Karl Wagner looked across the grey, deep waters of the Meuse at the six bunkers on the opposite bank. The afternoon was overcast, promising rain tomorrow which would make tank movements more difficult. So the assault had to happen today. He looked across at the assault boats carrying the pioneers as they gently nudged the far bank and grey shapes spilled out, heading for the barbed wire. So far the day had been quiet, but all that was about to change.
Across the Meuse is a freely downloadable scenario from Skirmish Campaigns which covers a German assault across the river in May 1940. It takes place at Sedan, just north of Wadelincourt, near the demolished Pont du Bouillonais bridge. Our forces are part of Guderian’s XIX Panzer Corps and we are attacking elements of the 147th Fortress Infantry Regiment under Lt. Col. Pinau. The attacks began at 15:00 with heavy support from the Luftwaffe, and close range fire support from AFVs, AT guns (including some 88mm’s), and artillery.
Can we break through?
We have to capture or destroy four of the six bunkers that lie on the French side of the river. If we do that we win. If we fail, the French win.
The scenario lasts for 3 turns (yes, I am experimenting with something new). After turn 3, each time a turn ends roll a d6. If the score is less than the turn number, the scenario ends, otherwise it continues. I am calculating that a turn is about 20 phases, giving plenty of time to the scenario. The assault started at 15:00, and daylight would last until around 18:00 – so this seems about right. However, I am also giving an uncertainty to the scenario length (something Richard Clarke, founder of TooFatLardies, suggested and which I really liked).
The Germans: (Elements of the 49th Engineer Battalion and the 86th Infantry Regiment, 10th Panzer Division)
1 x PzKpfw. IIIe with Crew of 5 (including Senior Leader).
3 x PzKpfw. IIIe with Crew of 5 (two were rolled as a variable attachment)
2 x PzKpfw. IIc with Crew of 3
2x Pioneer Squads each with:
- 1 Junior Leader with MP-40
- 1 pioneer with MP-40
- 1 pioneer with MG-34 LMG
- 1 MG34 assistant with Kar 98k
- 3 Riflemen w/ Kar 98k & satchel charges
- 5 Riflemen w/ Kar 98k & cluster grenades (6 grenades with a central stick)
1x Motorized Platoon Headquarters Squad with:
- 1 Senior Leader with MP-40
- 1 Senior Leader with MP-40
- 1 ATR Gunner with PzB39 ATR
- 1 Asst. ATR Gunner with Kar 98k
- 3 Riflemen with Kar 98k B
2x Motorized Infantry Squads each with:
- 1 Junior Leader MP-40
- 1 Gunner with MG-34 LMG
- 1 Asst. Gunner with Kar 98k
- 7 Riflemen with Kar 98k B
2 x MMG Team (one was rolled as a variable attachment) each with a crew of 5
All of the infantry squads have assault boats (except the pioneers as they have already crossed the river).
Because of the sheer size of this force, I split the force in to two platoons. One is the armoured platoon, with its own senior leader, while the other is the infantry with the platoon HQ as the overall leader. Even with 5 dice for each platoon, it is unlikely all the troops will be activated in a phase, but they should see action over two phases – which is about right.
All German troops are regular.
Force Morale: (d6 roll of 6, plus one as rated “B” morale in majority) = 11 (infantry) / (d6 roll of 1, plus two as rated “A” morale) = 9 (armour)
The French: Elements of the 147th Fortress Infantry Regiment, 55 Infantry Division
3x SA34 25mm AT Guns with crew of 5 and a Junior Leader
1x SA mel 1937 47mm AT Gun with crew of 5 and a Junior Leader
1x Infantry Platoon HQ Squad with:
- 1 Senior Leader (Lieutenant) with rifle
- 1 Junior Leader (Sergeant) rifle
- 1 Junior Leader (Corporal) with rifle
- 1 Grenadier with rifle and rifle grenades
1x Infantry Squad with:
- 1 Junior Leader with rifle
- 1 Rifle Team with:
- Grenadier with rifle and rifle grenades
- 4 riflemen
- 1 MG team with:
- 1 Gunner with FM24/29 LMG
- 2 Assistant gunners with rifles
- 3 riflemen
3x Hotchkiss MMG Teams each with a crew of 5
1 x Artillery Support with Forward Observer w/1907/15 Berthier (six fire missions of 3 tubes x 75mm. A barrage may last a maximum of six activations, or may be split into separate barrages. Roll for standard availability after a barrage has ended if fire mission remain. Barrage is 18″ square and has a firepower of 6, reducing cover by one level. )
All French Troops are regular.
