Club Night 01/04/19: France ’44, 15mm IABSM/COC

After the last game of IABSM I was moaning about the card activation and how I thought it slowed things down and increased the chance of you sitting there doing nothing for large parts of the game if you were unlucky in the card activations (or if, as happened to me once, someone forgot to add a card into the deck after coming off the blind). Des had a think about it and came up with a very simple but ingenious way of combining the dice activation from CoC with the core rules.

Activation was much the same as in CoC, 5 dice being rolled, but scaled up: 1 activated a team/section, 2 a platoon, 3 a Big Man 1 or 2 (i.e. a JL), 4 a Big Man 3 (a SL), 5 added a pip to a ‘Bonus’ die, and 6’s went to a ‘Tea Break’ dice. Multiple 6’s were treated the same as in CoC so 2 gave you another go (we used our system of decreasing the activation dice by 1 die every time). The ‘Bonus Dice’ was added to until you hit 6 pips (basically a CoC dice) whereupon you could pick a card from the bonus card deck. As soon as the ‘Tea Break’ die hit 6 – which was added to by both sides’ rolls – a Tea Break was called.

As well as the activation system from CoC we were using a similar support points system and so both sides had a core infantry company and a set amount of points that we could spend to beef things up. We would also be using the Force Morale system too with points lost for ‘Bad Things Happening’.

The scenario we would test these out with was nice and straightforward. Andy and I had to take a small village somewhere in the Bocage country. Facing us was the all singing and dancing  ‘Kamp Gruppe Bartram’ led by Daren. We managed to set up a rather spiffing table with the club’s terrain and Des’ lovely ‘Empires at War’ Normandy buildings (the 15mm versions of the ones seen on this blog before). The main picture below shows our view of the battlefield, and we hit upon a nice simple plan. I would take 2 of our platoons of infantry and push through the orchard to the right of the road whilst sending our recce jeep along the right flank whilst Andy would take our Sherman platoon along the left supported by the remaining infantry platoon. The enemy would be pinned in place once discovered then destroyed.

Things started very well with all of us getting into the swing of the new activation system easily enough. We decided to push my attack through first and soon I had 2 platoons in the Orchard and the jeep barrelling around bocage as it headed for the lateral road on the right. Then the shit hit the fan. My lads in the orchard must have been fresh from England as they failed to spot the PanzerGrenadiers that lined the hedge at the far end of the orchard until they opened up a murderous fire on my Napoleonic looking column. Pretty soon I was in all sorts of trouble as the German machine guns chewed through section after section and soon one of my platoons was pretty much out of action. My return fire was not the best but I did manage to cause some casualties assisted by the company mortars but I was forced to pull back out of sight to regroup and re-asses whilst the Germans slipped away to take up new positions in the village.

Just when I thought things were pretty bad they got worse. My recce jeep bumped into something along the road and I actually felt my jaw drop when Daren gleefully put out 2 Tigers – indeed both Daren and Des laughed at my re-action. I did have a go at one of the behemoths with my .30-cal before scooting back desperately trying to get into cover but both efforts were futile and one of the giant beasts pumped a HE shell into the plucky Jeep.

As the right flank was now well and truly shut down we decided that Andy best get forward on the left so he pushed his Shermans forward followed by the infantry. However pretty soon the sharp crack of an 88 signalled the appearance of 2 more Tigers! The American tankers tried valiantly to take on the big cats but pretty soon their Platoon commander and one other tank were burning. There was one small glimmer of hope though as the remaining infantry platoon managed to creep forwards whilst the tank duel was going on and soon a couple of bazooka teams were in position to get a flank shot at one of the Tigers. If they could get a successful shot away we might just be able to overpower the remaining one with the concentrated fire of the surviving tanks. But it wasn’t to be, the GI’s manning the rocket launchers were just too jittery and their missiles either sailed harmlessly past the massive tank or glanced off the thick steel (how they missed is still puzzling me, just how do you miss a Tiger side on?!!). Daren then turned the Tigers turret on the hapless bazooka men who would have been blasted to atoms if they weren’t close assaulted by a fresh platoon of PanzerGrenadiers.

With this further defeat Andy and I decided that enough was enough, most of our infantry was knackered and our tanks had been well and truly assaulted by the Tigers so we decided to concede defeat. Strangely though the surviving tanks disappeared during the retreat, and even stranger when we tried to get them on the radio to ask where they were we received this message back: ‘Woof, woof’. Odd.

Despite the defeat it was a cracking game and we all agreed that the new activation system vastly improved things and even I said I’d love to have another game so hats off to Mr. Darkin for coming up with the rules, we did come up with a few tweaks here and there but nowt too much which shows how well they worked.  Apart from the rules more thanks to Des for putting the game on and for bringing his lovely village set, the figures and models were Daren’s but now in the collection of Andy which is great as we  will still get to play with them as they are crackingly well done.

If you are interested in the new activation rules at all you can find them here – Des has called them: ‘Oh what a total bummer’: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216703912095462/files/

(I think: ‘I aint been CoC’d Mum’ was better but apparently that’s a bit rude?!)

As it was so nice and we didn’t get anywhere near it in the fight here’s some gratuitous shots of the lovely village! (available from here: https://www.empiresatwar.co.uk/15mm-NORMANDY-KITS.html)

 

 

 

 

Club Night 18/03/19: 20mm IABSM, France 1940 – Motorbiking!

I really should have posted a report on this game a lot earlier but was suffering from a bit of a fug at the time and hence now the details are a bit hazy which is a shame as it was good fun and it led to something which is potentially brilliant. Oh and it had tons of Motorcycles and sidecars.

