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With the launch of the second half of The September War, my scenario pack for Poland 1939, I thought it was time to do some last minute play-testing. The scenario chosen was #58: Jablon.

It's late September 1939. The surprise Soviet invasion has shattered the Polish border troops left in the east of the country. All looks lost, so any remaining Polish formations have been ordered to break for the nearest border with a neutral country so the fight can continue at a later date. Soviet columns drive deep into Poland hunting out the fleeing Poles. Isolated Polish units engage and block these Soviet columns wherever they can, trying to hold them off for long enough for the bulk of their comrades to escape.

One such encounter took place on 28th September, with a contingent of mixed Polish troops (border troops, dismounted cavalry, naval infantry) trying to hold the advancing Soviets at bay in and near the village of Jablon.

The game premise was simple: the Poles would start the game by placing an objective marker anywhere in or around the big farmhouse opposite the church. If the Soviets managed to capture and hold the objective marker on any appearance of the Tea Break card, then they win the battle. The Poles, however, are trying to slip away under cover of darkness, which would fall sometime after the sixth appearance of the Tea Break card. If the Poles still hold the objective on any appearance of the Tea Break card after darkness has fallen, then they win the game.

The Soviets would start the game advancing towards Jablon. Looking at the picture, above, Soviet Blinds would start the game as far onto the table as the far side of the Polikarpov's flight stand base. The Soviets had a company of infantry and a company of T-26 light tanks (well, nine) at their disposal. The Soviet platoons were three squads of ten men each, with a Level I Big Man in charge. They  had only a couple of MMGs and three light mortars as support: the column had outstripped its other assets. There was also a small chance the Polikarpov would intervene.

For their part, the Poles began the game with their support weapons and a platoon of infantry on table under Blinds, with a further two platoons of infantry arriving when the Blinds card and dice allowed! The Polish platoons were all fairly battered two-squad platoons. Their support consisted of four somewhat ancient 75mm guns and a couple of tchankas.

Not knowing exactly where the Poles were, the Soviets decided on a double-pronged attack. One platoon of tanks and an infantry platoon would go up each side of the battlefield, aiming to swing round and hit the large farmhouse from the side. The third infantry platoon would augment the right hand thrust (Blinds #3, #5 and #6 in the picture above). Finally, the MMGs and Company HQ mortars would lay down fire from a central position. 

Not phased by the sea of red thundering towards him, Dave, playing the Poles, began to spot from his hidden Blinds. As he was spotting into open ground, before long he had a very good idea of what he was facing. Amusingly, this also meant that the chips were stacked very much against him...and, yes, I was using my blue French poker chips for the Poles.

As the Russians got closer, the Polish guns and machine guns opened fire from their concealed positions. The big farmhouse held a tchanka and a field gun. The hedge line in front (i.e. towards the Soviets) held the other tchanka and another gun. Finally there were two more guns dug-in towards the rear of the table, but still able to direct fire into the oncoming Red Army horde.

but how did they get the horses up the stairs?

time was ticking on: the poles had received reinforcements

The Soviet light tanks opened up as well, and this exchange of fire between the T-26s and Polish support weapons would take up the next phase of the game: the Russians edging their infantry forward whenever they could. As the climax of the game approached, honours stood fairly even: one T-26 each side had bailed, and the Polish tchanka crew and gun crew by the church had been so battered that any survivors had abandoned their weapons and fled.

The Climax

The Soviet approach phase actually took longer than the simple paragraph, above, implies: about 45 minutes of playing time and around four appearances of the Tea Break card. It was getting late and the Poles still looked pretty comfortable. Then came the very rapid climax of the game.

Up came the Soviet Human Wave chip, formerly known as the Uraaaaaaaaagh! chip. This was too good an opportunity to miss, and Bevan, playing the Soviet infantry, hurled a platoon at the Polish positions in the farmhouse. The extra charge bonus that the chip gave him meant that the whole platoon went in okay, but another squad from the other Soviet infantry platoon came up short, giving rise to the first of quite a few "if only's".

A huge Close Combat broke out between the charging Soviets and the troops in that section of the farmhouse. If you look closely at the above picture, you can just see the barrel of the Polish artillery pieces in the middle window: it couldn't fire, but its crew grabbed their weapons and piled in, giving the Poles about 15 men with which to fend off the 29 Soviets, many of whom were puffing and panting after their long run in.

In the event, this first round of melee was a draw: with each side losing five men. This could have been disastrous for the Poles, but they had a second squad on the other side of the building, and the tchanka crew from upstairs along with a couple of Big Men including the company commander,who joined in for the re-match.

Desperate to hold on to the objective marker, the Poles fought like lions: this time sending the Soviet platoon, or what was left of it, fleeing backwards, completely mullered. It would take no further part in the game.

