This Thursday at the uni club we continued with Caesar's education in Flames of War.
Since he picked up a lovely late war British Infantry Company at the MOAB bring and buy, I thought we'd visit Normandy and explore the intricacies of the bocage rules.
Unusually for me, a generic scenario as I didn't have time to research anything properly, just two army lists from the Forces book, the British rifles at 1215 points, since I wanted him to get a feel for the power of Commonwealth artillery, and Bryan advised that he would need a minimum of 3 infantry platoons to have a fair chance of bringing off an effective assault.
Whilst Bryan would coach Caesar, I would be defending with 850 points from the Forces Grenadier Kompanie list: 2 small infantry platoons, 2 MG42 HMG teams, 3 Panzer IVs and 4 105mm Howitzers.
As yet I still don't have German guns of my own, I'm waiting for something suitable in hard plastic to come out, but Bryan's French guns gave a suitably Normandy feel - think 21st Panzer entirely equipped from repurposed French weapons and vehicles!
The scenario was the 'No Retreat' defensive battle, but adjusted for the points imbalance by allowing me to have only one platoon in reserve instead of 3 - of course I left the panzers off - no sense in providing targets for the Typhoons too early on!
I rather cheezily placed my objective at the far end of the village as far away from the advancing Tommis as I could, and Caesar placed his as close to the middle as he could, but over on my left flank - good to know which way he was coming, but I chose to remain fairly static, my landsers snug in their foxholes with all that allied artillery and air making the place unhealthy!
However, whilst he concentrated 2 of his 3 infantry platoons on the left, his remaining platoon and armour troop advanced on my right, more open flank - was he going for a double envelopment, or just keeping his options open?
I allowed myself to get distracted, targeting the infantry advancing along both flanks with my single battery of artillery in alternate rounds, not really doing too much damage to either...
I had left my MG platoon off the table in ambush, and was in agonies of where and when to deploy it - unfortunately the far bocage hedge, which would have been a pearler to cut lose from, was over the half way down the table, so not allowed as an ambush site with this scenario.
So apart from my scattered and indecisive artillery barrages, Caesar's infantry advanced steadily and methodically quite far down the table without suffering any more than trivial casualties..
Although the armour was held up - but not by me. The Firefly bogged down crossing the stream, and Caesars dice gods were laughing at him as he failed to unbog it 3 moves in a row! The 75mm Shermans were loath to advance too far without it, so the British armour didn't contribute much to the game...
The British artillery, however, with a 25 pdr battery represented by Bryan's Priests and Sextons,
And my BL 5.5 Medium guns, continually harassed my forces with a judicious mix of smoke and HE. (Yes I know the guns should be 4 inches behind the woods - it was a training game!)
As Caesar's two platoons got to the cover of the bocage line without undue incident, we thought it might be a good time to consult the good book about the effects of bocage. Once we discovered what a disruptive effect it would have on a platoon crossing it into an open field, with the opposite hedge lined with Rifle/MG teams....
Caesar decided to rethink his battle plan and send one platoon round the far left flank, and the other up along the road - whats the worst that could happen?
Its at this point that Bryan suggested it would be a good time to spring the ambush - I could only get one Spandau firing down the road into the bunched infantry platoon, but it would probably be enough! And so it proved.
His other platoon however successfully assaulted my platoon defending the allied objective, ending up within 4 inches of it...
|Photo courtesy of Kaptain Kobold|
All in all a fun game - I don't know if Caesar learnt anything - but I certainly did - selection and maintenance of the aim, at least when it comes to picking arty targets.