Force Morale: (d6 roll of 5, plus 0 as rated “C” morale in majority) = 10
NOTE: I have altered some of the squads slightly to match Chain of Command squad and team organization – mostly by adding crew to weapons. For those interested in calculating the relative force strengths of the sides they are as follows:
Germans:4 x Pz IIIe (I added an extra point for the senior leader) = 17 points; 2 Pz IIc = 10 points; 2 pioneer squads = 8 points; Platoon of Infantry = 15 points; 2 x MMG = 8 points. Total ROUGH points: 58 points
French: 48″ of barbed wire (8 sections) = 8 points; 6 Bunkers (considered as entrenchments for 3 teams, plus 1 point for extra cover) = 24 points; 60″ of trench = 10 points; 3 x 25mm guns = 9 points; 1 x 47mm gun = 5 points; 3 x MMG = 9 points; 1 rifle team = 4 points; 1 HQ team (I estimated cost as same as a rifle section because of leaders) = 4 points; 1 x Artillery support (one point more than the understrength 81mm mortar support) = 4 points. Total ROUGH points: 77 points.
REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: I did not calculate points for the sake of playing two exactly matched forces. I did it because I was curious and have found some Skirmish Campaign scenarios to be very one sided affairs. I wanted to check how this scenario was weighted and if the changes I made to the scenario by converting it to Chain of Command made a difference. The points mean nothing – the way you use your troops is everything.
The Meuse – It can only be crossed by raft and troops in a raft can only move at tactical speed. Entering the raft takes an entire activation phase. Exiting the raft can only be done at tactical speed. Any direct HE hit on an assault boat instantly destroys it, otherwise treat as a soft-skinned target.
Bunkers – Three bunkers (1, 5, 6) have front firing slits only. Each slit can accommodate two riflemen or a crew weapon and allows fire in a 90 degree arc. The other three bunkers (2, 3 and 4) have firing slits on three sides. All bunker doors face west. Bunkers have a capacity of 16 men.
German Air Attack – The German player may use a Chain of Command dice to destroy a randomly determined bunker. All occupants will be killed. This may only be done once in the game.
Pre-registered artillery targets – The French player may choose two pre-registered artillery target points before play begins.
French AT guns – Only the 47mm gun has HE rounds.
German Pioneers – These deploy on the west bank of the Meuse and will have a jump off point placed at a randomly determined point along the western bank. That jump off point may only be used by the pioneer squads until one other German infantry squad or team has crossed the Meuse and disembarked from their assault boat. The pioneer jump off marker may then be used by other German infantry.
Patrol Markers and Jump Off Points – As this is an attack on an objective, the German will have four Patrol Markers placed along the eastern edge of the map. Roll a 1d6 to determine how many free moves they receive. The French receive 4 patrol markers deployed 18″ from the western board edge. The German will place 3 jump off markers, plus the special pioneer marker. The French player will place 4 jump off markers.
Barbed Wire: Only pioneers may clear the barbed wire. They do so by being activated and remaining stationery next to the wire. If using wire cutters, a roll of 5 or 6 on a d6 means a 6″ section of wire has been cleared. If using a demo charge, a roll of 2 to 6 clears the barbed wire section, but uses up a demo charge. German troops my not deploy from a jump off point beyond the barbed wire line, except by tracing a path through a cleared section.
