Saturday, 16 March 2013

Flames of War Battle Report - Breakout from Anzio

With an open gaming weekend at Deeside Defenders a few brave souls gathered to try another scenario, thought out in Petes car on the way to/from the club on a couple of Thursday nights.  Based in Italy, and looking for an alternative to a horde of German heavy tanks, we settled on Anzio, with the Yanks looking to break through the German lines, while the Jerries tried to hold on, and await the other 50% of their army in the form of reserves – representing the German counter-attack to drive them back into the sea. 

For the Allies: The British had to pull out, so the Allied army was an all American affair, with James fielding two companies; one tank and one rifle, while Luke fielded a large tank company.

For the Germans: A mix of branches of the Wehrmacht, with Phil going the Luftwaffe (Herman Goering Division – panzergrenadiers), Pete choosing an SS Panzergrenadier regiment, and me going for a Heer (army) panzergrenadier regiment.  As would be expected of us, we bickered throughout over virtually everything!  Following the ‘no heavy tanks’ rules, we had only 3 Tiger 1E’s (in Phils army, and in reserve), and 5 Panthers in mine, but had to be last to arrive from reserve.

The Mechanics – Six objectives were arrayed up the table, the side holding the most objectives at the end of play was to be the victor.We playing lengthways on a 12ft by 5ft table, with the Germans starting covering all six objectives with less than half of their forces.  The Yanks began 2ft on, and a scarce 18” from the first objective (and my troops!), they then had first turn, and the German re-enforcements arrived according to the FOW rules.  In terms of scenery we went very hilly to prevent easy lines of sight, and make it a bit more Italian.

The initial setup, with the Yanks nearest, and the German re-enforcements arriving at the other end of the table!

The 7,500pt American army.

The waiting German defenders.

The paricipants caught on camera, from the left; Pete, James, Phil and Luke.
The Battle:

The exceptionally large American army (all 7,500pts of it) began the battle with a charge forward on its left (Luke in gung-ho mode), and a more sedate advance on its right with James troops.  Luke instantly came up against a problem; my German infantry supported by 88mm guns, and a minefield, were in the village directly in the route of his advance, and were holding an objective.  He was light on infantry, and rather than assault with his tanks and risk losses he opted to try and soften up the target first.  This was partly successful, with the 88’s return fire ineffective, and the guns silenced before a platoon of American paras swarmed in to pushed the infantry back and eventually wipe them out.  James faced a similar scenario on the Yanks right, with Petes SS infantry in the way on a large hill.  The SS were in the open however, and chose to fall back to the road and a more defendable hedgerow in the face of the Shermans, yielding the objective on the hill early.

Pushing forward the combined American forces met a much more formidable opponent in the centre in the form of Phils Herman Goering panzergrenadiers.  Armed to the teeth with panzerschrecks and 3 PaK40’s the 2 Luftwaffe platoons were unwilling to give ground, even when the Luftwaffe CO was killed by a very fortuitous artillery shell.  Supported by the SS artillery and Nerbelwerfers they took a toll of the attacking tanks, with the Luftwaffe Wespes arriving from reserve to add to this artillery park at the rear of the German positions.  It wasn’t until the Heer platoon in the village fell back, and Luke launched a successful tank assault with Stuarts on the Luftwaffe’s flank that the first of the two platoons disintegrated, with the PaK40’s taken out by heavy fire from the Shermans at the same time.  The second platoon moved to fill the gap, but was caught in the open and wiped out by the tanks machine guns, leaving the central objective in the Americans hands.

The first casualties - caused by the Luftwaffe PaK40's in the centre.

Lukes army slows when faced by the Heer infantry and 88's.

The German pioneers making the best use of the road - 36" a turn!

The Americans come up against Phils Luftwaffe troops at the T-junction.

James Yanks taking a beating trying to get over the hill that the SS have retreated from.
Despite having assaulted, and now holding 3 of the 6 objectives, the Americans had paid a high price in vehicles, especially with Stukas roaming the Yanks rear areas as well.  They had deployed in quite a deep formation, especially James, and were struggling to get the remaining troops up to re-enforce their front line.  The Germans were also being re-enforced, although not too swiftly.  A Heer pioneer platoon hammered down the road in their trucks, covering the approximately 8 foot to their deployment area in a mere 4 turns (arrival to digging-in in a blink of an eye!), and now filled in the gap between the rapidly dwindling SS in front of Lukes troops, and the objective on that side.  The Heer artillery also arrived, and the heavy tanks; the Luftwaffe Tigers, put in an appearance, doubling down the road while being strafed constantly by the Yanks air force to no effect.

