Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Undefeated: The 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade vs. the 4th Light Division AAR.

Ambush Along the San River

September, 1939. German troops have crossed the Polish border and are smashing their way through Polish defenses with massive air and artillery support. Hard pressed everywhere, Polish troops fought hard to delay German advances so that the French and British, who "guaranteed" Polish borders against German aggression, would declare war against Germany. The Poles would fight in vain.

The Early War has fascinated me for a long time. The valiant stands of Polish, French, Belgian, Dutch, Danish, and Norwegian troops is a study of the "Futile Gallantry" of the early phase of WWII. One Polish unit in particular stands out: The 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade. This tough unit fought intense defensive battles around Lvov against the German panzers of the 4th Light Division, 2nd Panzer, and delaying actions in southern Poland against troops of the 1st Gebirgsjagers. The unit became so adept at ambushes along the pine ridges of the Beksides mountains that German troops became fearful of the ever present danger lurking behind the trees.

As I posted about previously, I recently picked up a platoon of these troops from the new range by Blitzkrieg Laboratory (released through Gorgon Studios). I ran a game using these troops at the last HMGS East convention, Fall In 2012, but I forgot my camera and my phone battery died, so I never got any pics. With the end of the semester (I teach, and I'm a PhD student), I had some time to put together a game and get some good pics as well as do a more detailed after action report.

The battle was between German motorized troops of the 4th Light Division up against the Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade.

I used Disposable Heroes: Point Blank. This AAR will be the first of a series of battles using these rules to demonstrate not only how the rules work, but how adaptable they are for all kinds of conflicts, periods, and tactical engagements. From WWII infantry battles, to Vietnam, modern, and all tank battles using 1/285th (6mm) minis, Point Blank is a system that allows you to do all kinds of games.

The game table layout:

The map depicts a small farm near a bridge over the San River (more of a creek here, really). The Germans are attempting to push along the river and capture the high ground around the farm as well as push recon and motorized troops across the creek. The Poles are attempting to stop the Germans by knocking out their mobile units.

The Objectives:

German: Capture Hill (2), Hill (3), and the bridge. The farm is a secondary objective.

Polish:  Knock out, immobilize, or drive off any German tanks or vehicles. Preventing capture of bridge and hills are secondary objectives.

The Forces:


ACC: 5
CC: 6
Guts: Corporal (9), Lance Corporal (8), Private (7)
T&E: Elite (+2)

Rifle Squad (Player 1):
1 Corporal w/Wz98 Rifle
LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/Wz28 LMG
1 Assistant w/Wz98 Rifle

AT Rifle Team:
1 AT Rifle Gunner w/Wz35 AT Rifle
1 Assistant w/Wz98 Rifle

1 Lance Corporal w/Wz98 Rifle

LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/Wz28 LMG
1 Assistant w/Wz98 Rifle

3 Riflemen w/Wz98 Rifles

Tanks and Support (Player 2):
3 TKS 20 FK w/20mm Cannon

AT Gun Team:
1 Gunner w/Bofors 37mm AT Gun
1 Lance Corporal Assistant w/Wz98 Rifle

TKS 20 FK and Bofors 37mm AT Gun.

ACC: 5
CC: 6
Guts: Sergeant (8), Corporal (7), Private (6)
T&E: Veteran (+1)

Motorized Infantry Squad (Player 1): 

1 Sergeant w/MP-38 SMG

LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/MG-34 LMG
1 Assistant w/Kar-98k Rifle

LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/MG-34 LMG
1 Assistant w/Kar-98k Rifle

5 Riflemen w/Kar98k

Opel Blitz Truck

Motorized Infantry Squad (Player 2):

1 Sergeant w/MP-38 SMG

LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/MG-34 LMG
1 Assistant w/Kar-98k Rifle

LMG Team:
1 LMG Gunner w/MG-34 LMG
1 Assistant w/Kar-98k Rifle

5 Riflemen w/Kar98k

Opel Blitz Truck

Tank Support (Player 3):
2 Panzer I B
2 Panzer II B

Motorized Rifle Squads.

Panzer Is and IIs.

The Germans must come on the table on the road. However, they are allowed some pre-game recon to find alternate entry points on the table. If these are successful, they may allow the Germans opportunities to change the deployment. The Poles can deploy anywhere on their half of the table. However, they do not set up before the game starts, instead, they deploy by Activating a soldier, team, or vehicle and placing it on the board. No model or team may deploy closer than 16" to a German soldier, team, or vehicle. 

