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Friday, May 2, 2014

Italy Battle: 715th Grenadier vs. 3rd I.D. "Marne Doggies"

Fighting withdrawal in Italy
 by Eric Lauterbach

With the up coming Italy themed Flames of War tournament I have been giving several 1650 point lists a go. I wanted to try a trained German Infantry company to pump up the platoon count, while still allowing really good support in order to get the job done where needed.

I chose the 715th Grenadier list with two short combat platoons, two full HMG platoons, Fallschirmjager platoon, Panzer IV platoon, 3 guns of Pak 40s, Nebs and a Elefant.

The HMGs were attached out to bring the team count in the infantry platoons up with some good firepower.  My thinking is that they'll defend and I then have the Fallschirmjagers free to attack. My friend Sean Mackintosh was my opponent and he selected the 3rd Infantry Division (the Marne Doggies). First, because he has a soft spot for grunts (it's a character flaw) and second because they're the Swiss Army Knife of the Road to Rome American lists.

He fielded the standard 3rd ID HQ with two Bazooka teams. After that he had an infantry platoon and a assault platoon with a flamethrower. To round out the ground pounding component he added a full HMG platoon with 2 bazooka teams, a 57mm AT platoon at 65 points (bargain!), and an 81mm mortar platoon with 4 tubes for smoke, smoke, and more smoke.  The mobile elements consisted of one tank platoon of 2xM1A1 and 2xM1A3E8 and TD platoon with 4 x M10 (early)

The board was an Italian valley, the white rocky parts are impassable to vehicles and skill test to go up the cliffs for infantry. Mountaineers, which neither of us had, can go up and down with no test.  For some strange reason we chose Fighting Withdrawal as the mission which I had just not played in awhile. So the roll off was kind of critical for two infantry armies, the result was that I got to defend with the Germans.

Normally, I would place the objective that can't be removed in the center of the board but to be a jerk I put up in the mountain section to make it hard on Sean.  His infantry can get to it only by crossing open ground and his tanks have to go through a narrow wooded area.  The other objectives were in pretty open areas so I was really worried about them. So much so that I overloaded them to make them unappealing targets but it took away a lot of my force.

The Italian valley board.

The objective on the left is the permanent one. Another is off screen to the right and the middle is next to the house wall.

The far right objective seamed the most exposed to me so I loaded it pretty heavy probably too heavy. It has the Pak 40 platoon, and my Infantry platoon with attached HMGs.
The center objective has a half strength HMG platoon, Fallschirmjagers and the Elefant lurking around.

The defender placed objective has my CO, an Infantry platoon with attached HMGs and the Neb platoon behind it. After deployment I felt that I made a mistake and knew I had to drop my ambush over here somewhere.

"Not giving a bean for the fancy pant Marines" The Marne Doggies forming up.

Hi my name is Elefant...  I am here to do nothing and influence the battle with my reputation and little else.

My CO holding the main objective.
The US planning session, DAMN- it LOOtenant I said get
 up that hill!
Sean's plan, as explained to me after the game, was to ignore the objective on the far right as the terrain, combined with PAK 40s, made the approach a no-go for his tanks and TDs.  He decided to demonstrate in the center with his TDs, the HMGs and (initially) the infantry platoon. His intent here was to tie down the Farm House Fallschirmjagers and the Elefant to prevent them from reinforcing the right objective.  On the left in front of the main objective he would advance with the assault platoon, tank platoon and the 57mm platoon.  Later he intended to bring the infantry platoon to the left to attack the main objective. He knew speed was essential in order to get the job done before time ran out.
The US deployment.

Tankers looking up the hill to the objective.

TDs were lurking out there so the Elefant hides next to the farm house.

US infantry sneaking up behind the houses.

Scout car spotted!

Firing at the Fallschirmjagers in the house.

Turns one and two: Not much happened but a little sniping. Mostly Sean infantry were sneaking up undercover
HMGs staying gone to ground and avoiding tank shots.

Bottom of turn two and the PAK40s snipe the lone armored car of the TD section and the Nebs shell the rubble.

German turn 3, and I need to drop my ambush, it has to be on the permanent objective sa I do not have enough stuff to defend it now.  If I drop at the front of the woods there's not enough room to get a lot of shots. So, I play conservative and drop behind the woods holding the objective.  Its lame but I'm not sure how else to hold.

On US turn 3 Sean needs to go for it if he plans on getting the job done.  He tries everything to smoke the HMGs and kill them but no hits and no smoke. His infantry are crossing open ground.

German turn 3: PAK40s withdraw, and the HMGs light up his assault platoon killing two stands and pinning them. 

US turn 4 and his tanks make my HMGs attached to the infantry pay the price, killing both.

The middle platoon kills a Fallschirmjager outside the house.

