Saturday, May 17, 2014

WW2 20mm West Front Goodwood mini-Campaign Game 5

Introduction
I have re-setup a1/2 a table tennis to continue playing a 7 game mini-campaign set over 2 days at the opening of Operation Goodwood. This is game 5.  Game 1 and some more background, see this blog post.  I set up and played Game 4 just after Christmas 2013 and then had to take it down so a friend had a place to sleep.  The friend has found a place to live so the campaign is back on!

Scenario 5 - Capturing Le Poirer
The Guards armoured reconnaissance battalion is tasked to clear a large farm of German defenders.

The campaign so far - British (orange) have won two, Germans (blue) have won two.
Troops
Germans
1 Panzer Grenadier HQ
3 Panzer Grenadier squads
1 Dispatch rider (allows for one automatic successful radio call for artillery)
3 Marder IIH (Actually H-39s but the scenario suggests they are treated as Marders so I will use Marders. I have no H-39s.)
1 FAO in Kubelwagon
Dedicated Artillery - 1 x 105mm (scenario has 2 but that would equivalent to 1 in my rules)
Reinforced building (I will treat as bunker that in my rules reduces flame and HE effects)

British
2 Squadrons
    1 Cromwell CS
    2 Cromwells
(scenario calls for 3 Cromwells but I do not have 6 of them, but do have 4 and 2 CS tanks)
1 Infantry command
3 Infantry squads
1 PIAT team in Bren carrier
1 Wasp
2 counter battery missions (I ignored this as my rules have no counter battery rules)

Scenario changes
Game is supposed to be on a 6'x6' but I am playing on a 4.5'x5'.  No changes to accommodate this, it will just be a little cramped!

The objective is the Chateau that starts in German hands.  Germans are in a defensive position.

Deployment
Germans deploy with Infantry unit and MMG in the Chateau. The Marders are setup around the centre with good LOS over the entire board.  The other two infantry units are placed on the flanks.  All German units are not spotted at the start of the game.

The British are hugging the centre and their left flank as a focus, rather than attack across the entire front.  The British are in the open will be spotted the moment they move.

British to the left, Germans the the right.
Painting sidenote
So I set the game up and then realised that I did not have any painted Cromwells.  The last time I had used Cromwells was in the early 90s and I used the time-honoured practice of simple substitution: a Airfix Churchill turret on a Matchbox Comet hull.  But in the intervening years I had obtained 4 unpainted Cromwells, 1 badly painted Cromwell and 2 unpainted metal Cromwell CS (with the 95mm howitzer).  Woo-hoo, if I paint them up I can make two squadrons of 2 Cromwells and a Cromwell CS. But the last time I painted a tank was...maybe 1988..could be 1994.  And all I used to do was spray them a colour. I know a lot more, even if I have never practiced it.  So, using paints I already had (I actually had British WW2 green in a spray can that still worked), I undercoated, top coated, dry brushed in a lighter green, washed in black and added some mud.  I also had to paint tracks and three tanks had infantry torsos I had to paint them too.  I think they came out OK for my first tank paint job in 20 years.

Some of the the painted tanks.  The red spot on the near tank is the previously badly painted tank colour that I missed covering up.
Game
British advance slowly as the infantry only move 6".

A shot of all the infantry, with some of the supporting tanks, just before moving out.
One Cromwell squadron does not move and keeps pumping HE shells into the Chateau, causing a few casualties. To the dismay of the Marders, this squadron is just out of range of the their guns.

The chateau from the British side.  A Marder to the right, the Kubelwagen FAO to the left.
The German 105mm offboard artillery cuts one infantry unit by 50% over a few turns. The unit valiantly carries on (passed all required morale checks).

Along the British right flank, they spot the MMG on the far side of the stone wall and the Cromwell tanks moving down that flank mow it down with their machine gun.

The rest of the early game was the Germans waiting until the British got within a decent range and the British madly trying to get into a decent range to spot the enemy.

End of the early game with the British advancing down the open fiends. The infantry unit in the centre is the one cut down to 50% by artillery.
A Marder III opens fire on a Cronwell in range but is destroyed by return fire.

