Sunday, June 29, 2008

After Action Report: On our way to Caen and Victory!

After Action Report: On our way to Caen and Victory!

A reinforced British Company from the 3rd Infantry Division is attempting to push south towards Caen on D+2. A Panzergrenadier Company is dug in at an important village that the division needs to take in order to gain space in the bridgehead for rapidly arriving reinforcements from England and continue the offensive.

Hold the Line Battle. Both sides used “Across the Volga” for their artillery.

Brits: (all Confident Trained)
Company HQ (3rd Infantry Division, 8th Brigade, 1st Suffolks)
3 Infantry Platoons Full Strength
Engineer Platoon Full Strength
Carrier Patrol with 3 Bren gun Carriers
1 Armored Platoon (27th Armored Brigade, 13/18 Hussars, C Squadron)
MG platoon with a PIAT section (2nd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment)
Attached AVRE section with 2 AVsRE (77th Assault Regiment, RE)
Battery of Priests with 8 Priests with FOs attached to the infantry platoons. (76th Field Regiment, RA)

I have the MG carriers painted, though I didn’t use them this time as the built up nature of the terrain made me keep them in the carrier park.

Germans: (all Confident Veterans)
Company HQ with panzerschrek section (and without their trucks)
3 PG Platoons (all with SMG Panzerfaust Platoon Command and without their trucks)
StuG platoon with 3 StuG III
Heavy Platoon with two MG sections (and without their trucks)
Self Propelled infantry gun platoon with 2 Grille H
Rocket Launcher Battery with one Nebelwerfer section

Deployment: We are using the bocage rules from D-Day, so we kept with the ~4’ x 4’ table. The built up nature of the terrain and buildings made it difficult to maneuver and rapidly bring sufficient combat power to the decisive point.

The Germans placed one the MG platoon in the center of the town with one PG platoon in the houses on their left flank, and the other along the hedgerow on their right flank. The CC was with the PG platoon along the hedgerow while the company assistant commander and panzerschrek section was with the MG platoon. All Germans start the game entrenched and gone to ground.

German set up.

The Brits deployed the 1st infantry platoon was in the bottom of the screen with orders to move up and place pressure on the PGs in the buildings. Half of the MG platoon was in the church with the C2C while the other half with platoon commander and PIAT team was in the road, intending to move up into a closer house. The somewhat tenuous armored platoon and carrier section were on the main road, with orders to assist the 1st platoon and keep pressure on the German flank. Meanwhile, the engineer platoon and the AVsRE would sweep over the other flanks and puncture the German hedgerow defense line, ad allow the other two infantry platoons to take and hold the objective. The FOs were apportioned to each infantry platoon. The Sniper was held in reserve. I am betting that the German reinforcements will take a while to arrive (they need a 6!) and I will be able to overrun the two PG platoons.

Brilliant British set up and plan!

Turn 1:

Brits: The British move up across the battlefield. The hedgerows rapidly turn my simple, direct plan into a joke. The AVsRE get hung up on the bocage and don’t move. The engineers move up, but the infantry platoon right behind them gets congested with the AVsRE. The middle infantry platoon gets squeezed into an area between the road, houses, and hedgerows. The FOs get pushed to the back, which is going to hurt. The Armored platoon moves up the center, shoot at a MG team from the 2nd Infantry Zug in the center of the town and actually kill something, which is more than they did all last game. The MG teams try to sneak up the center. Only the last infantry platoon doesn’t get completely hung up.

British tanks of the 13/18 Hussars and the 2nd infantry platoon move up.

Engineers and the 3rd infantry platoon with AVsRE prepare to climb a hedgerow.

Germans: The Jerries must be observing our movements as they gain reserves on the first turn! The airborne better take (and hold) Breville soon or our movements off the beach are not going to stay secret very long. The StuGs arrive and move up toward the town center. The MG platoon shoots at the British MG teams and kill one while pinning the platoon. The Nebelwerfers fail to range in, which is the only time the screaming Minnies don’t connect.

