Last night saw Max’s 1940 French chalk up their third victory.
It was a 1940 version of the Goodwood scenario from the Xmas special.
I had a Platoon of four Panzer 38(t), Platoon of five Panzer IIC, Platoon of three Panzer IVC. Commanding was a Panzer Coy HQ of a Panzer 38(t) and a Panzer I Befehlswagen, whilst in support was a Platoon of three Panzerjager I’s and two Platoons each of three sections of lorried infantry. Leading the charge was a Recce Platoon of two Sdkfz 222 and an SdKfz 231 plus a Platoon of three squads of motorcycle troops. A large and flexible force.
Special cards included Blitzkrieg Bonus, Recce Force, Rapid Deployment, Dynamic Commander, Heroic Leader, Off-Table Artillery and Rally.
I had to get eleven AFVs off the table, by turn 12 games end, though Max didn’t know this.
We dispensed with any sort of pre-barrage but I included two Air Support cards, to represent Stukas, 5 or 6 being required to hit the enemy whilst a 1 ensured a friendly fire incident.
At the games outset I deployed my Panzerjagers and Motorcycle Platoon in light woods on my baseline. My Panzers were deployed, on blinds, in line abreast. The Motorised Schutzen were off table, to arrive upon the reinforcements card being drawn. This was placed in the pack at D6+2 turns (in the event turn 7).
Initially I advanced my Armoured Cars up the road towards Le Mesnil Frementle. I held back my Panzers initially, reserving their dice to wait to see what my Recce troops advanced triggered.
Max, held his fire! We used the new IABSM v2 ‘Poor Fire Discipline’ card from the outset, which meant that the French needed to dice now, upon the card being drawn to see if their troops opened fire, instead of it being automatic.
Other National Characteristics cards included Hesitant Commander, Hesitant Troops, Vehicle Breakdown and Run Out of Fuel.
The turn ended there as the ‘Tea Break’ turned up early. I then had to place my armour on table, it being spotted automatically! To make matters worse the cards didn’t really happen for me early on. I had to reserve my dice as my Panzer cards came up to soon not allowing my Recce troops and fake blinds to do any spotting. Spotting with buttoned up armour from long range is a wasted dice in my book, so I was forced to hold their dice yet again.
When my Armoured Car card came up I decided boldly to throw them at the enemy, at full speed along the road, hoping to trigger something for my reserved dice to fire at .
When Max’s blinds card came up he engaged them with dug in HMGs. These proved to be very effective at short range in immobilizing one 222, and causing possible engine breakdowns on the remaining armoured cars. When I was ambushed in the flank, by two 47mm AT guns in the wood near La Prieure, I realized what a mistake I’d made.
Two shots, two armoured cars destroyed. My remaining Armoured car was dispatched when its crew abandoned it, next turn.
The turn ended there with the ‘Tea Break’ turning up and me losing all my reserved dice in the Skelton Gambit!
Next turn saw the rapid advance of my Panzers up the table using their full movement. With the Blitzkrieg card my Panzer IIs had advanced six initiative dice up the table, ‘Poor Fire Discipline’ forcing Max to fire a HMG in a wood near La Prieure. This immobilised a Panzer II. I got lucky though with a score of 17 from a Panzer 38(t), which had reserved its dice earlier, destroying HMG and crew.
Screaming dive engines sounded as my Stuka arrived and destroyed a 47mm AT gun. Max plucking large handfuls of pubic hair in an effort to simulate FLAK!!!
Things were going well as in the subsequent turn Max lost another HMG to concentrated Panzer II rapid cannon fire. The game turned against me though when behind La Prieure Max revealed four Renault FTs.
"Its always the bloody FTs" was my cry as a Panzer II was destroyed and another immobilized by flanking fire from the crappy French boys.
They were positioned in such a manner, behind a wall, behind the BUA, that I could not see them from my massed Panzer ranks.
I would have to flank the position first to get a shot in. Even though they can’t move and fire, and only have a one-man turret, at short range they count a plus two on top of their gun rating of three giving them a five! Panzer II’s are armour two! Not much hope there.
The die was cast though and I was committed to my Schwerepunkt being at La Prieure. I continued to feed Panzers in the area, which continued to be immobilized or suffer engine damage. I managed to force the crew to abandon one FT and jammed the turret of a second but not before another Panzer II and a 38(t) had been destroyed. This was not supposed to be happening.
My Motorcycle Platoon screamed up the table around La Prieure now that the threat from French HMGs had been neutralized.
A Big Man 38(t) advanced rapidly to short range around the other flank of La Prieure in an attempt to hit the FT, which was defending that side of the BUA. Eight to hit! A bloody miss!
The FT managed to jam its turret as the remaining French HMG caused no less than three possible engine damages.
Two of my Panzer IVs mad a run for it, the third one using its 75mm in support to force down the heads of the remaining French 47mm AT gun crew.
One Panzer IV and my last Panzer II managed to get beyond La Prieure only to be ambushed by two Char tanks in light woods. The Chars fired and missed!
Things went from bad to worse as a Stuka arrived hitting one of my own 38(t)’s and forcing two others to retreat at ‘Tea Break’.
By now it was obvious that I wasn’t going to win any victory laurels in this game.
My Panzerjager I’s emerged from my baseline woods and actually managed a hit on the surviving French 47mm at long range, causing a wound. My motorized infantry arrived and halted waiting to see the outcome for the main action.
My Panzer IV advanced beyond the Chars and hit one in the rear destroying it. However, the remaining Char immobilized it, and then knocked out its main gun.
As my Motorcycle troops advanced beyond La Prieure, a 38(t) knocked out another FT. My remaining Panzer II, which had got to Max’s baseline was hit and destroyed by a 75mm shell fired from a French field gun in Le Mesnil Frementle. Max had painted up a lovely staff car for his only French Big Man and this was accompanying the gun.
I had just witched my Schwerepunkt to the other flank and had advanced my remaining Panzers up the center. A Panzer IV was hit and immobilized by a second 75mm shell!
The game ended with a 38(t) attempting to crush Max 47mm and coming up an inch short.
All that remained was for my beaten German’s to withdraw from the battlefield allowing Max to take the victory salute!
Max had proved yet again that sensibly deployed French were very useful in defence. Though having excellent AT guns made a big difference. The real winners were, I hate to say it, the FTs. In defence, from a hidden positon they proved to be hellish against my lightly armoured Panzer IIs.
Initial cards for me weren’t good. I had hoped to spot with fakes and recce and engage with Panzers. Instead I ended up losing fakes and recce early on and having to attack without knowledge of the enemy positions.
The game was great fun and had moments of high drama throughout.