The  (wrong camo) Marder in the woods on the German right.  Unluckily it was spotted with its first fire and the Cromwell target returned fire and destroyed it.
Mid game the German artillery and fire from the Chateau managed to rout the depleted advancing British unit, then they caused another unit to retreat and then subsequently rout.

The retreating infantry unit that routing with its next morale check.
Only one British infantry unit left of the British left flank.  At least it is well protected by the stone wall and being far away from the action.

The German Chateau infantry forces were eventually routed by Cromwell MG fire.  But no British infantry to take advantage of that fact.  The German infantry unit on the right and in the woods crosses to road into the centre woods to assist with a possible counterattack.  It lost a few units crossing the road from long range MG fire from Cromwells but otherwise OK.

Crossing the road from the German point of view.  Another Marder on the right.
The Cromwells at the rear finally advanced and one is destroyed by a Marder III.  There was a lot of long range fire between the 2 remaining Marders and the Cromwells with lots of ricochets but no pinning or destruction (a run of poor die rolls on both sides).

One of my favourite tanks that I get out at every opportunity.   This tank I acquired back in 1981 and was in use by that person for a few years before then.  Still going strong after nearly 35 years.  Esci (now Italeri) is my guess.

And the last of the British  infantry slooowly advance down the left side of the board, protected by the stone wall.  They have a long way to go.

Cromwells guarding the Chateau.  Favourite Marder bottom right.  Last of the British infantry can just be seen at the top of the picture.
The PIAT carrier advances next to the woods adjacent to the chateau and the PIAT team gets out to scout the wood.  German HQ fires at it from across the road for no effect.  The Wasp then advances and flames the Battalion HQ causing it to routs.  The FAO in the woods enters into melee with the PIAT crew and kills them.

The Germans have passed there force morale check twice but fail it now and retreat off the board.  A win for the British.

End game.  The British infantry have not made it to the chateau yet the the Germans are withdrawing so a win for the Brits.
Verdict
The game dragged a little bit when there was only one infantry unit left that hiked it on foot from one end of the board to the other.  Other than that is was a very close game and I had no idea who would win it until the Germans failed their morale.  This is the second game where poor die rolling has seen long range tank battles not inflict much damage.  It happens.  The rules (latest version from the my WW2 rules page) are working how I want them to and there are two more games to go to test them out.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

20mm East Front 1942 Battle of Butsk (second go)

Introduction
I played a second game with my friend's 9 year old son at Easter.  After playing that game, I then played the same scenario against my friend.  I did as well as I did in the game against his son i.e. not well.

Rules
We used the same rules as the earlier game.  We did not us any spotting rules. The rules are here (opens a pdf document).

Scenario
I used the same scenario - Battle for Butsk, east front August 1942 - that I have had electronically for a long time but never used. I was laying the Russians and to balance the game a little added an extra mortar and some extra infantry compared to the morning game.  It made no difference and was not enough to balance out the German advantage of occupying the town first.  For another replay, I would move the town a little further towards the centre OR increase the Russian forces by an extra unit of infantry OR add 2 more T34s and another AT gun.
 
Troops
German (W---)
3 Panzer IVJ
2 Panzer IIIJ
2 Sdkfz 250/9 (as I do not have any Sdkfz 222)
1 HQ
    1 halftrack
    4 rifles
1 Armoured Panzer Grenadier unit:
    9 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 halftracks
1 Motorised Panzer Grenadier unit:
    12 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 trucks

Russian (me)
3 T34/76
3 T-70
1 Tank riders
    9 SMGs
1 HQ
    3 rifles
    1 truck
2 infantry units each:
    12 rifles
    1 MMG
    4 Trucks
1 Support Unit
    1 45mm AT gun
    2 82mm mortar
    1 truck

Table setup
As per last game but to repeat: River running roughly down the centre and crossable by 3 fords only.  A village in the central area, but closer to the German edge. The objective is to hold more buildings of the town than the other side.  There are scattered woods and wheatfields.  The Germans have a good advantage as they can get to the village and occupy the building first.  This is what happened in this game.

The board, same as last game!
The Game
W--- split the forces in two - one to go directly for the village, the other to skirt around it to the left and come at the village that way, and also protect the left flank.  I, as the Russians, opted for something similar.

