Great game yesterday as we fought the Lille action from the TFL Dunkirk Day. This was actually the only battle from the day I hadn't fought, and having enjoyed the other two I was keen to give it a go.
I played the French: defending a spread out town (loads of gardens and fields and hedges and houses and passages and alleys) against a German attack. It was also a good excuse to field my newly-painted petrol station from Timecast: a lovely model that, despite being for modern warfare, looks the part and comes with half a 2CV sticking out of the garage!
The game begins with only infantry on each side but, after a few turns, both forces get a healthy injection of armour. The French were defending across the long side of the table so, perhaps unwisely, decided to spread their two platoons out: one on the right, one on the left, placing a section in each key building. The left was further bolstered by a 75mm gun (dated 1897!) emplaced on a hill towards the rear of the table. There was another 75 hidden behind a hedge on the right, ready to be wheeled into the road that led straight towards the Germans.
The Germans, headed by Major Lardich von Skinner, slammed on with a full armoured platoon on the French left. This advanced quickly and soon destroyed the French squad holding the key building there, and hunkered down to begin exchanging fire with the French squad in the next key building towards the centre of the town. On the French right, the only Germans seen was a platoon of AT guns and their horse- drawn limbers. This was too good an opportunity target to miss, so one keen French squad, still under a Blind, left its house and headed forward to fetch Capitaine Legume's lunch of horse-meat sarnies.
Unfortunately the next turn saw another German platoon appear behind the guns (bloody card based initiative system) and despite taking cover in (not behind, in) a hedge, the keen French squad were quickly reduced to a few distinctly unkeen gibbering idiots (3 figures, 14 wounds!).
The rest of the French on the right - two squads led by Legume himself and an MMG - opened up on the Germans crowded forward to see all these dead Frenchmen, and did four or five casualties. Not a lot, but this was enough to halt the Germans in the building they were occupying and lay down smoke from their light mortars rather than advancing forward. A firefight developed, through the smoke, which did few casualties on either side, but bought the French time for their armour to arrive.
Meanwhile, on the French left, the Germans were preparing to move forward again. Sergeant-Chef Aubergine, seeing the danger, ran to the 75 gun on the hill and took personal charge. Up to then th gun had failed to hit anything it had fired at, especially buildings! Laying the gun himself, however, two rounds slammed into the house where the Germans were, doing horrible casualties and forcing them to abandon the building as soon as possible! Fine shooting!
The Germans, seemingly angered by this, sent two squads forward to silence the gun, and used the other two squads to assault the next building in line, also with a French squad within in. Aubergine's men had time to fire a round into the Germans coming towards them, seriously damaging one German squad, before being close assaulted by 12 German figures. Twelve Germans verses Aubergine and two gunners. Aubergine, however, is a d6+1 Big Man! The Germans were repulsed and sent 4" down the hill, where they took up firing positions and prepared to shoot the 6ft 7" mad Frenchman with the massive ramrod and his gun crew.
Things looked bad for Aubergine, but the next chip out of the bag was the French Heroic Leader card! Down the hill went Aubergine and his two gunners and smashed the Germans from the table!
The other two German squads, meanwhile, had successfully taken the next building, but were somewhat surprised when Aubergine, on the next turn, slammed another couple of shells into the house. In effect Sergeante-Chef Aubergine had defeated an entire 4-squad German platoon with nothing more than a 75mm gun from the last century and his massive ramrod!
Meanwhile, on the rest of the table, both sides armour had arrived. The French had six tanks: 3 H-39's and 3 Char B1's. The Germans had four PzII's and three PzIV's.
With their quick movement (Rapid Deployment, Blitzkrieg) the Germans managed to zoom their PzIV's up the board and catch the French armour in the flank. Shots rang out, but the Char B1's were made of stern stuff. No damage was done to any Char's, although one H-39 finally secumbed to engine damage after taking five hits! The Char's then ponderously turned towards the PzIV's and, despite having shells clanging off their armour, took two of them out in one turn.
The final PzIV, Big Man (Oberleutnant Willi Kaiser) on board, retreated rapidly, and one Char, a bit over keen, chased after him. The PzIV then stopped, shot forward again, passing the Char B1, stopped just behind it, whipped his turret round, and slammed two shells into the Char's rear at point blank range! A superb bit of tactical manouevre that resulted in one brewed up Char!
Meanwhile, another Char had advanced to the centre of the table right into the advance of the PzII's. One PzII was blown to bits, and the other three scattered into cover. It looked as if this Char was unstopable, especially as it had Lt Epinace on board, even if he was dressed as a nun! [I use one of PP's excellent French nuns as Big Man 4]
Then, however, the drone of Stuka's was heard and the German player nominated Lt Epinace's Char as their target. Deviation dice were rolled - a direct hit would have meant the end of Epinace! - no...a miss...deviation behind Epinace's Char by five inches. Phew! Safe!
Hang on! What's that building that the bombs have landed on? The one that Epinace's Char is using to protect its flank?
Yes, you guessed it: it's my new petrol station!
A quick check of the rules failed to discover effect of Stuka bombs on a petrol station ;) so the German player, Neil, claimed that the kriegspiel approach means that the station should blow up, taking the Char with it! I, however, pointed out that the French Fuel Shortage chip was in the pack, and so there obviously wasn't any fuel to blow up. Neil then pointed out that my Char's ran on diesel, so the station could be full of petrol. This was a fair gendarme, so we decided to compromise and have the Char brew up as the petrol station exploded, but with Epinace emerging from the smoke, untouched but with his Nun's costume blackened and in shreds!
The battle continued for one more turn, but it was obvious that the Germans couldn't take the town. His PzII's and other PzIV were all damaged or destroyed in the next turn by French MMG fire or the three surviving French tanks, and although the French infantry was sadly depleted, the Germans were down to a third of a platoon of effectives.
A heroic victory for the French, although as Legume had died earlier it was left to the newly promoted Capitaine Aubergine to organise the celebrations!
A great game which really seemed to capture the difference between the French and German forces. Although not specifically mentioned above, one key feature of the game was the German rapid movement and the French decidedly stationary approach to things. Legume kept getting the Hesitant French Commander chip, so culdn't move from his exposed position, and several times the French could neither advance nor retreat because of the Hesitant Troops chip.
Lardies may be interested to know that Aubergine's gun is now in a small display cabinet on my shelf, along with Epinace's soot- blackened wimple and a diagram showing how to take out a Char B1 with a PzIV!