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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Operation EPSOM, Codename HANGOVER Mega Scenario Game! Pt I

Eric and I had the good fortune to play an amazing scenario setup by Tony in his wonderful game room! In Part one of the battle report, I will post Tony's writeup of the scenariom while part two will be my battle report!

by Tony Jacoby
My friend Dan and I hosted Steve and his bud Eric to the kind of large scale scenario game that we like to play, usually based on a historic battle.  Games like this take much more planning and preparation (and collecting!) than ordinary pickup or tournament style games, but I think the extra effort and the team play make for a better experience and take FoW to another level.  The lack of a ground scale in the game design requires some telescoping of the terrain features; nevertheless, the goal is to model the key themes of the actual battle so the scenario feels right while producing a game that is challenging and fun for all players...

For this scenario game we went all out.  I extended my table to 11 feet, and set up terrain to represent the battleground for Phase 2 of Operation EPSOM.  The defending Germans would command up to 82 total teams, and the British would push a total of 104 AFVs and 24 infantry teams, plus off board artillery for both sides.  I have been involved in larger group games but this is the grandest FoW scenario I have hosted in my game room, using my figures and Dan's.  The game played smoothly for about a dozen turns over the course of about six hours of gaming, not counting a break for dinner.  And we all had a blast.  Here are the details….

BRITISH SITUATION AND OBJECTIVES:  To maintain offensive momentum during Phase Two of Operation EPSOM (Codename HANGOVER), A Squadron of the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry (2 N Yeo), two squadrons of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry (2 F&F Y), and two squadrons the 23rd Hussars (23 H) Armoured Regiments are ordered to advance across the table from the north, cross the east-west railway line, push through the strip of bocage, and exit via two roads that lead to the Odon River bridges.  Together, these armored forces command 88 tanks and four platoons of supporting motor infantry in 16 halftracks.  German resistance is expected to be light, consisting of rear area support units.  However, Panzer forces from the east and west could be brought to intervene, so the British must quickly push past or eliminate any Germans encountered and exit the south edge of the battlefield on either of the two roads that leave the table behind the villages of Grainville-sur-Odon and Colleville.  The British side gains 5 VPs for each team that exits the table at the designated points, 3 VPs for every building in their uncontested control, and 2 VPs for every German team eliminated.

GERMAN SITUATION AND OBJECTIVES:  Scattered elements of 12 SS Panzer Division are attempting to halt a breakthrough by large British armored forces that are advancing over the open ground north of the railway line.  The neighboring towns of Cheux and le Haut du Bosq lie in ruins on the British baseline and are held by a cut off platoon-sized remnant of 12 SS Pioneer Bn.  On the German side of the table, an independent HQ support platoon with two extra panzerfausts holds the red brick manor house and grounds just north of the intersection of the railway and the Colleville road.

Dug into the bocage south of the railway, four platoons of the Aufklarungs Kompanie of the 25th PanzerGrenadier Rgt. (15/25 SS) hold the right (east) flank from Colleville to Mouen (covering five feet of the table).  These units are reinforced by an extra panzerfaust per platoon and 4 attached 7.5cm AT guns.  The next three feet of the table around Grainville are held by two 8.8cm and two 2.0 cm AA guns.  The final three feet of the German left (west) flank are undefended except for the four PzIV tanks of 8 Kompanie (8/12 SS) that are in an orchard north of the railroad.  Up to 20 additional PzIVs in 5/12 and 7/12 SS Kompanies might arrive as reserves from the west edge of the table near the village and spur of Rauray.  Up to 4 Tigers might arrive as delayed reserves from the east edge of the table.  The German side gains 3 VPs for every building in their uncontested control and 2 VPs for every British team eliminated.

Total victory points at the agreed upon end of the scenario (about 12 turns) determine the winning side.

TERRAIN EFFECTS:  Much of the table is covered by open crop fields that provide cover as area terrain and prevent double time movement but do not block LOS.  The hedges lining the fields are mere decoration, but stone walls are bulletproof cover and difficult going.  Orchards provide cover as area terrain; they may be seen into at any range, but may not be seen through.  The railroad is difficult going to cross, and the railroad cuttings are very difficult going to cross.  The bocage is very difficult going and uses the full bocage rules.  The ruined and intact buildings of Cheux and le Haut du Bosq all count as buildings, the rubbled streets are slow going, and the shattered orchards are slow going.  The day is rainy so there is no air support available but LOS and movement are not affected.


