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Battle Captains - A First Look
2015-07-13 21:00:00

This past weekend I travelled to beautiful Quebec City for a gaming event put on by my brother Dan of Red Over Blue fame, redoverblue.net. His idea for the event was interesting to say the least. In the morning he would present a scenario featuring 101st airborne troops engaging a mix of German defenders on the morning of D-Day. He would run this scenario using Bolt Action! and Warlord Games excellent figure range. For those unfamiliar I highly recommend checking out Warlord's excellent product range, warlordgames.com.

The twist that interested me was that Dan wished for me to run a subsequent game of Battle Captains that continued the scenario. Essentially, at the end of the first game (platoon level, skirmish, 28mm) we would calculate survivors and translate to the next game (company level, semi-skirmish, 6mm). This would allow the players to affect the next game and be forced to live with their decisions, good and bad. Additionally, Dan had rendered assistance in the development of certain aspects of Battle Captains, namely artillery, and wished to see the fruit of that development.

In this post I will outline the events of the game and notable moments; in the next post I will give a brief overview of Battle Captains and food for thought that arose from the game.

The scenario that developed from the first game was simple but interesting. A 101st Airborne platoon held a small village on a crossroads. This platoon had seized the village from German defenders two days prior and had withstood a half-hearted attempt to push them out. However, an organized column of Panzergrenadiers was quickly approaching from the south east hoping to remove this thorn. Unbeknownst to the Germans, freshly organized and dispatched from the beaches, a column of American armoured infantry was approaching from the north west to relieve the beleaguered defenders. This quickly turned from a race to a slugging match.

The table as we began the scenario. The Americans approached from the road on the right of the table; a platoon of M5A1 Stuarts just visible scouting down the road.

Another angle showing the Stuart platoon. The Germans entered from the farthest right road on the opposite side of the table. Hidden in the bocage was a mixed recce platoon of veteran Germans.

The Stuarts in their starting positions a few hundred meters in front of the column.

The German recce platoon consisting of two motorcycle sections, a SdKfz 234/2 Puma, and a SdKfz 250/9 cautiously clearing the road.

The American column that sat just off table consisted of an armoured infantry company, a Sherman platoon, a Stuart platoon, two 105mm howitzer Shermans, one M10 Wolverine, and a FAO.

The German column coming down the road consisted of a Panzergrenadier company, one Panther A, one Hetzer, one Flak 36 88, one Pak 40, one Flak 30, and a Sturmpanzer I Bison.

The 101st Airborne platoon in their starting positions in the village. The damage from the previous battle can be seen amongst the buildings.

In addition to a battery of four M7 Priests, the American players had at their disposal naval gunfire support represented by these naval models. The Germans by comparison could count on only two LeFH 18 howitzers.

The American column began the first turn by quickly organising itself and advancing down the road in an efficient fashion. The Stuarts, Shermans, and one infantry platoon all headed for the town while another infantry platoon took up a blocking position on the right flank. The third infantry platoon remained in reserve.

The German recce reached its first objective and was soon ordered to swing right and advanced through the field to take up blocking positions opposite the American right flank.

After watching the American column advancing in an ordered and efficient manner and experiencing delays due to a fuel shortage, the first real combat power of the German force entered the table. The German players entitled this force Kampgruppe Braun and it was a theoretically powerful force. A Panzergrenadier platoon with a Panther, 88, Pak 40, and Panzershreck team attached.

The Stuart platoon races down the north-south road towards the paratroopers. This would prove to be the last moment of organization and calm the Americans would experience.

Kampfgruppe Braun sorts itself out in preparation for contact with the platoon protecting the American right flank. The American infantry platoon here has deployed in good order but its day would go only down from here forward.

While the right flank was being assaulted by Kampgruppe Braun and the Stuarts attempted to relieve the paratroopers alone, the core of the American force has stopped for coffee.

As the core of the American fighting force was boiling water for their coffee the German support unit (mortars, howitzers, and a Hetzer) was setting up firing positions to the right of the village.

The American right flank holds their position as they watch Kampfgruppe Braun scatter.

The second German infantry platoon advances towards the village as the support platoon continues to lay fire into the American defenders.

Vehicles burn and paratroopers hide in the rubble as punishing German direct and indirect fire pummels their positions in the village.

All told the players were pleased with the result. The Germans started off slow but ended up executing a textbook assault of the village under the cover of both direct fire support from their support platoon and surprisingly effective off board artillery support. The Americans were plagued by failures in their command system (terrible die rolls) that hindered their ability to respond to the German movements and ultimately doomed them in the short but intense firefight. In the next post I will detail some of the mechanics and questions that arose from the game.

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