The Germans (my side) were tasked with clearing a village of French types and had the following to do so: a platoon of Kradschutzen, a Platoon of Sdkfz 221/222’s, a PanzerGrenadier platoon, a platoon of 8-rads and a support platoon of Infantry gun, MG and Mortar sections. Things were going quite well for ages with our infantry and Hells Angels bumping into defending Poilus and blatting them with fire from supporting Armoured Cars until they buggered off – it’s the second time that I’ve used these cars and both times the 20mmm Auotcannons and MG’s they are armed with have made mincemeat of the opposition. We did suffer a bit from some defensive infantry and AT gun fire and artillery stonkage but we thought we were gaining the upper hand and then the Somua’s turned up and ruined everything, trundling about nonchalantly with a Gaulois hanging out of their gobs shrugging off our feeble attempts to damage them whilst brassing up everything they could. We prudently decided to withdraw and let the Stukas take over.

Good fun was had though and we got to use Ian’s lovely early war kit but Des and I got talking about the rules afterwards and I mentioned (again) how much I really don’t like the card activation aspect – slows the game down every time you have to add cards to the deck, if the GM forgets to add any it is a disaster and you are forever trying to remember who is who. A few days later Des emailed us all to say that he thought he’d come up with a cunning plan to weld the dice activation from CoC onto IABSM and should we try it, we all agreed so stay tuned for that, coming up next.

Before that though here’s the pics of the game. Remember you can make images larger by clicking on them.

 

Club Night, 28/01/2019: 1940 France,10mm Battlefront WW2.

Right then, back to getting posts done after a couple of doses of the horrible cold lurgy before Christmas then just after New Year, coupled with my blood condition being a bastard again too it really did me in and so I wasn’t fit for anything. I have a couple of CoC campaign games to write up too but have had a bit of writers block and all efforts have been shite quite frankly and I’m hoping a nice straightforward write up might clear the cobwebs so to speak and get the old juices flowing again!

Philip put a shout out for anyone interested in having a bash with his 10mm 1940’s kit and I jumped at the chance, Des wasn’t going to be at the club so we couldn’t have carried on with our Martlet campaign anyway, and I really do dig those French tanks! The scenario was loosely based on the action at Stonne when the French counter attacked a knackered out (or massively coming down from all that Pervitin they’d been necking?) Gross Deutschland Regiment and their Char B’s went on a bit of a romp.

I was given the following to undertake my mission, which was a nice and simple ‘secure the village’ order.

  • 2 x Companies of Char B’s (one was veteran)
  • 1 x Company of H-35’s
  • 1 x Battalion of Dragons Portees (Mech infantry in those crazy Lorraine carriers)
  • 1 x Panhard 178 armoured car platoon
  • 1 x off table 105mm battery
  • 1 x Potez as air support

The terrain was empty of troops but there were a series of blinds on table which would obviously be hiding some nastiness so my plan (yes I had one!) was to try and avoid the ones that would probably have some nasty 88mm Flak shaped nastiness in them and try the indirect approach. To this end I sent the infantry accompanied by the H-39’s on a flanking march around the wood with the aim of securing the ridge and establishing a base of fire there to hopefully assist in the assault on that end of the town whilst the tanks could also keep an eye out for any nasty Panzer types entering the table along the road.

 

At the other end of town I was going to charge the armoured car forward into town to see if it could draw the fire of any of the filthy Bosche lurking there and then once they were located one of the Char B companies would start to work on them and keep them occupied whilst hopefully breaking their will to resist. The veteran Char B company would go for a long sweep around the far side of the town to take out any supports for the garrison then linking up with the infantry to help shoot them into the village.

So, a nice simple plan that, for once, went well all things considered. My ‘recon by death’ saw the armoured car platoon embrace the spirit of Lannes and went the way of all good Hussars, their sacrifice did however identify targets for the following Char B’s to start firing on. Meanwhile over on my far right the lighter tanks and mechanised infantry started on their march for the ridge and as the passed the middle of the wood they were engaged by a 105mm Howitzer battery from their objective. Shrugging off the fire from the German gunners (only suffering some suppression) the tanks surged forwards and took the battery in the flank, shooting up the gunners and crushing the guns. Whilst this action was happening an 88 Battery that was hiding in the woods broke cover and headed for the outskirts of town. This caused me to change my plan somewhat and I de-bussed the Dragoons and ordered the through the wood to take on the mighty gun which had already started firing on the H-35’s on the ridge albeit not very well.

Meanwhile at the other end of town the Char B’s taking on the house clearing duties were making a right dogs dinner of evicting the filthy Bosche squatters, failing time after time to secure enough hits to either eliminate them or cause them to bugger off. They were also engaged by a 37mm AT gun firing from the wood which tried desperately hard to get a lucky shot through the side grill’s to no avail and soon one of the Char-B’s had dealt with this futile attempt at stopping them. The other Char B squadron was having a whale of a time round the other side of town, seeing off an enemy 20mm flak gun and swanning all the way round to the far wood without any mishap. Which was a good thing for my forces as by now some horrible panzers had turned up along the road and had started to engage the H-35’s on the ridge.

This tank duel was an indecisive affair for a while, with each of the two forces losing a platoon but once the German’s heavier tanks got involved they soon saw off the lighter French tanks (to be fair my rolling here was utter garbage, I just couldn’t get enough telling hits on the enemy!). However the Char B’s were now within range and shrugging off attacks by Stukas they started to engage the PzIII’s and IV’s still strung out near the road. This did allow the H-35’s to return to the fray from the ridge again once they had rallied and the German’s were stuck between two fires at one point but it wasn’t for too long as the  brave light tank men lost another platoon and retired from the battle (again appalling dice rolling here prevented me from taking full advantage).

