As virtually anyone with a little knowledge of military history will know, last Friday saw the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings (aka. D-Day). We decided to take the opportunity to play some games set during the Normandy invasion. The first game was played on Friday with Julian and the second one on Sunday with Martin.
I also wanted to take the chance to put the rules through its paces. All the previous games we played featured a realistic amount of armour compared to the number of infantry, but I wanted to see how they felt with no or very little armour. I also wanted to see how it played out when not using the Battlegroup force lists to create the forces for the game, but using a scenario from a third source.
Now before I start with the game reports, please let me excuse the more than poor picture quality. My camera is acting up these days (which also caused huge problems during our trip to Scotland). Amongst other things I cannot use the lens best suited for close-ups, I cannot use the program that allows me long exposure times (essential for close-ups) and most pictures are overexposed. In other words, I simply cannot take any pictures on the usual level of quality.
This was the game without any armour using a ready-made scenario. In this case “Purple Heart Hill” from the SkirmishCampaigns book “Normandy ´44 – Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr”. The scenario features the defense of Hill 108 (rather a slight slope, which is why you the board shows no real rise) by the American 175th Infantry Regiment against Elements of Kampfgruppe Bohm on June 18th.
The table featured fields, an orchard, two light woods, a little low bocage and most importantly a ravine running most of the western edge of the board. The Americans would deploy in a trench on the northern half go the table which the Germans had to take to win the game. They would also deploy in foxholes and were allowed to place two minefields.
The German force (played by me) featured a 4 man infantry Platoon HQ, two infantry squads, a two men recon team (which we played as a spotter team), 8cm Mortar team, HMG team and 7,5cm infantry gun. Julians Americans featured an infantry platoon HQ, two Infantry fire teams, one 60cm mortar team and a .30cal team.
The American infantry would deploy in the trench, while the other troops were to deploy in the foxholes placed on the edge of the eastern small wood.
The Germans would start one infantry squad on each flank (one of them starting at the mouth of the ravine), the infantry gun on the western flank and the rest of the troops in the corner.
Now one thing I need to mention before we start the report. With the exception of the first and last rounds I managed to roll low for the number of orders for my Germans every round. So while Julians Americans virtually had more orders than units all the time, the Germans usually could only activate two or three units. In general my dice rolling was quiet poor, while Julians was good.
At the beginning of the game the Americans decided to lie in ambush and wait for the Germans. Both German infantry squads started their advance towards the enemy. For the one on the eastern flank this would be their only move until the last round for lack of orders. The one on the western flank came under fire from both the American infantry squads and the mortar team which resulted in both the main squad and the LMG team becoming pinned under fire. The German HMG and recon teams advanced into the orchard and the infantry gun opened fire the American mortar team, missing twice. Ending my first round, I decided to un-pin my pinned troops.
Not that it proved much use. On the next American turn they came under fire from the American infantry and mortar teams once more, which pinned them again. So as a result they could do nothing and the next German activation just saw the infantry gun fire and miss again. The HMG team joined in as well and while scoring a few hits, the foxhole kept the American mortar team safe. And again I decided to un-pin my troops again.
At least the Germans managed to gain initiative for once. This time the Infantry gun managed to hit once, but again, the foxhole kept the mortar team safe. The LMG team on the western flank opened fire and managed to pin one of the American infantry squads. Under their cover the rest of the infantry squad advanced towards the trench. The Americans fired their mortar at the German infantry and the .30cal opened up on the recon team, but both failed to do any harm. To finish things off the American infantry managed un-pinned themselves. The next round the American infantry teams pinned both their German counterparts and the LMG team in the ravine. To end the circle of pinning and un-pinning, the 6cm mortar team fired at the LMG team for effect killing their NCO. This enraged the machine gunner so much, that he rose in spite of the incoming fire and in turn pinned one of the American infantry teams.
On their own activation, the infantry gun switched its fire to the American infantry in the trench idling one of them. At the same time the German HMG team advanced further through the orchard, but failed to spot any enemy. And once more, the round ended with me un-pinning my infantry team.
Now the Landser stormed into the trench and annihilated the Americans pinned by the LMG and Infantry gun fire. The infantry gun tried to shift their fire to the other American fire team, but found them out of range. Now the Americans tried to evict the Germans from their trench. But their infantry lost their nerve and would not assault them. So they brought the mortar to bear on the trench, but that one failed to hit.
The next round the American infantry chose not to assault the Germans in the trench, but cleared them out with gunfire. The rest their mortar and .30cal tried to kill both the German LMG team and recon team to lower the Germans moral, but failed to make an impression.
Now it became clear that the Germans might not get the chance to take the trench and they too did everything to kill off American teams. And for a chance they did that well. The infantry gun scored a direct hit on the foxhole housing the mortar team, killing them all. The MG-42 on tripod opened up on the .30cal wiping it up and the mortar team fired their only rounds this game, but only managed to kill part of the HQ team.
At this point we had reached the end of the 8th round and had to roll to see if gameplay would continue, which it did not. But the game ended with a close call. Counting our counters we found that the Americans were just one point shy of their breaking point, while the Germans were only two points away from doing so themselves.
So how did it go with an eye towards trying out the rules some more? We found that the Battlegroup rules actually played out quiet well with a third-party scenario. While not all the troops in the scenario had exact counterparts in the Battlegroup force rosters it was easy enough to find close options, use their Battlegroup rating and translate quality rating to Battlegroup. The game was still balanced and was great fun (even with my horrible dice rolling).
Playing an infantry only game was fun, too. I was afraid, that this would lead to an all too quick end, but this was not the case. The only annoying thing was the constant pinning and resulting un-pinning, but this was mostly due to Julian rolling extremely well and me rolling extremely poor. In a game with average dice rolling this should not be the case. So all in all it was not only fun, but proved well for my general trials of what the rules can do well and what not.
I will try to post a report of Sundays game tomorrow, so stay tuned!