Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brits and Germans, Somewhere in Italy, Late '43 Game1


Of course I didn't get any gaming in on Thanksgiving, but I also didn't get any in on "Black Friday."  So I made up for it by getting three games in on Saturday!  I'd been playing my FFL with No End In Sight, but I'd gotten a wild hair to mess with Ivan's 'other' rules, Five Men In Normandy, and so I set out to playtest it.  Long story short, I like it a lot.  Really all I did was substitute teams in for individual men (rifle squads, machine gun and mortar teams), and mess with the vehicle rules a little bit.  A great time, with quick battles (1 hour, 45 minutes, and 1 hour 35 minutes, respectively).

About the forces I chose: I wanted to use troops I hadn't used before, but was limited as, of the guys I haven't used before, many times they haven't been used is because I haven't finished them.  I wanted to go with 'blitzkrieg' era Germans, but hadn't done anything but prime the vehicles, same with my early Barbarossa Soviets.  Then my mind drifted to my Indo-China forces, which are finished, but I wanted to use vehicles, so that didn't work.  Then I thought about my forces for North Africa, but there was still a problem: my Afrika Korps forces are finished, but I hadn't finished up my 8th Army vehicles and guns...  So I said hell with it, and used my Afrika Korps forces against 8th Army forces set in Italy, with some vehicles borrowed form my Late War NW Europe troops.  So, it may look a bit strange having troops with desert bases and the odd vehicle with green basing, on a green mat, but kiss my butt 'cause I had fun ;)  And someday I'll finish up my 8 million different projects...

It's Sunday now and I'm writing again.  I played two more games (50 and 55 minutes respectively), for a total of a five-fight 'operation' which, I'm proud to say, the Brits pulled off brilliantly.  Okay, maybe not brilliantly, but they won, and it was a lot of fun!  And, at least as importantly, the rules worked like a champ.  Aside from modifying the rules, I also drew up a set of scenarios (meeting engagement, combat patrol, hasty attack, prepared attack, hasty defense, prepared defense, counterattack, enemy counterattack, encirclement, and breakout) with accompanying force structures, and I was very happy with those as well.

As a preview, the five-game Operation started out with a Brit Hasty Attack, followed by a successful German Counterattack, which led to an Encirclement/Breakout in which the Brits escaped the noose, followed by a successful Brit Counterattack that culminated in a successful  Brit attack on prepared defenses (Prepared Attack) which broke the German line!  Every fight was close, and most of them came down to a single decision point/event.

So, let's get to it!  Again, somewhere in Italy in late 1943, the Brits are on the move north, with a British rifle company launching a hasty attack on German positions.

Overview, north is up, German baseline at top, Brit baseline at bottom.  The Brit goal is to take the hills in the NE and NW corners, the Germans must deny this.  I didn't put a time (turn) limit on any of the games, just expected to keep them going so long as both sides could reasonably accomplish their objectives.

The Brits on the attack: the Company Commander, a Vickers MG, a 'Honey' light tank, and seven rifle squads.

The German defenders: a Command stand, a PaK-38 anti-tank gun (ATG), and five rifle squads.

The starting positions, Brits at bottom and Germans on top on blinds.  I know the German force composition, but I don't want to dictate their set-up, so I place the blinds, one 'real' unit to one or two blinds, then flip them over, removing the dummies and placing the enemy troops.

The German line, showing their 5 rifle squads spread pretty evenly across the front, with their CO in the treeline at bottom right with two squads and the ATG in the bombed-out building at top right.

The ATG position.  The gun is immobile for the duration of the game.

And all is set; with a flare and a whistle, the mortar stonk lifts and Captain Penny leads his men forward.

(Rolled 'firefight,' but no units were in range, so I did 'scurry) Sergeants Abbott and Belmont take their squads up the left flank, while Sgts Carter, Dupont, and Enis move up in the left center.

Over on the Brit right, Sgt Fenster's squad cuts across the field, while Sgt Geoffrey's Squad moves up on the right, getting close to the German position in the east (two rifle squads and their CO, top left).  Sgt Martin crawled the Honey forward with Captain Penny following, and Cpl Johnston got his machine gun team into the building and set up.

On the left side, the Germans react by having Sgts Auger (top left) and Sgt Blix (center, with Brit Sgt Abbott's squad at bottom left) move up to challenge the attackers.