The game begins with recon rolls for the Germans. I took the recon chart from the Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers book (page 45) and used it to allow the German player the chance to reveal different approaches to coming onto the table during the game. If the Germans rolled well enough, they would be allowed to enter the table in more advantageous locations. If they rolled really well, they would have been able to outflank the Polish positions. Recon, however, involves risk, and each player had to allocate an infantryman or tank to act as a scout to enable the players to roll on the table. If the roll went badly enough, they could be killed or destroyed.

I Followed the chart on page 45 of Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers and used the "Light Tank/Infantry" column. I also used the Chance to be Destroyed column as well. If a roll was high enough, the scouting model may have been killed or destroyed (removed from game). If a roll was a success, it allowed for a better German deployment on the table at the start of the game. The German players did not have to use the newly revealed recon location, but it is an option.

1st Success: German player allowed to deploy up to 12" along right hand table edge (Hill 3) up to 6" away from the edge.

2nd Success: German player allowed to deploy up to 12" onto the table, between river and Hill 2.

Success 3: Outflanked! The German player allowed to deploy on the road along the Polish deployment edge on the left side, up to the bridge (but not on it).

The Game:

The game started off with a roll for recon, which resulted in the German's achieving two successes. They decided to take advantage of the 2nd success and advance a squad along the hill.The Germans suffered no losses from the recon rolls (though there were some close calls).

Next, Initiative was rolled, with a tie: Germans (8 Guts + 7 + 1 T&E=16) vs Poles (9 Guts + 5 + 2 T&E=16). Since it was a tie, but the Poles have a higher T&E, they won initiative. The Poles decide to allow the Germans to go first since they wanted to hold back forces for the ambush.

German Activation Pool: 9 Activations (8 Guts + 1 T&E).

Polish Activation Pool: 11 (9 Guts + 2 T&E).

German Activation 1: (this Activation allows the Germans to place their forces on the table within 6" of the edge or using one of the pre-game recon locations-all subsequent Activations will be with individual soldiers, teams, or vehicles): The Germans move an Opel Blitz truck with a Motorized Infantry squad on board down the road 12". Half of the squad disembarks. The other squad arrives on the table dismounted without the Opel Blitz. They take advantage of the cover of the hill revealed by the successful pre-game recon. Next, a Panzer I moves down the road 16" towards the roadblock (a wagon pushed across the road). This move provokes a snap fire by the Polish AT rifle team. They hit the Panzer I but fail to penetrate.


Polish Activation 1: The now revealed AT rifle team reloads and takes another shot at the Panzer I. They hit and penetrate, killing the commander and inflicting light damage to the tank. The driver passes his Gut check. The AT rifle team then reloads.

Next, a hidden Polish Bofors AT gun fires at the Opel Blitz with infantry on board. They Acquire, hit, and heavily damage the truck. The driver and his assistant is killed outright and the rest of the squad bails out. The AT gun then switches targets to the infantry squad that has dismounted.

Bail out!
German Activation 2: A German LMG team moves up to the cover of the wrecked car and puts some fire on the Polish AT gun while some of the riflemen move up to the cover of the trees along the side of the road.

A German corporal, which had taken advantage of the advanced position along the hill moves towards the Polish AT gun and throws a grenade. The blast does not harm the AT gun crew and they keep their nerve.

The damaged Panzer I, with a dead commander, decides to reverse at fast speed off the table and withdraw from the battle.

Polish Activation 2: The Poles reveal an LMG team in the barn which opens up on the German infantry dismounted from the truck. They kill the Sergeant and suppress the LMG team.

German Sergeant goes down from Polish machine gun fire.

The AT gun fires at the German infantry as well, and suppresses the Corporal of the squad. Both leaders had been at the front of the column when they dismounted. Leading from the front is dangerous work...

German Activation 3: The LMG team that had been suppressed by the fire coming from the barn rallies and hops over the fence to take cover behind the hay pile. They return fire to the Polish LMG team and suppresses them, though while firing their gun jams.

On the other side of the road on the hill, a German LMG team moves up and puts fire on the Polish AT gun crew. They kill the gunner and suppress the loader, though they also experience a jam.

At the same time, a Panzer I drives north of the road along the hill and attempts to find the AT gun to bring machine gun fire to bear. The crew acquire their target and pour fire into the AT gun position, driving off the crew by inflicting more than five suppressions.

