Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Return to Shedquarters (2)

Another  Monday Night, so it’s back to the Shed. By virtue of an early start in the morning I left the office dead on 5 and was back in time to do a few adjustments to last week’s finishing position before the chaps turned up.

As you may recall (or can read below in previous posts) we left the game last week following the successful eviction of the Nationalists from their village outposts. I tidied up the rather forlorn Falange unit who were disordered in the open and had a damage marker on every base. The remaining Guardia Civile unit I repositioned in the olive grove. The Republicans were in reasonable shape, but I took advantage of the lull in fighting to reorganise them into their brigades and remove pin markers. I then shuffled them onto a start line for the second objective.

This objective was the crest line village protecting the main supply route to the Nationalists besieging Madrid.
The first arrivals this week were Will, closely followed by Chris K, who gamely took on the defenders despite having read last week’s blog. By the time we’d got him fully up to speed and admired his latest Afrika Korps Panzer Division complete with scratch built tankers and discussed the damp problem with the shed (he’s an engineer, amongst other skills) Phil had arrived and we were off.
The first order of business was the Guardia Civile battalion in the olive grove. By now the players have got the sequence of action sorted. Pour loads of fire in to fix them in position and then put in a strong infantry assault supported by tanks. This is a pretty much certain format unless the infantry armour co-operation breaks down, leaving the infantry stranded in the open whilst the tank commanders sit around and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. When this happens the defensive fire usually shreds the infantry. This time round Will got it right and the BT5’s stormed on, shepherding the infantry onto the position.

The Civil guard in the Olive Grove await their fate
The way the rules are written infantry advancing with tanks in an adjacent square in the line of fire are protected as all fire has to be directed at the armour. As said above this works fine if they continue to move in a coordinated fashion, otherwise it can all be a bit messy, with infantry shot to bits in the open or tanks running into a defensive position unsupported. On this occasion Will got it right, and evicted the Guardia from their initial position, driving them back further into the olive grove.

Phase two of the olive grove attack.
Pinned Civil Guards attacked by BT5s
The follow up assault broke them, and they fled before the fury of the Anarchists (later reports in the Anarchist press focused on how a whole brigade of Guardia were broken by the fervour of the workers, but enough of that for now).
On the right flank Phil was slightly more circumspect than previously, taking advantage of the full width of the board and moving some units up under cover of the other olive groves. The armour pressed on in the open, followed by their infantry and artillery support.

The result of the artilley fire. Disordered a/cars retiring
Now the Nationalist artillery came into action. Where was their spotter? In the church tower or the windmill? No matter, fire poured down into the plain disrupting the advance. The armoured car recce units never really recovered and languished in the middle of the board.

Phil claims he had a plan which was to fix the defenders from the front then flank them and encircle the position. In the end it worked, but he had a few hiccups on the way. Firstly a diversion. The air support finally came on and bombed the Condor Legion 88s ineffectually. The air rules are not working well and need a good look at.
Due to their reverse slope deployment Phil had some problems getting to grips with the defenders. The defensive artillery fire also broke up his advance so he ended up at one point conducting a frontal assault with an unsupported T26 squadron.

T26 command vehice conversion storms across the ridge line road

They were sent back down the hill in a hail of hand grenades and petrol bombs. However they had done a job of sorts, drawing fire to the front whilst his infantry worked their way round the right flank and Will’s BT5s did the same on the left.

The Reds encircle the village.
 The Condor Legion should probably have bugged out by now.

 The writing was on the wall, pretty much. The Nationalists wheeled up their ATK gun and rolled their field guns into anti-tank positions but they had no answer to the armour. The BT5s rolled round the flank and overran the 88s whilst Phil got himself into position to launch his flank attacks. These fell in a series of waves, each supported by T26s as his luck on the co-ordination rolls returned. The Nationalist infantry put up a gallant fight but were steadily forced back into a pocket surrounded on all sides, disordered, nowhere to go. A notable victory for the Republic.

It's nearly all over. The last ditch defence faces the crushing might of
Soviet supplied armour

All things considered a very satisfactory couple of games, which sets us up for the Nationalist counter attack sometime in the next few weeks. The rules have a few holes but they are performing well in the key places. Firing and close combat are being dealt with quickly and cleanly with plausible unambiguous outcomes that incorporate the morale effect. Movement is working well, with an appropriate level of command dislocation. The sequence that players move is very important, meaning that attacks have to be prioritised to make sure you get done what needs to be done. There is a premium on hitting weakened enemy positions before they recover and shoot back.
It is probably too easy to overrun defensive positions if you have the right support, and I may want to look at the willingness of units to press home close assaults, rather than get involved in fire fights.
Having said that I think I have happy players, and the gridded board is well received as well. A bit more tidying up, then I shall post the rules.

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