Inspired by the arrival of Battle for Liberation and all the Plastic Soldier Company tanks I'd been painting, Neil and I played a Normandy game of IABSMv3 yesterday using the "Breakthrough" randomly generated scenario from the rulebook. Neil would take the Germans and defend a small French village against an attack by an American armoured column. 

As I was setting up the terrain prior to Neil's arrival, I used a layout similar to that for the A Canadian VC scenario from the rulebook. Two main roads intersect at a small village on top of a low rise. There's a church slightly further up the hill (unusually patterned on the Italian style, my guidebook tells me!) and a small stream in the valley below. Vehicles crossing the stream anywhere other than the bridge, including at the ford, run the risk of bogging down. The table was 6ft by 4ft, so plenty of room to get plenty of assets onto the board. 

As the Americans are only Regular compared to the Veteran German troops, they get an extra platoon to the standard allocation in Breakthrough. Here are the forces involved: meaning that in conjunction with the layout shown, you can actually play the game yourselves. You'll need to include a Turn Card in addition to the standard unit and characteristic cards. 


The Germans 

All German troops were Veteran, with vehicles having a morale level of four. All troops began the game dug-in, so would be poor targets until they moved. No air or artillery support was immediately available, but there were assault guns in the area that would hopefully arrive in support if the enemy attacked. 


One card per Big Man and Zug, apart from the ATGs which have three cards between them. 

In addition: Dynamic Commander; MMG Bonus; ATG Bonus; and Rally. 

The Force

Kompanie HQ

  • Big Man 1 (Level IV)
  • Big Man 2 (Level III) 
  • 2 x MMG with 5 crew each 
  • 1 x Panzerschreck Team (2 men)

1st Rifle Zug 

  • Big Man 3 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Rifle Gruppe (8 men each) 
  • 1 x Panzerfaust per Grupp

2nd Rifle Zug 

  • Big Man 4 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Rifle Gruppe (8 men each) 
  • 1 x Panzerfaust per Gruppe 

Anti-Tank Zug 

  • Big Man 5 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Pak40 ATG with 5 crew 
  • 3 x SdKfz11 Half-Track

Tank Zug 

  • Big Man 6 (Level III) 
  • 4 x Panther

Reinforcements (expected Turn 4)

Assault Gun Zug

  • 2 x Wespe

The Americans 

All troops are Regular, with vehicles having a morale level of three. Air Support was available once called in by the most senior Big Man. No artillery support was immediately available, but a couple of Priests had been promised if things got sticky.


One card per Big Man and Platoon. 

In addition: Armoured Bonus Move; Dynamic Officer; Rally.

The Force

Company HQ 

  • Big Man 1 (Level IV) 
  • Big Man 2 (Level II) 
  • 3 x Bazooka Team (2 men each) 
  • 3 x Jeep

1st Armoured Platoon 

  • Big Man 3 (Level III) 
  • 5 x Sherman M4

2nd Armoured Platoon 

  • Big Man 4 (Level III) 
  • 5 x Sherman M4

Tank Destroyer Platoon 

  • Big Man 5 (Level III) 
  • 4 x M10 Tank Destroyer

1st (Armoured) Infantry Platoon 

  • Big Man 6 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Rifle Squad (10 men each) 
  • 1 x 60mm Mortar 
  • 2 x 0.30MMG 
  • 5 x M3A1 Half-Track (2 x 0.50HMG, 3 x 0.30MMG)

2nd Infantry Platoon 

  • Big Man 7 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Rifle Squad (10 men each) 
  • 1 x Bazooka (2 men) 
  • 1 x Jeep 
  • 3 x Dodge truck 

3rd Infantry Platoon 

  • Big Man 8 (Level III) 
  • 3 x Rifle Squad (10 men each) 
  • 1 x Bazooka (2 men) 
  • 1 x Jeep 
  • 3 x Dodge truck

Reinforcements (expected turn three)

Mobile Artillery Platoon 

  • 2 x Priest

The Game 

As the Americans lacked a specific reconnaissance force, I decided to use the Armoured Infantry Platoon as my scouts. My rationale was that I needed a unit that could move quickly down a road, and didn't want to risk any of my tanks or tank destroyers until I at least knew where the enemy was dug-in. 

The five M4 half-tracks duly headed off down the road with the ford. Two crossed without any difficulties, but three bogged down in the marshy ground and were stuck fast! This proved too much for the watching Germans to resist, and his four Panther tanks revealed themselves dug-in under the churchyard hedge and opened fire. 

