I posted yesterday (here) the player briefings for Sundays big game with 'The Old Guard Wargames Club' in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. I was pretty beat last night when I got home - but running a big game for 6 players will do that to you!
This game was the fourth in the series of linked games we've played (or at least, club members have participated in!). It started with (#1) 1/6th South Staffs of 59th Infantry Division, along with tanks of 144RAC's (33 Armoured Brigade) B Squadron attacking Brettevillette on the 16th of July, 1944.
We then played (2#) the attack by A Coy, 2/6th South Staffs and A Squadron 144RAC onto Point 126 and an attempt to reach Noyers Bocage itself.
We followed this with a night battle (#3), where 2/6th South Staffs were advancing to clear a start line for the next days fighting, while being counter attacked by 9th SS Panzer Division trying to regain control of Noyers railway station.
This game was therefore (#4)! 1/6th South Staffs attacking Noyers from the orchards to the north, while a company of 2/6th South Staffs attacked from the east.
The map for the game was set up using a mixture of the map above and an aerial recon photo I have from some files on 144RAC that were photographed for me at Kew.
Hopefully, if you compare the aerial photo above to the picture at the top of this blog, you should see some resemblance! Of course, as I have a 'mobile' setup, it's very difficult to get things exactly right, but I think it was pretty close!
The table was set up using my terrain, other than the table matt/cloth, which was borrowed from Dave D. Overall, I'm happy with the terrain, but as ever there are area's that need improvement!
For game rules, we were mainly using Flames of War v4 (with a few tweaks to fit the scenario and a more spread out German defence). Nice and easy for the guys to pick up and gives a decent enough approximation of the combat while keeping turns nice and short. Yes, there were a few tweaks to the rules, but I would have had to do this with any rules set.
I also had a system of off table artillery for both the Brits and the Germans. The Brits (who were the players, the Germans were deployed on a sketch map and only revealed when encountered) could activate 'random events' on the table, and collect the tokens to then spend on artillery or reserves.
The Brits were attacking from two directions - directly into the village, and up the map cross country. Both faced different challenges, and had various options. Angus led the company attacking into the village, along with Ian and Martin (who's account of the game can be found here). Pete, who hadn't played in these games before, led Roy and John in the across country attack. Both commanders decided that it would be a good idea to attack before dawn, so as to get 3 turns of darkness to close with the German defences. After some discussion, it was decided not to use a preparatory bombardment, and make use of stealth.
Everyone had a depleted infantry platoon (only 5 infantry teams, HQ, PIAT and Mortar) to account for the previous days casualties, along with a troop of only 3 Sherman's (only some of the Sherman troops had Firefly's, again taking into account the previous games casualties). Angus also had a Vickers MMG platoon and Pioneers, while Pete had a 3" Mortar platoon.
I'm afraid, what with running the game for everyone, I totally forgot about pictures for the first few turns!
|German guns, deployed as per Dave's instructions! Carefully hidden behind the closest hedge. If the Brits had attacked in the daylight with their Shermans, things could have been very messy.|
|88's and 2cm AA...|
|Infantry with MG42 in the barn, backed up by 2 Pak40's.|
Meanwhile, Roy took out the infantry, Mg42, Pak and another 88.... and got another 'Calvados stash' result, meaning he was hitting on 2+ and suffering a -2 penalty to shooting due to his troops inebriation. I think his Lieutenant might be in for a DSO or MC he can't remember earning.
|Meanwhile... it looks quiet... too quiet...|
|German defenders are discovered, with a 5cm A/T gun and 2cm AA gun covering the road. The building on the left was also occupied by grenadiers with an attached HMG.|
|Angus keeps moving forward!|
|Roy's assault about to go in, while John has penetrated the defences and found another 88.|
|Another view of Roy's platoon, about to charge the barn! - and the Shermans arrive, only for one of them to get knocked out by a Pak40. The vulnerability of the Shermans to the Pak40's seemed to come as a bit of a surprise...|
|Pete's troops move backwards, away from the German 2cm AA and 88, while the Mortars arrive and deploy.|
|88's view of the Shermans|
|Roys attack goes in! And finds another cache of Calvados... Roy takes out the infantry and Pak40 - the 88 crew leg it and abandon the gun (my call as umpire, they could do nothing to stop rampaging infantry).|
|The firefight continues, although Shermans had now arrived.|
Once the armour game on, the Brits started to move forward a bit - I think Roy's determined assaults gave a clue as to the best way of shifting dug in Germans!
|Unfortunately, allied armour wasn't the only armour in the area!|
|The StuG's had spent a lot of the game bailed, due to allied random events which specified the closest armoured vehicle became bailed - when they had no armour on the table! Trouble starting those engines, I suppose!|
|Typhoon attack on the 88's - spot the yellow 'smoke' with the platoons at the back! I was using skill checks for simple things, like the Typhoons identifying the target, and the Brits popping smoke to avoid being hit themselves.|
|The Croc's also arrived.|
|German defences re-organising. Both StuG's died without achieving much. I did have Panzer IV's to bring on at a random point, but kept forgetting to roll for their arrival. Too caught up in the game!|
|The Vickers occupied the grey building - which must have been swiss cheese by this point!|
|British infantry penetrates the orchard from the country side of the board. The Pak40 is taken out in an assault by Roy and John's troops, while Roy's troops also send the fusilier platoon running.|
|German Mortars had been dug in behind the church, but as their presence was never going to make a huge difference, I didn't deploy them in sight. If the game had played on, I would have!|
|A Typhoon strike killed a retreating Pak40, but one of the Typhoons was brought down by the AA in the churchyard.|
|Roy's infantry got a 'lost' event, and went in the wrong direction... almost like they were drunk... I'm going to rename that event as 'contradictory/garbled orders' I think.|
|Pete's OC and OP teams, trying to catch up!|
|The whole board, at the end!|
|Pretty pleased with the town, but I think it would have looked better with more setup time and a bit more greenery. Outbuildings and maybe some more houses are still on the cards...|
So that's it!
The players have done better than historically was achieved, but I think the defences historically were far tougher, with the recce battalion of 9th SS being committed to the fight, as well as armoured assets from 9th SS which included Panthers, StuG and Panzer IV's. German artillery and mortar fire was also more prevalent than I think I used. I think this was a tougher game for the players this time, but to their credit they used very few reinforcements and worked as a team. The empty battlefield really adds something!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and as players they were great fun to umpire for. Fingers crossed we can get something like this going again, although whether we continue with Operation Pomegranate or try something else, I don't know! Certainly, as a proof of concept for how I'd like to play historical based WW2 games in the future it worked well.
Thanks to Angus, Pete, John, Martin, Ian and Roy. Thanks also to Dave D for use of the matt! For more pictures, check out Martin's blog post!