18 September 2016

Closing the Gap: The Crossroads

Yesterday we finally got in our next game in our Falaise Gap campaign. It had been 4 months since our last game, both myself and Mike had busy summers, but oddly enough we really had no problem with the rules. They seem well imprinted now. This was our seventh game in the campaign, I (Canadians) had won the last two games and was clearly looking for a victory to clinch the campaign. Famous last words!

I packed up the car and headed off to Rhode Island, it is a bit of a drive but it was a nice day and I find the drive quite relaxing. Added to this was I was driving my new A7 as well as anticipating an excellent lunch that I knew Mike's wife Paris would provide.

It was my choice of scenario, and the only one we had not played was The Crossroads (Scenario 5 in the campaign book), this had a significant number of buildings but I felt we probably had enough houses. This is scenario 3 from the main rule book, Attack and Defend.

By now in the campaign the Canadians had almost sealed up the Falaise Gap, all they had to do was seal off the centre of St Lambert sur Dives and the Germans would be prevented from retreating to the east. Defending the town were hardened German Falischirmjägers,  these are a strong force with 2 LMG's per squad. The Canadians morale was high though and all though having suffered about a 15% attrition rate they planned to attack with vigour.
Canadians attacking from the right
The terrain, the forest filled the whole triangle and blocked LOS.
The German defensive position
Looking from the point of view of the Canadian advance.
The end of the patrol phase, the Canadians got 3 free moves
The 3 Canadian JOP's
The 3 German JOP's
How it looks on the scenario map
My initial steps were to lay down smoke in front of the German positions and then advance section 2 through the forest  to capture the isolated German JOP. I moved section 2 to support this and provide covering fire. I also advanced my Sherman down the road to provide HE support against the German FJ's deployed in hard cover in the houses. I had 18 support points while Mike had 7, so I knew it would be very unlikely that he would select an AFV. I had selected a Pregame Barrage as well as Allied Air Support. This made it quite difficult for Mike to deploy his troops in the first turn and the air support took out one of his LMG teams, things were looking good for the Canadians. I had also selected a Vickers HMG team as well as an extra 2" Mortar team. I like laying down smoke.

Everything was going according to plan, I waited until I had a CoC dice before capturing the JOP, so I could end the turn and force a Morale Test. I planned to split section 2 so the Germans had to divide their fire. Best laid plans!

Things were going according to plan, but immediately after capturing the JOP, Mike got a series of double phases (maybe 4-5), with these double moves he was able to chew up the Canadian section 2, causing me to take a morale test for breaking and then another for being subsequently destroyed before I could get them off the field. Additionally Mike was well prepared for my Sherman with what I understand were multiple Panzerfausts. Two FJ's jumped out in the road and fired this powerful weapon and kaboom my Sherman was knocked out. Bu now my morale had dropped to 5 and German morale was still at 10. I made one more attempt but lost another team and dropped to a Morale of 4. My command was falling apart to I made a tactical withdrawal.
Lots of smoke!
Here is the position after game 7. The campaign is no longer than 9 games, if the Canadians have not defeated the Germans by then the Germans have essentially made it through the Falaise Gap and escaped to Germany. Mike had an impressive victory moving the Campaign Tracker to 9, the only way I could win now was to reduce this to zero, as I lost my opportunity in this game to win 3 games in a row. I had essentially lost a full section. The Germans had lost 2 men, there was no way I could win, so I surrender the town to the Germans. A German campaign victory. Congratulations to Mike on a very well played defensive victory.
Well it was a great campaign, Mike is a real gentleman and an absolute pleasure with whom to game. All there is to decide on is which campaign we shall play next.