Sgt Cologne's Squad (top left) crossed the road (off camera) and moved into the treeline, recently vacated by Captain Penzig leading Sgt Dietrich's squad up to the wall at center, and ordering Sgt Eberbach's squad to loop around the  British right (top right).  (German turn, they roll firefight!)

Sgt Auger's German 1st Squad (top right) moved up and fired, driving Sgt Belmont's Brit 2nd Squad to fall back and hunker.

And Sgt Fenster's squad (bottom center) is caught in the open and eliminated!

Back on the left, Sgt Carter's 3rd Squad (bottom right, with Sgt Dupont's 4th Squad on their right) opened fire on the German 2nd Squad (top left) out of the fight.`

Then the Honey fired on the German 3rd Squad (top left), eliminating it!  7th Squad is at top center.

Sgt Geoffrey's 7th Squad fires on the German far right squad (Sgt Eberbach's 5th Squad), getting a knockdown.

And Cpl Johnston got his MG (bottom right) going, forcing the German 4th Squad (Sgt Dietrich) to fall back (top left) and hunker down.

Sgt Geoffrey leads 7th Squad into close combat, eliminating Sgt Eberbach's squad.
On the Brit left, Sgt Belmont's squad rallied.

(Germans roll firefight, but no LOS so it's scurry again) On the Brit left, Germa Sgt Auger's squad (top center) falls back  behind the wall, but the Brits get some good 'sprint' rolls (I think you can sprint in reaction during a 'scurry;' why not?) and move to cut them off.

German 4th Squad (top left behind wall) rallies, and Captain Penzig leaves the treeline at center to join them, as Cpl Johnston's MG and Sgt Geoffrey's squad move in, with the Honey and Captain Penny following.

Brits rolled up a 'normal' move, but also got the random event "Keep Pushing," in which one unit gets a 'bonus' turn before the normal turn, so Cpl Johnston moved his MG team up and got situated across the road from the German 4th Squad and CO.

Johnston's MG (bottom left) hammered the German squad, forcing it to fall back (top center next to trees, with ATG at top right).  Sgt Geoffrey's squad moves up to the wall (far left) opposite the German CO (I don't allow targeting of command stands, but they can be eliminated if they are 'supporting a unit and it is eliminated).

The German CO, Captain Penzig, then leaves the wall and falls back next to Sgt Dietrich's squad (center right, ATG at bottom center), who successfully rallies.  Then the ATG lines up an HE shell at Cpl Johnston's MG (top left) and fires, out of the fight!

On the Brit left, German Sgt Auger's 1st Squad (far left) fires at Sgt Carter's 3rd Squad, eliminating it!  BS!!!

Sgt Auger then falls his squad (center left, left of trees) back towards their 4th Squad and the ATG (top, building).

Brits get another normal move with Random Event, "Move It" (one unit may move 6" any direction).  Sgt Dupont's 4th Squad (bottom center) uses this to move up in pursuit of the German 1st Squad (far left).  The German 4th Squad, CO, and ATG are at top center, Sgt Geoffrey's squad is at center (behind wall), and the Honey and Brit CO are at bottom right.

Sgt Dupont's squad moves up to the wall and fires at Sgt Auger's German 1st Squad, forcing them to fall back and hunker.

Sgt Dupont's squad at top left, with German 1st Squad (Auger) at center top left behind trees, German CO, 4th Squad, and ATG at top right, and Sgt Geoffrey's squad behind wall at center.  The Honey and the CO move up behind Geoffrey's squad.  The ATG decides not to snap fire so he can fire during his turn, knowing it will be more effective, and the Brit tank's fire won't be very effective as he just moved.  And so the Honey fires its 37mm gun at the ATG, managing a pin, which will have no real effect on Cpl Leib's PaK-38 during its activation (the gun can't move anyway, and it has to engage the nearest relevant target, which, for the ATG, is the Honey anyway).

It is at this point that I realize I've sort of been screwing up activations: on 'normal' turns I've been allowing two units to activate, when I had decided I would go with 1 activation per three units, which would have put the Brits at 3 and the Germans at 2 at the beginning.  Now, after both sides sustaining casualties, the Brits should be at 2 and the Germans at 1.  In any case, I played 2 activations for the remainder of this game, as well as games 2-4, only going 'big' in game 5.

So the Germans roll a normal turn, but get a random event, but it was "Cold Feet," and so they're 4th Squad (center right, just above the building) is 'flinches' and is pinned.  At this point I realized I was screwing up the rally and recover process; it's not automatic, you're supposed to roll a D6 again...  I fixed this and did it right for the rest of this game and all others.

