Friday, 30 August 2013

Firestorm: Lorraine - Hungry Big Cats

Today I played Wayne in the first battle of the second turn of our Firstorm: Lorraine campaign. Wayne hasn't been involved so far, but we've been trying to arrange a game of something for ages, so it seemed a good opportunity to get him involved.

Once again, I failed to get the initiative despite having a bonus to the roll, and so Wayne would be attacking with his Panzers across the Moselle. The scenario was Counter-attack and I would be the defender. Narratively it seems that the arrival of Panzer Brigade 112 gave the Germans the confidence to launch a push across the river at a perceived weakness in the US lines. The American tanks of the the 4th Armored Division would rush south to plug the gap.


Our forces were as follows:

U.S. Tank Company - 4th Armored Division 
(Confident Veteran)
Company HQ - 2 M4A1 Shermans (Improvised Armour)
Tank Platoon - 5 M4A1 Shermans (Improvised Armour)
Tank Platoon - 3 M4A1 Shermans (Improvised Armour)
Light Tank Platoon - 5 M5A1 Stuarts
Recon Platoon - M2 Halftrack & 2 Jeeps (AA MG)
Airborne Engineer Combat Platoon with Bazooka and Supply Handcart (Fearless Veteran)
Rifle Platoon with Bazooka (FIRESTORM TROOPS)
Field Artillery Battery - 4 M2A1 105mm Howitzer (FIRESTORM TROOPS)


As this was a Counter Attack Mission, I could only begin with one wheeled or tracked platoon on the table. The Airborne Engineers, Rifles and Artillery dug themselves into the cornfields with a liberal sprinkling of mines to deter enemy tanks from coming through the gate and prayed that they could hold the objective. Meanwhile, my large Sherman platoon hid behind a house on a hill, keeping an eye on the objective to my right (the Opel Blitz truck -  I need some american objective markers). The rest of the force was held in reserve.


Why were the Shermans hiding? Well...

Harckocsizo Szazad - Panzer Brigade 112
(Confident Veteran)
Company HQ - 2 Panzer IV H
Harckocsizo Platoon - 3 Panzer IV H
Harckocsizo Platoon - 3 Panzer IV H
Harckocsizo Platoon - 2 Tiger I E
Light Harckocsizo Platoon - 4 Toldi II
Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Platoon - 2 Nimrods
Motorcycle Scout Platoon - 2 Scout Squads
German Panzer Platoon - 3 Panthers (Reluctant Trained, FIRESTORM TROOPS
Panzer Grenadier Platoon with 4 Panzerfausrs (Confident Trained, FIRESTORM TROOPS)


That's a lot of big tanks!

Actually, although the Hungarians were off losing their country at this point in the war, I quite like the fact that the German Panzerkompanies that have appeared so far in the campaign have been older models and allied forces, reflecting the desperate, scratch built nature of the German resistance. You'll also notice that there's a fair bit of proxying going on: Nebelwerfers as 105mm Howitzers, Russian Winter Infantry as US Rifles, also, Wayne's Hungarians are still WIP so there's a few more unpainted miniatures than usual.

As he was attacking, Wayne got the first turn.

HUNGARIAN TURN 1

The Hungarian Recce teams (Toldi tanks and Motorcycle Scouts) leapt off to my right towards the building overlooking the unguarded objective.


Whilst the Scout platoon occupied the building, clearly intending to wait until turn 6 and then leap onto the objective, whilst the Toldi platoon audaciously whipped round behind the Shermans and took cover. Meanwhile the armoured might of the Hungarians rolled towards the cropfields and poured MG fire into the Airborne Engineers, killing three. The Panzergrenadiers also managed to kill the artillery observer hiding in the the house on the hill.

US TURN 1

In the face of a wall of steel the Rifles and Engineers cowered in their foxholes whilst the Shermans backed off. Dividing their fire the Shermans wrecked two Toldi tanks, forcing the others away, and destroyed one of the Nimrods on the hill.



Seeing the massed of Axis armour, the CIC ordered the 105's to bring down a bombardment which managed to destroy one of the Tiger tanks. With three enemy platoons on the verge of destruction, the Americans looked to the horizon in search of the reserves.


