Monday, August 19, 2013

Combined Arms Attack, My Next Shot at the Rules

    Well, I got home from work and the wife and kids were away, so... I ran upstairs and got a game in.  The good news is, the game went quick.  The bad is news is, it went quick because I handily to my butt handed to me.  Well, let's get started.
    The situation is high command knows the Jerries have a presence in a nearby village but believes we can take it if act quickly before they have time to reinforce.  A squad has been detached with some support elements to escort an armored reconnaissance element into the attack to gain a foothold in the village.
 Here's the overall layout of the table, Brits on the left and Germans on the right.
 Brit far left: two M-5 Stuarts (actually Pendraken M-3 Stuarts) and an M-20 scout car with .50 cal HMG.  A Rifle Group (RG) is with them (NCO, Sten, 3 rifles).
 Brit center: Command Group with 4-man Vickers MMG, 2" mortar, and Platoon Sergeant.
 Brit far right: another Stuart, another M-20, and an M-8 armored car, with a Bren Group (BG) (NCO, Bren gunner and A-gunner, 2 rifles).
 German far left: top left, 3-man MG-42 MMG, top right, 3-man Panzerschreck team and Platoon Sergeant, bottom, 2-man 80mm mortar team (this would prove devastating).
 German center: Fire Group with NCO, MG-42 LMG gunner and A-gunner, and two rifles with Panzerfausts.
 German right: Pak-40 75mm anti-tank gun (ATG) with 4-man crew.

The game started with all forces on table and all cards in the deck, though the Brits could not engage any German elements until they had fired.  I used my usual dice rolling mechanism to decide when the Germans would reveal themselves by firing.  The reason I didn't use blinds was because I wanted the Germans on the table in order to engage the Brits at as long a range as possible (as opposed to the Brits walking right up on them before the Germans came on the table).

Turn 1: The Vickers MG moves up into place in the center treeline, the RG moved up into the crop field on the left, and  the BG moved up behind a treeline on the right while pretty much every German card came up, allowing almost all of them to go on Overwatch.  It was kind of a wash for the the two German machine guns as no Brit infantry was really in a good spot for the MGs to get at, but the ATG and PzSchreck were about to lay the smack down.
    However, before that happened, the Germans saw the BG duck behind the treeline and decided to have the 80mm mortar team send a round their way, to devastating effect.  I rolled up deviation and it practically landed on the BG NCO.  The BG NCO and Bren A-gunner were killed instantly, while one rifle and the Bren gunner were pinned.  Ouch...  It didn't help the whole team was nicely bunched up just for this sort of occurrence.
    Then a M-20 and a Stuart on the left moved up the road; crickets.  Then the other Stuart on the left moved up, and *crack!*, the ATG put a 75mm round straight through them, killing all inside.  The M-20 on the right moves up to take a peek, but doesn't spot the ATG.  The M-8 decides to climb the hill for a better look... and the PzSchreck sends it straight to hell.  The last Stuart moves up, but he can't spot the damned ATG either!
    The Plt Sgt then had the 2" mortar drop fire in front of the building the PzSchreck fired from (which also holds the MG-42 MMG.
    As I said, the German MGs (and Pzfausts) didn't get into action, but the ATG and PzSchreck certainly made their presence felt: British armor KO'ed, 2 of 6.  
 Overview after Turn 1: RG in field at top, BG (w/2 dead markers and 2 pin markers) below treeline at bottom.  There's smoke in front of the German PzSchreck (in the bldg at bottom right) and smoke coming out of the Stuart (on road) and M-8 (on hill).
 View from behind RG, with M-20 and Stuart to their right.  And a burning Stuart at the bottom.
 Brit center.  M-20 and Stuart moving up but not seeing anything, and M-8 burning at top right.
 The Bren Group on far right after a serious shellacking by the 80mm mortar.
 German ATG at bottom right, staring at the Brit RG, and the German LMG team in the center, waiting to pop their PzFausts on the Brit armor.

