Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Old Battle Report Using TFL's Blenneville or Bust Book

    I wanted to hang this up here and see what everyone thought.  It will give you an idea about the type of wargamer I am and what you can expect in future batreps (though I'm certainly open to recommendations).

Blenneville or Bust!
Campaign Scenario 1, “West of Pierrepont”

Campaign Overview: I have set out to play through the entire campaign, as close as I can to the way it’s laid out by Too Fat Lardies. Having said that, there are some key differences:
    A. I’m using 6mm vs. the ‘normal’ 15mm. I know it’s no big deal, people do it all the time, but the 6mm aspect is leading me to a couple other variations.
    B. I’m using a gridded board (no measurements, no LOS issues, etc…). My table is 36” by 24” as opposed to 6’ by 4’.
    C. Despite the fact I have a goodly number of TFL rulesets, I’m using a homegrown version. I’ve got to give a generous tip of the hat to Bob Cordery and his “Portable Wargame Rules,” which were a source of great inspiration. My rules are a mix of these with a reaction test system largely pulled from “NUTS!,” although I’m also using the TFL ‘Blinds’ system. I’ve even got a little bit of “Blitzkrieg Commander” (saves) and “Force on Force” (initiative/reactions/quality reduction).
    D. (This is functionally the largest difference in the campaign) I’m using a slightly abstracted platoon-basing. I don’t use Big Men per se, there would be far too many of them. Instead, I’m using a “Headquarters” stand for Company/Kampfgruppe Commanders (and 2ICs in the couple of instances they are listed in the scenario forces). In many cases the book lists several vehicles or other weapons (i.e., “Captain Manchester, 2 M4 Shermans,” or Leutnant Bratwurst, 8 men with rifles and 2 MG42s”). In these cases I have an HQ stand and a separate stand for the vehicles/weapons (i.e., an M4 Sherman Platoon or a Weapons Platoon). In the cases where I have abstracted, I try to use three as the general number, that is, every three vehicles equals a platoon, every three squads equals a platoon, every three crew served weapons equals a platoon. However, if the book lists a ‘stand alone’ two-vehicle, squad, crew serve, or gun platoon, it is its own stand. With the Allied tank companies, I tend to give them 2 platoons of M4 75s and one platoon of M4 76s. You’ll notice with the Germans that I don’t have Panthers; I’ve got Tigers, Stugs, MkIIIs, MkIVs, and Marders, but no Panthers (not sure how I pulled off ordering a fair number of items but forgetting those), so I generally use PzMkIVs (long 75s, though mine don’t have schuerzen). I’m also using M-7 Priests in place of M-8 Scotts, I’m using generic ‘Weapons Platoons’ vice separating mortars and machine guns, and I’ve given all infantry platoons an inherent AT capability (abstracting bazookas/PIATs/panzerschrecks/panzerfausts instead of tracking it separately).
    E. Because of the scale I’m playing at, I’m not using off-board artillery, rockets or mortars. When the scenario gives it I’m playing it on-board as towed arty, SP arty, or a weapons platoon (German 80mm mortars). If the scenario calls for limited fire missions then I am holding to that (although I’m not using pre-game stonks).
    F. I’m playing the campaign solo as the Allies. On my first day (13 Feb 2013), I got two games in in about 3.5 hours, so maybe I’ll turn it around and play as the Germans after I finish this. In any case, if you’re currently thinking my above stipulations are silly/stupid/ridiculous, I hope the fact I’m playing solo explains some of it. I’m not using IABSM (or a number of other rules) because I don’t like the “I’ll play both sides to the best of my ability” concept of soloing, so I wanted to use blinds and a reaction and reaction testing to introduce fog of war and allow for it to play more like a two player game (though of course I still often ending up having to make decisions for the enemy, in which I use a simple, weighted “Most likely Course of Action [COA], Most Dangerous COA, and Least Likely COA” die roll to help me out with this. Every now and again I have to exercise some judgment to bring enemy units off blinds (that is the front line has been spotted and is in a thick fight, reserves would probably be rushed to that sector, so I have to decide whether to leave the blind be or flip it over and get it into the fight. Believe it or not, with blinds, the reaction tests, and the weighted COA die rolls, I even get surprised sometimes.

Situation: As part of a general offensive, the Allies are attempting to take the town of Benneville, attacking north to south down a valley, with US forces on the western (right) flank and UK forces on the eastern (left) flank. In scenario 1, US reconnaissance forces are scouting to find a river crossing suitable for tanks. Opposing them are German reconnaissance forces whose mission is to deny them securing the river crossing.

