We had the second game in our campaign today. For a change I fought this solo as Nick was not allowed out to play. First we had some quick campaign housekeeping to do. Feldwebel Stephan Wolf had been killed in game one, so we need to replace him. Dieter Reinhardt is promoted from commanding squad three to become deputy platoon leader. Squad three is now led by Gefreiter Gunter Ulrich, a 27 year old gamekeeper from the Sudetenland.
Now on to the game. I rolled badly for support, so the British took just an additional 2″ mortar from List 2, the German a trench (or sangar in the desert) from List 1. Here’s a snap of the table set up for the Probe scenario with the German Patrol Markers at this end and the British markers at a single point on the opposite base line.
You will note that the German defender has elected to fight the game long ways down the table as, unusually, to win this scenario the British player does not need to defeat the Germans, but simply needs to exit one team off the German table edge. The premise being that this is an outpost position and once the enemy have by-passed it the Germans will retreat to their main defensive line. Like scoring a try, the key is just getting the ball across the line and touched down, it doesn’t matter how you do it. As a result electing to fight this way means the Germans have a narrower frontage to defend and the British have further to go.
So, let’s see how the Patrol Phase played out. The British got three “free” moves before the Patrol Phase began and then we were underway. The German force morale was at 11, the British at just 9.
This resulted in Jump-Off Points as shown below. The British are marked with blue, the Germans with red.
What you’ll probably note is that with a more open desert terrain the jump-off points do tend to be some distance apart than one would get in Europe, reflecting the fact that your troops are spotting their enemy at greater range than they would, for example, Normandy bocage.
Now the Patrol Phase was complete we began the game proper. As the British are attacking they get the first phase.
Phase 1. British roll 44331. They deploy their first 2″ mortar and lay down smoke. Their platoon sergeant deploys nest with No.1 section. He puts the Bren on overwatch. My plan is to use this section as a scout section, straight out of the handbook. Covered by smoke and the Bren we’re going to make our way up the table and either get off the enemy edge unopposed (unlikely) or force him to deploy his troops.
Phase 2. German roll of 65321. The Germans are happy to keep their powder dry and do nothing for this period.
Phase 3. British. 66543. A nice bonus, they get the next phase as well. The sergeant gets the 2″ mortar to deploy more smoke and the rifle team then rush forward.
Phase 4. British again. 6641, so they get the next Phase as well. The rifle team is inactive, but the Sergeant to shout to them to get moving. They do so and move forward again.
Phase 5. British. 65554. A nasty roll. All those 5’s may be handy later, but the rifle team is left high and dry. The Sergeant runs forward to shout to them to get moving. They do so and move forward again, tactically this time as they know the Germans are about to get the initiative.
Phase 6. German. 65432. The Germans deploy squad one in the centre and they fire on the advancing British rifle team. A lucky shot wounds the Corporal and he’s out for the count until the turn ends. The British force morale, not great to start with, drops to 7. A shocking start! The Bren team on overwatch return fire and cause some shock.
The Germans deploy Squad Two on their right with the LMG team in a sangar and put that on overwatch, its line of fire is blocked by smoke at the moment.
Phase 7. British roll of 65432. The Sergeant rushes forward and rallies the rifle team before moving them forward tactically.
Phase 8. German roll of 65442. The Feldwebel deploys and sends Squad 2’s rifles off to the flank. Squad One fires and kills a British rifleman as well as causing shock.
Phase 9. British roll 64311. More smoke from the 2″ mortar and the second mortar arrives adding further smoke. The Sergeant, now covered by smoke from German fire, rallies all the shock of the rifle team but doesn’t move. He wants to get them in good order before moving off.
Phase 10. German roll of 66443. The Feldwebel sees the gap, does he take it? Shouting to the riflemen from Squads 2 and 3 he rushes forward with them towards the smoke. The British have kindly provided him with a screen behind which to advance. Behind him the LMG Team 1 fire on the Bren.
Phase 11. German 65421. “Handgranatten” The German riflemen hurl grenades and surge forward. The explosions Shock the British and the attack hits them. Two Germans go down, but the British are killed to a man. Victor Churchill, the Platoon Sergeant is killed and Corporal Ramsbottom is take prisoner. A terrible blow to the British and they are lucky that their force morale only falls to 5. It could have been much worse.
Phase 12. British 44411. I am seriously considering pulling off at this stage. The British morale has been severely bashed and some key me lost. However, we will keep going. Bot 2″ mortars fore H.E. and wound Obergefreiter Mueller with the LMG team. Lieutenant Viljoen deploys and gets the Bren to keep up its fire.
Phase 13. German 66321. 3+1 allows the Fedlwebel to with draw with both rifle teams, rallying shock from them as they fall back.
Phase 14. British 54333. Lt. Viljoen calls forward sections 2 and 3 and is fortunate that both come forward immediately. They focus their fire on the German first LMG team and cause sufficient shock to send it running back broken. German force morale falls to 9.
Phase 15. German 65521. 2+1 Obergefreiter Mueller rallies his LMG team.
Phase 16. British 55511. British rifle team from No.3 section puts down fire while the Bren team rushes forward to a ruin up ahead. An interesting variation on fire and movement, but the Germans are weak on this flank and the Bren wants to close the range.
