Friday, October 21, 2011

Hill 213

On the 16th a Flames of War action was fought loosely based on the events on and around Hill (or Point) 213 outside Caen in 1944.  Dan "New Guy" Wideman hosted us on his 16' table for the experience.  Dreams of mega battles just beyond the ability to control danced in the minds of the Old Grognards present.

Initially the British fielded a company of infantry and a company of Shermans on the right with a full-strength 25 pdr. battery in support.  The left had two platoons of infantry, a squad of engineers, a weak Cromwell company, a Sherman company and six models of 25 pdrs. in support.  All were rated Confident/Trained.  They were tasked in this scenario driven battle with capturing Hill 213 and Hill 112. 

The Germans of the 12th SS "Hitler Jungend" division (fearless/trained) started entrenched and concealed with an assortment of big anti-tank guns and a wealth of Panzerfausts among the command stands.  I'm not sure of their infantry strength, but would guess it was two companies, each one charged with holding it's hill till the cavalry arrived.  The cavalry in this case was a platoon of Tigers, a pair of Panthers, a company of PzMk IVh, and a bunch of StuGs.  Artillery was very limited for the Germans, no mortars and only a pair of 150mm howitzers.  Air support was sporadic historically so the Allies could get a flight of Typhoons on a 5-6 on a single d6 and the Germans on a 6.

A pre-game bombardment from a 6" gunned cruiser did little damage to the dug-in 88s, but gave the Germans a taste of what artillery could do later.

A favorable wind allowed the British to lay a smoke screen down that negated the feared 88s for several turns and meant that the early advance came under little fire.  While doing no direct damage, the wind and smoke meant that the British could effectively approach to close assault range undamaged.

On the left and right, tank formations began a sweeping movement intended to isolate their target hills while the infantry made a direct approach.  The speed of the Cromwells was extremely valuable in making this possible.  Three Churchill tanks plodded along with each of the infantry companies, pleased that there was actually something slower than themselves.

The German advanced posts were over-run with ease as the infantry prepped for the assault.  The "bullet proof cover" offered by the entrenchments is a huge liability to overcome and even if you push the enemy out they magically fill in as they leave.

On the German half of turn 3 they got to dice for the arrival of ALL their tanks.  To our joy they did not succeed.  Although at that point many of the Cromwells were in a position to engage any German medium tanks at appeared, as were the Shermans on the right.

Turn 4 the 88s on Hill 112 were overrun or destroyed and many SS troopers learned just how bad tank treads can mess up your uniform.  The objective on Hill 112 was almost ours!  On Hill 213 the Germans bitterly contested it, but seemed to be getting worst of things.  Artillery no longer needed to fire smoke and the rules for an 8 gun battery are intense. 

As the German armored horde poured on table, we found that the Tigers and Panthers were on the British right along with the StuGs, while most of the MkIV panzers were against the British left.  They went to work quickly with the...  "interesting" Tiger Ace rule resulting in us hearing comments like, "what tank shall I kill now?".  All in good fun. 

Both sides received air support and the Typhoon and Fireflys combined to make life difficult for Tigers and Panthers.  While not stopping them, losses put a serious hitch in their goose-step.  On turn five the British took the objective on Hill 112 and dug in.  Tanks on both sides began brewing up and some serious morale checks were required.  The dice were fairly impartial as both sides experienced some "pick up" situations.

Turn six the British still controlled their objective on Hill 112 and contested 213.  In theory the game could have ended there, but we decided to play out the full turn.  In the end, despite destroying (and losing) more tanks, they could not make a dent on Hill 112 and we called it.

Seven players and heaven only knows how many points played the game in about three hours not counting set up time.  Pretty reasonable considering we had to look up a lot of things, being only part-time FoW players.  (And them with so bloody many "updates" to the rules.)  It was enjoyable to use proper tactics and be rewarded with the results.  Flames of War is a goofy-ass set of rules with some bizarre twists, but as a wise man said, "FoW is an unrealistic set of rules that gives realistic results."

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