Polish Activation 3: The Poles move up an LMG team to the position previously occupied by the AT gun crew, knowing the Germans will be pushing towards this objective. They draw a bead on the Germans approaching them along the hill and kill both the loader of the German LMG team and the Corporal of the squad. This fire also suppresses the machine gunner.

In a bold move by one of the TKS tankettes, the crew slowly drives around the curve of the hill until the German Panzer I is in view. Since they are within 12" they Acquire the target automatically. The TKS fires, but the two shots are glancing blows to the top part of the armor of the Panzer I.

German Activation 4: The Germans rally their LMG team and start to bring a crossfire onto the Polish infantry in the barn, suppressing them. Elsewhere, more German infantry move up along the hill trying to get into position to assault the Polish AT gun position.

A Panzer II arrives and finds the TKS in its sights. It scores a hit with its 20mm cannon, but the shot skims off.

Polish Activation 4: Luckily for the Polish LMG team in the barn, a nearby Corporal rallies them and gets them back in the fight. The LMG team puts fire onto the Germans position behind the haystack, but to no effect.

Now that they have the target zeroed in, the TKS pours 20mm fire into the Panzer I until it explodes.

Brew up!

German Activation 5: The Germans maneuver more of their infantry and put more fire into the barn, but to no effect.

The Panzer II fires at the TKS and misses.

Polish Activation 5: The brave Polish AT rifle team reloads, fires and misses the Panzer II.

Meanwhile, the game of cat and mouse continues. The TKS reverses back around the bend in the hill out of LOS of the Germans. Safe...for now.

German Activation 6: The German infantry along the road are trying to maneuver towards the barn, but having difficulty. Their move is covered by the Polish LMG team in the barn that snap fires on their move.

In the middle, the German infantry is having more luck and they maneuver the LMG team and the Sergeant towards the top of the hill. The Sergeant gets close enough to throw a grenade onto the Polish LMG team on the hill. The blast from the grenade kills the LMG gunner, but the assistant takes over.

Polish LMG team moments before a German potato masher lands among them and kills the gunner.
Pushing hard, the Germans move their second Panzer II, onto the table. It drives 16" along the left side of the hill, keeping an eye out for any lurking Polish tankettes...

Polish Activation 6: Having ignored the AT rifle team lurking under the wagon roadblock, the Panzer II on the road pays dearly. The AT rifle team fires, scoring a hull hit into a vital location, causing the tank to brew up with all crew killed.

AT Rifle ambush!
The Poles press their advantage against the German armor by revealing their second TKS high up on hill 3 in an attempt to knock out the remaining Panzer II. They Acquire the target, but when they fire the shots go wild, completely missing.

German Activation 7: The German infantry are getting aggressive. The LMG behind the haystack fires at and finally removes the threat of the Polish LMG team in the barn, while on the center hill, the German LMG team fires at and kills the remaining Polish LMG gunner. This allows the Sergeant to move up and secure the objective on the hill.

Turning in place to face its frontal armor at this new threat, the Panzer II Acquires the TKS on hill 3 and fires its 20mm cannon into the hull until it explodes in a ball of fire.

The Panzer IIs 20mm cannon makes short work of the TKS.
Polish Activation 7: The Poles in the farm are getting desperate, and begin taking rifle pot shots at the German infantry along the road. However, a lucky shot from one of the rifles in the farmhouse kills the German Sergeant who had just captured the hill.

The Poles need to destroy all the German tanks, so the first TKS rolls around the same bend in the hill and Acquires the remaining Panzer II. By turning in place, the Panzer II had left its vulnerable side armor exposed to the TKS. They get lucky with an engine shot from the side, which immobilizes the Panzer II and causes light damage.

Side shot!
German Activation 8: The Germans finally bring fire to bear on the Polish AT rifle team. They kill the assistant gunner, but the team is still in action.

Since the Sergeant was killed the LMG team moves up to retake the hill.

Now immobilized, The Panzer II turns its turret towards the second TKS who had knocked out its engine. They Acquire the target point blank, hit, score a blast against the crew and cause medium damage. Miraculously, the crew survive the blast, but are dazed by the concussion of the hit.

Polish Activation 8: Polish riflemen attempt to clear out the hill the German infantry just occupied, but their fire is ineffective.

Luckily, the crew of the TKS recover quickly. The gunner lets fly with a shot from the 20mm cannon while the driver jams it into reverse and speeds as fast as he can out of sight of the German Panzer II. The shot hits the Panzer II but does not penetrate its armor.

German Activation 9 (Final Activation of the turn): The German LMG team on the hill fires at the Polish AT rifle, with no effect, while German rifleman work their way up to support them.