HQ (Captain Boston, Cavalry Recon Troop, 425 Infantry Regiment, 107th Infantry Division)
Recon Plt 1: M8 A/C
Recon Plt 2: M8 A/C
Recon Plt 3: M8 A/C
Cav Assault Gun Plt: M7 Priest
Light Tank Plt: M5 Stuart
Weapons Plt 1: Mechanized Weapons Stand
Weapons Plt 2: Mechanized Weapons Stand
Intelligence and Recon Plt: Mechanized Infantry Stand
P47 making MG strafing run on 1D6 roll of ‘5’ or ‘6’

HQ (Hauptmann Heffweisen, Aufklarung Kompanie, 30th Panzer Regiment, 30th Pz Division
Armored Car Plt: Sdkfz 234
Recon Plt 1: Infantry Stand
Recon Plt 2: Infantry Stand
PanzerJaeger Plt: Marder
(Off table 80mm mortars): Weapons Stand

Overview of Board:
 US forces are entering the table from the North (right in photo). Their goal is to secure the bridge at the far left of the board. The gray-green blob at the top of the photo is a two-contour hill, and the black poker chips are, of course, blinds. The big, multi-colored squares are cultivated fields, the small, green squares with three dark green dots/lines are trees (they actually look alright, I think, hopefully there’s a closer photo in here somewhere), and the bocage I hope is self-evident, as are the tan roads and blue river. Couple buildings in the right center, as well as one at the far left center next to the bridge.

US Start Positions (looking south):
 Left Flank (Recon Plt 1, Wpns Plt 1, and Light Tank Plt)
 Center (HQ, Recon Plt 2, I&R Plt, and M7)
 Right Flank (Rec Plt 3, Wpns Plt 2) (See! The trees don’t look so bad)

Turn 1: Lt Minnesota’s Armored Car Recon Platoon 1 moved up the west road, spotting the German Sdkfz 234 platoon at the far end of the table, then dodged through a break in the hedgerows to dodge contact with the German recon platoon. However, this clears line of sight to the M-5 Stuart platoon; the German armored cars loose a harmless volley then split behind the bocage to the east. The Stuarts move up with Wpns Plt 2 close behind. Armored Cars of Recon Plt 1 spotted German Recon Plt 1 in a nearby hedge, but missed its shot. The wiley German commander (Lt Eierlikor) figured the best thing to do with all these vehicles about was to close the distance in order to (hopefully) make use of his Panzerfausts. On the main road, the center force begins advancing. This causes the Marder platoon, taking cover in the hamlet next to the bridge, to take a shot at the I&R platoon, driving it behind cover. My son rolled for air support and got a ‘5,’ which brought a P-47 Thunderbolt for a strafing run, though the Marders made good use of the cover of the buildings and were untouched. On the right, Recon Plt 3 and Wpns Plt 2 moved up without issue.

Situation on left (west) flank:
 And my P-47 (w/invasion stripes but w/o national insignia…) harmlessly attacking the Marder in the hamlet.

Turn 2: In the west, Wpns Plt 1 dropped some mortars on German Rec Plt 1, roughing them up a bit, then moved up. In the center, I&R Plt moved down into the west sector to get LOS to German Rec Plt 1, though the Germans got the drop on them and put a hit on them (in my rules, 4 hits puts a stand out of the game). I&R returned fire, to no effect (3 hits, 3 saves!). This turned into a back and forth firefight that ultimately did no damage to the Germans but put another hit on I&R Plt and forced them to ground. The Light Tank Plt and Recon Plt 1 then entered the fray; again there was a flurry of fire but both sides held firm with no further casualties. The center and right flanks both cautiously advance, clearing several positions (identifying dummy blinds). The Germans overall decide to sit tight and watch the situation develop, except for the Marder, which raced up the hill to confront the coming onslaught (not a good move, there are no supporting friendly elements east of the road). The German Wpns Plt moves into the vacated hamlet next to the bridge. US air support was a no-show.

The mess in the west, showing Lt Tank Plt (M5 Stuart on left), Wpns Plt 1 (halftrack at bottom), Recon Plt 1 (M8 Armored Car at center, and I&R Plt (top right) (red beads are hits):
 The Marder’s solo charge up the hill to stem the tide of the US center and right forces (minus I&R Plt):

Turn 3: German Recon Plt 1 beats out the Lt Tank Plt in initiative and unleashes a storm of Panzerfausts on the thin-skinned Stuarts, thinning their ranks considerably (2 hits). Because of the beating, all Sgt Nashville’s boys could do was hunker down in their very thin armor and await the end. However, Lt Minnesota’s armored cavalry of Recon Plt 1 unleash a torrent of 37mm and .50 cal fire that eliminates the German recon platoon. I&R Plt moves up, spotting German Recon Plt 2 in a field to the south, but out of range. Wpns Plt 1 moves up, and fire is exchanged that leaves Wpns Plt 1 down to half strength! The German Kompanie Commander also is spotted and moves up to a nearby field, as does the German Armored Car Plt and and German Recon Plt 2. Then the things got dark for the Allies; the German company commander put a third hit on the Lt Tank Plt, while the 20mm auto-cannons of the Sdkfz 234’s mowed down the remainder of the I&R Platoon. Lastly, the German Recon Plt 2 maneuvered and destroyed the remains of Wpns Plt 1. This left only Recon Plt 1 (M8 Armored Cars) and the Light Tank Plt (with 3 hits) on the American left.

