07 March 2016

Closing the Gap: Outflanking

Yesterday we got together for our somewhat delayed 5th game in our Falaise Gap campaign. This is the first scenario in phase 2 of the campaign where the German Forces counterattack the Canadian Forces who have now have defensively positioned themselves is St Lambert sur Dives. The Germans are now the attacker and have a choice of which of 3 scenarios to play. Mike picked Outflanking which is based on scenario 5 in the CoC rulebook: The Flank Attack. I felt this was going to be a tough game for me as the Germans have a fresh platoon of Fallschirmjägers with 2 LMG's each. The Canadians still had there original platoon and although there were 6 reinforcements, were still down 8 men from platoon strength but also suffering from a loss of command with 1 SL and 3 JL's newly raised from the ranks (4 out of 5 leaders with 1 reduced CI each).

This is the first game I have every had at my house, which made things very easy as the terrain did not have to be set up the day of the game (Mike has a great terrain table in RI, but is missing some terrain pieces so we still had to set up on the day of the game). So when Mike arrived we were all set to go.
This is a very interesting scenario in that the Attacker has two sets of patrol markers while the defender has 1 set. The Canadians could set up anywhere in the shaded area while the Germans Launch from the long axis and the short axis of the table edge. The only requirement is that each of the 3 sets of patrol markers daisy chain within 12" of each other.
I was able to mimic this pretty well on my table as you can see below.
Final position of JOP's. Canadian sector in the near left of photo.
I think though I will use the graphic from the campaign booklet to illustrate the game.
I believe neither of us played this very well, but here are the position of the Patrol Markers at the end of the patrol phase.  The Germans never really got to move their right flank set of markers as the Canadians locked their 3 down pretty quickly.
Position of JOP's, as well the 1 fixed defense. I felt it was critical to have LOS to the entry point on the road , as I was pretty confident that a German AFV was part of Mike's supports.
So we started the game from the above positions. My basic strategy was to not to deploy my forces until they were in a good position and in close range to have a good chance to take out the Germans. As I was severely undergunned (my sections were all undermanned and I think the best firing dice I could muster was 10d6, while the Germans had I believe 19d6 firing from all their FJ squads, remember also that I really had little ability to remove shock as I was down 4 CI's to start the game). I also wanted to have CoC Dice in hand so I would have some maneuverability. I had 9 supports and Mike 12, I took Allied Air Support (Mike threw a 6 so that came to nothing, I was hoping to take out a full squad of his FJ's before the game even started), 1 entrenchment, a UC Bren team with JL and an extra Piat team. Mike took a Panzer IV, a sniper, and some Panzerfausts. I do not remember exactly how the game played out but the gist is as follows. I should also note that we both diced poorly on the Force Morale and started with a FM of 8 each:
Mike put down his 1st squad and sniper down first, in response I put down my Light Mortar team. Mike then put down his 2nd squad, at this point I got the first of many double phases, so I put my largest section in the second floor of the house as well as 1 of my SL's in order to maintain LOS for the LM team and immediately laid down some smoke to block LOS for the German sniper and Squad 1. I then took a shot at squad 2 who was in the open but no real success.  Squad 2 moved into cover. At this point I really did not want to deploy much else until Mike declared his advance and I had acquired some COC dice.
Mike deployed a PZ IV, and fires at the house, but fortunately only 1 man killed.  I then again start to get some double phases unfortunately one of them a triple 6, so the turn ends and the smoke is removed, but I get a clean shot at the Pz IV and amazingly enough I knock it out on my first shot with a Piat! Also along the way I am able to wound a German JL and his Morale falls to 5. Unfortunately on the next turn his 1st squad is able to open up with 16d6 on my LM team and then my Piat team, fortunately both of them are forced to withdraw.  I get my SL and rifle team of Section 1 out of the house but leave the Bren team on the second floor on Overwatch. I usually forget to do this but it does work as I got to fire at the German 2nd squad whenever they fired. I also tried covering fire for the 1st time. Effective! We have probably gone through 5-6 turns now with very little damage to either side.
We seem to be in a bit of a stalemate, I am getting all the dice but really can do nothing with them. The Canadians bring on their UC Bren team, I immediately disembark them and send them behind the house. The Germans bring on their 3rd squad. More double phases for the Canadians. I slowly advance the UC Bren (purple line) through the orchards to get them to my forward entrenchment. The Germans are at 5 Morale, all I need is to knock it down one more and their command starts to weaken. I take a shot no real effect, but 2 FJ squads open up and they are killed, my morale sinks to 5. What seemed an easy victory is now in doubt. I then recognize (with some prompting from Mike) that there is an unprotected JOP on my left flank, the Section 1 rifle team does a bit of a loop (sky blue) and takes of to the left to capture assisted yet again a double 6 and the protection from the hedge rows. The Germans withdraw, a Canadian victory. No change in the campaign morale tracker though, but I do get an extra support for the rest of the campaign unless the Germans regain this position.
Well it was a fun game, a bit weird though in that I had so many double phases of little value. I did figure how to use covering fire though and I can see it's utility to suppress an enemy section while moving a second section into position. Very little attrition on either side, the Germans lost 6 men and the Canadians 2 and the updated tracker is below.
We are hoping to get our next game in this coming Saturday, we will return to the Hobby Bunker for this one. Need to spread the Lard!