Dug in along the hedgerow, German Panzergrenadiers prepare to defend the French countryside from another British attack.

Germans turn the shelled French houses into miniature fortresses.

Turn 2:

Brits: The 1st infantry platoon continues to advance and are screened by a battered barn. The Shermans take the German MG platoon under fire and kill two teams. The carriers move up to screen the pinned MG platoon. All is going mostly to plan on the one flank, but not so much on the other. One AVRE gets over the hedgerow and advances, but the other remains stuck. The engineers get to the hedgerow across from the road, alone and unafraid while the third platoon straggles behind. Meanwhile, the 2nd platoon is bunching up even more as it tries to attain position in a house across from the PGs. No FOs can observe anything, which is not good.

Germans: More German Reserves arrive! The last infantry platoon arrives and heads toward the flank away from my main effort which is good! On the other hand, the StuGs arrive and promptly hit and kill my platoon commander in his Sherman. The PG platoon in the houses trade fire with my MG teams in the church, killing one and disturbing confession. The PGs in the hedgerow pour in fire on the engineers, killing the flame thrower team and another rifle team. OK, losses are expected. . . Then the Nebelwerfers range in on my compacted 2nd infantry platoon, out in the open and very close together. This is not good. I lose 5 rifle teams and only the CC prevents them from running away. They are pinned as well, which doesn’t look good for the future. Not a good turn . . .

German reinforcements arrive.

Turn 3:

Brits: OK, no time to panic. The one infantry platoon occupies some house and starts to pepper the krauts with well aimed Bren guns and Enfields, which actually accomplishes nothing but sounds good. The MG teams unpin and occupy a house that they can start to shoot back in. A Sherman shoots at the MG platoon, kills a team and causes a morale check, which they actually fail! So far, so good. The other two surviving Shermans (including the Firefly) fire at the StuGs and completely miss. Hmmmm . . .

Vickers MG teams keep the Hun down.

The second platoon unpins and tries to move up to the center house, or at least the remnants do. The AVsRE finally get over the hedgerow and move up to support the engineers. The third platoon tries to stay spread out to prevent another Nebelwerfer barrage from blasting them, but the field of maneuver is pretty small.

One less troublesome Jerry Spandau. Tanks from the 13/18 Hussars actually kill something.

Germans: Yet more reinforcements! The Grille platoon comes on and moves toward my main effort, which is also bad. The StuGs brew up another Sherman (surprise!). The Nebelwerfers send another barrage against the hapless 2nd infantry platoon, but other than being pinned, suffer no additional losses. The rest of German small arms fire doesn’t do much other than pin the engineers. The C2C and the panzerschrek team leave the cover of a house and stalk a Sherman. They shoot and miss.

A German SP infantry gun platoon moves up to repulse the British attack.

Turn 4:

Brits: Time to get serious here. I still have a Firefly and another Sherman left to trade fire with the StuGs and keep the Germans on the left from reinforcing the right flank. The Firefly fires at the StuGs FROM POINT BLANK RANGE and only manages to bail out one. It isn’t cricket! The other Sherman shreds the Panzerschrek team with MG and cannon fire. The MG platoon, Carrier section, and 1st infantry platoon manage to pin the PGs in the houses but little else. One AVRE manages to get over the road hedgerow and shoot (and miss) at the Germans. How can you miss with a Petard? The other AVRE bogs down trying to get over. The engineers don’t unpin and the third platoon doesn’t do much damage with small arms. The 2nd platoon struggles into the house and shoots at the PGs in the hedgerow, accomplishing nothing. On the other hand, I finally have a FO that can do something. An eight gun barrage hits the PGs in the hedgerow, killing two teams and pinning them! At least the Gunners are on the ball today. Meanwhile, I place my sniper in the center of town, and he promptly hits and kills a team from the advancing PG reinforcement platoon, pinning them.

Even the company sniper gets a kill!

