Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Combined Arms Attack II

All,
    After yesterday's failed attack, I decided to give it another go.  The Brits fell back and regrouped, then prepared to have another go at it.  The squad from the morning attack was sent to the rear to refit, while the other two squads were brought up for a more concerted effort.  Three Shermans were brought up as well, and the surviving M-20 armored car was scheduled to be sent to the rear but was chomping at the bit to get back in the fight (a bad idea, it turns out).  An assault group was also brought up to assist (NCO, flamethrower, combat engineer, and two riflemen).
    The Germans found four replacements for the ATG crew, as well as enough bodies for a full squad.  Other than that, what they had was what they had.
    In this game I again decided to 'go large' with the number of forces on the table, trying to make it look a little more 'right' for a (small) combined arms attack, but I decided to go for element-based activation (as opposed to individual-based activation), so the game was more or less like Force on Force, Disposable Heroes, or Bolt Action.  I amended several spots in the rules to account for this, which seemed to work overall.  But I need to revisit the original rules (which were designed for element-based activation) to look at the issues of firepower and calculating infantry casualties; mine worked, but weren't nearly as elegant as the original rules.
 Overview, with Brits attacking from the left again.  I left all the casualty marker, craters, and KO'ed vehicles on the table from last game.  I left smoke on the disabled vehicles to be able to easily tell them apart, but it didn't block LOS.
 The Brit left, with a rifle squad (Bren Group and Rifle Group), a Sherman, and the M-20 that came back for more.  Note the still-burning Stuart to the right.
 The Brit center.  4-man Vickers MMG team, Platoon Sergeant, and a 2-man 2" mortar.
 Brit right.  2 Shermans, a rifle squad (BG at top center, RG at far right), with flamethrower group at bottom right.
 German left flank, with 3-man MG-42 MMG team at top left, 3-man Panzerschreck at top right, Platoon Sergeant with them, and 2-man 80mm mortar team at bottom.
 German center.  Assault Group (NCO, MP-40, and two riflemen with Panzerfausts).
 German right.  Fire Group at top left (NCO, rifle, and two-man MG42 LMG team), with 4-man anti-tank gun to their right.
 The Brit platoon leader (center), standing tall on the far right flank, inspiring the boys.

Turn 1: The German ATG went on Overwatch while the 2" mortar tried to drop smoke in front of it, but it landed right in front of the German FG.  Then the Vickers lit up the German MG-42 MMG in the building, wiping it out (quite a surprise there).
    On the far right, the Brit RG, F/T group, and Lt move up, but the BG fails and holds fast, while the German PzSchreck and AG went on Overwatch and the German FG displaces right to get out from behind the smoke.  Then the dreaded 80mm mortar (whose firepower I toned down a hair from last game) dropped some rounds on the far right RG, killing one and placing two pin markers.
    On the left, both the RG and BG fail their command rolls and stay hidden behind the treeline.  The M-20 decides to go for it and moves up, only to be shellacked by the ATG (who surprisingly decided to come off Overwatch for the armored car).  Then one of the lead right-hand Sherman decides to move up, but can't spot the PzSchreck.  But the PzSchreck sees him, and seconds later the Sherman is reduced to a burning hulk.  The other right-hand Sherman moves up but still can't spot the PzSchreck...  The left-hand Sherman moves up and finally spots the PzSchreck, but is only able to place one pin on it.
    Turns over.  I can't believe I rolled three 1's on command rolls...
 The squad on the left, still sitting at their jump-off point.  To their top right is the recently dispatched M-20, and to their right is the Sherman that pinned the PzSchreck.
 The Brit center.  No problems here.
 The Brit center right, with a dead Sherman and the live Sherman at top left, and the right-hand BG sitting at its jump-off point.
 The Brit far right.  F/T group at left, Lt in center, and RG at right, showing the effects of that damned 80mm mortar.
 The German left.  I can't believe the Vickers was able to wax the whole MG-42 team!  But the PzSchreck took a Sherman main gun round and emerged with only a pin...
 The German center.  Nothing going on yet.
 The German right, where the ATG crew is painting another stripe on the barrel and the FG just moved right to get out from behind the 2" mortar smoke (off camera at about 10 o'clock).

