Sunday, March 25, 2007

Panzers on the Move

This is a very quick battle report of a WWII game played by a couple of friends of mine. The game was played about two weeks ago and the rules are an experimental set I am working on. I cannot remember all the details but I will do the best I can.

On a beautiful summer day a bunch of German tanks with a handful of infantry decided to attack a small British force that was holding a nearby church. This was a very unimportant church in an unimportant sector. The German commander clearly thought this would be a quick an easy way to gain some glory and break-in his green troops.

The British commander, Maj. Jordan, was in command of a small force of infantry and a single tank. The infantry force consisted of about a platoon of men. They were equipped with several Piat AT launchers, a heavy machine gun, a medium mortar and several light mortars. The Major also had under his command a single 17 lbr gun with a very green crew. He had very little confidence on this crew and his feels would be proved right in the coming hours. The British tank was a Cromwell that had been separated due to mechanical trouble from its unit. The crew had completed their repairs and were just about to leave when the Germans launched their attack.

Hauptmann Kulinski was a young officer who was eager to prove his worth, despite his suspect family and background. He spotted his opportunity and wasted no time in assembling a force to attack the week British forces facing him. He gathered together a company of Panzer IV H (numbering 6 vehicles) and a single Wirblewind AA tank. He had a single platoon of very unmotivated infantry and a motorcycle recon force.

Hauptmann Kulinski decided on a two pronged attack against the village. This would split is tank force to the North and South. The British defenders would have to cope with two separate tank columns and would have difficulty concentrating their limited AT resources (or so the Hauptmann hoped).

Maj. Jordan deployed the majority of his forces in the West end of the village, leaving the massive Norman church unoccupied and undefended. Two of the three squads of infantry took up positions West of the main road near the ruins of an Inn. These troops were well dug in. Just outside the village to the West the Major setup his HQ, located in a small wooded area. Between these woods and the village the crew of the Cromwell heavily camouflaged their tank and awaited the assault. South of Maj. Jordan's HQ was a small hill that had a good view of the South end of the village and a clear line of fire down the main road to the other end of town. Here he place the AT gun and his last squad of infantry. Behind the HQ, further West, the Major deployed his medium mortar - his only artillery support.

As the attack opened the Germans had extreme difficulty in locating the British defensive positions. This force Hauptmann Kulinski to send in his recon units. These were immediately met with surprisingly accurate mortar fire, which caused a huge amount of confusion among the motorcycle troops. The Germans pressed on even though there were nearly blind.

To the North of the village the Germans had open ground that would allow them to encircle the British in the village and cutoff their line of retreat, but the tanks would have to move fast. As the tanks approached to the North they ran into a squad of British Paratroopers who had been attempting to make contact with the nearby British forces. The Paratroopers waisted no time in launching an attack against the advancing German tanks. Their Piat attacks failed to damage the tanks as well as a direct assault. After the loss of several men the Paras moved into the woods and engaged in a vicious hand-to-hand struggle with supporting German infantry.

The loss of the Paras would seem to have been a waste, but this was not the case. The vigor of their attack convinced the German commander that a cautious advance was the correct course of action and this was to play directly into the hands of the defenders. Throughout the rest of the day the Panzers to the North of the village would become separated from the supporting infantry, who were quickly becoming bogged down in the woods and the church grounds. The German infantry would suffer mightily from the British heavy machine gun. The British resistance in the North would also claim the Wirblewind.

The Panzer IV's were now in trouble. Even though the British gunners on the 17 lbr gun were unable to score any meaningful hits, the tanks would pay a heavy price in trying to bypass the village. As the tanks past heroic British infantry swept over the walls and assaulted the tanks directly. The German commander had foolishly moved slowly in an attempt to slaughter the British. The first German tank losses of the day had happened at the hands of infantry armed with grenades!

This loss inspired the Germans tanks to speed up their advance in the hopes of escaping the assaulting infantry. This worked but the German now found themselves in the sights of the 17 lbr that was bound to score a kill. The attack on the North had been blunted with only a single tank making past the village.

To the South the second tank platoon found the going even tougher. The terrain to the South forced the tanks into a narrow gap between the church and a small wood. The problem was that this gap was occupied by a cemetery that slowed the tanks to a crawl. Much as was the case to the North, the tanks found themselves unsupported by the infantry. In this case, however it was the narrowness of the avenue of attack that prevented the infantry from being able to properly support the tanks. The could see the trouble the tanks had put themselves in and there were not going to let them escape. A single squad of British infantry crossed the main road and took up positions behind the cemetery wall. From here they would launch a devastating assault on the tanks that would know out two of them.

This would mark the end of the Germans ability to continue the attack. They had lost 5 of 7 armored vehicles as well as the motorcycle scout unit. The remaining infantry and tanks would not be able to continue the attack. The British ad fared slightly better. They lost the Cromwell and the 17 lbr, They also lost the entire Para squad.

So much for quick! This game was a lot of fun. This was play test 10 or 12 of my home-brew rules. I am still working out the vehicle combat and this game was mostly to test the ideas. Now I just need to get writing and get this stuff on paper!

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