Friday, 9 February 2018

Unofficial Battlegroup Rules tryout

Last night, we tried out the unofficial Battlegroup Modern rules, published by Richard C of his blog

Richard very kindly made these freely available on his blog, just before the Guild forum went into meltdown.  He has tried to keep the rules true to the original Battlegroup ruleset, with modifications to cover ATGM, SAM, Electronic Warfare, Chemical weapons, Helicopters.

After a read through, the rules were pretty straightforward to apply.  Because we were new to the modifications, there was some shuffling through to find the key stats lines, so a play sheet would be a good thing to pull out, as well as a list of vehicle specific stats (just like the main WW2 version).  There are also extensive army lists on his blog, which look generally excellent, based on my limited research into Cold War TO&Es.

There were four players on a 12x5ft table, each taking 500 points.  Pete had a 500 point Soviet MRR battlegroup with a platoon of infantry in BMP-2s and a troop of T-72s, while I used a Tank Regiment battlegroup with a troop of T-72s and a platoon of infantry in BMP-1Ps.  The opposition was Ian with a British armoured battlegroup including a troop of Chieftains and platoon of infantry in FV432s, while Mike took a West German Panzer battlegroup of two troops of Leopard 1s and a platoon of infantry in Marders.  The scenario was a meeting engagement, somewhere on the flank of a major Soviet armoured thrust deep into West Germany, during the summer of 1985 - ah yes, I remember it well, the Summer of 85 that is, not a Soviet attack on West Germany.  NATO won the initiative roll.

Both the Brits and West Germans advanced onto the board, both rushing infantry forward to secure the small villages closest to their board edges.  Mike's Leo 1s advanced strung out in lines towards the back of his table edge, while Ian's Chieftains were similarly deployed.  I don't have too much information on how Pete's MRR and Ian's Chieftains fared, but my T-72 troop deployed in the village to my left, skulking in the cover of the buildings, while my BMPs advanced into woods to my front and left.  My recce BRDM-2 and mortar spotter took up an observation position iin the woods and my CO took up observation positions in the central woods.  A BRDM-3 also skulked near buildings.

Mike's idea to blaze away at my T-72s in the village and command BMP in the woods didn't work out, as he either couldn't spot me or couldn't hit me with his open fire orders.  My response was to loose some ineffective ATGM fire from the BRDM-3 and to snipe at his Leo 1s with the T-72s.  Most were also ineffective to hit, although the Leos were automatically spotted as they had fired.  However, my T-72s got one hit, which resulted in a fireball of exploding ammunition - scrath one Leo 1 (his CO as it turned out).  I also called in a battery of 2 Vasilisk mortars on the German held village, rolling 8 dice to hit with three kill hits and 5 pins the result.  This pinned most of the infantry as well as one of the Marders, but only resulted in 1 infantryman killed.

Next round, Mike moved the Leos around to get better shots, but with no more joy, although his battery of on table M106s scored some pins on my infantry in the woods.  The response was some devastating T-72 shots, killing 2 Leo 1s.  From his chits, Mike picked Gas, Gas, Gas, which hurt my infantry a lot as they suffered losses and failed morale, pinning them.

With the suppressed commands, the next turn was fairly ineffective, although my T-72s managed another kill on a Leo, but Mike hit my command BMP, knocking it out with all three passengers killed (3 chits at once).  One of these was a Beyond the Call of Duty test, which my T-72 passed and shot up another Leo, leaving just one runner.  Mike picked another Gas chit!  When required, he rolled an All Clear result, so we agreed this meant both the first and second chits ceased at the end of the pair of turns.  I used the lull caused by some low command roles, partly due to Mike drawing the electronic warfare chit and deciding to reduce my command dice roll by 50%, to put my T-72s on reserve move.

