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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chasing smoke - Tobruk, after Gazala MW Free-For-All

A beginners game that turned out very well. A tactical lesson to be learned. Again Captain Sainthill (a real life character) faces of against the Axis as he tries to fend off their attacks to make the escape of his men.

[quote]Following the break down of the Gazala defensive line Rommel's Afrika Korps surrounded Tobruk and started to break in and even had tanks as far as Tobruk itself. Maj. Gen. Klopper of the 2nd South African Division was the Fortress Commander but was undecided if he should take a stand or retreat. Finally he decided that little could be achieved through further prolonged resistance and ordered all units to cease fire and lay down their arms.

This order was received with general amazement and disbelief by many. The 201 Guards brigade had been move into Tobruk to stiffen its defenses and Maj. Sainthill of the 2nd Coldstream Guards led 199 men and they fought their way out adding stragglers along their way.[/quote]

This was a small affair, with just 1000 points to a side and two first time FOW gamers, Kristján in Command of the Guards and Jón Daði in Command of the Italian/German force. But don't let that scare you off this was a down to the wire 4-3 affair. They got to be a part of the entire process and Jón Daði was rather picky and insisted on having Germans in his small force which did limit his choices. Both new to the game it goes a long way to showing how tactical it is, since even a newcomer can play the tactics if he has some idea of how to do battle.


[quote][b]Coldstream Guards, 201st Guard Bgd[/b]

HQ + 2 mortars
1 Motor Platoon/2 Boyes, 1 light mortar
1 Heavy Machine-gun Platoon/1 section
1 Bren Carrier Patrol
1 RHA Troop, 4x 25pdr guns
1 Troop Grants, 3 Tanks [/quote]

Ariete 15. Panzer

[quote]Italian/German Force

HQ, 2x L6/40s (C/V)
Light Tank Platoon, 4x L6/40s (C/T)
Light Tank Platoon, 4x L6/40s (F/V)
Armd Car Platoon, 3x AB41s (C/T)
Motociclisti Platoon
75/27 Cannon Battery, 4 guns
German Panzer Zug, 1x Panzer III H, 2x Panzer III J (late)[/quote]

[b]SET UP[/b]

New to the game the players set up the best they could. Jón Daði had the more mobile force he set up his main attack to the left while a platoon of L6/40 tanks made for a feint on the right.




[b]Guards Turn 1[/b]

The Guards rolled to start the game but waited patiently in their positions. The RHA and Mortars dug in but only a single Grant was in range of the Italians and failed to hit.

[b]Eytie Turn 1[/b]

[i][b]Fortes fortuna adiuvat[/b][/i] (Fortune favors the bold) and the Axis army moved in full force towards their enemies, on the left the Panzers, a light tank platoon, armoured cars and Motociclisti. On the right the Fearless Veterans of the second Light Tank Platoon.


[b]Guards Turn 2[/b]

The only manoeuver on the Guards side was to send in the Bren Carriers into the small hamlet. Firing only caused one bailed L6/40 tankette and the Bren Carriers destroyed a Motociclisti team. First blood to the British.


[b]Eytie Turn 2[/b]

Saved from the worst by Lady Fortune, the Germans sped on, the main attack progressing well, but the feint almost brought to a halt by the soft sand and the weak tracks of the L6/40s even bogging one. Fire was mostly ineffective but the L6/40s on the right managed to take out a Vickers HMG team. The Armoured Cars remained as a rear guard against the Bren Carriers and there was an undefended objective in the Axis rear. They bailed one Bren Carrier and the Recce troops were forced to disengaged from the fire and prepared to regroup next turn. The MG of the advancing tanks managed to take out the RHA observer and a Motor MG team.


[b]Guards Turn 3[/b]

Responding to the turn of events Kristján decided that the Motor Platoon, now dug in almost on top of the objective they were defending and in rough terrain could hold the right flank for a while and sent the Grants off to deal with the attack on his left flank. The Grants now moved to deal with this attack. Shooting brought two more bailed L6/40s and the mortars pinned the Motociclisti.


