Sunday, 23 November 2014
Villers Bocage Campaign - Game 3
Today we played the third scenario of the Villers Bocage campaign for Chain of Command (all the campaign details can be found in the first game post).In the past two games the Germans had been defeated and the British were now reaching the outskirts of the town itself; it was a critical moment on the campaign. As in the previous games, I was the German commander.
According to the scenario instructions, this was a Delaying Action scenario (the number 4 in the main rules book) and the victory conditions states that the attacker must take control of an enemy's jump-off point in its deployment area (victory objective).
As in the previous game, we enlarged the scenario to make it "big", adding a tank platoon to each side; in the case of the British two standard Sherman and a Firefly and in the case of the Germans, 2 Pz IVs and a Pak 40 AT-gun.
At the conclusion of the patrol phase, it emerged that the British were looking to concentrate the attack on the German's right flank. Luckily one of my jump-off points was next to the two rural farms and from the second floor we had a good unobstructed view of the battlefield.
The British commander made good his reputation of being an aggressive, guy and from the first activation British troops started pouring on the table: one infantry squads and two tanks. The tanks moved along the road while the infantry in parallel course but through the field at the other side of the bocage line.
My reaction was to deploty a LMG team in the second floor of the main house and deploy a first Pz IV at the opposite edge of the road used by the Shermans, both in overwatch.
The first British tank decided to take risks, moved straight flat out, crossing in the line of sight of my panzer (reducing my "to hit" probability) which failed to strike the Sherman and landed safely (or so he thought) at the other side of the field (it crossed an open in the bocage line).
But the joy lasted less than 30 seconds. It was my phase now and I did not lose the opportunity to bring a Panzershreck team, firing at very short distance on the Sherman's flank: with a net five hits after saving rolls, the first British tank was knocked out.
In the meantime the second Sherman moved and face my Panzer in its own previous activation, benefiting from having lost my overwatch order. In my own phase, before I could fire, the British player used his Chain of Command dice to interrupt my action and fire first... failing miserably to hit my tank!!
It was my turn now and to take revenge: the Pz IV achieved three net hits on the Sherman, knocking it out of the game. Two of three!!.
A very chaffed British player tried to use his second infantry platoon and the third Sherman to outflank my position from the north. When the infantry was in the middle of the field, I deployed one of my infantry platoons, although unfortunately only one of the tow LMG teams (I was playing with Panzergremadiers, not regular infantry) could be placed at the other side of the bocage line.
In the following phases some LMG and rifle fire was exchanged, causing 2 KIAs to my troops and making 1 KIA on his.
The British player then made a cold assessment of his situation and realised that he was at a great disadvantage vs. the Germans, who still could field 2 panzers and two and a half infantry sections in good order... wisely, he decided to concede defeat and to retire from the battlefield in good order. First Axis victory of the campaign.
After action thoughts
A short 90 minutes game this morning. In my opinion, the key to victory was in this case the very low roll for support of the British player (a mere 3), causing a no serious threat to the German as not enough points were gained to bring artillery or other heavy material to support the attack.
The campaign system in At the Sharp End is fantastic. The way to play is totally different to the standalone game, as the players have to decide when to commit forces and assess the risks of losing valuable men that could be used in the following games of the campaign. In fact, we all agree that from now on and in 2015 we are going to organise our games in mini-campaigns.