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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Italian Blind Domination: 26th Panzergrens vs 1AD Armored Rifles(PART 1 OF 2)

By Randy Elliott

My regular gaming buddy, Mike and I reconvened last Sunday for our weekly FoW Smackdown.  We'd played a couple of Blind Domination rematches since our last batrep.  All took place in Italy with lists drawn from the Fortress Italy and Road to Rome books.  All games were played on the larger 5'x8.5' table.  The last game saw Mike absolutely crushing me.  His HG Panzers wiped me out to a team!  I managed to pick off a whopping two dismounted recon teams and a PzIV...  That being the back story, I was raring to get some payback for my little warguys!

Mike had mentioned that he wanted to work infantry into our lists for a change and he mentioned using, "Infantry In Name Only" companies.  You know, the two compulsory platoons and HQ, but as much armored/mobile support as possible.  I was okay with that, but I decided that I was going to use the random list generator featured on Nick Bowler's excellent blog,  This is a terrific, free list generator that I've used as well as Easy Army.  Unlike Easy Army, you need the books as there is no list validation in the generator.  (Thanks, Nick!!!)

At first I ran 1505pts lists for the 92nd ID, but it kept coming up with a single tank platoon with no TD or ATG supports.  Then I'd get multiple arty options.  Not my cup of tea.  I wanted to maneuver, not camp.  I tried a 3rd ID list and then a 1st AD list with much the same results...  Finally, I tried a 1st AD Armored Rifle list.  Bingo!!!

The first list was what I was looking for.  It was serviceable, but would be really challenging given the composition of Mike's list.  It featured a bare command section, with no add-ons, a couple of under-strength ARPs - I ditched the 'tracks wanting to keep it a leg game on my end, three late 57mm ATGs - I used the points from the ARP 'tracks to pay for transport for these bad boys.  Like I said, I needed to move, not plant these guys.  The list also featured a platoon of four Stuarts, another of four Chaffees, a battery of towed 105s, Limited P-40 coverage and finally an AOP!

Mike's 26th Panzergrenadier list was really meaty for 1505pts!  When he shot me off his list the night before, I was really sweating bullets...  This list is motorized infantry, so his command would be similar to mine.  He had his command teams upgraded to SMG/PFs and they were in vehicles - kubel and motorcycle.  He also had a 'schreck tank hunter team tagging along with the 2iC.  He also had two Panzergrenadier platoons with SMG/Panzerfaust command and no rides, a Scout platoon of four motorcycle teams with SMG/PF upgrade, two PzIV platoons of three tanks apiece, two platoons of 8-rads and finally, two Bunkerflak!

I don't know about you, but I'd have put my money on Kamerad Mike.  It was going to take some serious luck on my part and bad luck or a bad plan on Mike's part for me to pull this out...

My 1st Armored Division Armored Rifle Company

Mike's 26th Panzergrenadierkompanie
Continuing with our I-95 Blind Domination fascination, we brought our armies together on the 5'x8.5' table.  

The setting is Italy, but this time I set up a large rubbled area, a destroyed factory on one end and a smallish agricultural hamlet with a sprinkling of fields and buildings on the other.  I wanted an infantry-friendly table, so I broke it up with a lot of obstacles for vehicles.  No roads were represented, but were implied by the hedges and tree lines.  I don't own any rural type roads and thought that this would suffice.  Italy is renowned for its hilly terrain and this was liberally represented as well.

We departed from Battlefront SOP with our hill treatment.  The standard slow going just doesn't "feel" right.  We made all the hills area terrain, slow going for vehicles with bogging checks for elevation changes.  Tanks may not scale two elevations at a go, but must have room for the model to rest upon.  If you can't negotiate a route by going up a level at  a time, then the area is too sheer to move up.

We also made these hills "rocky" and made them provide both concealment and bulletproof cover for infantry and gun teams, but not vehicles.  This was to reflect a very broken area with plenty of stone outcroppings and boulders.

The lichen represents "brush," which is slow going for vehicles and is a fat linear obstacle.

We decided to use "Across the Volga" for my arty.  I personally have a hard time with a single arty battery, let alone an entire arty park on the standard 6'x4' table. Out of all the abstractions in the game, this is the hardest for me to swallow.  Across the Volga allows us to replicate reality in a more satisfactory fashion for those of us that have issues with this game mechanic.This accommodation comes at a price for me, however.  My arty may be a couple miles behind my company, but it will not count in my platoon total for the company breakpoint. This means that I'll be facing Mike's 8 platoons with only 5!  Three of which are recon and will be on-table on turn 1...

Looking over the scenario one last time and realizing that our table was 1' wider than normal and that we were running dismounted infantry platoons, we opted to extend "Go Live" turn out to turn 8 instead of turn 6.  Mike's mobility would have nearly guaranteed an easy win for him and we came to play, not just look at the pretty board.

Finally, we discussed the placement of the 12 Domination Points.  We agreed that the winner would need to control 10 out of 12 points.  That would require them to seize their entry points, the central DPs and then one from the opposition's side if they were going to win through points.  Essentially, they would need to truly dominate the table!

So here's the table...
Turn 1:  I go first and move my observer up to pick up an easy point.  Mike's recon comes in and grabs his first two points.

AOP goes hunting.

Mike's recon really moves up.  I wish that I had some randomly generated Armored Cav Patrols...

