Monday, March 23, 2020

Tigers at Minsk - First Play

I pulled Norm Smith's Tigers at Minsk (TaM) rules down from the bookshelf and settled in for a Saturday night read and think.  Having quickly sprayed a stack of four inch hexes with a coating of green paint in the bright afternoon sunshine, my plan was to give the rules a go for a solo battle on Sunday.  With a minimalist playing surface (maybe I will flock the hexes to cut down on the glare?) and a handful of troop stands, I set to work.

With no armies for the eastern front circa 1943, I pulled French and German troops from the box and set up Scenario 2.  With no requirements for eastern front armor, this would be a perfect infantry-only introduction.  The battle venue is transported to France, 1940. 

Scenario 2 - Following the Elefants 
  • German: 6x infantry sections and 1x HMG.  Can make smoke.
  • French: 2x infantry sections and 2x HMGs.  No smoke.
To win, the Germans must exit at least one infantry stand off of the French Baseline.  Otherwise, French victory.  Game begins at 11:00 and ends at 11:50.  French first player. 

I will provide my First Impressions in another post but for now, straight into action.
French open up with fire from the villages into the woods.
One German infantry section destroyed and a second pinned.
Very tough start for the Germans.

Two more losses and German morale will be zero.
One French village defended by an HMG and infantry section
Germans put the left into command.
Laying smoke, one section advances on the left.
On the right, fire from the woodline pins a French unit
 positioned in the scrub.
German left in command.
Command stand encircled to denote status.
French put left in command.
Fire from village pins a German section.
German puts right into command.
With a hail of bullets from the treelines,
two French sections are destroyed. Ouch!
With French morale at zero, morale tests are taken.
One HMG team withdraws from a village
while the HMG on the French right holds.
French dispositions.
Only two HMGs remain of the French force.
As the German section moves into the woods,
the French HMG opens up with Op Fire.
German section is pinned in the woods.
French HMG deployed in the village is pinned
while the Germans advance on the right
 under cover of smoke.
Masked by a thick bank of smoke
As the second French HMG moves back into the village,
Germans advance on the right.
French Op Fire pins the German section in the scrub.
German section on the far left advances in the
woods to see victory within its grasp.
French HMG recovers from pinned.
German section in woods fails to activate.
Both French HMGs open up on the enemy.
German section in scrub is destroyed.
German section in woods is pinned.
German section rejoins its HMG while
the German section near the French baseline advances
toward the French baseline and victory.
German infantry in center lays down a withering fire
 into the HMG in the village.
Two hits = one kill!
The French stationed in the village on the French right
 has one final chance to prevent a German victory.
The German is destroyed but the HMG breaks!
With the loss of the German section,
 EVERY German unit fails its morale check.
Out of game time, the French win the battle even though
the French HMG is broken.

The victor.
Well!  That was a quick, exciting, and bloody battle.  A few lucky rolls but luck was impartial.  Both sides saw some well-timed shooting. Had the Germans held position and fired rather than withdrawn on the last turn, the French HMG may have been destroyed. If so, victory would have gone to the attacking Germans.

This is a very interesting scenario with much to think about with respect to force deployment, strategy, and tactics.  With the Germans setting up first, the French can place their outnumbered forces to their best advantage.  The Germans have difficult deployment choices to make.  Placing most of the weight on one sector guarantees that the French will do the same.  With villages near the center of the table, the  French can take a central position and keep most German advances in a cross fire.  Where to best place the French wire?  I opted for the hex adjacent to the scrub to prevent a German outflanking on the right.  I am sure other placements are appropriate.

I think I will reset and give this another try.    


  1. Lovely game, interesting mix of miniatures and hexagons, my two loves in wargames!

    1. Perhaps a minimalistic approach but glad you liked it!

  2. Interesting stuff Jonathon ...with the current situation around the world, we are all looking at solo gaming I expect....and the size of this skirmish seems perfect to keep a single gamer occupied for a reasonable period of time.

    1. Keith, much of my gaming is solo with occasional FtF sessions. Synchronizing multiple, busy schedules can be a tough chore. With many of us our now forced into solitude, solo play seems to be one of the few options available.

      Pleased you found this BatRep interesting.

  3. Interesting little game......I plan some games but just keep getting sidetracked by painting figures🤔

    1. Thanks, Matt! Painting is a good distraction to have! Being a remote worker in normal times, work continues for me with no extra time for the hobby.

  4. Thanks Jonathan for jacking this up and taking the rules for a spin.

    It looks like a goodly number of important incidents occurred, with generally good fire dice and the HMG breaking down. Also both sides hit their Morale collapse, taking the French HMG out of the line for a couple of turns when it retreat and then in the final moments, the Germans lost heart and their attack was stalled by a widespread falling back one hex. So it was pretty much all there.

    As an intro scenario, it seems to generally bring a lot of the system under the players control quite quickly, so does its job. Nice to see you move it to a 1940's setting, I would like to look at that period soon.

    thanks again - norm.

    1. Hi Norm. Yes, I think I managed to hit most of applicable rules in this one little game. Even the sustained HMG fire and smoke continuation made an appearance.

      As mentioned in the post, this scenario is really clever with so many paths to pursue for the players in initial deployment and strategies. I would like to see your optimal deployments and thoughts on how to approach this scenario.

      If you could expand vehicle stats to early war, that would be appreciated, for sure.

    2. Norm, you have reviewed several WW2 tactical board games and I'm wondering if you have ever played any of them as miniatures games?

