07 November 2020

Bastogne Falls!: Bloody Bucket (7c/12)

Bit of a delay in posting this AR, I have had a very busy week. We played our 12th game in the Bloody Bucket campaign this past Monday evening. This was a Blitzkrieg from table 5 to 6 with Sturm Platoon #5. By now, they were getting pretty worn down as their Company Commander "The Butcher" has pushed them into a 2nd Blitzkrieg. They were down a full Sturm squad and the Rifle Grenadier team. Fortunately for the Americans, they were able to retreat troops from Table 3 and 5 to table 6 so they had a full platoon. 

Sturm Platoon #5
CD 5 Green FM 8
1 SL (CR reduced to 6")
1 Sturm Squad w/JL
1 LMG Squad w/JL 

Pregame Barrage
Panther w/SL
le. iG.18 (-1 crewmen)
MMG Team

American Rifle Platoon
CD 5 Regular FM 10
2 SL's w/ Bazooka Team
3 Rifle Squads w/JL

Supports (?)
2 Minefields
0.5cal HMG team
Bazooka Team

The Game

This was the 2nd time I attacked this table but this time I was coming from the east rather than from the southwest. The table orientation above is with the east being at the bottom of the photos. We diced for terrain and this time the temperature had gone up, so the ground was soft. The vehicles would have to stick to the roads to prevent the risk of bogging down and there was going to be no rapid movement except on the roads for the troops. 

The Patrol Phase with the PM's and JOP's are above. The Americans had a pretty broad defensive line covering both roads and could deploy behind the tree line in the centre unseen. There was no way I could force a Withdrawal with the limited troops I had, so I really had to rely on dropping the enemy's FM. 

I did have some advantages, P-Y had deployed his 2 minefields in the last turn on this table and where they were in the extreme Northeast corner of the table they were going to have no affect on the game. He had a well placed entrenchment on the 90 degree turn on the dirt road which I was quite confident he would place his HMG team. I was worried about his Bazooka Team and I was suspicious that he would have a 2nd Bazooka as a support and all though my Panther had been lucky to date, I felt it could not last forever. I also noticed that the 2 JOP's on my right flank were less then 12" apart, my Panther is a big tank (>4") and with careful positioning I could deny both JOPs to the Americans.

The game started with P-Y getting several double phases, and he started to deploy several units quickly denying me the opportunity to get on the table with some units on overwatch first. He then threw a quadruple 6, ending the turn; gaining a CoC dice and generating a Random Event. This time it was barrage but fortunately for all it fell on an un-occupied area of the table. So now the advantage of the Pregame Barrage was lost to me but luckily I was able to get on the table in the next phase while the Americans had no units on overwatch. I placed the Panther on the metalled road and the IG on the dirt road, this was a little tricky as they were in LOS for most of the American troops and were only in light cover until I could move them (a 4" deployment range is a great disadvantage). 
The Americans had a sniper in their HQ as well as a couple of squads behind the tree line out of LOS. 
It was not long before they came under fire from both a HMG entrenched on the road as well as the troops in the centre who now had advanced to the tree line. I was in trouble here and was forced to place my LMG squad in the open to share hits. Suddenly however, I got lucky as P-Y started to throw poorly on his "to hit" dice and I throw terrific "to save" dice. 

I took a lot of damage but was able to move everyone behind a house where they still had a good LOS to my right flank but were out of LOS for the HMG and and one infantry squad, I was now able  to advance my Panther with support from the IG. I was also able to advance a 2 man team with a JL into the large barn on my right flank half way up the table. P-Y deployed a rifle squad within combat range but before they could engage they had to undergo overwatch fire from my well positioned IG. The small team was outnumbered but were able to generate almost the same combat dice as they had STG-44's. They were all killed including the JL but the Americans lost more men in the combat as well as a JL and they came out worse on the FM tests.
P-Y continued to have very poor dice, and I was able to advance the Panther up the road. He was able to deploy 2 Bazooka's teams, they must of taken 5-6 shots in the next couple of phases but had difficulty with their "to hit" dice even though they were at close range and when they did hit, were unable to cause damage because of the Panther's superior armour.
The Panther advanced shutting down 2 JOP's for a couple of phases and then advanced into position to have LOS to the troops embedded in the tree line. It was not long before I was able to drop the American FM to zero, game over.

Bastogne fell that afternoon, a significant victory for the Germans in the campaign.

Game and Campaign Summary

I do not believe either of us found this final game a lot of fun, P-Y had extremely poor dice which really distracts from the game itself and I really did not play the best tactics in this game. I had to bludgeon my way to victory which does not always give that much satisfaction. I was happy to win as it has been a while since I won a campaign, I actually still have 2 unfinished campaigns on the books (Von Luck and Many Rivers to Cross). I suspect that these will never get done.

In respect to the campaign, this is by far the best one I have played as the players have to make an enormous number of strategic and tactical decisions. At the same time, I have never had to ask some many questions as there is a real lack of clarity in respect to the writing. Some questions have still gone unanswered. I find this a little unfortunate as it is difficult to resolve some questions in the middle of a campaign between the 2 players as the answer may favour one side over the other. An Errata/FAQ is required here.

I am not sure where we are going to do next, a little burned out with CoC, although I still am in the midst of the April 9th campaign. We are planning to play some other games in the short term but I suspect it will not be long before both myself and P-Y are battling it out in the Jungle.

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