Thursday, July 18, 2013

Overlord Batrep: 21. Panzerdivision vs. British Assault Company

Apparently it was time for a rematch from the game a couple of weeks ago. My friend and I analyzed some deficiencies in his previous list and came up with something that he agreed gave him more mobility and a wider range of capabilities. His previous list didn't have recon, for example. We simply rolled for mission and got Breakthrough. Normally this is one of my favorite missions as I think it is very tactical and challenging. This time, however, I realized it would be extra challenging because I'd be defending with a Tank company.

Oh well, we all need these kind of practice games! We were one of three Overlord games going on at Brothers Grim Games and Hobbies at the time.

Table after deployment

I was running the same 21. Panzerdivision list as I did last time (also proxying the same short-barreled Panzer IV as a long-barreled Panzer IV, don't tell anyone), here is the recap:

HQ - 2 Panzer IV's
4 Panzers
3 Panzers + Captured Firefly
2 Panzer + Captured Sherman
Pioneers with supply truck
Mobile AA
2 8-rads (for only 70 points! They're awesome)
3 Nebs
2 Luftwaffe 88's with extra crew

Now for his list. In the last game he and I both felt his list was lacking in mobility and capability. What we decided on was to go from Confident Veteran infantry to Confident Trained. While his normal infantry might now be less effective, this opened the door for other options, including a second Commando section. Thus, even though his standard infantry are less punchy, he will have two Commando sections + Crocs as an assault group. We also added recce, and traded up to the 17lb Achilles

Here is his new list:

Infantry Platoon (CT)
Infantry Platoon (CT)
2 Commando Sections (FV)
3 Crocs (CT)
3 Universal carries
HMG Platoon with one section
4 M10 Achilles
12-gun Naval Artillery

Naval Artillery is the most frightful thing in the game right now. At least for tank commanders like myself.

Another shot of the table after deployment, looks like I messed up with one tank there


I deployed my two largest Panzer platoons and the commanders on the table, hiding everyone behind buildings in my two table quarters to ensure that his observer wouldn't be able to see me. To be honest, I didn't have much of a plan at this point except to hope my reserves came on and just to be patient as he approached and wait for my opportunities. He held a commando platoon and a recce patrol in ambush. It was a fateful decision.

He started by just moving everything forward to break out of his deployment area and didn't have any shots. I rolled for reserves and didn't get anything. I decided to keep the platoon in the table quarter adjacent to his deployment zone where they were, but moved the platoon in the above picture at the double to get them covering the objectives.

The one behind the red house is my 2iC

On his turn two he continued to move forward, getting his observer (and the escort "blue" platoon) onto a centrally-located hill, which was a pretty good vantage point. He moved his Crocs, along with a platoon of infantry and the HMGs, toward the Panzer platoon furthest from the objectives. Crocs aren't just flamethrowers, and don't underestimate their AT 10 gun.

On my turn two I got reserves, and brought on the small panzer platoon with the Sherman. I formed-up the "objectives" Panzers into a wall, ready to meet whatever should come onto the table. My opponent now realized that I wasn't going for my usual "balls-out attack" mantra, but that I was content to wait and be patient. That said, I was still unsure of what to do over on my other flank. My Panzers simply couldn't hurt his Crocs in their current position. I decided to bring on the small panzer platoon in the table quarter with the Crocs, to maybe get in a position to create a pincer between the two tank platoons there and get side armor shots on the Crocs. 

After the game, in hindsight, I think I should have instead brought my pioneers onto the table quarter where his Commandos were now moving into the woods (see the "red" platoon in the above picture). My short panzer platoon would have been available next turn anyway, and maybe he would have exposed his Crocs more.

End of Turn 2. Note the small panzer platoon at top left

Next turn our forces are finally blooded. He moves his Crocs up to take some shots on my 4-tank panzer platoon, knocking one out. His observer for the naval artillery is able to spot on a concealed tank from that same platoon (I was forced to adjust my positioning because of the encroaching Crocs). To my unending relief he failed to range in.

On my next turn I saw an opening to remove at least some of the threats to my tanks. The short panzer platoon and the other Panzer platoon moved out (risking Naval Arty reprisal) to take some shots on the M10 Achilles platoon. Although the short panzer platoon whiffed, the other platoon managed to bag two of the 17lb-toting vehicles.

FYI those fireflies are actually Achilles M10's 

Either way, they're dead

Unfortunately, while the short panzer platoon passes their Stormtrooper roll, the Pazner platoon staring the observer in the face does not. Uh-oh.

Believing his remaining Achilles and the Naval Arty can finish off the one Panzer platoon, he further commits his Crocs to the extreme far side of the table to deal with the short panzer platoon with the Sherman. Apparently the Brits were eager to reclaim their tank. 

His Naval Arty found their targets this time, but since it took three rolls to range-in he needed 6's to hit, and even with re-rolls failed to make a mark. His Achilles however did manage to bring down a Panzer, dropping that platoon to exactly half-strength. 

