After a surprise win in the last game, the Jocks have the initiative and are pressing back on the flanks of the Scottish Corridor. The Germans momentarily find themselves defending as the British counter-attack hits their line. But can the Highlanders keep the momentum and retake some of the ground they lost earlier in the day?
Honestly, the mismatch in the force levels here was pretty extreme. With only 4 points of support the British platoon went for:
- Pre-game close support barrage
The better-supported Germans opted to sink their 14pts on:
- Panzer IV
- Extra Panzergrenadier squad
The core German platoon was only 20 men, but with an extra squad and a tank, plus their two LMGs per squad this represented a much more powerful unit than the British would be fielding, and this had a huge effect on British tactics and how the game played out.
It’s now 1700hrs and we’re nearing the last few games of the campaign. The British currently have the initiative. This counter-attack and an earlier one from a Wild Card have meant the Germans have only taken half the ground they need to.
The Germans need to regain the initiative and get moving. There’s enough time for them left to win and they’ve got the forces to do it, but they could really do with winning every game from here on.
A country road bisects the map here, with tall hedges and rural buildings dotted around. Towards the German end of the table the ground breaks out into open fields of wheat, but there’s plenty of cover in the orchards on the southern side of the road.
The patrol phase resulted in no real surprises, both sides met in the middle and the British opted to place all three Jump-Off Points well forward, one near the road and the others either side of it. One German JOP managed to hold a hedge slightly forward on the British left, while the other two held the last line of hedges near the fork in the road.
This gave the Germans good fields of fire down the road and covering the fields, leaving the main approach route with decent cover in the orchards.
With no realistic chance of taking the Germans head-to-head I opted to take a big gamble. One of the few useful things available with the Jocks’ limited support budget was a Close Support Barrage. This might give me an edge in the first few phases if I could force them to deploy early. The best way to do that would be to rush a JOP. If I could create a bit of local superiority I might be able to give them a bloody nose and retire with the “losing draw” result for the game. That’s not exactly the most ambitious plan for an attack, but in terms of the campaign chipping away at the Germans while avoiding getting drawn into a big punch up with the stronger enemy force is a better bet.
Hard on the heels of their close support barrage, the Jocks quickly sent forward their first section on the right flank. With no sign of the Germans at either of their two closest JOPs the plan was clearly to put them under some pressure. The platoon commander led the section forward himself, skirting up through the orchards while a second section with the platoon’s 2″ mortar moved up to a supporting position nearby and put down some covering fire and smoke into the hedges by the German JOPs.
The Germans tried to deploy some men to counter this threat, but they were still disorganised from the barrage and didn’t get into position just yet. When play flipped back to the British side a lucky double phase allowed the advancing British section to double up to the hedge by the JOP and get most of their section over it. The point man was now within 4″ of the German JOP. With command dice to spare and conscious that their lead section was now pretty exposed and would need support, the third and final British section entered the table, coming up the road.
At this point, it looked like the cheeky Jocks had pulled off an upset by successfully rushing the JOP, but just at the right time the Germans rolled a double phase and turn end. All the supporting Brits came off overwatch, their smoke disappeared and the Germans managed to pass their deployment rolls. With a British section at almost point-blank they were able to deploy a squad through another nearby JOP and open up with everything they had. It was short range and loads of dice resulting in lots of hits but some lucky rolls for the Jocks saw only one man killed (and seven shock…). However, this one man was the only one within 4″ of the German JOP, so with him gone another German squad was able to pop up. At 6″ away from the Brits the fire of another two LMGs ripped through the hapless Brits, killing another man and knocking their officer out.
All of a sudden the tables had turned. The forward British section was now pinned and had their Bren out of position to fight. The other two British sections on table didn’t have good lines of sight to the enemy; they’d allowed the lead section to race ahead too quickly and weren’t able to support it. They doubled a section up the road to get it into the fight. The first few men of that section made it through the gates of the farmhouse by the Germans, and in the German phase the would have a faceful of MG42 fire had they not played an interrupt to duck back behind cover.
The Germans continued to hammer the pinned British section in the orchards, and while it had only taken a couple of casualties it had a massive amount of shock and soon broke. The British continued to move forward, sending their second section into a farmhouse where they might be able to hit the Germans from the upstairs windows, but a turn end was rolled, and with this the broken British section fled the table taking a junior and senior leader with it.
This blow chopped British morale down to three. This meant the British only had one point in the bank before their mission would be achievable. The British side only had two squads left to face four panzergrenadier squads, so I decided to cut their losses and withdraw.
The Butcher’s Bill
So not a great result for the forces of freedom, democracy, peace and love today, but mercifully few casualties at the hands of the dreaded Nazi ratbags. One man dead and one wounded, while the Germans got off without a scratch. That’s a bit of a blow, as the limited German manpower is really their only Achilles heel in this campaign. If the British player can wear the Germans down he’s in with a good chance. I’ve been trying to concentrate all my counter-attacks onto the weaker Kampfgruppe Frey, so not causing any casualties this time is a bit of a blow, because I’m running out of time and so far German manpower is holding up. Certainly Kampfgruppe Weidinger over in the west are looking fine.
Despite losing more men than the Germans overall casualties were light enough that the mens’ opinion stayed steady on the British side. The CO was less happy, dropping one point. Overall this puts them at -1 support point and -1 on morale rolls next game.
Over in the German camp, the troops rallied from a near-mutinous -8 to -6. This still incurs some pretty nasty penalties for the platoon commander on-table, but is at least heading the right way. The CO though is much happier and jumps a point to +6, meaning he’s freeing up an extra 2 points of support and is more likely to dish out medals. The platoon leader moves from a “happy” to “secure” mood.
The Germans also had a rookie squad leader in this game, unfortunately he’s still not quite been accepted by his men.
- I positioned my “base of fire” section poorly and they weren’t able to provide effective support to the mad dash unit, so they got completely hung out to dry. Honestly casualties on that lead section should by all rights have been much higher, I got lucky there.
- The JOP-grab is a really, really low-percentage option. You’ve only got a very short time window to get it down, and even if you do grab it the enemy will (if they’re smart) have another JOP nearby that can cover it with fire while you’re standing in the open on top of their JOP.