Sunday, 2 June 2013

Flames of War - US vs German, Mid War

With my gaming restricted to Fridays and weekends, an invite to a game on the evening of Friday 31st was very welcome after a long slog with work and other commitments. I'd also been plodding away at painting up my 1/72 scale WW1 aircraft and could do with a break. Johns kind invite supplied the needed diversion.

I'd rushed off to deepest Somerset without my camera, although Dave came with his, so all photo's are courtesy of Dave. Photo's are from his flickr account, the address as follows Well worth a visit.

The game was set in Mid War Sicily, 1750 pts of German ( myself and Dave) vs US (Gavin and Ian). John was moderator/umpire. I can't remember the book used for this, but if you know your FoW, you'll know which one. Game was played with all updates to rules.

US forces were as follows
Shermans x3
Shermans x3
Shermans x2 ( I.C and 2I.C.)

M21 1/2 track with 81mm mortar x3
M3 1/2 track with I.C.

105mm gun x4 (with tows)
Observers x2 (in jeeps)

2 Armoured inf companies each of
M3 1/2tracks x4
M3 1/2 track with I.C. and 2I.C.
Infantry had 4 bazookas

Major Gen Harman ( character/hero ) in jeep

German forces were as follows

PzrIII with long 50mm x4
PzrIII with long 50mm with I.C.

Marder II with Pak40 x2

105 mm Field guns x4 (with 4 tows )
Staff command, I.C. and 2I.C. with 2 observers

75mm I.G x2 (no tows )
I.C. with oberver

Grenadier company with I.C. and 2I.C.
platoon of inf- 4 inf/lmg team with I.C. x3
platoon of 4 HMG's with I.C.

The scenario was rolled for, which was Defender/counterattack, having 2 objectives. The objectives were deployed individually by each side in the corner quarters of the table, one in the German deployment zone, the other along the table long edge by the US. The Germans would have to deploy their infantry and static troops on table in one of the corners, and their reserves would come on in the opposite corner. They would also have an ambush, but this would be within the deployment zone. It would have restrictions of being 16inches away from any US forces when revealed, but within the deployment zone. All German infantry, observers, staff and guns would be treated as dug in and gone to ground.
The US could deploy all their troops at the start of the game but in their deployment area. This though would be done after German deployment. They would also have first move. Here came my first mistake and misunderstanding of FoW. Fortunately I would not be spanked too hard for this, although it wouldn't stop me making another two. Ooops.

The terrain was laid by John as follows. There was a hill in the German deployment zone along side of a road that ran up to a village in the centre, connecting it with  several roads running through the centre of the table. A river ran through the centre along a wood from the German deployment up through the centre to the middle of the opposite long edge, with 2 bridges crossing it for the roads. On the right of the Germans was a long ridge with woods on where the US had placed their objective. Opposite this feature was a large wood along the other long edge. In the opposing corner of the Germans was another wood obscuring the US deployment area.

The Germans deployed the 2 infantry guns on the small hill, supported by 2 platoons of infantry. We had Kampfgrupped the HMG's  to make a 4th infantry platton, with the idea of sending 2 platoons across the table to secure the 2nd objective. The 105mm battery was deployed in the wood next to the river, and the 2 Marders were in ambush in the village. We also had an artillery observer in the village. The reserve was the PzrIII's.

The US deployed their 105mm battery behind the wood opposite the Germans, all their armoured Infantry along the road to race to the 2nd objective, with the mortars in the middle, and the Shermans split into 2 groups along the road, one of which was lurking at the corner of the wood to swing out and charge down the Germans to reach the objective and win. This was a quite solid deployment, and after a brief chat with Dave, thought that the game was going to be over roundabout move 2.

I had forgotten that the US moved 1st, and when deployed initially thought that the US had actually moved. But, when the 1/2 tracks in 2 groups proceeded to move 32 inches down the roads one lead by Major Gen Harman to secure the objective in the far corner I thought I'd really dropped a bollock! Ho hum, it's off to the Russian front for me, if we survive.The second mistake occured with the deployment of the 2 platoons to move to the second objective to secure this. I thought that I had put these out of sight, but had unfortunately left a base visible from the US deployment zone, if an artillery observer was carefully placed. Gavin, playing the US was able to deploy a carefully placed artillery observer. Possible a worse mistake than the first, but in combination a disastrous misunderstanding. The 2 platoons were pounded by the US 105mm battery, but pinning 1 platoon and killing 2 stands from the other.