TURN 1 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 2 Toldi II
AA Platoon – Nimrod

US 4th Armoured
Airborne Engineers – 3 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – Observer Team


HUNGARIAN TURN 2

The Panzergrenadiers occupied the house on the hill in order to help pouring fire into the Airborne Engineers, whilst one of the Panzer IV platoons began to move carefully around the minefield to attack the Artillery. The remaining Tiger when Sherman hunting and managed to destroy one. Meanwhile, with the Airborne Engineers pinned, the second platoon of Panzer IV's risked an assault into the cropfield. A well placed Bazooka, took out one of the enemy tanks and the Fearless Veteran Pioneers, managed to destroy another of the Panzers and drive off the other without loss.


US TURN 2

Still faced with massed machine guns, the Airborne Engineers and the Rifles hunkered down and awaited the reserves.


To the relief of the American commander, Olive Green shapes appeared on the horizon, the cavalry had arrived! Well, the light cavalry at least; the Stuarts.


Caught between the advancing Tiger, the Panzerfaust toting Panzergrenadiers, the Toldi light tanks and the Scout platoon, and hemmed in by the long range Panthers, the Shermans did an awkward dance in order to avoid assault, but still get flank shots on the Tiger. However, all they achieve was leaving themselves in the open and even failed to smoke the beast. The 105's also failed to nail halt any Panzer IV's with direct fire. The next turn was likely to hurt...


TURN 2 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
Hackocsizo Platoon 2 – 2 Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 2 Toldi II
AA Platoon – Nimrod

US 4th Armoured
Tank Platoon 1 – Sherman
Airborne Engineers – 3 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – Observer Team


HUNGARIAN TURN 3

The Tiger, the Panthers, the Panzerfausts and a single Panzer IV opened fire on the Shermans, but somehow only managed to kill one of them! As expected, the 2iC led a Panzer Platoon into the crop field containing the Artillery, forced them to flee and turned the flank of the US line. Meanwhile, another Engineer stand fell to MG fire.


US TURN 3

More Sherman tanks appeared in the distance, would they be able to get to the battle in time?


The Stuarts, took up a position on a ridge to pour fire into the scouts, but only succeeded in killing a single stand.


Meanwhile, with Panzers on their flank, the Americans decided to go for broke. However, the Airborne Engineers failed to unpin, the Rifles assaulting the lone Panzer IV were halted by defensive fire (although a lucky Bazooka shot managed to bail the tank), and the Shermans assaulted the Panzergrenadiers in the house, killing two stands, forcing them to withdraw and consolidated away from the Panthers leaving one bailed tank in the wreckage of the house. (Apologies for the picture below, I can't seem to upload the rotated version.)


TURN 3 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
Hackocsizo Platoon 2 – 2 Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 2 Toldi II
AA Platoon – DESTROYED
Panzergrenadier Platoon – 2 Stands

US 4th Armoured
HQ – 2iC Sherman
Tank Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Airborne Engineers – 4 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – DESTROYED
Rifle Platoon – 1 Stand

HUNGARIAN TURN 4

The Americans were in the open and ripe for the taking. German tanks once again opened up on the Shermans, destroying all but the bailed tank, which promptly failed its motivation test.


The Panzer IV's assaulted into the rear of the Rifles and cut a swathe through them, however, the ground pounders didn't break and an epic struggle ensued.


When the Hungarian 2iC finally withdrew from the fight, the platoon commander and Bazooka team were still in control of the objective and an entire platoon of Panzer IV's had been destroyed.


US TURN 4

Two platoons down, the Americans once again received reserves in the form of the Recce Platoon. 


Knowing that the Recce could deal with the Motorcycle Scouts, the Stuarts were freed up to engage in a bold strategy and drove into the teeth of the Panthers and concentrated their fire on destroying the remaining Nimrod.


Their aim was to draw fire away from the Shermans which swept round the flank of the Panthers, destroying one, but would it be enough?


TURN 4 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
Hackocsizo Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Hackocsizo Platoon 2 – 2 Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 2 Toldi II
AA Platoon – DESTROYED
Panzergrenadier Platoon – 2 Stands
Panther Platoon – Panther

US 4th Armoured
HQ – 2iC Sherman
Tank Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Airborne Engineers – 4 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – DESTROYED
Rifle Platoon – 9 Stands

TURN 5

The Panthers took the bait and fired on the Stuarts, destroying two and bailing one, however, the plucky little tanks didn't break. The Tiger finally got the American Commander. MG fire killed the Rifle platoon commander whilst the Hungarian 2iC assaulted the Bazooka stand and was promptly destroyed!


