Last Saturday Jon and I got together and played through two of the battles from the "Highway to Hell" mini-campaign from the Too Fat Lardies 2013 Summer Special. My son Evan was with me and did the majority of my dice rolling.

Jon soon found that beginners and little kid luck were hard to beat. Before the battle we rolled for a "Super Stonk" from the artillery that pounded the Germans before the battle. I instructed Evan to "roll a lot of 5's and 6's". This is normally done in secret, but for Evan's sake we wanted to give him the opportunity to roll a bunch of dice right off. Well I wasn't sure what was getting hit where, but from all the high dice rolls and Jon's reaction I knew that things were not starting off well for him (after the battle we found that two AT guns, an MG team, his Big Man, and 2 out of 3 Panzerknacker teams were killed).

The three smoke puffs on the left are the two AT guns and the MG team (I didn't know this during the battle, I just knew it was significant). My squadron of 5 troops of tanks heads up the road. I send two out of three platoons into the woods and the other rides in on the tanks of the third tank troop. I can win the battle if I get 4 tanks off the close board edge but I wimp out a bit when I get the opportunity. I drew both a blind card and armoured bonus move on the first two turns, but didn't take my full move, cheating myself out of about 18 inches. 

Jon's surviving AT team pops up out of the woods just ahead of the nearest British infantry platoon and takes out a Sherman tank. I rush my leading team towards the board edge to try and end the game before more damage is done and bump into two StuG III G's in the woods. At turns end we exchange simultaneous fire. 

We lose the first tank and then return fire. Despite having a large number of shots we only take out one tank )it seems that Evan's luck is faltering). The following turn we lose another Sherman to the Panzerknacker team before it retreats into the woods. The turn ends. Our infantry finally get another move and they advance to contact with the Panzerknacker team which is wiped out. We advance our second Troop forward just far enough that the leading Firefly tank has a shot at the remaining StuG and it brews up and that is the last of the German forces.

The British advance to the next of the four highway segments to Valkenswaard after losing only three out of twenty tanks in one of their three available Squadrons.

The next game we played after a quick lunch did not go as well. It was an infantry battle in an adjacent sector to the west with Devons D Company vs. roughly a platoon of German infantry. Jon lost nine troops in the pre-game Super Stonk leaving him even more outnumbered.

Despite all the games of IABSM Jon and I have played, we've never used the rules for what they are designed for:  company-sized games in WW2. Our Infantry Blinds in Africa or the Middle East are for single squads, so when I deployed a platoon off a blind I deployed it much too bunched up (we were using small cards instead of 2" x 8" blinds, which didn't help). My platoon got cut to pieces by MG fire and couldn't recover, being suppressed for three turns in a row. I did manage to use my Big Man to separate them a bit, but by then it was too late. One of the lead squads had taken too much shock and lost its bottle and retreated *through* the one behind it, causing a chain reaction. The platoon had lost seven men but was no longer an effective fighting unit. An object lesson in how the IABSM morale system works.

Meanwhile my other two platoons moved forward on the flank and Jon decided to withdraw since he couldn't do much more damage before being overwhelmed. The fact that Evan was totally bored by this game and our bickering over the rules (which I'm not proud of) had something to do with it as well. I hope Evan wants to play again, in general I'd say he had fun. In the first game he gave Jon some first class trash talking.

Jon and I have since sorted through our rules difficulties and we're looking forward to the next set of games.

Mark Kinsey