Germans: Rifle fire and a Nebelwerfer barrage hit the heretofore unbloodied 1st platoon, which loses three teams and is pinned. The bailed out StuG is manned and the StuGs trade AP rounds with the Firefly but any hits ping off the frontal armor. There must have been a bad batch of ammo from the Ruhr. The Grilles fire at the second infantry platoon in the house and miss. The PGs in the hedgerow blast away at the engineers and kill the remaining two teams. One platoon kaput! They also fire at the AVRE in the road and bail it out.

Turn 5:

Brits: Everyone unpins and shoots. The Firefly actually hit and KILLS a StuG! There was much rejoicing at regimental HQ (though not for long). The MGs and 1st infantry platoon trade fire with the PGs in the house and pin one platoon but the sniper misses and the PG reinforcements stay unpinned. The AVRE unbogs and gets over the hedgerow, where is promptly joins its mate at shooting up the PGs in the hedgerow. The sum total of two AVsRE, two infantry platoons and a repeat bombardment cause a total of zero German casualties, although the PGs are pinned again. This is harder than Monty promised. The 2nd infantry platoon kills the remaining German C2C out in the road.

13/18th Hussars get their first panzer kill.

Germans: Another Nebelwerfer barrage hits the 1st infantry platoon, which loses another three teams. Now below 50% strength, it takes and fails a moral check, causing the British flank to evaporate. Luckily the remnants of the armored platoon, though stationary, still control the crossroads. At least for a while . . . One StuG shoots at the Firefly and misses. The other StuG shoots at the AVRE on the road and bails it out. Further fire does little damage to the Bits behind the hedgerows. The Grilles shoot at the second infantry platoon but do no damage.

Turn 6:

Brits: Time and forces are running out. I have to get across the road even to continue the game past this turn, and the momentum is shifting to the Germans as I have lost a lot of my combat power. I move the third infantry platoon cross the hedgerow and move to assault the PGs on the other side of the road. This is risky, but I have artillery, one and a half infantry platoons and two AVsRE to blast the five remaining PG teams before I assault with the infantry (AVsRE can’t assault). I figure I should be able to kill two teams and pin the Germans before the assault gets hit with defensive fire. Not quite. I do pin the PG platoon but fail to kill ANY of the Germans. The AVsRE miss again. Life isn’t fair. Nor is the German defensive fire that kills three of my teams and pins the platoon, ending the assault on the wrong side of the hedgerow.

Assault in the bocage part I: British infantry move up to attack the pinned PGs. But not for long. . .

Assault in the bocage part II: Surviving British infantry wonder just what the AVsRE are doing. . .

Germans: One StuG shoots at the Firefly and turns it into fire. This causes a morale check which the platoon automatically fails as the platoon commander got waxed on turn two. Goodbye to all that and the 13/18 Hussars! The other StuG moves up the road and blasts one AVRE with a side shot, hitting and penetrating the tank. The PGs in the hedgerow, flush with victory of repulsing the British assault, hit the other AVRE with a panzerfaust and blow this one up as well. Further MG fire kills the 3rd platoon commander, which not only forces a morale check due to cumulative losses but ensures it is failed. With both British flanks in tatters (actually nonexistent, other than a sniper), and the center occupied only by some Bren Gun Carriers and the remnants of the 2nd infantry platoon, it is time to show the better part of valor and run away. The British concede and the Germans achieve a major victory.

Goodbye to all that and the 13/18 Hussars too! Shermans burn following a StuG shootout.

AVsRE burn in the road while the surviving British infantry platoon regroups on the other side of the hedgerow.

What is left of the British center holds.

Lessons Learned:

This was my second game with the LW British and some things went better and some worse. Not only did I lose (fair and square this time), but poor decisions really allowed the Germans to eat my lunch. More deficiencies were noted:

- Don’t bunch up! It only gives the enemy artillery more targets! Take time and move up in bunches and don’t get boxed in by the terrain. Get teams out of the open fast or at least don’t be surprised when they get blasted by Nebelwerfers.

- The AVsRE accomplished about nothing, other than delay the assault on the one flank. The Shermans were more effective as close in infantry support. I should have swapped the Shermans and AVsRE, though the small field on that flank would have been a problem also for getting the infantry and armored platoons to fit.