Elsewhere the 88 had succumbed to the joint attentions of the French artillery and the Dragoon’s MG platoon and mightily pleased I was too! I also managed to get the Potez involved but its attacks on the newly arrived Panzer Grenadiers who had scurried into the houses along the road came to naught. At the other end of town the relentless pounding that the other Char B squadron was doing to the infantry company was finally starting to have an effect and some of the platoons were very close to breaking point. All I had to do was to win the tank battle and then the remaining Char B’s would have been able to help my artillery shoot my infantry into town and snatch victory.

Unfortunately this wasn’t to be as we ran out of time but I was happy to claim a winning draw! As usual it was a cracking game against Phil and it is always a pleasure using his lovely 1940 kit. My rotten luck with the dice did stymie my progress on the right but my plan seemed to be working ok, mind you I did manage to swerve the lethal 88 by guessing correctly where it might be and then I managed to knock it out in short order once I found it so that was a big bonus. Hopefully we can have another crack at this.

I lost my phone which had the pics of this battle on it, I’m going to see if Phillip has any I can pinch to jazz this up a bit but wanted to still post it.

 

Operation Martlet: Fight 4 – The Hauptkampflinie

Beckenbauer was angry with himself at letting the British bundle him out of the last position without a fight and was determined that this time it would be different. He had already been informed by the old man that his Zug was going to be replaced if and when they withdrew from the Hauptkampflinie that they now occupied as Leutnant Hitzelberger and his 2.Zug was now ready in position around the St. Nicholas farm.

The patrol activity had been better contained than before the last fight, whilst the enemy had managed to get to the far end of the garden they had been kept mostly far away from the main position. The Zug’s own forming up points were spread more or less along the lateral road and with the good defensive positions available amongst the houses and outbuildings of this position he was confident that he’d be able to make the Britishers pay a heavy price for taking the position and repulse them once more. He was pleased to see that he had the services of one of the tripod mounted MG’s from Company HQ and a couple of extra Panzerfausts and was also glad that he still had three full strength sections, even with Ballack’s continued attempts at getting himself killed, and the pioneers had done their business on fortifying the house to the left of the crossroads. All in all ‘der Kaiser’ was pleased with his chances and a quick tour of his positions to give some last minute instructions made him feel even better, the lads were itching for the fight.

Soon the peace and quiet was destroyed by the rip of sound from the HMG in the upstairs of the fortified house as it opened up on an enemy section that had started to make its way across the garden. The stone wall that they were hiding behind only helped them a bit though and first blood was drawn and the enemy quickly responded with a superbly targeted smoke round from one of their verdamt small mortars that completely blocked the view of the gun. The Britishers were learning very fast and under cover of the smoke the shot up section ran forwards to the cover of the barns in front of the fortified house. Pretty soon smoke rounds were falling all over the place with the road leading to the enemy completely blocked by it and the chief of the gun shouted out a warning that the Tommies were using its cover to run another section over the road that started moving towards the Hayloft in the main farm complex.

Beckenbauer looked over to his right and made a hand signal to Klinsmann. The blonde Wurttemberger gave a grin back and turned to his Gruppe. “C’mon lads, into the farm”, and with that they leapt over the wall into the courtyard, Jurgen directing one of his teams into the barn on the left to cover the road while he led the other section forward hoping to reach the Hayloft before the Tommies. However the unmistakable sound of tank tracks caused him to divert his lads to the low wall in the corner of the yard to investigate and hopefully get a shot off with the Panzerfaust. Unfortunately the Sherman that hoved into view was just out of range of their rocket grenade and before they could duck out of the way the tank fired a shell at them. “Scheisser!” yelled Klingsmann “Down, down, behind the wall!!” but luckily the Tommies must have been surprised to see them appear as their aim was out and the 75mm round hit the building behind them with no ill effect on his team apart from the slight shock of the near miss. ” Right, move, move” and he dragged and kicked his 3 men back out of sight alongside the Hayloft.

It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for the lads of Zweitte Gruppe however as whilst they had been playing peek-a-boo with the Sherman the Britishers had managed to run a section into the top of the Hayloft up the outside stairs and both sets of soldiers stood looking at each other through the open doors. Clearing his head Klinsmann decided what to do, “Grenades, quick chuck them up into the loft” but before his team could respond a full section of Tommies appeared through the door in front of them and all hell broke loose. When the dust had settled Klinsmann and his small band were kaput but the shock of the encounter, as well as the losses they incurred, caused the British to duck back into the safety of the downstairs room of the big barn.

While this short but bitter fight was happening the smoke that had been obscuring the view of the defenders cleared and the sight that greeted the gun team in the fortified house chilled them to the core. A huge Churchill tank was positioned in a great firing position and it had a very strange looking gun pointed at them. There was a detonation and what looked like a dustbin wobbled through the air at them and glanced off the roof. The detonation when this happened though was quite something and the gun team was dazed for a good while, their NCO still had enough wits about him though and he bundled his team out the back of the house before the beast of a tank could fire at them again. Luckily for them they just managed to miss the mortar barrage that had fallen on the crossroads which had just lessened enough in intensity to allow them to escape.