The map is a direct copy of the map of the scenario, with only slight fudging where I thought it would look nicer. Here it is in all its coloured glory:
A couple of notes about this map. I think it is really open. Apart from the light woods and that wooden frame house, there really is no cover for the German troops. Life is going to be hard for them. Also, the tanks are going to take a pounding, especially as I’ll be playing the advanced rules that make tanks (realistically) weaker. I would have liked to have seen a better map for the scenario – but anyway, we’ll take what we get. It’s free – and you can’t (or shouldn’t) complain about free.
The white border along the side I use to track Chain of Command dice and other such things. It’s not left blank because I made an error – just in case you were wondering.
By now, if you read this blog, you know I like to make a plan. I want to show you – the reader – how I think the scenario should be played, my thought processes for attempting to win, as well as showing you where it all went wrong. What I am hoping is it might inspire you to have similar thoughts about your own wargames.
Let’s make a quick review of what we’ve got. Lots of armour that can pound those bunkers, a couple of MMGs that can do the same, and a few infantry that need to cross the Meuse and get up close and personal with the French. It would seem we have enough troops to get the job done. Terrain-wise, the light woods will be critical for the Germans. Apart from that flimsy house, it’s the only real cover. We need to get that in the patrol phase and it will be the focus of our efforts in securing jump off points.
The house being wooden, and the French having 47mm HE shells, I’m not sure putting an MMG in there is a wise idea. Talking of the enemy, the 47mm AT gun will blow a fairly effective hole in every single one of my tanks – so that needs to be neutralized as a priority. The 25mm guns are also troublesome, and they need to go too. Once I have those out of the way, I can use my tanks to pound the bunkers and get the defenders out. My main worry is that 75mm barrage, so the forward observer will get as much fire as I can muster.
With three satchel charges and cluster grenades, the pioneers have a great chance of blowing some bunkers – or rather blowing the occupants – to kingdom come.
So, the pioneers will lead the assault on the bunkers, using satchel charges to clear the barbed wire so they can move in quickly. The tanks will provide covering fire, while the MMGs will be in the wood to provide suppressing fire. The tanks are near the building so they can get behind it if they are damaged, or AT fire gets particularly nasty. Once the pioneers clear the way, I’ll use a single infantry section to cross the Meuse and then use the pioneer jump off point to get men in to the bunkers quickly.
Right then, lets get on with the battle.
The Patrol Phase
The Patrol Markers are set up and I get ready to put my plan in to action.
The Germans dice and get 4 free moves which they use getting forwards, claiming the woods and advancing slowly in the north.
The Germans try and push forward further, but are quickly checked by the French.
It is interesting to note here that the way in which you position your jump off markers in relation to your opponent’s is very important. You can get locked out of good territory by being on the flanks – so I guess it is imp[important to take a lesson from chess and “control the centre”. Otherwise you could find yourself struggling to deploy in cover.
I’ll show you what I mean by walking you through the above as an example.
Here you can see the massive difference between the jump off marker deployment zones with two French Patrol Markers. One is isolated on the flank, while the other is centrally located. The difference is huge. Don’t let your Patrol Markers get isolated on the flanks as you will suffer (unless you want your troops coming on from the table edge). Here I made a mistake with the French Patrol Markers and thought stringing them out in a line would block the Germans. What I have done instead is restrict deployment zones quite severely.
A lesson definitely learned!
Right we place the jump off markers. Note that they have to be placed IN cover – not behind cover. So one German marker gets sent back to the baseline as it misses being placed in the wood by 1″. More learning here!
That leaves the pioneer jump off point to be added. We determine where this goes with dice rolls – a D4 to determine which section of 12″ it is placed in, followed by a D12 to determine the exact location with in that 12″. It ends up towards the southern bank in between two bunkers. That will be a little tough for the pioneers!
And we’re off. I thought I would never get to this point! Around 30 hours of work goes in to each AAR, but what I hope to do is show you more and more of the game – and help you find ways to become better at it (mostly by seeing how I screw up). And if I can uncover subtleties in the game, I’ll point them out too.