This victory was at a high cost, however. Both Polish Big Men were killed, and an anti-tank rifle team that had been doing sterling work against the enemy T-26s. In all, the Poles were left with one squad of infantry, the tchanka (four crew left), and the artillery piece (four crew left)...all of whom were carrying quite a bit of Shock.

The Soviets, however, had plenty of men left, and moved their next infantry platoon, still at full strength, up into position to charge into the farmhouse on their next activation. With them they had their Big Man, and Commissar Dushkin to make sure they understood the, er, seriousness of the situation!

All the Soviets needed was the opportunity to go in, and the objective was surely theirs.

Unfortunately, and here's another "if only", the Gods of the chip bag had other plans. Despite the huge number of Soviet chips in the bag, the first three  out of the bag were:

The three remaining Polish guns fired into the Russian infantry platoon as it lined up to start its charge, effectively annihilating one squad. Dave began to relax slightly.

Big mistake.

The next chip out of the bag was the Soviet Heroic Commander chip: and in went the infantry again!

Unfortunately, the dice were with the Poles, and only the front Soviet squad made it into Close Combat, so despite the heroic efforts of Commissar Dushkin (with the flag) and the Big Man (both of whom survived), the Soviets were pushed back again.

At that point, dusk fell, meaning that the next appearance of the Tea Break chip would end the game, with victory going to whoever held the objective marker in the farmhouse. The Poles still had two platoons under Blinds, but the surviving Soviet platoon was just as big as those two combined, and there were still seven T-26s in action.

But it was not to be.

I picked up the full chip bag, plunged my hand inside, and drew out...the Tea Break chip.

Night had fallen and, under cover of its all enveloping darkness, the remaining and victorious Poles slipped away.

Aftermath

Well that was a game and a half!

Poland Part 2 Front Cover2.medium.jpg

For those who say that IABSM is a slow game, we completed the above in about 2½ hours, and even if night hadn't fallen with such a thump, would probably have fought out the remaining action in a maximum of another hour or so.

I had thought that the Soviets would walk all over the Poles, but all that open ground and the lack of support weapons with which to suppress their opponents really made a difference.

On the Polish side, they effectively fought the battle with only two thirds of their force, so although they didn't have much left in the farmhouse, they could have reinforced the troops in their with ease.

A great game, and one that is definitely passed as ready for inclusion in The September War, Part II.

Robert Avery

 
 
 
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This game was part of the 2nd Mech Corps attempt to capture Budapest before the end of 1944. Axis forces are a hodgepodge of small units. It was also a chance to use my recently painted Hungarian toys.

We decided to call it at this stage. The Russians were running out of infantry: 30 out of 64 men down along with two COs. Really weak to begin with. The T34s were strong on the right so might have able to hold their own against the Billnitzer Group. But having an IS2 taken out by the Turan was a surprise.

Hungarian Police were barely touched: only 3 KIA. The Grenadiers were down 16 men and had no COs left. Both Nashorns gone.

Neither FO was able to do much in this game.

Mark Luther

 
 
 
 
 

It's 0715 on 15 May 1940, and KG Klink, attached to the 7th Panzer Division, is on the move.  The 7th Panzer Division has broken through the French front line and is on the road to Flavion, with reconnaissance elements pushing both north and south of the city in search of a way to by-pass the city, or at least find an undefended back door. 

North of Flavion, recce elements of KG Klink have discovered a ford over the River Moiste near a small farming hamlet; led by KG Klink's Reconnaissance Company Commander, 1st Lieutenant Wehner, the Germans quickly push across the river and secure a small bridgehead on the western bank, before sending for reinforcements.  Colonel Klink, the Kampfgruppe Commander, immediately broke off a detachment of infantry and armor to reinforce Lt Wehner at the ford.  But time is of the essence; French forces under Captain Cognac have spied the German bridgehead and are already forming up for a counterattack.

I am playing this game, the sixth of KG Klink's campaign during the Fall of France in 1940, with my eight-year old son, with me commanding the Germans and the boy commanding the French.  We are playing the games in 10mm, a mix of Pendraken and Minifigs UK troops and equipment, on a 6' x 4' table, using Too Fat Lardies' "I Ain't Been Shot Mum," modified a bit to suit our tastes. 

The scenario is "Cognac and Moiste Cabbage," written by Robert Avery and published in the Lardies' Christmas 2005 Special.  On a side note, Mr. Avery is now pasting my IABSM battle reports on the Vis Lardica website (https://www.vislardica.com/); I am happy for the extra exposure, and proud to be considered a contributor.

Overview, north is up, with the German baseline at right (east) and the French at left (west).  The River Moiste is at center, running north to south, and the key ford is at center right, where the dirt road intersects with the river.  The ground is flat, rolling fields, with heavy stands of trees at far right, bottom center, left, top left, and far left. 