“Get that gun set up on the wall down the road, I want you to cover the farmyard. Quick, before the mortars start up again” Beckenbauer yelled at their Gefreiter and quickly looked over to the left where he had sent Breitner’s men. They were there as he had thought that the Tommies skulking round the buildings to the left of the road were going to make a dash through the cover of the orchard and try and outflank them. His fear of an outflanking move grew more and more as the enemy kept trying to drop smoke rounds in front of the hirsute Bavarian’s Gruppe. He was just thinking about ordering them forward to winkle out the hiding Tommies to their front right when the mortar barrage suddenly shifted across and increased in ferocity again. The screams that were just about audible above the sounds of the falling mortar rounds told him that Breitner’s lads were suffering. Franz punched the ground and cried out “Dumpkopf” in frustration, he just hadn’t ordered them forward in time as he was distracted elsewhere and now his lads were paying the price.

Luckily the barrage quickly stopped and Erste Gruppe had ‘only’ suffered 3 casualties and a new threat appeared. Over on the right the Sherman that had tried to take out Klinsmann and his team earlier had swung round the right of the farmyard and was looking to get into the lateral road which would have been curtains for them. Luckily the old bullet magnet Ballack was on hand and he calmly ordered his men along the hedge and said quietly “Prepare for tanks, get the ‘faust ready”. His rocket grenadier peeped through the hedge once to get an idea of where the large green vehicle was and then popped up and let loose. The rocket sped on it’s way and hit the British tank, the Sherman carried on for a meter or two then shuddered to a halt and smoke spewed out from it before it blew up in a fantastic pyrotechnic display. “Excellent Hans”, Ballack shouted above the din , “Beers and Slivovitz for you later”.

Beckenbauer’s elation at this good news quickly turned sour however as the British section that had been hiding in front of the fortified house suddenly appeared on the lateral road, they had taken advantage of the attention being shown to the tank threat and were now in a position to start rolling up the flank. Breitner and his remaining men tried to get off a volley at them but they were still feeling the effects of their stonking and so it was ineffectual. The grizzled veteran quickly assessed the situation: The MMG was now set up and was keeping the two British sections in the Hayloft pinned for now but they could easily slip out of the stairs at the back and re-deploy to the flanks. The surviving team from Klinsmann’s gruppe was still in the barn by the road but could easily make it back to the safety of the road, but that was only safe for now. Breitner’s lads were a wreck and now also effectively cut off. Yes Ballack’s men were at full strength but for how long? Especially if the enemy could get that huge Churchill into action again or start up with the mortars. No, morale was not great and he had lost 6 men as well as one NCO so it was time to pull out. With that he loaded his flare pistol and fired the signal for withdrawal. Hopefully 2.Gruppe would be able to catch up them later.

cof
Butcher’s Bill

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This was just about the tensest game of CoC either Des or I had played to date. Des had really upped his game making great use of smoke from his bloody 2″ mortars (are there any German players who don’t hate these things?), although the one targeting the section on the left consistently mis-aiming in the same place repeatedly was admittedly very funny. The fight in the Hayloft was sort of weird, we had a sort of Mexican standoff at one point and then Des asked if we could chuck grenades at each other, I said yes but couldn’t get the right dice (curse of the double 4’s and no 3’s) to do so and when it was his turn with a double 6 he brilliantly pushed forward a JOP so that he could deploy a section to close assault my dithering team. Unfortunately I wasn’t carrying much shock or pinned so he was facing an MG42 from the front. He lost more men than me so even though he wiped me out he had to withdraw – which I could see was plausible given the situation. I also got lucky with the ‘dustbin of death’ from the AVRE missing. I did make some stupid mistakes (I blame me still suffering from the lurgy) namely splitting Klinsmann’s team and pushing them forward like that and deploying Breitner’s team when I didn’t have to. I had appalling luck on the Bad Things Happen table too and my starting morale of 9 quickly dropped and I ended up on 4 when I decided to bail. But I did manage to cause some more casualties and maybe scare his tankers from getting too close to my infantry from now on. Let’s see how the new Zug gets on….

 

 

Operation Martlet: Fight 3 – Pushing on and bugging out

‘Verdamt!’. Beckenbauer quickly looked around at the men nearest to him, they didn’t look good and it worried him slightly. Ever since they had successfully disengaged from the advanced position and had reached this new one they had been under a terrific drumfire that had kept them all in the dug-outs and cellars that had been prepared for them. The strain was beginning to tell, they had already fought two actions since 04:00 that morning and had been lucky in that no-one had been killed but the odds that that luck would hold out were now very long. He had not been able to patrol the area to his satisfaction in between the waves of gunfire and when they had been able to the Tommies were very much in evidence.

He was wrenched back into the present by a ringing on the field telephone next to him: ‘Achtung, Englander!!’. He raced up the stairs of the cellar and into the observation post in the roof of the house he was in and looked out to see the Britishers advancing rapidly on their positions right on the heels of the gunfire, he also could see a massive tank with a strange looking stubby gun back along the road through the dust and haze too: ‘Scheisse!’. With that his mind was made up. He quickly ran back down into the cellar and reported what he saw to ‘Der Bomber’ who was still with them.

‘You’re right old man, no use in staying here to get slaughtered as soon as we try and move into position, especially as we don’t have that panzer any more. Tell the lads to fall back to the main line. No use taking any unnecessary casualties here and we’ll have more chance of holding them there.’ With that Beckenbauer wasted no time in calling his sections and telling them to pull out quickly, this round to the Tommies but next time would be very different…..


 

First up apologies for the tardiness in getting this written but I’ve had a terrible cold and cough for the past few weeks and just haven’t been in the mood, the campaign will be back in the New Year!

