A late change of venue from the RGMB to Wrexham was followed by the bio-titian throwing a fit ( for the second week running) at Luke and his Yanks and refusing to be in the same room as them. This did at least mean the models and table were out of danger, and the game(s) were uninterrupted.
We had chosen 3,000pts in Mid-war, and then both chosen tank companies which provided two quick games, and fairly entertaining gung-ho ones as well. Lukes company was the same as the previous week; dominated by Shermans, Stuarts, tank hunters and armoured recon. My own made use of my 12 Panzer IV's (ignoring the Panthers on the basis that it wouldn’t be historically accurate and downright unfair on someone fielding Shermans), who were backed up by two platoons (one armoured) of infantry, and plenty of 8-rad armoured cars and some Panzer II F’s.
We rolled randomly, and ‘Encounter’ came out of the hat. Hardly a new experience, but with the new rules we thought we’d keep it and play it safe. I defended and Luke attacked, and having won the first turn I wasted it sitting back and shooting at the tank hunters recon jeeps. Luke doesn’t do subtlety or softly, softly with his armour, and came barrelling forward. My right flank was held by four Panzer IV’s who did well to wipe out the Tank Hunters lurking on the edge of a field, however the light Stuart (or M5 thingys) swiftly got amongst them, and a closing in platoon of Shermans sealed their fate with little further loss to the Yanks.
On my left air attack helped the other platoon of Shermans outnumber and overwhelm my other Panzer IV platoon, who stayed in the fight by their finger tips and a couple of fortunate motivation rolls. It all looked fairly bad however, with only my pioneers (safely camped out in a wood guarding an objective) untouched, and after the Stuarts had hounded my company CO off the field the Shermans turned upon the last Panzer IV on my left and his destruction brought the inevitable company motivation check which I failed.
Analysis: My Panzer IV’s were outnumbered at the start by their armoured foes - 8 Panzer IV’s to 10 Shermans, 5 Stuarts and 4 Tank Hunters - and this made me cautious. Luke had no such concerns and charged headlong, losing a few vehicles but not enough to stop him. We made it to turn 5 I think, but no re-enforcements had arrived for either side, and I lost 3 out of my 4 starting platoons, Luke only lost the tank hunters who failed dismally to cause any damage, and were then shown to be very vulnerable when their targets shot back. Score 1 to Luke and his aggressive tactics and army selection.
|Rare German success as the Tank Hunters go up in flames.|
|Back to service as usual; the USAF bombing my Panzer IV's.|
With my defeat only taking around an hour (including setup) we moved onto a second game. Once again I was defending, and this time it was ‘breakthrough’. Initially it looked a very one sided mission, Luke received all of his army, bar a couple of recon platoons sent to do the outflanking, while I got any platoon that wasn’t motorised, and one that was - so that was the pioneers (on foot) and one bunch of Panzer IV’s. The command HQ warrior Panzer IV's joined them, and Lukes armour kicked off once more by piling forward towards the objectives.
My Panzer IV platoon reacted to this movement by either bursting into flames or running away, while my pioneers and warrior/command Panzer IV’s scurried towards the objectives and the cover the surrounding buildings offered. They were soon surrounded by the armoured wave, but I’d picked well, and the pioneers were safe and secure in their buildings, and while contesting one of the objectives they lost a total of two teams during the whole game - truly the immovable object. The command panzer IV’s hid and took potshots, and, although the 2ic bought it swiftly, some forgetfulness on Lukes part meant the CO lasted an age and was key in foiling the enemy plans.
German re-enforcements arrived, with the other two platoons of Panzer IV’s taking their toll on the enemy by wiping out the Stuarts and a Sherman platoon before being in turn dealt with by the Tank Hunters. Then it was the Tank Hunters turn to come a cropper, as, with victory seemingly far away, I threw my AA guns and a couple of 8-rad armoured cars at them in a fit of pique. Despite losing the AA guns, the combined volume of 2cm guns was enough to wipe out the Tank Hunters at close range leaving my taste for revenge satisfied.
Back amongst the buildings and an American infantry charge had failed, as had many, many .50cal bullets from the surrounding armoured cars, and more German 8-rads and a few Panzer II's popped up to make them pay, wiping out two platoons and the American CO! This remarkable and lucky turn around brought the Americans to breaking point, and suddenly all attention was on the weary Yank infantry. Surrounded by German light armour they had the good grace to perish swiftly, and the rest of the company retreated, giving me an unlikely victory!
It truly looked bleak at the beginning, with my biggest tank platoon biting the dust, and even when the rest of the Panzer IV’s arrived and were wiped out they still left a full Sherman platoon active - something my pathetic 2cm guns couldn’t scratch (I knew how the brits in their crusaders felt!). However some extremely unlucky rolls by Luke lost him several lighter platoons in quick succession. Small things helped his downfall; a mistake in throwing his CO forward into the village brought his demise, while the German CO Panzer IV should have been gone earlier but the Stuarts hadn’t moved. Finally too much time and effort was spent trying to push my pioneers out of buildings they were never going to leave. When we first read the scenario Luke suggested that it was going to prove too tough for my troops and wouldn't provide a fair game - 3k of Yanks starting on the field againsts around 500pts of Jerries, but I decided to press on anyway, and once again was gratified to find Battlefront have done their homework and it all balanced out nicely.
|The Americans ready for the off, and fielding enough tanks to give the Russians a run for their money.|
|The few Panzer IV's look hopeful, and then burst into flames.|
|The pioneers make the buildings just in time, while the warrior Panzer IV's keep backing away from the charging American armour.|
|The pioneers now surrounded, but finally German support is arriving and the M5 Stuarts have just caught a hunk of metal from the back.|
|The AA guns give the Tank Hunters a headache.|