Another week another Western front scenario. Time has scurried forward to the Battle of the Bulge and a strong U.S force is driving into some less than stellar Panzer Lehr troops in a village. The U.S are remarkably well equipped with plenty of tanks, mainly good morale and lead troops plus support weapons galore.
The Germans are more ‘meh’ with a mix of 1st, 2nd and conscript forces, badly led. Since the Americans have a wide diagonal line to setup on there is also little ability to pick up any obvious U.S access of approach. Indeed the only key German advantages seem to be its Jagdapanzer and pak40 along with the eventual reinforcements. Due to the large disparity between US wins and German wins I have also been given the balance which makes the two guns elite. The reinforcements are of a more reasonable standard but they will have to scurry across open ground to even get to where they can influence things.
For my setup I spread out wide and I also intend to deploy as soon as possible. I have two primary aims for the early turns. The first is to hold the village…it would not be good to lose the entire thing that quickly (which is quite possible with the US force levels) and secondly to screen the arrival of the reinforcements.
The setup, British concealment on the HIP and Japanese concealment for the bore sight locations
For this reason the Pak 40 is in the South to hopefully block any keen tanks scuttling round and the Jagdapanzer is in the building to the East basically covering the entire East flank. Bore sight locations are looking to prevent specific problems. The medium machine guns bore is in the immediate next hex in the woods. Any troops hopping in there can therefore potentially get a 16 down 1 as opposed to a 16 flat (allowing non assault movement with that (obviously 16 flat opposed to 16+1). The Jagdapanzer is supporting the same unit with a bore on a hex where a tank may approach to attempt to bypass freeze them.
The Americans also have some forces off board who can come in over quite a wide area.
The first half
This is a difficult scenario for the defender. The Americans have vastly more troops and a covered approach to their target zone. Even without the U.S almost forgetting to store any smoke (of the four tanks on the battlefield at start three had no smoke and of those three had no white phosphorus) they still managed to block LOS to two hexes and get the majority of there troops well forward.
On my side I revealed both HIP guns early.The Pak 40 took out a flanking Sherman but the Jagdpanzer hit and failed to destroy (typical) another. One small advantage/disadvantage was that the US plan for their best tank was to roll it up the East with a rider and block the entry hexes and retreat hexes. If I had not revelead then it would have gently rolled past in front of the tank hunter as it stands that tank came on in the West instead and drove furiously for the south edge where it decided to use ESB to get an extra hex and immobilized (hohoho)
One tank down, one immobilized and one with a malfed main armament. Unfortunately plenty of US infantry
are left to put the boot in..
Indeed it got to the stage where my oppos rolls were doing more damage to him than I was. Another tank broke its Main Armament attempting to lay some smoke to protect the exposed tank from my Jagdpanzer..But nothing really stopped the US onslaught.
By US turn three I had pulled the Jagdpanzer to the Northern edge of the village (after missing a stationary tank twice at distance) where it then missed the rear of a motion tank. That gave an opportunity for a rear shot so first up a working Sherman came scuttling over to flank me. I hit it as I spun my CA but flunked the kill roll. That Sherman then dropped a load of smoke mortar smoke over me and tried to ESB around the corner to put some potential fire on my reinforcements and immobilized! (I dont know what they were using in those engines but it obviously sucked). Finally the other mobile functioning Sherman in the center ran into the village behind my tank to get that rear armour. The shot was surprisingly easy to make but I was then saved because of a rule that states that an immobile (stopped) vehicle behind a wall with a road moving through it still counts as hull down.
At the top right you can see the mess the Jagdpanzer is facing. Plus the village is practically swamped..
This was our weekly stop point and things don’t look good for the forces of National Socialism
Next week perhaps less chat and more enemy tank destruction Panzer Lehr please?
I will need quite a bit of luck (a repeatedly rating main armament would really help) to swing things back in my favour.
Given the break I took my usual good long look at the scenario to try and make a more considered plan for the contuinuation. That turned out to be easy.
The first pressure point was my poor Jagdpanzer. Since it was surrounded it must try and take out the immobilized Sherman and if necessary with an intensive shot. If this failed then it would have to stay and pray the hull down protected it again from the active Sherman to its rear. If it succeeded then it would have to then take a BMG shot against the rear tank to swing its Vehicle covered arc around to its strongest side.
The squad with the broken MMG was in a difficult position but the only safe approach was to try and fix the gun and take a point blank prep fire against the squad next door and to hope they survive the return fire.
Finnally in the prep phase I resolved to change the CA of the Pak Gun and take more of the village under fire hoping to prep for the end game.
In the movement phase the berserkers would have to go first but then the 7-0 officer would be shifted across the road. If the 7-4-7+dc in the center of the village shot at either of these then I would send some of the reinforcements to the center of the village by the church. If it did not then the reinforcements would go to the South of the village.
That was the plan and given average luck (hohoho) it should work quite well.
German Turn three
The plan worked reasonably well. The jagdpanzer hit the immobilized Sherman in the hull (rear) and ten to kill was enough to destroy (if that had been a turret it would have bounced) and happily swung its VCA around. Next the North squad shot next door and having rolled a three broke and Elrd the US troop next door. Unfortunately the three woke the US sniper who promptly broke that very unit. This was unforutunate as it took out a good full squad but also opened up the north flank to the bazooks squads.
