Mission 1: Hold the Line versus Erick K’s Nisei Rifle Company.
If ever there was a table to funnel armor towards a kill sack, this was it. On the right side of the deployment zone there’s woods on both side of the road leading to the near objective I placed. Looking at the other side, we have more woods, a wheat field and a small river to cross.
View of the table from Erick's side towards my Deployment Zone
I crowd the Jadgpanthers onto the road, planning to bull rush the objectives. I can’t double the Jagd’s because they are Unreliable, but it’s better than plodding 8” and making bog checks. Red Grenadier platoon (named after the colored dot to differentiate it from the other Grenadier platoon) goes on the left flank to make a show of threatening another objective, while the Yellow Grenadier platoon goes into the woods on the right flank. Noak and StuGs will have to go into the woods as well because the road is overflowing with Jagdpanthers. The mortars are in the center.
Deployment of the 654th
Everybody moves forward. Mortars move up to get within range of Erick’s dug-in infantry blob in the center portion of the table. Jagdpanthers drive up the road. A StuG bogs. Not to worry because I have Noak attached to the Confident Trained StuG platoon. One of Noak’s abilities (aside from move and shoot full ROF) is that any armored platoon he attaches to can re-roll failed skilled test, which is a big help to a Trained unit. The StuG re-rolls and still bogs.
Erick rolls reserves and gets an infantry platoon (Erick gets all his reserves within 3 turns, but they aren’t a factor in the game because of what happens next). He then unleashes artillery hell upon the road. The lead Jagdpanther is hit with 155mm artillery fire and with AT5, FP2 versus Top Armor 1, it goes boom. The second Jagdpanthers is hit with 105mm artillery, which isn’t so bad with AT5, but with AT4 and FP 3+(?), it’s bad enough and it goes boom.
Dead Jagdpanther Platoon
I’m shocked to see the Jagdpanthers go up so easily and my whole plan of charging towards the objective is thrown off kilter. I start to worry more about the artillery than the objective. StuGs make it through the woods. But guess who bogs - - Noak! Erick and I check Noak’s abilities to see if he can re-roll his own skill test. Nope, only the platoon he attaches to gets a re-roll, but not Noak. D’oh! Noak would refuse to bog for most of the game.
Noak picking his nose in the woods
Mortars go into action and wisely smoke the observers in the center of town. However, the Americans can use staff teams from other units to spot for artillery, albeit at a worse die roll. It doesn’t matter and Erick’s makes his targeting rolls on the first try and it’s Time on Target time and more stuff brews up.
Red Grenadiers are busy digging in the wheat field, trying to draw artillery attention to it. They draw the 105's and get clobbered. Yellow Grenadiers are in the woods, moving to get over the Halfway Line on the table so the game won’t end on Turn 6.
Red Grenadiers get noticed
In the end, I lost all but the Panther to artillery. Erick never bothered revealing his M10 ambush because it wasn’t needed. Noak’s Panther survived but only because he remained bogged in the woods for 3 Turns. The game ended on Turn 7 when Yellow Grenadiers took casualties, forced a morale check, which they fail. I attach Noak to them for a re-roll and he fails. CiC and 2iC Jagdpanthers are dead and so it’s game over.
Dead armor, except bogged Noak
Erick loses 1 stand of infantry to my CiC Jagdpanther before it dies.
Results: Loss, 1-6
Lessons: Pushing the armor single file up the road. Bog checks are a lesser evil then getting decimated by 155 and 105 artillery. I bunched up my armor to avoid going into the woods and gave Erick prime targets every turn. Next time I’ll go into the woods and risk losing tanks to bogging. A bogged tank is still alive compared to a smoldering hulk. I believe fear of bogging an Unreliable tank influenced by deployment of the Jagdpanthers. I also need to remember my stormtrooper rolls. I forgot them several times.
Dice: Dice didn’t do me any favors in the first three turns. My armor saves and bog checks weren’t north of “1”.
Sportsmanship: Erick is a fun opponent. He was very gracious in commiserating with my poor dice rolls and kept repeating to everyone what bad luck it was for my tanks to bog down. Whenever I lost a tank with a “1” or “2” for the armor save, he’d go “Oh, wow” in genuine surprise and never did he rub in the beating he inflicted upon me. In fact, we shared many laughs about his recon unit who tried to do an end-around toward Red Grenadiers, only to have 2iC Jagdpanther crest a hill to shoot at them, which promptly sent the 4 jeep recon unit scurrying behind buildings for the rest of the game. I’d play Erick again anytime. I gave Erick 2 of the sportsman points I had to divide up among my three opponents. (Each player was given 7 points to distribute to opponent sportsmanship scores after each game. Tim said that it’d take an outright armed felony for a person to deserve a 0 or 1 in sportsmanship. Most people ended up earning scores of 3-2-2, which is how I eventually distributed the points.)
Platoon of the Match: GW34 8cm mortars. The mortars did yeoman service. All 4 tubes put smoke in the center of town all game and forced Erick to use his staff teams as observers, making it slightly harder to hit my bunched up tanks. I was very happy with them.
Erick has a nice AAR on the FOW boards that he created using Battle Chronicler. Check it out.
A couple of the responses to Erick's AAR I found interesting:
I think the Germans were complacent in not taking artillery support. It would have made such a difference if those two batteries had to trade fire with the German artillery.
Complacent? Maybe I'll swap 105's for the mortars but not before I play more games in this list's current configuration. But complacent? Build a list. Play the list. Tweak the list. No, the Ger-mans were not complacent. That comment is a head scratcher.
You had some hot dice, yes, and good placement of troops. The German player, on the other hand, had some tactical errors. He relied on the Front armor of the tanks too much, which was no use against artillery. The board didn't help him , with a river and no good lines of sight for his mortar spotter. If he had gotten smoke down on the first turn it would have made things much easier for him. Additionally, mortars generally just don't have a good enough range to easily keep up with an offensive. Seeing the lists, I think the German player was too aggressive with his Jadgpanthers running them down the road on the first turn. In the open they are sitting ducks to US artillery, especially the powerful 155s. He should have advanced under cover or terrain until he could start dropping smoke with his mortars. I think he still would have struggled against you, but it would've been a closer game.
Of course, since I play US paras, I'm glad you won! It's always good to see Germans who take the big "uber" tanks get humbled by a "little" infantry company.
I agree with the tactical errors described and I'll take them to heart. My big tanks were so sad to see tiny men in helmets instead of lumbering hulks with tracks. The 654th does one thing well - blow up tanks at 40". The challenge is learning how to play the army in all missions and against all types of armies.
Coming Soon...Part II - Game 2 versus Eric C's 82nd Paras.