Thursday, 26 April 2012

WW2 battle report - Western Front 1944 using 20mm and Take Cover

In the process of rearranging three rooms in the house, a vacant spot turned up in a corner of a room.  While awaiting being filled by a cupboard in a few months time, I measured the spare space - perfect for a 4.5'x 5' table (half a table tennis table).  Even bigger than the fold out 3'x5' table I have.  So, with the promise I will only have use the corner for a week, I set up and played a 20mm WW2 Take Cover game. It was a year ago I last played with my 20mm collection and have done a couple of 6mm games during the year.  I had promised myself to try and get a 20mm game in during 2012 so I have achieved that goal.  The cat ate some trees, the small children moved some terrain and figures around at times, but I managed to get in a decent solo game.

Cat caught chewing the tress
An example of what the cat left behind.  Note that tree droppings ended up everywhere over the table and you can see bits of tree lying on the table in most of the pictures
I was not planning on a game.  I have about 150 Red Devils figures I acquired last year and wanted to use them but had no scenarios with them in.  Several hours reading of unit organisations and WW2 history later, I realised I wasn't going to setup something too historical in the time I had to think about it.  I wanted it to be Spring/Summer and not too urban, so this is a hypothetical scenario as the 6th Airborne are advancing towards the Seine during August 1944.  Objective is for the British battalion to open the road that runs down the table.  Note that the Germans have two Marder IIIs as I got these about 5 years ago but have never fielded them, and it is plausible that they were used.  The companies are all below strength, particularly the Germans.
Germans (regular)
Battalion HQ: 5 figures
1st company: 6 figs + 1 Panzerschreck + 1 MMG
2nd company: 6 figs + 1 MMG
Support: 1 75mm howitzer (gun 6 no AP) + 2 81mm mortars (gun 6 no AP)
Armour: 2 x Marder III (gun 5, Light Armour)
6th Airborne (veteran)
Battalion HQ: 6 figs + 3 jeeps
1st company: 12 figures
2nd company: 10 figures
3rd company: 10 figures
AT support: 2 6pdrs (Gun 6) + jeeps + 3 PIATs + carriers
MMG support: 2 MMG + carriers
Mortar support: 2 3" mortar (gun 6 with no AP) + carriers
Artillery: Corp 25pdrs (gun 4)
Note: Small arms fire from Companies 1, 2 and 3 will be +1 at range 0-6" due to proliferation of SMGs.
Playing solo, I usually play both sides to the best of my ability.  Not bored with this yet and happy to cheer each side on - I am more interested in how the game plays out and represents warfare.  But I did deploy the Germans on one day, and then a couple of days later use a photo of the initial table layout to determine the orders for the British.  At least this way, each sides deployment was a little independent of one another.  As an added bonus, I got a head cold in between deployments, so I couldn't remember the German deployment at all when it came to the British orders!

The table from the British side.  The vehicles, and the bear passenger on the right -  were not used; my 'helpful' children put them there.

German deployment
Battalion HQ is the rear woods.
1st company split across ruined farmhouse and the fields between village and farm. The MMG is detached and in the village covering the fields in front of the rest of the company.
2nd company in the village.
Howizter is at the rear to halt any advance down the German right flank.
Marders are to the rear and split (they can be up to 24" apart) across guarding the road and guarding any advance down the German left flank.

German Deployment
Closer look at the village and what the British 2nd company will face.

6th Airborne orders
1st Company to enter though the left woods and take the farm.  Once farm is taken, meet up with 2nd company in the village and advance down road. MMG to support advance of  1st company.
2nd company to advance on the left side of the road and take the village. Await 2nd company and continue down the road.  AT to support advance of 2nd company.
3rd company to advance through the woods to the  fork in the road and act as a reserve.
Battalion HQ to follow 3rd company. 
Mortars to end and deploy at rear (and commander in the battalion may attempt to call for in-battalion mortar support).

British orders
Rules Changes
I am using card driven initiative - a deck of cards with each unit represented by a card, includes a "game end" card to re-shuffle the deck.  A unit does all it actions on the draw of a card.  I have moved the morale part of the turn sequence to be the first thing a unit does as it works better with the card driven game.  Infantry if fired on have to take a morale check (note in the Take Cover amendments there is a special d10 based infantry fired on morale table - I just use the normal morale table in this instance).  Lastly, I have expanded the vehicle armour ratings - instead of Medium (+0 mod to penetration role) and Light (+1) and Soft Skin (+2), I have added in Very Light (+2).  This means universal carriers, halftracks and armoured cars are now very light.  And lastly, I have more transports per figure - a truck etc can carry only 3 squads, not 10 as per the Take Cover organisations.  Not that there are any trucks in this game as the 6th Airborne was very short on transport.  I used all this amendments in my last Take Cover 6mm game and they worked fine.

The Game
1st company forms up into platoons of 3 figures each and leapfrog over one another through the woods and over the fields into the outskirts of the farm.

On the outskirts of the farm

After quite a bit of a firefight, the 4 figures in the ruined farmhouse are gone for no British casualties.  Quite surprising, as the rules are quite deadly: 4 figures firing against someone in soft cover will inflict a casualty on a 3+.  But the Germans rolled lots of 1s and 2s.  The 75mm howitzer manages to get in shots at some figures in and around the farmhouse, but eventually a MMG takes the howitzer crew out.

