Sorry folks, my gaming pause has been brought to you by REAL LIFE. So it's been awhile, and I'm sorry but I've had some stuff going on. On a positive note, I've received a huge order from Pendraken, and have gotten it prepped and primed. The same goes for a small order from Minifigs, and I've got some coastal stuff still in the bag from Dave at PT Dockyard.
In any case, I finally got back to the game table! If you recall, I'd come up with this idea about coming up with a map, set forces for US and Germans, and a scheme of maneuver for a four-fight, battalion-sized operation, and I played the first fight a couple (few?) weeks ago. I actually set the table up last weekend, then finally got a chance to fight it out this weekend.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't all that excited about this fight; first and foremost, as I originally set out, I thought the map I chose was perfect for what I was trying to do, but it wasn't working out that way, and I really wasn't happy with how the map was shaking out for my fights. As always, I like options, and fight 1 was a 'hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle' fight to take a hill; fights 2 and 3 were promising more of the same, and I just wasn't happy with it.
Second, I'm still working out kinks with the rules (which are a modified version of one of my favorites, Blitzkrieg Commander), and so it's kind of a drag doing that, but it needs to be done.
Third, I put a bunch of this stuff online, and two things came out of this: 1) while there were a tremendous amount of folks who were fantastic (in terms of how helpful they were), there were a few folks that were respectful but not helpful at all, and there were some that really aggravated the @#$% out of me, and made me question this whole concept. And that's the 2); even though some folks were great, I don't know that I feel like investing the time and effort into figuring out how to make campaigns/operations work while soliciting info/help on the internet. I'm a solo gamer, and maybe I just need to stick with what I know, which is primarily Joe Legan's Platoon Forward (it hasn't let me down yet).
Lastly, I was feeling like I all of a sudden wasn't interested in the scale, that is, battalion-sized operations. From the batreps here on the blog you can see I'm really a big fan of the smaller actions, i.e., a platoon or two per side, and so I found myself questioning why I playing these big (for me) battles. Hell, I've really had a hankering for some "real" skirmish, i.e., one man is one man an activates as such, and you can't get much farther from battalion-sized than that.
However, I'm sure glad I played this out. It helped me work out the rules, it helped me figure out scale issues with the troops and the maps, it's got me hankering for a battalion combat team in NW Europe in 1944 campaign, and it was a hell of a lotta fun! So thanks to everyone that encouraged me to keep going with this (yeah, that's you again, Ronan)!
Now, stick with me because this is not exactly what you were expecting:
The plan sketched out above is still roughly the plan, although the crossing operation itself has changed. The battalion conducted reconnaissance and found two fords (in addition to the roadbridge), one to the east and one to the west. While neither ford (due to steep, muddy banks) is suitable for vehicle crossing, they are suitable for infantry, and the US Battalion Commander is determined to use them. So, as opposed to a single axis of attack the battalion has changed to two-pronged attack, with one sweeping to the west (as shown above), and one sweeping to the east (not shown).
The big difference, for those following the original concept, is that I'm not going to play battles 2, 3, and 4 out separately, this batrep is me playing all three of them at the same time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I used a (slightly modified) version of Joe Legan's Platoon Forward blinds system to figure out the enemy forces ahead of time, then I matched each of them up with a real blind and a dummy blind, mixed them up, and put them on the table. So, I knew ahead of time what the enemy forces were, but not where they would be.
You'll notice I forgot to bring B Company's Company Commander... Also, I don't want to use them, but the remainder of C Company (2/C, 3/C, and Wpns/C), as well as a four-squad engineer platoon are in local reserve.
The plan is for 1/B and 2/B with 2nd Tank Plt, Wpns Plt, and the Bn CO on the left (east) hook, and 3/B, 1/C, 1st Tank Plt, and the GMC Plt on the right (west) hook.
The PzJgr fired at one of the Wpns MGs to no effect (1 hit, 1 save), and the Wpns PC called in a 105mm arty barrage...
The two 60mm mortars go to work, getting two hits with their first round of fire, then they rolled boxcars on their next command roll (I go opposite of BKC, I roll over instead of under, so snake-eyes are my blunders), getting two more rounds of fire and demolishing the German ATG.
The view above is south to north looking from behind the German ATG on the SW hilltop at the Shermans near the bridge.
I screwed up; now the other German Plt fires, though it should have fired before 2/B did anything else. The German 2nd Plt puts 3/2/B out, gets another two hits (one remaining) on 2/2/B and re-pins them, and gets a hit on the 2/B PC.
