It has now been over week since Martin and met to have another game of Battlegroup, this time set in Normandy. Now since the past two weeks have been quite hectic, I hope I remember everything correctly.
I decided, that we would play a scenario for the new Battlegroup Barbarossa book where the attacker has to take a bridge and just transfer it to Normandy. So the table was roughly cut in half by a river (I wanted to put that new large bridge to use). I had decided to cover the table only with limited amounts of bocage to create some more open ground and added two orchards and a few light woods. There was also a railway line, but given, that the was almost on the allied table edge, this was more cosmetic than game changing.
We played Germans (Martin) vs. Americans (me). The Germans had a Panzergrenadier command mounted in a SdKfz. 251 (with Pänzerfäuste), a medic, a wire team, three dismounted Panzergrenadier Trupps (each maxed out with Panzerfäuste and with an additional MG-42 LMG), a 8cm mortar team, a Panzerschreck team, a sniper team, a Panther (Ace commander) and a Flakpanzer Wirbelwind. They also had a timed Nebelwerfer strike.
The Americans had an Armored Infantry commander in a M20, a Sherman platoon (two 75mm models one 76mm model), two M10 Wolverine tank destroyers, two squads of armored Infantry mounted on M3´s, two medium mortar teams a jeep scout team and an off-table artillery fire mission as well as a timed P-51 strike.
The Germans deployed their Panther on the heights on their table edge behind the last row of hedgerows. The sniper team occupied the top-level of the large house while the command and wire team hid behind the houses. One of the Grenadier Trupps was in the woods close to the bridge on the German side, while the other was in the orchards close to the bridge on the American side together with the Panzerschreck team. The rest of the units would only arrive on table during rounds three and four.
The Americans deployed their jeep scout team on the diagonal dirt road, the two halftracks either side of the railway embankment, one of the M10s and the M20 near the railroad crossing and the mortar teams on their left flank. their remaining units would arrive slowly over the next couple of rounds (my dice rolling that day was horrible at best, which resulted in very low reenforcement and “number of orders”-rolls each round).
Now the first round saw no real action. The Americans would slowly advance, while the Germans would mostly take up ambush positions.
On the second round things already started going down the drain for me. The Germans had won the initiative, but only chose to consolidate. The P-51 arrived on the table and attempted to attack one of the Panzergrenadier units but failed to spot them. At the same time the lead M10 (the second one had arrived this round, and had surpassed the M20 due to lack of orders) moved forward to get into engagement range of the Panther. The Panzerschreck team use their ambush action right before the Wolverine was to fire and blew it up, smack at the exit of the crossroads, effectively blocking it for all further vehicular traffic.
The jeep scout team moved up, dismounted their jeep and managed to kill the Panzerschreck team, but by this time, the damage had been done and this was to be the only American success during the whole game!
During the next round things went worse. The Germans won initiative and their first reinforcements showed up, monist them the Wirbelwind, which promptly took the Mustang under fire and managed to pin it. (To those who know the rules… yes we played that wrong in that the Mustang would have left after its timed airstrike round and would not have loitered around.)
But this was not the worst thing to happen. At this point the timed Nebelwerfer strike also hit. Now Martin had to find, that his pre-registred target point had been a bit optimistic and no targets were in range. So he opted for an interdiction fire mission which put both halftracks and the remaining M10 in striking range. All in all he managed to score a massive 52 pinning hits, leaving all three vehicles soundly pinned.
And to add insult to injury, the Grenadiere on the far side of the river annihilated the now dismounted jeep scout team. All I could do was move units up (including the newly arrived Shermans) and un-pin the Mustang, M10 and one of the M3s.
Next round the Germans won the initiative again. The Wirbelwind tried once more to shoot the Mustang down although without success. Otherwise the units just shuffled around or went into ambush positions again.
For a change I rolled well for the American orders, but my main problem was still the burning M10 blocking the way for the other tanks. So the 76mm Sherman together with the M10 got into position to breach the bocage closest to the river in unison and together with the infantry. The other two Shermans prepared to breach a hedgerow further back to get to the left flank. The previous round the command team raced into the fields on the right and dismounted to get into a position where they could spot for artillery and the still idle mortars. This round they decided to call for artillery, but did not manage to get a connection to higher command, no artillery support for the Americans.
My biggest coup this round was the P-51 finally spotting something (the Wirbelwind… not surprising with all the tracers flying up from it) ad tried to bomb it, only that the bombs went wide. I was happy that since this had been the first air attack, Martin has to draw his second morale chit, but what did he draw? An air attack counter and he managed to actually roll some Luftwaffe support in the guise of a BF-109. I guess this was Murphy’s law!
Again, the Germans mostly consolidated on their next activation. The Luftwaffe made a strafing run at the infantry about to cross the bocage, but only killed one GI. The Grenadiere on the far side of the river (who had already taken out the scouts) managed to kill two men in the American command team, sending the last man running for the rear.
The next round saw the Americans main attack. First the Infantry scaled the bocage to attack the Germans in the Orchard and secure a safe passage for the tanks. But this was not to happen. Hit by a wall of carbine an MG fire from the Grenadiere lying in ambush they were all wiped out with the exception of one man, who decided to retreat. Knowing that at least the German infantry was occupied, the 76mm Sherman and M10 pushed through the bocage. The Sherman was about to use its MGs on the enemy infantry, when it was hit by a round from the Panther on the other side of the river and burst into flames.
The next round saw initiative go to the Germans once more and upon activation, the Trupp in the orchard fired a Panzerfaust at the M10 that had broken through the previous round taking it out instantly. Now the Germans decided to re-enforce the American side of the river by moving troops forward.
At this point we decided to call it a day. The Americans had lost more than half their tanks, tank destroyers and infantry. With the loss of their command team and the 76mm Sherman they had lost the ability to call for artillery or guide in their mortars. They had accumulated more than 2/3 or of their battle group rating in chits. At the same time the Germans had lost only 5 points to their battle group rating (with one chit) and the Panzerschreck team in return they now even had a fighter of their own circling above.
Even though the result was a bit one-sided (due to me moving up that first M10 too fast and my horrific dice rolling), it was still a great game. And we learned a lot about the use of aircraft and artillery as well. I am going to leave you with a shot of the Mustang that let me down as well on its first outing!
Please be aware, that this will be my last regular post for a while. My better half and I will be taking Sami to bonnie Scotland now. So about the only thing to expect from me for a couple of weeks might be reviews of the books I have taken along.