Cabbage fields abound, providing no significant cover or concealment nor real impediment to movement, but there is a stone wall (the sideways 'V' at center left/bottom) that halts movement and is only barely passable to tracked vehicles; similarly, there is a wooden fence running along the northern side of the main, east-west running road.  The fence itself is not the problem, it's the drainage ditch running just below, invisible to the naked eye ;) , the fence. 

At top left is The Farm, consisting of a residence, an outbuilding, and a barn.  At center is the tollkeeper's house, and at top center right is Mademoiselle Chevelle's home.

A close up of the objective, the ford (center), with the tollkeeper's home at bottom left and Mlle Chevelle's home at top right.  You get a good look at some of the cabbage fields and the wooden fence running on the north side of the main road.

The objective of the game is possession of the ford, with possession being defined as having troops on the enemy's side of the river at the conclusion of the fight.  The Germans start the game in defensive positions, with guidance being to set up a significant amount of their forces on the western (French) side of the river.  The French begin the game at The Farm, in the northwest (top left), which is their marshalling area for the counterattack.

The Forces Involved

The opposing forces, with Germans on right and French on left.  Each side will begin the game with a main force on the table, then each side will receive two separate sets of reinforcements as the game goes on.

The Germans 

The entire German force

Here is what the Germans have on the table at the beginning of the game. 

Looking at the picture of the initial German force, top right:

  • At bottom center is the onsite commander, 1st Lt Wehner, Recon Company Commander and holder of the Iron Cross, 2nd Class.
  • At top right is Lt Wehner's 1st Motorcycle Platoon (already dismounted).  They are led by SSgt Gradl, holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class.  He has three squads:

1st Squad - SSgt Sachs
2nd Squad - Cpl Rein, a replacement squad leader.
3rd Squad - Cpl Wilhelm

  • At top center are two squads of the Assault Engineer Platoon:

1st Squad - Sgt Barkstrom
2nd Squad - Sgt Hafl

  • And center left is a Schwerer Platoon consisting of:

an MG-34 team under LCpl Steinkamp
and two Pak-36 37mm anti-tank guns under Sgt Kallenbach

German Reinforcements

On the fourth draw of the "Turn Card" the Germans will receive reinforcements from the KG's Panzer Company, specifically, two Pz IVCs from 4th Panzer Platoon:

Sgt Graebner's tank, holder of the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, with four tank kills

Sgt Kapp's tank

And on turn 10 the infantry arrive, the Schutzen Company's 2nd Grenadier Platoon under 1st Lieutenant Ost, with three squads:

1st Squad - Sgt Lutz
2nd Squad - Lipniki
3rd Squad - Sgt Axthelm

They are riding in trucks and accompanied by a section of two 80mm mortars under LCpl Vigerte, seeing his first action of the war.

The French

Here are the French, under Captain Cognac:

This monstrosity is the force the French start the fight with on the table.  I must admit I'm a bit nervous, looking at the force arrayed against me. 

At top centre right is Capt Cognac's command stand. 

At top left are two platoons of infantry, each consisting of a platoon commander and three squads. 

At bottom left is a weapons platoon of two machine guns and an 81mm mortar (the scenario says it's supposed to be a 60mm mortar; I don't have a 60mm mortar for the French, so I resolved to use an 81mm mortar but treat it like a 60mm mortar, but, in the event, I forgot, and ended up treating like an 81mm mortar). 

At centre are two Somua S35s, with a single H39 to their right.  At bottom centre/right is a 75mm field gun being towed by a horse team; it's supposed to be towed by a truck in the scenario, but I've got horses so they're using horses (no difference in capability on the table, and wouldn't matter anyway as they came straight off Blinds into firing position during the game).

At turn 8 the French receive this beast as reinforcement.  Please note this is a different Char B than I used in the last fight.  Why am I telling you this?  Just pointing out how goof I am; I actually have three Char Bs, but only two S35s and three H-35/39s.  And my British early war tanks are even more limited.  To be honest, I never really thought I'd be playing early WWII games, it was something that hadn't really interested me before I started the KG Klink saga.

And in Turn 12 the French receive another platoon of infantry as reinforcements.

And in Turn 12 the French receive another platoon of infantry as reinforcements.

The Game Begins

Below is  an overview of the map, north is up, this time with Blinds on the table.  The German Blinds are at centre bottom and top centre, while the French Blinds are all at top left, in and around the farm and intersection.

Yes, the playing cards as Blinds are ugly, but I'm having a hard time coming up with an alternative as these are so simple, cheap, and effective (for play purposes, not aesthetics), and there are so many variations as to make a prettier solution tough.  What I mean is, each game is different and has different forces.  I'm playing with an 8-year old, so I'm trying to keep things as straightforward as possible.  So I can buy pack after pack of playing cards and write directly on them what the card is: i.e., 1st Rifle Platoon (PC and 3 Squads), Weapons Plt (2 MGs and 1 Mortar), Field Gun, Char B, etc...  But I can't see doing that with something that is better looking but much more expensive.

