Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Wrath of Caen!

A Headless Body Production
Location: Phil's Basement
Players: Phil Gardocki, Canadian Armored Squadron (defender)
                 Ed Bernhard Schwere Panzerkompanie(attacker)

Game: Flames of War, Late War,
The Forces:
Canadian Armored Squadron (Confident, Trained), "Monty's Pythons", 22nd Armored Regiment "Canadian Grenadier Guards", 4th Canadian Armored Division, 2nd Canadian Corps (defender).
          2 Troops of Shermans,
          1 Recce Patrol of Stuarts,          
          1 Battery of Priests

German (Confident, Veteran)
           3 Tigers
           3 Panzer IV's
           5 Panzer grenadiers, 2 half tracks

Mission: Breakthrough,  The defender sets up in quarters catacornered from each other.  The attacker in a third quarter, the 2 objectives are placed in the remaining quarter.   The defender has mobile reserves, the attacker delayed reserves.  Attacker wins if he can control an objective, defender on turn 6+ if the attacker is not within 16 inches of either objective. 

The Board:
4 by 6 feet.   An asymmetrical setup.  The narrow edges are North and South, the long edges East and West.  The board is bisected by a stream traveling east to west.  While most of the stream is bog check, it travels quite fast at spots and has dug a couple of ravines. 

The village of Verrières, a suburb of the city of Caen, is on the north edge.  Nearby the village are a number of farmers fields bordered by bocage.  On the south side are a couple of fields, woods and hills. 

Photo of the board taken from the north edge.  The village of Verrières is at the bottom.
The north half of the board.
The south half of the board.

This scenario was set up to support WWPD's Operation Overlord Campaign and represents the Commonwealth assaults in lower Normandy region.
July 26th, the second day of "Operation Spring". 
Captain Palen looked at at the remains of his squadron, "Men!  I have good news."

He continued, "I always mistrust total competence. I've always felt life is a series of small disasters we try to get through."

His four remaining troop leaders looked to each other, searching for a face that beamed comprehension, but instead only finding the slightly crazed looks.

"Yesterday was one such small disaster.  It won't be our last.  But today we will not be called upon to go into the breech once more.  Today, with most of our heavy equipment in for repairs, our infantry in the infirmary with an extreme case of malingering, and half of our reconnaisance troops looking at god-knows-what.  We get a day off!"

Half hearted cheers erupt from the four surviving troop leaders.

"Today, we will go leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty streams of Normandy. The dutch elm, the larch, the fir, the mighty scots pine. The smell of fresh-cut timber! The crash of mighty trees!  With my best girlie by my side We'd sing ... sing ... sing.  (Queue music...) 

Off in the distance, there was the destinctive sounds of very heavy engines starting up, near Verrières, dust clouds errupted from the ground.  Captain Palen turned to see a messenger running towards him, a distinctive 75mm arrow sticking out of his chest, "Message for you sir!" he shouted, before dieing on the spot.

Unraveling the note, Captain Palen read, "Defenders of Verrières have been replaced.  New forces have heavy tanks, probably Tigers."

From the ranks arose shouts of "A Tiger, in France?"

Captain Palen ignoring the shouts, and the cutaway scene of fleeing Zulu tribesmen, crumbled the note in anguish wailing, "Brave Concorde, you shall not have died in vain!"
Messenger: "Uh, I'm-- I'm not quite dead, sir. "
Captain Palen : Well, you shall not have been mortally wounded in vain!
Messenger: I-- I-- I think I c-- I could pull through, sir.
Captain Palen : Oh, I see.
Messenger: Actually, I think I'm all right to come with you, sir--
Captain Palen : No, no, sweet Concorde! Stay here! I will send help as soon as I have ..."
A nearby bush explodes, followed by a scream from off camera.
"This demonstrates the value of not being scene"

Both of us have only 4 platoons in this game, so deployment is rather brief.

The Canadians started with their Priests and a Troop of Shermans on the board.  The Germans with their Panzer IV's, 2 Tigers, and their Panzer Grenadiers.
Not so much deployed, as hiding.
Panzer IV's will be attacking from a hole in the bocage, the Tigers will be moving through town.

The Tigers supported by Panzergrenidiers will invest the village.

Turn 1:
This is different.  Since I play exclusively armor, I am almost never the defender.  Ed on the other hand, almost is never the attacker.  Both of us were having a WTF moment.

I decided to play this one real cagey.  All my Sherman's either under cover or totally hidden.  I knew there was one tiger on a flank march, and the other 2 would take a long time to get to the objectives.  Maybe, I could swam the flank march before it could be supported.

The German Panzer IV's came out of the field heading for the escarpment, from there they would get to shoot it out with my Priests, while enjoying the advantage of the hull down position.

Their way there was not without peril though.  There was a gap that my spotter was able to see them, and I was able to bombard them.  I caused no casualties, but left the threatening "Ranged In" marker.

