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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goum and Doom

Monte Cassino and the Race for Rome

Now that the 7th Annual FOW Tournament at Ft Lee Virginia has ended, I thought I'd post a follow-up article on my Goums' performance. You can read my musings on list creation here.

Here I am in a bathrobe. Fear me.
Ron Bingham's Ft. Lee Tourneys are always a bit different than your standard tourney fare. This tournament had two rounds, with doubles partners.  The theme was the Italy breakout, and only armies that fought in Italy in early 44 could participate. In addition, each side, Axis and Allies, had a general who could dole out support units each round to the different tables. Usually this constituted a standard platoon of some kind -- tanks, engineers, whatever -- but each side also got some impressive 1-shot artillery options.  The Germans got Anzio Annie.  The Allies got a ludicrously powerful B-27 carpet bombing.  The generals could assign one of these to each table.

Roger brought US Armored Rifles.  His list consisted of two full platoons of ARs, 2 half-track mortars and a battery of 3 Priests.  I brought two platoons of Goums with Combat Attached Weapons Platoon and 4 M10s.

Game One

For our first game, Roger and I fought Bob and Bill on a table representing the Rapido River crossing.  We used the I-95 Domination scenario.  For those of you who haven't played it, Domination consists of a series of objectives, each worth a certain number of points.  The side that controls a threshold of points wins.  On this board, the higher point objectives ran down the middle of the table, marking the river crossings.  There were also some smaller objectives on the highlands and the town.  All tank teams started the game in reserve, but would enter on turn one.

Bob and Bill brought forces from the Hermann Goering Division -- one tank force and one Panzergrenadier force.  IIRC, the Panzer force had about 10 Pz IVs and PzIIIs, with some AA half-tracks.  The Panzergrenadier force consisted of three platoons, a few attached HMGs, and some Nebelwerfers.  Against such a tank-heavy force, Roger and I decided to intersperse our forces, so that the ARs could provide the Goums with some Anti-tank.  One pairing threatened the town and the bridge, the other the river ford.  We had the first turn and made a quick advance towards both crossings.

The Rapido table.

Then the German tanks entered.  One group of Panzers threatened the ARs out in the open by the river ford.  This flank quickly locked down into a stalemate.  The others gave support to the PzGs in the town.  Rogers ARs moved up into the buildings, and the Germans assaulted their position.  The ARs drove back the German infantry, and the Germans then spent a few turns blasting the depleted platoon with cannon fire.  Roger brought his artillery out of reserve and I began making pot-shots at the Germans with my M10s.

The German General, Herr von Stevissimo, deployed a unit of Brummbars on the German side, rendering their tank superiority complete.  Our own General Bill granted us another unit of M10s, which I used to try to counter the German push on the town.

The game ended in a draw, with the Germans heavily pressing the Goums and M10s on the bridge.  If the game had gone on longer, they would surely have made their armored superiority tell, but we hung on by our teeth.

My Goums didn't do much this game.  Mostly they sat in their holes, holding ground.  Only in the last few turns did they move into the town and assault some Germans.  I deployed my HMGs on entirely the wrong flank, where they utterly lacked targets.  Roger's ARs were the kings of the match, holding that building for a statistically improbable number of turns.

Game Two

After a lunch break and a tour of Anzio Annie, we returned for the second round.

Dr Freud says that is a big gun.

Since the Goums are Mountaineers, Ron assigned us to the Cassino board.  As you can see, the ruined monastery occupies a huge hill surrounded by open terrain.  To make things even more fun, those cliffs were impassible terrain, except for the draws, which were very difficult.  There were also some additional rules regarding the draws, which no one understood but Ron and caused all sorts of confusion.  The scenario was No Retreat.  The Allies had to attack the mountain, of course.

Our opponents this round were Matt and Ken, who brought a mix of Grenadiers and Panzergrenadiers.

Now, as one might imagine, this scenario would normally favor the Germans quite heavily . So our general assigned us the B-17 carpet bombing.  The rules for the bombing were insane.  It automatically ranged in from LoS of our Battalion commander.  Any team under the really big pie plate was automatically hit, and died unless it rolled a 1/3 save.  Good grief!  The pie plate would scatter at least 1d6 inches, but if the bombers took AA hits, it would scatter more.  Successful AA would increase the save of any teams hit.

Both sides knew the template was coming and tried to plan for it.  The Germans placed a couple of platoons forward on the sides of the mountain, along with two 88s. They kept some PaK 38s in ambush.  I convinced Roger that our best move would be for the ARs to roar forward in their transports and MG the crap out of the 88s.  Meanwhile, my Goums would charge the cliff face.  If we could pin (or pin and smoke as it turned out) the 88s, then the pie plate of mega-death wouldn't scatter and we could wipe out most of the defenders.

This is the Cassino table.
 That's more or less what happened.  We pinned the 88s and vaporized about two German platoons of infantry.  In retaliation the Germans sprang their ambush and killed a few half-tracks, pinning the ARs.  My Goums charged the cliff unopposed, and began the slow process of trying to mountaineer up the face.  The German reinforcement Panzers began working their way up to the Abbey.

At this stage, Roger experienced some problems unpinning his ARs.  While they were delayed, I led the way towards the objective with my M10s.  A protracted battle with the German Panzers ensued.

On the other flank, my Goums made it up the cliff, but only after facing harassment from a unit of Stugs that swept along the far flank.  Roger's ARs engaged some of the remnant forces around the objective.

Time ended the scenario, with the Germans still holding on, so it was a German victory.

Frankly, I think Roger and I did about was well as we could have hoped, given the scenario and terrain.  Again, the Goums mostly just supported the ARs.  Fearless was really great, and saved my platoons more than once.  Mountaineer is a nice little perk rule, but I wouldn't go out of my way to use it.


So, thanks to all for two close games and a fun tournament.  Thanks to Roger for partnering. 

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