Thursday, 18 June 2020

Programmed Wargames Scenarios #11 - Crossroads!




Not a blog about a minor long running, UK soap opera from the 1970's! Given the pestilence that stalks the land, most of my wargaming is conducted on a solo basis. Time therefore to dust off CS Grant's Programmed Wargame Scenarios, which allows you to set up a scenario against a 'virtual' opponent. The maps for the scenarios are presented in 3 different sections so you only know what the first third of 'your' force is entering, before you dice for the rest of the table. There are also tables to dice for the enemy's response to contact, and so on. The only real decision you have to make for the enemy is to decide their order of march, within the sensible guidelines - light cavalry first etc...

I picked the Crossroads scenario as its a scouting / encounter battle which allows you to progressively feed in more and more forces, and I like the natural progression from light cavalry scouts, to skirmishers and infantry, then some guns, then the heavy cavalry, and so on...I set the scenario in 1814, somewhere in France, with myself commanding a French Force as 'Red' forces and a Prussian force as 'Blue' forces - assisted by some Austro-Hungarian cavalry and horse guns. 1814 allows one to do away with all the 'Landwehr' and 'Reservist' stats nonsense - by 1814 all Prussian units had a core of battle-hardened veterans, as did the French! Sometimes plain vanilla units are better when you're administering 2 sets of stats!


It was reasonably easy to translate the diced for sequence of maps to create the table, although the target crossroads somehow ended up much closer to the Prussian end of the table - so I generously gave myself a little more French infantry to compensate!



The only major change I made was to allow the Prussians to deploy at move #2 rather than #4 as suggested - I don't think CS Grant could have anticipated the speed with which you can deploy forces with Black Powder rules! The Prussians duly lead off with a Uhlan Brigade on their right and Austrian Hussars and Chevaux Leger on the left - both with horse guns.



By this point their French counterparts had already been on the table for a move so were well up the table, intending to force any Prussian infantry heading for the town and crossroads into square...until the infantry could come up on the scene of action...



Despite arriving on table in march column on roads, the Prussian Infantry struggled with their deployment orders...



So the Prussian Uhlans had to hold up the French infantry columns to buy time...



But in turn the French light cavalry were on scene to prevent any further disruptive attacks...



And the French Infantry columns were now advancing on the crossroads from both sides...



The efforts pressure from the Austrian cavalry to hold them back spread to the other flank...



With tactical success against the French lights...



But not achieving their operational goal, as the French infantry snuck in a battalion into one half of the town - the onus was now on the Prussians to at least get into the other half for a draw, and if possible evict the French for a win!



Unfortunately the Prussian columns were taking their own sweet time!



With the foot artillery backed up with nowhere to go...



Eventually they got into gear on their right flank and deployed...



But emboldened by the arrival of heavy reinforcements...


The French lights went on the offensive!


However the Uhlans were all over it after seeing off the Hussars continued with their efforts to pin the French infantry. 


Under their protection the not so hard marching Prussian infantry were able to sneak into the unoccupied half of the village...


By now the final Prussian brigade arrived - the Austrian Dragoons...


 Time to set up an assault on the French half of the village!


 So, with the Austrian dragoons keeping the French infantry supports honest...


In they went!
 

But having out marched the Prussians infantry, the French Fantassins outfought them too - not only was the assault repulsed, but their supports from the other half of the village were sent packing too!


All in all an enjoyable game. I think if I revisit this scenario I will play across the table instead - too much rides on who gets there first otherwise!

Sunday, 31 May 2020

D-Day Dusk - Part 3: The Assault!



In this series of three blogs we have been following the  grunts of the 4th US Infantry Division as they make their way on the afternoon of D-Day from UTAH beach to link up with the 505th Parachute Infantry at St-Mere-Eglise. They have bumped the German defenses of the 919th Grenadier Regiment in and around Ecoqueneauville:
D-Day Dusk - Part 1: Push to St-Mere-Eglise - Prep and Deploy!
D-Day Dusk - Part 2: Advance to Contact!




We rejoin the action with the Germans having turn four, with some tough questions requiring answers: Will the remaining StuGs be able to deploy properly and gain revenge? Well - sort of...


Will the German infantry observer, hitherto a silent observer skulking in the town, be able to use the 120mm mortars to protect the machine gunners from the yanks on the flank? No - the mortars had higher priority tasking as the US 1st Platoon provided a tempting target on approaching the depth objective out on the US left flank:


Will the US be able to start calling down fire on the dreaded Nebs and get things moving again? 


Well yes and no - they were targeted by both 105 Field Guns and the M7s, and duly pinned, although no casualties were caused.


But the Nebelwerfer battery unpinned itself and unleashed another devastating salvo on 3 Platoon, who, in the beaten zone anyway, had started across the road...


Meanwhile, the armoured firefight between the StuGs and PaKs...


and M10s continued...


with the thinly armoured M10s coming off far worse...until eventually both platoons were destroyed or driven off...but not without taking some StuGs down with them...


So, when it came down to it, it would be down to the humble dogface infantry of the Fightin' 4th to take one or other of the objectives...loyally supported of course by the Priests and 105s of the 42nd and 44th Field Artillery Battalions...


who were doing a pretty good job of whittling away the MGs and PaKs around the objective so that it was time to put in an assault - 2 Plt was up, after fire from the survivors of 3 Plt had pinned the MGs and the Arty had pinned the PaKs...


Defensive fire was still brutal, cutting down 3 teams, but not pinning the assault....


