|The table from what would become Rhys' left corner. The water course counted as just a stream, so was fordable by all.|
Rhys's force was taken from a German Panzer Division (1st SS) list - 4 rather small battalions (10 to 12 stands apiece), graded Regular. Two were of leg infantry, each of which had an 88 stand in support, along with a stand of 120 mm Mortars, and two were armoured, with Panzer IV Hs and their accompanying half-tracks cross-attached. Rhys had two small batteries of off-table artillery; 2 stands of 105 mm howitzers, and 2 of 150 mm.
Rhys had been telling me about a game he had recently where he had maxed-out on British field artillery. 25-pdrs might have crap attack factors, but the British ability to mass their fire over and above what any other nationality can do in Keith's scenario system proved cost-effective in his game, and he recommended I give it a go. Sure, I said, I'm game!
So my on-table force was also 4 battalions-strong, each slightly understrength, but not greatly so, and larger than Rhys'; they were taken from a British infantry division list (15th Scottish), except for the tanks which were an independent Armoured Regiment, of Churchill VIIs (from 6th Guards Brigade), and whose three companies were parcelled out to the three infantry battalions. In support, I had a full 18 stands of 25-pdrs, along with their corresponding 9 forward observer elements: one for each battalion per infantry battalion. Thus nearly 1/6 of my points allocation was spent on FOs, and another 1/6 on the artillery itself.
My three battalions were almost identical, each 21 elements strong including the FOs. I determined to defend on my right, anchoring myself on the village by the stream; while I would concentrate my attack on my left, and then sweep around toward the centre after the 10th move with timed orders.
|Rhys' Panzer IVs move down the lane toward the village on my right while my 6-pdr element gets off some telling shots.|
|Here's the same confrontation viewed from Rhys' side of the board. The forests are cut up brown-fibre doormats with flock on top - easy to make and rather effective, visually.|
|The view from Rhys's centre toward my left flank; his troops are bottom- to mid-right. I had the advantage both in numbers and in fire support here...|
In the centre, there was some exchange of fire between our tanks where visibility allowed, which went to my advantage, aided by the Churchill VII's formidable 8 Defence factor, and this tied up his central force, preventing it from aiding both his left and right flanks. On my left, my artillery dice suddenly started to roll hot (oooh look at that - 4 sixes !), and Rhys' casualties mounted alarmingly. By turn 6, I had forced his first battalion there to check morale, which it failed, and the survivors started legging it toward their rear; they didn't survive the next turn however.
|A bit of smoke won't help Rhys' batallion here - the lane to the left is littered with dead Panzer IVs (which we keep forgetting to provide wrecks for...)|
So what were the lessons learnt? Well apart the the obvious ones we all know about 6s beatings 1s, the British fire concentration, although appearing a non-starter to the casual eye, proved its worth. Individually, each gun isn't up to much, but the ability to keep a sustained massed barrage going at the crucial point of contact - assuming you don't dilute your attack too much - can be very much worth it. I'm wondering if the ability to do this with heavier pieces than 25-pdrs would be too overwhelming. Test-driving required!
The other thing I learned were some further inanities of the points system. Apparently the WW2 points were developed by the Auckland club and thus pre-date Keith's involvement; and they really need reviewing. For example, a Pz IV H has a +1 attack factor on a Sherman, and a longer range. For this it pays a 20% premium in points (4 points), which seems a bit steep, but is perhaps arguable. But a Churchill VII pays just 10% extra to get 2 extra defence factors over a Sherman (and 3 on the side armour!), albeit while losing some speed in the process, making it very good value in comparison: there is no way 11 Shermans are as good as 10 Churchill VIIs, and even more obviously, there is now way 11 Panzer IV Hs are as good as 12 Churchill VIIs - indeed, 13 of them aren't! Likewise, a T-34/76 costs the same as a Sherman, despite moving faster, and having all other factors the same. Even worse, a Panther costs more than an IS-2, despite the IS-2 apparently being better, or at worst, equal, in every respect, factor-wise!
Rhys' game account here.