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Battlegroup Kursk Thoughts 
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So I got my first game of BGK in. I liked the base concept, although it did involve A LOT of consulting charts, which bogged the game down.

A question for the masses, though. We played the suggested starter mission as in, except as the Soviet player, I didn't take the medium mortar because I hadn't learned the arty rules yet. So, I went first, and it seemed REALLY one sided. Going first, I was able to pin his starting armor, and the rest of the game, they just stayed pinned. He would take his turn, unpin his stuff, and pass turn, and the cycle just continued. What key rule did we miss, or is this intentional?

(Playing with those suggested demo forces, we didn't have a super commander that can issue the immediately unpin order)

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Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:02 am
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piperider361 wrote:
I liked the base concept, although it did involve A LOT of consulting charts, which bogged the game down.


Being a bit "Chart Heavy" was my first concern when I looked the sneak preview here: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3170

I'm looking forward to hearing more about BGK and its following modules, but if it's going to be something I play routinely It's going to need to be smooth and quick in resolution.

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Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:26 am
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You can listen to the in-depth review and interview with author at the M&M podcast 96...

http://meeples.wordpress.com/2012/11/03 ... oup-kursk/

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Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:32 pm
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What I know about M&M is that the guy running it absolutely hates Flames of War because players tend to do gamey stuff like driving tanks wall to wall - a phenomena I myself strongly dislike and try to avoid but which was present in the Prokhorovka mega battle my group played a couple of weeks ago.

It was rather amusing to read the comments of that post where a bunch of dudes were giving each other virtual high fives based on misconceptions about the games played at my club, me personally and really FoW and many other games on company/battalion level that include tanks where everything is represented 1:1. The counter arguments against FoW, when the namedropping of rules that were superior began, was also not very fair since I would not compare platoon level games to a company level game and expect the same battlefield density of troops. http://meeples.wordpress.com/2012/11/27 ... f-war-101/ Obviously when you read their angry comments is that they were ignorant to what I myself had written about the problems in the Prokhorovka battle report or any of my pointers of what would be needed to fix the battle if we ran it again.

It’s also entertaining for me to read the hostile comments stating that FoW rules are responsible for how players use their units, when the writer of BGK talk about players shielding their tanks with trucks in BGK. This must then surely BGK mean that these rules are equally flawed beyond redemption? Or are the anomalies only tied to the rules in one case and the choices of players in the other?

Another interesting thing to me is that the reviewers haven’t actually played a game of BGK themselves. I still think one can make a fair assessment of a game and a set of rules based on common game mechanics, experience with similar ideas and generally being intelligent enough to piece information together to make a theoretical conclusion of what the intention of the rules may be. I wrote a review based solely upon reading the Battlegroup Normandy book a while back ( http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.se/201 ... eview.html ), which so happens became heavily criticized by a small number of people in the comments of my blog and with a few posts on various forums. The critics also happened to be friends of the author and playtesters of the rules.

They are allowed to think what they like and love whatever set of rules they like, but it makes me wonder where they are now. Surely they should be critiquing the M&M guys for not having played the rules, or does reviews based solely upon reading something only count if they are blindly devoted?

I have not read the BGK rules, they may well be super awesome, a giant improvement of the BGN book (which I think my review was rather neutral about) or really bad. That in itself isn’t interesting to me and this post is obviously not written to bash either BGN or BGK. The reason I wrote all of this is simply to point out a few, to me, rather important and interesting aspects of M&M and the apparent double standard of what constitutes a fair unbiased review. Apparently you can review a game without playing it, and for some reason only some rules are considered broken based upon how players choose to play them.


edit: fixed broken link

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Last edited by Anatoli on Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:01 pm
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Unfortunately, a lot of older gamers start to trend toward the "Get off my lawn" shtick. Whinging at what is popular seems to have become much more prevalent in the wargames community of late.


Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:16 am
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It's sad. It also makes it hard to stay enthusiastic sometimes. But, hey, we do what we must!

Anyhow, I still haven't seen a copy of this, but I'd like to give it a shot!

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:20 am
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I got it looks good, but it does have chart work, which is fine, I would start small to begin.

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:26 am
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The game as I understood it from the M&M podcast seems to operate around a morale mechanic rather than the Bolt Action pinning mechanic. As a unit takes fire, its morale suffers. But if you want it to motivate to try and move forward, as an example, you push on the morale button and so risk breaking a unit. Interesting.
Also, the army lists seem to have been built around the value of the core units rather than min-maxing on "harder" elements. You can go down that route, but you suffer in points cost. Its a nice idea that seemed to come thorugh from the interview with the author.

Overall I got the impression that the BGK rules were comprehensive and thoughtful.

