Sunday, 11 October 2015

Resources for France 1940 - Battlegroup

My current project isn't my first attempt to re-fight France 1940.  Back when I was at school, I had a small selection of models in (sort of) HO Scale.  I had an Airfix 25 pounder, Panzer IV and Bren Carrier, along with a Matchbox Matilda II and PAK 36 anti-tank gun, and not much else.  In the days before disposable income and the internet, I had little information to go on.  For rules, I remember having a choice between the Donald Featherstone books I could find at the library or a selection of WRG publications.

Moving forward about 30 years, I was afraid that wargaming resources would still be thin on the ground. It didn't take me long to realise that I would be spoilt for choice.

In the next two or three posts, I'll take a quick look at the resources that I have been using to plan my campaign.  I don't plan to review these in any detail - there are people out there more eloquent and insightful than me who would do a better job. These are just the books and websites that I have found useful.  Today I want to take a look at the Battlegroup rules and supplements from Ironfist Publishing

Ironfist started publishing in 2012 with a book called Battlegroup Kursk.  Focused on the Eastern Front in 1943, the book is a lavishly illustrated, hardback book which contains all of the rules, army lists and scenarios to recreate the battles around Kursk. Following this book, Ironfist took a slightly different approach and starting publishing supplements. They next focused on the later periods of the war with Overlord and Fall of the Reich. Each supplement provides the history, army lists and scenarios for each period, but in order to play any of these supplements you will need either the Kursk book or the smaller, rules-only book which is also available as a PDF.

I happen to like this approach.  I am a sucker for books, and the book lover in me really likes these supplements.  Publishing the rules separately allows more space for the specific content - artwork, photographs, maps and data - that will give each game the right flavour.  And I must say, the quality of the army lists and research is top notch.  

I was delighted when Ironfist published Battlegroup Blitzkrieg earlier this year.  This book covers not just the fall of France but also the invasion of Poland in 1939, and is packed with some great stuff.  It includes all of the equipment and forces that were involved (Belgian and Dutch armies included) and the example battles are presented beautifully - the maps in particular are great. One of the highlights is a scenario covering the 2nd Durham Light Infantry on the River Dyle, and in particular the award of the first Victoria Cross to the British Army during the war.

The publication of the rules as a separate book has actually helped me enormously as it has allowed me to learn the core rules more quickly, and only then dive into the detail of the period. I was very pleasantly surprised by how the Battlegroup rules work.  They offer different scales of encounter, from squad/section level all the way up to battalion-sized actions. With a 3' x 4' table, I'm not going to recreate the entire retreat to Dunkirk, but the rules seem to work really well for a platoon-sized action. 

Even for those not interested in the Battlegroup rules, I can thoroughly recommend Battlegroup Blitzkrieg as a sourcebook for any early WW2 campaign. The research appears very complete to me, and the artwork is stunning.  The books in print and PDF format are available from The Plastic Soldier Company.

As inspiration, both of the photos in this article are of the stunning Battlegroup Blitzkrieg demonstration game at Salute 2015, taken by me.  If I could only get my games to look this good...

Bye for now.

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