I know a lot of guys make pretty Blinds and just label them as "Blind #1," then they have a roster on the side to show what troops Blind #1 is.  Again, I'm trying to keep things simple for the boy, I don't want any confusion as to where he puts the Blinds, what he does with them (because he thinks it's a certain unit), or what troops go on the table when the Blind gets lifted.  And printing off new blinds each game doesn't work either; I'm a cheapskate, and printer ink gets damn expensive!  So, I apologize for the ugliness of the playing cards, but I don't see another way right now.  

I am all ears if someone out there has an idea for prettier Blinds that I can write the exact unit on AND change to meet the unique needs of every single game. 

The Germans have four Blinds (out of a total of seven, three real, four dummy) in the south and three Blinds in the north.

And the French mass in the northwest, with a total of eleven Blinds (if I recall correctly), three of which were dummies.

And the French mass in the northwest, with a total of eleven Blinds (if I recall correctly), three of which were dummies.

And the game is afoot!  The French Blinds start pushing east towards the ford (top center), approaching the unseen German forces at top left and top right.  I would later verbally and physically abuse the boy for being so timid with his Blinds and not pushing forward stronger to seize the river crossing.  We both have seen everything about each other's forces, the only secret is their location, so he knows exactly how little I have and how much he has, and he knows what to do (you'll see him establish a base of fire and begin pushing his manoeuvre elements forward, just not as aggressively as I expected).
 

The French Blind at the Farm's residence (bottom centre), quite unbelievably, have spotted movement across the river, in the treeline to the northeast (top centre left).  Whatever could it be?

It's my damn Weapons Platoon, dammit!  Two ATGs (the infamous "doorknockers," at top left and centre), and the MG-34 (bottom right).  Sorry for the blurry photo, I'm just aggravated that he spotted these guys, immobile in the treeline, so quickly.  This is not good at all...

Wow, what a fight!!!  At the same time, I feel terrible, my boy is shellshocked!  Just kidding; he was a bit on Sunday, when we played, but's it's Monday and he's already over it.  But man, that was rough!  We talked about him being a bit more aggressive; his comment was 'being the attacker is kind of hard.'  I couldn't help but laugh; he gets it.  It's not fun having to move up and expose yourself to enemy fire in order to accomplish your mission, but it's gotta be done, and he's showing a pretty good grasp of fire and maneuver between elements. 

We also talked about small unit leadership, working to make sure your leaders are in the right spot at the right time to help your attack or defense succeed.  I really didn't like his positioning of his CO on his far right, for a supporting effort (we talked about unity of effort and focus of effort, too), and late getting to the main effort (Somua, H39, and 2nd Platoon pushing up the road).  I thought he did a good job with his supporting fires; I wouldn't have fired the mortars on the German tanks, I would have kept them on the north treeline and pounded the German Weapons Platoon into oblivion, then shifted fire to the south treeline to pound the Motorcycle Platoon.  Having said that, what he did worked; the MGs, mortar (for a moment), and field gun did a good job overall in keeping the German Weapons Platoon in check, until the shifted the field gun to firing at the German tanks, too.  Shifting the mortar and the field gun to the German tanks kept them out of the fight, but was probably too much, and let the German MG and one ATG back into the fight, as well. 

Having said all that, I should have just kept my damn Company commander up there with the Weapons Platoon, and I had some bad luck with the tanks not activating much, and then one running away.  And I would have been in more trouble if the boy would have pushed sooner in the center; we talked about the art of trying to time up the assault with appropriate suppression by supporting fires.  It turns out he had the idea down, he just didn't foresee how long it was going to take his assault troops to get to the objective once the Germans were sufficiently beat up.

But it still all came down to that crazy close combat at the toll keeper's house; I was certain I was going to lose that fight, and by all accounts, I should have.  I figured I was going to have to throw in the towel; my tanks cover the withdrawal, holding the French at the ford while Weapons Platoon falls back in the north and the Motorcycle Platoon has to drop all its gear and swim the river to escape.  But somehow I won; the French moved up with a PC and three squads in good order.  I had a PC, a suppressed squad (-2 in close combat), and a 'men down' squad (-3 in close combat).  The first round of combat was atrocious for the boy, and it didn't get any better.

In the first round he had a squad match up against each of mine, and then the PCs faced off.  I went -2 and -3 but managed to tie both squad vs squad fights, and then my PC beat his PC in a straight up roll!  The two French squads fell back, suppressed, and their PC went down.  Their 3rd Squad charged my PC and put him out, but then I beat a suppressed French squad in an even-up roll off, and I beat his fresh squad despite being -2.  Then I finished off his last squad in an even-up roll off (both sides were suppressed).  Incredible!

