Summary: Great scenario. Lots of tactical decisions for both players. Nice to get a few tanks on table. Great game. We’d play it again. I won. Or perhaps Jamie did.
The table used my modular terrain but still gave a sense of “Italy”. I think it was the white washed walls of the houses and the vineyards.
For the rough ground features I used some of my rocks. Seems more Italian than brush or swampy bits. I had a few Flames of War vineyards (BB116), and we used them, but for most we just used my normal fields with hedges on top. Close enough.
This was also the first time I have used the Flames of War BB115 Italian Monastery – from their Battlefield in a Box range. In this case used as the church of San Lorenzo in Strada. You can see it in the near ground in the following photo.
Historically the Kiwis combined a tank troop, a Kiwi rifle platoon and a Greek rifle platoon into sets. Jamie did it differently.
His Kiwi infantry were clustered near the river. One platoon was far forward and the other was towards the rear near the tanks.
All of the Shermans were in the centre on the rear base edge. From there they could attack either Monaldini or Monticelli.
Both Greek platoons were on the flank near Monaldini.
Jamie kicked off by attempting Reconnaissance by Fire (RBF). In Crossfire this means rolling 1d6 for each firing stand and any six is a hit. He only had one of the weak Greek platoons attempting RBF so the probability of success was low. He tried several times, on several features but failed more often than not and the only success was on an empty feature.
Jamie decided to drive towards Monaldini. The table is quite congested there, with lots of vineyards. So Jamie tried driving through one. That is when he discovered the bogging rule and that he needed 5+ on 1d6 to move in most terrain. As it happens this Sherman stayed stuck there for the rest of the game.
With the Shermans out of reach, Jamie sent in a Greek platoon. Or a scout from a Greek platoon. I revealed one of my Turcomen platoons and shot the Greeks out.
So Jamie decided to take the more open approach and started his Kiwi infantry advancing in the centre.
Jamie cautiously had the Kiwi riflemen advancing in front of the Shermans. But you can see a suppressed guy in the following shot.
And then the suppressed guy got killed. This was the Fallschirmjäger 12cm mortars at work.
Rather than risk the infantry further Jamie pushed one of his Shermans forward towards Monticelli in the centre of the table. I did nothing. Actually that was true for a lot of the game. I didn’t have much in the way of anti-tank weapons and I wanted to ensure I got a good shot. I was hoping Jamie would get rash and give me an opportunity. So a whole lot of Germans and ex-Soviets just sat in their positions and watched the Kiwi tanks approach, without firing a shot.
Two Shermans rolled into Monticelli and the lead tank opened fire on the Turcomen (Platoon 2) on my left. Boom. One down.
Then Jamie took out the Turcoman PC. With “Commonwealth” Command & Control that platoon was immobilised for the rest of the game.
Then I saw my chance. Jamie advanced one of the Shermans up the banks of the river. I took at shot as it crossed open ground. With my revised anti-tank rules the 7.5cm Pak 40 got 6d6! Yay! Finally I’d get a say in how this battle progressed. Oops. Six misses.
Jamie quickly pushed his tank into cover and I got another big miss. Actually four misses and a PIN from 5d6.
Back at Monticelli we began a bit of a cat and mouse battle. Using smoke to try to shelter our own troops. I started it off by smoking off the lead Sherman.
Jamie pushed the FO for the 3″ mortars across the Rio Melo into a better position. Better to annoy me with.
And he dropped 5cm smoke across the front of his how Sherman to protect it from the Pak 40.
So I started chewing on the Kiwi Platoon lined up along the Rio Melo.
Having miserably failed to affect the Sherman it was shooting at, my Pak then got suppressed in reply. Mutter, mutter.
Luckily the Pak rallied and finally knocked out the Sherman in the fields.
Unluckily, the British mortars then pounded the Pak. Oh, well, at least it got one tank before it got wiped out.
Back in Monticelli the lead Sherman destroyed a Turcomen squad.
