Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Battle Report: Volksgrenadiers vs. British Tanks (Welsh?)

Recently I was able to get in a game playtesting my Volksgrenadiers list. I will be up front with anyone reading this: the game was pretty lame and very short, but I still learned some valuable lessons. So maybe don't pay too much attention to the report itself, but more the lessons at the end.

First things first, the lists:

1780 Volksgrenadiers, all C/V (Me)
HQ w/ panzerfaust upgrades
Full Shutzen Platoon with Panzerfaust upgrades
Full Sturm Platoon with Panzerfaust upgrades
Full Pioneer Platoon
2 Sturmtigers (newly painted)
3 StuGs
Infantry Recce
6 mortars

1780 British Tanks (again, I think they were the Welsh)
HQ - 2 Cromwells
Tank Platoon - 4 Cromwells and 1 Firefly
Tank Platoon - as above
Artillery Battery
Artillery Battery
3 Universal Carriers
Priority Air

We rolled for mission and got COUNTERATTACK. This was good because I always like being able to test the mobility of infantry lists. Generally I don't play infantry lists. The closest I get is an occasional Armored Rifle Company, but even then I have plenty of armored support. I simply prefer being on the attack and using mobile units to out-maneuver my foes, and infantry lists generally aren't equipped for that. However, the Volksgrenadiers out of the Nuts! book are allowed to make Spearhead moves with their Sturm, Shutzen, and Pioneer platoons as long as a Scout platoon is taken.


Onto the game. I deployed anticipating my opponent to use his fast vehicles to make a run at the far objective. I left the Sturm Platoon to cover the objective in my deployment zone, and had the Shutzen platoon and Pioneer platoon set to make a run at the far objective. I also thought that if I miscalculated and my opponent went for the objective in my deployment zone that the pioneers could be used to support the defense. I made two mistakes during deployment: 1. I left the Sturmtigers in Ambush and the StuGs in reserve; they should have been switched (but I REALLY wanted to use the Sturmtigers!); and 2. I deployed the Shutzen and Pioneer platoons on a road, a mistake which will quickly become evident.

It became apparent that he was going to try and overwhelm my defenses in my deployment zone, and so with my Spearhead move I only moved the Shutzen platoon toward the far objective. The attacker gets the first turn, and I was shown the error of my ways in a hurry. Why do you ask? Because infantry can't dig in on roads, and my pioneers therefore did not start dug-in with Prepared Positions, thus leaving them open to a devastating aircraft and artillery bombardment. They were slaughtered like livestock.

Uh oh... 

Here they come!

Now with enemy armor breathing down my neck I was counting on panzerfaust teams and Sturmtigers to make an impact. The Sturmtigers killed one tank, but return fire resulted in 6 bailed-out results between the two beasts, and I failed motivation checks for both (I was bailed to death). My mortars, even with a double-wide template, failed to kill any infantry, and my rockets never even ranged-in.

On his next turn he wiped out my mortars and rockets with tank fire. I then launched a last, desperate assault against one tank platoon, but was thrown back in defensive fire despite my opponent only rolling 6 dice. My opponent proceeded to wipe that platoon out in the next turn, and I promptly failed my company morale check (StuGs weren't on the table).

 I don't like it when history plays out when I'm playing Axis, haha

 The last gambit!

And that's all she wrote...

Pretty dispiriting, so how do I turn games like this into a positive? By taking away some important lessons:

1. Don't blame the dice, but recognize extreme probabilities - I had to take a total of 11 motivation checks throughout the game, and failed 9 of them (including re-rolls). Not like it would have saved me, but those aren't typical results. Now onto the important stuff...

2. Keep your eye on the clock - An old athlete's adage; this mission says the game ends "on or after turn 6..." but here I was, rushing after the far objective with reckless abandon. Tank companies have to rush and overwhelm an objective; infantry companies should act a little more methodically. I simply have to alter my strategic thinking depending on the force I am playing.

3. Watch your deployment, especially when you don't have the first turn - I am not used to going second, and I took the Prepared Positions special rule for granted. I assumed all of my platoons would start dug-in, only to then deploy certain platoons on the road in the bottom of my deployment zone, thereby negating their ability to start the game in foxholes. Bonehead mistake.

4. Following the above Deployment-centric lesson: don't let your attachments to certain units cloud your judgement! I should have deployed my StuGs in ambush, but I had just finished painting my Sturmtigers and wanted to get them on the table, but they were a poor choice to ambush.

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