Casualties:

German: ~25 casualties, one PaK-36 ATG destroyed
French: ~60 casualties, one 75mm field piece destroyed, two Somua S35 tanks destroyed

Character casualties:

  • Cpl Rein, 2nd Squad, 1st Motorcycle Platoon, Recon Company, KIA
  • SSgt Gradle, Commander, 1st Motorcycle Platoon, Recon Company, WIA - out for campaign
  • Sgt Hafl, 2nd Squad, Engineer Platoon, Recon Company, WIA - out for campaign
  • Sgt Kallenbach, ATG Section, Schwere Platoon, Schutzen Company, WIA - ambulatory
  • Sgt Barkstrom, 1st Squad, Engineer Platoon, Recon Company, WIA - ambulatory

Awards:

  • SSgt Gradle, Commander, 1st Motorcycle Platoon, Recon Company, was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class, for leading the defense of the Toll Keeper's House at the ford of the River Moiste.
  • Sgt Hafl, 2nd Squad, Engineer Platoon, Recon Company, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for the defense of the Toll Keeper's House at the ford of the River Moiste.
  • Sgt Barkstrom, 1st Squad, Engineer Platoon, Recon Company, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for the defense of the Toll Keeper's House at the ford of the River Moiste.
  • Sgt Kallenbach, ATG Section, Schwere Platoon, Schutzen Company, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for destroying two enemy tanks in the defense at the ford of the River Moiste.


*Lt Wehner did not report Sgt Kapp for withdrawing his tank from the fight; Sgt Graebner told the Lieutenant he would take care of the matter.

The rules are working like a champ; the boy finally complained about the Tea Break card ("maybe we ought to take out the Tea Break card..."), but I talked to him about friction, not being able to do everything you want, when you want, and he was okay.  Our 'blinds move at end of turn' house rule worked; my only complaint there, as I mentioned above, is the ugliness of my blinds, and my only answer so far is to move to get the blinds off the table as quickly as possible. 

My only other complaint is how long the games take; I don't want to sound like a whiner, but you have to keep in mind I play a LOT of skirmish games and small, platoon-level games where I can play three games in as many hours.  Our game last week took about 3 1/2 hours and this one took about 4 1/2 hours.  So I'm not complaining that they are inordinately long games, it's just that I can only take playing so many long games in a row before I get aggravated and move back to playing my small, quick games for awhile.

Having said that, we're having a lot of fun and I really want to keep this going so I can close out KG Klink's "Fall of France" episode and move on to whatever is next.    

Anyway, hopefully we've given you an entertaining battle report to enjoy, some food for thought regarding the rules, and some food for thought regarding the future of KG Klink (and go ahead and toss your thoughts my way, please).  Thanks for reading, hope you liked it.

Jack

 
 
 
 
 

This was the second game of two that we played on the same afternoon. Both very fast, but not very bloody.

We used the same terrain as for the previous encounter, but with enough differences to ensure that we couldn't use all the weak/strong points that we'd found in the last game.

The Germans begin the game by deploying their artillery, more to scare their opponents than anything else.

Everything else, for both sides, is hidden under Blinds.

As soon as the game begins, the British think that they could gain the most advantage by combining their force and attacking a single point.

Although this meant that the British could advance quickly in three spearheads, it didn't actually work as a tactic, as their armoured vehicles were easily picked off.

As a result of their losses, the British did not advance beyond the wire, so the result was total victory for the Germans.

Burt Minorrot

 
 
 
 
 

It's 1600 on 14 May 1940, and KG Klink, attached to the 7th Panzer Division, is on the move.  Earlier this morning KG Klink attacked and destroyed a strongpoint manned by the French 5th Infantry Division.  Having broken through 7th Panzer Division is on the road to Flavion.  However, an hour ago, 7th Panzer reconnaissance elements on the march came under fire from the (fictional) French village of Riqueville.  7th Panzer continued west around the village, and KG Klink immediately received a FragO to stand detached to reduce yet another French strongpoint. 

Colonel Klink decided to lead the assault himself, composed of the better part of his Grenadier Company, two platoons of tanks, a portion of the Kampfgruppe's Reconnaissance Platoon, and a section of 80mm mortars.  Aerial reconnaissance stated the French force as a couple platoons of infantry with perhaps a couple crew-served weapons, with maybe a single tank in support.  Ordinarily a single tank in support wouldn't be something for Colonel Klink to be too concerned about, but when that tank is a Char B, with it's extraordinarily heavy armor...

Regarding rules, I'm messing around again. Years ago, when my father was still alive, he'd come over pretty much every weekend and we'd play wargames (sadly, this was before I created a blog to record all my wargaming efforts).  In any case, we primarily played three games: Force on Force, Bag the Hun, and I Ain't Been Shot Mum (IABSM).  So it's been awhile, but I've had a hankering for some larger, reinforced-company level games that are a bit grittier that what I normally play, so I decided to give IABSM another try. 