So the German CO moved to the ATG and rallied off their pin (I let units rallied by the CO, as opposed to those that rallied themselves, act during the turn they rallied/recovered).  They then promptly sent a 50mm armor-piercing round through the Honey, brewing it up...

The German 1st Squad (top center with red bead) tries to rally, but only manages a flinch (meaning he's 'upgraded' from cowering to pinned, but is still at disadvantage and can't move).

Sgt Geoffrey's squad (foreground) fired at the German 1st Squad (center right), eliminating them.  The boys then hopped the wall and moved up, followed by Capt Penny.

Sgt Dupont's squad (far left, with CO and Sgt Geoffrey's squad to its right and Germans at top right) sprinted ahead.

Just for situational awareness, that leaves (from left to right) Sgts Abbott, Belmont, and Enis' squads chilling in the rear (bottom left/center), with the vanguard of Geoffrey and Dupont's squads at top center.  I really need a 'scurry' to catch them up...

German Capt Penzig (center) tries to rally Sgt Dietrich's squad, but only manages a flinch.  Dietrich's men fire at Dupont's squad in the open (top left) and get a knockdown, while the ATG fires at Sgt Geoffrey's men (just below Dupont's), but no effect!

Captain Penny moves up and recovers Sgt Dupont's men, and Sgt Geoffrey sprints his squad towards the German 5th Squad.  At this point Captain Penzig decides his men can do no more, and so they retreat, abandoning the gun but saving their skins.

So, first game is in the books.  This one was the easiest fight of all them, but still wasn't exactly a walkover.  It felt to me like the decision point of this game was here near the end, when the Brits only had two squads in the vanguard, but the German squad managed only a knockdown and the ATG totally missed.  This allowed the Brits to recover and close the distance.

I've got four more fights to write up, I'll post them as soon as I can.


Napoleonics for TMP Marketplace


This is for a couple gentlemen expressing interest in picking up my 6mm Baccus Napoleonics, which have been languishing in a box for about a year now.  I'm asking $70 (which includes basic shipping in the US), for what is around $200 worth of raw lead.

Here's the whole shebang.  These are Brits and French, Waterloo-era.

12 skirmish bases of rifles, primed (a little red and gray also) casualties (both horse and infantry), 4 guns, caissons, and horse teams with Horse Artillery crews.

Brit/Allied cavalry: 1 unit of Blues, 2 Dragoons, and 3 Hussars (Mirlton/Busby).  Each unit has six cavalry troopers painted up, and three only primed (this is due to my changing rules/basing styles several times).

2 Brit Lt Dragoons, 1 KGL Lt Dragoons, 1 Scot's Greys, 1 Dutch Lt Cav (all are 6 painted figures, 3 primed).  Then there are a further 18 primed Dragoons, 18 primed Hussars (Shako), and 18 primed Lt Dragoons.

5 strips of officer figures (3 figures per strip), 20 strips of Highlanders (primed with red jackets and green kilts), and 5 Highlander command strips (primed).

40 strips of Brit Line Infantry (Belgic shako) and 7 command strips (primed, red jackets gray pants).

7 bases of French Line Infantry (60 x 30mm, flags attached, with 5 infantry strips and 1 command strip per base) and 1 base of Cuirassiers (9 figures).

5 Line infantry strips (primed), 21 Grenadier (in Bearskins, primed and white), and 4 Gren command stands (bare metal).

12 Legere skirmish stands, 1 unit of Chasseurs (6 painted, 3 primed), 2 guns painted and based, 2 guns primed (with accidental red jackets and gray pants, not sure what I was thinking), 4 caissons and horse teams.

1 unit of Horse Grenadiers (6 painted, 3 primed), 1 unit of Hussars (Busby, 6/3), 1 unit of Dragoons (6/3), 1 unit of Cuirassiers (3/6; yes that's 3/6, not 6/3), 1 unit of Carabiniers (6/3), 27 primed Hussars (shako), 18 primed Chasseurs, and 18 primed Dragoons.

Hope that helps.


