Friday 20 November 2015

Operation Sunlounger - a BKCII Spanish Civil War AAR

Dave and I agreed that our narrative '45 Rebellion had reached at natural conclusion with the decisive victory achieved by the Duke of Cumberland. This is not to say that we may not revisit this in the future, but at present we decided to give it a break. Afterall you can have too much of a good thing.

So what to play next? Given that we have been playing an awful lot of 'Black Powder' period games of late, a complete change was in order. So after a brief chat, we agreed to give BKCII a run out. For once the scenario and figures were my responsibility. After mulling over a few ideas, I settled upon a sort of Spanish Civil War scenario. Sort of in the sense that I took a few libertties with the forces to give a more balanced and hopefully enjoyable game, more of which later.

The scenario was based upon one from CS Grant's Programmed Wargames Scenarios, but tweaked to suit BKCII. Some of the options on force choices given would have made the game too one sided, hence my tweaking. After a typically cheeky comment from Dave in an exchange of e-mails, I came up with the following back ground fluff:

Operation Sunlounger - Spain 1938
The Condor Legion are keen to get to the beaches first and put their towels down on the best sunloungers. To aid them in this, they have advised General Franco that a move to bypass the current Republican position would be a good one. To this end the Italian CTV and a Nationalist Naval unit have been given the mission of turning the Republican righflank.

1 x CO
2 x HQ 
1 x Recce Armoured Car
9 x Regular Infantry (3 with anti-tank rifle upgrade)
3 x Cavalry (able to dismount)
3x MGs
1 x Mortar
1 x 45mm ATG with Truck
1 x 75mm Artillery Support Unit with Truck
1 x 45mm T-26

Nationalist CTV
1 x CO
2 x HQ
1 x Recce Cavalry
9 x Regular Infantry (3 with anti-tank rifle upgrade)
3 x Cavalry (able to dismount)
2 x MGs
1 x Mortar
1 x 45mm ATG with Truck
1 x 75mm Artillery Support Unit with Truck
6 x L3/35 tankettes
1 x L3/35 Flamethrower tankette

Nationalist Naval Unit
1 x HQ
3 x Regular Infantry
1 x MG
1 x Mortar
2 x Armoured Trucks
1 x Trubia Naval Tank (use FT-17 stats)

Scenario Details
Reports have come in that a Nationalist Force is moving to try and bypass the main Republican position. With their right flank under threat, a re-inforced battalion has been sent post haste to form a blocking position across the predicted Nationalist Line-of-Advance. Their mission is to hold on at all costs, to allow the main Republican force time to re-establish a tenable defensive position.

The Republican Forces deploys on the Western table edge, using the mobile deployment rules.

The Nationalist Forces deploy on the Northern table edge, coming in on either of the roads, with their deployment determined by a random die roll.

The Scenario lasts 8 Turns.

Given the time at our disposal and the number of units involved, I didn't attempt to make any detailed notes of how the game unfolded. Instead I hope the following pictures and notes will help give an idea of how the game played out.

The Republicans made a good opening move, with all of their troops moving onto the table. The Nationalists found their forces split up, with the CO and his units moving on on via the left hand road, whilst the rest of his force decided to arrive on the right hand one. Not the best way to make a combined attack...
The Republican Cavalry screen to the fore as Nationalist troops move to make the best cover
L3/35 tankettes take the lead as the first of the CTV troops arrive. Failed command rolls leave the rest and the Nationalist Naval units off table
Battle is joined on the Republican left flank, with both sides cavalry dismounting and taking up positions in the woods, farmhouse and cornfield.
The Republicans face the fearsome might of the L3/35 tankettes.
As the battle rages on, failed command rolls hinder the Republican right flank. More of the CTV arrives whilst the rest advance, albeit slowly towards the farmhouse.
At a critical point the Republicans have a failed command roll, with the L3/35s facing the might of the T-26 and an anti-tank rifle. This allows the L3/35s to see off the anti-rifle threat and move out of the way of the T-26.
The Republican right flank is painfully slow in advancing, whilst the arrival of the Nationalist Naval Unit looks to possibly tip the battle in favour of the Nationalists.
The battle in full flow as both sides head towards Mutually Assured Destruction. Only the T-26 has the abnility to stop the L3/35s as the Republicans have lost all of their anti-tank assets.
The L3/35 flamethrower tankette positions itself in front of the farm, whilst the Nationalist Naval Units armoured trucks and Trubia Naval can be seen advancing along the road.
Finally the Republican right flank advances, but their left flank is under severe pressure.
As the Republicans advance to the crest of the hill, the Nationalist forces are slow to move up to try and break through the potential blocking position that is developing.
The disjointed Nationalist advance is still the major threat, and both sides have suffered large losses in and around the woods.
The Nationalists start to advance past the farmhouse that is now under their control... the Republican forces look on from the crest of the hill.

Post Game Thoughts
In the end time beat us but we both agreed that the Nationalists were in a slightly better position and more than likely gained a minor victory. It was nice to be playing BKCII once again, but it was certainly not a classic game. For reasons why read on:

  • Dave as the Republican commander was beset by a series of Blunders that hampered his ability to move his troops quickly to where he needed them. This certainly prevented his right flank being able to play an active part in the game.
  • We both suffered from a series of poor command rolls. In this game I upped the CVs of the COs to 9 and the HQs to 8 as experience has taught me that anything lower invariable leads to a rather dull and static game. Not what you want for an evenings gaming.
  • Not historically accurate, but I gave each Battalion 3 anti-tank rifles. Again experience has taught me that without them, facing any form of armour leads to an almost Flames of War situation, where the armour fights amongst itself, with the winner then able to roam around the talbe almost at will. Fine for a longer game, but not for a couple of hours on an evening.
  • Cavalry are great fun to use. They are quick, look great and are able to advance to hold ground whilst supporting untis advance to support them.
  • I love my L3/35s. Cheap as chips they seem to survive in games when they should have been smoking wrecks ages ago. At one point Dave had 8 shots at them in two Turns and only managed to inflict 3 hits, 2 of which were saved. However they do have to be used with care so as not to unbalance a game, as they are effectively armoured MG units. I'm going to convert a few into Solothurn anti-rifle armed ones purely for my AVBCW forces.
  • The L3/35 flamethrower variant is lethal if allowed to attack BUAs. Anything in there really doesn't stand a chance.
  • The random entry rolls did work well, as I did not know where they would arrive. However with most of them arriving along one raod, this did hamper my ability to attack the Republicans as for most of the game there was a bit of a traffic jam.
  • Having played so much 'Black Powder' gaming of late, I did have to take care with placement of terrain. Too much and you can hinder movement and firing (think Bocage), whilst too little and there is not enough cover for defender or attacker. I think I got it right for this game, but it does require some thought.
  • The T-26 feels like a Tiger II when facing it are machine gun armed L3/35s. I was expecting it to have more of an impact on the game, but Dave was simply unluckly with his die rolls.   

I do like BKCII and really must try and get some more games in, whether SCW, AVBCW or WWII. So after this brief foray into the modern era, are next game is planned to be Hail Caesar, with Romans against Ancient Britons. Dave is back on figure and scenario duties, so will have to wait to see what unfolds next week.


  1. How big is the table?

    So good to see BKCII being played.

    Did you know on the pendraken forums they are asking for input to a new edition to the rules?

    1. The table is 4'x4'. I have a sperate 2'x4' section to allow me to make a 6'x4' as required. I've already added my two penneth to the suggestions on the Pendraken forum. Over the years we've tweaked the rules to fit how we like to play the game. As the comments show, most players have their own view on what needs changing.