Tags : :
So you’ve heard about BGPG and already snooped this Forum to check it out. Here you found a lot of useful tidbits on game play, but no description of the game, and no links to a detailed game description or review. Hmmm… Your search on the internet turns up hardly any reviews for a game 10 years old, which is at odds with a number of scattered but very positive endorsements from a hard core of gamers that make the game look promising. What do you do? That happened to me so I hope this evaluation of BGPG will help those that are in the same position I was. Usually I get into a new set of rules and find too much stuff that doesn't work for me and dump it after a few plays. So far, BGPG hits me closest to where I am looking and has a good flow to it.
Who Will Like These Rules
- are looking for WWII 15mm or 20mm rules at the company level (about a company a side, perhaps reinforced or even a full battalion, with game play a level above skirmish).
- don’t want to do tournament play, just play scenarios with your friends.
- are looking for “fast-play” rules that don’t bog down with detail, yet still have all the bells and whistles to give you depth for a “realistic” <grin> game.
- are OK with a few charts and don’t need to throw buckets of dice.
- like an infantry based game with armour, artillery and air rules not feeling like they are bolted on.
- are not a “treadhead” needing detailed weapon penetration thicknesses and specific armour values for hull vs. turret, sloped armour, etc.
- want rules that are flexible for the way your minis happen to be already based.
Then read on!
About The Game
First, the game is fun to play! It flows easily yet it has a lot of depth. Scale is 25 yards per inch in 15mm, with 5 – 15 minutes per turn. The basic unit is an infantry squad or team, gun section or vehicle section. There are no requirements for figure basing so stands or individual bases are just fine. It is not 1:1 since 1 infantry figure, AFV or AT gun model represents 2-4 of men, AFVs, or guns. Individual men, AFVs or guns are not tracked and suffer the same fate as the model or stand representing them. I find the game plays just as well using 1:1 for AFVs and guns, and using 1 squad/team represented by 1 stand with any number of figures on it, or a few individually based figures.
The player sequence is IGO-UGO with defensive fire by the non-phasing player and a variable initiative system to add uncertainty. The game is designed around a 2d6 bell curve with a consistent game mechanic for all systems of firing (small arms, armour, artillery, air support) which is easy to remember. A low roll misses or is bad for the roller, and a high roll hits or is good for the roller.
Command and Control
BGPG has a fast, direct, simple, and effective command control system. Each side’s Battlegroup Headquarters rolls 1d6 with a nationality DRM for “Command Points” with the highest roller having initiative and choosing who goes first. Command Points can be added to the activation die roll of local command units, If a local command unit rolls snake eyes on an activation roll, all remaining Command Points are lost and both players dice off to see if your turn ends! Each game turn you have to decide which of your forces are essential to activate, since each local commander needs to pass an activation roll, usually a 7 or 8 to give orders to nearby units. So a series of low activation rolls may run you out of Command Points, leaving some command units unable to activate.
When a local command unit is activated it forms a Combat Group (usually its own commanded troops but can also add in a nearby support weapon or AFV), and gives one of two orders: A Maneuver Order which allows both moving and firing (fire before or after movement), or a Rapid Move Order (just movement).
A unit moves 2d6 for a Maneuver Order and 3d6 for a Rapid Move Order, plus an additional amount depending on the unit type and whether on or off road. You never know exactly how far they will go! Terrain modifies movement with Difficult terrain halving movement and requiring a Bog Test for vehicles. A Maneuver Order means you can fire and move (or move and fire) plus do Recon spotting, while a Rapid Move means no firing or Recon. Defensive Fire occurs against units that are moving.
In scenarios with hidden units on the table you have no knowledge of where the enemy forces are until you spot them, not even a “hidden” marker is displayed. They are recorded before game start. Spotting of hidden units is smoothly integrated into the orders a unit already has, and can be done two ways. Hidden units can be spotted and made visible by any activated Recon unit or local command unit by a dice roll. Secondly they can be spotted using “Reconnaissance By Fire,” and if a fire effect is achieved, the target is spotted. All visible units on the table are automatically spotted and may be fired on if they are in LOS and in range. Acquiring a target in a firing unit’s LOS is built into the single To Hit roll, with less than 6 meaning the target was not acquired. Defensive Fire includes a negative DRM against fast moving units.
Direct Fire is simple. Roll 2d6, apply DRMs for range, terrain, training, and target (size/speed), and if the result is 6 or more, add the firing weapon factor, subtract any armour factor for AFVs. If the final result is 7 or better, the target must take a Morale Test. Morale Tests become increasingly severe as the fire result ranges up from 7 to 12, the lowest, 7, being a Suppression test, then Retreat, Abandon Position, Damage, or finally a 12, requiring a Destroyed test. The target unit then rolls 2d6 under the Morale Test indicated to determine the effect, which can range from No Effect to Destroyed. A high roll is always good for the roller.
The same mechanic is used for small arms, armour, artillery, and air strikes. Nothing bolted on here, it’s all integrated and easy to remember. The weapon penetration and armour values are simplified but still feel “right” being results driven rather than detail driven. The simplifications don’t feel like a compromise and fit with the fast-play rules feel of the rest of the game.
Depending on your taste, you may miss having provision for Area Fire by larger caliber guns and AFVs, so you may have to come up with a house rule if you want that option.
Opposing units each have a Close Combat factor based on their type and add DRMs for support units, weapon type, morale condition, special weapons, facing, terrain, training, etc. Opposing 2d6 rolls determine the winner and the effects on each side are defined by the differential score. Simple, but effective. A couple of observations: When tanks are the lead unit they seem too powerful, requiring some house rules to rein in. And curiously, the winning side never suffers losses.
A unit can be OK, suppressed, damaged, or destroyed. It can be forced to retreat or abandon position. Suppression means it cannot fire or move until it rallies, determined at the end of each turn where it must pass a 2d6 roll of 7.
There are rules to cover most everything if you choose to use them. AFV overruns, dummy units, minefields, towing guns, sustained fire, intensive fire, flamethrowers, cavalry, snipers, smoke, tank riders, bogging of vehicles, minefields, and wire, just to name a few. There are many other battle conditions described, most of which you will not use, but they are there if you wish to use them. Rolling snake-eyes any time will get you a negative special condition applied instantly (eg. a Bog Test on dice roll for movement), and rolling boxcars will get you a positive effect (eg. an instant return fire on a Morale Test after being fired on).
Detailed equipment lists with speed, armour and year available are included for German, Russian, British, American, French, Polish, Italian, and Japanese forces. Points are given for individual units, and there is a useful chapter on Battlegroup Organization, but since the emphasis is on scenario games there are no TO&E lists for say, an infantry company or a tank platoon with points already totaled.
The soft cover manual is very durable with a strong binding and heavy glossy paper. It will stand up well to long term use. About half the book is taken up with battle pictures and the font is large so the number of pages of rules appears daunting when in fact they are not. There are many examples of play shown. Four scenarios are included and all the charts summarized at the back for easy reference or photocopying. The main ones needed for game use fit onto three double-sided cardstock pages. The manual is easy to read, however it could benefit from having cross-referencing for related rules in different chapters, and an index at the end with page and rules numbers for all occurrences listed. It could also benefit from a small tutorial game, showing set-up and a game turn or two.
This is the first set of WWII miniatures rules that I have grown to like more and more with each playing, enough to develop a few house rules to make my personal fantasy more “real”. Thanks for reading this far and I hope this helps you decide if these rules are worth trying.