Monday, April 14, 2014

Just Back From Genoa and Savona

On June 14th, 1940 four French "Suffren" class cruisers, along with eleven destroyers executed a night-time bombardment of Genoa and Savona.  In the response the 3rd Cruiser Division (Trento, Trieste and Bolzano) with four "Frecia" class destroyers sortied along with the 7th Cruiser Division (Eugenio di Savoia, Montecucculi and Muzio Attendolo) with five "Soldati" class destroyed to intercept.  Historically, poor aerial reconaissance let the French slip back to Toulon.  For todays game we presume a better job and an intercept occurs in the early light of dawn.

The French squadron

Visibility was 34", increasing 2" every turn, so when sighting occurred both groups of heavy cruisers were easily in range.  At first the French only saw 3rd Cruiser Division.  The French needed to return to Toulon with their cruisers; any Italians ships bagged was a bonus.  Liking the odds the French commodore ordered a slight turn to port to unmask their broadsides at the rapidly approaching Italians.

After a round of ineffective fire, the 7th Cruiser Division put in an appearance.  A dice throw indicated they were close to their countrymen.

After Turn Two movement

7th Cruiser Division
Foch shifted to the new targets and with great shooting put three 8" shells into the leading cruiser Antendolo.  The Suffren, Algerie and Duquense continued to fire at the heavy cruisers with modest results.  The Malin was hit by an 8" shell and lost a turret, but carried on.

Trento, Trieste and Bolzano approaching

The Italian view of their quarry

In what was probably the critical moment of the game, both Italian groups continued to directly close on the French, masking their aft batteries.  This allowed the French to bring all 32 of their 8" guns to bear, while the Italians were limited to 12 8" and 12 6" guns.  Seeing an opportunity to finish off the Attendolo, which had a jammed rudder and the isolated light cruiser group, the larger French destroyers plunged into the fray.  Torpedoes were armed on both sides.

In the knife fight that followed the following ships were torpedoed and sunk, or otherwise succumbed to damage.  Bison, torpedoed.  Valmy, Chacal, and Leopard, torpedoed and sank. Bolzano torpedoed and sank during the damage control phase, as did the Attendoldo.  The Eugenio di Savoia was also torpedoed but stayed in the fight.

The black "splashes" note critical hits to be resolved
Suffering from the combined attention of cruisers and destroyers in the 7th Division, the Foch fell out of line and began to limp towards Toulon.  Her guns were still functional but a fire control hit reduced their effectiveness and many hits with a flooding situation required it.

The Foch, near right, looks back on the battle
Next turn both remaining Italian light cruisers succumbed to damage and sank, leaving only the Trento and Trieste for large units.  On the French side the Jaguar sank.

Next turn the Duquense was hammered by almost everyone who had a clear shot.  In return the Trieste (with Zara filling in) took a number of damaging hits, knocking out some of her fire-power. 

On the following turn the Ascari, Mistrale and Dardo sank, prompting a "fleet" morale test which the Italians easily failed.

Foch developed a severe list but managed to just get the flood under control in what would have be her last turn.  Duquense might never be repaired, being an old ship, but three Italian light and a heavy cruiser were lost.  A great victory could be celebrated in Toulon, a nice change of pace with all the gloom coming from the front lines. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Inferno of Flames of War

Seems we can't get enough of Flames of War lately.  I've played four games in the last eight days.  Well, 3.5 if you count the demo game.  We've been doing some interesting scenarios lately.  Which is not to say necessarily good scenarios, just interesting.  Like this one:

"Surrounded on One Side"
The scenario is the Cauldron.  In this case the British must deploy all their on-table forces in a 16" diameter circle while the Germans are split among the remaining quadrants.  Each side had to hold half their forces off table, the Germans in reserve, the British in Delayed Reserve.  The Germans (Confident Veteran) managed to scatter their on table forces.  The Panthers in one, the Scout platoon in another, and the towed 15cm in yet another.  The British with cheaper forces (Confident Trained) had a platoon of infantry, platoon of Vickers, platoon of towed 6 pdrs., full battery of 25 pdrs. and in ambush a platoon of towed 17 pdrs.

Forced to deploy the ambush immediately but with no viable targets, the 17pdrs. made for the high ground.
In an effort to avoid the Vickers in their Schwimmwagens the Scout platoon instead clumped up and was devastated by the 25 pdrs.  The meagre survivors ran off.
Next up the 25 pdrs. started taking chunks out of the 15cm guns while keeping them pinned, so no counter-bombardment.
Panzergrenadiers and infantry clashed.    Feeling this piece of real estate wasn't critical the British infantry did not choose to counter-attack, but just retire on friendly guns.

Reserves arrived for the British, who got to come on along their long table edge, so brought on a Bren Recon platoon that machine-gunned then assaulted the guns to finish them off.
Looking to take out the 17 pdrs, which had lost half their guns already, the Panthers engaged them, only to be swamped by tanks getting flank shots.  With only a platoon of panzergrenadiers (plus the shot up one) and a few Mk IVs remaining the Germans conceded.
Some things never got engaged.
Others never even got on table.  In this case the Germans were victim of the scenario and dice.  If we play this one again we're going to tweak the rolls for the surrounding player, who although counter-attacking, doesn't even get the first move!

