On Saturday I went to Mike’s to start our Chain of Command campaign, Operation Martlet. This will be our first bash at doing one of these and we will be making some mistakes with the rules along the way but all part of the learning process, unfortunately it is the tactical mistakes that are the worst to take, and there’s going to be a few of those over the next post or two!
Mike and I had played this scenario a couple of times before, switching sides so that we both had an idea what to expect. After a bit of research – well posting questions on the Lardies forum – we had corrected the terrain mistake we had made before and Mike had the table laid out correctly when I arrived (we had mistaken the Calvary at the junction for a house before), indeed it was looking great.
In addition to my core platoon I had decided to go with: a HMG team, a team entrenchment and an additional Senior Leader. I rolled well for morale and got 10, Mike was on 9 so I already had a slight advantage. I had also been doing as much reading of other people’s blogs trying to pick up hints and tips on the best way to approach this campaign. Unfortunately I was suffering from somewhat of a hangover and this put the kibosh on all of my preparation as I proceeded to make a couple of big mistakes!
The patrol phase sort of went well, I managed to secure JOP’s where I wanted them more or less, although one was just a bit short of where I really needed it (Mike liked the MDF Warbases markers so much he ordered some that day). Mike had done a lot better during the patrol phase however, getting a whopping 5 free goes with which he pushed up the left hand side of the board getting one JOP to the edge of the long wall along that flank.
I then declared that the barn opposite from that wall at the corner of the farm complex was my reinforced building and hoped that I would be able to get my HMG in there to deny Mike the chance to make a quick run for the end of the table. The rest of my plan was to wait for his deployment and to react accordingly and hopefully be lucky with the barrage and him to be unlucky with the fog.
I had the first throw and was extremely lucky, rolling 3 sixes in my first phase meaning that the barrage and the fog had finished before any troops were on the table – the one down side being that Mike didn’t have a chance of getting any units lost though. I waited for Mike to deploy first and he brought on a 2″ mortar, a Sherman and one squad that were ready to jump the wall on my left and make a dash for the baseline. I countered this by doing something foolish, deploying 1st section onto the hedgeline on my right (don’t know why, blame the hangover) and something smarter, 2nd section in an ‘ambush’ behind the farm building preventing Mike making his dash for glory. I also called up Schumacher and his Panzer which duly missed Mike’s tank.
Mike’s tank gunnery was a lot better than mine causing the PzIV to scoot back whilst being shocked. He then plonked down some really effective fire from his limited HE stocks from the 2″ on 1st Section’s position causing a couple of casualties. Over on the other side of the farm somewhat of a stand-off was occurring with Mike being loath to move his section forwards towards the certain doom of 2 MG42’s, I also couldn’t move my MMG into the bunker as they would have been immediately in close combat with Mike’s chaps.
Then disaster struck – Mike’s deadeye mortar team got going again, but this time they were joined by the Sherman and 1st section got really plastered losing 3 more casualties wiping out one team and leaving the other with one man and the section now consisting of only him and Breitner who were, not surprisingly, legging it. A judicious use of a CoC dice from Mike ending the turn saw them rout off the table and my morale plummeted to 6!
I then completely lost my bottle and decided it might be best to preserve what men I had left for the next battle and ordered a withdrawal, which I have been regretting since getting home on Saturday. I should really have tried to fight on for a few more phases at least, Mike was going nowhere on my left and if he did try was bound to suffer big losses, my tank had done nowt yet and I still had the MMG and another section to get into action.
Anyway the battle was done and in such quick time we decided to go straight into the second one but first we had to do the post-match gubbins. This was very easy for Mike as he had lost no casualties at all! I, on the other hand, had with 1st Section suffering 2 killed, 2 wounded and 1 man fit to return to battle. This meant that 1st Section was reduced to 2 men for the next round, the men’s opinion of ‘Der Kaiser’ held firm at 0 mind although the CO’s opinion dropped to -1 and Beckenbauer’s outlook changed to ‘Thoughtful’ from ‘Content’.
Lesson learnt – DO NOT DEPLOY UNTIL YOU HAVE TO!!!!