Anyway, on with my battle. Let the amphibious assault begin.
Phase 1: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 6 / 1 / 1 / 2/ 4
I am going to activate the platoons in order of their Force Morale. Whether that will affect the game for good or bad, I don’t know. We’ll soon find out.
Right, let’s remember the plan. I want to get a base of fire sorted out, and I want to get through that barbed wire as quickly as possible so that I can use the forward jump off point. I use the two “1”s to deploy my MMG squads in the woods, along with a senior leader using the “4”. Why? I know the French have the woods locked down with artillery (I forgot to include their pre-registered points in the last screenshot), but I need to have troops there with a leader so I can lay down covering fire on the bunkers to protect my pioneers. It’s a risk I’ll have to take and we’ll see if it comes back to bite me.
MMG team 1 fires on Bunker 2, while MMG Team 2 fires on Bunker 4. That should help keep the pioneers alive. The senior leader is denoted by the red box around him.
Finally, I use the “2” to deploy a team of pioneers next to the barbed wire. Next activation they can blow the wire.
Phase 2: French Activation Dice – 3 / 3 / 1 / 1 / 5
Well the French take their first step towards gaining a Chain of Command dice. Obviously, with the scenario on a time limit, ending turns is an excellent strategy for them.
The two “1”s allow the French to get the Forward Observer on to the table, as well as an MMG team. The two “3”s will allow them to deploy their 47mm and a 25mm AT guns. We are playing advanced rules, so these troops cannot be fired at directly, unless they fire, as they are concealed in the bunkers. That is why I am laying down covering fire.
The MMG team opens fire on the pioneers. Normally they would hit on a 4-6, but because the bunker is under suppression fire, they hit on a 5-6. They score 6 hits and with a lucky roll, kill 4 and cause 2 shock. The pioneers are in a bad way.
The Forward Observer, sat in a trench on the western hill, decides to call down fire on one of the pre-registered points in the woods. As this is the first time the barrage is used, it is available. Next activation he will be able to request a barrage or a ranging shot. Given the fact that he is dropping fire on a pre-registered point, he will get a +3 to his accuracy roll (halving deviation). But that happens in his next activation phase.
The 25mm and 47mm guns stay silent for now. They are waiting for a tank.
Phase 3: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 4 / 2 / 5 / 4/ 6
Well that’s not good at all. We clock up one Chain of Command point, but our vehhicles activate on 3s, not on 4s. So we are stuck this phase.
I really need that armour support!
Phase 4: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 3 / 4 / 2 / 3/ 1
Well that’s considerably better. I use the “4” to activate the senior leader. I need to suppress that MMG team quickly to let my pioneers through. He orders both MMGs to soak that Hotchkiss in lead. Out of 20 dice, 11 hit – which is to be expected when you are hitting on a 4-6 as the bunker is just inside close range. They cause two points of shock and a kill, but the kill is ignored because it is the first one they have suffered this phase and they are in a bunker.
Next I activate the junior leader of the pioneers. He orders two men to blow the wire, while the rest fire on the Hotchkiss in the bunker. He is splitting the squad in to two teams, hence using two command initiatives to perform these actions. This means he cannot remove any shock. I am risking things again, but I need to advance and get in cover. The pioneers roll 13 dice (8 for the MG34, 2 for the leader’s SMG and 3 for the three riflemen). This results in 7 hits, which turn in to one kill and one point of shock. Unfortunately, the satchel charge is a dud and fails to explode as the pioneers roll a 1. It is a bad day to be a pioneer.
I use a “3” to deploy an infantry squad in the house. They also lend their fire to the suppression of that Hotchkiss. They throw 14 dice, but as they are firing at effective range score only three hits and those have no effect.
I don’t want more pioneers on the table, so I stop there.
Phase 5: French Activation Dice – 4 / 4 / 1 / 1 / 3
Well things are going rather well for the French. The German armour hasn’t showed up to the party yet. The German pioneers took a beating, and the Germans are revealing their positions. Maybe a 47mm HE shell through a window of that building could be fun?