My concern with any ruleset would be that you have to rely on looking up information routinely in the rulebook during a game. I prefer games with a reference chart which backs up the play. That's why I like Flames of War and Saga. The rules are simple enopugh to memorise or go onto no more than a sheet of A4 for reference during a game.

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:26 am
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Yeah, the morale system is interesting...it's kinda like damage cards in Wings of War. Pinned units do nothing, and to unpin them you draw a token, which has a random number on it. You keep that number secret until you exceed your armies morale limit, then you lose.

But, back to the original question...no one has any input on that? =)

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:39 pm
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piperider361 wrote:
But, back to the original question...no one has any input on that? =)

I think you might find it difficult to get a BK player to respond amongst all the FOW and Bolt Action converts here....

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:48 pm
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I played a game a few weeks ago and felt, as the German player, that I wasn't pinning enough Soviets each turn so it might have been just the scenario you played (or it may be that the scenario I played was atypical).

One thing that seemed odd to me was the number of dice you rolled for orders seemed somewhat arbitrary.


Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:29 pm
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ambler wrote:
piperider361 wrote:
But, back to the original question...no one has any input on that? =)

I think you might find it difficult to get a BK player to respond amongst all the FOW and Bolt Action converts here....


Too bad. I'd be interested in hearing more, espcially first hand game accounts. For a while, one of the BGK rule's authors was chiming in here.

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:13 pm
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Well, we'll definitely be trying it again to see if the same issues crop up.

It's just a nice change of page, since we don't need any new minis to play it, it's effectively free.

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Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:16 pm
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I would sure like to give it a try. :)


Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:50 pm
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ambler wrote:
piperider361 wrote:
But, back to the original question...no one has any input on that? =)

I think you might find it difficult to get a BK player to respond amongst all the FOW and Bolt Action converts here....


I'd like to hear more about it too. Exposure to more games is only a good thing.


Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:33 am
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I would also like to find out more about BGK.

The page Anatoli linked is kind of a sad commentary on human nature... :(


Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:31 am
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piperider361 wrote:
So I got my first game of BGK in. I liked the base concept, although it did involve A LOT of consulting charts, which bogged the game down.

A question for the masses, though. We played the suggested starter mission as in, except as the Soviet player, I didn't take the medium mortar because I hadn't learned the arty rules yet. So, I went first, and it seemed REALLY one sided. Going first, I was able to pin his starting armor, and the rest of the game, they just stayed pinned. He would take his turn, unpin his stuff, and pass turn, and the cycle just continued. What key rule did we miss, or is this intentional?

(Playing with those suggested demo forces, we didn't have a super commander that can issue the immediately unpin order)


Well the Guild has a forum on BGK;

www.guildwargamers.com

With regards the charts, the game has one double sided QRS, but you do need to look up gun and armour stats. Its obviously gets quicker the more you play as you tend to remember the stats as with most games.

As to your query, its a little difficult to answer as Im not sure what you were using to pin the vehicles.

Im guessing you were playing 'Clash of Reconnaissance'?

What were his infantry and AT gun doing while you pinned his two armoured cars?

If you were firing AP rounds to pin his tanks, then you would need a 6+ to pin them. Did you get that many '6s'???

Even HE from those Russian vehicles using Area Fire needs a 5+ from the starting vehicles to pin the German armoured cars.

If you were firing Aimed Fire, you need to observe, hit the target, then either equal or fail to penetrate the armour to get a chance to pin off the morale test.



happy to help if you need any clarification.



Anatoli wrote:
What I know about M&M is that the guy running it absolutely hates Flames of War because players tend to do gamey stuff like driving tanks wall to wall - a phenomena I myself strongly dislike and try to avoid but which was present in the Prokhorovka mega battle my group played a couple of weeks ago.



Never listened to the M&M broadcast about BGK... Though I know Warwick did an interview with them.

I still dont know how anyone can truly review a game without playing it... Just seems a little odd to me. How can they tell what its like or if they enjoy it?


And yes... I am mates with Warwick and I also work on the Battlegroup series with him...


Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:26 am
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I like charts in a wargame. Keeps the riff-raff out.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:33 pm
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bristolscale7 wrote:
I like charts in a wargame. Keeps the riff-raff out.


Now, THAT, is funny. :lol:


Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:04 pm
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We tried our first game of it last week. It was a learning game, but was a pretty fun affair. Net result was a minor Soviet win in a large multi-player battle, but the point was to try the rules out and learn them a bit as well. Germans tried too much long range fire (40-60" range), and should have gotten to the 30-40" range band where they could score kills on the T-34's but yet were out of effective penetration range. Lesson learned!

