Thursday, 14 June 2012

Pont Marais

After all the figure painting done recently, balance had to be restored by having a game. Plus I'd already said to Keith at Marquee Models in Harlow that I wasn't a gamer who had to have perfect and complete armies and never got them out of the box.

Start Positions
I fancied testing the new section level morale rules and also wanted to keep it small for a quick game, otherwise it invariably turns into a week long micromanagement session. Although it was going to be on a single 12" square board again I wanted a couple of river crossing points to stretch the British platoon a bit thin.

It was at this point the packet of cat litter gravel was unearthed because up 'til now the CO group has an officer figure, radio man & two foot soldiers and regular rifle groups have a variety of riflemen, troops with SMGs or in some cases, surplus standing gun crews to make the numbers up [there were no portable radios at the time, it's merely to recognise the CO group] With the introduction of some kind of NCO group, some of the regular rifle groups would have to have the Nikolas Lloyd boulder treatment, which is why some of the groups have a whitish grain of something on the base.

The Allies are deployed then a dice roll decides the German point of entry [in a solo game, you need lots of curveballs!] As the rest of the recce group bounces along the riverbank, one section debusses by the swampy ground and struggles through at walking pace [don't worry, the leader-designating rocks will be blended in by painting them a nice range of limestone buffs and slate greys]

The armoured cars reach the road, watched by Bren and Boys teams in the small pillbox.
"Ooer, meine damen!"
The beauty of the 1940 period is that armour cannot swan around willy-nilly, flattening all in its path without exposing itself to attack from infantry. Unfortunately for the armoured cars, the bridge must be secured immediately and with the loss of their CO, the rest fall back into the cover of a cornfield. Further back, a badly shot-up Opel Blitz disgorges its passengers way short of its objective [I was wondering how all that infantry got in 3 trucks and a Kubelwagen. Then I realised all my Kfz70s were still on the painting table...]

"Sorry, that's only a beech hedge..."
Sharpshooting on both sides of the river takes out another armoured car and forces the platoon 2" mortar atop the hill back over the crest. The Schutzen advance under cover of the field hedges.

Nothing wrong with anti-tank rifles in trained hands. Not in 1940 anyway.
Just as things are getting rather uncomfortable, the 'cavalry' arrives...on bicycles!

[I just use a pair of cyclists front and back of the platoon to denote indicate such troops]

Conference of COs

The motorised & cycle platoon COs get their heads together through a gap in the hedge.
Downriver from the marsh
I remembered after they had parted company that I should have coordinated the attacks or arranged a signal flare of some sort. Just as the Schutzen enter the marsh to back up their forward section, the cycle troops found the mines by the bridge.

Sneaking through the reeds, some very effective suppressing fire is put down onto the Tommies on the crest of the hill but similarly the enfilading fire of the pillbox Bren slows the Germans down.
Puffs of smoke for 'pinned down' work in a small game

Charge of the cycle platoon
Very few German elements gain the far side of the bridge unharmed but unfortunately, 'vorwarts' is the order of the day...
"Fork it!"
The turf around the Bren gun team on the crest overlooking the marsh is churned up by the suppressing fire.
Schutzen getting in position under the brow of the hill

The bridge crossing stumbles

Diving into a ditch, the cycle platoon CO motions his men to take cover. He is accompanied by a single MG34 team trapped in the shelter of the riverbank

Forming up

A moment of calm...
The British are forced back to the lane, watching the skyline for the enemy and hoping the 18pdr can repel any that attempt the bridge crossing...

After a firefight in the lane nearly wipes out both combatants the German cycle troops rush over the bridge for a dearly secured objective [I decided that the remaining British platoon CO, mortar, rifle group and 18 pounder gun could leave the scene having delayed the German advance, destroyed the armoured car troop and reduced two infantry platoons to less than one. A 'fight to the last man' often produces some surprisingly close-run outcomes but I drew a line under the proceedings after two whole evenings of micromanaged combat]
End of day

The tweaked command & morale rules for infantry sections worked well, didn't create any imbalances and activity felt more realistic without the restrictions of inflexible rules.

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