I did change some things up, vastly simplifying the shooting and morale mechanics, but I've kept the 'guts' of the game as written: platoon and 'Big Man' activation randomized by cards and further randomized by the 'Tea Break,' starting the game on 'blinds' and having to be spotted, and variable (diced-for) movement.  I say guts; others may have differing opinions, but to me, those items are what set the IABSM rules apart from others. 

This desire to play a larger game and try out IABSM again also happened to coincide with my eight year-old boy telling me "it's been a long time Daddy, we should have another battle."  I happily acquiesced ;)

The Battlefield

IMG_0221.JPG

Overview. North is DOWN, with the Germans entering the table at left (east) and the French defending the right (west) half of the table, including the village, at top right (southwest). 

The north is covered with crop fields and bushes which provide neither cover nor concealment, and while the bushes across the entirety of the table might look a bit bocage-ey, they're just bushes.  At far left is The Chateau, which has The Orchard just above it.  At centre top left is The Farm (with a wood fence running around it and north *down* through the fields), and at centre/centre right is The Granary.

The figures that will be used are 10mm: a mix of Pendraken and Minifigs.  Basically it breaks out to most of the infantry are Minifigs and most of the vehicles are Pendraken.

The Germans

At left in the photo below is the Kampfgruppe Commander, Colonel Klink, proud owner of the Iron Cross 2nd Class for his actions in Poland.  At top is the German infantry company: top centre left is the company commander, Captain Freitag (Iron Cross 2nd Class).  He has three of his four platoons available.

I thought about adding all of the Iron Cross holders as "Big Men," but I didn't. I only did the KG Commander, the Company Commander, and each Platoon Commander, which is how I treated the French as well.

The Infantry

1st Platoon Commander: 1st Lieutenant Klugmann, Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class

  • 1st Squad, 1st Platoon: SSgt Aust
  • 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon: Sgt Kamphaus
  • 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon: Sgt Lehmkuhl


3rd Platoon Commander: SSgt Janke, Iron Cross 2nd Class

  • 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon: Sgt Hauer, Iron Cross 2nd Class*
  • 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon: Sgt Nader
  • 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon: Cpl Arndt, Wound Badge


4th Platoon Commander: SSgt Mader, Iron Cross 2nd Class, Tank Killer Badge

  • 1st Squad, 4th Platoon: Sgt Imhofe, Iron Cross 2nd Class*
  • 2nd Squad, 4th Platoon: Sgt Kandler
  • 3rd Squad, 4th Platoon: Cpl Rishel, Replacement Squad Leader


Two vehicles of the Reconnaissance Platoon:

  • SdKfz 221: Platoon Commander, 2nd Lieutenant Weidner, 1 Tank Kill
  • SdKfz 221: Cpl Edst, replacement vehicle commander


Three vehicles from 2nd Tank Platoon:

  • Pz III: Platoon Commander: 1st Lieutenant Loeb, Iron Cross 2nd Class, 2 Wound Badges, 4 Tank Kills
  • Pz III: SSgt Grossman
  • Pz III: Sgt Mayer, 1 Tank Kill

Two vehicles from 4th Tank Platoon:

  • Pz IV: Platoon Commander: SSgt Mangold, 2 Tank Kills
  • Pz IV: Cpl Ed st, Replacement vehicle commander

Mortars

  • A mortar section under Sgt Osswald, who has been incredibly unreliable in the past. Sgt Osswald is the forward observer on a motorcycle
  • Two 80mm mortars and crews

The French

The French are commanded by Major Renaut (left) and have:

  • Two rifle platoons of three squads each (Lieutenants Renoir and Gagne, respectively)
  • A weapons section of a single machine gun and a 25mm anti-tank gun (I gave them bonus MG fire and a bonus ATG fire)
  • A single Char B commanded by Sgt Guillaume.

Opening Moves

Overview, looking north to south, Germans on the left (east) and French on the right (west), everyone on Blinds. 

The French have a Blind for each rifle platoon, weapons platoon, the Char B, and four dummy Blinds. 

The Germans have a Blind for all three rifle platoons, both tank platoons, the recon platoon, and the weapons platoon (mortars), plus three dummy Blinds.

Looking east to west from behind the Germans.  I'm playing the Germans.

I've got my infantry on the left, intend on getting my mortars set up around the chateau (bottom left), got Recon and Panzer IVs on the road, Pz IIIs at bottom right.

Looking west to east from behind the French: the boy is playing the French, so I had no idea at the time, but it turns out he put the tank at bottom left with two dummy Blinds, two dummy Blinds in the centre, and then the two rifle platoons and the MG/ATG at bottom right.

