2005 PBI Competition
Saturday 20th May found me with an unexpectedly free day, so I travelled down to Portbury in Bristol to play in a 1 day PBI competition organised by the Portbury Knights club.
PBI - "Poor Bloody Infantry" - is Peter Pig's set of 15mm WW2 rules. The game is played with 2-3 platoons of infantry, support weapons and a small number of tanks, on a 4-foot square table divided into an 8 x 8 (6" squares for those of you who can't do maths) grid. For an explanation of how the rules work click here
The format was 3 games in one day, and was as much about familiarizing players with the revised rules as actually worrying about boring stuff like who won! I took down a Russian and a German army, with the intention of using my Germans if I could, as they were newer, as yet unplayed with figures, or the Russkis if everyone else had Germans - and I did end up using the Germans after all!
My list was:
|Armour||Infantry Platoon 2||Attached Paratroops|
|2 x Sdkfz 234/3 Recce Vehicles. Armour 5, Gun 7||Commander with SMG||Commander with SMG|
|Infantry Platoon 1||3 x German LMG teams||1 x German LMG team|
|Commander with SMG||3 x Rifle Teams||1 x Panzerschreck team|
|3 x German LMG teams||1 x Panzerschreck team||3 MP 44 Rifle Teams|
|3 x Rifle Teams||Engineeers|
|1 x Panzerschreck team||Commander with SMG|
|Support Platoon||2 x German LMG teams|
|Commander with SMG||1 x Flame Thrower|
|2 Medium Mortars||1 x MP44 Rifle Team|
The German Infantry and Recce were graded as Average, but the attached Paratroop platoon was made up of veterans.
Game 1 - vs Brits
On the Stalingrad table - or more likely, a fantasy Berlin scenario!
Here I was defending on a table that was almost entirely "closed" terrain squares. An "open" road (with a few roadblocks) went round the edge of the board, and a few buildings on the perimeter were sufficiently bombed out as to class as "partial". Click on the image below to see the non-closed terrain types on the table in more detail.
The British attacked from the left hand side of the table, and opened up with an artillery barrage that landed accurately on the 4 squares down their right hand flank - much to the surprise of my infantry who had not read this new part of the rules properly, and so were hiding in a partial square - and who consequently too a right pounding!
Having pinned the infantry, the Brits again too advantage of their superior rulesmanship, and brought on 6 tanks (which are now able to move and fire fairly easily in the latest iteration of the rules). The Shermans and a Cromwell advanced confidently up the road, and took up positions in the buildings to provide supporting fire for their infantry, who were planning on making a rush for the objective in front of the derailed armoured train (to see a real armoured train, click this link)
My troops had started the game deployed just behind the first row of houses after the road, hoping to let the terrain delay the Brits, and then react to their assault. The pre-game snakes and ladders (yes, honestly) had worked reasonably well for the Brits, and I was short of my mortar platoon, and also a platoon of infantry - the Paras however were on table, and I had high hoped of my flamethrower engineer team as well to be able to clear the Brits off the objective they were clearly aiming for.
The Brit infantry made a desperate dash across the road, supported by mortar fire and rapidly dug in on the objective.
However, no-one had communicated my plan to the engineers platoon leader, and the flammen team tried and failed repeatedly to roll enough initiative points to ignite their weapon!
The game developed into a desperate struggle of reactive and proactive firing, pinning and unpinning in and around the front of the armoured train - the Germans were pouring MG, SMG and rifle fire into the dug in Brits, whilst dodging incoming shells and raking machinegun fire from the Shermans.
My platoon that had been hit by the initial bombardment had never full recovered, and they were also being eroded rapidly - only their Schreck team were able to threaten the tankers, and force them back along the road.
The German 8-rad recce unit then roared into action, rounding the corner and started to put enfilading fire into the British commander directing the men holding the objective - and also to try and silence the pesky mortars firing from the bombed out building across the street.
But, as time ran down, the Brits hung on grimly to what proved to be their main objective, and recorded a significant victory.
Post Game Summary
Ignorance of some aspects of the new rules - specifically the likelihood of artillery strikes, and not realizing that tanks are now actually able to do stuff - compounded the error of my over cautious deployment, which meant I was fighting to throw the Brits off the objective rather than them attempting to fight their way onto it for most of the game. With pinned markers almost always on the vital squares, and poor AP dice this proved impossible within the time limits of the game. The pre-game snakes and ladders was easier and more interesting than the "no one uses it" previous pre-game set up, and also avoided the need to have you list compiled in specific ways.
Game 2 - Same Table, vs Russians
In theory, the draw should have given me a different table, but being drawn against a Russian army meant I was happy to stay on "Stalingrad".
The Russians had 2 large infantry platoons, 4 T34/76's, a company commander and a large MHG platoon as well. In this game the snakes-and-ladders was incredibly kind to me (or, put another way, was so imbalanced it killed the game off before it started), and I ended up attacking with almost a full set of troops, against only the tanks and the HMG platoon, who elected to deploy back from the objectives and wait for support from their infantry before mounting a counterattack.
