My chosen scenario for Operation Market Larden 2017 (the TFL games day held in Evesham each year) was scenario #06 from the Poland 1939 supplement, The September War: Wegierska Gorka.
Taking place between 2nd and 3rd September 1939, the battle for Węgierską Górką, or the “Hungarian Height”, took place near the Polish-Slovak border and was fought between Polish mountain troops and German infantry. The Polish position included a number of anti-tank bunkers overlooking the valley below, and was therefore of significant strategic importance.
As I wasn't sure of how experienced the players would be, I chose this as a simple attacker/defender scenario with, obviously, the Germans as the attackers. They had to capture or destroy three Polish bunkers and ideally rout any enemy troops present as well.
One quick note. As OML has outgrown it's original home, this year the game would take place in the function room of the hotel in Evesham where we usually end up drinking: highly convenient!
Although a bigger space, and handy for later entertainment, the lighting was unfortunately not good, which meant that my camera suffered all sorts of problems: so no brilliant photos from the day, just a whole load of mildly blurred ones!
The Morning Game
The morning encounter would see Ty playing the Germans and Noddy playing the Poles.
The Nodster had an anti-tank gun and three MMG teams split between the southern bunkers (the ones furthest from him in the pic); another ATG and MMG team in the middle bunker; and two field guns and an MMG team in the top bunker. In addition, he had positioned a platoon of mountain troops supported by three tchankas in trenches between the southern and middle bunkers, dug in along the crest of the hill.
Ty had three full platoons of infantry at his disposal, a platoon of hard-ass assault engineers, a platoon of four MMGs, and two platoons of light tanks (nothing tastier than a Panzer II).
Feinting north with a few Dummy Blinds, Ty brought on his force at the southern end of the table, aiming to hit the central and southern bunkers in one go. Once, however, he had realised that the gap between the southern and middle bunkers was plugged with Polish trenches full of infantry and MMGs, his men changed direction and all headed towards the southern end of the Polish line. By this time, however, he had lost one platoon of light tanks to anti-tank gun fire.
Both sides had called in artillery as soon as possible, but the lines were very busy and neither arrived in time to really influence the battle. In the picture, above right, you can see the dice counting down the turns until each sides artillery appears. You can also see, bottom left, the German MMG platoon: still trying to get into a firing position rather than already upfront laying down covering fire as the infantry advances.
By this time, the Germans had also now lost most of a platoon of infantry, but had finally managed to get themselves into a position from which they were happy to launch their assault on the southern bunker.
In went the engineers, who managed to clear both the MMG post and the main southern bunker before running out of steam.
Up came the German infantry, what was left of it, and more bloody combat occurred as the southern part of the Polish trench line also fell to close assault.
There was a brief moment of comic relief as the Polish CinC used his Heroic Commander card to charge one of the advancing German tanks, but only managed to blunt his sword on its armour.
And that was really the high watermark of the German assault. At this point, as they regrouped to advance, they realised that they didn't actually have any men left...and that it was a long way between the southern and centre bunkers.
Game one: a 2:1 victory to the Poles (i.e. two bunkers held, one lost).
The Afternoon Game
After a quick lunch, I re-set the table for the afternoon game. This time, the Germans would be played by Bob; and the Poles by IABSM-newbie, Vlad. This was apparently a nickname, as there was no trace of a Transylvanian accent and although the room was dark, there was still daylight!
As we'd had one attack on the southern end of the Polish position, I was hoping that Bob would try to take the bunkers with an assault across the bridge by the lavender fields i.e. hitting the northern bunker first. As his Blinds began to deploy, however, it was obvious that the Germans had gone for the same axis of attack as they had done in the morning, and the action again would centre on the southern bunker.
This time, however, the Poles had done something different. Although there were trenches dug in the same place as last time, between the southern-most and centre bunkers, they were empty: Vlad had been worried about an attack from across the bridge, and had held his infantry and MMGs back at the northern-most bunker until he could see which way the German attack would unfold.
As he hadn't had to change direction, Bob's attack was much tighter than Ty's. His Blinds swept up to the bottom of the slope and, as they were revealed, formed up to effect a classic outflanking manoeuvre: infantry and MMGs as the base whilst the panzers and engineers (the Blind by the panzers in the photo, above right) swept around the Polish flank.
Vlad meanwhile, recognizing the danger, had not only brought his infantry down and into the trenches (the Polish Blind in the left hand photo, above) but had also emptied his northern bunker and sent the field guns therein down towards where the Germans were pouring round the end of his line.
The southern bunker quickly fell to the German engineers, but the Poles then received reinforcements (they had conspicuously failed to appear in the first game) in the form of a second infantry platoon. These reached the Polish trenches at about the same time as his original platoon, and fierce hand-to-hand fighting broke out.
The rest of the German line now moved forward and, as you can see in the somewhat blurry photos, below, things looked pretty bad for the Poles who, by now, had thrown everything they had in a battle for the trenches.
But time waits for no man, and despite the fact that we had been moving the game on pretty smartishly, the Germans ran out of time before they could complete their victory.
A difficult one to call, as it was obvious that the Germans would have eventually won the game: this time, they still had the men to do so. The Poles, however, knowing that the Germans had to beat the clock, had thrown everything they could into holding the enemy down below the central bunker, so deserved to be rewarded for their efforts.
In the end, I forget what I actually decided, but it was still technically a victory for the Poles on the 2:1 rule. Maybe the Germans had done enough to get a winning draw out of it, but...well, they hadn't captured the bunkers, had they.
A couple of great games of IABSM in the company of four fine players of the game. As I said in the introduction, the only annoying thing was the light and therefore my lack of decent pictures, but that is a small matter in the greater scheme of things.
What really pleased me, however, was sitting opposite one of the players at the curry later that night, seeing him sitting there thinking about what he could have done differently to win the game. I could tell that, at that moment, all he wanted to do was get back to the table and play the scenario through again...and again...and again...until victory was his. What more could a humble scenario-writer (such as myself) wish for.