Thursday, 1 July 2010

Rising Ground

Time for a bigger game, in a corner of the house where I can fit in a 3,600m square set of boards. I knocked up an angled bit of terrain for the NorthEast corner of the scenario so it fitted around some existing bookcases. It is my first game in the bookcase niche and although it is out of the way of the kids it is proving a bit hard on the back & knees.

The windmill plateau, river meander and hamlet terrain boards are all resting on thick timbers and so are about 200m higher than the village, the North Bridge and the angled board (hence the scenario name) creating a general slope up in the direction the Germans need to advance. I guess this only has an effect visually on the game except for any reverse slope line-of-sight problems it may create.

There are a whole load of reinforcements available for both combatants, each unit being checked for arrival by dice roll. For the Germans this includes bridge laying vehicles, one or two platoons of motorised infantry or schutzen, various abteilungen of mostly light tanks and for a laugh, a StuGIII troop. Allies have some armoured car squadrons, carrier platoons and understrength light tank units and will also be rolling to check if demolition charges have been wired up and the results of detonation. The game will probably end if both bridges are destroyed and German progress evaluated at this point.

 As the Schutzen debusses in a somewhat autumnal-looking wood, their 8-wheelers take a bit of a pasting as they approach the North Bridge.

In the centre, panzers sweep down the valley like a majestic herd of wildebeest. (I notice in the photo that two of the Panzer IIs have jammed guns so perhaps there was more dissent in the Ruhr munitions factories that we know of).

HQ units lurk and/or skulk behind a wood (must get some more green lichen!) and some SdKfz 231s crash through the bracken in the foreground. The artillery spotter and wireless operator who have just leapt from their Kubelwagen will in due course have a couple of infantry figures added to the unflocked half of the base just so that it has a combat capability.

A Carrier Platoon roars through the hamlet and an A13 squadron presses on towards the river. The A10 CS tanks need some shadow washes due to the application of matt varnish before the dry brushed highlights were completely dry and the A13s sport my teenage modellers all over dark green without any highlights whatsoever. Heinous crime!

As the Germans overrun the Belgian side of the river the plucky Brits do their best with Boys AT rifles, MkVIB light tanks & Scout Cars.
(The somewhat naff hardware in this phase of World War Two is, I reckon,  one of the best aspects of gaming this period).

The struggle for the North Bridge. (If I get more organised, only Panzer III & IV unit COs and HQ tanks will have the turret type with stowage bin at the rear, just for visual differentiation. Other tank type COs will get detailing such as swastika flags draped over hull superstructure although there is no bias if you determine randomly whether a tank destroyed is the CO or not).

Cycle-mounted infantry still uncommitted in reserve in the dusty cornfields.

I like to imagine the perfume of lavender rising up from the tracks of the A13s as they link up with the infantry by the river.

Due to the German advance arriving piecemeal, the Allies manage to blow the bridges & force a wide detour.

It is possible that the bulk of both the Allied & German forces should have been available from the outset of the game as the steady trickle of firepower for the Germans was insufficient to maintain momentum. A few lucky or unlucky dice rolls regarding arrival of reinforcements and the power balance was irrevocably upset. Arguably this could have happened in the real campaign if the Allies had been more pro-active and if the Germans had been slightly less fortunate with traffic congestion.