This scenario, set in North West Europe, draws inspiration from the events that took place in Villers Bocage during WW2 in 1944. It depicts an Allied effort to break out of the German encirclement, where a British armored group has spotted a weakness between two enemy divisions and is making an attempt to capture a crucial hilltop.
|A close up of some of the engagement.|
The wargame being played incorporates the "Tank on Tank" board game rules from Lock n Load, but with some adaptations that enable free movement on a tabletop. Additionally, a few new rules have been added for tank destroyers and infantry to enhance the combined arms feel of the game. There are a few more notes on the changes and adaptations at the end of this post.
The scenario titled "Action at Birscote - Somewhere in France 1944" depicts a situation where a British armoured group is moving forward through the town of Birscote to capture the hilltop. To counter this advance, the Germans have mobilised a force that will converge on the town from three directions - north, east, and south - denoted as points A, B, and C on the map below.
|Map of the scenario. The British are advancing towards the hill and the Germans will converge on the town from points A, B, And C.|
The game was played on a 6x4 foot tabletop.
The British force has:
- Two Sherman troops (both have reconnaissance tanks a Cromwell and Stuart, and one troop has a Firefly 17 Pdr).
- An armoured infantry company
- A infantry company with mortar support
- A 25 pdr. Artillery section
The German force has:
- A troop of two Tiger tanks with two armoured infantry - these will arrive at point A on the map.
- A armoured company of two armoured infantry, armoured car, Stug III, and Wespe - these will arrive at point B on the map.
- A troop of three PzIV tanks - these will arrive at point C on the map.
|German force converging on the town of Birscote from three directions|
The British troops start the pre-game actions by deploying as many units as they desire along the road leading into the town of Birscote. Any additional forces that cannot be accommodated at the outset can arrive as reserves at any point in the game, along the same road.
On the other hand, the German forces will commence the game off-table and appear at designated points A, B, and C on the map. They are required to first deploy all their units at point A before beginning to have units arrive at point B. Only after all point B units have arrived can the units begin to arrive a point C. This restriction will require the German player to strike a balance between the arrival of units and attacking the enemy.
Game length and turn order
There is no set game length. The German player goes first arriving along the road at point A on the map.
British forces must capture and maintain control over the hilltop, while the German forces must seize and hold the town of Birscote.
The Game Report
At the beginning of the game, a solitary Tiger tank arrived and shortly after, the first British tank was destroyed. In response, the British forces quickly left the road and stationed their armored infantry in the town while their tanks moved to either side of it. Soon after, another Tiger tank arrived, along with supporting armored infantry. At this point, the British tanks had adjusted their aim and were lucky enough to disable one of the Tigers, but at the cost of losing another of their own tanks.
From a deployment perspective, by turn three all German units had arrived on the tabletop at point A. This would allow their other forces to start arriving at point B.
|Opening moves as the British respond to the arrival of a couple of Tiger tanks on the hill.|
|The first British tank brews up.|
|The British leave the road and reposition their armour, while armoured infantry occupy the town.|
|A Tiger tank is disabled as after three turns all the German units that were to deploy at point A have arrived.|
Flank attack from the south
The attack by the Germans, approaching from the southern direction, caught the British forces off guard. Although a fortunate hit managed to take out the Stug.III tank destroyer early on, the German armoured infantry successfully made their way into Birscote and were only forced out after some intense house-to-house fighting. Realising that any further attempts to attack Birscote directly would likely end in failure, the Germans shifted their focus towards targeting the flank of the British tanks that were still engaged in battle with the solitary Tiger tank situated on the hill.
|The Germans launch an attack from the south in an attempt to take Birscote.|
|Initial units of the southern attacking force arrive. Unfortunately for the Germans a luck shot (double sixes) had destroyed the Stug III.|
|German armoured infantry press on with the attack in Birscote.|
|German units briefly enter Birscote.|
|Having been ejected from Birscote, the attack is directed at the flank of the lead British tanks engaging the lone Tiger tank on the hill.|
Attack from the north road
The British forces were not granted any respite after just repelling an assault on the town, when German tanks approached from the northern direction. Fortunately, the British tanks were anticipating a possible attack from that direction and were able to quickly engage the enemy in a tank-to-tank battle, with the Sherman Firefly joining the fray as soon as possible. Through their gunnery, the British gradually gained the upper hand and were able to destroy the German tanks one by one with only few losses themselves.
