Fighting Withdrawal has the defenders trying to delay the attacker for as long as possible while inflicting casualties. All the while, the defender loses his own strength as his units pull out.
The mission description means that there are three objectives. All in the defenders (YD's) half of the table. He got to place two, and I got to place one. As the game progresses the defender must start (from turn 3 onwards) to remove a platoon almost every turn. On turn 6, the defender gets to remove an objective. On turn 8 the game ends and the defender wins. On any turn that the attacker starts with units on an objective, they win.
I forgot my objective tokens, so we used yellow tiddly winks. One objective was in the southern forest - defended by an infantry platoon and half track SPG's. One behind the house (top right, with all the purple circles) defended by the PaK40's and an infantry platoon. One on the hill top just behind the house.
First turn goes to the attacker. All attacking and defending squads start the game in prepared positions should they so choose. So all of YD's Germans were dug in and gone to ground (and concealed, for the infantry).
I started by advancing my main thrust towards the forest in the bottom right, using the hill and hedges for cover.
In the middle my Kangaroo's parked behind the house, under cover from the German guns. Ready for the infantry to move into the ruins next turn.
Up top, my infantry in their Kangaroos started moving towards the house that was their initial objective. At this point I was positive that YD would take his tanks down the table towards my main thrust. The MG carriers also moved forward and into the forest, 2 of them bogging in the process.
My shooting saw a 4.2" and 3" mortar bombardment on the troops in the forest. No casualties caused but the platoon was pinned. In the middle my 17-pdr carefully lined up on the Tiger revealed by the morning light, and put one round into it. YD rolled a 1 for his save, and the surviving crew made for the rear - leaving their burning tank behind.
The 17-pdr crew were to be heading home themselves the following turn, when one of the PaK40's returned the favour.
The Crocodiles added to the shooting by bailing out the two Cannon armed half tracks.
Over to YD, and he surprised me by moving his Panzer IV's to counter my infantry and MG's on my left (the top of the table) rather than moving them south. In the forest on my right his troops remained pinned and the half track crews decided staying outside their vehicles was the better idea.The mounted infantry that were his ready reserve had realised that at least one of my 17-pdrs had line of sight on them, so swiftly moved south towards my main thrust. As did the command platoons two half tracks.
As mentioned above, one of his PaK40's took out a 17-pdr while his artillery failed to range in on anything.
|Knocked out Tiger killer!|
Back to my turn 2. On my left, the Kangaroo crews decided discretion was the better part of valour and bugged the hell out! The MG crews dismounted into the forest (away from the tanks) and into position to fire on the hill.
I just wasn't willing to lose an infantry platoon in the building with 4 Panzer IV's (two with the short barrels), 2 105mm guns and a load of infantry MG's all pinging away at them. However, you can see from the picture above that leaving the flank up in the air like that was going to cause my 4.2" Mortar platoon issues!
On the right I pulled the Wasp's back and dismounted the Pioneers up to the hedge. Effectively swapping these two units round. The Crocodiles moved forward again, while the infantry platoon dismounted behind the Crocodiles.
In the centre my infantry de-bussed (or de-pouched to use the period language) into the ruined building and prepared to weather a storm of MG42 fire.
Shooting wise there were no targets for the 17-pdrs. The lack of HE hurt me a little bit here, as there were lots of targets but no vehicles to shoot up. I'm not sure that guns are valid targets for non-HE guns, so my guns sat quietly. I'm sure I have seen pictures of guns knocked out by solid shot, but then the British did switch to using the 75mm gun in their cruiser tanks as the 2 and 6-pdrs were lacking vs a/t guns.
My mortars again put a bombardment down on the forest and hedge row, but again no kills. To be honest this was a little wasted as the platoon there was already pinned and I didn't realise that the troops in the hedgerow were the same platoon. Due to the approaching Panzers this would be the last bombardment from the 4.2" mortars for the game, and the 3" mortars were out of range of anything but the bottom half of the table.
The Pioneers, a little stupidly, opened up on the Germans in the forest with no effect. The Churchill's brewed up one of the Cannon half tracks. A question arose at this point about platoon motivation tests. The rules state that you test when you have less live units that dead... we weren't sure if 50/50 counts for testing, or is it just 51/49?
