Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nations At War: Arnhem Campaign - Scenario 3 - Breaking Through

Welcome back to the ongoing campaign for Arnhem!  Over the last two weekends, I've been posting my progress on the Nations at War five-scenario campaign that takes place in September 1944 during Operation Market Garden.  In the last two scenarios, the British had taken Arnhem and defended the city against a vicious counter-attack that came pretty close to eliminating the British 7th Paras.

On September 19th, 1944, the British have to clear the road for reinforcements and supplies to arrive in the city.  We can't spend our refit points (RPs) in this scenario as I guess we're dealing with a different group of Paras.  However, the British paratroops in this scenario can earn more refit points for use in the next scenario.  The Germans losses from this scenario will also carry over into the next one.

The action takes place on a new map board as the Germans try to hang on to Chatereaux, Ste. Jeanne, and the hill to the northwest. These are towns or cities near Arnhem so ignore the French names.


The Germans set up within one hex of Ste. Jeanne and Chatereaux.  Their setup is pretty good since they're well concealed from British long range mortar fire.  They're in a good position to launch an ambush once the British approach if they can just sit still and keep their heads calm.  Also notice that the German defenders are close enough together so they can move to help the other units defend against the oncoming Paras.

Germans set up near Ste. Jeanne and Chatereaux.
For the British commander, the Paras get five platoons (these are new paras, not the survivors of the previous scenario) along with a couple of machine guns and a 3 inch mortar.  The German defense will probably be tough to crack and sending all the units against one location will bring the other Germans crashing down on them.  As a result, the general tactics here will be to send a main body to capture Ste. Jeanne while keeping the Chatereaux defenders at bay by providing a small infantry force to threaten their location.

The British set up to the east.

So here's how it all played out:

Turn 1:  The British Para commander starts sending the bulk of his units southwest into the woods to provide cover for their advance towards Ste Jeanne.  A single platoon edges towards Chatreaux.  The British commander is teamed up with some paras and the mortar unit on the hill to the east of Ste. Jeanne.

The British send their main force to Ste. Jeanne through the woods.

Turn 2:  The German commander sees the British coming from the southwest and decides to send the Stug tanks to the south of the city to fire on any infantry that try to use this area from which to stage an assault.  German infantry pour into the northwest of the city and take up defensive positions.

Turn 3:  The British Paras will soon be in Ste Jeanne so the German HQ has no choice but to make a run to protect it.  The German infantry moves south from a wooded area towards the city and comes under very accurate machine gun fire from the British Paras HQ position to the east.  The German HQ unit is in disarray and out in the open.

The German HQ unit is disrupted as it attempts to reinforce Ste. Jeanne.

Turn 4:  The Germans are lucky enough to move their battered HQ and units into the city, linking up with the fresh German infantry unit sent in earlier.

The British Paras make their move and begin their advance.  The HQ directs mortar fire into the city but the fire is inaccurate.  The infantry crosses a small amount of open ground and comes under tank fire from the German Stugs to the west.  The Germans miss and the British storm Ste. Jeanne.  One unit approaches the German HQ and is disrupted but the wave after wave of Paras soon arrive and assault the German HQ, disrupting and reducing its units.

The British Paras assault the German HQ with wave after wave of infantry.

Turn 5:  On the next turn, the British Paras activate and immediately resume their push on the German HQ and its units.  They retreat outside of the city before being destroyed by two platoons.

This has the unfortunate side effect of putting the British Paras out in the open and adjacent to the Stug platoons, which quickly overrun them.  The Stugs completely eliminate two full platoons of Paras.  Meanwhile, the Germans start moving infantry from near Chatereaux into Ste. Jeanne.  This is it.  The Germans are making their stand.
The Stug overruns one British Para platoon...

...and another.

Turn 6:  Two End Markers are pulled.  No one moves.  Ste. Jeanne is contested territory.  Both sides lick their wounds before the inevitable.

Turn 7:  The British Paras activate and wipe out the Stug with an assault.  The HQ, with its machine guns, eliminates the German infantry with the HQ.  The British hold Ste. Jeanne.  The Germans have little to do but to use their last remaining infantry to cover any British approach to the hill on the northwest.  The Germans cannot win but they can disallow the British from gaining any more RPs.