On the right, US forces advance up the hill towards the lone Marder. The US Company Commander, Captain Boston, moves to very close range and personally directs bazooka fire which puts 3 hits on the Marder and forces it to fall back down the hill and out of sight behind the bocage. However, the German Wpns Plt in the nearby hamlet unleashes a torrent of MG and mortar fire on the HQ stand, taking it down to half strength and forcing it to take shelter behind the nearby Wpns Plt 2. Recon 2 and Recon 3 roll down the road directly at the hamlet occupied by German Wpns Plt, and manage 1 hit on the enemy. The M-7 SPG Plt moves up and chokes under fire, coming to a halt without firing a shot! The Marder attempted to consolidate itself into fighting shape to be of some use against the powerful mechanized forces bearing down…

Looking rough in the west for the Amis… (Lt Tank Plt w/3 hits, Recon Plt 1 to right)
 But not so good for the Jerry’s in the east… (Bloodied Marder at top right, with German Wpns Plt in buildings at center top, bloodied as well, with a boatload of US forces bearing down)

Turn 4: In the west, Sgt Nashville decides discretion is the better part of valor and pulls the remnants of his Lt Tank Plt back out of reach of the German anti-tank weapons. In a nifty bit of maneuvering, Recon Plt 2 uses a break in the bocage (and the fact the German Wpns Plt and Marder are beat down) to dash in behind the German Armored Car Plt. However, apparently 2Lt Seattle’s boys were sleepy and didn’t manage to bring effective fire to bear (1 hit on 6D10s needing 8’s to hit, with the German managing 1 save on 1D10 needing a 9 to save!). The German Company Commander attempts to close the distance with Recon Plt 2, as does German Recon Plt 2. With their attention diverted to the east, Recon Plt 1 advances and puts two hits on the German Company Commander, who hunkers down. Wpns Plt 2 w/the Company Commander attached move to the hedgerow, thereby flanking the German Armored Car Plt, bringing it down to half strength and forcing it to hunker down. However, German Recon Plt 2 unleashed a torrent of fire on Recon Plt 2’s armored cars, nearly wiping it out (3 hits)! This opened the door for the Hauptmann Heffweisen’s HQ element to pull back, quickly followed by the remaining armored cars and German Recon Plt 2.

On the main road, the M7 Priest Plt is able to put another hit on the German Wpns Plt holding the hamlet next to the bridge (main objective). Recon Plt 3 moves up the road and hit German Wpns Plt again, causing it to flee over the bridge and out of the fight. The Marder saw this and did the same!

Situation in the west immediately before the withdrawal (just off the picture to the left on the road is the bridge. At top right you can see Wpns Plt 2 and the Company Commander, which butted against the hedge in order to flank the German armored cars in the center. Recon Plt 3 and the M7 are at the top on/near the road, while Recon Plt 2 just took three hits from German Recon Plt 2, which has the German Company Commander immediately behind it.).

US Wpns Plt 1 (eliminated)
I&R Plt (eliminated)
Recon Plt 2 (3 hits)
Lt Tank Plt (3 hits)
HQ element (2 hits)

Recon Plt 1 (eliminated)
PzJgr Plt Marder (3 hits, fled)
Wpns Plt (3 hits, fled)
Armored Car Plt (2 hits)
HQ element (2 hits)

*I made note of the casualties just for fun. I’m a lazy bastard and hate book-keeping (that’s why you see the red and white beads which offend so many people; does anyone make 6mm casualty figures?), and that’s one of the many cool things about the campaign book; you don’t have to! Each scenario is based off the fact of who won and lost, adjusting forces in the next scenario for you.

Conclusion: I had a blast, and couldn’t be happier with my rules. I actually played two scenarios today and haven’t yet had anything which makes me want to tinker with them. I made a mistake in this scenario in that the Lt Tank Plt was not supposed to enter at the start, but later as reinforcements. I was happy with the board’s and my terrain approximations and the way the forces interacted. I think the German’s would have to do something pretty spectacular to win this particular battle, but wasn’t that how real life was going in the summer of ’44?
    I hope I’ve done the scenario writer (Mr. Robert Avery) justice, the Lardies proud, and I hope my style here was found entertaining. I wish I knew about such things as blogs and web pages; perhaps I’ll learn, but not just yet, I’ve got more wargaming to do! You know what I mean; every minute doing something else is a minute not spent painting, basing, and playing.
    From here I need to do the write up for scenario 2A, Avaux; here’s a teaser: the Brits in a walk-over. From there it’s on to more scenarios this weekend, hopefully in the 2-6 range. You might snicker at my gridded boards, my less than picturesque terrain, and my less than magnificent paint and basing jobs (H&R I love ya; pretty doggone good models, great price, and fantastic service, even to the US!), but I’m telling you I took my laptop upstairs, looked at the map, set up the boards/terrain, looked at the scenario briefing, picked out the forces, laid them in, played a game, tore it down, did the whole thing again (for scenario 2A, then set up the next map (scenario 3A, Near Chemont), and picked out the next forces in 3 and a half hours! The hardest thing is going to be keeping up with these battle reports, but, as much as a husband and father can, I’m committed to it (my wife’s shooting daggers with her eyes at me as we speak).
    Hope you’ve had as good a time as I did. As you Brits say, Cheers!


No comments:

Post a Comment