Monday, 2 October 2023

Encounter at the Ring Contour, KG Von Luck campaign #1


After our adventures on the Eastern Front, René. Arvid and Jasper felt ready for another Chain of Command campaign. A quick selection process showed that troops were available for the Von Luck pint sized campaign. This pits a Kampfgruppe of PanzerGrenadiere from the 21st Panzer Division under Major Von Luck against the newly arrived 12 Parachute Battallion of 6th Airborne Division on D-Day.


As the Paras have been dropped in the middle of the night, they have become widely dispersed and part will only turn up during the campaign, which effectively covers only the late morning to evening of June 6th 1944. This is the result of some dice rolling, with half the platoon ready for action at start and no supports.

Von Luck attacks in the morning (after some delay which is too complicated a story to bore you with, but takes a dozen pages in his memoirs) from the Colombelles industrial area northwest of Caen, on the eastern bank of the Orne river and canal.

His goal are the bridges over the Orne and canal captured that night in Operation Deadstick.

The original Pegasus bridge, now replaced by a broader one

If Von Luck can drive the Paras back to Pegasus bridge before glider reinforcements arrive in the evening, he will have cut 6th Airborne Division in two and will threaten the landing zones of the reinforcements. He has 8 campaign turns to do it. The German player must rotate his 3 platoons each campaign turn. This is first platoon, with the support options.

In the afternoon of last Saturday, we start out with the first scenario of the campaign: two patrols meet at the so called Ring Contour, on map #1. 


Force morale is 9 for the Paras, 8 for the PzGren. 


And here are the jump off points: Paras hold the hedge 


A squad of PzGren appears on the right flank.

And a bit later a couple of scouts on the left 

A Red Beret sticks out of the wheat. That's a 2" mortar team. 


But otherwise, all you hear are crickets. The Germans seem to be waiting for orders from higher up and time passes...

... but eventually the Germans start moving forward, cautiously through the wheatfields. 


And more appear! An FOO 


and another squad

This goads the Paras into action! A shot cracks just past the German FOO. Sniper! 

The PanzerGrenadiere look round but can't see where the shot came from...

It provides just enough distraction for a Bren team that has sneaked up on the FOO to open up. The FOO goes down, never knowing what hit him. 


A PzGren squad opens up in the right direction but misses the Bren team, which then disappears again...

German morale takes a hit, but the advance continues, while the sniper keeps sniping, killing a Grenadier. Yet more Germans appear

And then, one by one the para sections open up. 


The first two are not complete yet (their mates are still making their way from dispersed drops), but the third is full. 


They inflict considerable damage on the two Grenadier squad in front of them

The sniper keeps up his challenge but misses. And gets spotted. The German squad replies but misses

A firefight develops on German left flank. Their MGs pour out an amazing amount of fire while the paras seem paralysed. [In game terms, Arvid rolled a series of double 6s for command dice, meaning he got 3 turns in a row, after which René managed to roll five 5s, meaning not being able to activate units. Unlucky!]

[Arvid claims it was tactical insight, helicopter view, knowing your enemy, knowing your capabilities.... anyway!]

Before they know it 5 men have fallen in the 1st section and the rest "move rapidly to the rear". The remaining troops start feeling slightly unieasy about the prospects of holding the position.


At which point the British platoon leader thinks it is better to withdraw. Even though the damage isn't huge and force morale is still at 7, it is clear that the Germans have the upper hand in the firefight with 4 MG42s against 2 Brens. 

The voluntary withdrawal counts as a loss for the Paras and this disappoints the battallion commander. The men seem to retain their confidence in the platoon commander though, and he himself remains "happy". Two paras are permanently lost to the platoon and three will miss next game because of wounds or because they "withdrew a tad too enthusiastically".

The German 1st platoon has lost 2 men lost permanently. Von Luck, who hadn't seen the company commander in action before, is favourably impressed, and the company commander's mood improves from "content" to "happy". The men in the company however think that this level of competence is to be expected.

Next game will be on the edge of Bas de Ranville.

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

Rückzug campaign: Eastern Front. Game five

After a quick change of scenery and some campaign admin we get to game 5 of the Rückzug East Front campaign. With the Germans at 6 VP, the Soviets had to push regardless of cost to gain victory.

Because of the victory in the last game, the Germans had 3 D20 rolls on the support list, which could have gotten them tanks, but resulted in: a regular squad (#4), 3 extra riflemen (used to fill some gaps) and a sniper.


The Germans were in a village for an attack & defend scenario. Jasper and René would have to work some magic here to turn the campaign around. Their support roll didn't let them down at 15 points, which bought them a T34-76, flame thrower and the ever-returning elite scout squad and pre-game barrage.


The Patrol phase was rather timid, with no exciting choices. 


You can see the Soviets outflanking the Germans on their left, but a bit back. The action was to be funneled into the centre. 


In a campaign tradition Jasper diced 3 x 6s on his first roll thus ending the turn and negating his pre- game barrage immediately. Muffled smiles and curses all round.

And look who's here! A T34-76, soon joined by a fresh scout team. 


Little did they know...


The Soviets were not messing around this time. A scout team pushed into the pigstie, covered by lots of tank driver LMGs.


And up popped a German squad from ambush behind the hedge. Within 4” of the scouts, so close combat broke out! 


It turned bloody. The scout team including junior leader was wiped out, but the Obergefreiter also bit the dust and four of his men. German morale dropped 1, Soviet 2. 

The T34-76 also took an overwatch shot at the remainder of the Germans, who then looked very vulnerable. 


The Soviets kept pushing though, and the SMG tank drivers pushed forward while the German squad was targeted again by the T34. 


