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To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:21 pm
by Capt Fortier
I've been working for some time now on a small Chain of Command campaign set in Italy, called "To the Viktor Line", following the attack of the 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, on the town of Larino, Italy on 3-4 October 1943. The German defenders were the II. Battalion, 1st Fallschirmjäger Regiment. It is a mostly infantry affair, with the heavy armour active about 15 miles from Larino at the larger and better known battle of Termoli. There is also a bit more background and some extracts available on my blog.

My draft is at a stage worth sharing and getting some feedback, although I myself have done virtually no tabletop testing. It is my first attempt at putting together a campaign guide, and I have to thank and acknowledge Will3T's campaigns and the official PSCs from which I have borrowed shamelessly!

I'd be very grateful for any feedback on the content, particularly around the Support Lists (I confess the CoCulator still baffles me!), and for those with more experience, any advice on how the scenarios look and sit together. I have said (borrowing from those who have gone before) that the overall game should provide balance, but in truth I'm not at all sure it will. Perhaps I won't know until it is played through a few times.

If anyone is happy to play it through, I'd be more than happy to get any feedback, suggestions for improvements, &c.

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:17 pm
by ocollens
Bon chance Capitaine,

I like the look of the the Viktor Line PSC. There are, as you deduce, some questions about the support levels.
I'm assuming you have allowed for the difference in Force Strength ratings already, although you don't actually say so.
Had you thought about putting in an option for a Red Dice for the British? You say the East Surreys are an experienced unit so they would qualify and it would partly address the problem that the German will be able to do more stuff with his 6 dice. Having more supports is not much help if you can't use them. An optional extra senior leader might also help redress the balance.
Not sure what extra oomph the 4.2 mortars provide. 25 pdrs on table? or off table? Plenty of discussion on the forum of the feasibility or otherwise of this. Maybe giving the option of a 6 pdr less controversial as I think (but may well be wrong) these were at battalion level by late 1943.

Proof will be in the playing of course and I will be happy to give it go when I have painted a few more Med types.


Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:09 am
by Capt Fortier
Thanks Andrew for the feedback and suggestions. Yes, the relative Force Ratings are already factored in, and it still leaves the British with a lot of support options, so I think the idea of the Red Dice as an optional support is a good one. I've not used it or seen it in play yet, nor seen it applied in any later-war lists; but it seems to make sense. Would you also think that it would be lost on British FM dropping to 4?

The reference to 4.2" mortars is to reflect the heavy weapons support that the East Surreys would have got from the two platoons of the 1st Kensington's, though in truth I was thinking there would be no real difference between these and off-table 3" mortar support. I had a look at the Consolidated Arsenal and couldn't find anything there for guidance, so again grateful if the collective Lardy wisdom has anything on this.

I must also confess I'm not so sure about 25pdr on the table either. In fact I tend to be with those who say that heavy guns don't have a place on a skirmish table, other than being called in from off-table. I did contemplate making these only available as a defensive option for the British; some of the accounts of the fight indicate that the support units were themselves in fairly exposed positions from time to time, and I thought that might be one way of representing that. I'll have a read through of some of earlier forum debate on this and see what others may say in response here, and modify or confirm accordingly.

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:00 am
by Truscott Trotter
The Red die is to represent troops with a clear C3 advantage over their opponents - not sure if that applies to the allies in Italy - more likely on the Germans side. You only have to look at what happened to the 78th Div troops in Termoli when the Germans counterattacked.

I would consider a 25 pdr or a 40mm Bofors on table - again they were in the front line at Termoli

PS the only difference in 4.2" mortars I have seen is on p 48

Vehicles caught in the barrage area of any
medium mortar barrage may take some damage.
Roll 1D6 for each vehicle and consult the
following tables, adding +2 to the roll if the shells
hitting are 4.2” or 120mm in calibre. Add +1 if an
open topped vehicle.

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:12 am
by Capt Fortier
Thanks TT - I'd overlooked that 4.2" reference in the rules, so handy to be reminded.

I had considered adding a Bofors AA to the list, but given only 2 platoons of the Kensingtons and 322 Battery of 132 Field Regiment were with the East Surreys, I don't know that they'd have had them? The references I've seen suggest the Kensingtons AA guns would have been 20mm Oerlikons but I'm not sure if that is correct, and if correct, can't find anything in the Consolidated Arsenal.

