Bloody Weekend at Villiers – A Crossfire Mini-Campaign

Brett Simpson ran a Crossfire mini-campaign over a weekend. Four games were played in total: two Meeting Engagements and Two Bridgeheads. Saturday’s scenario was a Meeting Engagement with the objective of taking the rail hotel (Provincial Beige Building). Sunday used the same table layout, but switched to a Bridgehead. This simulates a counter-attack by whichever force lost on Saturday. There were four games because the players swapped side on each day. Brett wrote up two of the games.


The Campaign

A single table is used for the entire campaign.

Sheffler 01 - A rough map of the table

Sheffler 01 – A rough map of the table

The campaign has two linked scenarios, which Brett ran over two days:

  • Saturday: a Meeting Engagement Scenario. The side that captures the rail hotel (Provincial Beige Building) wins.
  • Sunday: a Bridgehead Scenario. The loser from the previous game gets a second chance.

Brett and his team played four games over the weekend with the players swapping sides on each day.

Sheffler 00 - the Table

Sheffler 00 – the Table

Brett provided a battle report for Game 1 and Game 4.


Meeting Engagement – Villiers – Saturday Game 1

The Germans started with the initiative and deployed from the forested end of the table, quickly occupying the Rail Building (the Mission Objective). They were booted out by the British – losing the bulk of their 1st Platoon and a Panzer III Ausf J.

The Allies then mobilised not one, but three pieces of armour on to the road from surrounding farmlands. All three were taken out by a StuG III that was lying in wait on the outskirts of town, leaving the British with just one Sherman M4.

Despite the loss of armour, the Tommies managed to hold the Rail Building for the required number of initiatives, but the British Player insisted on playing-on (!). He pitted his last remaining tank against the StuG III, which proved to be a very bad command choice; the M4 was destroyed, resulting in a loss of more than 1/3 of the British Force and a stalemate.


Sheffler’s Gambit: Assault on Villiers – Sunday Game 4

This is the final bridgehead game – the fourth game of the weekend – and by far the most interesting…

Previously, in Saturday Game 2

German and British forces fought it out over the village of Villiers, with victory going to the latter; they entered from the farmlands to the south, quickly occupying the Rail Building at the centre of the map, took out some German armour with an extremely bold PIAT strike (the PIAT Team stepped out of the bocage right in front of a StuG III, were pinned by its machinegun, but disabled the AFV in a single shot), and then advanced over the rail line occupying the adjacent building. The allies called in the remainder of their battalion and the Germans fled – a short, sharp, decisive victory.

Sheffler 02 - View from the south

Sheffler 02 – View from the south

Sheffler 03 - View from the north

Sheffler 03 – View from the north

Situation

The Royal Engineers have been and gone after fortifying Villiers, and two-thirds of the infantry battalion have also moved on, but the remaining force has been augmented by an AFV troop and 6-pound ATG.

The Germans are keen to take Villiers due to its strategic position and the railroad, and have devised a plan to weaken the allied force stationed there: assaulting a neighbouring village with the view of drawing out the British armour. This has worked – three Shermans have vacated Villiers leaving a reconnaissance tank as the only armour. The Germans snuck in north of the railroad in the dead of night, determined to overrun the village with superior firepower at first light…

Sheffler 04 - Fortifications

Sheffler 04 – Fortifications

Sheffler 5a - 2-Squad Bunker on table

Sheffler 5a – 2-Squad Bunker on table

Sheffler 5b - 2-Squad Bunker Counter off table

Sheffler 5b – 2-Squad Bunker Counter off table

Forces Available

German Force:

  • 1 x Late War Infantry Company with a Panzerschrek Team and Panzerfaust Team
  • 1 x StuG III Ausf G
  • 2 x Panzer III Ausf Js

British Force:

  • 1 x British Rifle Company (+2 CC and a +2 PC for its 1st Platoon – others +1)
  • 2 x PIAT Teams
  • 1 x 6-pound ATG
  • 1 x M3A3 Stuart Light Tank
  • Fortification Package with Dragon’s Teeth

British Reinforcements:

  • 1 x Sherman Firefly
  • 2 x Sherman M4A2s (75mm)

Reinforcements will arrive after the Germans occupy the fourth British terrain feature or structure as per the Bridgehead Scenario guidelines.

