The second game of the new Martlet campaign for Chain of Command concluded with a new British victory, a most remarkable feat considering this was in table where in the first attempt to play the campaign, we bogged down for four games and could not break the German defensive scheme. Being honest, I did not well with the Germans, deciding to withdraw in the heat of the moment… a quite stupid move as you’ll see.
In this second game the British must break through the village of Fontenay, where the German outposts are located, before crashing with the enemy’s main defensive line. This is a scenario Three of the main rules (Attack-Defend); to win, one side must force the other to withdraw or surrender due to fall in the Force Moral level.
The patrol phase concluded with the British filling a long start line at both sides of the main road and the Germans mostly concentrated north of the road, with a strong point in the large farm compound.
In the opening moves, the British seemed to have planned a pincer attack north and south of the main road, using the two available platoons (note: we play with Big Chain of Command in this campaign) to feed each side respectively.
After some initial problems to deploy due to the British artillery pre-barrage, I was able to put a section in the farm looking south and a PzIV in a dug-in fortification covering the secondary (light tan) road overlooking the orchard where the British forces were concentrating. The other German platoon commander occupied the orchard north of the farm compound with two sections and a Pak 40.
I don’t want to blame on my bad dice rolls, but I admit that my moral for the rest of the game was negatively affected by my poor fire performance
Firstly, we failed to hit the British Firefly looming in the orchard with a Panzerfaust, the Panzer IV and a Pak 40 At gun; the British tank commander decided not to tempt luck and judiciously decided to retreat out of LOS.
Then, an exchange of fire with my two heavily armed sections (each manning two LMGs) against a British section in the open, concluded with the loss of one full squads vs 4 KIAs of the British, despite the differential in firepower.
|The crux of the battle|
As the British laid a smoke screen in the front of the German occupied orchard and I judge that the Pak 40 and the Panzerfaust threat was enough to cover that flank, I moved my Panzer IV south, deployed a new infantry section and brought the FOO into play. The plan was now to pound and to mincemeat the two British sections located in the fields, which were already suffering additional casualties from the Spandaus.
Actually the British sections initiated a tactical withdraw towards their jumpoff points (were they intending to withdraw?) and the opportunity was now to try activating the artillery FOO and to put a mortar barrage to cause further damage.
Alas the British were faster than me, and laid their own artillery barrage on the German units deployed in the orchard. The German platoon commander decided that he did not want to take risks and announced a withdrawal while his force was in good shape.
What to do? In the rush of the moment I did not stop much to think and announced that I was also pulling out… what a mistake! I should have stayed for another two or phases or at least have waited to see if I could put my artillery barrage on the British; after the game I also learned that the Force Moral level of the British was not great (around 5?) and therefore in addition to the physical loss of assets for the following games, I may have forced them to withdraw and win the scenario… a shame.
Next game will take place in the afternoon of New Year Day. I hope to habve a more clear head despite the likely hangover :-)