The Germans cover the approach to Chatereaux and the hill to the northwest.

Turn 8:  The Germans activate and wait for the British to approach.  The British send a unit towards the hill but it is disrupted.  With Ste. Jeanne firmly in their hands, the British decide to call it a day.

Conclusion:  For capturing Ste. Jeanne, the British get 3 RPs and an additional RP for each of the surviving Paras platoons, for a total of 6 RPs.  The Germans have come out with severe losses in this battle but it could have been much worse - they have held on to two key locations and prevented the Brits from gaining a total victory.  The Germans have only one full strength platoon left and have suffered four step losses, which means they will have 1 fewer full strength infantry units in the next scenario.  The Brits now have a total of 14 RPs to spend from the start of Scenario 4.  Let's see if it's enough to hold Arnhem.

NEXT:  Scenario 4:  Hold the Line

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nations At War: Arnhem Campaign - Scenario 2 - The First Defense

Last weekend, I started "The Arnhem Campaign", a five-scenario campaign for Lock 'n Load's WW2 Platoon Combat game, "Nations at War".  In my first outing as the British, I'm not sure how well I fared as my HQ had been reduced and my recon jeeps were scrap metal even though the British 7th Paras had successfully captured Arnhem and its sole bridge (P05 hex). The Germans had inflicted enough damage on my units that I was forced to spend all of my refit points (RPs) to get back up to full strength.  No new toys for me.

Link to Part 1.

Well, this weekend is the second scenario from the campaign and it features the German counter-attack on Arnhem.  The British have to face two German units, the Aufklarung Abteilung 4 and SS Dauer.  Along with my refitted units, I end up getting a 3 inch mortar and another platoon of paratroopers.  I've sure got a lot of infantry!

Arnhem Bridge

The grim survivors of the first scenario.

The new additions to the clan.

The Auf. Abtel. 4 group starts off to the south of the city while SS Dauer, consisting mostly of tanks, deploys far to the north.  Knowing full well that infantry fight better inside of a city and that the Germans will most likely sit back and hit my men from afar if I put them around the outskirts of Arnhem, I opt to keep my units near the center of the city, inviting the Germans to walk on in and see what happens.

The British adopt the turtle defense.

The game was eight turns long and instead of recounting every event of every turn, I'll just talk about the major events as they came up.  Let's go then, shall we?

It's clear from the start that the Germans cannot just walk into the city as they will quickly be overwhelmed by the British infantry. On the other hand, the British cannot completely hide from German tank fire either.    The Germans may either try to link up and fight or maneuver their tanks carefully and pick apart the British where they can before entering the city and assaulting any disrupted units.  Both of these methods will take time.

Captain McCloud wiped the sweat from his furrowed brow as the early afternoon sun crawled across the sky.  So much had gone wrong so far.   Too many men were dead.  And to top it all off, his radios were useless.  Where were the reinforcements?  How could he hold this damn city with so little support?  He didn't have to wonder too long as the dreaded sound of Panther tanks rumbled closer to him off in the distance.

SS Dauer starts maneuvering to the east of Arnhem, presumably to hook up with the other German units.  This simply cannot be allowed to happen as it poses a huge threat to the British.  The commander of the 7th Paras, without any anti-tank weapons at his disposal, is forced to send out a platoon from the north of the city to assault the German tanks in hopes of delaying them.

SS Dauer approaches from the north.

SS Dauer gets a little too close to the city and the British paras assault them.

On the south side of the city, German Stugs and a recon unit blast a British unit led by an officer.  The unit is reduced and the British start pulling into the center of the city even further.  The Stug maneuvers west for a better shot.

The British pull their units back from the south side of Arnhem.

Back on the north side of the river, the British para unit manages to disrupt the SS tanks and even reduce the HQ.  However, the Germans immediately eliminate the paras out in the open.  The British are getting squeezed closer together.

McCloud limped back into Arnhem, his weight supported by one of his sergeants.  They had given Jerry a bloody nose alright, ambushing several Stugs that had unwisely traveled too close to the city.  A heavy price had been paid in British blood however, as half the men he took with him would never return.  He wasn't quite sure if he was a genius or an idiot.  There were still German tanks out there, not nearly so many as before.  Were his efforts enough?