The Germans move first, pushing their blinds west and trying to spot the dastardly French.
 

A French Blind creeps up to the Granary (centre, with the ville at bottom center/right) and peers east (top)...

The Action Begins

Intermission

For those not familiar with IABSM, when you start the game every unit is on 'Blinds,' which we are using poker cards for, and you draw cards to move Blinds/units/dummy Blinds.  At the beginning of the game you only have three cards in the activation deck: Allied Blinds, Axis Blinds, and Tea Break.  But as units get spotted and/or the owning player decides he needs to get them on the table, cards for the units and their leaders (or "Big Men," as the Lardies call them) go into the action deck.

So right now the deck has the following cards:

  • German 1st Rifle Platoon activation
  • German 1st Rifle Platoon Commander
  • German 4th Rifle Platoon activation
  • German 4th Rifle Platoon Commander
  • German Rifle Company Commander
  • German Weapons Platoon activation
  • German Recon Platoon activation
  • German Recon Platoon Commander
  • German 2nd Tank Platoon activation
  • German 2nd Tank Platoon commander
  • Axis Blinds
  • French 1st Tank Platoon activation
  • French 2nd Rifle Platoon activation
  • French 2nd Rifle Platoon Commander
  • French Company Commander
  • French Weapons Platoon activation
  • French MG Bonus Fire
  • French ATG Fire
  • Allied Blinds
  • Tea Break

When the Tea Break card pops out the turn is over and the deck gets re-shuffled.  So we've had a number of turns since we added troops to the table (and their cards to the deck) where the Blinds haven't gotten to do anything, and it's really frustrating and doesn't make a lot of sense, and, as I recall, was part of the reason I gave up on the rules. 

If you're not familiar, it is supposed to be a huge bonus to still have troops on Blinds.  These are your guys that have yet to be detected by the enemy, so they can't be shot at and they don't have to deal with terrain when they're moving.  But I think the fix is simple, and can't believe it didn't occur to me earlier: there are some set actions units that did not activate are allowed to undertake as part of the end-of turn sequence.  Frankly, I just ignore these as I figure if the unit(s) didn't get to activate, well, that's the whole point of friction in rules.  But I feel like Blinds not being able to activate doesn't make sense, so I think the answer is to allow Blinds to activate automatically as part of the end of turn sequence.  I'll try it out next game and let you know.

Back to the Action

Captain Freitag (left) has managed to get the understrength 1st Platoon back into fighting shape, though SSgt Mader's 4th Platoon is beat up (top center), while Sgt Osswald, the mortar FO, has managed to get into position in the Farm (far right).

*yeah, that's right, the mortars have yet to speak this game.  Don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining.  I was complaining about Blinds not activating because it's supposed to be a big advantage to be on Blinds, but it doesn't bother me at all that units actually on the table don't activate, that's the point of friction!

I hope my commentary isn't ruining the narrative: it probably would have been better if I'd simply typed something like "the mortar section got their tubes set up and began cracking open ammo crates, only to discover the rounds were supplied without the fuses!  Sgt Osswald quickly dispatched a team back to the rear to find some fuses for their 80mm HE rounds."

Aftermath

Man, what a fight!  I was a bit worried about the disparity in size between the attacking German force and the defending French force; my experience is that most wargame rules struggle with games that have substantial differences in the size of the opposing forces.  But the friction/fog of war brought about by the use of the cards meant that the fight was extraordinarily tense and the outcome hung in the balance until the very end.  The fight was very enjoyable for both of us and we will definitely play again, the only change being our house rule of allowing Blinds to activate at the end of the turn if their cards don't come out.

KG Klink accomplished its mission of taking the village, but it was a real meat grinder.  Here are the casualties for the battle:

German

  • 55 KIA/WIA/MIA (including the rifle company commander, a platoon commander, and two squad leaders!)
  • One Pz III knocked out
  • One Sdkfz 221 knocked out

French

  • 40 KIA/WIA/MIA
  • 20 Captured
  • One Char B destroyed
  • One 25mm ATG destroyed

Character casualties

  • Sgt Hauer, Leader, 1st Squad, 4th Platoon, Grenadier Company, holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class, was killed in action.
  • Captain Freitag, Grenadier Company Commander, was severely wounded, ending his campaign in France.
  • SSgt Mader, Leader, 4th Platoon, Grenadier Company, was severely wounded, ending his campaign in France.
  • SSgt Aust, Leader, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Grenadier Company, was severely wounded, ending his campaign in France.
  • SSgt Grossman, Vehicle Commander, 2nd Platoon, Panzer Company, was wounded but is able to return to action immediately.