[b]Eytie Turn 3[/b]

The Motociclisti refused to unpin until the Italian Commander joined the platoon and urged them on. This left him to occupied to assist the L6 who remained bailed, all 3 but the bogged L6 managed to get itself free. The Italians and Panzers charged on and set up for a deciding battle in the following turn. The Armoured Cars finished off the bailed Carrier.


[b]Guards Turn 4[/b]

Realising that his decision to go against the feint might not have been the best of choices Kristján redirected the Grants and they returned but valuable time had been wasted and would they be in time to save the day?


[b]Eytie Turn 4[/b]

The moment of truth.

First the Motociclisti charged against the Motor Platoon. The Guards fire failed to pin the attack but scored one hit on all teams and took out the commander and a rifle/MG team. Never the less the remaining two teams managed to destroy a Guards team but the British Bulldogs would not be pushed away and they chased the Berasalieri away after destroying one more of their teams.


Now it was the Panzers turn. They assaulted both the Mortars and the Motor Platoon, cleverly focusing on the Mortars so avoiding the rough terrain and forcing the Motor Platoon to come out from their cover if they wished to counterattack. The Mortars were wiped out but the counter charge forced the Panzers to disengage even if they did no damage. The upside was that the motor platoon was still close enough to their Foxholes to return.



Only the Italian Commander and a platoon of two active L6/40 remained but the Italians charged into the rough terrain and an intense mêlée took over. The two sides exchanged blows and at the cost of most of their men the Guards destroyed one tankette and bailed another leaving the Italian Commander surrounded so that when he fled the rough terrain prevented him from reaching safe distance and he was captured!



But for the Guardsmen it was a Pyrrhic Victory, the Guardsmen only had two members of the Motor Platoon and the Company Commander and 2iC remaining. The Axis had fared no better, they had shot their bolt and only the Panzers remained.

Other events saw the Armoured Cars try side shots against the Grants but to no avail. At the same time the L6 continued to navigate the soft sand and wiping out the reminder of the Vickers Platoon.

[b]Guards Turn 5[/b]

Damned indecision. The Grants now badly needed still were far away. But now the Bren Carriers sped through the town and the RHA destroyed two Armoured Cars. At the same time shooting was less successful against the Panzers and L6s that remained. But with the danger removed the Bren Carriers had a clear path towards the undefended objective in the Axis rear.


[b]Eytie Turn 5[/b]

A single Armoured Car, leaderless after the RHA has destroyed the Platoon Commander was all that remained between the Bren Carriers and their objective but then it was realised that they had not fired and if they managed to disengage they could capture the objective in this turn, so the better part of valor was to do nothing! It would be up to the Panzers to win if victory was possible. The Panzers moved against the Motor Platoon and brought their full fire against the Valiant few, blowing up one of their number with their heavy guns. This was too much for the reminder and the last team fled taking the Company Commander with them. Eytie Turn 5 saw the Panzers sitting on top of the objective.


[b]Guards Turn 6[/b]

The Bren Carriers sped on and would capture the Axis Objective next turn, but now it was for the Grants, finally in position but with a poor firing solution over concealing terrain and a single 25pdr to chase off the Panzers. Heavy firing saw one Panzer go up in flames but the other two remained intact...


[b]Eytie Turn 6[/b]

Secure on top of the objective amid burning wrecks and bloodied bodies the Axis had won.



A good battle, perfect for first timers. It shows how well the mechanics of the game are good, without good knowledge of the rules the game handles easily and tactical choices are sound. Jón Daði did well in pressing on with a single major thrust while I am sure Kristján is still angry at himself for chasing smoke. Indecision is a killer in the game, as it is in all military ventures. Act swiftly and with boldness and carry through with your plan and trust in your dice :)Type rest of the post here

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