Recce Phase AM 18/03/05 Vs Jez's DAK
Assault Phase PM 18/03/05 Vs Clivey's and Max's German and Italian Allies
I decided this week that we should play a couple of linked IABSM games. I set up a particularly nasty table, terrain wise, with lots of restricted LOS, enclosed killing zones, and dangerous open areas.
Essentially the table featured three ridges running NS. These consisted of relatively high ground, with rocky outcrops and patches of scrub. The two valleys in between were open, flat and wired by the Allies.
I decided that before Max and Clivey arrived in the evening Jez should recce the area in the morning to try to identify enemy positions and 'win' stonks for the boys.
With that in mind I gave him a couple of platoons, totalling five squads of DAK, plus and armoured car Platoon of a SdKfz 263 and two SdKfz 231 (8 rad) .
These forces would carry over any casualties on them for the evenings bash and Jez was repeatedly reminded that this was a RECCE game. Jez is a very tough opponent to play as he is mega-aggressive (some say rash) and is great in an assault situation. However I was banking on the fact that he would over commit again.
Jez decided to deploy a Platoon of two DAK squads in Kubelwagens on the northern end of the central ridge. He deployed a truck mounted Platoon of three DAK squads behind the western ridge, whilst deploying the armoured cars in the eastern valley.
I had three Australian infantry Platoons each of three sections. Left to right Platoon one was hidden behind the western ridge with two Big Men, platoon two dug in, in trenches with one Big Man, behind the wire and Platoon three with another Big Man, deployed behind the southern spur of the eastern ridge. In front of the wire I had deployed minefield markers to a depth of 6". However, these were fakes. In actuality my mines were adjacent to the scrub on the western ridge.
I had split my MG platoon so that one Vickers was available to each Platoon, plus one was attached to my HQ Squad; an AT rifle, light mortar and Big Man. Each Platoon also had a AT rifle and Lt Mortar.
I deployed a Platoon of two engineer sections in the scrub, in the depression in the central ridge, where my HQ was along with my FO in a carrier.
I deployed two 3" mortars dug in on my baseline in the western valley allowing a clear LOS up the valley.
I had two 2 pdrs in my force. One was deployed on the extreme SE corner of the western ridge, the other on the extreme SW corner oof the eastern ridge. These covered both valleys where the armour was sure to advance.
Finally, I deployed my sniper in the scrub on the eastern ridge and three Valentine MK III Infantry tanks in a hull down position behind the high ground.
After reminding Jez that he was a recce force I was pleased to see him advance rashly up table to have his entire force spotted in move one! I also spotted both of his fake blinds (he rolled a D4 for them) whilst my stuff was totally unspotted, meaning that his 'Rapid Deployment' card was removed to quite a big advantage. He encountered a group of Arab goatherds though and after questioning them and finding they knew nothing watched them leave the table.
Jez advanced rapidly again realising that he could only recce by force now as his fakes had gone.
He had virtually reached the crest of the western ridge when he spotted my first Platoon on the ridge line. This resulted in a desultory fire causing few casualties. I was forced to reveal my second Platoon in trenches when the enemy advanced swiftly along the central ridge. My Vickers in particular doing sterling work in keeping the heads of the DAK firmly in the sand by pinning them.
I decided to remove a section form my dug-in second Platoon and occupy the scrub on the central ridge, not wanting to have to reveal the presence of my engineers.
My first Platoon mounted the crest of the western ridge and poured point blank fire into the DAK, sadly with little effect, whilst their attached Vickers was dragged into position on the ridge crest.
When Jez's Platoon card came up, next card, my chaps were a great target. Jez rolled for 13 and surpressed but unfortunately for him I rolled only two wounds. A stroke of luck.
As Jez's armoured cars gingerly advanced to check the minefield in the eastern valley one of them forced me to deploy blinds by getting onto the eastern ridge. Boy did it do a quick reverse though when three Valentine Mk III's and a supporting Platoon of Infantry were spotted. Discretion being the better part of valour Jez decided to withdraw immediately off table. However, one 231 was immediately knocked out by a Valentine.
However, by now things were going horribly wrong for the DAK. In the centre his squads were now down to 50% as my Vickers fire and Jez's inability to roll to save his troops.
On the western ridge Jez was trying to retreat but had over committed himself. One squad wandered slap bang into my mines losing half its men in one turn. The others were taking severe casualties from my Aussies whose cards always seem to turn up before Jez's. My Vickers here had pinned the entire Platoon and was causing fearful casualties from close range. I decided to cut off Jez's retreat and took another squad from the dug-in second Platoon and made a flanking move towards the DAK on the western ridge.
Jez's DAK squads on the central ridge were now wiped out to a man by close range (15" IABSM v2) Vickers fire.
Only one squad of DAK managed to extricate themselves on the western ridge to report on what they'd discovered.
- Three Infantry units = 3 stonks won
- Armour = 1 stonk
- Minefield = 1 stonk
- HMGs = 1 stonk
- Aussies = 1 stonk
In spite of seven stonks won I decided that due to his losing a Platoon and an Armoured car I would deduct two stonks, leaving Clive and Max to use five 12" square stonks on my positions. I suppose Jez had done his bit but he only managed to get eight men off-table! Jez reckoned it had been due to poor die rolls and poor card selection. Me, I argued for his bad tactics in racing too forward, too quickly, as usual. We'll agree to differ on that one.