With Captain Freitag out for the duration of the campaign in France, the Grenadier Company needs an interim commander.  Col Klink was going to push Lt Klugmann into the spot, but had second thoughts following the action at Riqueville.  Following his platoon being shot to pieces and his commander being severely wounded right next to him, Lt Klugmann had fallen into a funk, and so the 2nd Platoon commander, Lt Tausch, was given the company.

Colonel Klink never showed up; I guess his vehicle broke down on the way to the battlefield, or maybe he went to the rear to help find those 80mm mortar fuzes.  For the mortars that never fired...which reminds the good Colonel, something needs to be done about that slacker, Sgt Osswald.

In terms of heroics, two members of KG Klink were recognized for their personal bravery on the field of battle:

  • 1st Lieutenant Loeb, commander of the 2nd Platoon, KG Klink's Panzer Company, holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class and two Wound Badges, was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class for heroism in leading his tank platoon through heavy fire against a qualitatively superior enemy dominating a key crossroads adjacent KG Klink's objective.  Lt Loeb maneuvered his platoon in a flanking maneuver, then personally pushed his vehicle nose to nose with enemy tank, blasting the enemy tank to destruction at point blank range (his crew members were also decorated).  This kill was Lt Loeb's fifth tank kill of the war.
  • Cpl Edst, Vehicle Commander, Reconnaissance Platoon, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for bravery.  When his platoon commander engaged at point blank range by enemy infantry, Cpl Edst placed his vehicle in the line of fire, eliminating the threat.  When his platoon commander's vehicle was destroyed by enemy anti-tank fire, Cpl Esdst pushed his vehicle forward to cover his platoon commander's evacuation.  Cpl Edst then engaged an enemy tank with auto-cannon fire in order to distract it from maneuvers by friendly panzers to outflank the enemy tank, engaged an enemy strongpoint in a building in the village to relieve pressure on KG Klink's pinned infantry company, and then Cpl Edst fought off a charging enemy officer attempting to disable his vehicle in close combat.

Hope you had as much fun as we did!

Jack
 

 
 
 
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A request for a France 1940 game (Dunkirk Movie just came out) and a desire to get some French tanks out on the table made me look for a quick and easy scenario. So I stole the Jandrain game from Rob Avery's Vis Lardica site.

The game focuses on the French counterattack by SOMUA S-35s of the 3rd Light Mechanized Division against the panzers of the 3rd Panzer Division on the morning of May 13, 1940. The Panzers had pushed the French Dragoons out of Orp in the morning and were reported to be moving to Jandrain when the French launched the attack by the 1st Cuirassiers.

Mark Luther

 
 
 
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Operation Martlet game #2 from TFL's Chain of Command pint-sized campaign book converted to IABSM. A British infantry company with tank support against a couple of platoons of 12 SS Panzer supported by a lone Tiger (historically should probably have been a Panther, but hey). Again on my 2' x 3' board using the excellent H&R 1/300 models and Leven buildings.

Setting up the Game

Here is the campaign plan. This game is on map 2, the small village of Fontenay-le-Pesnel. Historically the grenadiers of the thinly stretched 12SS Panzer were attempting to hold the British 49th Infantry Division with Shermans in support.

Here is the campaign plan. This game is on map 2, the small village of Fontenay-le-Pesnel. Historically the grenadiers of the thinly stretched 12SS Panzer were attempting to hold the British 49th Infantry Division with Shermans in support.

An expanded version of the map in blurry detail

An expanded version of the map in blurry detail

 Google street view shot showing the terrain from the junction of the main road and the track near the British entry points. Note small hedges (soft cover) and generally flat terrain.

 Google street view shot showing the terrain from the junction of the main road and the track near the British entry points. Note small hedges (soft cover) and generally flat terrain.

The Game

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Yes, Churchills are tough
  • Even Tigers get unlucky
  • Close range infantry fire is deadly, even when you're in cover.
  • Rules get forgotten ... thats the fog of war ;)

CUSTOM RULES

  • MGs can fire through smoke, but at heavily reduced rate (-3DR)
  • Infantry fire from the side/rear is more effective
  • Range effects AT accuracy and penetration. AFVs have front/side/rear armour values.

James Tree

 
 
 
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I recently came across the excellent CoC Operation Martlet campaign write up on http://tinyhordes.com/tag/martlet-campaign/, so decided to try the first game using IABSM on my mini-board (2’ x 2’) in 1/300 H&R.

After a little research (Google Streetview) and buying a 1/25,000 WW2 map of the area suggested in TFL ‘At the Sharp End’, I decided to go with slightly different terrain setup from that in the scenario, based on this overly magnified section of map:

tree1.jpg

The thick black line bottom centre to top right is the main road and has a few farm buildings and a church, so to convert that to a wargame layout I've added the high stone walls favoured in Normandy around the farm and a low wall around the church. There is an orchard on the right. ‘A’ marks the British entry point along a narrow track towards a large building on the main road. A church with a spire is at the German end.