NOTES:
1) We base IAT Teams as separate units (like MG crews) – because they look cool.
2) We give IATs -1 ACC instead of -2, and allow them 2 dice when firing at infantry. They ignore normal cover, as we also allow for the Main Guns of AFVs.
3) We drew inspiration from Steven Thomas regarding AFVs, allowing them to fire in the same fashion and ROF as infantry; in addition, the Main Gun and MG of any single AFV can fire as a group move. With movement: Light AFVs receive three moves per turn, Medium AFVs receive two, Heavy AFVs receive but one.
4) Our bunkers have a low profile – too low to house figures, so we set up a cardboard counter off-table with the same dimensions (100mm x 50mm) and sat the occupants on top of it for clarity.

Deployment

Sheffler 06 - British 3rd Platoon awaiting the return of the Shermans to the south

Sheffler 06 – British 3rd Platoon awaiting the return of the Shermans to the south

Sheffler 07 - British 2nd Platoon and Stuart in front of the Farmhouse housing their CC

Sheffler 07 – British 2nd Platoon and Stuart in front of the Farmhouse housing their CC

Sheffler 08 - ATG and Rail Building housing British 1st Platoon and 2-inch Mortar Crew

Sheffler 08 – ATG and Rail Building housing British 1st Platoon and 2-inch Mortar Crew

Sheffler 09 - German CC in the woods to the north

Sheffler 09 – German CC in the woods to the north

Sheffler 10 - German West Flank - note burned-out Sherman from a previous fight

Sheffler 10 – German West Flank – note burned-out Sherman from a previous fight

Sheffler 11 - German East Flank

Sheffler 11 – German East Flank

Dawn’s Early Light

The Germans began their assault by mobilising a StuG III onto the Main Road. This was immediately targeted by the 6-pounder crew, who successfully hit the AFV only to see the round deflect off of its armoured hull. The StuG returned fire on the ATG crew with deadly accuracy; they then opened up on the British 1st Platoon housed in the Rail Building.

Sheffler 12 - The StuG emerges from the woods

Sheffler 12 – The StuG emerges from the woods

To the east, a PIAT Team emerged from the bunker to get a clear shot at a Panzer III advancing on their position – taking out the German AFV with their first shot. This alerted the StuG to their presence, which consequently turned to face them; the German retribution was swift, and the PIAT Team fell.

Sheffler 13 - PIAT versus Panzer

Sheffler 13 – PIAT versus Panzer

The British 2-inch Mortar Team launched smoke across the Main Road to obstruct the StuG’s view of the Rail Building and those within fled outside, taking cover at the rear of the structure. This led to the Germans using the smoke to their own advantage, mobilising infantry across the Main Road toward a ruined building adjacent to the bunker, and advancing other forces directly toward the rail line. The British advanced their second PIAT Team up behind the cover previously being used by the ATG.

Sheffler 14 - 1st Platoon and Mortar Crew exit the Rail Building

Sheffler 14 – 1st Platoon and Mortar Crew exit the Rail Building

A German FO then directed mortar fire down onto the wire along the railway track in front of the bunker, enabling their 3rd Platoon to cross unhindered: they stormed the bunker and made quick work of the Vicker’s Crew within.

Sheffler 15 - Storming the bunker

Sheffler 15 – Storming the bunker

Meanwhile, the German 2nd Platoon advanced on the Rail Building. They hesitated at the front of the building and British troops burst inside. After a short but deadly exchange, the Germans fell.

