Thursday, January 26, 2012

AAR German Light Panzer Company vs French Infantry.

For the first time this year, I got to take my EW German Panzers out for a run.  Freshly augmented with my new Kradschutzen Platoon I had high hopes for their new recon capabilities.  But once again fate has a way throwing a wrench into the plan.  Sorry for the lack of pictures, I forgot to take them till the game was well developed.

Location: Phil’s Basement
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (defender)
                Steve Turn, French Infantry  (attacker)
Game: Flames of War 1500 points

The Forces:
Leichte Panzerkompanie
(defender) 6 platoons containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 9 Pz IIc’s, 4 Pz III’s, 7 Kradschutzen teams (4 MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader)

French Infantry (attacker) 8 platoons containing 5 platoons of infantry, 5 Panhards, 5 47m AT Guns on Laffeys, and 4 75mm towed guns.

The Board:
4 by 6 feet. A town (bog check on various walls, cover in buildings) dominates the center of the board.  On the defenders left are numerous wheat fields.  (no bog checks, cover for infantry and small vehicles)   On the defenders right, in the defensive area were woods (bog check, cover), a stream (bog check), and a ravine (skill check to bog, cover).  In the defenders deployment zone there was a rough field (bog check, no cover)

Mission: Encounter.

This was the first curveball.  This mission requires a die roll for who the attacker and defenders are.  It also has scattered and delayed reserves.  So both sides are fighting at half strength for at least 3 turns.  As it rolled, the Panzers were on defense.  The odd thing about this mission is that it doesn’t matter which is offense of defense, both have a goal of taking one of the other sides objectives.

Deployment:Leading with my lights, I placed one Light Panzer Platoon on the left, in the woods, along with the 1IC and the recovery vehicle.  On the right was the other Light Panzer Platoon.  In the middle was the 2IC with a Kampfgruppe of 2 Kradschutzen MG teams.

Facing me on my left were the battery of four, French, fast firing 7.5’s.  With the special ability that each cannon fires as 1.5 cannons, so it counted as 6 guns, and thus reroll misses.  Screening them was a platoon of Panhard armored cars.  On the right, in the woods were two infantry platoons.  One was very large, with 12 teams and 3 ammo carriers.  PC, 4x R/Mg, VB, 2xHMG. attached, 1iC, 60mm mortar, 2x 25mm ATG, 3x UE supply carriers, artillery spotter.
First move, left side, Liechte Panzer Platoon in the woods, supported by the 1iC and an ARV.

First move, right side, Liechte Panzer Platoon approaching the gap between rough ground, the town, and a ravine.  Mid town, the 2iC follows his Kradschutzen.  Observed by a single Panhard.  A large Platoon of French infantry is in the woods. (Platoon Commander, 4x R/Mg, VB, 2xHMG. attached, CiC, 60mm mortar, 2x 25mm ATG, 3x UE supply carriers, artillery spotter)  A second French Infantry Platoon (Platoon Commander, 2x HMG, 2x R/Mg. attached 2iC) being used as a maneauver element.

French Deployment Left.  Those are 7.5cm guns along the table edge, with Panhards operating closer to the town.

Deployment Long View.  French 75's on the left, objective in front of them.  Panhards in a line close to the town.  In the woods, off in the distance, is an Infantry Platoon.  A single Pz II is visible on the lower right.  In town are a pair of Kradschutzen.  Above the town is a Lichte Panzer Platoon.

Turn 1:
Thinking I did not want those 75’s to have free rein on the board, I decided to go after them.  So my left Light Panzer Platoon, Supported by the 1iC and the ARV broke from the tree-line to charge, taking advantage of the dubious cover of the wheat fields.  One bogged on the move, but the ARV was there to help on the next turn.  The main problem was that while my tanks look like tanks, the Panzer I’s and the Panzerbefehlswagens move like half-tracks.  So their advance wasn’t so much of a charge but an oozing from the woods.

In the middle, the Kradschutzen entered the town, while the right flank Light Tank Platoon approached the infantry Platoon in the woods, but not as cautiously as they should.  Not knowing some of the French special rules.  Like the ammo carriers that allow double fire.  Luck was with me, as the firestorm from the woods only caused a Pz I to bail.

Meanwhile, a single Panhard got a shot on my Kradschutzen in the town, and managed to kill it, while its partner was forced to retreat and reorganize, leaving only my 2iC to defend the town.

Turn 2:
Left side.  My charge across the field truly bogged down, as the two center tanks were bailed and bogged, forcing unit integrity issues and preventing the advance of the rest of the platoon.  The exchange of fire with the Panhards caused no problems with either side.

In the middle, the 2iC traded shots with the hanging Panhard.

On the right, realizing that the Infantry platoon was going to destroy my Liechte Panzers if they stuck around, so I retreated the Platoon to behind the town.  The only exception was the bailed Pz I.  The French must have smelled blood and started leaving the safety of the woods.  While their HMG Platoon, advanced through the ravine (which provided full cover) to set up a fire base to pelt the bailed panzer steadily. 

Turn 3
No reserves in sight.  The tank charge is finally taking shape, forcing the Panhards to withdraw, the way to the guns is open.

In the town, the remaining Kradschutzen joined the 2iC to maintain dubious control of the towns crossroads.  The 2iC managed to destroy the contesting Panhard.  The right side light tanks fired back to at the HMG Platoon, but to no avail.

The French succeeded in rolling the first of their reserves, 5 4.7cm guns on Laffey trucks, and ran them towards the left side Panzer Platoon.  While on my left, the HMG Platoon pelted the still bailed Pz I with all it had, some 16 dice worth.