Basically Des played a blinder in the patrol phase (5 free moves I think!) and with me not being able to deploy due to the barrage he was right on top of my JOP’s in no time and he had the AVRE along too. Discretion being the better part and all that I decided to bug out as the platoon will be replaced after the next table so best keep them as intact as possible for that one and there’s more chance of holding him there and causing more casualties.

I rolled really well on the opinion tables though and although the CO’s didn’t change the men were very happy I got us out when I did and their opinion went up by 2 (it’s now 6 with the CO at 1, so not too shabby!).

As it took longer to set the terrain up than it did to play through the scenario we decided to play again. As Dan was without a game and I had enough with me to sort out another platoon we made the CoC bigger and had a great bash with the Jerries coming out on top thanks in part to a damned good stonking! Here’s a few pics (as usual click on them to have a better look!):

Operation Martlet: Fight 2 – More Fontenay probing

Beckenbauer shook his head. The action was twofold, firstly to clear all the loose dirt that had fallen in on him from the roof of the dug-out and secondly in slight awe at the continued ferocity of the enemy shellfire that was falling on their positions – “If only we had such artillery support, eh Jurgen!” he half shouted to the other occupant of the command post and smiled at the tall Swabian – “Go and fetch Huth and his lads and take them back to Headquarters, the old man is sending us up a nice surprise for the Tommies in their place.” The NCO smiled back and promptly ducked out of the door and set about his task.

‘Der Kaiser’ thought about the mornings action and was quietly proud of his men. They had seen the Englanders (“No”, he chided himself, “Britishers – they were ‘Jocks'”) off without any casualties and the men’s morale was high, the CO was pleased too and when he asked if he needed anything Franz had jumped at the chance to request some heavier weapons and was told that a tripod mounted MG42 was on its way up. He had decided to position it where Huth’s team were in the last fight, they’d really give the enemy something to worry about and might make the use of the house a more hairy proposition. Apart from the added firepower of the HMG not much else had changed, the Granary had collapsed due to the damage that it had sustained both in the last action and the intense barrage that had started to fall as soon as the enemy disengaged. That gunfire was the reason that he was unable to push any patrols forward but he was ok with the disposition of his men , they were more or less where they were before and he’d already been round to speak to them all and was confident they knew what they were expected to do.

He was brought out of his reverie by a familiar voice – “Haven’t they killed you yet old man!” 1.Zug’s commander turned to see the Adjutant standing at the entrance and a quick salute was swiftly followed by a firm handshake. “As Klopp was coming back to HQ I guessed that would mean you would have to run around looking for Iron Crosses when the shooting starts so I thought you might need someone here to help out. I’ve also brought that MG team up with me and I’ve even managed to acquire another Panzerfaust from somewhere.”

“Excellent sir, you wouldn’t happen to have a 2 week leave pass in your pocket too?”

“Now, you know those sorts of things are not for the likes of you or I Oberfeldwebel. Stop all that nonsense and get out there with your men”.

With that Beckenbauer picked up his machine pistol, pulled his cap firmly on and, pausing only to give a quick wink to ‘Der Bomber’, left the command post. He called over to the MG team who were sheltering in a roadside ditch, told them to follow and headed off through the barrage to the forward positions. Once he reached the front he told the Machine gunners to get set up in the forward trench and to watch the house over on the left as he didn’t think the Tommies would make the mistake of coming across the fields again. He took the ‘faust off of them and gave it to Breitner’s lads who were now hidden up next to him in the hedgerows by the crossroad, having swapped places with Zweite Gruppe. However one of Klinsmann’s lads was positioned up in the Calvary with his section’s anti-tank rocket too with orders to take on any tanks using the road (he’d be useless in the ‘bunker-house’ with it). He was certain that the enemy would be using armour this time and wanted to give as many chances as possible to stop any breaking through in case Schumacher and his panzer was knocked out. Nothing else to do now but wait, and he didn’t have to for long.

Movement was seen behind the hedge that ran away from the British house and it looked like a section was headed towards their position, some more helmeted heads were seen further back and the Gefreiter in charge of the HMG team decided to try and have a go at them. In reply he received a smoke shell from a mortar that completely blinded the team, it definitely looked like the Tommies were learning! Just in case the enemy was planning on trying to jump the wall opposite the collapsed building Ballack and his men were ordered up into the ruins to hold that flank. Pretty soon the field telephone rang and Klinsmann told Beckenbauer that from his OP in the first floor of the ‘bunker house’ he had just seen an enemy section leave the British house but that he couldn’t engage them as the shelling they were experiencing had trapped his men in the cellar of the house. As soon as they could dig themselves out though they’d be engaging the target. Also, a tank was on its way up the road.

Beckenbauer quickly fired off the signal flare to tell Schumacher that it was time to bring his tank up to engage enemy armour and peered over the hedges to his front to check if the smoke was still obscuring the view of the HMG team, it was. Over on the left the enemy had managed to cross the high wall opposite the barnyard and set up to attack Ballack’s men. First they threw a grenade which wounded one of Dritte Gruppe as well as Ballack himself and whilst they were getting over the shock a smoke grenade was lobbed, the Tommies were definitely learning! Under cover of this smoke some British riflemen started to move round the other side of the Granary ruins to flank the dazed German position.

A loud crack rent the air on the right as the Zug’s attached Panzer IV fired at the enemy Sherman, but instead of the green beast bursting into flames a loud ‘CLANG’ was heard and a streak of light shot into the sky as the armour piercing round deflected upwards. “Scheisse!” Schumacher immediately ducked back into the turret just as the return shot from the Sherman slammed into the cupola. Luckily it glanced off but he was hit by some spalling in the face and had his eardrums burst as well, the rest of the crew were rightly shocked by this turn of events but he quickly ordered them to keep engaging the tank whilst he concentrated on staying conscious.