Mike's turn saw him trying to shoot up my infantry from the village and to call in M106 fire, all to little effect.  By this time, I had a pair of Ian's Scorpions shooting at my infantry as well.  My T-72s used reserve move to advance to close range with his remaining Leo as well as the M106 battery.  When it came to my turn, the T-72s despatched the last Leo and an M106, pushing Mike beyond his breakpoint.

Pete was having a much more torrid time against the Brits, although he did for their command Chieftain.  When we called the game, Petes forces were around 5 points off breaking, while Ian and I had less than 10 points apiece, both through loosing our commanders, while Mike had in excess of 35 points of chits.  A fun game, I completely forgot about Battle Doctrine, which allows the Soviets to use Stahl and Urrah orders, which would have let me do more.  Not sure if Pete remembered or not.

On the whole, we had a great evening playing these rules, which are miles ahead of the nearest popular competitors.  One of the players and several onlookers were Cold War Warriors, who all said the game appeared to create a flavour of the period.  There may be some tweaks, but the system works well.

Some pics towards the end of the game.

Looking from Mike's (German table edge towards Petes forces in the distance.  All the Leos are destroyed, as is one of the M113s.

My BMPs and infantry in the woods with a Shilka for air cover.

Whats left of one of my infantry sections after repeated shots from German infantry and British Scorpions.

Pete's troops scattered over the table with a line of Chieftains on the right.

A good game.  One we are going to explore more fully in the coming weeks to get more familiar with the system and stats to see how it plays and identify any snags.

Thanks for looking.


  1. Well done Andrew. Thanks for posting this up. I'm really glad you all enjoyed the game and looking forward to any feedback.


    1. Thanks Richard.

      Wish I'd taken more photos, but we were enjoying the game too much. Always a good sign.

      Thanks again for making this available.

      Cheers, Andy

  2. Comments on the rules - not the game !

    1) GSR can only see moving objects, and NOT into woods. It can tell between people and vehicle, and pcks up vehicles at roughly twice the distance

    2) 60mm Mortars - these are not the same as 50mm and much more akin to the 80mm types.

    3) Milan 2 is a tandem warhead, think the HOT 2 is as well.

    1. Hi Ian
      Thanks for your feedback
      1) Your are right regarding the GSR rules and this area needs more thinking/work done on it.
      2)Again I probably agree with you here, but Battlegroup classifies 60mm as a light mortar, so I had to keep it the same rather than come up with a classification between light and medium.
      3) I think the Milan 3 and HOT-3 both had tandem warheads while the Milan 2 and HOT-2 both had better penetration than the first version (and the Milan 2 had a stand-off probe). Therefore I've given both better penetration values.

    2. Quick Google search suggests only Milan-3 and HOT-3 are tandem. Wiki says Milan 2 had better penetration because of the stand off probe, as you say Richard.

      One question did come up in the game regarding the Vasilek automatic mortar and then extended to other rocket systems in general is do they fire every turn or do they need a reload order and/or supply. This may be covered in the rules, but I don't recall it and haven't yet had a chance to check it out.

      Cheers, Andy

    3. Hi Andy
      All MRLs follow the same rules as standard BG - so they fire, miss the next two turns reloading and then fire again.
      Currently the Vasilek can fire every turn. Perhaps they should be a bit more expensive...


    4. Thanks Richard.

      Yes the comment was made during the game that an offboard 2 tube Vasilek gave 8 to hit dice every turn. I was quite happy as I was playing Russian. Having said that, they only got to fire once in our game as I either didn't get the dice roll to communicate or didn't have enough orders to activate them.

      Cheers, Andy

  3. Andy,

    Well, go ahead and make it official! That looked to be lots of fun, and was a good read. You really threw me, I’m so used to your awesome 6mm, then to see you doing Cold War in 15mm... we have a sickness :)


    1. Thanks Jack,

      I agree about the sickness, but it's fun as well. Richard C's page is well worth a visit, his models are lovely and his rules and the army lists are well worth a look through. You could give him the benefit of your USMC experience as he has a 1980's USMC list - all I need now are the M60s.

      Cheers, Andy