- Leading with artillery seems to be an important facet of a Confident Trained force. There is an old adage that goes something like the worse that your infantry is, the more artillery you need, and I think I need as much as I can get.

- Don’t skimp on an assault. More does look like it is better. I was betting that the remaining Confident Trained infantry would be able to take out the PGs. Not enough survived to get close enough to test this, but I don’t think it would have turned out well.

Overall, a fun (and bloody) game. I am painting a LW British AT gun platoon (4 six pounders and a bunch of assorted carriers) as I think that after this last bloody nose, Jerry might have a counterattack in mind. I am sure Monty had a trick or two up his sleeve to keep the Hun from gaining the initiative.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Latest Reinforcements Head off the Beach

I just finished the MG platoon's MG carriers. Since I received a new digital camera for Father's Day, I took a few pictures of the platoon, carriers and all. The resolution of the camera is pretty amazing; I can see many of the spots I missed while painting. That's the beauty of 15mm I suppose. The distance to the table hides a lot of sins.

Carriers of the 2nd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment, move down the road to support the Advance on Caen. Monty urges a most aggressive attack.

Once deployed, the Vickers MG can lay down an impressive number of bullets on the Hun.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just north of Caen . . .

After Action Report: Somewhere north of Caen . . .

A reinforced British Company from the 3rd Infantry Division is attempting to push south towards Caen on D+1. Unfortunately for them, a Panzergrenadier Company from the 21st panzer is heading in the opposite direction . . .

Encounter Battle. Both sides used “Across the Volga” for their artillery.

Brits: (all Confident Trained)
Company HQ (3rd Infantry Division, 8th Brigade, 1st Suffolks)
3 Infantry Platoons Full Strength
Engineer Platoon
Recon Section with 3 Bren gun Carriers
1 Armored Platoon (27th Armored Brigade, 13/18 Hussars, C Squadron)
MG platoon with a PIAT section (2nd Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment)
Attached AVRE section with 2 AVsRE (77th Assault Regiment, RE)
Battery of Priests with 8 Priests with FOs attached to the infantry platoons. (76th Filed Regiment, RA)

Not the most balanced force, but it was all of the LW Brits that I had painted so far. . .

Germans: (all Confident Veterans)
Company HQ
3 PG Platoons (all with SMG Panzerfaust Platoon Command and without their trucks)
Panzer platoon with 4 Panzer Mk IV H
AT Platoon with 3 Pak 40
MG Platoon
Nebelwerfer section with 3 Nebelwerfers

Deployment: We are using the bocage rules from D-Day, so we shortened the board to a ~4’ x 4’ table. That still gives a lot of terrain/cover to make life miserable or great, depending upon your die rolls.

The Brits deployed the MG platoon behind the hedgerow in front of one objective, while the two infantry platoons deployed on the left flank with the two FOs. The CC was with the second infantry platoon in the middle, while the 2nd in command deployed with the MGs. No one starts the game entrenched.

The Germans placed one PG platoon and the CC on their right flank, another PG platoon in the center, and the Panzer platoon on the left in the bocage.

Turn 1:

Brits: The British left hand infantry moves across the road into the other hedgerow. The MGs try to dig in and fail. Nothing to shoot at, yet.

Germans: The German PG platoon also goes over the hedgerow and starts to move toward the left hand British infantry platoon. This will turn out to be a bad idea. They shoot at the Brits in the hedgerow and kill a team. Amazing. . . The center PG platoon moves down the road. They shoot at the British infantry platoon in the center of town with Nebelwerfers and don’t do any damage, but then shoot with normal infantry fire and kill a team in a house. It isn’t fair! This platoon will go far, literally! The panzer platoon moves over the hedgerow without any bogs.

