So, after the usual email to and fro about points, book choices, dates and dietary requirements, Stiggers and I lined up for another game, chez him.
His gaff, his points call. Nine hundred and fifty. Although, I misunderstood the texted word and thought it was a flat nine hundred. Whatever, I was happy with my shout and quickly added a few points-worth of schurzen to my IIIs to bring me a little closer.
Stigger’s gaff, Stigger’s points call, Stigger’s very busy table. The man had clearly gone for Battlefront’s recent buildings deal and was intent on a large scale baptism for all. Hence we had a town with all shades of sectarian shenanigans kicking off, with churches at three corners of the lot.
Disputing the town, in a Dust Up style, would be some fearless veterans from a Yankee parachute rifle company lined up against some nasty Nazi SS fools; Panzerbrigade Westfalen (Fearless and trained).
Note the total absence of Neb’s. I think I regret this. I think. Bloody dug-in infantry.
Turn one and I double-time my infantry on the table to better occupy some buildings near the town square and contest the objective there. ‘Shrecks ‘n’ ‘fausts in buildings? Bring it on, Stiggers.
The Rifles on the table variously manoeuvred and dug in. So far, so dull.
Turn two and I split a platoon into the properties nearest the Norman church, popped another into the shops nearest the objective and ensconced a stand from my HQ into the next house down the street. They clearly made themselves too comfortable and did close to squat for much of the game. The other stands made for the next house along.
Stiggers continued to fail to dig in his HQ but succeeded with the remaining platoon, aimlessly wondering about the fields.
Turn three: reserves! Or not. The only action (I have recorded) is my HQ stand nipping into that adjacent building.
Turn four and the Nazis get no reserves and make no moves. Squatters’ rights!
The US, on the other hand, roll well and have a platoon catch up and join the party – pretty anti-aircraft half-tracks, no less. Immediately there’s five die rolling against the squatters in the green shop but only one hit and only one death.
His HQ fails, yet again, to dig in. Dodgy shovels, I guess.
We’re up to turn five and automatically I bring on my IIIs and they begin to motor behind the factories in the siding, aiming for the crossroads.
The split, and previously hit, platoon near the Norman church regroups and consolidates in the green corner shop.
Stiggers finally digs in his HQ and then brings up a rifle platoon and occupies the ruined terrace I just vacated. He shoots. One hit. One save. The stationary AA also opens up on the guys in the green building. Ten dice, three hits, three saves. Phew.
It’s everybody’s favourite; turn six. And I reveal my new toy; Zevzda-da-da-dah’s Jagdtiger. Sweet. Stiggers, predictably, mumbles something about 18km and breakdowns. Predictably, I ignore him.
My little rumbustious IIIs move up to face the crossroads and threaten the dug in troops beyond and the lads holed up in the corner shop emporium return fire. Pathetically.
Uncharacteristically, I then actually remembered the Stormtrooper move and the Jagd’ brute lurches forward again.
From the US reserves come Stigger’s favourite; a light platoon of five Stuarts. Detestable little blighters with too many machine guns and too much speed for my liking. They shoot, filling the chateaux’s garden with dice and the result is a heady eleven hits but I get ten saves and he fails to convert the remainder. Hut, ya!
His infantry also let loose a salvo but struggle to do any damage at all.
Now we’re up to turn seven and the IIIs, a tasty mix of Ls and Ms, let rip with twelve shots on the dug-in parachutists… to no avail. Same score for the SS in the green shop and, to cap it off, the Tiger fails to do the Star Wars thang and has to sit where she is.
Stigger’s dander is up and he double-times his Stuarts in an effort to counter my IIIs. Then it’s mortar and rifle fire from here, and bazooka and rifle fire from there, with the AA platoon also peppering the walls and the platoon is suddenly scraping a motivation test after the resulting deaths in the family.
Round eight. Finally the IIIs come good and snuff out… one stand of infantry. Sigh. The Tiger roars and it’s sound and fury signifying… nothing. Dismal.