This allowed my infantry to advance unopposed ad occupy all the objectives in the first couple of turns, as the Russian were also rolling poorly for reinforcements. Soon my men were digging in amongst the ruins, with the Soviet hordes looking at crossing an open road, and one square of demolished train tracks before being able to get to grips with my men.
The countdown dice were also clicking over quickly, and the game soon developed into a duel between the German Schreck teams and the T34's, with the Schreck men creeping forwards amongst the ruins to loose off a shot, and then retire back out of sight.
In desperation, the Commissar ordered his T34's into a series of assaults against the dug in Germans, only to have the tankers destroyed by the "here they come" fire from a Schreck team.
...and then another was destroyed in the assault proper!
The game then turned into a Russian turkey shoot for the Germans, as the Russian infantry came onto the table to find themselves (clustered and) straight in the sights of the German guns .
Post Game Summary
This game was unfortunately mostly over by the end of the recce phase, as the Russians simply did not have enough gear - of the right gear - to occupy the table. Their policy of waiting for reinforcements was then thwarted by poor reinforcement rolls, leaving the Germans a stroll in the (bombed out, ruined) park to occupy the objectives, and the dig in and wait for a counter attack that eventually came too late to influence the outcome.
Game 3 found me against some Brits, on the Hungarian (ie generic!) table. Click the picture to see the closed (orange) and partial (blue) terrain.
Having adopted defensive position "2" (with no understanding of what this meant) in Snakes & Ladders I found myself absolutely caned on the pre-game recce, and had just the paratroops and one platoon of infantry on table to defend against the entire British force less one platoon of infantry. Having learnt my lesson about defence in too much depth, the paratroopers dug into the furthest forward objective, and also held the wood to its right, and the other platoon deployed in a dugout (which I got to place as part of my defensive stance) and some buildings, whilst their officer and the shreck team occupied the objective immediately behind them.
The Brits stonked in a artillery barrage across my entire front line, but this time the preparations were much better, and aside from suppression and some spilt coffee there were no casualties. The Tommies then rushed forwards under cover of the buildings in front of the nearest objective, and dug in amongst the ruins to start exchanging close range fire with the veteran paratroopers.
Two Fireflys (its always Fireflys - funny that?) also rolled onto the table, and with mortar support poured munitions into the German positions. But like with the artillery, the Germans held fast, and in return firing managed to inflict some serious casualties onto the Brits before they could get properly dug in around the house.
The 2nd British platoon had conducted a daring advance to try and outflank the outnumbered German defenders, and had managed to push some men forwards to occupy a deserted building to the rear of my infantry platoon. But in the first reinforcement turn, the German "stance 2" paid off as the additional reinforcement dice meant the engineers and the 2 recce 8-wheeles both came on almost immediately, and both started pounding the over-extended Brits from close range. Soon the British platoon was in trouble, with 4 dead bodies left on table spread the length of the battlefield.
Back at the front however, the weight of mortar and infantry fire was beginning to tell, and my infantry platoon was being reduced down to a lone LMG, some rifemen and the officer occupying the objective. Lucky the Recce had arrived to occupy the enfilading Brits !
The paratroopers were also now down to half strength, but some timely medical intervention meant the bodies had been removed from the field, so the survivors were busy in their close range firefight and did not notice their colleagues falling around them. The attacking Brits were not quite as brave however, and the cries of the 2 wounded men in the building on the front line was making it difficult for the officer to urge the rest of his platoon onwards.
The Shermans were making no headway frontally, and so elected to support the outflanking force - but were surprised by the 234/3's who managed to get off a lucky first shot and nail a Sherman!
But by now the Brits were in disarray - casualties were racking up, and there was little will left even amongst the reinforcements for an advance against the veteran paratroops, who had already given a bloody nose to the first platoon. Even more spirit leaked from the Brits as the sniper opened fire on the reinforcements, and then the German reinforcement platoon also unleashed a barrage of lead, pinning them back to the table edge and breaking their resolve.
Finally the German platoon of infantry cracked and fled - but it was in the last turn, and so the German combat engineers arrived in the nick of time to re-occupy the objective held by their former brothers in arms, to record a comprehensive German victory.
Post Game Summary
The Veteran paratroops avoided their error of Game 1, and occupied the objectives in the teeth of a fierce and immediate assault by the Brits, and despite being under continuous fire, dished out much more telling punishment than they took, beating back 2 platoons one by one over the course of the game. The reinforcement rules for the defensive stance I took played a big part in getting extra troops on table quickly and they were able to fill in the gaps and prevent my line being outflanked by the 3rd Brit platoon - that had probably been over confident in advancing against what was (at the time) no resistance.
This was a good fun competition, and a big thanks for setting up some excellent tables and making the whole thing run easily to the Portbury Knights and some of the other visitors who also provided stuff. Having the authors and playtesters of the rules there was also a good bonus with the new version of PBI - which did seem an improvement - and I also managed only to spend a tenner and resist the temptation t but a whole set of British paratroops I don't really need ! Looking forward to the next one ....
A couple More Photos
Russian Engineers Advancing
Great T34 !
and another !