Monday, November 24, 2014

French Foreign Legion in Estonia, Fight 3


It's 14 August 1993, and the Legion is in action in defense of Estonia's fledgling democracy once again.  Major Louis-Louis was intent on having his battalion press home its efforts to find, fix, and destroy Colonel Sirel's headquarters, when those plans were scrubbed due to reports representing an imminent threat: sources loyal to the liberal government reported the Sirellists had established a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) north of the capital, with 2km of the International Airport.  It would be a tragedy should this SAM bring down an airliner, and a disaster if it were to destroy one of the French C-130s bringing in men and supplies.  Currently public opinion was rather disinterested in the French intervention in Estonia, but Ffom Louis-Louis' standpoint, an incident such as this would be comparable to the Beirut Barracks bombing.  "Orderly!  Send Captain LaPieux's Sous-Groupement a Warning Order, standby to move in 1 hour.  And send for the Captain please, I wish to brief him personally."

North of Talinn, the table is 3' x 3', with North being up.  Another VERY busy table, but I rolled for terrain, and the literal name of what I rolled up is "rough."  So, here is my interpretation of 'rough.'  Lots of trees, a few knolls, a few crop fields, a couple streams (can be forded by infantry, but not vehicles), and orchard at top center.

The French battlegroup: The CO and his group in a Land Rover driven by Cpl Methot.  Two HMMWVs, one with .50 cal (Cpl Navarre) and one with Mk19 (Cpl Desjardin). two "AMX-25s" (AKA, LAVs in French service, wink, wink), crewed by Lt Marcoud and Sgt Petit, respectively, and two AMX-10s, crewed by Lt Davault and Sgt Bernier.  Four squads of infantry: Lt Bisson, Lt Harpin, Sgt Oran, and Sgt Cheauvront.  There is also one Panhard available, crewed by Lt Patrie.

This is somewhat of an ad-hoc grouping as Capt LaPieux's Sous-Groupement suffered heavy casualties only a few days ago, and many of the Group's vehicles are still being repaired.  As it is, the Panhard and two AMX-10s in action were only just finished being repaired.

The Sirellist force, AKA the "Bad Guys."  The rebels have a squad of paramilitaries manning the SAM site, and throw together a mobile reaction force to challenge the French, in two platoons.  The first has a T-55, two BTR-70s, and two infantry squads, while the second platoon has a T-72, 2 BMP-2s, and two infantry squads.  All 'regular' infantry squads have RPGs.

Starting positions: the SAM site, with paramilitary squad, at top left (NW), the Sirellist 2nd Plt (T-72/BMPs) at top right (NE), and the 1st Plt (T-55/BTRs) at bottom right (SE).  The French start in the bottom left corner (SW).  The objective is to destroy the rebel SAM site, and the plan is simple: the force will be drawn into two forces, one (the Strike Force, with the CO leading) will charge up the road and over the bridge to destroy the SAM site, while the other (the Covering Force) will be left back to 'hold the door open,' which the entire Group will use to ex-filtrate the area, back through its portal in the Southwest.

The SAM site, with a launcher, radar, supplies/munitions, two trucks, and a paramilitary squad.

The enemy 2nd Platoon, in the Northeast.

The enemy 1st Platoon, in the Southeast.

The French column on the march: the Strike Force, led by Cpl Navarre's .50 cal HMMWV, Lt Patrie's Panhard, the CO's Land Rover (driven by Cpl Methot), Lt Marcoud's AMX-25 (hereafter referred to as 'LAV,' for simplicity's sake), and Lt Davault's AMX-10.  The Covering Force, with Sgt Oran's team on foot, Sgt Bernier's AMX-10, Cpl Desjardin's Mk19 HMMWV, and Sgt Petit's LAV.

Let's get ready to rumble!!!

The game starts with Sgt Oran leading his squad into solid blocking positions, and Sgt Bernier's AMX-10 took up position to their right (off camera to bottom).

In the top right (NE), the whole enemy 1st Platoon moves up, both BMPs disgorging their infantry.

Because of the extremely closed terrain (which negates the usefulness of much of the armor), the 1st Plt basically had two choices: 1) rush south down the road, team up with 2nd Plt, then move west to force the French blocking position and cut off the Striking Force.  Generally speaking, concentration of force/effort is a good thing, but the fact is that, in such closed terrain, it's often just not possible.  In my estimation, it didn't matter if the bad guys had 100 tanks, there simply wasn't room for them to operate, and even if the bad guys combined their platoons in the southeast, they'd still have to move west up the only road available, straight into the teeth of the French Covering Force.