Turn 2: The Germans are up first, and the German PzSchreck unpins itself and pops a rocket into the Brit right-hand Sherman without even breaking a sweat.  They had two Shermans in view, one in the open (on the Brit left) and one on the Brit right, obscured as it had moved up behind a hedge.  I rolled a D10 to decide which Sherman the PzSchreck would engage, and remember thinking how lucky I was it came up for the Sherman behind the hedge (6 firing dice, hitting only on 6's), even though it was weighted about 70-30 to go for the Sherman in the open.  Guess I wasn't that lucky...
    The German FG (on German right) went on Overwatch, and the Vickers fired up the PzSchreck, killing one.  On the far right the BG moved up, but the RG, still feeling the effects of the 80mm mortar, decided to take a breather.  The 2" tried to drop smoke on the German FG to cover the advance of the Brit RG and BG on the far left, but the smoke hit to the right in front of the ATG (so not all bad), though the BG failed its roll and stayed another turn at their jump-off point, so the RG moved up to the edge of the crop field on the left by itself.
    Then the German 80mm mortar went after the flamethrower team on the far right, killing one and putting a pin on them.  Despite the success of the 80mm against the Brits on the far right, the AG in the center, having nothing better to do anyway, decides to haul butt to their left into the crop field in order to cut off the Brit advance (which was not a bad idea as the MG-42 MMG in the house was gone).
    The right hand BG was able to sprint up to support the F/T group and RG, but the damned LT failed his command roll!  The turn ended with the remaining Sherman popping the PzSchreck again, killing one.
 Brit left flank, showing the listless Bren Group still sitting behind the trees and the Rifle Group at far right in the crop field.  The lone remaining Sherman is sitting astride the crossroads, having put two rounds into the PzSchreck position.
 The Brit right, showing the POS Lt (bottom left) chilling.  The BG moved up into the woods next to him, while the beat up RG sat tight at edge of woods and the flamethrower group moved into the field only to plastered by the German mortar.  You can see the German AG at top right, having displaced to their left to block the Brit advance.
 Situation getting bad for the Germans in the house.  MG-42 team killed in Turn 1, two KIAs to the PzSchreck team in Turn 2.  But that mortar keeps pumping rounds out...
 The German ATG has been stifled by smoke since it took its first shot, and the German FG hasn't had a clear shot at anyone yet.

Turn 3: Germans up first again. Somehow the PzSchreck manages to unpin, and it promptly puts a rocket into the Sherman.  But this time we don't have a kill, miracle of miracles!  However, the main gun is out of action.  Quite luckily for me the crew decides not to bail but soldier on (against pretty steep odds on the D6 roll).  Another German card comes out and the 80mm goes to work on the Brit left-hand RG, but manages only one kill (there's a pin marker because when you suffer a kill it automatically places a pin as well, but 'kill' pins can't be rallied off.  I find this helps simulate the gradual wearing down of a unit's combat effectiveness due to casualties).
    Then the Vickers rattles off a long burst, silencing the PzSchreck for good.  On the Brit right, the German AG in the crop field fires up the Brit F/T group, killing two and placing two pins.  The far right BG and RG move up, but the Lt fails again (that's back to back 1's for his command rolls), while the German FG on far left goes on OW, but still doesn't have anyone to shoot at because the left BG only finally got its butt in gear but the RG failed.
    The Sherman pivots left and moves up the left side to get at the German FG.  The German Plt Sgt looks at his dead MG-42 and PzSchreck teams and decides he could be the most help down with his AG in the Brit right cropfield, so he begins heading their way.
 Brit left.  The last Sherman (with a damaged main gun) at top left, moving into position to get at the German Fire Group at top right, whilst remaining behind the cover of the smoke screening it from the ATG (far right).  The top infantry element is the BG that finally decided to join the fight, although the RG (to its right) is still suffering 80mm headaches.
 The crop field on the Brit far right.  We've got the BR at top left, the F/T group at bottom left, and the RG at bottom right.  The German AG is at top right (of the field), while the Plt Sgt got a sleeve stuck in the wire but will soon join the AG.
 A whole lot of ugly in the house.

