Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AAR: SP83 Boeinked

Nick Drinkwater
German Player [ELR 3, SAN 4]: Nick Drinkwater
British Player [ELR 3, SAN 3]: John Hyler

This is a fun mid-sized scenario that demonstrates the full majesty of a British set piece infantry attack with all the toys. The Brits need to take 4 multi-level stone buildings in the centre of the Board 46 village from a tough little German defense of 7 x 4-6-7, two Pak 40s and two Stugs with OK leadership to back them up. The Brits get seven Churchills of different varieties to assist them, all of which are veritable smoke machines. The best one is probably the single Churchill MkV with a 95* gun and S9 plus the usual ton of SD, SM and even WP - nasty for infantry if this one gets going. They also have four of the Churchill MkIV with a 57L gun and only limited HE, but again good SD and SM capability. Finally, they also have two Churchill MkVIIs with a proper 75 gun and again, you get it, more SD and SM capability.

In addition the Brits get a company of 4-5-7s, with a couple of mortars (for more smoke) and a couple of PIATs. Finally, they also receive two Bren As to do annoying scouty, encircly things. A good force and with the huge amount of smoke assets, one more than capable of getting the job done.

One of the cool things about this game is that the To Kill rolls of all the main AT assets will typically be either 9 or 6 for the Germans against the 8/11 AF of the Churchills and about 5 or 6 for the various Churchill guns against the 8AF Stugs - the PIATs with their TK of 16 are very powerful with a kill of 8, but the best thing here is that overall there is no surefire guarantee kill for either side, and hence getting optimum positions for rear and side shots may be important.

Looking at the board configuration, the fast way into the village is directly down the length of Board 46, but the Brits do have the open terrain of Board 44 to consider too - the Germans need to think about this as well. There is a good transverse hedge on Board 46 that can form a temporary halt line to the Brits, but it is important to think about where British armour could get to at the end of Turn 1 when planning the initial setup of the Stugs in particular. I was a little bit lax on this as I had left a Stug up there supported by a couple of squads, but John's opening turn moves were well planned and left my exposed Stug at the mercy of a Churchill IV by the end of Turn 1 - poor planning by me.

The rest of John's opening assault was textbook smoke, armoured assault and move and my only good shot from a level one, long range MMG resulted in a single pin. John sent a couple of Churchills down the Board 44 axis together with the two carriers whilst the infantry all solidly pushed hard into the woods and over the fields on Board 46.

A key moment happened early in German Turn 1 - my threatened Stug had already turned in Brit 1 Defensive Fire and on a laser thin LOS, had acquired the Churchill. In German Turn 1, I decided to gamble and stay where I was and take the shot and luckily found the APCR on a three - even hitting the hull, I was now able to put a shell through it and the first Churchill was dead - I then followed this up with a sniper that recalled the Churchill V - a HUGE move in the context of the game. Despite this John was still warily grinding onwards and all my overwatch squads were now smothered in Smoke - still no sign of either Pak 40s at this point though.

In British Turn 2, John pushed his carriers on into Board 44 where he found the first Pak 40 which was in a lateral orchard where it had a good view of the Board 46 area south of the hedge. Very frustrating for me as one of my traps was now blown with no results. Being wary of the newly revealed Pak, John manoeuvred another Churchill carefully out of sight, but this one also fell foul of crossfire from another thin LOS from my other Stug. My gunnery was outstanding in this game and this scratched another Churchill - three down, which soon became four when another was recalled with main armament failure.

On board 46, John had skillfully executed a smokey advance to the hedge and was now surrounding my forward Stug by a PIAT crew and two Churchills - it looked doomed, but I was able to put it into motion. Amazingly, he was able to find his SD as his first move point of his next movement phase, and I successfully evaded both Churchills - just as it was looking that I was going to be able to get out of jail free, John rolled a 4 and a 6 with the PIAT and that was that. The hedge defenders were now almost done...but not quite.

John had dumped smoke and then a squad and a half into CC with my only squad there, but in one of those cruel twists of fate, he rolled a 12 on his CC attack and I withdrew one hex to the south. Now, that squad was un-obscured by smoke and was in a position to cover a lot of moves by John's infantry over the open fields - it was a really critical move as the threat from this single squad held all John's infantry up for another turn at the hedge line, and the one squad that did try an run the gauntlet ended up broken. Now with four Churchills dead or recalled and the schedule pushed back a little, John was going to need to push hard from now on.

I had re-ordered the village defenders to try and get as much concealment as possible and also withdrew all the outlying defenders for the last couple of turns. In addition, I was able to drill a hole through one of the carriers with a Stug, but amazingly John pulled a two for the crew survival and the half-squad sheltered under their wreck. The other Carrier decided discretion was the better part of valour and hid for a while - more deadeye shooting when I needed it.

On Board 46, my heroic squad went down to a snakes at 1-hex range from the flamethrower - they were more plasma than atoms at the end of that one! With this, John was able to push his infantry over the hedge and two of the surviving Churchills ground forward to help them. At this point I dropped HIP on the other Pak which was in a board edge woods hex south of the hedge and two hexes from a stopped, lovely fat Churchill filling their gunsights. That beast somehow survived my Final Fire but went down to the subsequent Prep Fire as did a sixth motion Churchill adjacent but behind the hedge on a rate shot - as I said my gunnery was outstanding in this game. It was a good spot for the Pak and I think I faked John on it pretty well as he was expecting in the village as part of the last ditch defenses.

It was now desperation time for John with only one Churchill left and the infantry were starting to break a little too. Another snake-eyes survival from one of the Churchills ended in mutual destruction of the Pak crew and the vehicle crew, but by now, their job was done. John's infantry twice tried to push into the outer edge of the village but individual squads broke to some desperate shooting by my defenders and then John's FT failed on a 10 after that only one successful shot. In a final insult, John tried to enter another CC with one of my guys and rolled yet another 12 on his attack so I carried on withdrawing. At this point, John called it as it clearly wasn't going to be his day. Three of his squads were broken, one was dead, a couple were still laboring across the fields, the Flamethrower was malf'ed and he only had the single tank left. It was clear he wasn't going to push the Germans out of stone buildings on this day.

I liked this scenario - it is impressive to actually play a late war British attacking force, and John pressed on resolutely even after a couple of rotten early events went against him. The huge amount of smoke-making potential makes you have to think hard as the German defender on how to impact and delay the British and they will need to re-position their defenses at times and be flexible. As the Germans you definitely need to think hard about the opening turn one moves and where the British could be.

Anyway a fun one and I recommend you give it a go.


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