Fortunately, the infantry had already debussed (presumably to help de-bog the half-tracks), and the Germans were not having a good day: only one half-track went up in smoke. The Germans also spotted the blind behind the armoured infantry platoon: revealing the five Shermans of Platoon Two. Meanwhile, the Americans had spotted movement in the nearest house, and more US Blinds had entered the table. 

On the other side of the table, another US Blind revealed itself as the other platoon of Shermans, which almost immediately came under fire from the three German anti-tank guns dug-in along the other road and, in a cunning bit of placement, in a flanking position in the centre of the village. Two Shermans were immediately put out of action, with one having to be shunted off the bridge as a shield for another to hide behind. As for the other two Shermans, one hid behind (if not in!) a small farmhouse, the other waited south of the bridge in the lee of the ramp leading up onto it. 

  All this reconnaissance by armoured vehicle was proving somewhat expensive on the Americans' material assets! Back with the armoured infantry, half-tracks had been going up like a firework display: sitting ducks as they were still bogged down in the mud. The Shermans knew they were next, and one Sherman made a mad dash for cover in the town itself (hoping to run over the anti-tank gun in the centre of town) but the cards were not kind, and a Panther casually swivelled its turret and brewed it up. 

What this had done, however, was give another US Blind the chance to close to close combat range with the enemy Blind in the nearest village house. A full platoon of US infantry (Platoon Three for those keeping score) hurled grenades etc and dispossessed a squad of Fallschirmjaegers. The Americans then took some fire from the Germans in the next house along (they hadn't quite had enough movement to properly follow up), but two squads safely made it into the house next turn. 

An impasse followed, as neither the Germans in the next house along nor the Americans wanted to be first to initiate close combat again: the Germans because they didn't fancy the penalties for moving through the small holes smashed through the walls, the Americans because they had lost their only Big Man in the first combat and had no-one to lead them forward for the moment. 

Both sides now reacted to the fact that the Americans had gained a crucial tow-hold in the German position. The Germans rushed most of another infantry platoon under a Blind into the rear house, accompanied by two Big Men, and with orders to throw the US troops back, but just as they were poised to begin their assault, HE shells from the Shermans hiding from the German anti-tank guns (who couldn't fire at the anti-tank guns but had a beautifully clear shot at the houses) began slamming into the rear house and surrounding area. 

Catastrophe for the Germans. Their two Big Men were conferring on the best way to plan their assault when a lucky shell hit the roof above them, collapsing a lethal avalanche of bricks and tiles onto their heads. Two casualties, one on each squad, one Big Man with each squad, consecutive '1's' rolled on 2d10! 

Faced with the prospect of more of the same, the German infantry retreated from the house, seeking cover by the anti-tank gun. Now it was the Americans who were at an impasse, as they couldn't move forward into the rear house without a Big Man to lead them into close combat. 

Meanwhile, the Panthers had been continuing the firework display amongst the US tank platoon in front of them, switching to HE to keep the armoured infantry's heads down too. With all but one Sherman out of action, the lead Panther now prowled forward into the village itself as reinforcement, but was forced to retreat when bazooka shots began ricocheting off its front armour! 

On the far side of the board, however, the other platoon of US leg infantry had managed to get forward into the farmhouse that had been the Sherman shelter, and was systematically laying down fire on the three anti-tank guns. One (the one in the centre of the village) was put out of action, leaving an opening for a Sherman to nip across the field to a point shielded from the other two anti-tank guns by the contours. Even better, two Priests and the four M10s had arrived, and had begun laying down serious artillery fire onto the large farmhouse at the end of the field, causing the Fallschirmjaeger there some pain! 

At this point, the Germans decided to retreat, as they could see that the writing was on the wall. 

Although they still had the four Panthers (although one was badly damaged), their anti-tank gun crews were gradually being whittled away and, worse, their infantry was under serious artillery bombardment. The US platoon in the houses at the beginning of the village was not going to be shifted: not only providing a gateway for the remains of the armoured infantry to come forward (two squads, a couple of MMGs, more bazookas), but also now posing bazooka-threat to the Panthers as they moved under cover through the houses. We estimated that the equivalent of one platoon of infantry, two anti-tank guns and three of the panthers would have successfully got away. 

American manpower losses were lighter than expected for such an intense fight. Although four of the five half-tracks and nine of the twelve Shermans had been neutralised (with most brewing up rather than being abandoned), only a score of infantry had been killed. The game was declared an American victory, as they had taken the village. 

More importantly, perhaps, having just been reading Black Bull, an account of the British 11th Armoured Division's travails around Caen, the game seemed to be remarkably historically accurate. Countless Shermans brewing up under fire from concealed Panthers and anti-tank guns; the infantry going in alongside them; the Germans eventually being shifted with artillery fire! In all, a great afternoon's gaming!

Robert Avery