It was time for my 21st Panzerdivision to redeem themselves after their last debacle, and end this campaign on a high note. For my fictional tank commander, Claus von Slaus, this would be his last Overlord fight, and I had to make him proud. Facing them would be the might of the British army. We rolled for mission and got Free-for-All. This was going to be a slugfest.
The board after deployment
The King Tiger in my previous game did not do much to thrill me, and I began looking for other options to deal with heavy tanks. Having played with Americans for quite some time I knew that heavy artillery can devastate groups of tanks, especially if they're rated Trained and so only have a short command distance. With that in mind, here was my list:
HQ - 2 Panzers
3 Panzers + Captured Firefly
3 Lorraine Schleppers 155mm
Short Panzerpioneer platoon w/ supply truck and extra halftracks
2 Patrols of 8-rads
Overall I felt the Schleppers gave me more versatility than the King Tiger (smoke, bunker buster, anti-infantry capabilities) while also filling the need for something to keep big tanks scared. Also, dropping the King Tiger allowed me to fit another Panzer into the list, which could give me a small Kampfgruppe platoon if the situation warranted.
My opponent was running a pretty standard British Rifle Company. Everything was Confident Trained except the Shermans, which were Veterans.
HQ - 1iC, 2iC, bagpiper
3 Shermans + Firefly
3 Shermans + Firefly
4 M10 Achilles
3 Universal Carriers
4 Twenty-five-pounder artillery guns
2 5.5 Artillery guns
Six-pounders defend the heights
Another shot of deployment
He and I each made a few mistakes with our deployment. I should have put the Schleppers behind the hill on my board edge instead of the Nebelwerfers, since Nebs can't hide from smoke trails anyway. My opponent made the worse error, however, by over-estimating the durability of trained gun teams.
My plan was for an armored thrust to drive towards his objective near the hill defended by the 6-pounders and the 25-pounders. My other armored assets (including the 2iC + Panzer Kampfgruppe) and Schleppers would hold the enemy's armor at bay, and the pioneers and smaller assets would hold down my right flank, sacrificing themselves onto the objective if his armor and infantry was able to make over there. I won the roll to go first, which was bad for me because it meant an extra turn of dealing with British artillery.
In my first turn I dug-in everything that I had to, and moved my tanks into a position to get rid of the Achilles tanks. Since they were trained and I had quite a few shots being thrown down-range I thought I had a decent chance of getting rid of at least two of them. My captured Firefly found its mark and destroyed one, but the rest of my armor only managed to bail another....uh oh. Subsequent stormtrooper attempts were made to mitigate the return fire, but not all were passed.
"Now quickly hide behind this building."
His return fire hurt, but could have been a lot worse. After moving one Sherman platoon toward my right objective to attempt a flanking maneuver, artillery and his tanks managed to knock out two Panzers and bail two more. It could have been worse, but each lost tank is a dagger into my army. He also shot his six-pounders at my 8-rads that had advanced in such a way as to be able to lift Gone-to-Ground (GtG) next turn. I put him in a bad spot: either shoot at them and try to kill them, removing your GtG, or just wait for my veteran troops to do it themselves next turn. In the end he only managed to bail one of the vehicles.
On my turn two I was faced with a dilemma: do I try and kill his clumped-up tanks with my Schleppers, or do I drop smoke to cover a big move with the rest of my army? Ultimately I decided to take advantage of their versatility, as opposed to their firepower, and drop smoke. Between my Nebelwerfers and the Schelppers I blanketed the center of the table with smoke, which allowed every available Panzer to pounce on the 6-pounders. They had failed to dig-in last turn, and so would not be concealed from my shots.
The result was the complete destruction of the platoon. I even passed a firepower test with my MG's. Suddenly that flank was looking mighty open. That said, one of my Panzer platoons would have to do all the heavy lifting on that flank, as everyone else tried to hold the center and right flanks.
Here they come...
