Monday, February 22, 2010

12th SS vs. 7th Armored

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.  

Setup Pics:

In the early turns,  I did very little, as my 88s were positioned to one flank.  The took some shots at Cromwells CS tanks but missed, got hit with smoke and then shot up by Cromwells.  My 88 command team ran for their lives past the smoking hulks of their intimidating but ultimately ineffective cannons.  Consul's 2IC advanced toward my southern platoon and ended up eating a pzrfaust shot, getting bailed and then assaulted into oblivion. 


Dead 88!

Banzai!  SS nail a bailed tank in assult.

Sad 88 section.

On turns 3-4 Consul got massive reinforcements including all his tanks but the Achilles.  I did not get any reinforcement on turn 3 or 4.  Despite this, he was either unwilling or unable to stage a full-on assault on my southern platoon covering the southern objective.  He lined up a lot of tank and carrier shots on them but as hesitant to cross the hedges, eventually killing off 3 of the 5 platoon stands, but they held.  He tried to launch an infantry assault but my remaining 2(!) teams on the following turn, but they were not pinned and inflicted 5 hits, halting the assault cold.  One tank crossed the hedges, only to get bogged down. At this point his tanks on my left were slowly picking off the infantry dug in on the northeast objective and my positions in the town were being squeezed from almost every angle.

On my left...

Monkeys in the Middle.

Ve shall hold out for the Fatherland!

Quite literally in the nick of time I rolled 2 reserves on turn 5.  I brought in the Panthers in the center and the Jagdpanther on my extreme left in the very corner of the table. I redeployed some teams from the northeast objective toward the southeast one, including the 'shreck team.  The center platoon assaulted the bogged down Cromwell, making their second tank kill of the game.  The Jagdpanther bailed a Cromwell on the left and the Panthers destroyed 2 Cromwells encroaching on the southwest objective.  


Kitty-cornering cheese!


Brewed Brits.

In the Consul's turn 5 the Achilles arrived and Consul sped his Cromwells on my left flank toward the Panthers in an attempt to get flank shots.  He brought a firefly around my right side to shoot the panthers as well.  Despite a fusillade of 11 shots from his tanks, he only managed to bail out two panthers.  Only one shot came from the flank, which bailed one Panther, and another long range shot from an Achilles bailed another when I rolled a "2" for my armor, needing a 3 or more to shrug off the shot completely.  His infantry failed to unpin and thus could not assault the Southern objective, leaving them exposed.  

Bailed Panthers.

Stunned Brit infantry

On my turn 6 I attempted to dramatically turn the tide, realizing quite late than Consul's 7th Armored were rated "Reluctant" in morale and thus easily rid of if they were forced to make morale checks.  One panther re-mounted.  I designated attacks on three platoons designed to bring Consul close to his company morale break point of 4.  My Jagdpanter destroyed two tanks on the left flank, including one firefly.  One Panther targeted the lone Firefly on my right, bailing it and triggering a morale check for that platoon (1 functional, 1 bailed, 2 destroyed means more destroyed than functional and hence a morale check.)  The other fired at the platoon on my left, destroying another Crowmell and leaving one tank functional and subject to a morale roll.  This lone Cromwell survived the check but the Firefly and Cromwell in the center failed and the platoon survivors fled the table.  My few infantry teams on the southern objective opened up on the British infantry but failed to score any kills.  So, I had broken only one of the 3 platoons I targeted, but overall my position was vastly improved.  The two functional Panthers used their stormtrooper move to get behind terrain out of sight of the distant Achilles.  

        Cannon cam-2 Kills!

The lone Cromwell:.

Right flank cleared! 

On his turn 6, Consul finally launched the big assault I had been dreading all game.  He advanced carriers and Cromwells down the main road to threaten the northern objective, crossed his tanks over the hedges guarding the southern objective, and prepared to pepper my bailed out panther with shots.  His infantry failed to unpin and fired ineffectively at my teams behind the hedges defending the southern objective.  In the shooting phase, he killed one of the two infantry teams guarding the objective, then assaulted.  One of his tanks was hit and bailed out by a panzerfaust, but they destroyed the last Panzergrendiers and seized the objective!  His remaining Cromwell on my left fired and failed to hit the bailed out Panther,  but the Achilles picked it off with an improbable long-ranged shot, setting it ablaze.  

On my turn 7, I needed to seize the objective, and try to break the Consul's force.  I moved the CO and most of the remaining panzergrenadiers from the northern objective over to contest the southern objective.  The Panthers advanced toward the objective, intent on firing at short range on the Cromwell platoon holding it.  The last panzergrenadier platoon finally arrived, marching onto the board right near the Cromwell on my left flank, and supported by the Jagdpanther.  In my shooting phase, I destroyed one Cromwell in the center near the objective with the Panthers, which resulted in another morale check which the British promptly failed, and netted me another platoon, this one crucial as it was holding the objective.   I then bailed out the Cromwell on my left with a panzerfaust shot from the newly-arrived Pzgren platoon.  The Jagdpanther missed the close range shot on the Cromwell's rear, however.  In the assault phase, the newly-arrived panzergrenadiers overran the bailed out Cromwell, destroying a 2nd British platoon.  The CO and a Panzergrenadier team assaulted the pinned British infantry, destroying a team and throwing them back to the woodline.  My Panthers used a stormtrooper move to advance toward and contest the southern objective  

Contested objective.

Left flank clear!

Center Cromwells evaporate

Final dispositions:

Cat's eye view:

A weak chewy center:

German left:

Achilles View:

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!