The immobilized Panzer II does nothing else this turn.

Polish Activation 9-11: The AT rifle team, in a final move to finish off the remaining Panzer II, sneaks over to the stone wall along the road. They fail to hit the first time, but after reloading, their second shot hits the Panzer II in the lower hull. This shot penetrates and causes a catastrophic explosion, popping off the turret in a plume of fire and smoke.

Having achieved their objective of destroying or driving off all German armor and holding up the German advance, the Poles decide to withdraw from the battle. The Corporal gives the order to fall back, and the remaining TKS crosses over the San river to the safety of Polish lines. A squad of waiting Polish engineers will then attempt to blow the bridge before the Germans can secure it, and then place mines near the ford downstream to harass anyone that attempts to cross there.

Fall back!
The game ends with a Polish victory. They had suffered very few casualties, though their LMG teams took a beating and they lost a TKS.

The Germans took only one of their objectives. Though they could now advance on the farm and the bridge, they lost a truck and all of their armored vehicles. Their infantry squads took heavy losses in leaders. They will be sure to advance more cautiously now that the Black Brigade has dealt the 4th Light Division a blow they won't soon forget!

I hope you enjoyed this battle report! I really had fun playing this scenario. I hope it gives you some ideas for your own WWII games or even games of Point Blank!

Polish Miniatures are Gorgon Studios/Blitzkrieg Laboratory, with Warlord Games TKS tanks and AT.

Germans are all Crusader Miniatures, with Warlord Games tanks, and Army Group North trucks.

The houses are Old Glory.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais.

Going with the early war theme, I recently finished most of a platoon of Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais. These elite troops were formed to act as border guards and a mobile force to defend the border region of Belgium in case of a German invasion. In May 1940, they got the chance to do their job. It was a job they did well. They threw off the German timetable almost everywhere they fought the Panzer divisions coming through the Ardennes. Unfortunately, their gallantry was futile due to lack of higher level support and events outside their control. In face to face battle, they gave the Germans a run for their money throwing up roadblocks, blowing bridges, and otherwise delaying and harassing the Germans everywhere they went. The Chasseurs were lightly equipped and a small force, too small to make a difference to the overall bleak strategic outlook for the Belgians and French in 1940.

These models are all from Warlord Games. They sell the Chasseurs as generic Belgians where you can select different heads to create different units. I was tempted to go with all the models having the distinctive alpine green berets they were known for, but since most troops did not wear them in combat, but donned their trusty Adrian helmet, I went with berets for officers, NCOs and other models I wanted to stand out.

The Chasseurs are backed up by the odd looking T15 tank.

Hopefully Warlord will add a T13, HMGs, and a proper command pack to the range. I need to paint the third squad and the Boys AT rifle team yet.

I forgot to paint on the alpine green collar tabs to these models.

The house in the background is from Sarissa Precision. I did a blog post on this a while back here.

Here they are:




FN 30 LMG Team (Belgian copy of the BAR)

Chasseurs Ardennais Squad


Saturday, December 1, 2012

10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade.

I'm on a roll this week...

One of my favorite units from WWII is the Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade.

I have been excited about this project ever since I learned that Blitzkrieg Laboratories and Gorgon Studios were going to release the miniatures for this famous unit. These tough bastards fought the Germans in Poland in 1939. They fought vicious delaying and harassing actions against the 4th Light Division and Gebirgsjagers along the southern Polish border and then in defense of Krakow before escaping into Hungary. They were rebuilt in 1940 in France as the 10th Armord Cavalry Brigade and once again faced the Germans. This time, they fought a tough campaign, fighting almost alone against several German divisions. They somehow managed to escape to Britain where they were rebuilt as the 1st Polish Armoured Division. In 1944 they would find themselves in France for the final drive to Germany and the end of the war. They are a rare unit to have fought the Germans on two fronts and in three campaigns as part of three different armies. The earned their nickname in Poland in 1939 as the "Black Brigade" on account of their distinct uniform of black leather trench coats and Austrian WWI stahlhelms.

These miniatures are all new models from a new company called Blitzkrieg Laboratories jointly released with Gorgon Studios. I had the fortune to be given some promotional models to run a game at the 2012 Fall In convention here in Lancaster, PA. Thanks to Aaron, I was able to deploy a platoon of these awesome models against my Crusader Miniatures early War Germans. Aaron is planning to expand the range and they have also released Gebirgsjagers for the early period of the war. Check them out!