So that left option 2: 1st Plt (in the SE) tries to force the blocking position, whilst the 1st Plt stays in the north, which led to another decision.  Should 1st Plt move quickly to meet the French Strike Force, or should the 1st Plt lay back, allow the French Strike Force to reach its objective, then strike, attempting to isolate and eliminate them, knowing that in either case the T-72 and BMPs were not destined to be of much use.  I figured the bad guys weren't all that hip to allowing the French to destroy their SAM site, i.e., the SAM site wasn't some sort of bait to lure the French into a trap, that the narrative made more sense that the bad guys had dispatched their regulars (with armor) into a less than favorable situation as they were desperate to keep the French off their SAM site, the existence of which they thought was unknown to the French.

In the SE, the Sirellists were unaware of the exact positions of the French, and in their haste to save the SAM site, the T-55 of 2nd Plt (top center) rushed north then turned west, looking to catch the French unawares.  The tank commander only had a second to scream "off the road" when he spied the flash of the launch from Sgt Oran's Eryx ATGM (bottom center), but it was too late, and the T-55 erupted in flame and secondary explosions.  Cpl Desjardin moved his HMMWV left (off camera at bottom left).

Back with 1st Bad Guy Plt in the northeast (bottom left), the plan was for the Sirellist tank and APCs to take up positions to overwatch the bridge, while their infantry moved up to block the French advance on the SAM site (just off camera at top right).  One infantry squad moved all the way to the road in the walled orchard (top left), while the other infantry squad headed for the walled farm at top right, but didn't make it as far (far right).

Sgt Petit, commanding the LAV in the Covering Force in the southwest, kicked out Lt Harpin's squad, the positioned his vehicle at the walled farm (center left).  Then Lt Harpin moved his men forward into the treeline (bottom right, with Sgt Bernier's AMX at bottom left, and Sgt Oran's team in the walled farm at center).

Cpl Navarre shot his HMMWV straight north, up the road (top), spotting the enemy infantry in the walled orchard (center right).  Lt Patrie then charged his Panhard up to the orchard, practically sticking the muzzle of his 90mm gun straight into the enemy's position.  Patrie fired, not causing any casualties, but suppressing them (red bead).  Lt Marcoud brought his LAV up (far left), dropping off Lt Bisson's squad off, while Lt Davault brought his AMX up (bottom).

Lt Davault fired his 25mm chain gun at the enemy troops in the orchard.  Again, no casualties, but they were already suppressed, and this burst of rounds caused them to fall back (top right).  Sgt Cheauvront's team then exited the AMX (bottom center).

Far left is the SAM site, with Cpl Navarre's HMMWV at far right.  The enemy infantry, starting at top right, sprinted across the road into the walled farm at center, next to bridge.  Meanwhile, the paramilitaries at the SAM site fired on Cpl Navarre's vehicle, and actually disabled the .50 cal.

Lt Marcoud then charged his LAV all the way up to the river, and pumped 25mm rounds into the infantry in the walled farm, pinning them, while Lt Bisson double-timed his men through the field and up to the river (bottom center), firing at the paramilitaries, who were suppressed and had to fall back (top left, with red bead).

The Sirellists feel things starting to slip away, and so decide it's time to force the issue in the southeast.  It starts with both BTRs moving up and debussing their infantry squads (walled farm holding Sgt Oran's team at top left, Lt Harpin's squad at far left).

But real quick back to the northwest at the SAM site, where Captain LaPieux ordered Cpl Methot to advance the Land Rover to the river.  Lt Bisson rushes his squad across the river, flanking the pinned rebel infantry.

And the Captain and his entourage debuss and splash into the river.

Back to the southeast, where the bad guys are getting pretty froggy...  Both infantry squads move up the hill, and one is able to pour very effective fire down on Lt Harpin's squad, causing two casualties and suppressing them.

Another red card comes out, and this is where I seriously considered cheating.  I mean, it would have made sense for the bad guys to move up one of their BTRs, right?  But I didn't, I stuck with the bad guy infantry.  Okay, I cheated a little bit, but it didn't work: the bad guys rolled up two activations.  I decided to use the first one to have the bad guys fire on Lt Harpin's squad again, knowing it may cause casualties, but hoping it would force Harpin's squad to fall back.  But, as my luck always goes, the bad guys' fire was ineffective, so they did what I always like to do: they charged down the hill into close combat with Lt Harpin's stricken squad...

Lt Harpin's squad was eliminated, the bad guys suppressed...

And then, the other bad guy squad came sprinting down the hill, screaming like banshees!  They reached the woods next to their suppressed comrades in the treeline.  At that point I was able to activate Sgt Bernier's AMX, but I only got one action point: okay, fight or flight?  I suppose I should have used the action to have the AMX flee to a safer position, but I didn't.  Berthier opened up on the enemy, getting an amazing three casualties!  But the bad guys were able to rally...