Turn 2:

Brits: This is my first game with an 8 gun battery of Priests. I have read a lot about the need for British CT infantry to have lots of artillery, so I was willing to try. Plus, with the “Across the Volga” rule, they don’t have to be on the table so I could field my otherwise incomplete force. Anyway, the first rounds on the exposed German PG platoon on the left justified my selection. The PGs lost two teams to the artillery and pinned. The massed rifle fire killed another. Life is better. . . The CC joins the center platoon and they unpin with his motivational speech. The center platoon starts trading shot with the rushing PGs, killing a team. The MGs try to dig in and succeed.

Germans: The pinned PG platoon attempts to unpin and fails. Uh –oh . . . The center PG platoon is getting jammed up in the center of town, and trades shots with the Brits there, killing a team. The Nebelwerfers fail to range in. The Panzer platoon attempts to go over the next hedgerow, and bogs down 3 of the 4 tanks. One makes it over and shoots at the MGs, doing no damage.

Turn 3:

Brits: Reinforcements! I take my armored platoon which luckily arrives in the same area as the incoming Mk IVs, or so I think. They rush up to the hedgerow and shoot at the Panzers, but do no damage. Still, 4:1 odds will eventually pay off, right? If some artillery is good, some more must be better. The combined Mike Target fire and valiant British rifle fire kills another team. The Germans pass their morale check though. More rifle fire in the center pins the Germans, but little else.

Germans: No reinforcements. Achtung! Ve must press ze angriff! The PGs unpin and continue towards their destruction. They shoot at the Brits in the hedgerows but don’t do much. Trading fire with the Brits in the town center does little either. One MK IV unbogs and joins his kamerad at the roadside. They shoot at and kill a Sherman. Not a problem, I have three left. . .

Turn 4:

Brits: Reinforcements. I bring in an infantry platoon and man the hedgerow right behind the other objective. The left infantry platoon shoots at the German PGs in the open and kill all but the command team! Yea! The center platoon and now artillery fire on the center PG platoon and pin them, but little else. The Shermans fire at the panzers and DO NO DAMAGE. This is not good.

The third British infantry platoon mans the hedgerows next to an objective that seems to have taken a wrong turn at El Alamein . . .

Germans: No reinforcements. Another MK IV unbogs and makes it to the firing line. They shoot at the Shermans and kill two and bail out the other. Another fine example of British armored fighting prowess . . . Jeez! The center PG platoon unpins and kills another team of the second British infantry platoon. I can feel the momentum starting to shift. . . The now almost annihilated PG platoon continues to rush my infantry in the hedgerows, probably in the desire to earn the iron cross or something. They even conduct a storm trooper move, which will just make the range even closer . . .

Another fine day for the 13/18 Hussars. . . three in flames and one bailed out.

Turn 5:

Brits: No reinforcements. I fire at the PG platoon’s platoon leader and kill him. One platoon down, a lot more to go. Combined artillery and rifle fire do little to the PG platoon in the center. I begin to really look hard at where my remaining PIAT teams are, as my force has little in the way of AT power, and what little I had is now burning. The Armored platoon passes a morale check, but fails to man their tank and will remain bailed out for the rest of the game. I guess he saw what happened to his mates.

Germans: Reinforcements! Another PG platoon show up in the center and double times it down the road to help their pinned friends. This causes a big traffic jam and makes a lucrative artillery target. The pinned PG platoon doesn’t unpin (of course). The CC, having witnessed the destruction of a third of his infantry, jumps in his staff car and tries to speed to the schwerpunkt with his remaining force, only to get stuck when he realizes that cars can’t cross hedgerows. Gott in Himmel! The Panzers fire at the MGs and cause no damage.

Turn 6:

Brits: Reinforcements. I take the engineers, AVsRE and Bren Gun Carriers and reinforce the objective behind the burning hulks of the 13/18 Hussar Shermans. I keep them behind the hedgerows, as I am not impressed with the AVRE/MK IV matchup. My other troops sit tight and don’t do much damage to anyone.