US:  1 DP (Domination Points)  Germans:  2 DPs

US Turn 2:  I lead with my ARPs.  My plan is to drive into the center with the infantry and screen the flanks with armor.  I have no interest in the ruined factory, to the left.  I hope to engage and destroy Mike in the center and to the right, in the fields.  I was confident that I could destroy his infantry head-on, if I could bring them to battle on my terms, but I needed to find a way to minimize the impact that his dominant armor could have upon my lighter tanks.  I was hoping that the air would do something... anything!  Arty was pretty much the same.  In my experience these two expenditures are assigned to the "Hope Support" option for the list.  A wise man once told me, "Hope is not a plan."  Accordingly, I planned to keep my five platoons within supporting distance of each other.  That was pretty much all that I could do.  After that, it was in the hands of the Dice Gods.

This round saw the Dice Gods smiling on me and I got in an airstrike that nailed an 8-rad platoon...  Vape City, Baby!!!  That was the morale boost that I needed.  I was now only outnumbered by two platoons!

"Get some, you Ratzi Bastids!!!"

I wish that my arty could actually range in...

The ARPs advance.

German Turn 2:  Mike shrugs off the loss of the 8-rads and drives in with a platoon of PzIVs and a panzergren platoon.  He uses the house and smoking wrecks to cover the forward movement of his panzer platoon.  His panzergrens didi for the nearby fields.  His 2iC  and tank hunters motor forward to link-up with the motorcycle scouts as they follow the walls and treeline forward.  No shooting for Mike's force.

US:  1 DP  Germans:  2 DPs

Panzergren advance.

The surviving 8-rads bog!!!

 The recon moves forward.

US Turn 3:  My tanks and Ant Tank Guns arrive.  I bring in the Stuarts to cover my extreme left flank, near the top left of the pic.  The adjacent ARP picks up another DP for me.  Not knowing how his armor is coming on, I deploy my 'zooks from both platoons in the center.  I figure that I can form a Grand Battery, if needed, to repulse a push by his PzIVs.  Potentially eating 8 shots from those suckers, in the flanks from defensive fire is likely to discourage the boldest predators!  

My Chaffees grind it out in the woods.  Of course I bog one...  The ATGs hang back and hug the wood line.  No need to tempt those prowling PzIVs!  The last ARP advances.  I wish that I had a Stormtrooper move...  My observer digs in.

My shooting consists of an arty barrage on the PzIVs around the building.  I manage to bail one.

Taking the hill.  The CO is the team with the blue swatch and white dot.  Stuarts are in the backfield.

German Turn 3:  Mike brings the rest of his company on.  His panzergrens arrive on the hill at the top center-left of the pic, capturing another DP.  His recon dismounts and consolidates into the woods, in preparation for the move into the ruined factory complex.  His Bunkerflak come in the center and move towards the central hill mass with its 2 DP objective.  Mike's plan is to use this platoon to dominate the central sector while swinging in his two infantry "Horns" to envelope my smaller force, which has obligingly compressed itself into that center area.  I am seriously getting nervous now.  His second PzIV platoon is pushing into the woods and grabs yet another DP.  He's not satisfied with one and continues to probe forward towards the other one.  His first PzIV platoon spreads out into a more tactically sound formation, denying me any more than a single vehicle with the arty barrage or air strike.  His panzegrens stage to the edge of the field in preparation for the sprint across the open ground to the cover of the distant hedgerow.  

Mike has no targets to shoot at.

US:  2 DPs  German:  4 DPs

Recon and pzgrns.  Mike's coolio turn marker!

Bog City, Berlin Style!!!

Old School BF LW pazergrens!

The opposition from Mike's point of view. Looks like a war movie still!  That infantry is almost in tactical intervals...  Gotta love the big table!

 "Come get some, Yanks!"

US Turn 4:  I move forward under air cover, which fails to acquire the juicy parking lot of bogged panzers, kitty-corner to the ruined factory.  My arty attempts to range in on the Bunkerflak and fails...  My Stuarts move forward to the brushline and blaze away at the one visible 8-rad, but only manage to bail it.  I move forward and drop the ATGs into the brush to their front.  I weave in supporting infantry teams.  Things are looking okay so far.  The bogged Chaffee remains that way.  Looks like the crew are gathering firewood for some reason?  I manage to dig in the two LMGs and light mortar that were already in place providing support for the ATGs.  

 The view from the German perspective.

German Turn 4:  Mike picks up 4 DPs in his turn!  He rolls forward everywhere.  His follow-on panzergrens come off the hillside and move towards the walls, outside the ruins.  His recon seizes the 2 DP objective inside of the factory ruins.  His Panzer platoon supporting that push grabs the DP in the center of that wood.  This really has me concerned as the terrain does not allow for me to flank the PzIVs and my Stuarts can only bail those beasties from the front...  The Bunkerflak hide from my arty, moving into positions around a house.  I'm just happy that they aren't shooting at me!  His nearby PzIVs hold station and punish my ATGs.  He needs "6s" to hit and gets one.  I, being the obliging host that I am, promptly fail to save.  He easily hits his FP and there's the first one gone...  The flanking panzegren platoon moves up to the cover of the hedgerow.

US:  3 DPs  Germans:  7DPs

We're leaving you on a cliffhanger folks, more to come in part two!

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