Sunday, February 21, 2010

Desert Ducks

Burning British tanks in the desert.
 Nothing like starting at the end but I parked my camera upon arrival at Martin's and forgot about it until after we called the game. This game was a refight of one fought about 6 weeks earlier using CD5 and was an interesting exercise as well as an enjoyable game. The table was slightly different than last time, (see picture in previous post) but close enough, the forces, situation and mission were all the same. This was the first BKC game for 2 of the players and my 1st BKC2 game so we kept things simple and counted all troops as regular and used CV8 HQ's and didn't try any of the new optional rules.

In the middle was a small town defended by a company of mechanized (carriers) British infantry supported by a battery of 2 pounders, a battery of on-table 25 pounders and a squadron of MKVI light tanks. Once the Italians were spotted, a tank regiment was called to the rescue, arriving piecemeal. There was also some wire and a hidden minefield.

The Italians had a battalion of motorized infantry and a battalion of tanks, supported by extra mortars, all off table to start with.  Their mission was to capture the town, their plan was to send the motorized infantry around the left flank, a company of light tanks up on the right to probe and "amuse" the enemy, and the companies of painfully slow M13 and Semovantes up the middle to provide fire support. I have rarely seen so many crummy command rolls in one game but essentially the plan worked, well, apart from the bit about actually attacking the town (let alone capturing it). The infantry drove up in dead ground on the left and debussed behind the crest of a hill just as the squadron MKVI's came roaring over the top, MG's blazing. The infantry went to ground and opened up with anti-rifles with minimal effect but the CO brought up the lagging armour and with one MKVI burning on top of the hill,  the remainder wisely slipped back into dead ground and started calling in artillery fire as the infantry pursued over the crest. A vickers opened up from in the town to thicken the fire and as platoon after platoon of Italian infantry was forced to retreat back over the crest, the advance stalled. 

On the British left, an attempt to rush an anti-tank gun into the center was met by a huge mortar barrage and the Bren carrier that was towing it caught a few shells in the open top and brewed up. The remaining 2 pounder ambushed the Italian light tanks when they finally got their act together and advanced but at long range, all it managed was to stall that prong while giving the Semovantes something to shell.       

At long last, the British cruisers had arrived in penny packets and crept up the center then hit one of those little glitches that happen in the desert. Three of the British tanks found themselves momentarily in the open, just within the Italian extreme range and just out of their own. The rest of the British tanks  were in dead ground or far to the rear. In minutes there were 3 burning cruisers and 2 more burning light tanks. At that point we had to call the game on time, the Italians had failed to capture the town but had knocked out 6 tanks, 2 AT guns and an MG for the loss of 1 infantry stand.  

It was interesting to compare the feel of the 2 rules. Probably the key points were that the games were both enjoyable and took about the same time to play and, perhaps most important, I think that ether game would have given much the same result regardless of which rules were used, if the sides had followed the same battleplans.  That said, the games had a very different feel. The unpredictability in CD5 comes mainly from 2 things, the simultaneous movement based on hidden order chits and the morale results which can be drastic on a bad die roll, even for good troops. In BKC it comes from the command rolls. The moves and ranges in CD5 were longer but each turn took longer to play. In essence,  each CD turn was roughly equal to 2 BKC turns or about 3 actions. The practical effect of this for me, was that in the CD5 game, I only had to make a decision 2 or 3 times during the game and the rest was just watching it play out. In BKC, I had to assess and make decisons about every 15 minutes and I had more nuanced game decisions to make, not just what my units were to do, but the best way to use my commanders to implement the plan and maximize the odds, (how to group the orders, what sequence to attempt them, how to use the CO to back up the HQ's etc).  Horses for courses but from a purely gaming POV, I prefer the constant interaction, decison making and uncertainty management (attempted management) vs the more careful planning and execution.




  1. Nice write up... you also explained why I like Blitzkrieg Commander as well!

  2. Well done Ross, "good chap" too!
    Unless it snows we've got a BKCII game this coming Saturday, the 27th instant.
    Thank you,