Incredibly, all four US assault dice rolled 1s! The German SFMG platoon rallied to the counter attack but also failed to cause any hits. Finally the second US assault wiped out both surviving German teams...


With the PaKs rmaining pinned, the Germans had to wipe out the US infantry near the objective to not lose the game....


Enough of the US infantry survived the barrage of StuG fire to claim the objective!


Game over - a US win - but truly the Longest Day...

Sunday, 24 May 2020

D-Day Dusk - Part 2: Advance to Contact!



In the first part of this series D-Day Dusk - Part 1: Push to St-Mere-Eglise - Prep and Deploy! we looked at the preparations and deployment of the 8th US Infantry Regiment of the 4th US Infantry Division on the afternoon of the 6th of June 1944 as it set out from UTAH beach to link up with the beleaguered paratroops of the 505th PIR around St-Mere-Eglise. You can see from the comments for that post that Disgruntled Fusilier is a veteran of the 4th US ID and advised that their motto is Steadfast and Loyal. Well they sure were on the 6th June 1944! Even the deputy Div. Cdr, who landed with the first wave, won the CMH! 


To briefly recap, the 8th IR are attacking the 919. Hessian-Thuringian Grenadierregiment of the 709. InfanterieDivision in a No Retreat Mission. The four Rifle platoons have deployed opposite each of the two objectives, Nos. 2 and 3 Plt. on the wooded right flank, supported by two platoons of TDs, No. 1 Plt. out on the left flank in bocage fields, and the smaller 4 Plt. remaining in reserve in the centre... 

They are facing a Grenadier Platoon and a SF MG Platoon, with StuGs, PaKs, Nebs, and 120mm mortars in support. 

Left: US 8th Infantry Regiment coat of arms


No plan survives contact with the enemy!

The most immediate problem facing 3 Plt and the first TD Platoon is that the Nebs' salvo template is laid foursquare on the edge of the wood line nearest the first objective, and minefields cover the centre approach around it...


Leading off the first US turn, the second TD platoon moves to the right to support the first platoon of TDs - they are exposing their side armour to the PaK battery in ambush, but with a TD all the armour is pretty thin!


On the outskirts of town, maximising the American Observer rule which allow unit Cdrs to register arty strikes, the German SFMG platoon is successfully ranged in. No hits, but pinned...meanwhile, 1 Plt press on cautiously through the hedgerows out on the far left...


For the first German turn, the first roll for immediate reserves is successful - bring on the StuGs!



The next decision to be made is whether to spring the ambush for the PaK40s. The side shots of the M10s certainly looked inviting, but they would be engaging at long range and would be sure to invite quick retribution from the M7 Priest battery directly opposite them...


This being a solo game, and quite a weighty decision for the Germans, I let the dice decide - they counselled caution, so the ambush remained unsprung!



However the US infantry advancing through the town were getting a little too close for comfort, so the SFMG platoon,having successfully unpinned from the arty strike, decided to open up with 3 of its 4 tripod mounted MG42s - surely 18 dice would have some effect, even if the GIs were in hard cover? 



But no, only 4 hits, all saved, not enough to pin down the doughty Dough-boys!



The second US turn had all the grunts pressing on right across the table, but both infantry and TDs were treating the Nebelwerfer salvo template over the woods with great respect!


The TDs brassed up the German SFMG platoon opposite them...


But this had no impact on the dug in MGs, however the second artillery strike, now requiring saves to be re-rolled, destroyed one team and pinned the platoon.


The German second turn saw the first wave of StuG armoured reinforcements getting close to the scene of action, and yet another successful reserve throw saw the 120mm mortar platoon


arrive on table and get well on the way to deploying, with judicious use of the Follow Me! movement order. 


With the TDs now hunkered down in cover, there was no point in revealing the PaK ambush yet, so the SFMG platoon again took the yanks in the town under fire, again with no result!


The third US turn once again saw 1 Plt. advancing carefully out on through the fields of the left flank, the mortar platoon shifting to achieve range onto the distant objective, and 4 Plt. move down the centre road, keeping up with the advance but as yet uncommitted to either objective. 



3 Plt. was by now well into town and its lead elements adding to the discomfort of the German machine gunners, who also received a third arty strike and subsequent pinning.



With the third German turn, the imminent arrival of the StuGs, 



and the attrition by artillery and infantry of the MG platoon covering the German objective, suggested it was now time to reveal the PaK ambush!



Combined with the firepower of the lead 3 StuGs, 


surely the lead TD platoon, albeit in the cover of the treeline, would be devastated?


Well, not really... 

Indeed, for the fourth US turn, despite the armour engagement now developing, the priority was to get an observer into the town's church tower, the only vantage point that would allow the powerful US arty to engage the Nebelwerfer battery and so unstick the TDs and infantry that are rightfully hesitant to brave the Neb's large beaten zone before closing with the first objective... 









However once the US formation Deputy Commander was in position and 'netted in' to range in next turn, focus returned to the the TDs...



 Who duly returned fire on both the PaKs and StuGs...



And not without results - scratch one PaK and one StuG!



So as we conclude this instalment, we leave the game with the Germans having their next turn four. Will the remaining StuGs be able to deploy properly and gain revenge? Will the German infantry observer, hitherto a silent observer skulking in the town, be able to use the 120mm mortars to protect the machine gunners from the yanks on the flank? Will the US be able to start calling down fire on the dreaded Nebs and get things moving again? 



Find out all this and more on the next instalment of D-Day Dusk!