Saturday, 3 February 2018

Portable Wargame

I acquired copies of both volumes of Bob Cordery's 'Portable Wargame' books for Christmas, and put on a game at the club using the supplied WW2 scenario 'KG Fredrickson'. The rules were largely as written, but I borrowed a fellow bloggers idea about penalising tanks in woods/BUAs and I rated tanks as 'cataphracts' against infantry in the open as they seemed rather weak in close combat.

For the game we used the standard IGOUGO turn sequence rolling for initative, strength points and exhaustion levels rather than the sudden death combat system.

We played it using 15mm figures on Hexon terrain. Any errors, omissions or rules misinterpretations are entirely mine.

The battlefield from the North. The ploughed fields are minefields. 

The Russians deployed a Mechanised Brigade, and I gave their commander my shiny new M3 Scout Car to ride in. 

The Germans had the best hats. 

And deployed their troops to defend the fortifications. The panzer company was kept in reserve. I'd  modified the OB to replace the German MG units with normal rifle companies. 

The Russians had more practical hats. 

They marched on with their rifle battalions in two echelons and two companies of T34s supporting the infantry in the extreme South. The remaining T34s were kept in reserve as Jerry had a cunning plan. 

Exchanges of fire took place in the south as the Russians negotiated the obstacles. The panzers moved up to engage.

Having attracted the German reserves, the remaining T34s plus infantry worked their way around the northen flank.

The Pz IVs launched a heroic attack as one of the T34s succumbed to AT fire.

The Russian infantry and tanks promptly counterttacked.

Pushing them back again.

On the right the Russians pushed the German infantry out of their trenches.

In the centre the Russians also broke into the German position, closely supported by their AT company.

The Russian tanks swarmed the German infantry.

Russian infantry occupied the heights overlooking the German artillery position.

The German infantry heroically held off the massed tank assault (which tbh seemed a bit of an odd result) as the Russians reached their exhaustion point and the game ended.

At game end, both sides claimed victory. The Germans had prevented a breakthrough before nightfall, and the Russians had cleared away the obstacles and captured all the German trenches.

This was an enjoyable game and some of the mechanism worked very well, particularly the option to retreat or take a hit, which coupled with the exhaustion rules produced a genuine tactical decision as opposed to so many games which have artificial decisions related to game mechanics. We did get  a bit confused about the turn sequence and how retreats affected firing for elements hit in the artillery phase. The way we played it seemed to produce indestructible towed guns which fired every turn, so I need to have a think about that.

The close combat was problematic, ranged fire proved to be far more dangerous, and it just didn't feel right for a twentieth century setting. I suspect the nineteenth century roots of the game are showing here. There was also double counting by adjusting SP for quality and adjusting the saving throw for quality, which made elite units far too good. Nothing which isn't fixable though, and as there is such a good game buried in their, I'm determined to make it work. More meat than One Hour Wargames, but less complexity than Command Decision!


  1. May give it ago- One Hour Wargames seems a bit too simple on a first read through.



  2. Yes, I found the fact that Elite units get more hits and more opportunity to retreat to be a doble-whammy as well. I'm veering towards having the hits representing quality, and then having *all* units use the 1-3 Hit 4-6 Retreat roll.

    1. yes, my thoughts exactly. I think the quality based hit/retreat thing works better if you are using the 'instant death' version rather than strength points.

  3. This is a great scenario for 'playtesting' (i.e. getting the hang of) the rule set, don't you think?

    I played this on a terrain set-up modified for a square grid battleground. Instead of the standard IGoUGo system I used the card activation, which meant each turn one or other side could do something with half, plus or minus one, of their units.

    This had the interesting effect, I found, of the artillery being ignored, pretty much, once the action got close. That of course might have been due to my 'get stuck in' style of play, of course. A more patient player using this system might be more inclined towards localised attacks well supported by artillery.

    I was interested in your sense of scaling. For mine, the units had the 'feel' of companies, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch to think of them as battalions!

    That I think of them as companies might have induced me to replace one of the MG units with a rifle company, the whole ensemble - 3 rifle coys, 1 MG and 1 IG - having the look and feel of a German infantry battalion.

    1. I like to rationalise these things in my head so for WW2 I'm assuming 600m hexes, roughly company sized eleents (1SP = roughly one western rifle or weapons platoon, or 3-4 tanks/guns) and 30 minute turns. Battalion heavy weapons are incorporated into the rifle companies (which is why they can shoot so far!) so a standard German rifle battalion would have thee companies of 4SP, whereas a Russian Guards rifle Bn would only have two stands of 4. I ditched the MG and mortar units for WW2 (I'll use them for WW1 though) and increased the artillery ranges to the correct ones (say 20 hexes for 25pdrs), which means most arty is much better off fired from offtable. I've tried a few mods to model light and heavy tanks, but I think I'll just do that using the SPs as well. Essentially I'm ending up with Memoir 44 without the cards...

  4. Thanks for the AAR
    On my "to do" list for early 2018 is a portable wargame!

    Nice hats