And the two survivors mounted Sgt Berthier's vehicle, prying open the hatches and dropping grenades inside, destroying the vehicle and eliminating the crew.  I shudder to think what would have happened if another red card or two came out, and the rebels were able to bring up their BTRs...

But I was lucky, and a black card came out.  Enraged, Sgt Petit (LAV at far left) slewed his turret right and poured 25mm rounds into Sgt Berthier's AMX (bottom left), killing one enemy and suppressing the other (red bead).  He then slewed the turret back to the left and engaged the other rebel squad in the treeline (the ones that overran Lt Harpin's squad, center), killing one and causing them to run for their lives (bottom right).

Back in the northwest, near the SAM site, Captain LaPieux gets the HQ section, then orders them (far left) and Lt Bisson's squad (top) to close assault the pinned rebel squad.

The bad guy squad was eliminated (bottom right), though the HQ section and Lt Bisson's squad both suffered a casualty.  I want to quickly close with the suppressed paramilitaries at top, before they have a chance to rally, but both Lt Bisson's squad and the HQ element exhaust themselves...

Again, I want to force the issue, so I get a bit hasty, and try rushing Cpl Navarre's HMMWV up the road (north is to bottom right corner, with Lt Bisson's squad, HQ element, and SAM site just off camera to right) across the bridge.  But the enemy 1st Platoon's armor is finally able to make itself useful: the T-72 opens up and blasts Cpl Navarre's HMMWV to hell.

So Sgt Cheauvront moves his team into the orchard (bottom left), intent on getting to grips with the suppressed enemy squad (top center), then get his ATGM into action against the enemy armor that just destroyed Cpl Navarre's HMMWV (top right).

And Sgt Cheauvront is able to charge his men into close combat, in which I fight two rounds with some of the worst dice-rolling you've ever seen.  My incompetence with the dice-rolling costs me dearly: Cheuvront's squad wins, but loses two men and is pinned, while the enemy loses three men and the two survivors surrender.  This may not sound all that bad, but charging into close combat with a full-strength squad in good order, against an understrength squad that was suppressed, really should have been a walk over.  I expected to come out of it with no casualties, maybe a pin...  Sgt Cheauvront's squad is exhausted...

Lt Davault, in his AMX, leads Cpl Methot's Land Rover up the road towards the bridge, though they don't dare move up there as the enemy armor is still in overwatch of the bridge (Sgt Cheauvront's men are at top right, with Cpl Navarre's burning HMMWV on the bridge).

Sgt Oran's squad exhausted itself, while Sgt Petit (center) dismounted his LAV and moved to Sgt Bernier's burning AMX, capturing the cowering rebel rifleman.  Cpl Desjardin maneuvered his HMMWV onto the road, across the ford, up north next to Lt Patrie's Panhard near the walled orchard.

And that was the end of Turn 1.  The Covering Force (bottom left) has lost an AMX and an infantry squad, but they've destroyed a tank and eliminated an infantry squad, and the two BTRs opposite them are unwilling to move on the Covering Force without infantry support, and the only squad left is suppressed.  Once that squad is able to get itself back into fighting shape, expect the bad guys to put some (more) pressure on the Covering Force.

In the north, the Strike Force has taken a few casualties and lost a HMMWV, but otherwise is progressing well towards the objective, having mostly eliminated all enemy infantry in vicinity of the SAM site.  Captain LaPieux would really like to get something done about the enemy armor to the east, but overall they are not in a position to influence the fight, so long as the French stay off the bridge.  Capt LaPieux does intend on trying to neutralize the armor; he doesn't need the bridge to accomplish his mission, but it would make life much easier (and quicker).

And with that, Sgt Cheauvront acknowledges and follows his Captain's orders.  He rallies the remains of his squad in the walled orchard, moves up to the wall, and promptly fires the Eryx ATGM at the enemy T-72, BAM!   Scratch one T-72.  Before the enemy could react, Cheauvront's team fired again, damaging one of the BMPs, whose crew decided discretion was the better part of valor.  The remaining BMP (top right) returns fire with its 30mm gun, to no effect, and so Cheauvront's men fire a third time, slightly damaging the BMP.

On the other side of the road (at the SAM site), Lt Bisson's men hop the wall and move on the cowering paramilitaries, who are only too happy to hand over their weapons and be taken into custody.