On the next turn, the Germans on the south side of the river activate and start moving into the city after the Stug disrupts the British infantry again.  The Germans have now entered the south side of Arnhem and are tightening the vise.

The German infantry and HQ enter the south side of Arnhem.

The Panzers had to be stopped.  McCloud's best officers and men were taking care of the south end of Arnhem but here on the north side, things were falling apart quickly.  The German tanks slithered around to the east and they were trying to link up with their comrades in the south.  If that happened, there would be no way to defend the city.  He looked grimly at his remaining men, tattered and torn, bruised and beaten.  Act 4 Scene 3 of Henry V flashed in his mind.  Here was his time to rouse everyone...  "Let's do it," was all that he could creak out.

The British Para commander is caught in a terrible situation.  He can either try to wait out the inevitable tank assault in the city and lose control of Arnhem or make an attempt to stop the Germans from entering altogether by surprising the nearby SS units with more assaults out in the open.  With two turns left in the game, he hurls his units at the German SS HQ, disrupting them.  If the Brits can get an activation early next turn, he can finish the job.

In a desperation, the British commander leads an assault against SS Dauer.

The British were spent.  Numerous close range assaults had managed to tie up the German tanks and even destroy a few of them.  The firepower was merely overwhelming.  McCloud's Vickers machine gun team was silent and all that was left was to wait for the massive German machines to crush them like a bug.  McCloud rolled over in the tall grass and looked at the houses on the outskirts of the town he had been defending.  The men around him lay broken and bleeding. All he could think was, "Was it worth it?"

However, on turn 7, the German SS Dauer units are the first to activate and they overrun the nearby British, completely eliminating the HQ unit and the infantry with it.  What a disaster!  There is no one protecting the north side of the city.

In the south, the remnants of the British Paras activate and they disrupt and assault the German infantry in the city.  It seems all for naught as the German SS can simply walk in and take what they want on the final turn.

The British give the south to the Germans and await the onslaught from SS Dauer from the east.

On the eighth and final turn, fully expecting to be forced to restart the campaign and cursing my luck, I pulled the first chit, which was an End Turn marker.  A broad smile crossed my face when I pulled the next chit marker and got the same.  The scenario was finished and the British had still held Arnhem.  It was by no means pretty, but it was a win.

On the other hand, I lost a lot of units.  My remaining British units are: a reduced HQ, two full strength Para platoons, an officer, and a 3 inch mortar. I have 8 RPs to spend on replacements.  It's not much but it's a start for rebuilding.  According to the campaign instructions, I get to spend these babies for the fourth scenario.

The weary survivors from 7th Para after the battle for Arnhem.  Eight RPs left to spend for refit.

Next  Scenario 3 of the Arnhem Campaign!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nations At War: Arnhem Campaign - Scenario 1: To The Bridge

In Lock 'n Load's "Line of Fire" magazine issue 10, there's a 5-scenario campaign for the WW2 platoon-level combat game, "Nations at War".  The campaign features scenarios based around the unsuccessful Allied attempt to liberate the Netherlands in September 1944 known as Operation Market Garden.

The first scenario in the campaign is based on British Major-General Urquhart's attempt to capture Arnhem and the bridge that linked both sides of the town.  The British player gets command of a handful of paras and a recon jeep, which is a new counter for the Brits to use and is included with this issue.  The Germans get only a tiny contingent of men (one full platoon and a reduced platoon) to defend Arnhem with reinforcements from a recon vehicle unit coming in later.  Fortunately for the Germans, there is only one bridge in the city (the other two bridges on the map are ignored), which makes it easy for them to decide where to make a stand.

Paratroopers land in Holland during Operation Market Garden.

Since this is a linked campaign, the British player keeps the same forces (including losses) throughout.  Luckily, the he gets "refit points" by achieving certain objectives in each scenario, which can be used to purchase replacements, weapons, air support, etc.  In this first scenario, the Brits get refit points (RPs) by taking the north side of Arnhem early on in the game and they get additional RPs for capturing the far side of the bridge. They can also set up their units on the far side of Arnhem in the next scenario if they manage to do the latter.

