less cards to act on) and a greater chance to tie the Initiative dice and end the turn early.
  • Movement die rolls are DOWN 2.  You normally roll for movement with your command die vs. a D6.  For every multiple of 3 you beat the D6 result by, the moving command can move an extra move segment.  So reducing the size of movement dice at night reduces the amount of movement units can make.
  • Units may make a redeployment move if they start at least 10" from the enemy.  They may redeploy anywhere on the table on a single Move card as long as they don't come closer than 20" to any enemy units.     
  • Fire combat is limited to 5" range.
  • Close assaults can only be done on the Close Assault card.  No hasty close assaults during Night.
  • No air support.
  • 5" visibility and halved visibility in terrain.
  • Units can dig in at night with a successful Engineering roll.
  • Truck-mounted units can mount up on their trucks at night.
  • Most importantly, the Night turn can end on a Morale card pulled by either player.  Out of the approximately 27 cards each player has in his deck, 3 of them are Morale cards.  So between the two decks, there are six more chances the Night turn will end early.
From the Soviet perspective, there are some things that can be achieved on this 10 July Night turn.  The Soviets have an infantry battalion and an entire motorized rifle brigade (53 MRB) arriving on the Night turn.

The infantry battalion has to enter on the eastern board edge (MAP ARROW 2), but I could declare that 53 MRB is travelling up the Psel River valley and have the brigade enter anywhere on the eastern 6 feet of the north board edge (MAP ARROW 1) with a slight delay of one Move card.  The advantage of this move is that the 53 MRB could garrison the Psel River villages along the north board edge when it enters the table.  The 99th Tank Brigade is barely holding onto Mikhailovka and Andreevka is completely unoccupied since its defenders were destroyed by German direct fire prior to the end of the PM turn.

Maintaining control of these Psel River villages allows the Soviets to continue to threaten the left flank of the Germans as they advance toward Prokhorovka.  The risk is that the Soviets won't get enough Move cards to bring the 53 MRB before daylight and the July 11 AM turn arrives.

The other potential move is to use the T-34 companies of the 169th Tank Brigade parked behind the Storozhevoe woods and launch a night attack (MAP ARROW 3) on the armored car companies of the 1st SS Recon Battalion position on the German right flank west of Storozhevoe.  The German T-34 tanks could cause some serious damage to the lightly armored German recon units and it might be an opportunity to cause some quick damage to the Germans.

While this aggressive attack is tempting, this would be a smarter attack to try during daylight hours.  Since Night reduces the armored command's movement die from a D8 to a D4, it's almost impossible for the tankers to get more than 1 movement segment on a Move card and they need at least 2 move segments to get close enough to see the Germans in the darkness.  Also, with the arrival of the the division's other PzGr Regiment, the 1st SS AT Bn, and the 1st SS Stug Bn on the morning of 11 July, the Soviet armored strike force would most likely be destroyed by the Germans before they could fall back to safety.  The Soviets just don't possess the command and control to launch these types of night operations without serious risks.

After assessing my options, I rejected the night tank attack as too risky.  I might attempt the attack if I could get a lot of cards and rolled 2 movement segments prior to launching the attack, but I'll wait and see.

I did declare the 53 MRB entering through the Psel River valley and onto the north board edge.  I'm willing to risk weakening my center to position such a strong threat along the left flank of the German avenue of approach.


First, I rolled the dice to check to see if SS Totenkopf and SS Das Reich made any progress on my flanks during the 10 July fighting.  Nope.  Big shocker there.  Thanks, jerks.

The Initiative die roll resulted in a German 7 vs. a Soviet 1 result.  6 cards!  I wasn't expecting that.

The Germans pulled a few Command and Control cards and did a great job repairing the tanks that were damaged the previous days' fighting.  Only the Tiger company was unsuccessful at replacing its losses.

The Germans then flipped a Move 1 Command card.  They moved a PG Battalion into the unoccupied village of AndreevkaPsel River village, Mikhailovka.

Another Move card allowed the Germans to move armor around the village and the single Soviet tank company defending Mikhailovka nervously listened as the sounds of armor came nearer.

The next card for the Germans was a Close Assault card.  The Germans geared up to assault Mikhailovka.  The surrounding German tanks conducted preparatory fire on the village before the Germans infantry were sent in.  The Soviet tanks fired back, but the German tank fire destroyed the Soviet defenders and the shattered Russian tankers fled from their defenses.  With no defenders, there was no close assault.  Instead the German infantry waited for the flames of the burning village to die down so they could occupy the ruins.

Now it was the Soviet turn to flip cards.  The first Soviet card flipped was the Firepower card, but with no visible targets, this didn't help them.  The next card was the MORALE CARD!!!!! ARRRGH!!  No Move card?!

The Night turn ended on the Morale card.

The Soviets were only able to bring on their single infantry battalion.  My decision to bring the 53 MRB onto the northern board edge meant that I'll have to wait until the 11 July AM turn to bring them on to the table.  Apparently the 53 MRB is stuck in congested traffic on the way to the front lines.  Hopefully, they'll show up soon.  In the meantime, someone will have to answer for this.  Commissar!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kursk: Drive on Prokhorovka Scenario and OOB

I've had some requests for the scenario and order of battle for my Prokhorovka scenario, so I thought I'd post it here. You can also download a pdf of the scenario HERE, but you'll have to join the Piquet Yahoo group to get it. 
I'll offer a warning that this scenario will evolve as we playtest it.  It also requires a lot of miniatures to play it.

A good starter scenario is to just try the 10 July PM turn:

Victory Points are awarded to the Germans for the following objectives: Andreevka 3 VP, Hill 241.6 6 VP, Storozhevoe 4 VP.  At the end of the turn, subtract the German morale point losses from the total VP's.  If the end result is not negative and the Germans have captured at least one objective, the Germans win.