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Monday, July 20, 2015

Halftime Report - Villers-Bretonneux Campaign

By Tom Burgess,

As our Villers-Bretonneux Game concludes it's second turn and reaches the halfway point, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on how this effort has gone so far and to maybe try to predict what might lie ahead in "the second half" of the campaign.

Primarily the campaign is achieving what it set out to do; generate some awesome "Great War" Flames of War games! So far the various groups involved in the effort, led primarily by the Lone Star Historical  Gamers and the BattleVault Gamers, have played some 13 games in order to resolve the five battles of turn one and five battles of turn two. Overall, the Germans have been winning the vast  majority of the battles, but at a price and those wins that do elude them seem to be the critical ones.

In campaign turn one, the German C-in-C, Jokull, was obliged to follow the campaign game plan for the first three attacks shown at the right  The Germans handily won the C3 and B4 battles, but they were repulsed in the center at C4.  Out of these three attacks, C4 was the most important as success there would allow Jokull to use his 4th "breakthrough" attack in turn one to make an immediate assault into Villers-Bretonneux. Instead, Jokull had to use his "4th Attack" for a second try at C4.  The second effort ultimately worked for the Germans, but they were now behind the German C-in-C's timeline and worse yet both Firestorm Stoss Truppen units were lost during turn one. So despite the fact that they took three zones in turn one, the Germans had paid a high price and we'd have to award turn one to the British, led by Jon as C-in-C.

The Lone Star group fights out the "Southern Prong" of turn one with a 4:3 German Win at B4.

The German C-in-C realized that turn one must be considered a disappointment, but his resolve was not shaken. Jokull won initiative for thee first two attacks in turn two, and threw his whole Panzer force into the fray in B2 and B3.
At this point its worth noting that we had to modify the initiative system somewhat. Playing the Firestorm Villers-Bretonneux Campaign "by the book" would have meant that we had to resolve each battle one at a time. In order to keep the campaign moving at a steady pace with two weeks/turn, we implemented a systems that allowed battles to be determined in groups and played simultaneously. For the most part this system seems to be working well enough.
German Infantry and A7Vs force their way into the town of Villers-Bretonneux (B2) with a 5:2 win.

The dual German wins at B2 and B3 allowed the German to hang on to the initiative for all three remaining battles of turn two. Would the Germans choose dress up their lines and broaden the salient they had created or would they gamble and push even deeper into the British rear?
Jokull employed "Blitzkrieg" philosophy even before it was invented! He ordered his breakthrough units supported by all his A7Vs to grab as much British territory to the west and north that they could take.  He had planned to then turn his attention back on to C2 attacking the trained British units there from the rear. Taking this zone was crucial as it would allow the Germans to broaden their salient before the turn three Australian led counter attacks by the British forces.

 German Infantry supported by an A7V cross the Rue de Peronne in zone C2 in a desperate attempt to dislodge the British from being able to threaten the German breakthrough's supply lines.
After a grueling and extremely bloody battle, the British morale holds up despite being over 50% depleted and a British Rifle platoon actually goes on the counter attack to win to an objective and secure C2 as a springboard to launch attack behind the German salient in turn three.

And so now our campaign has moved into turn three and the "second half." As predicted, Jon brought in his veteran Australian reserves in an attempted double envelopment to kick off turn three. These two attacks directed at B2 and B3 will be "Night Attacks." If both are successful, the British will effectively encircle the German salient that pushed so boldly to the west and will almost push the Germans back to their initial starting point. Will the ruble of Villers-Bretonneux provide the Germans defending in B2 enough of an advantage to hold up against the attacking Australians?  Will the "Night Attack" rules keeping tanks out of these fights allow the German defenders in B3 to focus their efforts at stopping infantry and will that be enough to hold while heavily outnumbered?
"Stay tuned" to the WWPD Campaign forums ( ) to see how these questions are answered and the rest of the campaign plays out. But even more importantly, if have a mate and a hankering to play some "Great War" FoW, why not go ahead and jump on a game and let us know your results! Even just one game, like we saw in C2 can be pivotal. Even if you only can play one battle from the whole campaign, it just might end up being the tipping point! And that friends is what on-line global campaigns are all about!

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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