Although things look a bit hopeless for our German player right from the outset, he does get reinforcements in the form of a Puma recon vehicle about halfway through the scenario.  Since this is a campaign, it may not be possible to "win" this scenario as the Germans but it might certainly pay off to hurt the British as much as possible and make them pay for any gains they make.

Here's how it all went down:

Turn 1:

The Germans are just outside of Arnhem in their troop transports and they zoom into the south side of the city and unload near the bridge.

Germans to the south of Arnhem.

British Paras are disrupted upon landing.

The British drop was a bit nasty and several units are disrupted.  They quickly get their act together, however, and start advancing to the north side of Arnhem.  One of the para squads doesn't move due to a lingering disruption.

Turn 2:

The Germans are now set up near the bridge and ready for the British to enter.  Of course, it would be suicide for them to enter the north side of the town, where they would be quickly overwhelmed by the paras.  It's much better to funnel the British onto the bridge and take care of them there.

Germans set up near the bridge while Para Recon jeep advances.

The straggling Para unit recovers from its disruption and 7th para starts capturing the north side of the city.  The recon jeep sits outside the city, spotting Germans sitting near the bridge and reporting their positions to the British commander.

Turn 3:    The British Paras are almost in Arnhem.  The Germans sit back and wait for the Allied assault.
The British close in while the Germans wait.

Turn 4:  The British recon jeep manages to score a disruption on the German heavy machine gun.  The rest of the British paras capture the northern part of Arnhem.

The British take the northern part of Arnhem without resistance.

The Germans bring their Puma on board and it starts making its way north, determined to destroy the nasty recon jeep.

Turn 5:  Two End Markers are pulled and no one does anything.

Turn 6:  The Germans are unable to recover their disrupted infantry.  The Puma makes its way closer to the recon jeep north east of the city.

The British paras disrupt the second German infantry unit and start their assault.  This should be a cakewalk.
The Paras HQ crosses the bridge and completely eliminates the Germans.  However, the Germans manage to score a disruption on an assaulting British unit and this reduces the British HQ.  From hell's heart, I stab at thee.

The British  cross the bridge and begin their assault!

Turn 7:  The British fail to activate but the German formation marker is pulled.  As the British start celebrating, they hear a loud explosion to the east and the recon jeep is turned into a flaming metal wreck by the German Puma, which fades out of sight.  With several dead and wounded officers as well as their recon ability destroyed, the celebrations are muted and finished quickly.  Tomorrow will be the real test for these men.

The German Puma utterly pulverizes the British Para Recon jeep.


Well, I'm not sure that actually went well for the Brits.  For what was supposed to be a walk in the park, they actually suffered quite a bit as their HQ was reduced and their recon jeep was destroyed.  The Brits gain 7 RPs from this scenario, which they use to bolster their HQ back to full strength (3 RPs) and restore one of their reduced platoons (from the scenario's start) to full strength.  With these meager forces, they will be forced to defend the city from a German counter attack in the next scenario.

HQ goes back to full strength along with one platoon.  This is all I have to face the coming counter attack.

On to Part 2!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dawn's Early Light: Three Crossroads

Dawn's Early Light fans rejoice:  In issue 10 of Lock 'n Load's magazine "Line of Fire", this gem of a game got some good good lovin' in the form of an expansion called "High Noon at Gerzenburg".

The expansion features entirely new units for both NATO and the Soviet Union.  NATO gets the 11th Armored Division, which is a mix of standard infantry and M-60 armored battalions.  The Soviets get the 23rd Guards Tank Division, which includes powerful T-80 tanks.  Overall, the expansion sort of reverses the situation from the original DEL as the NATO player now has large numbers of weak units while the Soviets have fewer units but packed with a lot more punch.

The Gerzenburg expansion also presents the player with a brand new map and two scenarios,which are just right for an evening of light gaming.  The first scenario, "Three Crossroads", features a Warsaw Pact attempt to capture 3 of 5 cities on the west side of the map.  The Pact gets the 23rd Guards Tank Division to accomplish this feat while NATO has the 11th Armored Division and the West German 27th Panzergrenadier Brigade.

