In this next mission in the Too Fat Lardies' 29, Let's Go! campaign, the US troops must clear the area and take and hold the small village to ensure the continuation of the advance. Since Arthenay was taken in the last action, further progress hinges on this coming attack...
A separate German unit is defending along this line, so the defending German platoon is at full strength. As always in this campaign, a separate US infantry platoon is involved.
Pl HQ:1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ); 1 x Bazooka team
3 x Squads: 2 x Rifle groups, 2 x LMG groups (BARs)
2 x Shermans
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 81mm mortars on call
1 x additional Bazooka team
n.b. As discussed in the previous mission, the organization of US infantry in these rules will very much depend upon how the player feels about the BAR. For this mission, I have resumed classifying the BAR as a light machine gun.
1 x Rifle group (Pl HQ); 1 x Panzerschrek team
3 x Sections: 2 x Rifle groups; 1 x LMG team
1 x Hiwi section: 2 x Rifle groups (additional -1 on any reaction tests)
1 x Sniper
1 x FOO with a battery of 4 x 8cm mortars on call
1 x MG42 (tripod-mounted) team
1 x IG18 and crew
1 x Pak38 and crew
1 x Pak40 and crew
2 x Marders
The Germans are generated randomly from this list.
|The battlefield. The village of St. Germain du Pret is to the top-left, the US infantry can approach from the bottom or right-hand sides, the US armour has to enter on the road (top-right)|
|An overhead view.|
|A closer look at the village.|
|The US infantry advance...|
|A German HMG team covers the open ground...|
|US infantry and armour gingerly approach the edge of the village, but have not yet encountered any opposition (or noticed the German HMG team)..."have the Krauts bugged out?", the US Loot asks himself...|
|A shot of the empty battlefield..6mm troops do blend in quite well, don't they?|
|A single German sniper has seen the US advance..|
|but waits for a better moment...|
|The US platoon concentrates at the edge of town...|
|Suddenly a couple of Germans open up (top-right!) It is the German Platoon Commander, obviously caught in a bad position (the reason for this will be apparent later...)|
|Tanks and infantry suppress the Germans...but the German HMG team then suppresses the leading US troops (top-left)!|
|A closer look|
|Meanwhile, the lead section has pushed into some gardens...|
|...and towards the church, when the rattle of fire breaks out from the sturdy grey house!|
|Followed by a huge explosion as a Panzerfaust knocks out the lead Sherman!|
|Having despatched the German platoon commander, the US move on to suppressing and assaulting the German HMG team...|
|The German section is still holding out in the building: the US troops have suffered some casualties around the church...|
|Another German section opens up from the other flank!!!|
|Suppression from automatic and tank gun fire lets the GIs close in on the defended building...already half the defenders have become casualties from some good US shooting...|
|The US BAR team was caught and killed, but the rest of the US squad has managed to get into the buildings and is returning fire...|
|A wider perspective...|
|Suddenly, a German SP gun opens up from the rear!! (Presumably the German Platoon Commander had been visiting this position previously and had been caught between it and his platoon at just the wrong moment!)|
|The second Sherman is knocked out! However a lucky Bazooka shot brews up the SP gun in return!!!!|
|The Bazooka team look over the carnage from the top of the church tower...|
|The scene at the end of the battle. The German in the grey building (top-left have been neutralized). The Germans to the South (out of shot, bottom) have withdrawn since they have realized that the US troops are firmly ensconced in the village.|
US: 2 Shermans, 3 KIA, 7 WIA
Germans: 1 Marder, 4 KIA, 14 WIA (inc. 9 POW)
That looked as if it was going to be a cakewalk, then a total disaster, but in the end the US just hung on to claim victory - the loss of another element would probably have sent it the other way, so the crucial element here was that the US shooting was just a little better than that of the Germans, plus the fact that only one of the German SP guns was activated.
The Threat Generation System continues to give a really good framework for solo gaming, although I have begun to modify and develop it quite extensively now. The key thing I am thinking about is exemplified by the German HMG and the sniper in that last mission: the TGS generated them in a 'possible' position (if the generated position is impossible, then I ignore it e.g. a unit with 20m of a US element is not possible in the context of the rules, so that card just gets shuffled back into the deck) but not an 'optimal' position for opening fire. I solve this problem by not opening fire - I don't want to give myself as the US player cheap wins - but of course, as a player I 'know' where the HMG is. I can roleplay not knowing where it is, and I think that I did so fairly in the game, but that isn't as good as generating it in a position where the AI can fight with it straight away. A few possibilities suggest themselves:
A: Just ignore the result and shuffle it back in the pack. This would be okay, but it doesn't work very well for attack/defend scenarios (since a 'non-generation' card is a good result for the active player). Maybe I need to re-draw until I get a legitimate 'non-event' or a legitimate enemy unit.
B: Modify the generation table so that there is more emphasis on generating enemy units in positions where they can see friendly troops and it would make sense to open fire. This has the possibility of accidentally creating an unwinnable game though (because the enemy would be carrying out perfect ambushes 75% of the time).
C: Have a "main defence point" so that any enemy forces generated in unsuitable positions are instead generated in the most critical area for the enemy (and not worry about the foreknowledge, since these troops are in the area most likely to be defended heavily anyway).
Anyway, more good fun, and more coming soon!
Rules were WRG 1925-50, figures by Baccus 6mm and GHQ, buildings by Leven.