Lets start with the Forward Observer. He activates with a “1” and calls for immediate effective fire. He is using the southernmost target point in the woods and rolls 2d6. He gets a 10 and the barrage is bang on target. Three 75mm howitzers drop shells all over the woods in an 18″ square with the target point at the centre. It catches both MMG teams and the senior leader. Amazingly, the MMG teams get away with just one and two points of shock respectively. Given that 6 dice of high explosive dropped on each team, that is pretty lucky.
The Hotchkiss MMG team uses the second “1” and fires on the pioneer squad again. It loses 1 firepower dice because of shock, so rolls 9 dice. One more pioneer dies and two more points of shock are added.
I use a “3” to deploy the Rifle section in the trench line. They will form an excellent backbone against the pioneers, and by opening fire immediately, might even break them. The squad fires with 15 dice (the FM24 is magazine fed, so fires with 6d6). They score a total of two kills and three shock. One of the pioneer team surrenders (he is a separate team and the shock has caused him to break, while the Meuse prevents him from retreating) and the second only needs a single point more shock and it will be pinned.
The French only have a single senior leader, so deploying him on a “4” makes no sense with so much French forces left to deploy.
Phase 6: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 2 / 2 / 4/ 2/ 1
Well those German tanks sure are reluctant to get on the table. But if I combine a “2” and a “1” I can at least get one to add his guns to the infantry. So I bring on a Panzer IIIe. I use two command initiatives to activate the gunner to fire HE at the French infantry in the trench, while the hull machinegunner fires at them with his weapon. Despite rolling almost 10 dice, I fail to cause a single hit. The Germans are cursed today.
If I don’t get more tanks on the table soon, I am doomed.
Phase 7: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 3 / 3 / 3 / 6 / 5
We need to get that wire out of the way so the next pioneer squad can follow through. I use a “3” to activate the pioneers. They still have two satchel charges left, so one of the pioneers grabs one off a dead soldier and hurls it at the wire. The MG34 chatters away at the MMG team, as does the squad leader’s SMG. Between them they cause 2 points of shock, pinning the MMG team. The charge blows a 6″ gap in the wire.
While I know I should have removed shock from this team, I decided to use the two command initiatives to open up the wire instead, using one to get the satchel charge in place, and another to get LMG firing. Now follow on troops have a path to the bunkers!
I activate the junior leader in Rifle squad 1 with another “3”. He activates the squad with 2 command initiatives to allow the LMG to fire with increased effect (as per German national characteristics). All fire at the MMG team in the bunker, but only succeed in adding another point of shock.
I could use the final “3” to bring on the other pioneer squad, but I’d rather wait until I have more support on the table. AS it stands they would run in to the guns of the French Rifle Squad. AS one wise commander said, “Never be in a hurry to die.”
NOTE: The yellow box represents the barrage area. I marked it for my own reference and so you can see how bad those artillery strikes are.
Phase 8: French Activation Dice – 2 / 3 /5 / 1 / 1
With two “1”s we happily use one of them to kick off with another barrage on the German MMGs. Team 1 takes a massive 3 casualties, while Team 2 takes a single casualty. That’s really bad. One more loss for Team 1 and they’ll lose firepower dice.
With the “3” we activate the 25mm gun and fire at the German tank. Better to get rid of the armour now before it builds up. The 25mm gun has an AP of 3, while the Panzer IIIe has an armour rating of 4. The tank is in the open and the gun leader uses both command initiatives to fire, representing an aimed shot. Thus the tank will be hit on a 4+ on 2d6. The French roll 5+1 = 6 and hit the tank. Next comes the damage roll. The tank has been hit from the front. The French roll their AP dice, scoring hits on a 4+ (as we are playing advanced rules), scoring 2 hits. The Germans roll 4 defensive dice, deflecting a hit on a 5+. They roll an amazing 4 successes and escape unharmed. That 25mm has now uncovered itself and will be the focus of my tank fire.