For the ‘Chutes the AA platoon moves and burns some dice pointlessly. Then, in the fog of war, confusion, as Stiggers moves an infantry platoon to sidle up to the green shop and we realise that, technically, this should be an assault. Or so we think. Dunno. By agreement, he moves them back and they shoot from where they were. A stand dies and another motivation test is passed.
Elsewhere, the Stuarts blunder through the woods in front of them, only one failing to make the move. Now they’ve flank shots on the panzers and the dice gods are with them. Annoyingly. He gets a kill and two bales. Darn it.
Finally, Stiggers reveals his last platoon, some sleeping artillery, close to the Tiger but incapable of doing ‘owt against its thick old hide. I chuckle. Once I realise this, that is.
Turn nine and the re-mounted IIIs engage. Boom! Two kills. The Tiger has a couple of pops and removes a 57mm from the table, plus my tooled-up HQ breaks out but fails to draw any Stuart blood.
For Stiggers, the bogged Stuart digs itself a deeper hole to sit in, the AA shoots but blanks, apparently, and some rifles move to seek out the German HQ.
Enthusiasm begins to wane as turn ten opens – dug-in infantry are a bugger. My IIIs take out the visible Stuarts, force a motivation test and the bogged wagon is taken off the field of combat. The breakthrough gun on the Jagdtiger accounts for another 57mm and my inept and ineffectual HQ attempts to retreat into an alleyway.
In return, those massed anti-aircraft guns get five hits but, dragging things out, only do for one stand. A bazooka counts for another.
Eleven. With targets so very close it’s little wonder the massive gun of the Tiger can’t be properly brought to bear and she misses.
With the threat of those pesky Stuarts gone I figured I move the surviving German light armour to try and bolster things around the objective in the square. And they fire up their engines.
For the good guys the AA cackles again and whiffs again. My notes fail me at this point – I think I’ve done quite well up to this moment – but I know there were US infantry moves. Probably.
Turn twelve now, and the Tiger gets the angle right to remove another piece of artillery from the game. With tricky concealment against them the IIIs fail to harm the AA and the ground troops follow suit against some rifles.
The AA commander has a panzerfaust stand in his sights and does the deal on it.
With a platoon now occupying the red-roofed building nearest the objective they are successfully contesting it. Fired up by this fact, they take a pop at some panzershrecks caught in the open and the SS buy the farm.
Unlucky for some, it’s now turn thirteen, and a breakthrough gun is a breakthrough gun and the 57mm pieces have no defence; they’re gone. My inglorious HQ run for the cover of the chateaux and the tanks move to close in on the soft rears of those half-tracks.
Stiggers drives the AA platoon on and shoots up an HQ stand. Meanie.
We’re now both pretty fatigued by the length of this game and the enthusiasm has wilted so turn fourteen is a bit erratic.
‘Faust-ed up infantry bale one of the half-tracks and then the IIIs wipe out the AA entirely.
At this point I think we agreed things weren’t going to go anywhere very quickly. The US had a closer grip on their objective than the Germans and were most likely to secure it, I think. In order to half test this and to have a go at an assault (something we’d not done in any games before and something I’ve long feared trying to get to grips with, rules-wise) we kinda played a US infantry assault on the Jagdtiger and it kinda resulted in a bale. I think. Kinda.
I also think, before this experiment in assaulting tanks, we called it a US win. We definitely both said we’d enjoyed the game, although, possibly, there was too much terrain on the table, slowing things down.
Despite this plethora of buildings, there was talk of using the same layout again. Defo no tank company for me if that’s on the cards.
Questions arising for the inexperienced players we are, then? Well, I was confused about my mixed panzerfaust and machine gun teams: do I have to shoot all panzerfaust or all mgs? Can I choose to shoot a couple o’ the anti-tank jobs and a couple of machine guns? Assuming things are in range?
And do two bales on the one tank equal a kill? Edit: The answer is on page 102 of the V3 book – earning a second bale means the tank must pass a motivation test.
Answers on a postcard or in the Comments box below.