High Noon at Gerzenburg:  A DEL expansion

NATO can prevent a Pact win by holding on to the 3 cities on the west side of the map or cutting off the line of communication from the captured cities to the east side of the map.  Not an easy task.

The game starts on Day 1 Turn 3 and ends after the Night phase of Day 3.

Here's the rundown of my first play:

Day 1 Turn 3 and 4:

Col. Yurichev watched with a smile on his face as his lead battalions raced across the bridge west of Jadefurt.  As commander of the 23rd Guards Tank Division, he was proud of being chosen to lead the attacks south of the Eisenbach Gap.  As he looked out at the bare stretch of plains in front of him, he knew instinctively that he would send his tanks in a two-pronged attack to capture the West German towns of Kloppmund in the north and Gross Glowe in the south.  After that, it would only be a matter of time before his forces could meet up in the middle and simply pluck the jewel of Gerzenburg from NATO's hand.

The Soviets get a "5" for initiative on the first two turns, which means they can bring on the tanks from the 23rd Guards Tank Division while the Russian infantry have to wait for activation.  Due to the high activation number, the tanks speed ahead, heading straight for two key cities before NATO has time to even react.  The Soviets are sweeping to certain victory.

Soviets in the south head for Gross Glowe.

In the north, they make a dash for Kloppmund.

During the night phase, the NATO and Soviet player pull assets.  The NATO player gets AH-1 Cobra gunships and airstrikes while the Soviets get artillery and Hind gunships.

Day 2:

General Oleson paced wearily around his command tent the in the center of Eppertsfeld.  So the Soviets were finally coming, he thought.  No matter - the 11th Armored Division was ready for a fight and would soon halt the incoming waves of Russians.  Their obsolete tanks and conscript army was no match for the well-trained and organized fighting machine that he had staked his entire career on reshaping to meet his own high expectations. 

"Sir,we've lost contact with Gross Glowe and Kloppmund," his aide suddenly said in quiet awe.  Oleson's haggard face turned a new shade of red.  A shocked "Wha...?" was all he could muster in response.  How could they have gotten there so fast?

The light of the bright blue morning revealed one more surprise for Oleson, however, as he turned to look out towards the east and was greeted by the sight of an ocean of refugees coming west from Kloppmund, Gross Glowe, and Gurzenburg.  A great snaking caravan of civilian vehicles extended as far back as the horizon.  The refugees' possessions were tied to the tops of their cars and trucks and entire extended families were stuffed inside or even sitting in the trunks.  

Tanks and APCs from the 11th Armored Division headed out of Eppertsfeld were swerving to find a way around the incoming traffic but this only sowed more confusion amid the civilians and made a bad problem worse.  He watched in horror as an M60 tank drove effortlessly over the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle that had either refused or been unable to move.  All that was left behind was a pile of crushed metal.  Entire columns of soldiers and armored vehicles were halted as they fruitlessly tried to find a way east out of town and towards the front.  Oleson's heart sank. 

Sensing his disbelief, his aide murmured, "We don't have an exact number of refugees yet sir...but traffic is backed up for twelve kilometers."  They stood in silence.

The sun comes up over the West German landscape and the Soviets have nearly consolidated their gains on the map.  Both Kloppmund to the north and Gross Glowe to the south awaken to the sight of the hammer and sickle being raised over the town square.  Soviet tankers freshen up their morning coffee with a bit of celebratory vodka  before heading west again to capture the remaining West German cities.   The motorized infantry battalions, however, are far behind and have only just entered the sector this morning.  With the armor advancing so fast and the infantry so far behind, there will be no one left to hold the captured cities.  If NATO can move fast enough, they might be able to exploit this window of opportunity.

The motorized infantry lags far behind to the east.

Before NATO can react, however, the Soviet commander pushes everything at the real prize on the map, the city of Gerzenburg.  With all the roads from the other towns connecting to it, Gerzenburg is the main hub of this sector and it must be captured and held. The NATO commander knows this as well but the Russians have sent their tanks far ahead to the westernmost towns Bosenwald and Eppertsfeld to hold off American reinforcements from arriving.  The astonishing speed of the Soviets has simply overwhelmed NATO and it needs to quickly reinforce both of these rear cities for fear of handing the Soviets an overwhelming victory.