 

With the outlook for 1.Zug looking grim, fate intervened and a large gust of wind got up and cleared the smoke away, and to make matters even better the British guns stopped suddenly. Beckenbauer reacted quickly jumping up and shouting over to the MG team “Take out those men by the house, and tell that lad with the Panzerfaust to get ready as he might have a tank to deal with at any moment”. The MG team didn’t need telling though as they were about to open fire and soon British soldiers were falling and the survivors were running back into the house in a semi-panic. ‘Der Kaiser’ shouted out again “Keep firing at them in the house, make them run!”, and so the machine gun started up again. The section that had jumped the wall also suffered from the shift in the wind as Dritte Gruppe opened up with their two MG42’s and even though they lost another two men to return fire pretty soon they decimated the enemy and they quickly retreated back over the wall to safety taking the men that were on the outflanking manoeuvre with them.

Beckenbauer again looked over the hedge and he was quietly pleased, the British infantry had been clearly beaten again and he was feeling confident, however he was worried about the Sherman sat out on the road, it hadn’t moved for a bit and he had only seen one more round from the Panzer graze its turret. Just as he was thinking what to do next the allied tank lurched forwards, and he shouted out to the lad waiting in ambush in the Calvary to get ready. Unfortunately the worried youngster took the warning as an order and fired, the rocket hitting the ground just in front of the target which was just about at maximum range. “Verdammt!”, Beckenbaur turned to the NCO next to him behind the hedge – “Paul get you men ready with the ‘fausts, we are going to have company very soon if those poxy Panzer boys don’t do their job!”.

Unfortunately ‘those poxy panzer boys’ were still in a state of panic, with their commander drifting in and out of consciousness and their optics all out of whack from another strike to the turret they just couldn’t manage to get a shot on target and the one that they did didn’t seem to do any damage at all, again deflecting harmlessly away. This seemed to give the enemy tankers confidence and they surged forwards along the road again. Breitner was delighted and ordered his two lads to open up with their Panzerfausts, there was no way they could miss but the British tank must have been made out of lucky horseshoes and both rockets sailed harmlessly past its massive bulk. Contemptuously ignoring the infantry for now the Sherman fired once more at the Panzer IV scoring another hit which caused the German tank to back up quickly and then the hatches popped open and the crew bundled out dragging their commander with them.

The field ‘phone went off by ‘Der Kaiser’ again, it was the Adjutant – “Franz, get the men out, no sense hanging around, they might have another tank on the way and we need to fall back to the next defensive line whilst we still have an intact force”. Beckenbauer didn’t want to give up the ground they had held so well but he knew that Muller was right, they’d given the enemy a very bloody nose and were in good shape and could escape without further loss so he agreed and got the message out to his men. “Fall back to the farm”.

The withdrawal went without a hitch, the enemy tank that had broken through their lines was easily dodged as it wisely stayed buttoned up and the enemy had taken such a beating that their infantry waited for them to leave the position before moving up. Ballack’s lads that were wounded were ok to carry on and Beckenbauer assured the Saxon that he’d definitely be in reserve next time round as the medics bandaged him up again. Once again the Zug had got through a fight without any losses, apart from the walking wounded of Dritte Gruppe the HMG team had someone wounded by a sniper just at the end of the fight but, again, not too seriously. The big loss was the Panzer, but hopefully the closer terrain of this new position would mean that the enemy might not attack with armour. Even with this setback, the men’s morale was very good and he was feeling secure in the knowledge that they would perform well in the next fight.


 

Des started this fight at a big disadvantage, he was down 8 men so had basically lost a section not only that but his men weren’t too happy and the CO had the hump too. He had planned to compensate for this by using mortars to flatten my position and hopefully cause me to bug out to prevent heavy casualties. The Sherman was to help in this if it managed to take out the Panzer IV and to try and make the breakthrough. I was happy to just wait and see what he did and was willing to ride out the pre-game bombardment if possible without putting anyone on the board – my men’s and CO’s opinions were great and I wanted to retain as much of my strength as possible. I went for the HMG as I figured he’d keep his men in cover so wanted something to negate that and the extra ‘faust as I figured he’d bring a tank too.

Luckily for me he lost his FOO in the fog and so he had to come up with another plan on the hoof and so pushed his infantry forward. Again I got lucky, rolling a triple 6 to clear the smoke and was able to catch his men in the open once more. With his infantry shattered and broken I was actually quietly confident I could see him off again, my luck definitely seemed like it was in –  I even threw well for all my morale checks not losing a point all night. That’s why I didn’t panic when it looked like I was going to lose the tank battle, I had 3 Panzerfausts he had to get past before he could get the tank off table. Obviously the dice gods didn’t like my cockiness as I missed with all 3 and then Des got a double phase to get his tank through and off the table.

Another cracking game and we can’t wait for the next instalment on Monday. We used another house rule this week, taken from the forum. Each time we rolled a double 6 we took an activation dice away from the next roll, seemed to be ok and neither of us got more than one extra bound so we’ll keep tabs on if this is an effective way to prevent ‘double 6 romps’ as we progress.