Rather than activate the pinned MMG Team 1, I use the other “1” to deploy a fresh MMG team to block the hole in the wire. They fire on the pioneers, killing 2 and causing another point of shock. The survivors immediately surrender as they have nowhere to run.
For having a complete section break and a junior leader break, the German Infantry lose 4 morale, dropping to 7. They won’t be able to lose many more before they break completely.
Finally, the French activate the rifle section using the “2” and fire on MMG Team 1, hoping to break them. They cause one kill and 2 points of shock, breaking German MMG Team 1.
Things look really bad for the Germans.
Phase 9: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 1 / 4 / 6/ 1/ 2
Well it’s another bad roll for German activation. Where are three “3”s when you need them? The best I can manage is to combine a “1” and a “2” to bring on another vehicle. However, doing that means I won’t be able to fire the one on the table. Not easy this armour command. I therefore decide, seeing as my men are losing the firefight and getting chewed up, to use the “4” to bring on the senior leader – or command tank – to keep my units firing. This will make it harder to bring on new tanks, but if I don’t pin down the French soon it will all be irrelevant.
So I deploy Panzer III 2 – the “(c)” denoting it is a command tank. The senior leader has three command initiatives. He uses one to activate Panzer III 1 so that it fires its main gun against the 25mm gun in the bunker. It rolls 3 HE dice scoring a single hit, but failing to cause any damage. The Command tank itself also fires, but similarly misses. However, the command tank has another command initiative which it can use to fire its hull MG. In a freakishly lucky shot, the commander of the 25mm gun is killed outright.
The French lose 1 morale and are reduced to 9.
The Panzer IIc fires with 6 dice, scoring a single kill on the gun crew. I can imagine the French will want that Panzer II taken out pretty quickly.
With no more activation, the German armour ends.
Phase 10: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 3 / 3 / 1/ 4/ 5
Right off the bat I’ll use the “4” to activate the senior leader. His 3 command initiatives will be spent reducing MMG Team 1’s shock to 3, reducing a point of shock on MMG Team 2, and ordering Team 2 to fire at the French MMG Team 2. Yes, I know I could break team 1, but they only fire with 3 dice and I’d like to whittle down another target as quickly as I can. Despite scoring 8 hits, I only manage to cause 2 points of shock.
Using the “1” I will deploy the ATR team. I use them to fire at the French MMG Team 1, but they miss.
I won’t deploy any more troops as they will be cut to ribbons. I need more suppressive fire first. So I use a “3” to activate the Rifle Squad in the house and fire them on French MMG Team 1 hoping to break them. The French suffer one dead and a point of shock, which is enough to break them and they flee backwards. If we can get the turn to end now, we might be able to get the French morale lower.
With that the German infantry phase ends.
Phase 11: French Activation Dice – 2 / 1 /5 / 2 / 6
Well the French are steadily building up a Chain of Command Dice. And they are steadily losing troops. They cannot win a war of attrition, so they need to force the Germans back as quickly as possible.
Using the “1” they activate the FO and bring down another barrage. Breaking those MMG teams will go a long way to stopping the German assault. The shells fall and although the MMG suffers only one dead and two shock, while the broken team suffers a single point of shock, the German ATR team is wiped out with a direct hit, dropping German morale another 2 points to 5. The German assault is really losing heart now.
Using a “2” we activate the Rifle Section who fires at German MMG Team 2. They cause another casualty. If this team breaks, it is likely to spell the end of the German attack.
However, that ends the French phase as they can do nothing with the remaining “2”.
German Infantry: 5
German Armour: 9
Phase 12: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 1 / 2 / 3 / 1 / 3
Well I’m not going to get much better than that. I want to pour as much fire in to the French positions as I can. So I first use a “3” to bring on another Panzer IIc (I roll a “5” allowing me to bring it on, even though my senior leader is on the table). It lays HE and MG fire in to the 25mm gun, killing two of the crewmen and leaving a single one standing.