The infantry in the middle peppered some of the German infantry in the building opposite, doing nothing. My MG teams fired on the artillery, but having counted as moving they did very little.
It's all gearing up for a risky assault on the woods... but there were still a lot of things that could go wrong!
YD's turn two and his Panzers move forward again while his reserve infantry dismount and get ready to reinforce the woods. There is a little juggling of troops behind the hedgerow next to the forest in order for the arty spotter to get a view.
There was a little worried moment when YD realised he had a potential shot on the Crocodiles with one of his PaK40's. Thankfully he was out of range! The Panzers fired on the Kangaroos again, but missed. I lost one of my MG teams to fire from the infantry around the hill and my infantry in the centre had some MG fire directed their way. Thankfully veterans in bulletproof cover are hard to shift!
The worst came from the forest as my Pioneer platoon melted. Sustained MG42 fire just tore it to shreds and I failed all the saved. I tested for the remains and they decided they had enough and quit.
|The objective... less one pioneer platoon preparing to assault it!|
Now things got a little crazy. Those Panzers were getting to be a bit too much of a threat so my 17-pdrs needed to redeploy and the 4.2" Mortars needed to get out of dodge. I whistled up the transports while I could and the great switchover began! One 17-pdr could turn to cover the area but the other 2 were shifted to be able to cover the flank as well.
This is a later picture, from YD's turn 3. But it shows the confusion in my lines!
I pulled the Kangaroos round the hill, fully expecting to lose one of both of them in YD's turn. This was because there was nowhere they could go, but also to provide other targets for those tanks other than my a/t guns and mortars!
Down by the woods my Crocodiles and infantry surged forward. I struggled with using my Crocodiles flames here, as burning the forest was going to prevent my assault troops making it in. Instead I shot up the half tracks some more, missing with both shots. The Wasps just couldn't get in a position either this turn, but were getting in place for the following one.
The MG platoon put fire down on the hilltop and killed one of the guns there. Thinking about it I should have used the bombardment ability to pin down both platoons.The 3" Mortars put in a bombardment of the forest again, resulting in the Germans there being re-pinned.
But down to business. With the skirl of pipes and led by Captain Treleaven the Jocks went in. I lost one squad to defensive fire, and only killed one or two squads with my 2IC and Treleaven. The Germans counter attacked and I took the majority of the hits on Treleaven and my 2IC - as they were warrior teams they got saves! Both passed and thanks to Treleavens special ability the Jocks went in again. This time taking out a load of the German squads and pushing the MG42 squad out of the forest.
The Jocks were on the objective. Could they stay there?
Over to YD's turn 3. Checking the scenario, he was due to withdraw one of his platoons this turn, and passing a skill check for his Cannon half tracks decided to lift them.
Movement wise, the Panzer threat suddenly ebbed as the Panzers changed direction and headed away from the oncoming 17-pdrs! I think the plan was actually to send them down to my main thrust as YD was hoping to kick me out the forest and hold out into turn 6 in order to lift that particular objective.
Hence the picture....
...of retreating (ok, so they were redeploying) Panzers!
YD's infantry reserves around the forest edge forward before the assault. The remains of the platoon that had been there passed their motivation test and then unpinned in YD's turn. They moved to support the attack as well.
Shooting wise nothing much happened. My Jocks in the forest weathered a hail of fire but were pinned. I think I lost one team to the shooting.
Then came the German assault. My defensive fire took out two of the teams that reached my troops and my 2IC and Treleaven took a lot of the attacks as they were furthest forward. Again, their warrior saves (thank the dice gods for Bagpipes!) helped me weather the storm, and a roll of 4 allowed my Jocks to counter (they wouldn't have without Treleaven).
I did a lot of damage to the Germans, and YD failed his motivation. Back the two platoons went (one of them failing it's morale check and being lifted) from the forest and I consolidated further onto the objective.
A really close game, the last assault really did just come down to dice rolls. One bad one from me or one good one from Young David and the outcome could have been totally different.
Losses for the game were 1 platoon of Pioneers for me and one beat up infantry platoon, and YD lost 1 infantry platoon and the Tiger platoon. So not the blood bath it could have been as the fighting was quite focused. And I didn't use a single flamethrower!
A good game and we both learnt some things from it I think.
Finally, some shots of YD's figures: