On Friday 15th March 2019 I put on a Battle of the Bulge game at the club. Richard and Simon each had a panzer division, while Noel controlled a Volksgrenadier division, as the German side was tasked with crossing two rivers to capture the US fuel depot. Meanwhile, Mal, Doug, and Mark, each with a battle group of Americans, stood in their path. Jonathan and Phil took control of the German and American air forces respectively.
I used my 2mm WWII collection of figures from Irregular Miniatures, plus 2mm scenery - partly from Irregular Miniatures, partly scratch-built. We used the third edition of my Panzerleiter rules for epic battles in World War Two, designed for large games on a club night, and the (first ever club-night?) snow sheet to simulate the powdery Ardennes.
The game was inspired by the iconic film, Battle of the Bulge (1965), starring Robert Shaw as a fanatical panzer commander (echoing the real-life Bulge panzer commander and war-criminal Jochen Peiper), tasked with breaking through American lines in December 1944. It was one of the films that inspired my interest in wargaming and history as a boy.
Behind a screen, the Americans deployed unit markers face down on the table: each battlegroup had 12 units, and 16 markers (four being decoys). The Germans could not attack a concealed American unit until it was 'spotted' by German recce or other units, such as an overflight by aircraft. Each player had 4 cards to influence play.
The Germans entered on their table edge and deployed both panzer divisions on the left side of the table, with the Volksgrenadier division screening their flank, in the centre. Mark's battlegroup (on the American right) faced off against Richard's panzers, Doug (in the centre) faced part of Simon's division and Noel's troops, while Mal screened the American left flank and opposed Noel's units. The Americans rolled for reinforcements each turn, and no aviation units could be called in until turn four.
Richard made good progress against Mark's battlegroup, but Mark made use of the wooded terrain and blocked the German advance by occupying towns en route to the fuel depot. Simon pummelled Mark and Doug with artillery, and sent his division on a march towards the American centre. Noel crossed the first river and engaged Doug and Mal in a holding action. By end of play, Mark had held off Richard's division, but Simon's column was crossing the second river in Doug's sector, and Mal was holding his own against Noel. Another few turns and the fuel depot would have fallen to the Germans, all bellowing the Panzerlied with full gusto!
As games go, I thought it was one of my more successful nights as umpire. While the rules could be modified, based on suggestions from players, they did the job and everyone seemed to have an enjoyable evening. Noel suggested using the figures and rules for an Operation Cobra game at the War Room at some stage.