The Russians are knocking on Bosenwald's door.

While the Americans rush reinforcements to Eppertsfeld and Bosenwald, the Germans are the only ones able to send a small force of infantry to help defend Gerzenburg from the tanks of the Soviet 23rd.  Unfortunately, for the West Germans, the Soviets throw everything at them.  Hind gunships lay waste to any exposed infantry positions while airstrikes completely prevent any attempt to build prepared positions.  When the Soviet tanks to the east roll in, the West German infantry is in complete disarray and whoever does not surrender is immediately eliminated.  The Soviets now have their prize in hand.  Gerzenburg is theirs.

The Russians take Gerzenburg from the Germans.

Up north near Bosenwald and down south near Eppertsfeld, the Soviet tanks start maneuvering units and hitting at these cities.  It's not enough force to capture them but NATO is forced to divert reinforcements again to these places in order to hold them.  NATO units make it down towards Gerzenburg in piecemeal fashion.

As the late afternoon turns to dusk, the Soviet infantry finally comes west and fortifies Kloppmund.  They immediately begin preparing defenses against any American push from nearby Bosenwald.

Soviets take losses near Bosenwald and reinforce Kloppmund to the rear.

Hind gunships completely eliminate an American armored force of M-60 tanks heading down toward Gerzenburg.  The American commander has been told that AH-1 Cobras will be available in the area but every time someone in the field requests air support, the Cobras just never seem to arrive.

Hind gunships about to lay the hurt on American tanks.

Despite taking damage on the way there from gunships Soviet tanks, the NATO commander has managed to get some of this forces around the city of Gerzenburg.  However, the Russian commander has played it smart and has kept his forces not just in the city but completely around it, in a horseshoe fashion.  This has prevented NATO encirclement of the city.

The horseshoe defense around Gerzenburg.

As night comes, the Soviets have an iron grip on their three cities and show no signs of letting go any time soon.  NATO draws gunship and airstrike assets again while the Soviets get chemical strikes and the dreaded gunships.  It's going to be a long and deadly day for both sides.

Day 3:

Maj. Grechko swallowed two of the orange pills that the battalion doctors had been handing out like candy since three days ago...or was it two days ago?  It didn't matter.  Time no longer meant anything to him anymore.  All that mattered was trying to stay alive.  So far, his T-72 battalion had not only survived but had used cunning and longe range accuracy to knock out several American M60 tanks defending the outskirts of Eppertsfeld. 

Despite these small successes, every time Colonel Yurichev radioed Grechko to advance his battalion on the city, his men would charge forward but were forced to fall back in tatters after a hail of NATO anti-tank missiles sliced into them.  "Damn Yurichev," he thought.  He blamed his commander for all the misery around him as he scanned the bumper crop of wrecked Soviet tank hulls burning just on the edge of the city limits.  An infinite number of broken bodies and suffering men continually streamed past him towards the rear.  All Grechko knew was that it was better not to be one of them.  For now, that was enough.  He dutifully swallowed another orange pill and waited for Yurichev's next order.

Dawn breaks and the fighting from last night continues at a higher tempo.  The Soviets have grudgingly given up on capturing Eppertsfeld.  NATO has reinforced the city with so many units that the only real option is just to plant some tanks in the area and prevent these fresh American units from reaching Gerzenburg.

Eppertsfeld is a lost cause.  Soviets start to pull back from their attack on the city.

The Russians pull back from Bosenwald after their offensive here fails.

Bosenwald is also a bust.  The Americans have managed to push some tanks and motorized infantry down towards Gerzenburg and the Soviets have taken some heart-wrenching losses in trying to keep them from being reinforced.  So far, the lone American units have been kept at bay but this has sapped the offensive up north as more and more Soviet tanks are brought back to defend the city.  The Americans respond by sending a force of tanks and men straight for Kloppmund.  The meager Soviet defenders wait patiently.  Everything could be riding on this one fight.

