Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Action at Bir Pleez 1941 (Blitzkrieg Commander Scenario)

After a few weeks trying out new rules for ancient naval stuff I gave the guys a few choices as to what they wanted to play next. Perhaps as a reaction to the naval games, they chose the desert. There were two 'arid' periods on offer, Early Crusades or Western Desert c.1941: To my utter amazement, they chose WW2. Perhaps all of those Sidi Rezegh games have now blurred in the memory.

Anyway I'm happy enough because it will give me a chance to try Blitzkrieg Commander 2 with my 15 mm desert stuff. We've played BC 1 a number times (courtesy of games put on by Mark Dudley) and I always quite liked the rule mechanics. I've even, having been roped into helping the Leeds club with a demo game a few years back, played BC 2, and thought the amendments made the rules much better still. Last year Leon, over at Pendraken Miniatures, very kindly sent me a free copy of BC 2 and I've been itching to play a game using them ever since.

I've set up a simple learning curve game. The intro to Blitzkrieg Commander 2 says that twenty to forty units makes for a small game so I've given each side roughly that - the Brits have 26 units and the Jerries have 27 (including 2 off table). The sides are not equal in points: The Germans are attacking and have roughly 50% more points than the British. I think there is a good mix of troops but not everyone has the same, or everything. I've precluded the use of assets for scheduled artillery strikes, there is no air power, barbed wire or minefields, and neither side has engineers. I'll confuse things with all that other stuff once the basics are understood. I've set up the game in accordance with the advice given in the rules, so the game, being a small one, will be played using an 8' x 6' table.

We'll play the rules as written / advised, except for one thing. Specific actions to be carried out under orders will only need to be stated after a successful 'activation / order' roll, not prior to it. If the ordered units get double orders for a roll of 'double 1', bully for them. To me it seems pointless to say, this will do this, this will do that, that one will do this, etc, etc, only to fail the roll and it all to be immediately voided, or worse, you pass the roll and have to remember everything you said they'd do. The only proviso is that, when declaring fire, all fire concentrations need to be specified; once a unit has been targeted you can't go back to it on the same order because you failed to destroy or suppress it in the original fire concentration. I seem to remember this house rule being adopted fairly early on in games around at Mark's place and it increased the pace of things to some degree and made the games far more relaxed. 

TERRAIN: The terrain is fairly simple, as befits the battles fought in the Western Desert in 1941. A couple of rough desert tracks pass by the well and cistern at Bir Pleez, a settlement barely worth a name comprising, as it does, just a couple of white washed buildings surrounded by a low stone wall. There are three points of gently rising high ground that stand a few meters above what is otherwise dead flat ground. Two shallow, nameless wadis wriggle their way across the area.

The wadis both count as linear obstacles that are passable to tracked vehicles and troops on foot but not to wheeled vehicles. They cannot be 'breached'. Vehicles moving along them count them as dense terrain. They conceal low profile troops and count as soft cover to all troops, armoured vehicles add 1 to any saving throws (hull down).

The ground is too hard to dig trenches or deep gun pits so the British are using shallow pits and sangars. These count in all respects as 'dug in' except that they become visible to the enemy at double the normal distances.

DEPLOYMENT: The Germans will deploy in the red zone, or arrive (if the player wishes) from the base line behind it. The German player moves first. 

The British will deploy everything except their tank battalion in the blue zone. The tank battalion will arrive, on turn 1, via the road exiting the flank of the British deployment zone (top of picture). The British player moves second.

OBJECTIVES: Force the enemy to break in 8 turns. Holding Bir Pleez reduces the enemy break point by 3, holding each high ground reduces the enemy break point by 1. Holding an objective requires a holding force of troops on or in the terrain feature and no enemy in contact with it.

Scenario British break point: 15
Scenario German break point: 17

If neither side has broken after 8 turns, the winner is the player with the highest number of remaining break points.

GERMAN FORCE (shown deployed by company)

  • CO 10 (Flexible tactical doctrine)
  • 1 Panzer Battalion comprising HQ 9, 3 x Pzkpfw II, 2 x Pzkpfw IV D, 6 x Pzkpfw III G.
  • Recce elements comprising 2 x Sdkfz 231.
  • 1 Kradschutzen Battalion comprising HQ 9, 9 x veteran infantry (3 with AT rifle), 1 x 7.5cm le.IG18, 1 x 3.7cm PaK-36, 9 x motorcycle transport, 2 half track transport.
  • 1 8.8cm Flak battery comprising 1 x 8.8cm FlaK-36, 1 x half track transport.
  • (Off table) Artillery comprising FAO 8, 3 x 10.5cm le.FH-18.
BRITISH FORCE (shown deployed by company).
  • CO 8 (Normal tactical doctrine).
  • 1 Infantry Regiment (plus supporting elements) comprising HQ 8, 12 x dug in Regular infantry (4 with AT rifle), 2 x dug in Vickers MMG, 3 x 2pdr 40L50 portee.
  • 1 Field artillery Regiment comprising HQ 8, 4 x dug in 25 pdr, 3 Quad tractor transport.
  • 1 Tank Regiment comprising HQ 8, 6 x A13 cruiser tanks.
So, I'm really looking forward to next Wednesday night's Action at Bir Pleez.

Note: There have been two edits since posting: 

  • See wadis.
  • There will be 1 more 25pdr to bring the artillery regiment up to full strength (2 eight gun batteries), and a extra 10.5cm le.FH18 to bring the German off board artillery to battalion strength (3 companies). Otherwise the OOB and scenario are unchanged.
AAR to follow.


David Sullivan said...

Beautiful models and terrain! I'm looking forward to the AAR.

Ted Henkle said...

I love the name "Bir Pleez!"

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

"really looking forward to next Wednesday night's Action at Bir Pleez." me to!

We also use your rule re. firing concentrations..

Clive w said...

Not seen these rules used so looking forward to the feedback also

Sgt Steiner said...

Look forward to report

Sun of York said...

As a BKC player developing a Western Desert force this post really caught my attention. Terrain and minis look great. Looking forward to reading the AAR.

David said...

Fine looking collection of models on show.

Sean Gewecke said...

Looks like a good game. Are these rules available for sale from Pendraken?


They are available as a download from Pendraken. I'm not sure about hard copy.

Richard Phillips said...

The rules are currently being redone by Pendraken. Hopefully due out soon.

Great looking table and models.


Richard P