This allowed the Soviets to push closer to a German jump off point. Tension rising! 


As the Germans tried to strike back, a Soviet flame thrower ambushed them! Ach nein! Their end was terrible and final! German moral dropped 2 


But now it was tit for tat. An MMG opened up and wounded the Soviet junior leader. Soviet morale dropped 1. 


A German squad also appeared and delivered more punishment, killing the junior leader. Morale dropped another 1


In a double turn the Germans repositioned to give the LMG and MMG another chance at the tank drivers. The Tank driver SMGs were pinned 

And the Soviets went all in to relieve pressure on their comrades in the pigstie!


The Germans kept pounding. The pinned Soviet squad was now very close to breaking. And if they did, the Soviets would be at half their force morale and the Germans could pull back

And see how they run! Soviet morale dropped to 4, triggering the German escape clause. 


In probably their last turn the Russians deployed their flame thrower and did some damage as a parting shot. 


The tank rider LMGs made a mad dash for the German jump off point but fell just short. 


At which point the Germans took to the rear while the going was good (although some felt so cocky, they wanted to slug it out and give the Soviets a final beating. Wiser council prevailed)


Which effectively concluded the campaign. The Germans now had 7 VP, with one more game possible (we rolled for that). A Soviet campaign victory or draw was now out of reach.

Although the Russians took a lot of hits in the pigstie, actual losses on the Tank drivers were light. And while the Germans lost a squad, those casualties would not be disastrous.

A medal goes to Arvid for getting his platoon safe out of Belarus without defeat. Ignominy remains for Jasper and René. Soviet hierarchy doesn't have much sympathy for failure. Despite their best efforts and some close calls, the German force stayed intact

Many thanks for the Rückzug campaign rules to David Hiscocks and to Adam David Warne for the suggestion to use it for the Eastern Front. And then of course also to the Lardies. You've given the four of us a lot of fun and inspiration. Not just during the games, but also in between. It provided a target for Jasper's painting and resulted in a T-shirt for Arvid (see game 4).

Of course many thanks to Arvid, René and Jasper for playing and to Jasper and Christie for hosting! It has been a delight.

Monday, 28 August 2023

Rückzug campaign: Eastern Front. Game four

And there we are for game 4 of the East Front Rückzug campaign. The last three games the Germans have gotten away in relative safety, keeping the most of their core units and support together and notching up 3 victory points. A healthy lead, although nowhere near safe if the Soviets manage to hit them hard for once. All to play for, as they say.



We had diced for terrain, which resulted in a river crossing! Fate was not helping the Russians. And it got worse as force morale was rolled resulting in 10 for the Germans and again a paltry 8 for the Soviets. As before, the Germans only need to take off half of Soviet force morale to be allowed to voluntary withdraw with most of their troops intact. Arvid and me in charge of the Germans and René and Jasper of the Soviets.

Arvid even had brought along a handy memory tool for Jasper (which worked well!)


Because of the voluntary withdrawal in game 3, the Germans had a decent roll on the support table, offering a new MMG team. Not bad when you consider the only other support were two 50mm mortars. Otherwise this was a full strength regular platoon after two wounded returned and some men were reshuffled.

Jasper had obliged Arvid by painting the extra 50mm mortar team!


The Russian tank driver platoon was recovering well from losses in game 2 and now operated in two squads: one of SMG armed men and one with LMGs.



Support was pretty good with 16 support points. Jasper and René chose a brand new painted SU-122, an elite scout squad and the enhanced pre-game barrage. 



It started out with a very linear patrol phase


Resulting in a concentrated Soviet deployment at the table edge and a German triangle of jump off points 


The Russians commenced to deploy scouts, followed by an SU 122! 


Germans brought up a 50mm mortar through the barrage to harrass Soviet deployment 


The Soviet scouts moved up


and a jump off point followed in their wake 


As the Russian scout team got to the bridge, a German squad deployed and opened up, supported by a 50mm mortar. This wiped out the scouts, and Soviet morale drops by 2. 


The SU 122 replied, but not too effectively, from overwatch

A lull descended over the battlefield as the Soviets reconsidered their options. More elite scouts moved up, the deployment point moved up again, and the SU 122 repositioned to the right flank. Meanwhile the Soviet artillery thought they'd done enough and halted their barrage. 



The Germans took a few pot shots at the Soviet scouts, but it was hardly effective.


And it didn't stop the scouts from advancing towards the bridge 



The SU 122 had now moved to the other flank and took aim at a 50mm mortar, pinning and then destroying it. Other German troops quickly scampered out of view 

Soviets then rolled a double turn and took the chance to storm the bridge, but got caught in the open by 3 ambushes in turn. That added up to 2 LMGs and an MMG. 



The scouts disappeared into thin air. The leader was killed (but bad things were ignored by spending a command die). Routed support nevertheless cost 1 Soviet morale 


The SU 122 rapidly moved over to the bridge to take revenge. Killed a machine gunner and the rest made off into the woods. Out of sight 


But now the SU was in range of yet another ambush, in the form of a Panzerfaust team. 


Three mailed fists hit the SU. One of these knocked the self propelled gun out, although without explosion. The Panzerfaust team lost one man. The bad things happen roll was again averted by spending a command die 


But at this point the Soviets felt their bolt has been shot and drew off, preferring to conserve their core units, who had again not taken any losses. 


The Germans gained 3 VP from this victory and took all their men back safely, while ignoring 3 casualties for force morale advantage. Their only disappointment was a truck breaking down, making a retreat under worse conditions increasingly hazardous. 

But for the Soviets, now 6 VPs behind, the next game would be make and break to stay in the campaign. Dice rolls declared it would not be the last.