Friday, 28 December 2012

Battle Group Kursk review

I am going to do a review of Battle Group Kursk, without being biased about it,and not having any preconceived ideas! That's going to be altogether a bit short. So, here's a review that does have some bias and preconceived ideas. It will also have, I hope, an honest appraisal.

Firstly, I actually have a copy, which is an advance on some reviews I have seen. The book is a substantial hardback, gloss cover, and high gloss paper. The binding is pretty good, better than KGN, which I felt would fall apart with serious game use. To much exposure to GW publications. The layout is clear with lots of examples throughout the text to help with getting to grips with game concepts and mechanisms. Warwicks influence coming through regarding accessibility and practicality. There is a bit of overload regarding the quantity of units and options for the 4 platoon types listed - more later, but, this I feel is a personal thing. I know a lot of people want the ability to creat a personalised battle listing, and the clear and detailed options allow this. This is after all a core games set with army listings to game the Eastern Front, as well as the listed scenarios. I came across a few typo's, but not any howlers. The book also contains detailed background and simple analysis of Kursk, not a doctoral thesis but historical, and a good introduction for gaming the Eastern Front.

The book has 4 types of platoons listed, and allows the gamer flexibility to 'fit' these to their requirements if imagination is used, the core of the rules providing a framework to operate within. There is a German Panzer and an Infantry listing, with their counterpart Russian listing of a Mechanized Corps and an Infantry listing. There are options to take regarding defences as a defender in certain scenarios, as well as setting up games outside the setting of the Kursk scenarios. Those familiar with KGN will be familiar with the setup regarding these scenarios, such as meeting engagements, defending the line etc. The use of supporting units and weapons for the platoons is much clearer than KGN, with limitations on their use in the construction of your battlegroups such as restricted units per level of force structure. The options available to your platoons also allow for a much more sophisticated  battlegroup than in KGN, with 'new' rules regarding air recce, scouting, tank aces, the use of officers, unreliable vehicles, recovery and repair vehicles, political officers for the Russians, massed infantry and tank attacks..... A lot of the rules themselves are 'similar' to KGN, but when looked at as a whole, they are an improvement and development of concepts in KGN. They also give a distinct flavour of the nature of fighting on the Eastern Front, something that when I talked to Warwick at Bovingdon, he was at pains to make sure was a feature of this set of rules.

Is it value for money? Yes, at £30 for what you get, it is. I was lucky to come across a mint set for £19.50, how, I don't know why, but that's ebay for you. With the only thing to compare it with being KGN, it's a clear winner. There are other rulesets out there that are cheaper, there are other rulesets out there allowing 'larger' games,such as Rapid Fire. To be honest, it's comparing chalk and cheese, as BGK sets out to do a different game than those others, and it does this in a sophisticated and practical way that is accessible. It also allows you to get into the game at a relatively lowcost level, with 30 or so figures, a gun or two, and a tank/vehicle. This, I think, is more important than the cost of the rules themselves, as it allows you to control the cost of getting into gaming WW2 and to scale up as and when you can do so.  

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