On the opposite side of the table his commandos were stuck in a patch of woods as my pioneers and their half-tacks had arrived the turn before, and would MG them to death if they made a move.

On my next turn I kept my pioneers hidden behind a hill, and brought my 88's on the board in an attempt to snipe an Achilles or two. The last two tanks of the Panzer platoon near the center also moved out, ready to die if it meant clearing the battlefield of the Achilles tanks. Between the Panzers and the 88's the Achilles tanks melted away.

And this time I passed my "run and hide" roll

As for action near the Crocs: I fired smoke from the Sherman and then hid some more, but they were still tying them up.

For my opponent's turn 5 he moved his Recce onto the board from reserve to at least contest an objective. His Crocs had to move and shoot through concealment at my short panzer platoon, and he failed to do any damage. His Naval Arty managed to take down an 88, and I realized that if they unpin I should probably hide them.

On my Turn 5 I was able to move the 88's behind a hill, with the pioneers and newly-arrived 8-rads moving toward the objectives. Otherwise I didn't really have much action, just fired smoke again at the Crocs and moved the other two tanks in the short panzer platoon to a better hiding spot. Frankly, I was expecting my opponent to be more aggressive.

From Turn 6 onward the turns become a blur, so I'll be reporting this more as a narrative than a detailed AAR.

His commandos were now forced to arrive and found a bunch of tanks staring them in the face. The two remaining tanks from the center panzer platoon double-timed over behind the woods byt he objectives, and the 8-rads moved up to lend some MG shots and would also be contesting the objective while the panzers did their work.

View from the observer's perch, he's the grey base 

And this was just after the shooting

The assault wiped out the commandos, and my consolidation got me out of sight from the arty. In retaliation the Crocs finally killed the Sherman and bailed another tank from the short panzer platoon. A subsequent infantry assault finished them off. 

Predictably on my next turn I went for the easy victory point and killed the universal carriers.

We each spent our next turn dancing around; I tried to stay out of sight while he moved his Crocs and infantry as fast as possible toward the objectives. He made a big mistake when, realizing that his observer needed to move to a better position, he advanced the observer alone into the buildings. He should have at least brought the infantry with him, if not also the Commandos. I spent a turn smoking the observer, before moving my pioneers into an assault that finished off the observer (although defensive fire killed two pioneer stands!).

The smoke marks the location of the building in which the observer took up residence 

Post-assault. I had moved up the tanks just in case the pios failed

Fire from his Crocs killed the two-tank panzer platoon that was left as each of us began to try and get the other below half-strength. His Crocs were spread out but one was now contesting an objective. I moved an 8-rad up and smoked the tank, while the remaining tank platoon and commanders assaulted the infantry on the hill...and were bloodied! Between defensive fire and vicious counter-attacks I was slowly losing my armored forces.

He failed to damage my tanks with his Crocs next turn, and had kept his 1iC in a patch of woods which denied him the opportunity to spot for the artillery, but the infantry platoon that had been following the Crocs were now near the objective as well. I moved my 8-rads up to shoot the infantry, along with the pioneer's half-tracks. The pioneers themselves were given some smoke cover and assaulted the Croc, and actually destroyed it! One down, two to go!

The Panzers also finished-off the blue infantry platoon in a flurry of bullets.

On his next turn he moved one Croc up to try and flamethrower the pioneers. I knew that was a risk with the assault, but I was counting on the trained status of the Crocs working in my favor for their skill checks. I didn't expect it to work this well:

Oof...I actually felt bad

His infantry assaulted the 8-rads out of terrain, denying me defensive fire and killing them. I am really bad at remembering that rule.

The failure of the Croc to even kill one team really took the fight out of my opponent. I was down three platoons, but he was left with very few resources. In my next turn my half-tracks killed several infantry stands in reprisal for the 8-rads, and my armor sent his Crocs packing with a bunch of side shots. 

With that, my opponent conceded. For shits and giggles I assaulted his HMG platoon with my 2iC. He bogged on the way in and they killed him!

The final battlefield; lots of burning armor

I think my opponent's list is pretty solid. I don't know the points breakdown but I wonder if he can drop the HMGs and get another carrier patrol. I think he should have put different platoons in reserve, or at least moved his Crocs and Achilles in such a way as to support his reserves when they came on. As it was I isolated his assault units to the point where they either played no part in the game or were so disjointed that I could pick them off piecemeal. All of his vital units were, at some point, left on their own and exposed, which is when I pounced.

Call my tankers cowardly, but as long as I'm facing the potential of a double-wide, AT 6 FP 1+ template that re-rolls misses I'll be running and hiding all over the place.

UPDATE on July 19th: Only now do I realize that all but four of my tanks were destroyed during this game. A costly victory indeed.

As always, please follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar

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