This past weekend, the Consul and I played "The Cauldron" mission, which has the defender stuck in the middle of the table and nearly surrounded by randomly deployed attacking units. The attacker gets regular reinforcements and the defender delayed reinforcements. Also the defender gets prepared positions and "immediate ambush" which means a unit is set up after the enemy and then the defender gets the first turn.
The battle was over a town surrounded by hedgerows, which we played as very difficult terrain (skill check to cross) and as linear obstacles so they did not block LOS. There were two objectives near the center of the town. One was slightly southwest counting my table edge as north, the other slightly northeast. The Brits had to seize an objective and hold it uncontested on the beginning of their turns to win, otherwise they would lose the scenario when time was called or if they had no units within 16" of an objective after turn 6.
My army consisted of 2 full 12th SS Panzergrenadier platoons with 2 Pzrfausts each, an HW with 2IC Pzrfaust and Pzrschreck team, 3 Panthers, 1 Jagdpanther, and 1 battery of 2 88s. They are rated as Fearless Veterans, except the Jagdpanther which is a Heer unit and Confident Veteran.
Consul's army consisted of HQ w/ 2 Cromwells and 2 Cromwell CS tanks, 3 Cromwell platoons of 3 Cromwells and 1 Firefly, 1 platoon of infantry, 1 platoon of Universal carriers, and 1 platoon of M10 Achilles w 17 pdrs. They are rated Reluctant Veteran.
I created a kampfgruppe with my 2IC and shreck team and took 2 inf. teams from each PZgr platoon, giving my a 6th platoon at the cost of making my inf. platoons smaller. I deployed this kampfgruppe and 1 PzGren platoon, and I deployed the 88s in immediate ambush. All other platoons were in delayed reserve. As a result of random deployment, Bll deployed a Cromwell company on my left, a carrier platoon in the southern center, and his command group of 4 tanks slightly to the right, with the CS tanks on a southern hill able to see all my positions. His infantry ended up behind my troops, to the northwest of the southern objective, in a treeline. All other platoons were in reserve.
Banzai! SS nail a bailed tank in assult.
Sad 88 section.
On my left...
Monkeys in the Middle.
Ve shall hold out for the Fatherland!
Stunned Brit infantry
The lone Cromwell:.
Right flank cleared!
Left flank clear!
Center Cromwells evaporate
Cat's eye view:
A weak chewy center:
At this point, we ran out of time. Consul had lost 3 platoons and the infantry were not long for the battle. Conversely, I had only 2 infantry teams and two Panthers left to hold the southern objective against the massed fire of 4 Achilles and 3 Cromwells coming up the road. The Universal Carriers were threatening the northern objective, but my newly arrive Panzergrendiers and Jagdpanther were in the neighborhood. I had lost a Panzergrenadier platoon and most of the 88 platoon (in fact they probably should have counted as destroyed since I forgot to take "man alone" checks for the cowering command team all game!) so I was basically down 2 platoons myself. Although by the technical rules of the scenario the Germans had won, as the British had not seized the objective by the end of the game, I think this battle was really a draw.
This was my first late war game and my first western front game as well. I have not often played Germans and never before played "big cats", nor have I previously face British late war armor. So this was a game of firsts for me, indeed. I got what I expected, however, in that I knew the Germans would be few in number but hard, and the British numerous and dangerous. The tank kill ratio was 14-1 counting the 4 Brit tanks that fled the field, probably better than the Germans can usually expect. Due to the terrain and some canny (cheesy?" positioning on my part, I kept my tank flanks reasonably well protected. Perhaps the real starts of the game for me were the SS PzGren infantry, which held on to the objectives despite tiny numbers, using their anti-tank weapons quite well and launching assaults when the opportnity arose to throw back the encroaching attackers.
That said, I think the British gave me a gift by taking a few turns to try to soften up my positions with fire before assaulting. If the big push came one or two turns earlier I would probably not have been able to hold both objectives. They have great mobility and good firepower and when concentrated will likely grind down the German infantry despite taking casualties.
The Cauldron scenario can be pretty exciting. Depending on the dice rolls for reinforcements, it can probably be pretty one-sided, as well. But this time we had just the right rolls for a tense and close-run battle, the likes of which every gamer really enjoys but rarely experiences. Thanks to the Consul for a first-class battle!