At the top of turn 4 the assault platoon fails to unpin.  CO reroll fails again! Sean is not happy about it.

With the infantry pinned the tanks take care of business and kill the HMGs

Sean's other infantry platoon is creeping off to their right and the main objective on the hill.

German turn 4 and the Nebs get withdrawn and there's not much to do other than wait for the American assault.

On US turn 5 the Assault platoon check to unpin FAILS! And the C.O. re-roll FAILS again!  Yikes, this really hurt Sean's master plan and the time lost being pinned is critical.

His other platoon commits to getting over to the main objective for the assault.

Americans moving to the objective up the hill.

The Elefant, with the TDs lurking around, can't go forward to influence the battle. The Elefant seems to be a 300 point MG.

Its obvious that Sean is committing everything to the main objective, the one that can't be removed.

On German turn 6 the short stack HMGs guarding the center objective in the Farm House are withdrawn.

The Fallschirmjagers and the Elefant snipe at the Americans crossing to the main objective.

End of the turn and here's what has withdrawn so far.

On US turn 6 the mortars smoke the Farm House fire.

Sean's assault platoon finally unpins and gets moving. He is setting up the grand assault on the objective. 

Fallschirmjagers come out of the Farm House to get into the fight.

The Tank Destroyers still have not dropped they are keeping the Elephant in his cage. The TD security team lurking about above, with some HMGs next to them.

Sean has been shooting the defending platoon to little effect with his tanks.

The assault is coming soon.

The German tanks are concealed and gone to ground and very hard to get at with the infantry in front of them.  The white hill is impassable to tanks but Sean's infantry will soon be all over it.

On the German turn 6 the middle objective gets removed.

The turn six withdrawn platoon is the infantry guarding this far objective.  Next turn I will withdraw this objective so no worries about leaving it undefended.

My 300 point Elephant MG and the Fallschirmjagers trying to get more shots and break up the attack picking off a few infantrymen.

With the game winding down the TDs drop comes. 

The Elefant is irrelevant now as it can't get up the cliffs to help in the final battle, but the Fallschirmjagers can and the TDs and HMGs go after them.

Sean blasts them pretty good and they get pinned and lose a couple stands.

Turn 7 and there is still too much firepower for an infantry assault to make it. 

Sean's assault platoon gets to the hill and keeps sliding off down on the Germans.

Its official the Elefant is a 300 point MG team.  Instead of shooting the M10s, I decide to shoot the HMG platoon in hopes of breaking them, all need to do is kill one team for a check. With four M10s I can't force a check and the game is about to end.

Sean has killed all but four stands of the Fallschirmjagers.
Of course I fail the fearless fallschirmjager morale check and they run.

The other Elefant indignity is smoke on it all the time.

This is it, Sean commits the tanks in hopes of cutting down the firepower.  Since they are concealed, gone-to-ground Panzer IVs. he can't use Stab and they are a six to hit.   WHIFFFF. no hits.

The assault platoon deliveries the sauce of the Flamethrower pinning the infantry. The end of shooting the Germans have a morale test which they pass with the CO there.

The question is this: which unit assaults first with? The tanks or the Infantry?  The defensive fire AT is two panzerfaust and three Pz IVs for 5s and sixs.  The defensive fire for the infantry is 19 shots.  Neither is good.

Tanks try and get bounced.

Infantry tries and gets bounced.  Its a German win.
Sean's AAR:

 I honestly would not do anything differently if I had it to do over again.  My initial deployment was sound. By seizing the center early with the TDs and HMG platoon, I effectively turned Eric's Elefant into a 300 point machine gun team and (mostly) prevented the Fallschirmjagers from reinforcing the right.  I even nerfed his PZ IV ambush, effectively turning it into a reserve platoon.  However, I needed all the speed I could muster to make this work... and for two critical turns my assault platoon stayed pinned.  This was the turning point. If I had two extra 6" assault platoon moves, by turn 7 they would have been in position on the flank of the PZIVs to assault them out of the woods. This would have allowed my infantry and tank platoons to take on the rump of the defending infantry platoon on the main objective.  This, combined with the effects of Eric's desperate Fallschirmjagers charge, de-synchronized my grand assault and earned Eric the 5-2 win.

Eric's AAR:
If I was the attacker I am not sure I had the tools to move Sean off the objectives and the shoe could have been on the other foot.  Going into the teeth of an ambush and a M10 ambush would have been tough on the German armor.  So I am glad I defended but it is hard to sit still.  The terrain both helped and hurt the defense as I couldn't get much help, but it did cut down the attackers fire on the main objective. Sean needed more time to soften up the Germans to make it happen and when his platoons stayed pinned for so long he didn't have it.

Oh well fun game.

Eric can be heard on the WWPD podcast with all the guys as they discuss the finer points of flames of war and the saltiness of Virginia hams.

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