NATO gunships and airstrikes pound the Soviet infantry in Gerzenburg all morning and afternoon.  By the time the Americans enter the city, there isn't even much left to mop up.  The Soviet commander is in dismay as he sees his key prize taken away from him.  The Hinds are called in and chemical weapons are unleashed.  The weary American defenders don't last long in the face of such attacks and the Soviets retake the city late in the afternoon.

The Americans try to hold on to Gerzenburg.

Meanwhile, up near Kloppmund, the NATO player makes his final gamble as the sun begins to set and night falls.  The M-60 tanks and infantry maneuvered near the outskirts of the city, looking desperately for a weakness of some kind.  Although they had eliminated an infantry unit earlier in the day, there was still strong Soviet resistance from inside the city.  They pushed forward here and there but the only result was a rain of AT Sagger missiles and wrecked M-113 APCs.  The men and tanks of the 11th Armored Division shook their heads and finally pulled back into the night and headed for the west.

NATO attacks fail to put a dent in Kloppmund.

Conclusion:  The Soviets barely managed to hold on to the three key cities, scoring a victory.  It was incredibly touch-and-go at times as the Soviet gunships really laid a lickin' down on the NATO units.  The less powerful M-60s really do make a big difference in the game.  They get damaged more easily than the M-1s and they also lose initiative when they lose strength, which really hurts the NATO player.

The Soviet player had his share of lucky breaks in the form of two very high activation rolls right at the beginning of the game.  This allowed them to basically steamroll west without any opposition on the board.  Kloppmund and Gross Glowe were captured without firing a shot and that left only one more city for them to worry about it.

NATO could have tried to win it by cutting off Soviet communication to the east.  However, this would have been tough due to the nature of the road network.  Also, the Pact forces were very well positioned and basically kept NATO from advancing too far east.  Looking back, however, the NATO player should have at least made the effort to do this as it would have kept the Russians from reinforcing captured cities or maybe created some opportunities later in the game.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nations at War: NAN-White

About eight years ago, I was lucky enough to tour the Normandy invasion beaches and it was an incredible experience.  Remnants from the war dotted the beaches along with various memorials and souvenir shops, etc.  After visiting the Omaha landing site, I struck out on my own and decided to walk the length of the beaches to the east.  I trudged along the shore through Gold and on to Juno.  It took all day and you don't really realize how crazy the whole affair must have been until you see for yourself just how much open ground there is between the water and the nearest berm or hill.  As a Canadian, I'm quite proud of what our soldiers did and the enormity of what it said about us as people determined to do what is right in the face of so much wrong.

Captured German soldiers marched off the beach by Canadians at Bernières sur Mer

So it was with not just a little glee that I found the Juno Beach scenario called "NAN-White" in issue 10 of  Lock 'n Load's "Line of Fire" magazine.  This scenario is meant for LnL's "Nations at War" system, which is a terrific platoon level war game based on the World at War series rules.

In "NAN-White", the Canadians get two regiments, the Queens Own Rifles (represented by the 2/16) and the Canadian 10th Armored Regiment (the Fort Garry Horse).  The Canadians need to take and hold the village of Bernières-sur-Mer (Saarbourg on map D) and move 4 units off the east edge (the upper part) of the map.  The German 716th Infantry Division is defending the beach and trying to stop them.

Canadian operations on D-Day.

The Germans start off with lots of infantry in improved positions and some mines but luckily the Canadians get a minesweeper  - the awesome Sherman Mine Flail tank.

The Sherman Mine Flail tank.

German mines and bunkers at setup.

Turn 1:  The Canadians hit the beach and go straight for the German positions.  There is no subtle maneuvering here.  The Canadian infantry takes on fire from the Germans and several platoons are reduced or even wiped out completely as they near the enemy defensive positions.  The 10th Armored Brigade enters and the Sherman flail tank tries to remove some of the mines to allow the Canadian infantry to advance.  However, the Sherman tank hits an anti-tank mine and is disrupted.  At this point, I thought I had made a serious mistake as the Canadian player.

The Canadians hit the beach and head straight for the German bunkers.
Turn 2:  The Canadians hurl themselves at the German positions but are batted away effortlessly by heavy machine gun fire.  Deadly mortar fire pummels the Canadian HQ and the infantry around it is pulverized.

