Tuesday, 20 November 2012

FoW Campaign - Week 3

That was a quick week!

Both the British and Soviets consolidated their recent gains whilst the U.S. found themselves on the back foot following their reverses in the Kasserine Pass. However, thanks to the dogged defence of their infantry in a swirling cauldron, the Americans withstood and shattered a Panzer assault designed the break their positions (5-2) and were able to begin their circuitous advance towards their objective.

Despite the defeat, this wasn't a bad week for the Germans as all of their opponents are still three victories from success. The U.S. are celebrating their first victory that puts them equal with their rivals.

Monday, 19 November 2012

"You Shall Not (Kasserine) Pass" - FoW Campaign Week 2

Week 2 of the club's Flames of War campaign saw me rolling out my American Armoured Company for the very first time against Andy's DAK Panzerkompanie. It seemed quite appropriate that my first engagement with enemy armour would be at the point when the campaign hit the Kasserine Pass, however, I was slightly concerned that history would repeat itself.

What followed was a learning experience, in much the same vein as how the Americans had to learn after Kasserine.

1500pts US Armoured Company vs DAK Panzerkompanie - Breakthrough

My US Armour:
 - HQ, 2 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
 - Tank Platoon, 5 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
 - Tank Platoon, 3 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
 - Light Tank Platoon, 4 M5A1 Stuart Tanks
 - Recce Platoon, M3 Half-Track (command & bazooka teams), 2 Jeeps (with .50 cals, infantry teams)

Andy's Panzers
 - HQ, Panzer IV F2, Panzer III
 - Panzer Platoon, 3 Panzer IV (Various)
 - Panzer Platoon, 3 Panzer III (Various)
 - Schwere Panzer Platoon, 1 Tiger
 - Air Support, Priority Stuka

With apparently only a Tiger tank, a Panzer IV and a Panzer III to bypass to reach their objectives, the US commander should have been more bold and taken the offensive with his 10 Sherman tanks.

However, a little too sure of the platoon of Stuarts he'd sent to encircle the objecitve, he decided to be cautious and advance slowly under smoke, aware that there would be more prowling panzers in the area.

Initially the plan seemed to work as German air superiority was kept at a distance by a veritable wall of .50 cals, the Tiger was continuously smoked to reduce it's long range effectiveness, and the German command tanks began to be picked off.

When a flanking platoon of Panzer IV's did arrive, they were mauled by the close range killing power of the US tanks. 

However, the tenacious platoon commander held his nerve and soon received support from a platoon of Panzer III's and forced the inexperienced US commander and his platoon to quit the field.

The isolated recce platoon was quickly hunted down and destroyed, forcing the remaining Sherman platoon to depart after their commander knowing that the Stuart encirclement had never arrived.

I was  slaughtered 6-1 and for another week the U.S. would fail to advance in the campaign. In retrospect, I was far too intimidated by the Tiger, and had I been bolder I could have rushed the HQ and Tiger (which wouldn't have been able to kill all of my tanks) and perhaps force a German withdrawal earlier in the game.

As it was I allowed the Tiger to whittle me down and I didn't make any progress towards the objective. I was too cautious, which is apparently not the way to be with Americans. Next time I'll have to be more gung ho. I did notice that once they got up close, the American tanks were really effective and they were also more than capable of keeping the skies clear with their .50 cals.


On the Eastern Front, a German counter assault forced the Soviets to engage in a fighting withdrawal, which the Russians were able to execute effectively (5-2). This platform allowed the Soviets to once again launch an attack to encircle Stalingrad, this time the Germans were forced into a fighting withdrawal but their Tigers and AA Guns could not halt the tidal wave of Soviet armour (5-2) and the Russian bear closed its jaws around Stalingrad, trapping the Sixth Army inside.

In Africa, the U.S. Army was once again failed to breakthrough the narrow gulleys of the Kasserine Pass (6-1). However the Eighth Army managed to launch an assault into the outskirts of Benghazi, encircling the defending Panzers and cutting off and capturing the city.