Well Clive and Max arrived and I used a similar disposition as before. I decided to move my Valentine's to the central area, hiding them in a depression just south of the scrub.
Max and Clive were fielding a reduced DAK Company with plenty of armoured support, but also with Italians - an unknown entity as we hadn't used them before.
The German stonks arrived and as per usual we decided only to roll for casualties when the units were spotted or activated.
Max continues "Knowing Kev's habits we applied our stonks behind the main features - he hides his stuff a lot does Kev - and decided that our attack would concentrate on a central thrust by the DAK with a feint by the Glorious Monaco Division of the Italian Army. Why Monaco - I'll explain in a moment..."
Well, the Axis stonks basically hit everything I had with devastating results; as it turned out, three HMG's were destroyed along with two 2" mortars and an AT Rifle.
Max again: "The Axis blinds saw us jog quickly up the right (the Italians), with a more circumspect central advance and a blind on the far left struggling through difficult ground.
"Quickly we realised that Kev had posted 3 platoons of Australians across the back of the table - shit! The left hand blind forced him to reveal platoon one flanking the hills. As our attack was going nowhere near them, we disposed of our fake and used an infantry Gun to cover the area. All game a fairly pants duel between it and a dug in 2lb'er and HMG kept Clivey amused.
"The centre saw Clive jockeying forward with his scouts. They disrupted Kev's second platoon routed his FO and eventually surprised his HQ. Later supported by a DAK platoon the punched a hole through his centre. Clive's tanks carefully moved down this spine after a concentrated barrage from a Pz3 and MMG's put paid to a threatening 2lb'er at the rear of the Right hand spine of hills.
"The Mortar platoon did a sterling job in pinning Kev's infantry allowing our main attack to prosper.
"At least that his how it should have been!
"Before the game we had swapped a Pz2 platoon and a DAK platoon for one of M13/40 and Italian Infantry respectively. (I have painted the troops and I'm going to use them. They pushed down their spine of hills until they crested the last rise to find an Australian platoon moving towards them.
"In fairness, Clive's plan was to use "the Italians to wipe the dirt from his shoes so that he could walkthrough the house unmolested", and he did!
"Our early Stonk had rattled the Aussies, losing an HMG, but here we fought a vicious battle for most of the game. The Italians' Captain Corbelly led a charge against one squad, defeated it but then was whacked by a combined 25lb'er barrage and attacks from Kev's central infantry. He died bravely shepherding his men backwards!"
I had zeroed in my artillery on the central spine and on the western ridge. All it required was a call from my FO and then two numbered chips were placed in the pack. Upon the relevant number being drawn artillery would fall onto the target area.
Max continues: "The remainder held their ground against concerted Aussie assaults collecting more wounds dice (therefore the Monaco, Casino, title) than figures. At every turn we seemed to bear the brunt of Kev's pre registered artillery. 4 barrages over the game! Clive reckoned this was all according to plan. The M13/40's provided fire support but having moved into some rough ground then found it impossible until the end of the game to get out of it. They survived the barrage, however, but the end of the game saw the Italians holding the hill with only 8 men from one platoon and around 35 wounds between them!
In the centre Kev finally revealed his reserves, some engineers and three Valentines. After our Grant drubbing we were, to say the least, nervous. Kev then helped by rolling awful movement and firing dice. As Clive had carefully moved all his tanks up to near the Aussie position during the game a brief but bloody firefight ensued. This time the cards were with the DAK. Three smashed up Valentines, one so badly hit that its driver blindly ran into a Pz3 taking both vehicles out of action - our only tank casualty (Kev claimed that this was a deliberate ram but, well, that's not cricket, is it?).
Kev then decided that the Barbie was calling him and buggered off. A glorious Italian victory I felt marred only by the casualties. I had lost all bar 8 men including my solitary big man. Clive lost 5 men!"
By concentrating all their efforts, in the single-minded pursuit of victory, Max and Clive had indeed shown themselves to have learnt much from last week's game. A large part of my force was stuck out unopposed on my right flank/eastern ridge. I advanced initially then decided I should support my centre, and so retreated. By that stage the game was effectively over and my indecision had cost me dear. My 2 pdr on that half of the battlefield had no target for the majority of the game, and nor had my sniper, though towards the end he potted a Big Man.
I wanted in these game to recreate a typical Axis attack against enemy of an unknown quantity and quality. I included the recce phase to allow Jez to join in and try to give him something to aim for, which would have a knock on effect on the subsequent game. It was important for me that the Aussies received a pounding from the German Artillery, but I also wanted the British artillery to get into the game accurately displaying its superiority. Both I think occurred.
The Axis stonks were very effective in knocking out my HMGs early, which had had a telling effect upon Jez's stuff in the recce phase. Also the loss of my 2 pdr, Clive score two more than the required score to hit and destroyed it instantly, allowed enemy armoured cars and armour to encroach. The minefields were actually fake minefields.
It was a good game though, and probably a lot closer than it should've been. My Valentines could have swung it though if I'd a) deployed them better b) been able to hit something c) had their card turned up more regularly....but hey that's IABSM (v2).
Kev & Max