I use the next “3” to activate Panzer IIc 1 and fire the same weapons in to the French infantry section. All it manages is a single point of shock.
Finally I combine the “2” and two “1”s to make “4” and activate the command tank. It fires its main gun and MG at the French rifle section, while commanding Panzer III 1 to fire its MG at them too. All the tanks manage is a point of shock.
Very, very disappointing.
Phase 13: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 2 / 1 /3/ 2/ 3
Do or die this turn. Either we beat down the French or die trying.
I use “3” and “1” combined to activate the senior leader. He removes 2 shock from MMG Team 2 and they fire on the French MMG Team 2. They cause 2 kills and a point of shock. So far so good!
I use a “2” to activate Rifle Squad 1 who fire on the French Rifle Section, causing two points of shock. Hmmm – they’ll be sent to practise their shooting if they survive.
I use another “2” to deploy the other Rifle Squad in the woods and fire on the French Rifle Section. However, they only succeed in causing a single point of shock.
Finally, I use the last “3” to deploy the last pioneer section. I use one command initiative to throw a grenade, hitting with a result of 9 and causing 2 kills that breaks the MMG team and the sole survivor routs off the table, lowering French morale by another point to 8. I use the other command initiative to have the squad fire at the French Rifle Section. They cause an amazing 3 kills. As we are within 4″ of the jump off point in Bunker 4 we deny its use to the French.
There is a glimmer of hope we might actually pull this off!
Phase 14: French Activation Dice – 2 / 6 /2 / 5 / 4
Well the French options are now rather limited. The two “2”s mean they can’t bring on any more AT guns (which require a 3), and bringing on the sole senior leader will result in difficulty in deploying the remaining teams. They use one “2” to activate the rifle team, which fires at the German pioneers. They only roll 8 dice because of their shock levels, and cause a single point of shock on the German pioneers.
The 25mm gun would activate on a “1”, so that is stuck, as is the FO. And there is no “3” to activate the 47mm.
So that is the extent of the French turn.
Phase 15: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 6 / 6 / 6 / 3 / 4
Well those three “6”s indicate the turn will end after this, but the German armour will have the next phase too. With the phase ending, broken units will rout off the table. That is going to hurt my infantry who have the broken MMG, but I can also hurt the French if I can break another section or team before the tun end.
Therefore I use the “4” to activate the command tank, who uses one command activation to activate his MG gunner, the MG gunner of the other Panzer III, and the main gunner of Panzer II 2. All of those tanks fire on the French Rifle Section. However, despite rolling 18 dice, 6 of them for HE, we cause no shock or casualties at all.
I use the “3” to activate the remaining Panzer II who fires the main gun and MG at the 25mm gun. He causes a single point of shock. Not good at all!
Now let’s walk through the Turn End sequence.
The French barrage ends. Now if they want to call more artillery, they must roll to see if the barrage is available. As noted, the barrage has an availability of 30% – or 2 in 6 – which uses standard activation rules in the Chain of Command rulebook.
The broken units rout off the table. German Infantry morale drops to 4, meaning they now only have 4 command dice. French morale drops to 6. Let’s look at current morale standings:
German Infantry: 4
German Armour: 9
The French are starting to waver now.
With that done, we move on to Turn 2
Phase 1: German Activation Dice (ARMOUR) – 5 / 5 / 5 / 1 / 4
The German armour adds three to its Chain of Command dice total, but still has not earned a dice. I then use the “4” to activate the command tank and order both Panzer IIs to fire High explosive at the French Infantry Squad, while the command tank fires its main gun at them. The French section suffers just two points of shock (taking them up to 4 for the infantry team and 3 for the MG team respectively), despite 15 dice of HE being fired at them. What is wrong with these tank gunners?
Phase 2: German Activation Dice (INFANTRY) – 3 / 2 /6/ 6
And so it gets really interesting. The German infantry gets a double phase. Well, I know if I lose the pioneers I am dead. The question is, do I assault now, or fire and risk being able to assault in the next phase?