Germans in from the left, Russians from the right.  An overview of movement during the game.
W--- (Germans) very quickly realised that he could get his trucks down the road and into the building before I could. So he did that, taking over most of the buildings by turn 3.  The buildings are the objective, so it was a good focus.  By the end of turn three, I was still a move away form the buildings that W--- had already occupied.

The Russians coming in down the road with T70s leading.  Another unit of infantry in trucks makes its way over to the right.
The Germans have occupied all the building on their side of the road (to the left in this picture), backed up by the PanzerIVs.  Note we tend to remove transports once used as they just occupy space otherwise.
The Russians unloaded most of the SMG infantry off the back of the T70s into the woods just before the crossroads.  This was an excellent position for the German to machine gun them, which they did.  A single rifle figure fires with 1d6 while an MG uses 4d6 (and also fires out to 36" while a rifle is only 18").
The T70s unloading infantry into the adjacent woods. View is from the German held buildings.
It was I noticed the range from the SMGers to the closest building was more than 6" (the normal move for infantry) but less than 9".  In my rules, infantry get a 9" move if charging into close combat.  So I said to W--- "I know I haven't mentioned it, but infantry get a +3" move if charging into combat.  No, really, I am not making it up - it is in the rules".   I charged in and defeated the 2 Germans defending the building.  This was the only building I actually got to see the inside of, but I did kick him of of a few more (see later).

The building on the left bottom that was charged by the Russians and successfully occupied by them. Note all the other building have Germans in them.
The game turn is driven by a card deck - it had about 11 black cards, 8 red cards and a joker.  Cards are shuffled at the start of a turn and flipped over one at a time.  Black = any one German unit may activate (move and fire), Red = any one Russian unit may activate, Joker signifies the end of the turn. While there is about the same number of units on each side, the extra black cards represent the better German command and control (compared to the Russians).

So, the next turn starts.  Red card.  I charge another building and win.  Red card again.  I fire on another building, causing them to be pinned.  Red card again.  Fire on the pinned units and they are forced to retreat.  Red card again.  Fire on another building an cause a pin result.  Red card again.  Fire on another building and cause a pin.  Two more red cards but no further damage.  7 red cards in a row.  W--- was getting a little flustered with my run and was seeing all his hard work disappear.  But then the string of black cards came out (I think about 7).  Rallied the retreating unit, pinned and eliminated the units from the buildings I occupied.  Re-occupied the building with other troops.  KO's a couple of T70s. All the Russians gained lost and more. My hold was fairly tenuous so it was not going to take much to push me out again (and it didn't).
 
View from the Russian side - 1 T70 and all the infantry left on that side (about 30% of what I sent down the road)
Meanwhile, the German left flank was going well also. The Russians had sent one infantry unit down there but was facing the two Sdkfz 250/9, the PanzerIIIs and also an already occupied village.  I managed to get the infantry close enough to be protected by a stone wall and with a good shot at one of the buildings.

The Russians get a unit ready to assault the building to their front.

If we actually see what is around the building, we can spot Panzer IIIs to the right, the Sdkfz250/9 rumbling to the rear of the building, and infantry is in the building.
I believe my infantry survived one turn behind the stone wall - they were pinned, lost most of the figures in the unit and then quietly routed. A unit check morale when it loses figures and may become pinned.  If already pinned, it will retreat.  If it has lost at least 50% of the figures, there is a chance it will rout. 

The same happened in the central area.  My remaining two infantry units, already down to less than 50% each, routed under withering fire from the Germans.  It was at that point the Russians withdrew.  Without any infantry to control the building and half the armour gone, it was time to retreat. There is an overall force morale check when more than 40% of the units on the board are pinned or routed.  The Russians did not pass.

Panning back a bit further we see that there are no Russians behind the stone wall to the right.  The remaining T70 is pinned (white smoke) and you will not be able to spot a single Russian infantry figure - they have all gone. 
The T34's stayed to the rear but did not do much.  One was lost to PanzerIV fire.
The PanzerIVs also stayed in the rear but were in a good position to machinegun the Russian infantry approaching the village, or fire at the T34s.
Verdict
Another excellent outing for the rules.  They are working well.  And I finally got to play a WW2 game with W--- after about 10 years of it first being mentioned.  A good time and the whole game was over in 2 hours.