The days between Christmas and New Year are traditionally a time of at least one large game for us, but as I ended up home alone because everyone else was working I decided to give my newly-painted winter Americans a run out using the Battlegroup Fall of the Reich rules for the first time.
The battle was to be set in early 1945 using the Defence Line scenario straight out of the book. The 2 woods nearest to the village and the church were the objectives with the Germans as defenders allowed to deploy 7 units on the table. The church tower inevitably housed an FAO, with each objective wood containing an anti-tank gun (the right one an 88mm and the left one a Pak40 both supported by a squad of infantry).
The pre-game bombardment pinned 3 units – 2 infantry sections but also the 88. The Americans had to take 3 counters for objectives held. They drew a “German Ammo Low” which of course went on the 88 but a roll of 1 meant it was ok – this was a portent of things to come for the Yanks.
The Americans deployed a Greyhound & Recce jeep along with the platoon command squad, mortar & MMG team & a 75mm Sherman. The Germans took 1 counter for being out-scouted, only drawing a 1.
The Americans rolled high for orders and were able to move and deploy the 2 MMG teams to the central wood supported by Sherman, whilst moving the Recce units towards the objective wood on their left. Their officer failed to contact the off-board artillery.
In the German turn, the FAO also failed to contact, with the rest of the orders used to puts units on ambush fire. The Germans took a counter to unpin 2 of their 3 pinned units, the 88 & LMG which turned out to a “0” – a good start.
The Americans rolled high for orders again, but again the officer failed to call in the artillery, the Greyhound failed to spot for the on-board mortar though the recce jeep succeeded – the wood containing the 88 was the target, but a roll of 1 meant it deviated too far to do any damage. The Sherman was about to put some HE into the same wood when it was interrupted by the 88 on overwatch. It spotted and hit twice, leaving one dead Sherman but the counter drawn was “Confusion” which got played on the 88 – predictably it passed the morale test. However, the American MMG was able to open up on the 88 which had now revealed itself – it failed to spot on the 1st shot (blind!) but succeeded on the 2nd and the 88 crew took 1 dead and were pinned – result.
The Germans rolled low for orders for a change but used them well. The FAO comms check succeeded, with minimum scatter. The fire for effect roll caused a direct hit on the mortar which died as it was in the open and left the command squad and half track pinned. No other units needed orders as they were already on overwatch, but a counter was taken to unpin the 88 and rifle section.
On turn 3 three American units turned up, a Priest and 2 Shermans.
The Pak40 opened up on 1st Sherman as soon as it had finished moving. Only one spot succeeded but the resulting long-range shot went wide. The American MMG on ambush fire replied but all shots missed the Pak40. The 76mm Sherman couldn’t get a shot in at the Pak40 so moved its full distance, then the Greyhound put fire into the wood containing the 88 and succeeded in pinning it. The other MMG also opened up on the 88, killing another crew member, but the morale test gave a “Call of Duty” result, which unpinned it and allowed it to open fire on the Greyhound – with both shots hitting, the Greyhound was blown sky high.
The Recce jeep was about to retaliate, but was interrupted by the German LMG in the wood which destroyed it although recce crew bailed out unscathed. To finish off his turn the Americans took a counter to unpin the command squad, ending up 12 towards their breakpoint against the German’s 3.
The German rolled high for orders but needed few of them, as the FAO failed the comms check – however the Pak40 opened up on the lead Sherman on the road and destroyed it easily.
The 88 couldn’t see anything so went on ambush fire, while the LMG in the wood by the 88 spotted the bailed out recce team, opened up and killed 2 with the remaining GI wisely running away. The rest of the orders were used to put units on ambush fire. The American’s suffered badly this turn, with morale now at 17 of 46.
Another low dice roll meant that only 2 American units arrived – the armoured FAO and an Easy 8 Sherman. The command squad Officer failed his comms check again, then the recently arrived 76mm Sherman failed to hit the Pak40 with HE, but one of the MMGs opened up on the 88, killing another crew and the last man abandoned the gun. The other MMG attempted to suppress the Pak40 and succeeded in pinning it, so suddenly the Germans had no active ATGs with 2 turns before their tanks roll on – might this be the breakthrough for the Americans?
Not a chance – on the German turn, the German FAO got through to his artillery, and after deviation the spotting round landed in exactly the same place as last time, except that the Priest was now where the mortar was (what are the chances of hitting the same spot twice?). The Priest took a direct hit being nearest with a 6 rolled – being lightly armoured with the firing 105mm getting an HE value of 5, only 4 on 2D6 was needed – the Priest was easy meat and exploded. The command squad and their half track were also pinned but FAO in the Sherman escaped damage.
On to turn 5 and only 1 unit turned up for the Americans, so on came the last Sherman. With 7 orders in total the FAO in the Sherman successfully called in the 155mm artillery. A direct hit was scored on the wood containing the Pak40 and everything in the wood was included in the blast. The 2 direct hits were allocated to the Pak40 & LMG team, with the ATG destroyed when 2 6’s were rolled for effect – amazingly the LMG team only took 1 loss. The loss counter drawn was “low on fuel” and was allocated to the truck tow (the only German vehicle on the table) – a 5 rolled meant it was abandoned and another counter drawn was a 4 – ouch!!
The Americans used their remaining orders to move 2 Shermans and put the Easy 8 on overwatch waiting for the German armour to arrive.
And arrive they did – the Germans rolled 6 for arrivals and got 9 orders. The King Tiger and 3 StuGs came on and advanced at maximum speed through the village. The Easy 8 on overwatch fired 2 shots at the lead StuG but both missed. The 3rd German squad also arrived and both sections headed towards hard cover in the village. To round off the turn, the German FAO put fire down on wood containing MMGs and pinned both.
The Americans again rolled 1 for arrivals, with only 6 orders in total. An armoured infantry squad came on on the right flank, nearly reaching the edge of the wood containing the Panzerschreck.
However, the German HMG in a house in the village, on overwatch since the start of the game, opened up on them, killing 2 but the unit wisely kept moving. The American officer attempted to call in an artillery strike on the HMG position but failed the comms check again. The Easy 8 missed the lead StuG but the command Sherman hit it, though just fails to penetrate and only pins it. The last order was used to put the 76mm Sherman on reserve move, ready to retreat if the Tiger II fired on it.
The Germans got the maximum possible orders and rolled 6 for units arrival (again!). They ordered the Panzerschreck out of the woods, then moved & fired with the command StuG at the command Sherman, penetrating and destroying it. The Germans moved all remaining units into the village then took a counter to unpin 2 units. The counter was “breakdown ” which went on the Sherman 76mm – a 6 rolled for effect meant it caught fire as well as breaking down, so the crew abandoned it! The counter draw took the America breakpoint to 24 from 44, and with the village now full of dug-in infantry and down to 1 tank against 4 (one of them a Tiger II), the Americans called it a day.
This was a really bad day for the Americans. Their failure to contact their off-board artillery to suppress the 2 ATGs meant they took early tank losses and they never recovered from that. The German FAO on the other hand was magnificent, calling in 2 strikes on exactly the same spot, the first taking out the American mortar and the second their on-board artillery in the shape of a Priest – other German artillery strikes suppressed the annoying MMGs deployed in a wood.
I’m still really impressed with these rules, especially the way the random counter draw builds in events which give a plausible narrative to the game. I can see the rules getting even more plays in 2016, especially as I have an un-blooded Soviet 1945 force waiting in the wings. Highly recommended.