I ponder it while I use the “2” to activate the German Rifle Squad 2 and have them move to the river bank. I want them to get across the Meuse. Next activation they will deploy the assault boat, and after that they’ll start paddling.
I use the “3” to have the pioneer squad assault, using the “Handgranaten” national characteristic. I outnumber the French, and if I can cause a death or two with the handgrenades I will pin the French, gaining a massive advantage in the melee.
Only one hand grenade hits. The pioneers are equipped with cluster grenades, and it makes sense they would use these in assault. So I deduct one from their equipment, and roll for hits. I treat the cluster grenade as causing 4 hits (like a mortar shell), plus one for being chucked inside the confines of the trench. The French suffer 2 dead. That pins both teams (as both now have more shock than men – the MG team having 2 men and 3 shock, while the rifle team has 3 men and 4 shock). The 25mm gunner is sucked in to the combat too.
Let’s work out the combat.
French Dice: 6 (number of men) + 2 (leader) + 3 (enemy movement) – 3 (shock) + 4 (LMG) + 6 (defending heavy cover) – 9 (pinned) = 9 dice
German Dice: 12 (number of men) + 2 (leader) + 4 ( 2 x SMGs)= 18 dice
The Germans suffer 3 dead and 1 point of shock. The French suffer 6 dead and 4 points of shock. The French are wiped out to a man. The French also lose 5 morale for the loss of units and leader. That takes the French to a morale level of 1. That leaves the French with just 2 command dice, and two jump off points about to be captured.
At this point I call the game as a German victory, seeing the French position as untenable. The Germans have the next phase and will capture the jump off points in bunkers 4 and 6. Given that the Germansd are also crossing the Meuse, the French options are very limited, and stopping here is a good idea.
NOTE: In my excitement after having secured victory, I forgot to mark the 3 German dead and increase the shock marker – although it is irrelevant.
Thoughts And Musings
If you have reached this far, good on you for reading. The AAR is long and detailed (I like that – it helps me think and consider my options as I play) and there is a lot to it. Now it is time to look back and see what happened.
My initial plan was to form a firebase to lay down covering fire, secure an opening with the pioneers, and have the armour support the assault. The plan didn’t go immediately to plan. My first pioneer assault was shot up in the wire, the armour didn’t turn up when it should, and the French dropped artillery on my firebase. However, I persevered with the plan. Eventually the armour did arrive, the MMGs kept firing because I supported them with a senior leader to reduce shock, and the second wave of pioneers used the gap in the wire to break through.
The German morale was getting flaky though. The tanks were firing OK – the French only fired a single AP shot as I brought on the armour out of sight of that 47mm gun – but I can’t capture bunkers with tanks. If the infantry broke, it would have been game over for the Germans.
The French were relatively lucky with the barrage, activating it continually until the turn ended. However, they should have waited until more armour was on the table before deploying their guns. Of course, not having them on the table is no use, so perhaps the error was not that grave.
All in all the scenario is relatively balanced – a little on the challenging side for the German player. However, once the French defences start to crack, they seem to crumble quickly. However, the Germans need to keep the pressure on.
Using turns, rather than phases, was much better. Rich – you were right mate. Having 3 turns still gives about 50 phases – plenty of time to play.
Having the platoons activate with their own dice – that was interesting. The German armour needs lots of 3s to get their teams moving. In the end I couldn’t get all the tanks going and had to limit myself, using the command tank to keep suppressive fire up. I felt that it allowed the game to be balanced that way, as too allowing 10 dice to be allocated gives too many options. This way it kept the commands separate – and also made it easy to know who had a double phase and who didn’t. I really liked it and think it will work well for multi-player games.
I had huge fun with the game, and finally got to use some armour. Once again, Chain of Command proves you need to apply real world tactics to be successful in your wargaming. And that is something I love about the system. It also showed how easy it is to adapt scenarios to.
I think a bit of France 1944 should be next!
Do let me know any comments you might have.