I recently bought a whole set of new buildings for the gaming table (Ed.'s note: these were from the Miniature Building Authority, and bought as a result of a post on Vis Lardica!). I also just finished up some brand new armor. So, of course, we had to play a scenario likely to allow me to use the buildings and my brand new armored assets to the fullest.
It turns out that we had a fun and interesting battle, but it almost entirely skirted the town, foiling my hope to use their "destructible" features. And to add further insult, my brand new JagdPanther on the German side and my brand new M36 Jackson tank destroyers on the American side were both a big fizzle.
An American infantry company re-enforced with a couple of 57mm AT guns and a couple tank destroyers must hold on to a recently captured country crossroads in France, Autumn 1944. The forward observer in the bell tower of the church has a radio link to a four gun 105 battery. He sees a large column of German armor coming their way at a good clip.
Captain Bernie and Lieutenant Chad deployed one platoon of infantry across the width of the board on the edge of town. The other two platoons were held back to await developments. The plan was keep the Germans busy on the outskirts while they stumbled (hopefully) into the three pre-registered artillery target zones.
The Germans were commanded by Captain Will and Lieutenant Mike. Their objective was to either take the crossroads back by annihilating the enemy, or, if possible, by severely weakening the defenders, then cutting them off from the rear, and forcing their surrender.
They had a rather potent armor and armored Infantry force (four StuG 75mm armed assault guns, one brand new JagdPanther with an 88mm gun , two half-track mounted panzergrenadier platoons and an infantry platoon advancing on foot) but no artillery support.
They were constrained to come in in column on the edge of the board. They sent their dummy Blinds to the right side of the road through the orchards, and all of the actual units went swiftly to the left, skirted by hedges, wheat fields, and low hills. That did not put them out of sight of the forward observer in the bell tower, and very soon a StuG platoon off Blinds and four units still on Blinds were clobbered by American artillery. It didn't hurt or slow the Germans too much, and they continued to press on. Their foot sloggers advanced to the edge of the wheat field and began a desultory fire fight with the Americans on the edge of the village that continued to the end of the game.
The Americans started to shift some of their reserve Blinds over to their right to cover what was now, clearly, the main German effort.
One of the AT guns was in initially positioned far forward on the right but not where it could cover what turned out to be the actual avenue of approach of the Germans. It clearly was about to get flanked. The Americans moved to limber that gun up and get it out of there. They also pushed forward their (awesomely powerful) 90mm armed M36 Jackson TDs to await the German push over the small hill on the right of town.
That's when it all became astoundingly interesting, dramatic, and messy.
A mounted squad of panzergrenadiers started the action and drove up the hill and dismounted. They fought a bloody close combat with the crew of the AT gun that were trying to escape, wiping them out.
They found themselves face-to-face with an entire platoon arrayed behind a light hedge a few yards out of close combat range. The big-gunned TDs were behind them. The panzergrenadiers were roughed up and their half track was destroyed by the TDs, but it kept the Americans busy.
The next turn, the Germans began their main assault. Two StuGs pushed around the little hill and started a gun duel with the M36 tank destroyers. Two more StuGs crested the rise. A flurry of bazooka fire met the Germans, but to little effect.
Amazingly, the German assault guns dispatched first one then the other of the American TDs before they could knock out a single assault gun.
The American infantry had not sat idle during the armor shoot out. They sent three squads forward and tried their best with anti-tank grenades. They were cut down by the advancing panzergrenadiers and by the bow gun of the JagdPanther which had followed the StuGs up the hill.
The last intact platoon of the Americans came streaming out from the cover of the village to try and stem the tide. One of their brave bazooka teams scored a side hit on the mighty JagdPanther and it burst into flames. At this point, the referee was somewhat annoyed that his brand new additions to the table had all failed ignominiously. But you couldn't argue with the fact that it was a pretty damned busy and exciting battle on the American right flank.
About this time, the Americans finally got their artillery shifted and gave another good wallop to the German infantry as it was trying to reform and mount back up. The Germans still had four functioning assault guns and at least three half tracks filled with eager panzergrenadiers, and they pressed forward and around the back of the town, running straight into a section of armed reconnaissance jeeps and some supply trucks, which they soon turned to flaming wreckage.
The Americans ably shifted their infantry back toward town, sending bazooka teams at the armor and scoring a couple of hits, but eventually running out of ammo and men. The bazooka team that played peekaboo with the panzers at the cemetery gate was particularly bold.
At this point, the Germans still had approximately as much infantry as the Americans but they also had three functioning assault guns and controlled every axis of approach.
The sole remaining American AT gun in the village square couldn't face every direction at once and the German half-tracks of the HQ platoon came round behind the church and machine gunned the crew down in one volley.
The Americans had zero anti-tank assets left and were corralled into the area around the church. They were clearly surrounded with absolutely no chance to break out. It was just a matter of time before the German armor turned their cover to burning rubble or, God forbid, they surrendered...so we called the game at that point. Well played by all!