Turn 4
German Reserves arrive!  The smart choice probably would have been to bring in the Panzer III Platoon, but I just finished painting the Kradschutzen, and I was going to play them.  With a 3+ save, an AT gun, mortar team, and ROF of 3, they should make short work on the Laffey trucks.  The left most Lichte Panzer Platoon had to make a choice.  Work over the Laffeys, which can kill them, or work over the 75’s which could kill everyone.  In the end they were team players, and destroyed one gun, and both infantry staff teams, reducing the effectiveness of the guns for the rest of the game.  But at a cost of the entire platoon, 1iC included.

In the center, the large French Infantry platoon left the woods to try to get into the town, but took a team loss in the crossing, was pinned, and then opted to head back to the woods for cover.
The HMG Platoon, while still working over the bailed Pz I, but also started advancing teams to assault the beleaguered tank.

French reserves continued to arrive, reinforcing the now depleted Cannon Battery.
Panhards to the right of them, Laffeys to the left of them, Cannon in front of them, Volley'd and thunder'd.  Storm'd at with HE and AP, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode the Liechte Platoon.  <apologies to Lord Tennyson> The Charge of the Liechte Platoon? I think that title has been taken already. 

Turn 5
No German reserves in sight.  With the destruction of the left Panzer Platoon, the newly arriving Kradschutzen Platoon saw no percentages in charging both the Laffeys and Panhards, supported by a, albeit weakened, cannon battery, and drove for cover into the woods, where one team bogged, and drew a bombardment from the 75’s.

Despite having the 1iC attached, the French Infantry platoon in the woods stayed pinned.  MG fire from the Panzers in the town managed to kill another team.

On the right, the main Panzer force whipped around the town, and got a good shot at the HMG Platoon, killing all but one team, causing a morale check which the French failed.
French reserves continued to arrive, reinforcing the forces in the woods.

Turn 6
German Reserves arrive!  I decided on the Panzer II’s, as I was going to have to charge a line of AT Guns, I would rather lose the lights than the mediums.  I double timed them to the edge of town, but out of sight of the Panhard/Laffey firing line.

On the left, the bogged Kradschutzen, continued to draw bombardment from the 75’s.

Despite having the 1iC attached, the French Infantry platoon in the woods stayed pinned. MG fire from the Panzers in the town managed to kill another team.

And at last, the crew of the lonely bailed Panzer I, found their way back into their tank, and drove it off looking for their Platoon Commander. 

French reserves continued to arrive, reinforcing the cannon battery.

Panzer II's try to stealthly approach the combined Panhard/Laffey firing line. Panzer I's by the church are covered from AT fire, but can fire MG at the rest of the French Infantry in the woods. When did the Panzer II on the right get destroyed? I have no idea.

Turn 7
The last of the German Reserves arrive, 4 Panzer III’s.  It later occurred to me that at 160 points per tank, this platoon alone was 40% of my force.  Talk about fighting with one hand behind your back.

Coming in from the far left side of the board, the Panzer III’s approached to Long Range, 24”, from the Panhards, but out of 24” from the Laffeys.  If the Laffeys wanted a shot, they would have to move.  With the Panzer III's firing with a ROF of one, the Panhards opted to flee before combat, and succeeded. That was OK with me, as that means they will not be a factor next turn.

The Kradschutzen team finally unbogged, and the platoon started to drive towards the Laffey firing line.

I tried to move the Panzer II platoon to attack the Laffly trucks, but the movement wasn’t there to get more than one tank to fire, so I moved through the town to a better position.

Finally the French Infantry platoon in the woods unpinned, only to see all possible ways to the town were well covered.

Also on the left, were two fresh French Infantry Platoons.  One was trying to dig in near the objective, the other going for cover in a forward position in the wheat fields.

The Lafflys, advanced and took a long range shot at the Panzer III’s, but caused no hits.  Neither did a barrage from the 75’s. 

Panzer III's arrive. The Panhards withdrew before fire. All the burning vehicles are German. The Kradschutzen on the far right are both bogged and pinned, but has survived two bombardments unscathed.

Turn 8.
The Panzer III’s had a choice of firing at long range with a ROF of 3, or move to short range, but with a ROF of 1.  Since the Laffeys were armor 0, they opted to fire at long range, destroying or bailing 4 of the 5 Laffeys.  The Panzer II’s leaped out from town and picked off the remaining trucks.  It was at this point, with all the French AT assets burning or out of position, and with 3 Fresh German Platoons vectoring in on the objective, that the French Commander surrendered.

Final action. All the Laffeys are burning grey smoke, while all the white smoke is from the Liechte Panzer Platoons earlier "charge".  Coming out of the town is a fresh Panzer II force, on the road are the Kradschutzen. Neither French Infantry Platoons have managed to dig in.

This was a long and brutal fight.  And both of us thought I had lost this game till the very end.

Lessions Learned.
Don't be afraid to pull out of a losing fight.  Pulling the right hand Liechte Panzer Platoon back prevented it's destruction, and kept 3 enemy platoons from doing anything useful for the rest of the game.

The Kradschutzen was nothing but a target this game.  But I think that had to do more with the mission than anything else.  No ambushes to reveal, late arrival.  They need a lot of room, and should lead the pack.

Remember, they are half tracks.  They may look like tanks, and have a top armor of 1, but the Panzer I's and Panzerbefehlswagens, move like half tracks.  It really came into play with the terrain.  Charging from the woods and then only moving 4 inches.

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