(the table after deployment)
Once again we played on a table where the terrain was a little more open than usual, as we suspect that the tables at the tourney will be fairly open. My opponent had two full platoons of FV fallschirmjager (which he kampfgrupped into 3 under-strength platoons), 2 Pak40's, HMG's (which were combat-attached), 2 8-rads, priority air, and a Tiger! This was good. My trained troops would face off against elite infantry with heavy armor; exactly what I need to get experience against.
HQ - 2 Stuarts
Full Armored Rifle platoon
3 M8 Scotts
And they're all confident trained baby!
"Let's get 'em!!"
"Get at me, bro"
As you can see in the deployment picture above, my opponent chose to deploy one platoon of fallschirmjager, the two Pak40's, and the 8-rads in the top-right table quarter. He had two platoons of fallschirmjager in the opposite quarter, and his Tiger in reserve.
I placed the two objectives in the top-left quarter; one along the road and the other atop a small hill, and kept my armored rifles in reserve. Whenever I play Breakthrough I dream of just gunning it through the center on the first turn, but Bob's deployment didn't really allow for that. So I decided to use the true strength of my army, its mobility, to full effect by doing a mis-direction deployment. I deployed all of my tanks facing toward the top-right quarter, leaving only my recon to scout ahead at the bottom of the board. I made sure to deploy one Stuart platoon within 20" of his troops in the bottom-left table quarter, while appearing to make for the top-right quarter. But being able to assault on turn 1 would get a large part of my force out of sight from the Pak40's.
So on my first turn I swung everything toward the bottom-left quarter, putting my troops in as much cover behind buildings and hills as possible. I also double-timed the security section away from the Pak40's. At the very least, Bob would have to move his Pak40's to get shots on my tanks. I let loose with a bunch of MG shots from the Stuarts and Recce to maybe pick-off an infantry team, but there was no effect beyond pinning them (not a big deal when he can't do anything to me on defensive fire). The time had come to assault. SPOILER ALERT: this was my most successful assault of the game. Trained troops are not great at assault, but this turn I managed to pass all bog checks and kill three teams.
Assaulting his positions.
I had done some damage, but now had to deal with his inevitable counter-attack. You can always rely on fearless troops to fight back and...wait...no, he failed his counter-attack check. Well...OK then.
End of my Turn 1. One Stuart platoon assaulted, another is sneaking up the road.
His turn 1 saw one of my Stuarts fall to a Pak40, but everything else emerged unscathed (even the security section, which was attacked by planes). Luckily his Tiger didn't come in from reserve. His cowardly fallschirmjager dug-in, knowing that defensive fire would shred them if he tried to assault.
If only you weren't so...trained.
On my turn 2 everything continues their general advance. The security section moves up the road behind a building in case his Tiger comes out. My Stuarts once again position themselves to assault, and my M8 Scotts jump behind another building, ready to attack the Pak40's on turn 3. The Stuart platoon advancing along the bottom was positioned very poorly for what I thought would be a follow-up assault, but I miscalculated the measurement. They would definitely pay the price. The Recce platoon was also positioned in such a way to influence the assault, and they suffered as well.
The top-most Stuart platoon once again dove into the assault, but didn't even land a hit on any of the enemy teams! My opponent just had to pass his tank-terror test and things would be very bad for...oh, never mind, he once again failed a morale check. That officer will no doubt be removed from command after the battle. However the fall-back move left me without any options for the other Stuart platoon and the Recce platoon, who were now very exposed.
End of my turn 2. His Tiger now enters in a wheat field off-camera at the bottom of this picture.
On his turn two he did wreak a bit of vengeance. His Tiger came onto the board and bailed a Stuart, while his Pak40's destroyed one Stuart in each platoon. With the Recce now strung out to dry, his infantry also opened up and killed the two Jeeps. The infantry near the Pak40's started shifting over to cover the objectives (something my opponent should have done on turn 1). The battle was still very much up for grabs at this point. Luckily my surviving armored car from the Recce platoon had good nerves, and it stayed on the board.
Tiger on the prowl.
Pak40's and Tiger take their toll.
On my turn three I didn't get my reserves. I double-timed the armored car out of sight from everything, and moved the security section along the road toward the objective (in my experience it is better to ignore the MW Tiger). My M8 Scotts moved to engage the Pak40's, and the Stuarts that failed to assault in the previous turn also moved toward the Pak40's to help wipe them out. The other Stuarts once again prepared for the assault. I did manage to knock-out the Pak40's, which is good.
No Pak40's. Good.
But my assault once again failed due to being trained, and I barely passed a platoon morale test (needed the 1iC re-roll).
Another failed assault. Bad. 1iC keeps it together though.
So the battle may not have been going great for me, but it was much worse for my opponent. His Tiger was now way out of position, his infantry were either far away from the action, barely above half-strength, or playing catch-up. AND my armored rifles would be entering the table in prime position to assault. My opponent moved his 8-rads down to take a couple of pot-shots (no result), and his Tiger took a shot down-range at an M8 Scott (no result). He kept his infantry dug-in, but recognized that things were spiraling away.
On my turn 4 I got my reserves, and moved everything to get ready to assault in his backfield. I tried killing the 8-rads but only bailed both of them. The M8 Scotts softened a fallschirmjager platoon with direct fire, and managed to kill two of them. My 1iC then led the M8 Scotts in a charge.
Yes, I know, I have to keep infantry teams 1" apart.
On the charge they killed a base, but the fallschirmjager counter-attacked and the 2iC popped a tank. I passed the test to counter-attack, and just shredded them. At the end of my turn four the table quarter with the objectives looked like this:
"Objectives secure, sir"
Staring this in the face, and with a dinner date for myself approaching, we called it quits. The mission requires the game to go until turn 6, but my opponent would have been hard-pressed to shift me when I still hadn't even popped my M10's. I worry that in a tournament I'll get someone who sees the game slipping away and then stalls to keep the game from reaching turn 6. The only solution at that point is to try and break the opponent's company, which I may have been able to do in this case. The M10's could go after the Tiger, Stuarts could go after the 8-rads, and now he's taking checks (albeit on a 2+ for Fallschirmjager).
I think my opponent's biggest mistake was not deploying the Tiger. Yes, having it in reserve makes a fearful impression, but once I was out of line-of-sight of his Pak40's I didn't have anything to worry about during my advance. I shouldn't count on fallschirmjager to fail two counter-attack checks in a row, but I also should expect to do better than scoring 20% of my hits in assault (even with TRAINED troops...*sigh*).