Turn 4: The left-hand BG and the Sherman move up, wiping out the German Fire Group, while the RG moves up to the wire under the cover of smoke.  On the right side in the corn field, the Lt gets his butt up there, where the BG lights up the German AG, killing one and placing three pins, but the F/T group and RG fail their rolls.  The German Plt Sgt makes it to the AG, but he's a little late.
    The Vickers and 2" mortar displace forward to find some new fields of fire, but the Platoon Sergeant fails his roll (another 1).  The German 80mm mortar hits the left-hand BG, killing one, and back in the cornfield the German AG can't overcome all the casualties and pins, even with their Plt Sgt there.
 Brit left.  The Sherman and BG (top left) just did in the German Fire Group (top right), though the BG was then subjected to some 80mm mortar fire.  The RG is at the wire, preparing to go after the ATG.
 The Brit center, where you can see the 4-man Vickers team busting a$$ to move up in the foreground, with the 2" mortar right behind them (at the hedge), while the Plt Sgt is at the top (between the two trees) wondering where everyone went.  Please understand that when a Plt Sgt or Lt fails a command roll, it can only be done with a one, which I've done three times...
 The situation in the crop field.  Bodies are starting to stack up for both sides, but the Brits have a clear numerical advantage.  Losing that MG-42 in the house on Turn 1 can't be overstated; this fight shouldn't be happening, the MG-42 should be mowing Tommies down in this field like a scythe.

Turn 5: The Germans are once again up first, and the mortar goes after the left-hand RG (at the wire), but only getting two pins.  This bad dice-rolling was offset by the Sherman failing its command roll (needing only a 3+), though the BG was able to move up to the wire and fire up the ATG, getting two pins.  Then the ATG turned on the BG and fired an HE round, killing the NCO and getting two pins.
    In the right-hand crop field, the German AG somehow manages to activate, and lets the opposing BG have it, killing two and getting three pins.
    In the center the Plt Sgt catches up, allowing the Vickers to move up and the 2" mortar to drop an HE round on the ATG, getting another pin on them.  It was when I placed this pin marker that I realized I allowed the ATG to activate and whack its opposing Bren Group without having to test for command roll with two pins it already had.  As it didn't have a leader nearby, it stood a pretty slim chance of unpinning (needing a 6).
    Back in the crop field (on the right), the RG fails but the flamethrower team and BG pass, lighting up the German AG, killing two.
     At this point it's just the German Plt Sgt and one rifleman in the crop field; the MG-42 MMG team, PzSchreck team, and Fire Group have all been wiped out.  Sgt Steiner slowly rises to his feet as if nothing is happening; the Brits are so dumbfounded they simply watch as Steiner calmly lights a cigarette, at which poin the rifleman throws his rifle away and stands up.  The ATG crew sees this and decides to bolt; the mortar crew sees them leaving, drops a thermite grenade in the 80mm tube, and splits...
 Final situation on left.  Sherman, BG (top), and RG (bottom) at wire, facing only the ATG crew.
The final situation in the crop field.

The game was fun, and it flowed fast, but lasted awhile (2 hours), despite the activation by element.  Again, I chalk that up to my clumsy anti-personnel fire resolution mechanics, and need to consult the original rules (which I modified for individual activation) to clean it up.
    I foresee the bulk of my games being of the smaller variety, but it's nice to know I can go larger if I need to.  Though if/when I do, I need to go to a bigger board; maybe 3' x 3', but probably at least 4' x 4'.  I need room to maneuver!
    Right now I'm trying to figure out what to do next.  I finished up my bad guys to fight my modern SF, I've got my US Airborne on standby, but I kind of want to finish this little set of scenarios.  I foresee going back to a small fight; the Brits, pretty well spent after the two attacks to lodge a foothold in the village, send out a squad and a Sherman to see what's out there.  What's out there is a squad of clerks, bakers, and candlestick makers and a Panzer charged with fighting a delaying action.  We'll see which one strikes my fancy at my next opportunity to game (probably this weekend).

V/R,
Jack

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