Next, for International Tabletop Day the Fox Valley Rangers set up demo games at Fire for Effect Games in Oshkosh, WI and Chimera Games in Appleton.  The whole demo kit fits in the tub pictured below, as Paul looks on.
With a major convention the same weekend even our cheery, welcoming style couldn't pull in players.
The objective.
British tanks and American paratroopers from the "Open Fire" set.
StuG IIIs, a Pak 40 and panzergrenadiers prepare to contest the V1 launcher.
These demo games are always very quick (the goal)...
And very messy.
So after a time we pulled out our "extra" armies for a little mid-war Italian on American action.  A Bersagliari "battalion" of two "companies" with a platoon of M14 tanks, 81mm mortars, and an 88.  The Americans had two platoons of Stuarts, platoon of armored infantry, a trio of Priests and a P-40 in sporadic air support.  By dice rolls the Italians were all veteran, and the Americans were Confident-Trained.  With no further ado the Americans won the roll for first move in the "Free for all, fair fight" scenario.

With the attacker counting as moving the first turn regardless, no bombardment and no air support, Paul aggressively attacked.  Gunning down the 88 before it even got to shoot.  The towed 47mm guns, integral to the Bersagliari company bagged some halftracks but failed to impress the Stuarts.
Picking on the lightly armored Priests and fearing their big gun, mortars and anti-tank guns prioritized them.
American aircraft showed up twice in the game but only did minimal damage.
On the left the Stuarts time and again shrugged off the hits from the towed guns and M14s.  On the right a desperate duel developed between the two 47mm guns and a trio of Stuarts.  Why don't we have gun shields!?
The "big picture."
Chipping away at the M14s.
The American infantry advances and gets caught in a deadly cross-fire of HMGs and the remaining mortars.
The company commander in a Stuart plus the remaining Priest and a halftrack finally wipe out the Bersagliari on the right.  An objective is within range!  Fortunately I can contest it.

The American infantry failed a motivation test and scattered, and the odds finally caught up with the Stuarts on the right and were destroyed.  Which allowed me at the critical moment to turn and race to my right, some even risking a double move.
It won't matter in the big picture, but some stands make a move in the general direction of the American objective.
Tanks, the last mortar and assaulting Bersagliari take out all the remaining American AFVs.  Of course, it is easy to assault a bailed out tank.
Though the Americans were wiped out by destruction or motivation it was a very close game.  Had the aircraft been a little more effective or had I not rolled so well for my "8 Million Bayonets" rolls it could easily have gone the other way.  A fun time, even if the scheduled demo didn't meet expectations.  The rest of our Ranger group in the Fox Valley area did much better.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sunny Italy

Breakthrough (mobile battle) scenario using Delayed Reserves, Mobile Reserves and Prepared Positions.  Click to enlarge the pictures.

With the army lists built before rolling the scenario the Germans were forced to deploy a Panzer III platoon with armored company commanders and a 15cm gun battery in opposite corners of the table.  The British chose one of the remaining corners for their deployment and placed two objectives in the last quadrant.  They had a Sherman III platoon, an 8 gun 25 pdr. battery and an infantry platoon to start.

We had an inkling of how the day was going to go when, with five dice for limited air, the British got nothing.  With no targets for the artillery the whole 8 gun battery dug in.  Infantry and tanks moved forward, the tanks justly cautiously.  In the German half they would have gotten aircraft with their priority (?! what's with that!?) but the British successfully intercepted them.  The artillery has a target and although they fail to kill any stands they do pin the infantry while we reposition the tanks.

Turn two: with Air used to intercept and the infantry remaining pinned only the tanks advance, attempting an end run.  Germans continue the infantry bombardment drawing first blood.  The panzers find an excellent position where most have the cover of a sunken road.

Turn Three: first chance for delayed reserves but none arrive.  The infantry stays pinned.  Tanks pop out from behind the woods and engage the Germans to no effect.  Aircraft are rolled but intercepted by the Luftwaffe, effectively cancelling each other out.  On the German half of the turn the artillery kills another stand and the panzers manage to brew up a Sherman.  No reserves are rolled for the Germans either and now we have to watch in two directions.

Turn Four: a British infantry platoon arrives in the empty quadrant in the German rear area.  The other platoon finally unpins and maneuvers out of sight.  Tanks all miss.  The 25pdrs. self spot a panzer but the bombardment is ineffective.  The Germans get a MkIII platoon in the quadrant with the 15cm. guns, which moves quickly to threatened objective.  Misjudging the distance they don't double move but do manage to storm troop closer.  The remaining two Shermans from the platoon plus the CnC are engaged by the five panzers, killing two.  The 15cm. battery then targets the company commander and destroys the tank.  He fails to get out on his Warrior save and dies with the Shermans.  The Germans get aircraft with the only target technically under cover they fail their spotting roll and roar off.  The Germans get a MkII platoon from their reserves which enters opposite the other tanks and races to get at the British infantry while the reserve MkIII platoon moves into position.

Turn Five: Down to just one die with all the intercept attempts the British still get a Hurricane which attacks the MkIIs. With all five in blast template only one is hit is rolled and it makes his armor save with a "6." Symptomatic of how the day has gone for the British.  A new Sherman platoon comes on and finally kills one panzer. The infantry at the objective tries to dig in but fails. In their half of the turn a Panzerspah platoon arrives and double moves forward. The first Panzer III platoon with the 2iC in a Mk IV move to see Shermans and kill two. Other MkIII Panzers advance from behind the hill and kill the last one. The Company Commander calls in 15cm. battery onto the infantry which failed to dig in, killing one and pinning the rest.    With all the British armor gone and facing three platoons of MkIII and MkII tanks the game was conceded.

Sometimes we can blame the dice as a way of easing the pain of a loss.  But truly, this was one of the worst games in terms of one-sided dice rolls I've ever seen.  The British could not buy a break and the Germans were at least average.  Hopefully they will average out next  time for Tim.