Monday, 7 May 2012

Normandy '44

   I have been looking for a set of rules for a 28 mm WWII game at the platoon/company level for some time. 

   I have tried the Too Fat Lardies rules, I ain't Been shot Mum, but can't get on with them. In general I am not sympatico with the TFL rules I have tried for two reasons. Firstly they have an awful lot of intricate mechanisms that seem to give little result for the effort and, secondly, there is a level of play problem. For example, the air rules, Bag The Hun, are about formation tactics, which is fine, but they then incorporate the most complicated fire and damage system that might have been designed for a solo duel game where each player keeps track of a single fighter.

   There is much to admire about TFL rules, not least their innovation and obvious love of the game, but they desperately need ruthless editing for focus. The designers try to incorporate every good idea they think of, irrespective whether it is right for the game. Professionalism is often about what you choose to leave out.

   At Salute, GW were selling Warwick Kinrade’s Kampfgruppe Normandy for the princely sum of £18 rather than the £48. As an aside, this must destroy the price point from a marketing point of view. Who the hell will order a £48 item that may be on sale tomorrow for £18? Apart from the annoyance factor, the discount destroys the second hand value.

  KgN is nothing like a GW game. The basic organisational structure is modern, not unlike mine own Hammers Slammers. Roll a die for command points and add leadership, units with more than one move, more die rolled for removal of suppression markers, and games lost when battle group morale is eroded.

   My regular opponent, the redoubtable Shaun, and I played a game in 28 mm depicting an encounter between a Canadian infantry group and a German infantry Kampfgruppe. KgN is designed for 20 mm so we played a small game with reinforced platoons.

   The photo above shows a 124 point German army of one platoon of three sections and command section, reinforced by a SP quod AA gun, a Panther, an additional Heavy MG team, and a Panzerschreck team.

    One game peculiarity is that each German section is divided into two independent subsections, the MG team and the rifle team. This doubles the number of German sections which ain’t necessarily a good thing, although there are pros and cons.

   Above is a photo of the 124 point Canadian battle group. The Canadians were reckoned to be the best army in Normandy, better than the British or Americans. They were an all-volunteer, highly trained and motivated army of tough outdoorsmen. The group includes a platoon with three sections of ten men and a command section with a Bren Gun Carrier, reinforced by a Sherman 75, a Wolverine and two PIAT teams with Bren Gun Carriers.

   A peculiarity of British/ Commonwealth Sections in these rules is that they are ten men. I must admit, I was under the impression, perhaps erroneously, that this was a paper strength and that eight infantrymen per section was the maximum to fight in combat.

   As an aside the army choice system is very GW codex and will probably be ignored by historical gamers.

   The above photo shows the game after a few turns. The Canadians attacked aggressively, taking casualties. The Sherman tried to outflank the Panther by running around the orchard and fell into a panzerfaust trap. The Wolverine shoves its nose out between the orchard wall and the ruined village but was unfortunately spotted by the Panther and smacked.

   The flak gun spotted movement in the trees and laid down a stream of fire that accounted for two Canadians but return fire from small arms and Brens set the unarmed half track ablaze.

   The two sides traded shots in a firefight that saw the German command section decimated, but the brave Oberleutnant John stayed at his post amid the carnage.

   When the Canadian were in position (i.e. Shaun rolled a six for command points) they swept in a bayonet charge around and rolling up the left flank, catching the MG crew setting up their gun. The Canadians swept into the ruined farmhouse slaughtering the Panzerschreck team and putting two subsections to the bayonet. The Panther fired HE into the rubble to little avail although the German infantry on the left flank took out a Carrier with panzerfaust fire.

   Oberleutnant John went down in a hail of fire, defiant to the last and the Panther came under flanking PIAT fire from the ruins in the farm buildings. Shaun and I decided that the beastly Hun would prudently retreat at this point even though their morale was still good. It only remained to congratulate Shaun on his decisive victory.

   We both enjoyed the game. It plays smoothly, is great fun, and gives realistic, and very bloody, results. Kinrade has done a great job. GW could have showed some appreciation and put his name on the front cover instead of the dreary company logo as recommended by some tosser in a suit from the marketing department.

   I am not sure I would like to try a 20 mm game with companies. At that scale I am inclined to stick with Rapid Fire.  KgN is perfect for 28 mm with a platoon or two with support.

   Highly Recommended.


  1. Hi John

    The splitting of the German Sections is nothing new, in fact even the Commonwealth Infantry Sections are in fact two teams, with the Rifle Group being under Command of the 1IC and the Gun (Bren) Group being under control of the 2IC.

    Gun group gives covering fire while Rifle group leaps, the vice versa until assault when Rifle Group assaults while Gun Group supports.

    10 men is a huge Section size like you have thought and I agree that this sounds odd.

    8 is far more closer to paper strength and especially 6-7 is probably most accurate in the field.

    Nowadays (In NZ) we have Sections of 8 with two Gun Groups thus each Group can support each other without a decrease of firepower.

    Pleasing to see a good report of a GW product. Not too good press around about them of late.

    Regards Paul

  2. Hi john I play 54mm myself, the rules I use The WarEngine rules they are simple and convert to almost any time period. also your stuff looks great.

  3. I love this game. A friend and I played a game in 28mm several weeks ago and had a blast. I really need to get this back on the table.

  4. Hi Paul
    Yes, I accept what you say but it just seems a little odd in the contxt of the game that German sections are treated differently under the rules to British sections.
    RE GW: yah, but that what happens when the corporate suits run riot in a company ad and fire the creatives so they can swipe their salaries. Ah well.

  5. Hi RCB
    I will check out the rules set you suggest.

  6. Dear DS
    Yes, I think Kinrade has done a fine job, very professional. I hope that does not mean that GW have him on the next redundancy list. :(

    1. Too late I'm afraid John.
      Warwick joined the list of ex-GW staff around a year ago.

      He's since produced a new set of WW2 skirmish rules, Normandy Firefight:

      His blog is here:


    2. What a bunch of corporate wankers...

  7. Great report again, John and interesting rules. For me, at section/platoon level it has to be THW's 'Nuts!' for their unpredictable reaction system and the old 'Crossfire' for company level stuff, never been a fan of IGOUGO - each to their own though ;)

  8. Dear Monty
    I have never played Nuts.So many games, so little time, so little money.