I've recently become interested in the game Battlegroup, from Ironfist Publishing and distributed via Plastic Soldier Company, and thought it about time I shared some thoughts on the game and gave an over view of the rule set and books available.
You can hear more about Battlegroup in the Brit, The Yank and the Hobby, where we speak to Piers Brand in episodes 3 and 6 (Links to the Facebook page and Libsyn downloads).
Battlegroup is a very scalable game set in the Second World War. You can play anything from squad to battalion level games using these rules. Forces can either be selected as per a historical scenario, or through pointed army lists, and these lists are provided in campaign specific books that contain rules scenarios and history for their respective forces. Battlegroup is a D6 based system.
Battlegroup is designed with 15 and 20mm sized miniatures in mind, however it also plays well at 28mm, and can be used with smaller scales too with some adjustment to ranges if required.
Each force must contain a required minimum amount of infantry, and this varies depending on points level. A platoon level game therefore requires you to have at least one infantry platoon, although this covers both leg and mechanised types usually. Once you have your infantry you are free to add in support elements such as artillery, armour, command and logistical and strategic elements.
Logistics are important in Battlegroup as ammunition for vehicles is limited, and they may require resupply through the course of the battle. Forces are historical to the operation as well, so if you are playing a Normandy game you won't see anything that didn't serve in Normandy in the army lists for example.
Battlegroup is an I go U go system, with the first turn (Unless in a specific scenario), being decided by the roll of a dice, and then adding the number of officers in the the force to the die roll. whomever has the highest score then decides whether to go first or second.
At the start of their turn, the player rolls a die (1 or more depending on the level of the game) and adds to this the number of officers they have. This is the number of units they can activate in a turn. Units activated are able to perform 2 things, generally a combination of moving and shooting, though there are other specialised orders as well, and it is possible to shoot and then move too.
in practice this tends to result in fairly quick turns, as though you may have a lot of units on the board, you have to prioritise what you want to do, and what you wish to achieve, making battles very tactical and forcing a level of coordination. Everything action has to be considered as part of an overall plan, making battles a game of attack and counter attack.
Movement is fairly standard, with models moving up to their maximum move distance, and they are also able to perform a double move to forgo firing and gain more ground. Broadly speaking, terrain affects movement by subtracting D6" from the move, with models always able to move a minimum of 1". Roads allow vehicles to travel faster, and most vehicles have their own individual on and off road movement distances shown in their profiles.
Shooting is again carried out through an order, with models able to give up moving to fire a second time in a turn. Shooting is split into 2 different types. Area Fire allows you to pin enemy units, you simply add up the number of shots being fired, then roll over the required score. If you equal or exceed this amount, and the target fails it's cover save they become pinned and unable to activate until it is unpinned.
Aimed Fire is the more traditional shooting to neutralise a target, and requires a spotting roll to see the target. Once this is passed roll a dice for each shot to hit, the required score is target dependent and modified by distance a few other factors. For each hit the target takes a cover save, and those that are failed inflict casualties.
Vehicles don't take a cover save and instead the penetration value of the weapon is compared to the targets armour value. If this value is exceeded on 2 die the target is destroyed.
Infantry units can be issued a close assault order, to close to with 5" of an enemy unit., be it infantry or vehicle.
The assault itself is resolved as with shooting, although observation is automatic, and the attack is permitted and extra die to represent grenades being thrown and the impetus of the assault. Unpinned enemies fight back in the same way and simultaneously, although they do not receive the extra die. Pinned enemies do not get to fight back at all, rendering coordination between suppressive units and assaulting units very important.
Unless playing a scenario with specific objectives, battles is usually decided by a force exceeding it's battle rating. battle rating, or BR is calculated by adding up the BR in your force before the start of the game, and as units are lost, or other situations occur a chit is drawn numbered between 1-5 secretly kept.
The first player to exceed this rating loses. Some chits also add in an extra level of unpredictability with things like air and mine strikes also being possible. In some ways its like drawing a chance card in Monopoly, it might be good, it might be bad, and it can be one extreme or the other of this too and lends a real air of unpredictability to it.
There is obviously far more to the game than I have mentioned above, but this gives a little bit of an insight into how Battlegroup plays. some of the source books are currently out of print but can be found on Ebay, and can also be purchased as PDF's direct from Plastic Soldier Company as well.
Pictures of the game in action were taken at Medway Wargames Society in Walderderlade between my mate Chris' Russians and my Germans, and was a very narrow victory to the Russians. In my opinion Battlegroup is an excellent rule set, and gives a good historical feel without getting bogged down, and maintains a great flow, especially when using 2-3 platoons worth of toys with additional support elements.
You can see more pictures of my steadily growing 20mm forces or contact me regarding commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service.