We used a 6'x4' board, with Russ's excellent jungle terrain. The scenario was simple, more just to learn the rules than anything else: a typically short US platoon (about 20 men) was to take the high point on a the table. Two squads of PAVN (12 men) were hidden out in the weeds, waiting to strike.
The fight opened disastrously for the Americans. A squad of PAVN opened up on my left, where two of my squads were picking through an area of high grass. AK-47 and RPG fire killed or wounded 5 of the 10 men. One rifleman "went hero", a morale result in Battleground where a trooper gets a free action and other bonuses. He returned fire and forced some heads down, but was killed a short time later by more AK fire.
With the left flank salvaged, I pushed up the right where I caught the enemy's squad flat-footed. A brief grenade and shotgun assault threw them back and I chased them up the hill, employing a smoke grenade to cover the advance.
|"Shotgun in Repose"|
|Retreating PAVN--take that, tools of Moscow and enemies of freedom!|
|My shot-up left flank manages to advance|
|Aerial shot---the battalion commander in a Loach, perhaps?|
|PAVN redeploying the jungle|
|The platoon leader (center), with the RTO (background) and the guide (foreground)|
|Reforming PAVN--shot up by earlier US fire|
|Troops advancing on the left...|
However, the PAVN counter-attack landed hard. Riflemen moved up through the bush and laid down brutal fire that wounded all surviving members of the left-flank squads. RPG and AK fire kept everyone's head down.
Meanwhile, on the right flank, my squad and platoon command element crashed into the regrouped PAVN, inflicting more casualties but suffering more in return. The M-60 and the RTO, with well-aimed rifle shots, managed to extricate the chewed-up left flank again and I broke contact on the right. Casualties between the two forces were about even--10 men dead or wounded--which, in the long run, would certainly be a victory for the PAVN.
I had not played Battleground WWII in perhaps 10 years and it was wonderful returning to the game. I had first played it in the late 90s---maybe 1999?---at a gaming store in St. Louis, MO, where the game designers ran one of their popular bocage battles. I was no older than 14 at the time but had experienced my first really enjoyable historical game. My uncle bought the rules and Americans to fight against my Germans and for several years, until I was about ready for college, I played BG WWII exclusively as my WWII game and more regularly than any other game.
Having re-read the rules now, I realize a number of the things we played fast and loose back then---I barely remember ever using the Raking Fire/Grazing Fire rules, which add a lot of realism to the game. I think we used to skip Squad Morale Checks, preferring to duke it out till the bitter end. So what we played today was probably a bit more nuanced than when I last played the game over a decade ago.
One thing I was struck by with the game yesterday was how easy it was to explain to Russ, an experienced gamer but someone who had not before played Battleground. There is nothing particularly obscure or odd about Battleground: your unit's card is drawn and everybody gets 2 actions. Do all your 1st actions first and then proceed to 2nd actions. An action is Move 4" (and drop prone if you want), stand up from prone, shoot a weapon, drop prone, reload a weapon, clear a jam, or throw a grenade. You have to spot the enemy first, but that is done with some simple measuring a dice roll. Broken guys get rallied at the beginning of the turn, which is also when you place special fire modes like Opportunity Fire and Grazing Fire. Easy stuff. No activation rules to remember, or special actions unique to one guy, or counter-charges or fixed turn sequences.
Despite the game's "finnickyness", in which you do make every decision for the miniatures (when to go prone, when to stand up, spotting the enemy, etc.), it is extremely simple. The rules themselves have little or no learning curve and you could pick up and play very quickly. I think that learning Warhammer 40k or Flames of War is actually markedly more difficult, despite being ostensibly simpler.
My gaming tastes have changed since I was 14-18 and playing the game regularly: I like morale to play more of a role in a game; for troop quality to be more a vital factor; and for casualties to be lighter but friction higher. Battleground is definitely from a different era on a few of those counts, but remains a solid system and easily learned.
Now I have ideas for how I might tweak the game to fit my current tastes, and to start playing it again. It was my favorite game when I started wargaming, and for the most part, it has held up well.
If by some chance the authors of the game read this--I played in a number of your games at Missouri/Kansas/Illinois conventions as a kid and always had a great time. Thanks for the fun rules!