So, German turn and what to do. Suck it up and smile or so we thought. The first thing to do was to roll for the reserves. Over to Dave - I've never been able to roll for critical scores - Fowler. 5 required, and 5 rolled. Cue up 5 PzrIII's in front of the 2 armoured infantry companies strung out on the road. Also cue up howls of despair from the US - "there was always a chance that their reserves would come on ", but the situation from the German side still looked awful.

Next, a peculiarity of the FoW game system came into effect. I'd played the Beach assault game where my US infantry had been slaughtered by German HMG's when assaulting the Coastal Battery because they had doubled up to it and had exposed a stand to fire. All fire was doubled on them. The same now happened to the Armoured infantry, even though the rate of fire was reduced by the PzrIII's moving to coax machine gun range. The first company was wiped out destroying all bar one 1/2 track and 3 stands, the second company was hit by the German 105mm's, pinning them and doing 10 casualties, leaving 8 stands pinned. However, the US shelling of the 2 German platoons attempting to move to the other objective meant that the reduced platoon of 3 stands including a HMG, moved into a building for cover, and then opened up on that column, along with the 2 infantry guns on the German left directed by the observer in the village. Major Gen Harman took the brunt of the HMG fire when his jeep was caught. The remaining German platoon doubled up to race for the protection of the hill with the objective, but still visible.

The first move decided the outcome of the game, turning it from a fight against a mixed force of  US troops which the Germans would lose, to one where it was a fight against the Shemans, mortars and 105's. Would they survive to reach 16 inches of one of the objectives. The Germans could now move into the centre of the table to affect the game.

The following US turns were an attempt to unpin the Infantry, and shore up the centre, but the leaving the Germans exposed as they doubled to the objective. Really awful dice from the US 105's - in 2 turns they were unable to call in any artillery, and when they did damage was minimal to saving. The mortars were then pushed to the centre to pressure the Germans, but exposed the 1/2 tracks to fire from the German HMG's in the German line as well as the infantry guns.

Cue my 3rd mistake. I had a platoon protecting the infantry guns on the far left, and seeing the Shermans behind the wood, but within reach, moved the platoon into the woods. Infantry in a wood, protected from attack and threatening the US 105 battery, what could go wrong. Gavin turned the Shermans 90', rolled for bogging and got 3 of the 4 clear. Moving up to hammer the German platoon from my mistake. Surely noone would send tanks against infantry in a wood, I mean I've read loads of accounts where they wouldn't do it!! It's not fair! Well, German Panzer commanders wouldn't do it.
The possibility of the Shermans doing this had not entered my addled brain at all. My hubris complete, for the debacle in the centre with the US Armoured infantry.

The game proceeded with the US trying to bombard the German 105mm's in the wood, but being dug in and Confident Veterans meant that they survived but were slowly whittled down with the help of the M21 mortars in the centre, 1 per turn, till the 5th, with only 1 remaining. The Shermans being in 2 groups the one in the wood assaulted the exposed infantry ineffectually but forcing them back onto the hill where the 2 75mm infantry  guns were located . The other group of Shermans hide behind the side of the wood to engage the advancing PzrIII's, taking them down to 3 by the end of the game for no casualties, but not able to advance to the US laid objective behind the PzrIII's. Meanwhile, the German infantry guns and HMG's were bearing down on the M21 1/2 tracks located in the village edge. It wasn't until the 6th turn that the PzrIII's were able to advance sufficiently to engage them and the Shermans, and put main gun fire into them.

As the US had 6 command groups, 4 losses  were needed to defeat them regardless of the victory conditions, and from move 3 they were on 2, as the Shermans were out of range, and the 105mm's hidden, but the mortars were exposed. It all came down to the 6th turn, for the US and German. The US pushed their Shermans forward and routed the infantry guns, and the remains of the infantry platoon after they had blown up a Sherman with their Panzerknacker attack. The only defence now was the infantry platoon between the hill and wood across the road protecting the objective - 4 stands of infantry. The I.C. moved to command the platoon - rerolls, and lead the attack against the sole remaining Sherman, which was within 16 inches of the objective. With direct fire from the 105mm's in the wood no longer possible - the unit had broke, it was down to a die role contest. Unable to pin the Germans - to get 5 hits, the attack went in, and the Sherman went up in flames. Game over on move 6, no US within 16inches of any objective, the US mortar 1/2 tracks failing morale - the IC and 2 1/2 tracks destoyed, the Shermans failing their morale, as they still had a dozer equipped tank bogged down the other side of the wood, and the 2 Armoured infantry companies had been routed.

Success, and Iron Crosses all round. Of course that would be for the survivors - the I.C., 2I.C., 2 platoons of infantry, 2 Marders and 3 PzrIII's. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, the company and the result! Thankyou's to John, and Dot for the Panini. 


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