Also in response to this threat, I shuffled one Priest to a less vulnerable spot, leaving 3 to barrage.
Slow going, but sure.

The Canadians are not sure how to play this, so they don't commit anywhere.

Turn 2:
The Germans take their position, and bail a Priest. 
The bailed Priest, unbailed in its turn, and also hid behind the hill.  Shermans returned fire using "Semi-Indirect Fire", bailing a Panzer IV.

Panzer's hull down on the escarpment.

Tigers on the road.

Command Sherman's taking cover.

Priests are now totally behind the hill.  Shermans using "Semi-Indirect Fire" shoot back at the Panzer IV's.
Turn 3:
Turn 3, and no casualties yet, the calm before the storm.
No German Reserves arrived,
The Panzer IV's realized there was no more profit to be had from their position on the escarpment, and decide to leave.  Their purpose was to distract the Canadians from the ponderous advance of the Tigers.  But the bailed Panzer IV rolled double ones, staying bailed.
The Panzer grenadiers took cover on the east escarpment, totally hidden from any prying eyes, and only 12 inches from the objective.

2 Canadian Troops arrive from reserves, Stuarts and Shermans.
The one Panzer IV still in sight was, and was converted into wreckage the combined firepower of 6 Shermans.

That is one crew member that is happy they stayed out of the tank.
Turn 4:
No German reserves arrive. 
The Panzer IV's, having abandoned the west escarpment, were doing their best to join the rest of their forces, taking advantage of the creek hedge visibility (limit 16 inches) and the gentle hill.  With the arrival of both the Canadian reserves, the Tigers in the Village need no longer be concerned with their rear, and start heading down the road to the objectives.

At this time I think I can get a company failure out of the Germans.  If I kill the Panzer IV's, and the Panzer grenadiers, then I only need swarm one Tiger for a win.  To that end, I run my second troop of Sherman's to the creek hedge and take some potshots at the Panzer IV's, scoring a hit and a bail.  The Stuarts ran down the creek to take shots at the half-tracks.

Staff team Sherman's take up positions to swarm an expected Tiger.

Stuarts and Troop 'B' try to deal with the Panzer Grenadiers and Panzer IV's.
Turn 5:
A serious exchange of fire here.  The Germans burn two Shermans, but in turn had a Panzer IV killed, and the other fled the field. 

There is a chance here as one Tiger was both flanked, bombarded, bailed and smoked.  While the Panzer grenadiers were taking casualties as well.

Two Panzer IV's linking up with a Tiger.

While the Tigers are linking up with the Panzer Grenadiers.

The German flank march arrives, and bails a Sherman.

While his partner burns another.

But victory comes at a cost, as another Panzer IV is killed, forcing a platoon motivation check, which they failed leaving just the Tigers and the Panzer grenadiers.
Turn 6:
The bailed Tiger rolled his motivation check, and even with "Slow Traverse", (when did you see that rule used last?) killed the Sherman on his flank.  The Germans now control an objective.

The Canadian Artillery continued to hammer the Tiger, to no avail.  Neither does another Sherman, which managed to get on the other flank. 

The Stuarts, ignoring the heavies, move in for the kill against the Panzer Grenadiers, killing another team.
The Tiger on the road fires a ranging shot, as the Stuarts looked on.

Crank, crank, crank, crank, Boooommmm, CRASH, <queue crackling flaming noise>

Well, the Tiger has more than one flank.

Lieutenant Idle, in an uncommon act of bravery, drives his Stuart, "Sir Robin", in for the kill, nailing another Panzer Grenadier.
Turn 7:
Another double firing attack with "Slow Traverse", another flaming Sherman.  Not only to the Germans hold the objective again, but the Tiger stole Corporal Perkins' leg!

At this time we both know that baring a lucky shot, that the Germans were unstoppable.  Ed decides to remove all possibility of such a chance happening by focusing on the Stuarts harassing his Panzer Grenadiers.  He denied Lieutenant Idle of even the choice of "death before dishonor", going straight to death.

Unable to get a flank shot anywhere, the Canadians continue to rain down bombardments from the Priests, and smoking the Tigers.

Crank, crank, crank, crank, Boooommmm, CRASH, <queue crackling flaming noise in stereo>

 In this shot is Mr E. R. Bradshaw of Napier Court, Black Lion Road, (London) SE 5, who cannot be seen

The Tigers decide to ignore the Shermans and take out the Stuarts.
Turn 8:
At this point the Tiger to Sherman ratio is about 3-2, and the Canadians surrendered the battle field.

Amazingly, both remaining Shermans survived the round.

And contest the objective again.

But there really is no point going to turn 9, with a German win on turn 10.


  1. Very nice and very funny - thanks for a cracking read.

  2. Most amusing.
    I think of you are expecting Tigers, you need some Fireflies!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I wasn't expecting Tigers, but should have. It still made for a good game.