The 10th Armored Regiment activates but the Sherman minesweeper is still disrupted.  The Canadians are having trouble just getting on the beach and the tanks don't seem to be doing their job very well.  This is turning into a massacre.

The Canadians take heavy casualties and the tanks get nowhere.

Luckily, for the Canadians, any infantry that is destroyed gets to come on board the following turn to simulate more and more troops landing during the battle.  Throwing away men like this is an ugly proposition but now that the Canadians are in this situation, it seems like brute force is the only way out.

Turn 3:  The Canadian infantry is almost entirely eliminated by the German 716th.    The Germans use their only fate point to eliminate the Canadian HQ.  It's turning into a real disaster.The only bright spot is the Sherman Mine Flail tank is back in action and starts clearing the mined route to  Bernières.

Things look grim for the Canucks.  Sayonara HQ!

Turn 4:  The Sherman minesweeper gets moving again and finally starts to remove mines in two hexes.  Now things seem to be rolling.  The Canadians get a break by sneaking in landing units late in the turn, which make a bee-line for  Bernières now that the mines are cleared.  The Chaos marker gets pulled and the Canucks get another Fate Point to spend.

3 Fate Points for the Canadians!

Turn 5:  If you apply enough pressure to a situation, crazy things start to happen.  In this instance, the Canadian infantry nearest the German HQ churns out a small miracle by rolling extremely well for an assault, dislodging the German HQ and its men.  The Germans pull back and the Canadians are now right in the center of the German positions, wreaking pure havoc.

Queens Own Rifles infantry make a surprisingly successful assault on the German HQ.

While the Germans are distracted, the rest of the Queen's Own Rifles are advancing on Bernières.

Turn 6:  The German commander knows he needs to pull his troops out of their positions and head for  Bernières but with two Canadian platoons in a nearby bunker, the only choice is to take on this immediate danger before heading back to defend the town.  The Germans adjacent to the two Canadian units assault their position but merely get  bloody noses in the attempt.

Meanwhile, the 10th Armored Regiment moves up on a nearby hill and successfully destroys a German position with the help of some generous fate point spending.  The Canadian infantry start to consolidate their hold on the town.

Infantry starts to pour into Bernieres while the 10th Armored starts moving up.

Turns 7 and 8:  The Germans can't seem to catch any breaks now but they're going to try hard to get back to Bernières.  The Germans use mortars and heavy machine guns to mercilessly eliminate a Canadian infantry platoon caught outside the city.   The Canadians, meanwhile, start to exit units off the map.  Both the flail tank and the Sherman platoon advance east and off the map edge.  Halfway to victory.

Turn 9:  Things are getting pretty serious now.  The Canadians try to cover the approaches to  Bernières with lots of infantry while two platoons march east off  the map.  The units are off and the Canadians just need to defend the town for one turn in order to win.

The Germans, however, have other plans.  They start staging all of their infantry just shy of the hill crest near the town and prepare for a massive assault on the town.  This is it.  Turn 10 is their last chance.

Germans prep for an all-out assault on Berniéres-sur-Mer.

Turn 10:  The Germans start sending units to assault the town and get some great rolls.  One platoon takes the north part of Bernières while the other grimly makes its way into the south.  The Queens Own Rifles activates and pushes a pair of infantry at the Germans, barely making their assault and clearing one of the German units out.  Another Canadian infantry unit assaults a disrupted German infantry platoon to the north and recaptures the city.   Bernières is held and the Canadians win.

The Germans rush the town and try to hold it...

but the Canucks win it back.

Conclusion:  Great scenario!  What makes it incredibly intense is the small fighting area available and the waves and waves of oncoming Allied soldiers.  The additional fate point proved extremely useful for the Canadians as it actually helped to eliminate a German infantry unit that may have been enough to tilt the outcome the other way.  I don't think I realized just how close things were at certain times.  The Canadians seemed to really be losing in the first few turns and the Germans seemed to have no hope in the last few turns.  The successful Canadian assault on the German HQ around turn 5 seemed to really tilt things in the Canadian favor as it held up the German attempt to get back to  Bernières and the Canadians basically waltzed right in to the city.  If you like White Star Rising, you should definitely check out this scenario.