Phase 17. German 55211. 2+1+1 the Feldwebel rallies and moves the rifle teams up.
Phase 18. British 43311. No. 3 section’s Bren fires whilst No.1’s Bren team move tactically. No.3 sections rifle team and the 2″ mortar fire with no effect.
Phase 19. German 55443. The Feldwebel moves the rifle teams up and Squad 3, actually just Gefreiter Ulrich and a three man MG34 team, deploys on the left and puts down fire on no.3 section’s Bren team.
Phase 20. British 63111. 3+1 the Lieutenant gets both 2″ mortars to fire HE on German MG 3. Bren 2 and Bren 3 also add their fire and one man is killed and shock inflicted.
Phase 21. German 54432. The Feldwebel moves the rile teams, the Leutnant deploys to reorganise the defences. Mueller rallies his MG team again and the German use a Chain of Command dice to end the turn. The MG team which broke still has shock but is sufficiently rallied to become unpinned so it can function normally again.
Phase 1. British 65542. Lt.Viljoen gets the two mortars to fire on Ulrich’s LMG team and pins them.
Phase 2. German 63111. Ulrich rallies his LMG team while squad 1’s rifle team fires on No.1 section Bren team with no effect.
Phase 3. British 55553. No.2 Section shocks Ulrich’s LMG team.
Phase 4. German 54321. The British interrupt using a Chain of Command dice and put more fire on Ulrich’s LMG team trying to break them, but the fire is ineffective. Now the Germans rally Ulrich’s LMG and get them to fire on No.3 section’s Bren. The Leutnant rallies all the shock from Mueller’s LMG team while the Feldwebel gets squad one to fire on No.1 section’s Bren causing Shock.
Phase 5. British 64522. The final round of H.E. from noth 2″ mortars combine with No.2 section to wipe out Ulrich’s MG team, only Ulrich himself survives by making an undignified dash for cover. German Force Morale falls to 8. No.3 section’s rifle team rush forward to join their Bren team which is firing into the German centre to cover their advance.
Phase 6. German 44321. Leutnant von Kleist moves forward with the LMG team and Obergefreiter Mueller. The Feldwebel is rallying the German rifles in the centre and squad 2 fires on No1 section’s Bren, wiping it out. British Force morale crashes to 3!
Phase 7. The British now have just three Command dice. They roll 664. Had they not rolled double 6 I’d be pulling them off the table at this point, but as they have the next phase Lt.Viljoen uses the 2″ mortars to drop smoke on the German left centre. Maybe there is a last minute chance…
Phase 8. British 322, Section 2 fires into the German centre while section 3 runs forwards in a mad dash.
Phase 9. German 65321. The Leutnant realises the British have seen the gap and he can’t plug it in time. He puts Mueller’s LMG team on overwatch covering the British route to the table edge. Liebermann’s Squad 2 exchanges fire with section 2.
Phase 10. British 542. Section 2 runs. They roll 17 on 3D6 and career forwards. The MG34 spits bullets and Corporal Harris is winged, but the Kiwi keeps going. The try line is in sight.
Phase 11. German 66641. The British interrupt with a Chain of Command dice and No.3 section run for the line with Harris flying like the wing he once had been. It’s a try! The Germans are defeated and the British Number 14 snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. A truly absorbing game ends.
What a fun game. I was determined to play this one by the book for the British, using the single scout section to probe the enemy positions, identify where they were and then bring the rest of the platoon on in strength to push through where the Germans were weak. The second 2″ mortar was designed to give me “bags of smoke” when needed. On the German side I made the mistake of reducing squad three to a rump of just an LMG team. On reflection I may have been better off spreading the losses more evenly through the platoon. Certainly where the British did score points was when they were able to focus lots of firepower on single teams and force them out of the line.
What I really enjoyed about the game was how absorbing the solo play was. The Command Dice really get you thinking about what to do in each phase of play. It was quite easy to move from one side to the other, and then make decisions based on the Command Dice. The interaction with the various characters gets you involved in the game more as with a campaign these take on the traits of real people. Losing two NCOs is a real blow to the British, especially as getting a replacement Platoon sergeant is not easily done!
From a campaign point of view the British won, but the Germans inflicted twice as many casualties – ten British to five Germans – so they can claim a loosing draw. As it goes the British C.O. is pleased with Viljoen’s performance, so pleased that he can be sure of getting better support for the next mission. However, morale among his men is not good with two of their NCOs killed or in the cage, so their force morale will be affected in the next game.
On the German side, von Kleist may have lost but he did come to the attention of his C.O. and has gone up in his estimation. His men are pleased that their officer is looking after them and they are happier then they were after game one. After two games the British platoon is down ten men for the next game and has no platoon sergeant as yet. The Germans are down eight men, so both sides need to think about how they organise themselves when the British attack the German main line of defence. We’ll try to get that to you in the next couple of days.
With the Freikorps complete, I really needed to push on with the Germanic buildings which would populate my mitteleuropa landscape. I had splashed out sixty quid on a very nice twin-domed church and I wanted something a little more austere, and cheap, for the Lutheran congregation. I turned to eBay where second hand model railway