A Sqdn, 2 N Yeo:  14 Cromwell tanks, 2 Cromwell CS tanks, 2 M-10 tank destroyers -- Start on table up to 18 inches from British baseline, at least 12 inches east of Cheux.

23 H:  16 Sherman tanks, 3 Stuart tanks, 1 Motor Platoon (may be recycled once) -- Enter Turn 1 at least 12 inches east of Cheux.

2 F&F Y:  16 Sherman tanks, 1 Motor Platoon (may be recycled once) -- Enter Turn 1 west of le Haut du Bosq.

Off-table artillery:  2 X 8-gun batteries of 25-pounders.


(All infantry command teams are Panzerfaust MG teams)

In Cheux:  12 SS Pio:  1 Pioneer Platoon with extra panzerfaust in one team, and 2 die hard independent rifle teams.

In bocage near Grainville:  2 X 8.8cm AA guns, 2 X 2.0cm AA guns

In manor house and grounds north of Colleville:  HQS Security platoon: 1 PzGd platoon with extra panzerfausts in two teams.

In bocage from the vicinity of Coleville east to Mouen:  15 Kompanie command and 4 X PzGd Platoons, each with extra panzerfaust in one team, plus 4 X 7.5cm AT guns attached as desired.

Enter as delayed reserves (roll from Turn 3) from anywhere on German half of east edge:  2 X Schwere Panzer platoons, each with 2 Tiger tanks.

North of railway in orchard 24 inches from western edge:  8 Kompanie:  4 PzIV tanks (one platoon including HQ)

Enter as reserves (roll from Turn 1) from west edge north of railway:  5 Kompanie:  12 PzIV tanks

Enter as "special" reserves (roll when game balance requires) from west edge north of railway:  7 Kompanie:  8 PzIV tanks

Off-table artillery:  4-gun battery of 10.5cm howitzers, and 6-launcher Nebelwerfer battery.
The scenario employed the following special rules, given in summary form here:

Die-Hards  -- The remnants of destroyed German infantry units are represented by independent rifle teams.

One Platoon Companies -- Some German companies have been reduced to one platoon in size.  The platoon leader also functions as the company commander, including using command re-rolls.

Blinds -- To provide some fog of war, some German units start the game hidden and their locations are marked with blind counters (spare vehicle models, marked on the bottom with the unit ID).  Blinds may be revealed and replaced with the teams they represent in the German Reveal Ambushes step, and must be revealed in the German turn if the British have a team with line of sight to a concealed blind within 4 inches, or a recce team within 8 inches, or a team with a clear line of sight to a blind in the open at the end of the British turn.  Blinds may be shot at and pinned using concealed and gone to ground modifiers, but not killed.  Some blinds may be dummies.

Wave Attacks -- The British armored squadrons of 2 F&F Yeo and 23H may be replaced once using a modified wave attack rule.  Replacement vehicles must be placed at least 20 inches from the nearest enemy unit.  (We further modified this rule during play to allow Eric to bring a third squadron onto the table because Steven did not need to recycle his squadron.)  Spare Sherman hulls are used to mark wrecks so the original tank models can be recycled.

Streamlined Artillery -- To make artillery bombardments play faster, all arty is off the table, and bombardments are done using only two sets of dice rolls.  The first roll is for battery availability, which takes into account everything that could make a battery unavailable, including not ranging in (by scenario rule, this is 4+ on a D6).  If available, the template(s) are placed automatically on the target, and all teams under a template are rolled for using percentile dice to determine if they are KIA, bailed, or okay.  The percentile dice roll combines the effect of to-hit, save, and firepower rolls, and is cross-referenced to a simple range of results for each type of artillery and type of target.  All surviving infantry and gun teams in the target units are pinned automatically.

Special Reserve Reinforcements -- The last company of eight reserve PzIVs can unbalance the game on the western flank, so it is held off the table until needed.  When the Germans are reduced to four or fewer surviving PzIVs, they can start making reserve rolls to bring the two platoons of this company onto the table.

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