Sunday, July 20, 2014

Get Here Fast!

I've spent the last couple of weeks gradually churning through the process of basing up my 1/300th scale WW2 Germans for BKC so there's not been much in the way of photogenic stuff to report here. However, yesterday we got in another Saturday Afternoon WargameTM when Andy and Richard came over to play Arc of Fire.

The scenario was adapted from an idea by Bernard Garraty in the SOTCW Journal.  I set it in the Netherlands in March 1945 as I wanted an excuse to use my recently completed Comet troop and possibly my King Tiger! Here are the player briefings.  Jamie played the Germans:

German Briefing

You are the commander of the German forces holding a defensive position east of the small Dutch town of Steenbrug.  Following a hurried radio communication you are hastily putting together a small force for an urgent dash to capture a vital target a few miles west of your current position.  

The exact mission is not yet clear but speed is of the essence.  You can pick six elements from the following ten:

  • Infantry section in half-track
  • Infantry section in half-track
  • Infantry section in truck
  • Infantry section in truck
  • PaK 40 anti-tank gun with SdKfz 10 towing vehicle
  • Forward artillery observer team (in Kubelwagen) with 3x 120mm mortars in support
  • SdKfz 234/1 armoured car
  • Tiger II *
  • Stug IV *
  • Flakpanzer M√∂belwagen *


The elements marked with a “*” will take longer to get ready.  They will arrive on Game Turn 1d6+1 (1d6+2 for the Tiger). All other elements arrive on GT 1.

The Möbelwagen is an experimental prototype with four 20mm flak guns which is in the area on field trials.


The SdKfz 234/1 is the version with an open-topped turret with a 20mm auto cannon.

 Andy and Richard played the Anglo-Canadian force:

Canadian Briefing

You are the commander of Canadian forces in the recently captured small Dutch town of Steenbrug, near Utrecht.  Following a hurried radio communication you are hastily putting together a small force for an urgent dash to capture a vital target a few miles east of your current position.  

The exact mission is not yet clear but speed is of the essence.  You can pick six elements from the following ten:

  • Infantry section in half-track with HMG
  • Infantry section in half-track (no mounted MG)
  • Infantry section + PIAT in DUKW amphibious truck
  • 3” mortar team in light truck
  • T-Force team (six men in two Jeeps, small arms only)
  • Comet tank (attached from the British 11th Armoured Division) *
  • Comet tank (attached from the British 11th Armoured Division) *
  • Comet tank (attached from the British 11th Armoured Division) *
  • Grant CDL 
  • Forward artillery observer team (in carrier) with 3x 25pdr guns in support

The elements marked with a “*” will take longer to get ready.  They will arrive on Game Turn 1d6+1. All other elements arrive on GT 1.

The T-Force team is attached from 21st Army Group.  They are specially trained in fast-moving operations to seize politically, commercially or scientifically important targets.  As such they count as TAC 4 for the purposes of this scenario.

The Grant CDL (Canal Defence Light) is a standard M3 Grant tank with the turret replaced by an armoured box containing a powerful searchlight.  It still retains the 75mm gun in its hull mount.

After finding out which selections the players had made, their choices are underlined above, I filled them in on the detail of the mission.  Some German VIP had been airlifted out of besieged Utrecht last night but the light plane carrying this person had been seen to make an emergency landing somewhere between the front lines.  Both side must race to retrieve the mysterious traveller.

I laid out the terrain (flat of course) as below:


The central road is on an embankment and blocks line of sight between the two halves of the table except from the upper storey of the pair of semi-detached cottages (where the target is hiding).  The Canadians and British entered from the near side.  In retrospect it would have made for more interesting tactical choices to put the embankment slightly nearer to them.  After this photo was taken I scattered on some foliage clumps to break up the uniform green of the GW Battlemat.

The hastily-landed aircraft (a Croatian Air force Hs-126) can be seen just this side of the road.



A river and a few open woods complete the terrain.

We started off with all troops deployed as blinds (painted cardboard markers used to disguise exact locations).


By game turn three the T-Force unit had reached the plane and found it to be empty of either mysterious Germans or useful documents.  Meanwhile the Canadian infantry had reached the embankment and deployed from their halftrack and DUKW.


They looked over to see two out of the three German Grenadier squads debuting from their halftracks...


...whilst the third made for the rear door of the cottages.  Here we can see, a few minutes later, Captain Horvath of the Croatian Air Force and Dr Strabismus (for it is he, whom God preserve) about to be escorted to a waiting vehicle.


At this point Andy and Richard got unlucky with the card sequence.  A number of Jamie's cards came up in sequence and the troops on the road came under withering fire:


The white markers show troops pinned down either by direct fire or thanks to a failed unit morale test.

With the objective taken by the Germans, all the Anglo-Canadians could hope to do was to make the Germans pay a heavy butcher's bill for their victory.


Andy threw his PIAT team forward to the corner of the Bridge parapet (so A Bridge Too Far!) and managed to hit and immobilise the Flakpanzer!


Meanwhile the Comet troop finally arrived (Richard had thrown a five so they arrived on game turn six).


Unfortunately for the 11th Armoured Brigade, the King Tiger arrived a turn later and soon two of the three Comets were burning on the road and the third was beating a hasty retreat.


So, a clear victory for Jamie's Germans.

As I said above, if we played it again I think I'd move the embankment from the middle of the table and put it firmly in the Allied half of the table.  As always, I was pleased with how well AoF moved along and felt that the card activation system gave a pleasing unpredictability to events.

3 comments:

Richard Phillips said...

Excellent game Gentlemen. I really enjoyed the AAR and look forward to the next time I can play AoF.
Cheers
Richard P

Counterpane said...

Thanks, Richard!

Pete Jones said...

Well done all looks a great game.