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take pictures of the game I ran. I forgot my camera and my phone ran out of battery power...d'oh!

Here are some pics. They came out a little dark because it was hard to get the settings right to be able to see detail and yet not have the jackets look gray and washed out.

The packs are structured in a way that makes building a platoon very easy. The Anti Tank gun crew are a mortar crew filling in on the job until they release more minis for other support weapons.

The building in the background is from Old Glory. The Bofors ATG an the TKS Tankettes are from Warlord Games.

I plan to do a full, and proper battle report with these guys pretty soon.


Lieutenant and Driver


Platoon Sergeant and Runner

Second Section

Wz 36 Bofors ATG

Wz 35 Anti Tank Rifle

Wz 36 Granatnik

TKS Tankettes

Zero Sum Oblivion.

Hello again. It has been quite a long time since I updated the blog. I have been pretty busy working on projects but haven't had time to post updates about them. Sticking to my plan no matter how tempting other distractions were, I recently finished several projects at once. For 28mm sci fi in anticipation of Chalfant's Zero Sum Oblivion sci fi rules from Iron Ivan Games, I finished up some of the Pig Iron Miniatures I will be using for Outlander Miners and Planetary Militia Forces.

I am basing my sci fi setting on a mineral rich planet that had been terraformed and colonized centuries ago by a group of hardy frontier miners. However, after years of isolation from control by any central authority, the miners quit working and have begun attacking government forces in a bid for planetary independence. After years of living in the outlands of the planet, these miners are tough, resourceful, and savage in their desire to resist. They excel in ambushes and the individual miners are skilled fighters able to blend into their surroundings as well as live off the land using the barest resources and outdated technology. The government forces are made up of unskilled, unenthusiastic, and mostly young recruits from off world drawn from across the planetary system. They are cannon fodder for the war machine. They are well equipped and armed, but die like flies.

A savage war of resistance is waged across the barren landscape of a planet once terraformed and teeming with life. Now, after solar storms, the industrial waste of mining, and devastating war, the planet's surface is mostly burnt grass, shattered trees, rusted iron rocks, and gleaming crystal columns.

The miners once worked to remove the highly prized Cobalt Crystals used in starship jump drives. The miners who originally settled the planet were guaranteed the freedom to sell to any planet they wished under the terms of their own contracts. Once the planet became isolated and lost contact with the other planets in the system, the miners turned to survival by underground farming, and their mining operations lapsed into disarray. With the return of the government and demands for new sources of crystals under severe restrictions in contracts, fixed prices, and forced labor demands, some of the mining teams have refused to return to work. Unit 454 was one of these teams, and they have since gone into the wastes to ambush and attack government forces whenever they can.

It's going to be a long war...

Here are some of the pics of the first units in the armies. First up are the miners. I used Pig Iron's Kolony Ferals as the basis for my mining forces. These models are covered in the tattered remnants of their mining gear. They wear the outdated, but rugged life support mask. They are equipped with the standard self defense rifle. It is a robust, accurate, and easy to maintain design. They proudly retain their mining unit number (454) on their clothing. The layers of cloth are worn in a way that allows them to blend into the dusty planetary terrain and is colored similar to the rusty iron deposits found across the planet. When they attack, they rise like ghosts out of the ground. Some of the miners have even been reported to display strange shamanistic abilities. One of these shamans has been rumored to be able to control the dead...

All of the miniatures are from Pig Iron, with the gas mask cables being converted from power cables from Dragonforge Miniatures modelling supplies.

Here are some pics of the militia forces. These are also all Pig Iron Miniatures from their Kolony Militia range.

The Militia are backed up by some vehicles from Old Crow Models range of 28mm vehicles. These kits are awesome. The resin is great to work with, they go together easily, and they take paint like a champ. Unfortunately, it appears Jez is currently limited in what he is selling due to real life business obligations. But if you can get a hold of these models, do it. They are excellent.

 And last but not least...some terrain to fight over. I still need to finish a lot more rocks and crystals, but the basics are done. The rocks are just railroad ballast taken from some train tracks near my old house. They are painted gray but I layered on several base coats of rust browns and oranges and then drybrushed successive layers of dark gray up to almost white for the final sharp edge highlights. The grass is all green static grass drybrushed with a bright orange color to make it look dead. The crystals are from Acheson Creations range of 28mm fantasy terrain. They come in a variety of colors. I chose the emerald green crystals. They come in a bunch of neat shapes and sizes as well. I need a bunch more of these...