Farmhouse is secured by 1st Company with minimal casualties
The German MMG in the village also takes out some more of the company.  That MMG is silenced by British mortar fire.  A platoon of 1st company enter into the woods next to the farm and comes into contact with some of the battalion HQ that is also in the woods.  They clear the woods at some loss.  Morale checks finally put a halt to first company who are pinned (no move and fire until rallied) with only 5 figures left.

Elements of 1st company advance into (and subsequently clear) the woods to the left of the village but sustained casualties end up pinning the company.
2nd company sends a platoon (3 figures) up to the hedge and are promptly suppressed by mortars called in by the German commander in the village.  Further to that, more casualties are received when the platoon of Germans facing them across the field also open fire.  British platoon gone.

British platoon advancing near the village.  Destroyed by mortar and enemy rifle fire.
Unluckily the German platoon is spotted (the 2nd company commander on the 2nd floor of the building near their entry point can see them - required a 5+).  Luckily the Germans are out of rifle range of the building.  More of 2nd company is sent into the fray but stall due to the mortar fire. The 2nd company is down 5 figures and have made no headway.

Battalion mortar fire is easy to do and deadly - it chips away at enemy units.  Just to show how a 81mm battalion mortar works in Take Cover against a stationary target in soft cover:
Each turn
  • Company commander rolls for communication link (2+ of a d6)
  • Rolls a 3+ of a d6 for registering on target.
  • Roll 3+ on a d6 to cause a casualty.
So, the chances of causing a casualty with a 81mm mortar is about 40% per turn.  And the German commander was rolling hot - a casualty each call!

My three year old moving troops down the road. OK, sounds good but not where they are supposed to go mind you, he just picked some up from elsewhere and is lining them up!
The supporting 6pdrs came down the road, deployed and managed to inflict a hit on the German platoon on the fields.  As this German platoon and the one in the farmhouse were the same company, they failed their morale check and became pinned (no move and fire until pass a rally check).  Subsequent to this the last figure went to British mortar fire.  German 1st company is lost except the MMG (that has not been seen nor fired). The Take Cover amendments allow for detachments that test separately for morale.  I have assumed that the German MMGs would operate this way in defense.  This MMG does good by firing at 1st company in the farmhouse before succumbing to British mortar fire.  

3rd company advance down the centre road to village supported by 6pdrs.
The British 3rd company is in reserve in the woods at the fork in the road.  With the 2nd company unable to advance without being destroyed, two-thirds of 3rd company advance down the road.  The cards were on their side and the German 2nd company were helpless while the 3rd company approached.

Elements of 3rd company attack first defended house in the village
Sidenote: this is what I (and obviously many others) actually like about card driven activation with an end turn card reshuffling the deck.  My limited reading of WW2 seems to be just like this.  units are not all seeeing, all knowing and are very focused on what they are doing without a bigger picture view.  In the current game terms, it is easily explained that the German platoon in the building is focused on what is happening with the 2nd company and so it not really aware of what is occurring on the other side of the building.  IGOYGO games just don't - to me - capture how WW2 firefights occurred.

Same three year old helping me turn over the cards (being reused from my IABSM days so it says Platoon 2 but is really company 2.).  He cannot read at all, but is doing a good impression.
The 3rd company makes it to the house containing a platoon of Germans from company 2.  I call it to be hand to hand combat, they are close enough for it. They clear that house and manage to advance into the next (ruined) house.

Cleared first house, occupy the next (ruined house).  This is actually as far as the British get.
The remainder of 3rd company is following up but then the unit comes under German mortar fire, fire from a unit across the road and also an MMG further down the village. A morale check sees the unit shaken (no move, fire at -1).

A final push with everything into the village.  To no avail.
Other highlights around this time is one of the Marder IIIs is ordered to move up to assist in defense of the village.  The 6pdr spots it but has little chance of doing any damage at long range and doesn't.

Battalion HQ set up in the woods, surrounded by fallen leaves and branches "shaken" off the trees by the giant cat.
The British have two units with an adverse morale state, another well down with casualties.  A Battalion morale test is required and sees the result that the entire battalion will pull back for one turn.  The Germans still have a reasonable force in the village - another unrevealed 6 figures, an MMG and 2 Marders.  This is more than enough to keep the British out and would continue to force Battalion checks that will see the Battalion continue to retreat.  I call it a victory for the Germans.

End game.  Not much to see but there are fewer Germans and not many Brits.
 In Take Cover, each infantry company begins taking morale checks after reaching a threshold.  For regular troops this is 30%  of the company starting figures, but generally will not get a poor result until losing 3 or more figures above the threshold.  Once a Battalion loses casualties over a threshold (40% for regulars), the Battalion takes a "higher morale check" with different modifiers and results to company morale checks.

Post game analysis
A fun game.  I do like the fact that Take Cover has two states for the infantry figures - either alive or removed.  No wounded etc.  There is another state for a group of figures - suppression.  This is another factor I like - infantry suppression occurs with either enough indirect or direct HE, or with double the amount of firepower compared to receiving figures.  This promotes the "fire to suppress and move" that seems common to my readings on WW2 battles at this level of play. In my last game of Take Cover with 20mm figures, I had no suppression.  In this game I had quite a few - at the farmhouse and in the village.  The game was great to play, and I had positioned the Germans very well.  If I was replaying the same game, I would give the Brits either more artillery support or more troops to make it a more balanced game.


  1. Great game report Shaun. These rules sound like my kind of WWII game system. It's a pity they don't seem to be so readily available to purchase

  2. Giant moggy attack!!! and a very helpful child, looks like a great game.