Monday, July 3, 2017

Operation Archery

On Saturday morning I rose early and headed across the Pennines to North Wales and the Deeside Defenders' Gauntlet show.  A group of mostly SOTCW members were putting on a recreation of the Christmas 1941 commando raid on the Norwegian island of Vaagso using Chain of Command rules.

Will McNally had done a brilliant job on the terrain; an expansion on the work he'd done for last year's Korsun Pocket game.

We had two tables, one representing the island of Maaloy (the -oy bit means island so I guess "Island of Maaloy" is a bit like saying "island of Isle of Man") with its German gun battery:

... and the other representing the main island and Maaloy town (erroneously referred to as Vaagso town in contemporary British accounts).

On the Saturday I played the commando troop landing on Maaloy to destroy the gun battery.  Gary played the opposing Germans.

We couldn't find the organisation of a 1941 Commando Troop so we used standard British infantry platoons instead.  To help make them superior to the Germans we gave the British some smoke and a pregame bombardment, gave them a completed Chain of Command die to start with, and rated them Aggressive in melee.  Apparently Will and Andy on the other table played them as Veteran rather than Aggressive and I think this was more significant.

We used landing craft as the British jump off points and houses and barrack blocks as the German. The coastal guns were initially unmanned because of the bombardment.  The game developed into a race to reach them first.

I managed to reach two of the gun positions and destroyed the arriving German squad and crews in melee. Unfortunately I lost too many troops doing this and soon had nothing left to hold off German counter attacks. Clearly we'd not balanced the scenario correctly.

Having reached a bloody conclusion before lunch we decided to reset and have another go on Saturday afternoon.  We left the remaining Germans in position but reset their Force Morale and removed their accumulated Chain of Command Dice.  I played a second wave of commandos with the same (lack of) supporting elements as before.

I launched two sections on a right hook manoeuvre away from the line of guns before trying to throw my third section into a piercing attack on my left. Unfortunately, while we were making about the game number of rolls for loss of Force Morale, I was rolling badly and although Gary's rolls were only average, it was enough to see me defeated for a second time.

On Sunday we decided the Commandos needed more support (Andy's lads had failed to make much progress against Will's Germans in the town).  We agreed formally to up the Commandos to Veteran and gave them much higher levels of support.

At this point I was hoist by my own petard. Having done the maths to estimate what I thought the command support "should be" if this were a standard Chain of Command game, I now found myself playing the Germans!

This time we stuck to the big table...

The fighting was fierce and this time the Commandos successfully fought their way into the town.  My defenders held the Ulvesund Hotel almost to the last man whilst Gary's reinforcements just failed to get through to us due to the crippling effect of a Command mortar barrage.

My only problem with the game was that for the last hour or so I had no opportunity to manoeuvre, merely rolling a few dice to fire and making decisions about how to divide command initiative between rallying off shock and directing fire.

On thing I did learn was that it's more efficient (in CoC rules terms) to have a section split over two floors so both teams can fire out of the same face of the building rather than on the same floor but firing at different targets.

It was a very enjoyable weekend despite my getting thumped three times.  I got rid of some stuff on the bring and buy (I'd priced it to go) and bought a few new toys, of which more anon.


Will McNally said...

Nice pictures, thanks Richard

Counterpane said...

Thank you, Will for the most excellent terrain.

chris said...

Great looking game and an action I know little about. Love the simple addition of a layer of cotton on the buildings as snow. Thus you don't have to have two sets of buildings, clever.

Counterpane said...

Yes, I'm going to pinch that idea of Will's. I think it was dressmaker's interfacing rather than cotton wool.