In his turn his artillery and Shermans foundd most of their marks, and knocked out several tanks. One Panzer platoon was forced to make a platoon morale check, and they failed. That put a serious strain on my available resources. The only Panzers left in the center by this time were my 1iC (von Slaus) and my 2iC. von Slaus was lucky not to fail prey to the PIAT from the Universal Carriers.
There's von Slaus, behind the building
Now you see them...
Now you don't (that's the 2iC)
In my turn I delay my attack only for the purposes of clearing some of the artillery guns. While the captured Firefly focuses on the M10's (destroying one and bailing another), his comrades who actually have HE ammunition to their best to kill some guns. Once again they are successful, as the trained guns stick out like sore thumbs. The 2iC bails another Achilles (they will end up passing platoon morale but, and this was key, neither crew would remount), while von Slaus kills two universal carriers (they also passed their morale check).
The wrath of von Slaus!
Artillery torn apart
I had also decided to forgo smoke this turn and try to kill some armor. My Schleppers had the below Sherman platoon in the open. Despite ranging in on the second attempt I hit all three of them. My opponent then rolled two 6's and a 3, and I then rolled a 1 for firepower. What an escape!
A failed opportunity
The board at the end of my Turn 3
I failed to take pictures on his turn because I was too wrapped up in the action. He killed two of the Schleppers, but couldn't damage my 2iC or 1iC. Even his PIAT missed at point-blank range. He started shifting his infantry over to the threatened objective, but the question was whether they could get there in time. My tankers got lucky and escaped an All-Guns-Repeat artillery bombardment, suffering only a bailed result. The 8-rad under the template (the one that had been bailed since turn 1) was not so lucky, he went to heaven.
On my Turn 4 I was ready to bring the hammer down on the objective. My panzers and 8-rad put themselves in a position to assault, although their shooting almost made it a moot point, but he passed platoon morale. In the center von Slaus and the 2iC managed to kill one Achilles, but once again they passed their platoon morale test.
Now came the time where this army has failed time and time again: Assault. My panzers survive the 25-pounder's defensive fire, and kill everyone except the staff team. The staff team passes its morale test, lands a hit on the panzers, and they cower away and fall back! (someone leave a comment if we played his wrong, but we assumed that the staff team can fight back as long as it doesn't have to move to counter-attack).
So I then was forced to send in the 8-rad (can a staff team on its own contest an objective?). He survived defensive fire and then rolled a big fat 1. The staff team passed morale and struck back, but I saved it. Then the 8-rad passed morale and rolled...another 1. This time, however, the staff team was forced to flee, and was run down.
Hey guys, way to suck and still succeed
I got to spread out a little bit as I just tried to hold on and brave his return fire. This is probably also a good time to mention that my nebelwerfers had failed to smoke his Sherman platoon that was just across the river (although the lone Schlepper, against the odds, bagged a Sherman that was bearing down on my right flank).
When his shooting was over my 8-rad and the captured Firefly were destroyed, and a Panzer was bailed, which would force a morale check at the end of the shooting phase. Pass, and I win.
I'm now going to skip ahead to the assault phase, just to keep up the suspense. He launched his tanks against my pioneers, but my panzerfaust knocked one out on the way in. his other two tanks rolled 1's to hit. True to form I then failed my roll to counter-attack, but the damage had been done.
As for that platoon morale roll:
A victory, by the skin of my teeth. A 4-3 win to the Germans.
I think my opponent was undone my his poor deployment. He really needed to have some infantry reinforcing his artillery and six-pounders. I don't think he realized how quickly trained guns will evaporate under concentrated firepower. As for me, I really see this force struggling when I have to fight the full weight of an opponent's army. I have to remember to concentrate firepower and remove entire threats at once, because I just don't have the numbers or the resources to combat multiple threats each turn. For all the bloodshed I only killed 1 of his platoons (the six-pounders, the higher command team for his artillery hung around).
Also, even though I was a bit unlucky with them, I think the 155mm Schleppers are here to stay. They're just so much more flexible than the King Tiger. Plus they have a funny name.
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