|The tank attack from the north arrives.|
|An early success by the British give them the upper hand in the tank-on-tank battle.|
|The tank battle was over quickly allowing the British to regroup for a counter attack.|
Counter attack along the south road
The swift elimination of the northern tank attack provided the British forces with the opportunity to reorganise themselves and mount a counterattack against the remaining German units located south of Birscote. Lead by the Sherman Firefly, the British launched an attack that ultimately resulted in the destruction of both the German armoured car and the Wespe mobile artillery.
|The removal of the northern threat allows the British to regroup and counterattack in the south.|
|German forces south of Birscote come under fire as the British launch a counterattack. |
|The counterattack is successful.|
A last ditch attempt to take the town
The German forces that remained on the hill began to descend with the aim of capturing the town. A single Tiger tank, accompanied by two armored infantry units, slowly advanced towards Birscote. Sensing a chance, the Sherman Firefly involved in the counterattack was able to position itself on the flank of the Tiger and successfully fired, causing the tank to explode in flames. This decisive blow shattered any hopes the Germans had of capturing Birscote and they were forced to retreat. The British units, thereafter, were able to seize control of the hill with the aid of their remaining tanks and reserve foot infantry.
A victory to the British, coming at the cost of half their forces.
|Germans make a final attack on Birscote.|
|A Tiger tank and armoured infantry advance.|
|The Firefly takes it shot.|
This was the third time I have played the scenario and so far it is 2:1 in favour of the British. The outcome of the northern attach appears to be the key to any success or failure.
Modifications to the Tank on Tank rules
To adapt the board game, which uses a hex-grid, to the tabletop rules I used the following adjustments:
- One hex equated to 8 inches on the tabletop.
- Any unit located within 1 inch of a terrain feature, such as a hedge, building, or tree, was considered to be in cover.
- Buildings and trees were obstacles that blocked line of sight, with measurements taken from the center of the unit's base to the entirety of the target base. Hedges did not obstruct line of sight.
- Units had to move in a straight line unless they were on roads, in which case they could move along the road for their entire movement. Units had to navigate around clumps of trees and buildings. Movement allowances were not reduced when moving into terrain or cover.
- Destroyed armor units remained on the tabletop and were marked with smoke. Other units could move through them without hindrance, but they blocked line of sight.
Further modifications were implemented in the rules to improve the game's combined arms aspect rather than just focusing on tanks. These changes included:
- Infantry units, whether on foot or armoured, had a 360-degree firing arc.
- Tank destroyers (e.g., Stug.III) were treated similarly to tanks, with the exception that they couldn't fire after moving.
- Foot infantry could move through other units without impediment, whereas other units could not move through one another.
This post contains more text than I typically write, and I generally try to avoid lengthy posts because I find it time-consuming to check my spelling and grammar. English was not my strongest subject in school, and while I received the usual feedback of "tries hard, but could do better" for most subjects, in English, I only received "tries hard" without the "could do better" part. For much of this post I quickly typed what I was trying to say then used ChatGPT, an AI tool to format for me. Copying and pasting my text into the tool and adding "reword -" at the beginning, ChatGPT generated some readable text for me. A little bit of modification was required afterwards, but it was surprisingly effective.
Buggar another great wargameReplyDelete
Now I'll have to try it
Are they 20mm?
Hi Pete, they are 20mm.Delete
Peter, a very enjoyable post. The scenario is solid and offers a great dynamic of a town below a hill, with 3 avenues of attack. I can see that making a superb Rapid Fire scenario.ReplyDelete
It would be interesting to see this scenario in the context of a campaign and at whether the British would cut their losses and pull back, or whether they would stay and inflict quite high losses on German assets, so maybe in a campaign, the Germans might have been the ones to pull back … an interesting aspect of campaigning.
Anyway, I shall keep that map in my back pocket for a future replay of your scenario. Thanks.
A campaign can certainly put a different lens on the decisions being made in a game. I seem to remember seeing a Rapid Fire Villers Bocage scenario a few years ago, possibly in a magazine or on the web.Delete
And there’s me thinking I’m a the cutting edge of gaming by playing the odd zoom game. ChatGPT eh. Impressive! Loved the scenario by the way, the staggered arrival from three directions would work for lots of other periods too.ReplyDelete
ChatGPT is a useful tool, we have been using it at work. Glad you liked the scenario.Delete
A good scenario Peter and a surprise ( for me, at least!) outcome....I thought the German force seemed too strong for the Brits....but was proved wrong, to my great pleasure!ReplyDelete
Thanks. The slow arrival of German reserves give the British forces a chance to prepare and engage them early.Delete
Great AAR. Seems typical of the 1944 'rückzug' phase in NWE, with the Germans having to scrape up whatever they can to throw in the Allies' path. Nice to see 20mm on the tabletop, too.ReplyDelete
Thanks. It is always enjoyable getting the 20mm models on to the tabletop.Delete
Thoroughly enjoyable scenario and report Peter.ReplyDelete
Thanks. While the report is of the third time played, all three games were fun to play.Delete
Great looking game and report Peter. I was surprised the Brits did so well but I guess they did what the Germans often used to do. Take an objective and force the enemy to counter attack them and so fight tactical defensive battles while operationally being on the offensive.ReplyDelete
Interesting use of AI. I share your struggles with written English and spend ages writing and reviewing posts.