Then Bisson's squad moves west and begins rigging the whole affair with demolitions.  Not pictured, the remaining BMP activates again and pins Sgt Cheauvront's men in the walled orchard.

With 2/3 of the enemy's northern armor taken care of, Lt Dassault drives his vehicle onto the bridge and pushed Cpl Navarre's burning HMMWV clear.  Cpl Methot's Land Rover follows Dassault, and Doc begins loading the HQ and Lt Bisson's casualties.

Not pictured, but in other notable news, the bad guy infantry in the south try to rally themselves but fail, and are exhausted, which means the two BTRs there will sit tight, not wishing to confront the French Covering Force without infantry support.

Lt Patrie is perplexed in his Panhard (yuk, yuk); he wants to eliminate the remaining BMP, but the only way to get at a clear line of fire is from the bridge.  "I know what I must do; Driver, forward, and halt on the bridge.  Gunner, load armor-piercing, prepare to engage enemy armor, 3 o'clock, center vehicle, range 100 meters!"  The bang of the 90mm gun was immediately followed by the crash of the shell into the BMP.  Not a kill shot, simply caused some engine damage, but after witnessing their compatriots die or run off, the BMP's crew was not going to hang around to eat another 90mm round.

Meanwhile in the south, Cpl Desjardin reversed course and headed south down the road, and joined Sgt Petit's LAV.  They both moved up to Lt Harpin's squad, dismounted, and began treating and loading the wounded and dead.  Sgt Oran's team (off camera to right in the walled farm) stood watch.

Lt Patrie's Panhard (bottom center), having silenced the last of the enemy's armor in north, reversed off the bridge (top left) and took up station at the southern end of the walled orchard, while the HQ element loaded into the Land Rover and headed south (right behind Panhard).  Lt Marcoud moved his LAV into the orchard and began loading up Sgt Cheauvront's casualties.

Cpl Desjardin remounted his HMMWV and moved back, taking up watch on the west side of the walled farm (holding Sgt Oran's troops), while Sgt Petit remained on foot, guiding his LAV into position to begin rigging Sgt Bernier's AMX for tow.

Lt Patrie's Panhard, and the HQ Land Rover continued south, now at the walled farm.

While Lt Davault dismounted, removed the casualties from Cpl Navarre's burning HMMWV, and dropped two thermite grenades into the HMMWV, destroying its weapons and comm gear.

That's the end of Turn 2, and Turn 3 started with the bad guy infantry in the south managing to rally, so stand by for some excitement with them and the two BTRs.  If the rally had not been successful, this would have been a simple walk-off...

So, with explosives set at the SAM site, Lt Bisson's men rush to Lt Davault's AMX and load up.

Davault's AMX crosses the bridge (off camera t left) and hauls butt all the way to the southern ford, while Sgt Cheauvront's men (in the orchard at left) fall back to Lt Marcoud's LAV and load up.

Now, on to our final act!  It starts with the bad guy infantry charging up and over the hill (at top right), ending up in the woodline (center right) where Lt Harpin's squad had been wiped out by these same guys.  Then the first BTR pops up on the lower part of the hill (top center, vehicle on right), and Sgt Oran's squad (center, in walled farm) quickly pops a rocket into it, killing all aboard.  The other BTR activates and pulls alongside its burning partner, firing at Sgt Oran's men, dropping one and pinning the squad.

Cpl Desjardin (HMMWV at bottom center) swings his Mk19 right and pumps a string of 40mm grenades into the treeline, causing two casualties and suppressing the enemy squad (red bead).  Then the enemy BTR activates again, and again uses its 14.5mm HMG on Sgt Oran's troops, but they're already using their shirt buttons to dig deeper into the earth's surface, and they experience no further ill effect.

Then the BTR acts again, and this time his aim is true, causing two more casualties amongst Sgt Oran's squad, and causing the survivors to fall back (survivors at left, behind wall with red bead, the three casualty figures at right show their previous position).

Cpl Desjardin (HMMWV at center) reloads, and fires another burst of grenades into the enemy infantry (bottom right), eliminating them.  Then Lt Patrie's Panhard (center right) moves up and fires a 90mm round into the last BTR, blowing it up.  Capt LaPieux (center left, at Land Rover), dismounts with his HQ element and begins helping Sgt Oran police up their casualties in the walled farm, while Lt Davault's AMX continues south (bottom left center), and Lt Marcoud's LAV (top left) catches up to the column.

The remaining men on foot mount up, and with all men and vehicles accounted for, the French column sets off to return to base.