It is good to get some guidance on the possible availability of 25pdrs on table. What do you think about them as available in defence only? My reading of the situation at Termoli was that they came into more direct action when the Germans were pushing forward cf. the other way around.

On the use of the Red Die, I think you're right that it probably doesn't have a place with Allies in Italy.

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:33 am
by Truscott Trotter
The Bofors were with AA units not the infantry but at Termoli the 78th legged it to the beach leaving 25 pdrs and bofors manned by there LOC troops and the commandos/SAS

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:04 am
by 7dot62mm
Looks absolutely fantastic! :shock:

You've done a great job with the layout which is actually better than the campaigns one can buy from the Lardies! Very very nice. I'll need to read it all and then I can perhaps comment more but the mere look of the campaign has me rummaging through my figures to see if I've got everything necessary to play this :D

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:00 am
by Capt Fortier
7dot62mm wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:04 am
Looks absolutely fantastic! :shock:
Thanks 7dot62mm - very kind words. I think because I don't actually get to the table very much my passion finds its outlet with this kind of thing! Its also why I get such a kick out of reading AARs and the like, so I have to confess to being something of a vicarious wargaming voyeur! ;)

If you do give it a try, I'd love to hear how it goes and if you have any suggestions for changes.

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:09 am
by Truscott Trotter
Yes I agree it looks very professionally put together.

Couple of minor suggestions from initial read through
I would explain the crew dismounts for the Bren carriers both single and section
Perhaps also note the M5 in question is not a Stuart/ Jalopy but a halftrack.

24 support points sounds a lot and it is but you will soon find it is not always usable- lack of command points etc.

I suspect the Brits attacking esp across open ground as in scenario 1 may run out of bodies pretty quickly
I would suggest maybe allowing them a fresh platoon at some point but when it is chosen you have to stick with that for the rest of the campaign
This represents the company commander committing his reserve platoon to the attack to keep the momentum going.

Scenario 3 can the Germans see over the railway embankment from the higher ground and if so is there a deadzone etc?
Scenario 5 you might want to clarify the visibility or other effects of the Olive groves?
Scenario 7 maybe define the terrain a bit more
Which building is the villa and as it is 3 stories and upslope/downslope? can you seen over other buildings etc?
Also the drop off the road I do not understand this bit
two storey drop (requiring ropes) along the topside road and the bottom (where the trees are).
Which of the 2 roads and how is this to be crossed during the game?

Re: To the Viktor Line - Campaign

Posted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:04 pm
by Capt Fortier
Thanks TT - that's exactly the kind of feedback I was after. I'll have a look again at Google Maps and some of those terrain guides and beef them up a bit along those areas you have queried. There is a lot going on with S.7 and I was rather trying to fit it all in a short space, but I think it is a sufficiently complex bit of terrain it warrants some more description, including perhaps on the map itself.

On the issue of a long drop into the railway yard and how to do that, I am a little more used to Sharp Practice where there are actions that are rolled for those kinds of things. I've not seen that in CoC; the closest is the role of engineers. If you've seen any campaigns or scenarios that have got that kind of action built in, grateful if you can point me in the right direction. Another option might be to have teams do some kind of saving test against injury when dropping in that way. (There is a more gentle slope at the top end of the map here, but as noted above, my terrain descriptions haven't been all that clear.)

I have seen some earlier comments on high levels of support points and the problem of not enough command points and not sure how to tackle that. I did wonder if perhaps I should downsize the FJs and so reduce Force Rating and perhaps give a little better balance of support points. The 1st Fallschirmjager Division was supposed to be quite depleted during the first part of the mainland campaign (1300 men all up), so I think that could be justified. I saw a scenario/campaign that did this by a D4 per section.

On the use of different platoons, this is something that I am a little unclear on. I had intended something like that by saying that each side effectively has three platoons they can rotate through, and track casualties accordingly; but do you think that may be too generous? I like the idea of the effect of committing a reserve like you describe, but not sure how to do that with 3 platoons. Could this work by having the British rotate between 2 platoons but able to commit a fresh reserve by either merging the first two and losing the surplus or swapping out the weakest for the fresh platoon? Again, is that too generous? It may be that this is where I need to put the figures on the table and test it.