It was interesting having a game with each force having different objectives. The AI proved very useful in saving me some time.ReplyDelete
A lot of armor was lost on this day. As Norm notes,I wonder how a campaign setting would alter these attrition rates. Game looks good and your maps and photos help to get my bearings in following the action.ReplyDelete
As for using a chat bot, I would be interested in seeing what your inputs were to compare inputs v outputs. Before retiring, one of my projects was creating and testing statistical algorithms for machine learning and natural language processing to automate large scale business use cases against Big Data.
Glad to hear the here the maps helped. If the game was in the setting of a campaign the losses may have been different, depending how important it was to take the hill. The scenario does not provide any background as to the importance of the objectives, eg, “take the hill at all costs”. With a little bit more description and some options, such as: “occupy the town at any cost” and “attack the town and hold as long as possible without undue loss”, would increase the replay-ability of the scenario.Delete
I asked ChatGPT - “ What is the best way to go about writing a wargaming scenario for play?” and got the following:Delete
“Writing a wargaming scenario can be a complex process, but here are some general steps that can help you create an engaging and balanced scenario:
1) Choose a theme and setting: Decide on a theme or historical event that you want to base your scenario on. This could be anything from a specific battle or campaign to a hypothetical conflict between two fictional factions. Consider the terrain and setting, as this will have a big impact on the tactics and strategies used in the game.
2) Determine the objectives: Decide on the objectives that each side needs to achieve in order to win the game. These could be capturing a certain point on the map, eliminating the enemy's units, or achieving a specific goal within a certain timeframe.
3) Define the forces: Determine the number and types of units that will be available to each side, as well as their strengths, weaknesses, and special abilities. Ensure that both sides are relatively evenly matched in terms of overall strength.
4) Map out the battlefield: Create a detailed map of the battlefield, including terrain features, objectives, and deployment zones for each side.
5) Set up the scenario: Determine the starting positions for each side, as well as any special rules or conditions that will apply during the game (such as weather conditions or limited ammunition supplies).
6) Playtest the scenario: Once you have written the scenario, playtest it with a group of friends to ensure that it is balanced and engaging. Make any necessary adjustments based on feedback from your playtesters.
7) Document the scenario: Write up a detailed description of the scenario, including background information, objectives, force compositions, and special rules. This will make it easier for other players to understand and play the scenario.
By following these steps, you should be able to create a fun and challenging wargaming scenario that will keep players engaged and coming back for more.”
Interesting. I initially thought chat bot actually wrote your battle report. I am relieved to see that it only offered up suggestions on how to write one. Great to see that your creativity and battle insight remains with us.Delete
I still write them, but it gives the text a bit of a polish. I wonder if it can do the same for my gaming skills ;-)Delete
Didn’t you win the last game?..Delete
Yes, fortune did smile upon me.Delete
Good looking miniatures and scenario. One can almost feel sorry for the Germans. Almost. 😀ReplyDelete
The game can be a bit swingy, so I always felt they were in with a chance. Thanks.Delete
I enjoy reading your blog. You write very well. I'm very impressed by your creativity in running solo campaigns and your scratch building skills.
We all have difficulty with at least one subject or class. For me, it was long division and gym class.
As you've done, your writing skill probably improved over time and you compensate for it by using ChatGPT.
I eventually figures out long division and did well in calculus classes in college. I forever was bad in gym class though.
Hi Scott, I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Your mention of campaign reminds me I do need to return to my current WW1 campaign which has been idle for a while.Delete
The ChatGPT is a useful tool which saves me time proof reading.
Great fight, Peter! And my goodness, look at all the burning armor; ferocious! And thanks for posting your ToT mods, I appreciate it.ReplyDelete
Hi Jack. You are most welcome. Looking forward to reading your next Tunisian post. PeterDelete
Another great game and scenario there Peter:). As for the Chat bot thingy, it's seems to be in the news lamost every other day. Or maybe it has hacked the system and is just writing about itself:)?ReplyDelete
Thanks. The scenario will definitely be played again. As the the ChatGPT it interesting asking it questions about tactics and solo wargaming.Delete