The berserkers did not draw fire (but did generate an interesting rule discussion in that apparently you can shoot into a hex in the defensive fire phase and only target enemy units (something I had not realised), the 7-0 moved across but got zapped by the Sherman (woops did not notice that) so my reinforcements piled into the south side of the village. The biggest couple of negatives were the half track pulling forward into position getting hit by the 7-4-7 and getting recalled and the unexpected realisation that the immobilized tank in the South West had a line of site to the building I had just put my best squad and dismantled medium machine gun in.
End of three, reinforcements are in and and the jagdpanzer is safe. Huzzah..
The game was about to go into one of those rollercoaster things that it can do so well and the next few turns were absolutely weird. Turn four was great for me. The Americans tried to pile across the road and half squad defensive fire shots broke an officer and two squads, one of these being another three which again gained a kill sniper who promptly shocked my tank. The berserkers shot up another squad which was trying to help out in the North. Then the squad plus bazooka plus 8-1 officer who moved next door to my stationary shocked tank missed with the bazooka then failed the task check to advance into combat (they were able to do this due to the US sniper breaking my Northern squad in the previous turn).
Slightly blurry shot of the end of the German prep round at turn four. And most of the US troops appear to
have disinterrated. My berserk boys are ideally placed (and moraled) to capitalize
Finally another squad was broken by my AT gun. All was going well. It got better in the rout phase when three US squads and an officer were all destroyed for failure to rout. Mainly because they had been unexpectedly broken in the middle of a complicated urban scenario. At this point I still felt as if I would lose but was enjoying myself. Then the German turn started. I initially tried to get HE versus the US bazooka squad but did not have any so then tried AP (not realising how crap AP actually is against infantry) and managed to roll snake eyes and critical hitted the 2 to a 4. The result was a morale check that squad and officer failed with the squad elr’ing and casualty reducing. The threat to the tank had been gloriously (if not expectedly) broken.
Elsewhere the AT gun hit and failed to do damage and I built the medium machine gun hoping the high morale would protect me from the hail of tank weaponry flying over. Having bugger all units left I then took a point blank shot at the 7-4-7 with dc next door to one of my 4-6-7’s, which missed, I then took a big chance and fired the panzershrek at the two US squads with medium machine guns plus officer across the road. It not only hit it generated a morale check that broke all three counters. The back blast just pinned me in return. In the US fire phase things did not get much better for him as he rolled several good shots, which failed to do damage but did manage to actually wake the German sniper up. He happily went and randomly selected both counters in the North East (officer and squad) and broke the squad then wounded (and killed) the officer on a second eliminate roll. The US player then threw the demolition charge at my pinned shrek squad. The huge damage roll just managed to re-pin the squad whereas his own morale check failed and the 7-4-7 throwing it broke.
End of turn four. Things are looking swell for the forces of evil.
What a turn. The end result had over 50% of the US order of battle broken and the Germans almost dominant.
The game though gives and takes and the swings and roundabouts swung round with a vengeance. Now the US dice became hot and mine switched to not. Key rolls included a rating second shot by the immobized Sherman in the SW breaking both officer and squad in the most southerly building, then the shrek squad was eliminated by a KIA, my tank took a los testing shot (that did not have los) that malfunctioned the main armament and the berserkers running across to find a new target (as their other one had broken and bugged out) were hit with a 3 and a 1KIA and were erased. Finally the US moved troops into combat with all my remaining squads (two half squads and the gun).
The gun fight degenerated into a melee with one of my half squads (who had in the movement phase actually found a faust and shot at the stopped tank in the next hex and missed!!with the backblast pinning them so they were less effective in the fight). At this point I actually stated that unless my final half squad won its combat then I would have no chance of winning and would concede. As it stands it did win killing the opposing crew so we swung into the final half turn.
Ack ick ick, where have the defences gone.
This was focused on that squad. Firstly the americans moved a half squad next door which soaked up the Firsrt fire shot without penalty. Then a 6-6-7 tried to move next door but was pinned by the SFF. A further 6-6-6 tried to get on the road next door but was pinned by a good FPF shot. The US were running out of troops and a 6-6-7 plus mmg and the 9-1 officer tried to get next door on top of the half squad fro earlier. The residual shot pinned the squad but the officer snake eyed and battle hardened and generated a hero (or was it the officer himself became a hero, either way there was at least a 9-2 there). Finally the last viable US squad a 7-4-7 cx’d up the road where the 1 residual broke the squad.
The last combat is about to start everyone surrounding them is pinned or broken.
What a defence! The US shooting was almost ineffective. A Sherman had moved next door (with the malfunctioned main armament) and missed with all its machine guns then the fire grouped advance fire shot was good but the mc pinned my defenders. That was bad, being pinned meant a lucky ambush win would mean I could not withdraw so it moved onto combat with the US 9-2 and the half squad moving into combat. No ambush occurred and in combat the US failed to kill me. I would need to win outright to win as I needed good order troops so due to being pinned would need a snake eyes. I did not roll it, not entirely inexpectedly, and lost on the last roll.
What a great game. I love endings like that. I still think the scenario favours the US heavily and if it was not for my lucky turn four would not have got even close but it was still fun to play. Thanks for reading.