Fooling around with the pre-made Prokhorovka campaign we noticed a lot of things that were very different than Flames right away. And more stuff later that we really didn't take advantage of. We learned that while everything in the game has a very long range (rifles go 30"), it can be very hard to pass observation and then the to hit roll beyond 20". Very long range shooting expends ammo--which must be tracked. We didn't for this game, but the game has a very nice, an simple, resupply mechanic. Tanks have more ammo than Assault guns. SU-152's get only 3 shots before they must be resupplied, but tanks tend to get 8-11 or so. You decide load out between AP/HE before you start. Artillery can purchased as either on or off the table, and so can very long range weapons like 88's or even ZiS-3's. Artillery in particular is very different than in Flames, as it can be dedicated to your battle group (you always get it if you can communicate to it, but costs tons of points), or you can fight with higher HQ for resources for less points, but less chance of getting your arty order. Units like 8cm mortars are very good at what they do, and we had an incredibly nasty high-cm Katushya strike that luckily hit 2 units directly (have to roll a "6"), in addition to the expected pinning effects. There are also pre-registered location options, wire teams, radio teams, dispatch teams (use once to automatically get communication to HQ), timed artillery and air strikes, and way more. Artillery is extremely well done in this game, yet not overly complex, other than maybe deciding what is best for your force to buy.

For victory, you can win by holding all the objectives OR by running the other guy out of "Company" morale. Not much different than in Flames, except that the mechanism is less deterministic, and is directly tied to motivation of your troops. You can leave them pinned the whole game if you want--or you can constantly motivate everyone and risk burning out your morale. The tokens also represent random events such as air attacks, loose mines, and breakdowns. One Tiger broke down, caught on fire, and the crew abandoned it. Another hit a mine, but kept on trucking.

The Company Morale is determined by a weighted value that each unit has. Grunt units tend to give more BR than exotic units per point, sometimes dramatically so. Some units give no BR at all, but are nice to have--like combat medic. Off map artillery is tricky, as it is very powerful, but gives no BR to your force at all, and consumes a ton of points if it is dedicated. Good force composition is not just about the best possible units on the table, but is also about having a high BR so you can keep that force in action longer. This mechanic combines with the points cost of units to create a very interesting balancing act when making a force. I've not cracked this code yet. One unit infantry (even just a squad) is mandatory. Oh--you can buy things a singles, platoons, or even companies for the Russians.

You can't move every troop every turn. In our game you get 3d6 + number of Officers for orders every turn. Less dice for smaller games. You can put units into opportunity fire or movement with those orders. This was a real issue for the Russians in our little game, as they simply had more units than they could order around effectively.

The table size we used was 6' by 8'--it was Battalion sized conflict. You also have Company sized, and Platoon sized games. Platoon sized games are on 6' x 4' tables, and are probably what most of us would be playing for pick up games.

You determine if the mission is defensive battle or mobile, and WHO is attacking before you make the list. Defender can buy fortifications. No mission has all the units on the board to start, and recon always starts on the table first.

Troop density and size are way down from Flames. WAY down. You buy BA-64's in units of 1. In Flames you would expect to see 4-8 of them running around, acting like a combat unit. In BGK you see one, doing spotting and calling in mortar fire. With 30" to work with Rifles can hold down a lot more area with fire than in Flames. Rifles backed with a lot of MG's are even better, and there are extra loader team upgrades and MG42 upgrades for the Germans.

What each man has counts, and you take losses from bases one at a time, so it feels like a bit lower scale than Flames, but it still managed to play along pretty well, despite none of us knowing how to play yet.

My biggest criticism so far is that the rules are laid out in an odd way that made it difficult to find what I needed, sometimes didn't cover precisely what the rule was--forcing me to check online, and also required multiple look ups to do anything vehicle or artillery related.

Our impression was overall very positive, with all 4 players wanting to play it again post-Holidays. The main initial draw was that we were fighting with the combat units, and supporting with the support units, and there was no "blob" feeling, even when the T-34's got to around 26+ on the table. The shooting rules were a bit tricky as there are several different sections that are all similar, and you normally had to also consult the special rules to see what things like "Communications, or Senior Officer" mean.

Soviets swarm state farm
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Tiger Breaks down
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Victorious Russian Commanders with their game face on
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We liked this sucker a lot. Felt WWIIish, clever mechanics for game balancing, lots of different artillery options (even 8cm mortars are probably better off-map!), good flow to turns, and overall got us excited.
Points deducted for the rules portion being sloppy. 8/10


Shan


Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:52 pm
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Cool. Will definitely need to try this out.

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Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:36 am
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Is that Games and Stuff in MD?

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Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:43 am
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Sure is. Our club moved there after the Syksville store closed down a couple of years ago.

G&S is a great place to game.

Shan


Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:09 am
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Great mini-review/AAR Shan! Best impetus I've seen to date for making me want to give BGK a try!

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