The rival mortars continued lobbing missiles in each direction. After the loss the of he Pak, I killed another Kiwi squad.
As the game progressed we both started relying on smoke more. By this time I really wanted that lead Sherman in Monticelli to advance. Even a base width would be enough. So I put all the smoke I could around it… if it wanted to fire it would have to move.
Meanwhile my 12cm mortars finished chewing on the Kiwi platoon.
That meant I was free to evacuate Strada and counter-attack Monticelli. Actually I favoured an out flanking move by the Fallschirmjäger but Jamie’s rear line of Shermans made that impossible. So I sent a single Fallschirmjäger platoon into the village.
And, of course, that just encouraged Jamie to bring up his next Sherman.
And the Sherman started chewing on the Fallschirmjäger, in combination with the mortars.
And in Monticelli the lead Sherman destroyed my Fallschirmjäger squad.
Jamie got all keen and rushed a Kiwi squad across the street in Monticelli. So I revealed my last troops – Platoon 3 “Turcomen” – and suppressed it half way. This platoon, with their panzerfaust is why I’d wanted Jamie to edge her Sherman closer. There was no way I was going out into the open. But I would have been most happy if he incautiously got close to my armour piercing shaped charges. But he didn’t.
So I charged the rest of my Fallschirmjäger platoon into Monticelli.
The lead Sherman kept pounding the Turcomen in the wood.
The Kiwi Mortars pounded my Fallschirmjäger.
And the Sherman in the field finished them off. Game over.
Observations and Conclusions
After the game Jamie said, “the sign of a great scenario is when you’d like to play it again straight after finishing.” And we were keen to give it another go. It only took 1 hour 45 minutes to play so we could have, but instead we stopped to have a fuller debrief.
We liked that both the attacker and defender have big tactical decisions. Does the defender defend everything or concentrate on one of Monaldini and Monticelli? Does the defender deploy in the settlements or outside. Do they keep a reserve? How to use the veteran Fallschirmjäger? How to shelter the infantry from the Kiwi Shermans. etc etc. The Allied player has a similar array of decisions to make. That is what made us want to try again, we were both thinking, “what if I tried this … ?”
Jamie fielded six Sherman IIIs from Steven’s Kiwi Armour in Italy, or more specifically 2 and 3 Troop, A Squadron, 20 Armoured Regiment, 2 (NZ) Division. These are just great models. We both love the mud-grey with blue-black disruptive pattern. So much cooler than the normal Allied dark green. Oops, I got distracted.
Six Shermans on table. That is a lot but it didn’t seem overwhelming. Punchy but not too punchy.
Jamie used his tanks well with the forward tanks always having tanks behind to provide covering fire. I never got a chance for a flanking attack, despite searching for one the entire game.
My emerging revision to the armour rules survived another play test. 5d6 seems a lot for a tank to dish out against infantry, and it is, but they only shoot individually so it didn’t seem overpowering compared to a rifle platoon sized crossfire. And when I pulled out 6d6 to use for anti-tank fire from the Pak 40, I thought, hmm, perhaps this is too generous. But then I missed with all six dice and the Sherman scooted into cover. After that it was 5d6 and although I eventually got the tank, it wasn’t a given. So very encouraging.
There are some very long lines of fire on the map. The Germans can reach the Allied base line with fire. Similarly the Allies can fire on the German positions in Strada from the beginning of the game. I was also concerned about the long line of fire down the road. Play testing showed my concerns were not founded. If you find it a problem then drop in a couple of crests to break up the offensive lines of fire.
So who won? Well, technically I did. The scenario specifies the Allies lose the game if they take five casualties. They did. But this is because Jamie wasn’t playing cautiously. So I took my win and then we kept playing. It only took a bit longer for the Sherman firepower to grind down the defenders and for Jamie to take the objectives. On balance we thought the 5 fighting stand victory condition was justified. The Allies have a lot of firepower, but if they are too rash, they will lose.