Saturday, 14 April 2018

5 Men at Kursk - the 54mm experiment

I've been to busy to blog, believe it or not. Today, I've decided to remain at home because of a forecast of freezing rain among other problems. (Winter just won't leave southwestern Ontario!)

In any event, last Saturday at the Hamilton Road Games Group, Andy and Kevin decided to try the set of rules called "5 Men at Kursk" by Nordic Weasel games. It's a skirmish game using a very small number of figures - as few as 5. I blogged a while ago about the sister game of medieval gaming called Chevauche, which made for a very satisfying small game. Andy was eager to play the WWII game using his extensive collection of plastic 54mm figures. In truth, although the game was set for 15mm or 28mm figures, when the ranges are played with (usually doubled), it works well for 54mm figs.

In the first game, I played the Germans defending a ruined farm house and ridge against Soviet troops. Both sides had a commander, a light machine gun and loader, and some other infantry, the Soviets having the advantage of numbers and more submachine guns... which seemed right. (Photos by Andy and myself)

The German defenders in place at the beginning of the game.

A low ridge where the Soviet troops would set up once the giant set of rules were removed.
Based on the strictures laid out in the game, each side has so many activations, bonus moves, and responsive moves/snap fires per turn. This was based on historic points of fire discipline, general morale, and other intangibles.

As it was, My LMG worked to keep the Soviets' heads down and they had to crawl around a lot. The MG-42 also handed out some casualties. The Soviet DP LMG wasn't quite so effective primarily because my dice rolling was astounding, especially to me. (In the game, a 1 might would and a 6 kills, 2-5 having no effect. If a 1 is rolled, the man is "down" until one of his mates checks on him. Then a die is rolled and he might be just stunned or he might be out of the game, depending on the die roll.

The Soviets decided to to a left hook and send some troopers over the bridge on their left to flank the farm house where the German LMG was holed up. I sent a trooper and the officer with his SMG to bolster the ruined house. Just in time, too. The Soviets stayed low and advanced on the house, while causing two troopers and the officer to be frightened and take cover. They began to exchange grenades over a low stone wall.

On the German left, two soldiers came down the hill and assaulted the Soviet LMG from the base of the copse of trees, first using grenades. One man was taken out by a Russian grenade while the other one came on through the trees and attempted to hand-to-hand the LMG gunner. It didn't work well. In the end, the Soviets losses were too much to bear and the German defenders were declared the winner.

The fortified ruin of a farm house with the Wehrmacht defenders.

The sand-bag firebase further down the ridge.

The reinforcement arrives

A Soviet SMG trooper advanced behind the cover of the bridge stone railing.

The Soviets behind their low ridge, keeping their heads down.

The bridge and the small stream from the other end of the table.
I sat out the second game, which saw a switching of sides and the Soviets defending the Motherland and the small farmstead. The assaulting Germans won that one as well, but it was not a bloodless victory. Both Andy and Kevin were pleased with the results of the playing of the game. The squads behaved as they were "supposed to" according to their military experience and study: use the LMG to keep the enemy's heads down and use your maneuver element to take the territory.  The rules allow vehicles and larger weapons, but HMG are stationary and deny space to the enemy. Tanks take up all your activations because you have to separately activate the driver to move, the gunner to fire the main gun or the coaxial MG, and the commander to fire the turret MG, That's THREE activations plus the commander is exposed when firing the hatch MG. Suppose you only have 4 or 5 activations in total? Either your AFV becomes a terrain piece or it sucks up all your activations. Decisions have to be made.

I'd like to see this game set up for WWI. It could be quite interesting, although some adjusting of the rules would be required.

My German flanking force leaves the redoubt to take the fight to the pinned down Soviets.

A pre-game photo of the German force in the field works.

Once again.

All the figures were supplied by Andy, who has been collecting and painting
these for years. They're older Airfix or Matchbox 54mm plastics. He also has
Americans, British/Canadians, Commandos, Japanese, SS, Afrika Korps,
8th Army in Africa, and late-war Germans. Kevin wants to find some Italians
in the scale. It makes for a good looking table.

Soviets! Urrah! The DP-LMG peeks over the edge of the rise.

The German view of the Soviet starting point. The Soviets were considered to be crouching and crawling.

Andy also has been collecting the terrain from Bring-n-Buys and thrift stores over the years This includes the sandbags, the trees, the bridge, and the house. The small walls seen in the left of the photo should be higher, but there's only so much time and cash in the world.
 I agree that the 54's make for a good looking table. Will I buy some figs for this? I can't say just now. It's tempting, especially since I've seen some WWI figs. Well, one step at a time.