    3. Jonathan, I am interested in doing early war.

      William, that is a bit of a mixed tale. I have kallistra Hexon tiles, so if I want to take a system to the table, the temptation is to do so using the hexes and the system unchanged (i.e. not converted to an open table). However, the 4” hexes on my gaming area means I can never really replicate more than a half a mapboard before running out of space. For that reason, I developed my own figures games on hexes (Tigers at Minsk) and because that filled my wellies,, I never really explored taking other boardgames systems to the tabletop. I have considered doing Tigers at Minsk as a commercial boardgame and / or doing something with one of the boardgame companies, but that is presently on a back burner.

      Panzer (by Yaquinto and GMT) did spend part of its life as a miniatures game, though I never owned it.

      For ACW, I have seen some situations develop during a boardgame that I have transferred to the open miniatures table.

  5. Splendid report, Jonathan! And excellent that you transported it to a theater which you have troops for. Shows the versatility of the rules, I think.

    This scenario, and the others Norm has provided, are chock full of decision making for the would-be platoon and company commander. You had alot of great and exciting moments during the battle, and I love the French MG breaking down at a critical moment. The decision is in question almost until the end and it creates a wonderful game. My group really enjoyed these rules and I suspect when all this craziness is over yours will, too.

    Did you have any run ins with random events?

    You should definitely flock the hexes.

    Cant wait to read your impressions and also see if you put a QRS together, which you had previously mentioned.

    If you have, can I see it??? You had to know I would ask!

    1. Thanks, Steve!

      Random events did not crop up in this game. The game generated more turns than I expected. I had more than a few low really low die rolls where the time clock barely budged. It was if time stood still.

      Yes, I should flock the bases.

      No QRS yet but I am certain to put one together. I had to reference the rulebook many times to get clarification. When I do, I will send it on.

      I would enjoy seeing your thoughts on optimal play for this scenario too.

    2. Gladly! I have played this scenario MANY times and seen it won a few times by the Germans.

    3. I look forward to your analysis!

      As for a German victory, I thought the Germans had this won until the last turn. It really was that close.

    4. My favourite scenario is ‘Escaping Bobruisk’
      Link to the AAR

      I thought I had done a write-up for ‘Following the Elefants’, but can’t find it, I will check my DropBox.

    5. Thanks, Norm! I am off to take a look.

  6. Nice report Jonathan. Where did you get the hexes from, if I may ask? They really do the job and will look great flocked.

    1. Thank you, Aaron! The hexes are from the Wood & Shop in USA.

  7. Interesting and balanced game, its always good if it goes to the wire!
    Best Iain

    1. I agree! This scenario is a good solitaire exercise in which either side could be played in a systemized manner while the other is player controlled.

  8. A nice game there Jonathan and the minimalist appraoch actually made it easy to follow the action. Will have to check these rules out some point soon.

    1. Thank you, Steve. I am a bit of a minimalist by nature and prefer having the terrain not interfere with the play of the game.

      If tactical WWII combat on a grid is of interest then check out Norm's rules.

  9. Great little game, Jonathan. It is always good to have a simple scenario that lets you test most of the rules out when you begin a system.

    1. Thanks! A small scenario that touches most of the bases is an idea introduction to a new set of rules.

  10. I always enjoy your play-testing of new rules Jonathan, especially more so now that both my gaming groups have put our meetings on hold!

    1. That's great you enjoy these rules' test drives, Lawrence! I suspect many gamers are going it solo for awhile. I know I will. Our "shelter in place" was announced yesterday.

  11. Nice game and a very easy-to-follow AAR Jonathan. Well done! Seems to have been an enjoyable little game which I think the Germans should have easily won especially after knocking out the two French sections simultaneously.

    1. Thank you, Mike!

      I agree with your assessment. I expected the Germans to take a victory in this game too. Had the French HMG on the French right not destroyed the German on the last turn, the Germans would have won. Also, if German morale had held on the last turn, it would have been possible to bring all of their firepower to bear against the lone, broken HMG.

      The French were on the receiving end of several lucky breaks (including the breaking of their HMG!).

      It was really a close match and good fun.

      I think I will reset this one and give it another run-through.

  12. Fun bat rep, and a good read. It was a nice set up. I’m surprised that the French were able to pull off the victory in the end; they had some lucky bullets. And of course one should never mess with HMGs. 😀
    I need to find myself some solo rules.

    1. Glad you liked the battle report, Stew! I will likely give this scenario another try this weekend.

      Both sides experienced some good shooting in this fight. I agree that the French were lucky to pull out a victory on the last turn.

      As for solo rules, I find most can handle solo play quite well.

  13. Jonathan,

    So, very interesting, thanks for posting! I love the look of the table and troops, very quick to get in and get the fight on! I've owned "Tigers at Minsk" for a couple years now but still haven't managed to get them on the table, but they're popping up everywhere now, aren't they?

    It was very interesting to see you play the same scenario multiple times, and I've got to agree with you, looks like tough sledding for the attacker, needs some armor! ;)

    But the rules sound like they give a good, solid, quick game, which is always high on my list, I'll have to give them a shot some time.


    1. You are most welcome, Jack!

      TaM have been in my "To Try" rules' pile for a very long time. I finally took the plunge and gave them a go. Well, actually five goes! Next, I ought to add some support weapons and armor and see how that works.

      TaM, in this infantry only scenario, plays very quickly. Not a lot of rules to remember (although have not worked armor into the mix yet) and it all seems intuitive. Give it a try and report back!

    2. There it is! I keep checking the other TaM post, looking for my comment and any responses, but apparently I placed it here ;)

      Yes, I definitely plan to get to them, just so many other projects going on right now! But you, Norm, and Steve are all motivating me to give these a run out.

      This scenario sure looks to be rough, I'm dying to see you crack it. Yeah, add tanks if you have to ;)


    3. Thanks, Jack! Yep. You commented on THIS post. Feel free to comment on the latest battles too!

      I look forward to you giving TaM a spin on your table. I will save cracking this puzzle to you!