The Wpns PC tries to unpin MG2, fails, and MG2 can't manage to unpin itself. MG1 fires, but (due to the previous German mortar work) it's down to only two firing dice and the Germans are dug in, so it has no effect, and MG1 fails it's next roll. Things are looking pretty bleak, until the Bn CO moves up and manages to call in a 'danger close' fire mission on the German 1st Plt, just opposite the remains of 2/B.
With the German 1st Plt beat up pretty well, tanks in the lead, and the German 2nd Plt a little cowed, 1/B decided to break cover and move into the field. Not a terrible idea, but some of the worst dice rolling in human history meant that...
Then the Germans mortars went after 3/B (at the road bridge in the east), managing only two hits and a pin on one of 3/B's squads. The German rifle squad at the bridge fired at 3/B to no effect, and the accompanying PzSchreck bounced a rocket off one of the M10 GMCs, but return fire from Wpns Plt's 60mm mortars eliminated it. All three GMC's fired at the German rifle squad, but managed only 1 hit.
Back on the US left, the German 1st Plt PC tries to unpin hit platoon, and passes three consecutive rolls to unpin all three squads (the ones whacked by the US barrage). A firefight between them and the remains of 2/B eliminates 2/B's bazooka team and puts another hit on 2/B's PC, with no hits on the enemy.
The German 1st Plt PC also manages to unpin his troops, and they lay into the smoking remains (from the Nebelwerfer barrage) of 1/B. Multiple hits are gotten on 1/B, eliminating 3/1/B, while 1/B and T5's return fire is negligible and the Bn CO fails on a call for fire. The German 2nd Plt fires again, eliminating 2/1/B.
Things aren't looking so good...
Wpns Plt PC once again cannot unpin MG2, and once again they also fail to unpin, and once again the Bn CO fails his call for fire on the German 2nd Plt (center left). Both tanks open up on the German 2nd Plt and manage to get a couple hits on one of the German squads, forcing it to run.
The German 3rd Plt PC unpinned his 3rd Squad, which turned and fired a PzFaust at 1st Tank Plt's T3, but missed, and T3's return fire eliminated it. A firefight then broke out between 1/C and the German 3rd Plt, with no hits on the Germans and two on 2/1/C. Then T2 fired and put 1 hit and a pin on the German 3rd Plt's 2nd Squad.
And then things got crazy. Sgt Schultz, commanding the German PzJgr IV hiding amongst the buildings in the town center, decided to go for broke. He moved his vehicle forward and fired at GMC1, destroying it. GMC2 returned fire, but the round bounced off the PzJgr. Schultz then turned on T3, putting a round into the enemy tank's mantlet, destroying its main gun and causing the crew to bail. The Schultz once again edged his vehicle forward to get line of sight, lined up the shot, and blew T2 to kingdom come! 3B moved forward, and its bazooka team put a round into the monster, shattering its optics (-1 to hit for rest of game), while GMC3 crossed bridge.
The pic shows Sgt Schultz' PzJgr at center left, 1/C at top left, 3/B at far right, GMC1, T2, and T3 knocked out at center right, with the 'fresh' GMC3 just to their right. GMC2 is off camera to right, on the other side of the bridge.
1st Plt then decided it was time for them to make their break, and they got to the top of the hill (where the Panther was KO'ed), then failed their command roll! The US 60mm mortars then went after them, getting 2 hits and a pin.
7 rifle squads 8 rifle squads (5 KIA/WIA, 3 POW)
5 weapons teams 2 weapons teams
2 officers 3 officers (1 KIA/WIA, 2 POW)
3 M4 KO 2 PzJgr IV KO
1 M10 GMC KO 1 Pz Mk V Panther KO
2 M4 damaged 1 PzJgr IV damaged and captured.
So, I had a great time. The only let down was the 'one off' battle; if you've been reading, you know I'm a big fan of campaigns and their narrative, I like having a 'reason' for why this is happening on the tabletop and I like following characters. I'd like to see the Bn CO have to combine 'A' and 'B' Companies and have to keep fighting, I'd like the the Plt commander of 1/C to have a name and be recognized for getting his men across the west ford to take the key SW hill, I'd like to see Sgt Schultz get his Iron Cross, and I'd like to follow all of them through a series of fights. So stand by to see some of that.
Having said that, the simple fact of life is there's not enough time to do everything I want to do. As soon as I finished my fight, I cleaned up the troops and rearranged the table. Here's a look:
So, what do you figure this is for??? Well, I hope it looks like a good spot to have a Napoleonic fight! Coming soon.