My lads came through without any casualties again and I’m sitting pretty opinion wise with the men’s morale on a +1 for the next game and the CO happy too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Martlet: Fight 1 – Probe at Fontenay

‘Der Kaiser’ took a deep draw on his pipe and looked around at the faces of his men gathered round in the semi-darkness of the cellar. They had been through a rough time over the past few weeks but they were all ready and he knew that he’d be able to rely on them to do their duty once the Tommies attacked. That they were to be assaulted once more was obvious, they had been suffering one of the worst barrages any of them had experienced since the war had started and last night’s patrolling had bumped into some stiff opposition. Thankfully there weren’t any casualties but it had firmed up his belief that the attack was imminent and so he had called his NCO’s together for a final briefing.

The old man had beefed up his Zug by sending him Huth and his 5 riflemen from HQ, Klopp had come along with them too and they’d agreed between them that he’d go forward first to help keep the fight going while Franz stayed back to help keep the lads moving up to their positions as they might need encouraging through the awful drumfire. Thanks to the patrolling Beckenbauer thought that he had a good idea of where the Britishers would develop their attack. They had gained control over the house on the other side of the road from the barnyard and if he was them he’d also probably sneak up behind the hedge too that ran off away from that house, otherwise they’d have to advance across the wide open fields to the front. One thing that might assist the enemy was the horrible mist that had come down but that would help his lads too.

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Before the fighting started, view from the German lines

He took one last puff on his pipe, tapped it out and smiled at his NCO’s. “Right, lets to it then. Ballack: your boys look after the Barnyard, watch for the Britishers coming over the wall on the left; Huth, you handsome devil, get your team into the trench over the road but don’t expose yourselves unless you see any Tommies coming across the fields; Brietner, put your Gruppe into the house on the right, the pioniere have kindly reinforced it for you so sit tight, watch the fields but pay attention to the hedges and the house over on the left; Klinsmann you get to be the reserve this time; Schu’, I’ll keep you and your Panzer with me back here until we find out where the enemy’s are; Jürgen, you know what we talked about earlier. Right then gentlemen, back to your lads, good luck.”

It seemed like ages before there was any sign of the enemy but eventually some of the silly British helmets were soon seen popping up in the window of the house on the left, then all of a sudden a section of infantry spilled out of the door in front of the house. Obergefreiter Ballack couldn’t really believe what he was seeing ‘Must be new to this’ he thought and turned to his men, “Right boys: into the gateway and open up on the Englanders to our front”. With that his 6 men left the wall they had just climbed over (thank god there were a couple of ladders knocking about) and walked into the courtyard where they opened up with their 2 MG42’s at the khaki clad infantry in front of them. Their fire was accurate and they saw at least 2 men fall as well as the leader whilst the survivors hit the deck quickly. The shock of their attack meant that the return fire from the enemy was not great but one of the men was hit and Ballack quickly told him to head to the rear whilst ordering the rest into the barn and cover. The remainder of the Zug weren’t joining in though, probably due to the still fierce bombardment they were under or the slowly clearing mist obscuring their view. So he was happy to stay put, maybe the initial exchange of fire would make the Britishers cautious, but he’d definitely given them something to think about.

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Ballack’s men pile it on…
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… and duck out of the way (excuse the barn a WiP but needed for the night!)

All of a sudden another section of the enemy appeared at the end of the open ground in front of the position and they moved steadily forwards, unfortunately for them the barrage suddenly stopped and both Huth and Brietner ordered their men to open fire at the clear target that they offered. Pretty soon the poor Tommies were cut to pieces, their NCO was seen to fall as he was encouraging his men forwards and soon he was joined by a few others whilst the remainder were pinned where they were. Soon a couple more of them fell to the continuing deadly fusilade that they were suffering from and things were not looking good for the rest. The enemy response to this withering fire was a couple of bursts of Bren gun fire from the house against Breitner’s position which did no damage apart from an unlucky shot that somehow nicked the short NCO. “Don’t worry about me lads, just keep firing at those poor bastards in the field out there” he shouted “I’ll just patch myself up and be back with you in a minute”.

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Huth’s riflemen shooting up the distant British in the open

The British outside the house also opened up directed by their now recovered Corporal at Huth’s Gruppe manning the trench which offered them such good protection that no harm came to anyone. The big Berliner was just about to order his men to switch targets to return fire on their attackers when the field between them erupted in mortar fire that also covered the barn yard. ‘I hope that Ballack is alright’ he thought for a second then got back to the job in hand, “Keep firing boys, those mortars won’t hurt you”. Ballack was far from alright though. He had been moving his men into the top of the barn so that he could either fire out of the doors and window or move them down the steps at the back if needed when the mortars hit. Two of his men were hit by a falling beam and the rest of them were in a right state, hopefully they would be able to stand it a while longer but for the moment they were pinned where they were.

Back at the command post Beckenbauer was quietly pleased, he’d received a report from the fortified house over the phone that one British section was being chopped to pieces out in the open and was bound to break anytime soon; one had taken casualties but was now inching forwards towards the barnyard, although they wouldn’t be able to go too far as they would walk into their own mortar fire, and a third one had been in the house but hadn’t been seen for a while. No Britisher tanks had been seen or heard which was also good but he was worried for the men in the Barnyard, all infantrymen hate mortars most and he knew things wouldn’t be going well for them especially as the barn was really taking a pasting and looked like it could collapse at any minute. He decided that he’d send his armour forward, the sight of the Panzer IV might just put the wind up the enemy enough to encourage them to withdraw as their morale must be shaky by now what with the pasting they were getting. He ordered Schumacher to keep an eye out for enemy armour and to ignore the infantry, he was sure that they must have some and he’d be foolish to ignore that potentially deadly threat.