The remaining Stuarts dashed through the wrecked tanks and managed to bail the lone Panzer IV. The Sherman reserves scuttled behind the Panthers and finished them off. The Airborne Engineers unloaded their weapons at the pinned Panzergrenadiers and killed a stand, but decided against assaulting. The Recce platoon shot up the house containing the Motorcycle Scouts and killed stand.

TURN 5 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
HQ – 2iC Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Hackocsizo Platoon 2 – 2 Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 2 Toldi II
Recce Platoon – 1 Stand
AA Platoon – DESTROYED
Panzergrenadier Platoon – 3 Stands
Panther Platoon – DESTROYED

US 4th Armoured
HQ – DESTROYED
Tank Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Light Tank Platoon – 2 Stuarts
Airborne Engineers – 4 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – DESTROYED
Rifle Platoon – 10 Stands

TURN 6

With the battle going down to the wire, the Hungarians made a move for the objectives. With the Panzergrenadiers still pinned, a lone Toldi (the other was bogged on a wall) assaulted the Bazooka team, and was destroyed, however the second assault by the Tiger succeeded and the brave Bazooka team finally succumbed. The Tiger then consolidated onto the objective. Meanwhile the scouts finally made their move and ran towards the other objective.

Both objectives were in Hungarian hands.

The remains of the American tank company charged forwards. The Recce platoon moved to contest the objective held by their opposite numbers. The Shermans came over the hill and shot up the Panzergrenadiers that were pinned in the open, killing them all. The Stuarts destroyed the bailed Panzer IV that had somehow survived the battle and the Airborne Engineers heroically assaulted the Tiger, losing a stand but driving it off the objective.


TURN 6 CASUALTIES
Harckocsizo Szazad
HQ – 2iC Panzer IV
Hackocsizo Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Hackocsizo Platoon 2 – DESTROYED
Hackocsizo Platoon 3 – Tiger I E
Light Hackocsizo Platoon – 3 Toldi II
Recce Platoon – 2 Stands
AA Platoon – DESTROYED
Panzergrenadier Platoon – DESTROYED
Panther Platoon – DESTROYED

US 4th Armoured
HQ – DESTROYED
Tank Platoon 1 – DESTROYED
Light Tank Platoon – 2 Stuarts
Airborne Engineers – 5 Stands
Field Artillery Battery – DESTROYED
Rifle Platoon – DESTROYED

With only 3 tanks and half a Recce platoon left, the Hungarian commander signalled the retreat leaving the battered Americans in control of the field.

With a 4-3 victory, all Firestorm troops needed to roll to see if they were destroyed. None were, which was a relief as I later realised that due to campaign rules, Wayne shouldn't have had the Panzergrenadiers, and it would have been unfortunate to lose them. In terms of the map, nothing has changed, however, the Germans have missed an opportunity to push back the advancing Third Army.


In terms of the battle, I'm largely happy with how it went. By staying in the fight, my infantry not only bought time for the reserves to arrive, but also conserved their numbers in order to repel repeated assaults, which they did with stoic brilliance.

I lost the artillery too easily, and need to have another think about how I deploy artillery in the future, and on Turn 3 I lost my head and almost the game. In retrospect, I should have sat tight with the Rifles. They would still have been assaulted, but they would have lost less stands to enemy fire and would have survived the experience in better shape. As it was, I was extremely lucky to win that assault. I also probably should have concentrated on smoking the Tiger and delaying with the Shermans rather than assaulting the infantry, my reserves were a turn away and things would have been a little less shaky with some surviving Shermans knocking about to threaten the weakened enemy platoons.

Overall, my experience with my German infantry taught me to sit tight and try to weather the storm, which I just about managed and even my little M4A1's and Stuarts showed that they could mix it up with the big cats with a bit of thought.

Next up, I switching sides quicker than a capitulating Romanian and playing the Germans against Matt's Americans. The 'Big Question': do I muster the Panthers only to find out that he's bringing the 101st Airborne, or do I line up my infantry and then discover that he's brought a billion 50cals and carpet bombing? Hmmm...choices...

2 comments:

  1. Great report Kieron, sounds like a fun campaign

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  2. This front is a bit like a WW1 front! Both sides advancing about as far as an asthmatic ant with a lot of heavy shopping...

    ReplyDelete