And the explosives set at the SAM site do their job.  Mission accomplished once again, but once again at a price.  The Legionaires once again gave good account of themselves, and Capt LaPieux reflected this in his debrief with Maj Louis-Louis.  "Very good, nice work Captain.  Is that all?"  "Well, yes, Sir, I believe so."  "You believe so?  Come now, what is it, Pepe?"  "I'm concerned, Sir.  While not as well armed, led, or organized as we, these Sirellists are proving quite tenacious.  For example, that charge by their light armor this afternoon; they had no chance of preventing us returning home, much less accomplishing our mission, yet at us they came, guns blazing.  And I'm concerned at their level of popular support."  "Is that so?  The President's cousin (the French President's cousin is the President of Estonia) assures us the Sirellists are but a small minority of the former Soviet military, and their supporters amongst the local populace are an even smaller percentage."  "Yes, Major, of course.  But in our past two engagements, the enemy was not initially there, but then they were.  I mentioned they were not properly organized, but that's because, in both cases, they were hastily thrown together as a reaction to our thrusts."  "Your point, Captain?"  "Well, my point would be that someone is providing them information regarding our movements.  Our operational security remains top notch, and so it would seem someone with insider access must be communicating with our foes."  "Indeed.  We must be on our guard for treachery."

Sirellists: 27 casualties, 8 captured, two tanks, and two BTRs (the two BMPs were damaged, but, as the rebels own the field, they should be able to recover and repair them).
French: Lt Harpin's squad was eliminated, Lt Bisson lost 1, Sgt Oran lost 3, Sgt Cheauvront lost 2, Sgt Bernier's AMX-10P crew was lost, as was Cpl Navarre's HMMWV crew, for a total of 14 casualties.  One HMMWV was destroyed beyond repair (indeed, it was blown in place), though Sgt Bernier's AMX-10P was towed back to base for repair.

I need to go and update the campaign roster (which will have been done prior to you reading this), as we've lost a few leaders, and I need to account for the decorations for valor.  Speaking of that, while the Legionaires accounted themselves well, sometimes in some desperate fighting, and they performed heroically, none accounted themselves above and beyond to the point of individual recognition.  Lt Patrie's Panhard seemed to me to come the closest, certainly distinguishing itself by continuously placing the vehicle and crew in danger to good result (the bad guy infantry in the walled orchard, moving into the exposed position on the bridge to destroy the BMP, and moving into the exposed position in the road to destroy the last BTR).

Another fun fight, a little on the long side (Fight 2 as 4 hours, and this one was 3 hours!).  Additionally, I made two mistakes in the creation of my scenario:
1) I had too many vehicles and not enough infantry on both sides, particularly given the close terrain.  In my head I actually pictured a lot of close-in fighting, cat-and-mouse escapades in the many treelines, fields, knolls, and walls.  But I screwed up the force composition, which meant the fights would necessarily be restricted to the roads.  Which is not at all unrealistic in modern fighting, just not what I'd dreamed up.

2) I screwed up in terrain placement.  This is directly related to problem #1, in that I had too many vehicles and not enough infantry.  Given the fact of too many vehicles, the mistake I made was in placing too much terrain in the northeast, closing off the bad guy armor's ability to influence the battle.  There simply was no avenue for them to move west, minus heading south to link up with the other platoon, then pressing west into the Covering Force's roadblock.  So, that was my screw up, not understood until the game started and there was really nowhere for the T-72 and BMPs to go...

Nevertheless, it was still fun, and I look forward to my next opportunity for the Legion to cover itself in glory.  In my last post I mentioned using this burgeoning issue as the seed for a larger campaign, that is, 'civil war' in the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland, amongst pro-Western supporters of liberal government, and pro-Russian "Sirellists," who wish to return to Soviet-style government and economics.  What's going to happen is that I intend on playing 7-10 of these fights of the Legion in Estonia, and then the French will leave and I'll move them to another hotspot, like the Balkans, the Middle East, or Africa.  This campaign will end either with the French killing Colonel Sirel, or the French trying to kill Colonel Sirel but failing and losing in dramatic fashion, enough to force the French to leave the country.

In either case, the stage is set for the Baltic State 'Civil War': either Sirel has been martyred, or he has been lionized.  Stay tuned.  We've got the holiday coming up this week, always a busy time, but I shan't neglect my wargaming responsibilities, no matter how much the wife hates me.  I intend on getting some painting done, then getting Legion games in while I'm off from work on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I also want to get back to my 6mm stuff...