Thursday, December 22, 2011

WWII - Battle of the Bulge game

Due to family commitments last week I did not managed a game at SESWC on Thursday. However on Tuesday this week we played a 20mm World War II action using the Rapidfire rules at Hugh Wilson‘s House. Hugh provided the basic terrain, Colin Jack provided trees and buildings and I provided the troops. Thanks to Susanne Wilson for providing the vital food supplies.  The set-up of the game was based on the Tigers in the Snow scenario by Steve Ord which I found on the Internet.  It was a good excuse to get my King Tigers out again.

This fictional scenario is based on the efforts of the Sixth Panzer Army as it carried out the main effort along the Northern flank of the German push into the Ardennes. The action takes place just to the North of Malmedy and is deemed to be a ‘stalling’ action for the Americans as they try to hold off the might of the SS Panzers. The US forces are composed of troops from the 2nd Infantry Division a veteran unit from V Corps. Attached to the infantry are elements of the 102nd Cavalry and the 9th Armoured Division. Elements of the 12th SS Hitler Jugend Panzer Division make up the German forces.

Here is the map we used based on the original by Steve Ord

How the game played
Colin Jack commanded German Battlegroup A and Hugh Wilson Battlegroup B. Mr Ray Neal of Connecticut and Dave Paterson commanded the American defenders. Ray deployed the infantry battalion and M4 Shermans to defend the southern route and the village whilst Dave deployed the recon battalion and M18 tank destroyer company in ambush positions on the northern route.
Given their time constraint both German battle groups raced their infantry units forward. Battlegroup A motorised infantry suffered losses from the M18s and the recon troops and were forced to deploy on the northern road to await their armoured support.

Concealed M4 about to spring trap on battlegroup B
The armoured infantry on the southern route came under fire from Shermans but advanced on towards their village. Their armoured support came onto the table in a coherent mass and quickly joined in the action against the Shermans and the infantry battalion. Once the fog cleared the US artillery began to intervene and indirect fire knocked out a Stug and a PZIV. An effort by the armoured infantry simply to drive down the main route led to disaster as 3 SD251s were lost on the hidden minefield that the Americans had deployed at the road junction. Hugh decided then to launch his remaining armour cross country around the village but more vehicles were lost to M4 and bazooka fire.

The flank attack - more columns of smoke rise from Battlegroup B vehicles
On the northern route the King Tiger company got into action but as the rounded the bend leading to the village the leading King Tiger was destroyed by a single shot by a M18. This caused the remainder of the company to retire 2 moves blocking the road for the rest of the armour of Battlegroup A who were late arriving. The German armour renewed their advance and once again the leading King Tiger was destroyed by a M18!

M18 giant killer - the leading King Tiger explodes
With German confidence ebbing away the remaining King Tigers moved cross country and managed to destroy 2 of the M18s. This rare success on turn 10 was negated by the Hitler Youth Panzer Grenadiers being defeated when assaulting the remnants of a US infantry company. We all agreed that it was clearly a US victory…largely based on amazing dice rolling - 6 after 6 after 6 - and as Ray and Dave claimed good tactics!

Here is link to FlickR photoset with descriptions of all the actions photos

Here are the orders of battle and the player briefings

German Order of Battle
German Battlegroup A
Mot Pz Gren Btn
HQ CO + 5 Panzerfaust 1 x Horch carrier
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x Truck
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x Truck
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x Bus
Support Company 6 figures 1 x MG42 MMG 81mm Mortar 1 x Maultier
Tank Btn
HQ 1xTiger II, 1 x Wirbelwind Quad 20mm AA
Coy 3 x Tiger II
Coy 1 x Pz III

German Battlegroup B
Armd Pz Gren Btn
HQ CO + 5 figures Panzerfaust 1 x 251/1
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x 251/1
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x 251/11
Rifle Company 7 figures Panzerfaust 1 x 251/1
Support Company 6 figures 1 x MG42 MMG 81mm Mortar 1 x 251/1
Tank btn
HQ 1x Pz IV
3 x Pz IV
2 x Stug III

US Order of Battle
Infantry Btn
HQ CO + 5 + FOO 60mm Mortar Dug In
Rifle Company 9 figures Bazooka Dug In
Rifle Company 9 figures Bazooka Dug In
Rifle Company 9 figures Bazooka Dug In
Support Company 12 figures HMG, MMG, 81mm Mortar, 57mm A/T Gun Dug In

Recce Btn
HQ CO + 5 figures 60mm Mortar 1 x M3 HT
Rifle Company 6 figures Bazooka 1 x M3 HT
Rifle Company 6 figures Bazooka 1 x M3 HT
Engineer Platoon 4 figures 1 x Flamethrower 1 x M3 HT

Tank Btn
HQ 1 x M4 Sherman75mm, 1 x M4 Sherman 105mm
Coy 3 x M4 Sherman 75mm
Coy 3 x M10 TD

German Objectives and Set up
You have 12 turns to smash through the Americans who are trying to buy time and to allow their reserves to arrive and counterattack.
The Germans must smash through the American defences and exit at least 50% of their force of the road in terrain square A2 otherwise they have failed.
The Germans are split into two Battlegroups, A and B, with their infantry arriving first in an effort to create a clear path for their armour to pass on towards the Meuse.
On turn 1 the motorised infantry of Battlegroup A arrives on the road in terrain square E3. On turn 2 the armoured infantry of Battle group B arrives on the road in terrain square E1. The German armour could possibly start arriving from turn 4 onwards.
Each German armoured company, including any HQ unit, must roll 3+ on a D6 to move onto the table. If they fail the unit can try again at the start of the following turn. The armour of Battlegroup A will arrive on the road in terrain square E3 and the armour of Battlegroup B on the road in terrain square E1.

American Objective and Set up
You have 12 turns to defend against the Germans, holding them up for as long as possible in order to allow your reserves to arrive and counter attack. The American forces can be ‘dug-in’ and should be difficult to spot until the enemy are very close.
The American forces can deploy anywhere to the West of the line indicated on the scenario map. The exception to this being the Infantry HQ which must deploy in the farmhouse.
From the turn following the improvement in visibility (see the special scenario rules) the American FOO can call for artillery. Artillery should be limited to 2 105mm Howitzer Batteries This may be limited due to the speed of the German assault and the demands on artillery from multiple sectors.

Special Scenario Rules
The game begins early in the morning and a heavy mist has fallen over the snowy terrain. As a result visibility is limited at the start of the game. Visibility should be halved for the first 3 + D3 turns.
Any vehicle moving into the bog indicated on the scenario map will become stuck and must be abandoned on the following turn. Note that the bog is not impassable to infantry. The area of rough ground between the two approach roads is impassable to all types of unit.
The dense hedges along the roadside offer cover for Anti-Tank guns and infantry but not vehicles. Tracked vehicles can move over these hedges at no penalty, troops and wheeled vehicles must subtract D6 inches from their movement to cross them.
The walls of the various houses are stone and offer hard cover to troops. The wooded areas will block line of sight. In this scenario destroyed vehicles blocking the road can be moved D6 inches off the road by any vehicle of a similar size or larger.
The American player can place one 4 inch square mixed minefield in any location West of the Initial American deployment zone as indicated on the scenario map. This should be marked on the American players map before play begins.