Germans: Reinforcements from der Fuehrer. The Pak 40 AT guns come in, but are off in a bad corner surrounded by hedgerows and will be able to do little other than guard an objective. The MGs come in and add to the center lane traffic jam, as do the CC and second in command, now both on foot. The Panzer IVs see that the British objective has been heavily reinforced and decide to redeploy. The last bogged down tank unbogs and crosses the hedgerow, where it joins the other three and runs into the traffic jam in the middle of the town.
The second PG platoon now earns its Assault Badges. The PGs are down to 4 stands, but are ready to attack. They unpin, and assault the wavering Brits in the center of the town. They kill two teams and the company commander. The British platoon is now at half strength, and of course fails its morale check. Even though the remainder are in great positions in the houses, they all run away. The PGs continue on, killing my sniper that I poorly positioned. He did nothing other than look neat and get killed.

I’m neat looking and I’m dead. I am also not worth the 50 points.

Turn 6:

Brits: Another chance for well aimed rifle fire. The Brits in the hedgerow behind the objective fire at the PGs and kill two teams. The jerries pass their morale check though and remain to contest the objective. A remaining FO calls in fire on the traffic jam in the town and bails out two MK IVs and pins the last PG platoon. The 2iC moves over to the road to encourage the MG platoon PIAT team and call in artillery fire if things get nasty. The other British teams sit tight.

Germans: The remaining PGs fire at the Brits behind the hedgerow and kill a team. Now, the lack of the Nebelwerfer FO is becoming a big problem, as the CC is stuck back in a traffic jam and the PGs just don’t have the firepower to overwhelm the Brits. The Panzers bail in and try to move out of the town toward the left hand British platoon. The last PG platoon continues up the road.

Turn 7:

Brits: The left hand platoon sees that the German objective has been left unguarded. This is a very ungermanic slip by the jerries, so they go over the hedgerow where they have been sheltered since turn one an double time it across the very field where the PGs got slaughtered earlier in the game. Since there is no opposition, this can be done somewhat safely.

The Brits approach an unguarded objective.

The Brits in the hedgerows pour in a lot of rifle fire in the PGs and kill the remaining teams. It is sometimes easier to kill the Germans than make their morale break. I hit the cross roads with artillery fire, but only kill one team and bail a MK IV. This may be enough to delay them and attain victory as the Germans really have nothing to stop the Brits from gaining and holding the objective and don’t have the combat power to take either of mine. My MG PIAT shoots at and bails a MK IV, which is more than an entire British Armored platoon had managed to accomplish. The other PIAT team shoots at the MK IVs and misses.

Germans: The German commander is in a pickle as he realizes he can’t do much to recover. He vows to try and do as much damage as possible, and manages to extricate the panzers from the cross roads and get his last PG platoon unpinned and moving out of the traffic jam. The CC does too, and the MGs move toward the uncontested objective, but it is too late. Shooting off his last few rounds at the valiant British in the hedgerows, he concedes the game.

German panzers and panzergrenadiers finally clear the traffic jam and move out of the village,
but too late . . .

German MG teams move to contest the objective, but too many buildings and hedgerows are in the way.

Lessons Learned:

This was my first game with the LW British and my first FOW game in a LONG time. I paint really slow. Anyway, while I am sure we missed a bunch of the salient points of the rules, a few particularly glaring deficiencies were noted:

- Position the sniper where he can do some good. When the 3rd British infantry deployed within 4” of the sniper position, he couldn’t fire. The PGs mowed him down in an assault with nothing to show for it.

- FO positions are equally important. If you don’t have a stand to call down fire in the LOS of the enemy, your 8 gun battery is pretty much useless.

- Guard the objective, even with a token force. It is too easy to pick off an unguarded one.

- Confident Veteran tanks are bad to fight against, especially if you only have CT ones to oppose them. I thought that the Shermans would at least be able to hold their own, firing from the hedgerows. Not quite.
- Teams in the open make great targets for rampaging Panzergrenadiers. If you have cover, get your teams in it. The houses were not all occupied, and my CC, Platoon Commander and a PIAT team got waxed accordingly. The stupid shall be punished . . .

Overall, a fun game (especially since I won!). The LW Brits have other cross roads to take and the Germans will recover from this failed counterattack. Monty demands we do our best, and after lounging for three years in England, I expect we might have to.