Turn 2: Germans up first, and the ATG promptly eliminates the Stuart in the road.  Then another German card came out, and the PzSchreck engaged the forward M-20, causing a mobility kill (the crew bailed and ran for the hills).  A Brit card came out, and I was pretty confident with my last Stuart as both the ATG and PzSchreck had already activated; then the Stuart failed its command roll.
    The Plt Sgt had the 2" mortar go after the ATG, but it was off the mark (deviation roll leaving only one ATG crewman in the template, who received two hits but rolled two saves).  So the Plt Sgt turned the Vickers loose on the ATG, which killed two and pinned one of the crewmen.  The German MG-42 MMG (in the house) then cuts loose on the Vickers, pinning the gunner (terrible rolling, only 1 hit on 8 dice needing a 4+).  The the remaining M-20 moves up beside its immobilized brother and cuts loose with the .50 cal., pinning the remaining ATG crewmen.
    The Brit RG (on the left) tries to move up, but three of the five fail their command rolls.  However, one of its rifleman is a deadeye with his SMLE and manages to pop the ATG crew member that was pinned, leaving only one live crewman.  The German LMG team, seeing the threat to their right, displace to their left in order to have a clearer field of fire, and the NCO goes with them, while the two rifle/PzFausts remain in the 'V' of the hedges next to the road.  Another reason for the left displacement was to counter anything the Brit BG might do should it manage to unpin itself and get in the game.
    The worry about the BG was unwarranted as the 80mm mortar then popped another round on them, killing the pinned rifleman and Bren gunner.  Only a rifleman remains of the BG, and he isn't going anywhere.  I have a rule that if a man finds himself isolated like this he's supposed to roll a D6, needing a 4+ to remain, and if it fails, he sprints backwards towards the nearest friendly unit, but I forgot about the rule...
    British armor KO'ed, 4 of 6.
 RG and armor on the Brit left.  The red bead behind the right M-20 indicates it's the victim of a mobility kill. It would have been kind of cool if the crew stuck around to man the .50 cal., but I suppose that was a bit too much to ask.  The surviving armored car is directly to its left.
 The German ATG position, with RG moving up in fits and starts towards it.
 The German center, with the two rifle/PzFausts in the original position, the LMG team in the field to the left (facing right to mow down the RG when it rushes the wire on that side), and the NCO at top left, admiring the smoking holes that used to be the Bren Group.
 The above-mentioned Bren Group...  Pretty nice shooting by that mortar crew.
 The Brit center, showing the pinned Vickers gunner (bottom left) and a whole lot of burning armor.  The surviving Stuart is on the right, trying to decide if he should move up or not.

Turn 3: The Brits start out with the Vickers unpinning itself and pinning all three members of the German MG-42 MG in the house.  In between wisps of smoke the PzSchreck gunner can see the last Stuart; he figures 'what the hell' and takes a shot, needing 6's to hit, on 6 dice.  Two hits and zero saves later, the Stuart was serving as a campfire...
    On the left the M-20 crew sees this and collectively wets its pants, relieving me of the option of using its .50 cal. HMG this turn.  The RG manages to move two guys up, but the NCO fails again.  However, the two rifleman that were already at the edge of the field both loosed shots, killing the last ATG crewman and pinning the LMG gunner.  With that, the Plt Sgt has the 2" mortar fire an HE round a the LMG, hoping to finish the job, but it falls harmlessly nearby.
    Then the 80mm mortar administered the coup de grace.  The German Platoon Sergeant called out corrections for the mortar crew downstairs, and they dropped one right in the lap of the Vickers team, killing the gunner, A-gunner, and one of the assistants.  The other assistant, unharmed, had just crawled behind the gun when the Plt Sgt sent up a white star cluster, signalling the force to fall back...
 Brit left, with RG slowly but surely making progress (got one guy to the wire).  Ewww, sorry about the fuzzy picture guys.
 The German ATG, 4 KIA.  The only German casualties on the day.
 The German left; a few pins, but nobody hurt.  That damned 80mm mortar at the bottom of the pic.
 The poor Bren Group after two mortar rounds (I need to put some paint on those craters).
The poor Vickers team after one mortar round.

So, what did we learn?  I know what you're thinking: there weren't nearly enough infantry to properly support this attack and, just like real life, the armor got smoked.  But I already knew that; these rules are not for armor-heavy engagements or large-scale combined arms attacks.  I would have needed at least a company of infantry, and I've already established the game doesn't really work with more than about 15 guys on a side.  So, I should stick with about 12-15 men and a vehicle or two.  The issue here was I really loaded up the Germans with AT capability and machine guns, plus the mortar.
    I was happy I got to test AT capability again; so far everything is blowing up.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  As I stated in my last post, I don't have a problem with almost everything penetrating because the range is so short, but I'd like to see a bit more mobility kills/armament knocked out/crew shocked and fall back.  Right now the damage chart is based on a D6 roll; maybe I need to make it a D10 roll with more opportunities to not blow up.  So, the number of dice rolled for the various AT weapons and the save values are alright, just need to think about the damage table.
    I'm not happy that I didn't really get to test the anti-personnel capability of the tanks and armored cars, which was a goal in this game.  But most of them got blown up real quick and then I didn't have a lot of success with the command rolls.
    Probably the biggest shocker was the unbalance caused by the 80mm mortar.  I've got two games in using the 2" mortar (which I've rated the same as the US 60mm mortar), and I don't have any problems with that.  But that 80mm  really ate the infantry up.  Again, I'm not saying that's not historically accurate, I'm just saying it makes for a not so fun skirmish game.
    So, I want to have another game to see what armor's capability to whack infantry is, I'll think about a D10 damage table for the vehicles, and no more 80mm mortars on the table.


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