Today I had the opportunity to play two games of
The Untold Stories from LocknLoad Publishing with Peter Atack.
played at Great Hall Games http://www.greathallgames.com/
Peter is a long time gamer and a new friend…whether he likes it or not. He has played extenisvely with the W@W series and also playtested some modules.
He was going to be a tough, wily opponent for sure. We chose a scenario pretty much at random. This was to be my first play against a live opponent (dead ones are no fun) for World at War.
In fact my first face to face war game in 20+ years!
I was looking forward to playing for a number of reasons, one to confirm my lack of knowledge of the tactical doctrine of combat, two to confirm I was playing the system correctly and three to ensure that Peter knew who was BOSS.
We chose :
Terrain here is key, as in so many W@W scenarios. Map A and C abut each other end to end.
The Polish must head end to end on the maps and exit units to win. There is no one road that traverse the terrain and only one bridge as you can see above. Any time you (Polish) enter a city hex, the West Germans (WG) receive 1 of three units (Civilian, Territotialheer and one of them can have a MILAN). With 15 turns, jets, and 2 end turn markers this game was going to be fast paced.
We rolled for sides. I took WG first time we played. I elected to defend in a static mode with this idea in mind:
At the edge of Map A sat Erp. If Peter entered there I would receive a unit in a good position with a MILAN in a location to slow him down.
If not I had these two kill zones as he approached.
From Essennorde I could see clear to Erp and past it. In hind sight a better choice would have been an Infantry unit, with the implied threat of a Milan. That way if the Poles either committed their Bridge layer early to cross South of Erp on Map C or wound their way across the bridge in Erp I could allocate the Milan and move the Leo II down there to support.
With the infantry unit in Allensbuttel who could see for miles, yet was not too exposed to fire.
Opening moves…doah! I had a MILAN but fell asleep the first two turns! Yeah It was a hard nite the night before but really? I could shoot clear into M4 on Map C. So he had at least 2 moves with no OW by me. Shame. Shame. Shame.
The Polish 17th and 2nd moved towards Martinsbuttel and tried to stay at range of the Leopard. However at extended range with the Leader the T 55’s where brewing up faster than cafeteria morning tea on Friday morning in Marks and Spencer.
Then came the Mig. There went my Leopard.
My fighter did some damage to the 2nd HQ reducing it before departing for good. So there we were 2 platoons and an angry mobile mortar, thankfully the Chaos counter pulled a German leader.
In desperation I fired rounds of mortars from the Marder at tanks to disrupt them. Prior to this the Milan had made short work of most of the BMP’s and we managed to savage a lot of them and loaded infantry.
All of a sudden BMP’s were unloading troops, T-55’s were blasting away at infantry. The corn fields of Erp were a light with fire. The sheer weight of numbers meant not taking OW was a death warrant, but it allowed units to get move closer, even with an extra activation over the Poles.
One platoon with the German leader decided to retreat. but not before he was Chaos’ed (miscommunication roll) out into the open moving TOWARDS the POLISH. We lost a turn getting him out of that and headed for Brunsbuttel.
That left one infantry platoon in Martinbuttel, which also chaos’ed into the open to be eaten by the POLISH.
At around turn 9 we called it, as the road was going to be open to the exit and enough units lay around to make for a crushing victory. The only real hope would have been to pray for double turn ends, and kill the bridgelayer, forcing a crossing at Wedelheine. This might have brought the loss to a major POLISH win.
The Chaos counter played havoc. Design intent fulfilled! Too much in this instance for both sides and players. I would change the TUS table in general to have the counter depart on a 7-8 or similar to B&B. While I picked up huge luck with die rolls the Chaos counter mitigated the poor saves by Peter and solid rolls by the Germans. I think the Germans should have retreated earlier and forced either a river crossing or a city entry to obtain additional units to aid the defense.
I mean how hard can this be really, just look! There are so few and we are so many! The Poles must use the terrain for cover, try and provide a modicum of over watch covering fire, whilst they close and use the special value of the weight of numbers.
Peter chose a forward defense. He immediately moved his Leopard into Erp. Obviously seeking early kills at range. The primary value of the NATO force mix is effective fire power at range. The Soviet T-55’s roll 3 defensive dice but require a 6 to save. Whereas the Leopard II has range of 9 (more with extended) and uses 4 dice with a to hit of 3….OUCH. Plus two die if the HQ is stacked with it :6×3 to hit. So 66.7% chance to hit 6 times…..on 1 activation.
The Polish have 10 tank platoons. Each has a range of 6 and rolls 3 die with a 6 required to hit, a 16% chance to hit.
He also rushes forward a Platoon of Infantry to Hoogven. Good. I intend to divert a portion of my forces once I have him locked down in Erp (well that was the plan once I saw his movement…)
The Poles moved as fast as possible to Erp, attempting to stay close together for command and also seeking an opportunity to bring a lot of rolls to bear for a kill shot on the Leo.
Its that or run the gauntlet of fire, and try and get some boys off field. As the West Germans cannot chase us on foot.
I expect to eat at least 2-3 T-55 kills north of Boekel.
By turn three the ATGM ready BMP-1’s had had two shots at the Leopard for no effect, and were getting the snot smacked out of them by the Leo they withstood 3 rounds of fire -OW, then 2 consequtive activations, one was destroyed then one was disrupted and reduced. WTH? They never fired again.
These guys are the best units I own. Its like have a MILAN/SAGGER on wheels. They have a range of 14 (Check). They have 3 dice (Check). The hit on a 4 (Check), that’s a 50% chance to hit!
The 17th infantry who had dismounted to bum rush the tank, were all of a sudden panicking. Weakening it or disrupting it had not happened. Nor had command done its job?!
Because their leader forgot the Arty covering fire. I mean… FFS the Poles had 6 arty mission. FAIL.
The T-55’s start to fire en masse at the Leopard. disrupted….palm to face.
We both forget to use Volley Fire.
The game changer arrived. The Mig attacks the Leopard. Adios tiger. Then arty scatters for the Germans and messes up more of their units. The Poles enter Erp tripping reinforcements.
By this time the 17th is spread out and command is an issue. BMPs race for Martinsbuttel, attempt to ford the river at Hoogven, and attack the Western German leader all at once…sigh. FAIL, the bastards die in a hail of 9mm Rueger rounds.
In turn 8 the Polish ground assaults one platoon, with a BMP, then the platoon and wipes one unit from Erp.
Turn 9 the same occurs for the Civilians at the edge of Erp. Game over.
I made this image really large so you could see I lost the least compared to Peter….ahem. :). The Polish player could always force the German players hand by entering cities near their entrance side of the board, and at Horgveen. That might complicate things further. The German could also assess a deeper defense. use the Infantry up front and put the tank deeper in the rear or vice versa with a MILAN equipped platoon. Worth a replay for sure.
I think we both had a great time. I know I did. We played from 11.45 am to 3.00pm, with a few breaks for social chat with visitors. If I was more adept I think the game would have gone even faster. The battles whilst blow outs for each player playing the Poles, really were pretty tense. The sense of impending doom as the Polish player as tank after tank dies, and infantry are mowed down is terrible. As is the feeling when that airstrike removes your only tank, and the enemy is still thick on the battle field.