Both the British and the Soviets have made progress towards their objectives, however the U.S. are sadly lagging behind. The Germans had a difficult week, but there's a long way to go.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

FoW Campaign - Week 1

With week one of the 'End of the Beginning' campaign complete, it's time to assess the relative progress of the Allied forces...

...there hasn't been any!

In North Africa, the British rushed headlong into the guns of Rommel's Afrika Korps which they had surrounded at Benghazi and came away with a bloody nose (5-2), and the Americans lost a bloody free for all against untried Panzer divisions in Tunisia (4-3, I think). This means that the Reich still has a strong foothold in Africa and will be able to keep their European forces focused on the Eastern Front

Meanwhile, the surrounded German forces just outside Stalingrad were able to hold their positions and repel numerous Soviet attacks (5-2) to keep the corridor open for supplying the Sixth Army in the city. There was news of other fighting on the front, but reports have not yet come in as to the consequences of the action.

More fighting is expected in all theatres this week, and I suspect that German resolve will once again be tested.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The beginning of 'The End of the Beginning'

This week saw the opening salvoes in the club's Flames of War campaign, 'The End of the Beginning', which I happen to be running. The premise of the campaign is that it begins in late 1942, just after El Alamein, Operation Torch and Stalingrad when the Axis suddenly found themselves on the defensive on all fronts. Three teams of Allies (U.S., British and Soviets) are each competing to reach their objectives (Tunis and Kursk) before the others. Meanwhile, the German players (along with Allied players in German hats) are trying to hold back the Allies until the campaign finishes at the end of December.

This week, I donned my figurative black hat to attempt to stop Pete's Soviets from stealing an early march.

1500pts Mid War Eastern Front. 
Grenadierkompanie vs Gvardeyskiy Tankovy
Scenario: Surrounded

My Grenadiers:
HQ Command + 2 Mortar Stands (attached to Pioniers)
Grenadier Platoon
White Pionier Platoon
Recce Platoon
2 x PaK40
3 x Marder IIIM
Looted KV-1
Priority Stukas

Pete's Guard Tanks
HQ T-34
6 x T-34
5 x T-34
Armoured Infantry Platoon
Sporadic Air Support

The German forces established their perimeter around the small village containing the objectives, with the Marders and KV-1 on one flank, and the Pioniers and PaK40s on the other.

The massed Soviet armour launched a major assault on one side of the German defensive position (we later discovered that we were playing the scenario incorrectly).

As they advanced, the lost tanks to the Luftwaffe (who thanks to the proximity to their own lines, would spend the rest of the battle clearing the skies of Soviet aircraft), and Half-tracks (including all of their passengers!) to the Marders.

One platoon of T-34's launched an assault against the German lines, but were unable to dislodge the White Pioneers from their entrenchments. When the PaK40 anti-tank guns we finally brought to bear over the top of the hill, the Soviets were made to pay; even losing their command tank.

Another Soviet push saw their infantry advance through the woods towards the enemy. However, sustained fire saw them lose their company command and the attack was halted.

Two attacks had failed, Soviet losses were mounting and the Germans had only taken a handful of casualties. The last platoon launched a death or glory assault into the village.

And in the face of stiff resistance, they managed to push the Grenadiers out of the buildings and were closing on their objective.

Although the objective was still secure, the Germans now took the initiative and climbed from their foxholes to assault the infantry trapped in the woods. The contest was one-sided and the leaderless Soviets were forced to quit the field.

The Germans held their positions with minimal losses (only the Marders and a few stands of infantry) for a 5-2 victory. Whether this is enough to stem the Soviet advance this week remains to be seen, as there was another Eastern Front game in progress as I left.

Next week, I'll be breaking out my Americans for the first time ever. I'll be playing against German tanks (including at least one Tiger) in a place called the Kasserine Pass...I'm optimistic...