James pressed on over the hill the SS had retreated from, but found winkling them out of the hedgerows to be far more difficult, especially the infantry guns.  The Luftwaffe 88’s (3 in total) sitting behind the newly arrived Heer pioneers took a fearsome toll of the Allied armour on the hill, forcing it to go round the foot of the mound to stay out of line of sight.  Finally breaking through the hedgerows into the lane it still took a close assault by newly-arrived American riflemen to subdue the last of the advanced SS infantry.

German re-enforcements clogging up the road network.

More pain for James, but at least he finally clears out the hedgerows of SS.
Lukes advance down his left was hampered by another Heer pioneer platoon, this one holding a large hill and guarding the spotters for the Heer artillery and mortars.  He left a number of platoons raking the hill with fire (to no effect!), while sending several around to the left to race for the next objective, which was foolishly being guarded by just the SS and the Heer CO’s!  By fluke they had landed up in the same building, and were still there (obviously having a party meeting) when the Yanks light tanks arrived outside!  The Luftwaffe efforts to help the situation not being welcomed when their artillery hit both CO’s instead of the enemy tanks!  Luckily both survived.

The American advance down the centre had slowed to a halt, very much aware of the apparently unstoppable (if slow) advance of the 3 Tigers down the road towards them, as well as a third larger Heer infantry platoon guarding the middle objective and the road.  This meant the American armour stopped around the central objective they had pulled out of the cold dead hands of Phils Luftwaffe platoons, and became subject to an intense artillery bombardment as all 4 of the Germans artillery batteries set up and began hitting that area.

The SS Assault Guns retaking the right hand objective.

The end game picture from the German end.
The German re-enforcements, with the turn counter ticking quickly, now started to flood on, with Lukes advance tanks the main ones to feel their wrath as SS StuG’s and Panzer IV’s headed towards the SS and Heer CO’s position using the road and the fields.  They were backed up by a truck-mounted platoon of SS infantry, while the SS mortars and HMG’s followed the Luftwaffe Panzer III and armour car platoons down the German left to support the 88’s and Heer pioneer platoon there.  Lukes light tanks fell victim to a hail of shells from the StuG’s who reclaimed the objective , while the Tigers carried on past on the road heading for the American centre.  With time running out the American air force strafed the SS troops moving down the German left, destroying their trucks  in an effort to stop them re-enforcing the Luftwaffe 88’s position which James’ remaining armour was massing to attack.  The entire allied artillery power was turned towards the Tigers now, with the realisation that the battle would end in a 3-all draw unless the German heavies could force their way through to that central objective.  The lead Tiger fell prey to a big American shell, but the other two powered past, and with a last roll of the dice Phil stormtrooper-ed them within 4” of the objective, and contested it to win the battle for the Germans.

Phil's Tigers on their way to the tent that represented the objective, and too victory!
Post-Battle Analysis:

The scenario eventually came out quite even this time out.  The Americans took a lot longer than expected to break through the initial German line, despite its fragmented defence – caused by the constant good natured bickering between the German players!  This was partly due to the solid centre of Phils troops, combining with some hesitancy by James, and Luke not wishing to get his tanks bogged down in the village against my men.  When the German reserves began to arrive they turned the tide back, especially on the German right/centre against Luke, however if we had had the time to continue the Americans had more than enough troops left to balance that out, and throw it back, and nothing was a foregone conclusion.

There was a good buzz around the game, more often than not created by the Germans arguing, as well as the speed at which the re-enforcing troops in their trucks came hammering down the road, and one last laugh at my expense when my 700pts of Panthers failed to make it onto the table as time ran out.  A note on size and timing; we played 2,500pts a player, or rather 7,500pts a side (Luke and James splitting the points between them), and found this to play quite quickly.  A turn time limit was set as 25 minutes, but we rarely got within 5 minutes of reaching it, and played a swift 9 turns.  A worthwhile scenario and game, I think it might be Normandy next!

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