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The British slowly inch forward under cover of their mortars

Meanwhile the poor infantry that were being targeted out in the open had finally had enough and the four survivors broke and ran towards the hedges over on the left where Breitner’s men could see some men moving about. The tough Bavarian had patched himself up and though still groggy directed his men’s fire at the point where the escaping men had ran to. Huth’s men still couldn’t see much due to the mortar fire and he quickly kept them busy sorting out their ammo and looking to their front for any more Englanders emerging from the mist. In the barn things were going from bad to worse, Ballack had been slightly wounded and his three remaining men were now in a state of panic, he didn’t blame them after the pasting they’d been subjected to recently and seeing half of their number down, and then one more fell under a piece of roof he knew they’d not hang around much longer. When there was a sudden slackening in the ferocity of the barrage the two survivors grabbed the still dazed NCO and dragged him down the stairs at the back and into the orchard at the rear.

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The unfortunate British section just before they broke
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The British mortar barrage loses a couple of tubes
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Ballack and his remaining 2 men make the safety of the orchard

Breitner had seen the British section that had been inching forwards along the wall rush across the road round the side of the barn as soon as the mortar fire slackened and had got on the blower to Beckenbauer. The Oberfeldwebel then sent forward the last Gruppe to shore up the flank and to counter that move. Klopp went with them to see if he could help and and he quickly started rallying the dazed survivors of dritte Gruppe. Klinsmann had his men line the hedges on the side of the orchard and got them ready to open up on anyone coming round the corner of the barn. Whilst this was happening the Panzer had been targeted with a smoke round and so Schumacher decided to move off to the left to get a better view of things, this movement coupled with another burst of fire from the Gruppe in the fortified house at the enemy behind the hedge seemed to trigger something and soon the most advanced enemy section by the barn was seen running hell for leather for the ‘British’ house and safety and those behind the hedge melted away.

 

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They had done it, the enemy had retreated. Klopp gingerly entered the frankly knackered barn to check on the casualties from Dritte Gruppe and was relieved to find that they had just been knocked out and would be fit for action after a stiff drink and a couple of cigarettes. The other casualty from Ballack’s men also would be able to return to action immediately and both Ballack and Breitner would be ok to fight on too as their wounds were just superficial.

‘Der Kaiser’ filled his pipe once more as he listened to Klopp’s report, the enemy had definitely lost 5 men killed as their corpses were still where they fell and must have suffered the same again in wounded whilst 1.Zug had come through with a full compliment of men. He hoped the old man would be happy with their work, he was, but he also knew that the enemy would be back and they would have learnt from this encounter. next time they might not be so lucky……

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Well a cracking game to kick off the campaign and even though it didn’t go his way Des enjoyed it as much as I did (well, perhaps not!) .

I managed to get my JOP’s where I more or less wanted them – basically the classic positions for this scenario and Des did manage to get a couple into cover. Des suffered a bit from the mist effect losing a ‘spare’ rifle section and another mortar I think. Whilst I couldn’t get my lads on the table early I was wracking up the 5’s and so quickly built up a COC dice. Unfortunately for Des I used this to good effect when I had a good set of activation dice, hitting his section out in the open with 2 MG42’s and 5 rifles was going to hurt even outside close range. I really don’t know what he was thinking sticking them out in the open like that especially after I had just shot up his first section from the Barnyard. I did get lucky with hits on his leaders though, killing one outright and wounding another and  after rolling badly on the ‘Bad Things Happen’ chart for one of these his morale went from 8 to 6 and so I knew all I had to do was to try and wipe out the poor buggers in the field to try and break him, I’d also reduce his platoon by a third if I was lucky and it wasn’t a support option.

His mortars were doing a good job though and they nearly wiped out one of my sections but I was saved by our new house rule covering mortars. We had talked about how overpowered they were after our last game when I just mortared the crap out of his men and so to help reduce the ‘death from above’ we hit on this idea:

Each time you activate the mortars you roll a dice: 1/2 you get 2 tubes, 3/4 you get 4 tubes and 5/6 you get a full 6 tubes. 6 tubes gives you the standard 9″ radius as per the rules but you reduce it by 3″ for each 2 tubes less. So 4 tubes = 6″, and 2 tubes = 3″.

The rationale is that some of the tubes might be called to fire on other targets that are being called in from other platoons in the company. The idea worked great, his first few rounds of mortar fire was of 6 tubes and this meant that my section in the barn were stuck under the fire and were suffering, however as soon as he rolled 2 tubes the footprint of the barrage reduced enough that the survivors broke and ran to the rear. If they were suffering enough shock to have pinned them they’d have stayed put obviously but if they weren’t pinned and weren’t broken they’d be able to try and leg it out of the way of the blast zone before the fire increased again.

After breaking his infantry section who were stuck pinned in the open without a Junior Leader to help them rally shock off and then wounding his CO when firing on them again when they finally legged it into cover nearby Des’ morale hit 4. With no chance of him managing to run his most advanced section off the table without being chopped to bits by my reserve section he wisely decided to pull out. He suffered 10 casualties as well as a Junior leader dead from his core platoon and his CO’s and men’s opinions of his Platoon leaders can’t be too good after that – we are going to do that before the next game on Monday. Although I did suffer 4 casualties my morale ended on 8 so got them all back due to the difference with his and I reckon ‘Der Kaiser’ will be a bit popular too. I’m expecting a totally different approach from Des next go though.

Des summed up why I love these rules so much on Monday: ‘I hate this game, you have to think about everything you do constantly and the slightest mistake costs you big time. Fucking brilliant!’.