Sheffler 16 - 2nd Platoon advances

Sheffler 16 – 2nd Platoon advances

Sheffler 17 - A short but deadly exchange

Sheffler 17 – A short but deadly exchange

A second Panzer III came rolling around the corner, opening fire on the building. The PIAT Team took aim at the rear of the tank, but missed by a long shot. This cost them their lives.

The Allies launched another smoke bomb to obstruct the StuG, which otherwise had a clear view all the way down the Main Road. Their Stuart Tank advanced, first taking out a Spandau Team, and then the Panzer III. It then turned right along the East Road only to fall victim to a sneaky Panzerschrek Team.

Sheffler 18 - Stuart versus Spandau

Sheffler 18 – Stuart versus Spandau

Sheffler 19 - A sneaky assault

Sheffler 19 – A sneaky assault

The Germans then advanced an infantry section into the North Field who quickly discovered it was mined.

The British again dropped smoke to obstruct the view of the StuG and their 3rd Platoon advanced northeast across the Main Road and past the Farmhouse to relieve members of 2nd Platoon who pushed eastward, taking up position behind a brick wall and opening up on two sections of the German 3rd Platoon (the remainder of which were inside the bunker alongside some of 1st Platoon). They quickly suppressed one section, jumped over the brick wall and bayoneted the enemy, but fell victim to German bayonets as they pushed forward into the bunker.

Sheffler 20 - Close Combat

Sheffler 20 – Close Combat

After the smoke cleared, the StuG III pushed southward, and were stormed by the British 3rd Platoon who suffered the loss of one section, but managed to set fire to the AFV.

With the loss of their StuG, the Germans called in smoke of their own, and began mobilising their forces eastward.

Sheffler 21 - The last of the German armour

Sheffler 21 – The last of the German armour

Sheffler 22 - German Medium Mortar Smoke - the mined wheat field can be seen in the distance

Sheffler 22 – German Medium Mortar Smoke – the mined wheat field can be seen in the distance

Hearing the sound of approaching British Armour, the Panzerschrek Team took up position amongst some rubble, accompanied by a rifle section.

Sheffler 23 - Tank Hunters on the move

Sheffler 23 – Tank Hunters on the move

Suddenly, the Shermans appeared to the south Villiers; they came under attack by Panzerschrek and Panzerfaust Teams on two flanks, but made short work of them with retaliatory fire from their Main Guns and MGs.

Sheffler 23 - Reinforcements

Sheffler 23 – Reinforcements

Sheffler 24 - The Shermans take out a Panzerfaust behind a second storey window

Sheffler 24 – The Shermans take out a Panzerfaust behind a second storey window

The Firefly took the lead, advancing toward the Main Road where it encountered a German FO team fleeing toward the woods; they opened fire on them with their MG before sweeping the surrounding area with infantry in tow.

The Germans had once again failed to secure Villiers over the British.

Sheffler 25 - Allied victory

Sheffler 25 – Allied victory

Conclusion

This scenario was a lot of fun, although it took longer to play than it should have. The Germans were unrealistically reluctant to occupy the mandatory four Allied terrain features as they didn’t want the Shermans to arrive before they had chipped away at the British. I believe hiding the fact that there were Allied reinforcements from the Germans would have been better.

A lot was happening on both the eastern and western flanks of the table. The German Player did well to destroy the ATG, and to nullify the barbed wire and take the bunker so quickly.

The British made very good use of the smoke bombs from their 2-inch mortar.

The changes we made to AFVs and IATs enhanced the game for us.

I would certainly play this scenario again – possibly even using the same table layout.


The Kit

The buildings and many of the terrain features were scratch built, including the bunker and barbed wire.

The stone walls, brick walls, and dragon’s teeth were supplied by Battlefield Accessories.

Vehicles and ATG were a mix of kits from Airfix (StuG III and 6-pounder), S-Models (M3A3)), and Armourfast (all the others, including the schürzen on the StuG).

Miniatures were from the AB 20mm range and were supplied by Eureka; they were painted using Vallejo acrylics.

Until next time: be well and have fun!

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