So, for my first game in the Infantry Aces Cassino campaign I played Bill Bushong, who was playing US Rifles (Italy). I was playing the Reichsgrenadiers, so it was a bit of a switch; the US were the Veterans while the Germans had the Trained troops.
Never having played this list, but having played plenty of straight-leg German Grenadiers, even of the Confident Trained variety (the Fusilierkompanie from Earth and Steel), this wasn't really a stretch for me. In fact, it allowed me to blow the dust off of troops I had painted, but never actually used before: the HMG platoon! Here was my list:
- Company HQ with Panzerschreck
- Grenadier Platoon (3 Squads)
- Grenadier Platoon (3 Squads)
- HMG Platoon
- Mortar Platoon
- Company HQ
- Rifle Platoon (3 Squads?)
- Rifle Platoon (2 Squads?)
- Mortar Platoon (4 81mm mortars?)
- The mortars never re-rolled hits or misses, so there should have been 3-5 of them, which would have been 2 mortar sections.
- If he had 2 mortar sections, one of the rifle platoons had to be understrength.
- The rifle platoon under the 2iC was eaten up faster, and I really did not get any more hits or kills against it than against the other, but it started checking morale after the first volley and assault.
Bill and I played the Town Route, so we ended up fighting at The Barracks. We rolled mission and got Fighting Withdrawal, with me as the Defender. It would be a Night Attack also. Here is the map of the board, which was 4' x 4'.
First off, you can see that Bill's terrain is just awesome. The Germans are at the bottom of the picture and the Americans are at the top. (This is actually after the first turn's movement, which explains why the American troops are so far forward and the hands are in the picture.)
I had to deploy everything first, except the ambushing platoon (one of the Grenadier platoons with the attached Panzerschreck team) and the Company HQ. I placed my mortars in the back squarely surrounding the center objective (a building, per the special scenario rules). Bill placed two objective markers, one on each flank. (These are, unfortunately, out of the picture. Our little photographer didn't think they were important. The left objective never came into play. The right objective is within 4" of the olive grove in the lower right-center of the picture, on the hill.)
My intent was to put the ambushing platoon in the vineyard, as I was sure that Bill would head for that spot given that it was the "hole" in my deployment. I placed the deployed Grenadier platoon in the town, with some elements dug-in filling the gap between the stream and the vineyard. Behind this platoon I carefully placed the CiC within 4" of where I believed the enemy assault on the town would land and also within Command Distance of the HMG platoon. Thus, when the building got assaulted, the CiC would suck in the dug-in HMG platoon into the assault, allowing them to open up with Defensive Fire. It would be sweet.
The plan started executing exactly as I expected. I stayed Gone to Ground and the enemy mortars could not spot me through the cloudy night. The first US Rifle platoon came up and opened fire on my troops and did not achieve any result.
I should point out that Bill noted that had he not fired, I would have had to roll to spot his troops in my following turn, making it possible for me to not be able to fire my mortars and HMG platoon at his surviving Rifle platoon. Good point to consider, for those that do not play Night Attack rules that often. Only shoot if you really think you can get a good result. In his case he had 9 teams firing Automatic Rifles (or a Bazooka) at Trained troops, Concealed and Gone to Ground, so he had 33% chance to hit with each, or about 3 hits, shy of the 5 needed to pin me.
The situation began to unravel for me when the enemy moved in to assault. It was at this point – and not during deployment – that I noticed that the wall facing the direction the enemy was coming from did not have any openings. This caused Bill to shift his troops laterally to go around the building and reach an opening, and this took the assaulting teams just out of 4" range (by a fraction of 1/8th of an inch!) of my CiC, meaning my HMG platoon did not get to join in on Defensive Fire! (It must have been a damn cloud that suddenly crossed in front of the moon and caused my HMG gunners to all look the other way!)
The Grenadier platoon fired (7 stands/14 shots) and with a 33% for each to hit, rather than getting five hits – slightly above the average 4.67 hits – I got four, denying me the ability to throw the US assault back. (Bill did, however, oblige and fail to save three of those four hits.) The assault went in, a few hits made it, and I failed Motivation in order to Counterattack.
Although my CiC was more than 4" away from an assaulting team, he was within 4" of one of my Grenadier teams, so I had a choice to make: throw the CiC in for the Motivation re-roll, or let them break off. I chose to throw the CiC in. The re-roll succeeded and I was able to bring the US platoon down to 2 teams plus the attached US 2iC. They made their Motivation roll, counterattacked and the hit that went against my CiC killed him. I rolled Motivation to counterattack again and failed. I then had to roll platoon morale after the assault and also failed. (I had now failed three Motivation tests and the US passed their three. Granted, different odds.) I was now down one platoon, and it was only turn 2!
In hindsight I should probably have broken off rather than getting a re-roll. I say that not because of the result I got, but because of the situation that would have been had I done that. The US platoon was the weaker one of 8 teams and it had already lost 3 teams from Defensive Fire, leaving 5 teams plus the 2iC. As there were three buildings in the town (I only had two in my possession), all six teams probably could have fit inside them.
I, on the other hand, would be pinned outside in the open with 5 teams of my own, but well within the protection of the dug-in HMG platoon. Next turn I could attach the CiC during the Starting Step and use him to help rally the pinned troops (75% chance, with the re-roll). The Grenadiers would them Go to Ground, forcing the US to start the process all over again.
Assuming the US Rifles were able to unpin, the next assault's defensive fire would be 18-24 dice from the HMG (I cannot remember whether one of the HMG teams would be able to bear) and 5-10 dice from the Grenadiers. The wild card, however, would have been the US mortars. With the US CiC and 2iC both so far forward, the odds are they could have called in the mortar fire. Then, there would be whether the mortars could range in. (Bill did not have luck with that for several turns.) Finally, could be place a template on both platoons (probably, as they would have been inter-mixed from the assault break-off) and achieve hits on them? As I said, the US mortars would have been the wild card to this scenario.With my platoon routed, the crippled US Rifle platoon (2 teams plus the 2iC) entered the town. In my turn following I opened up with the mortars and got a lucky kill (visibility, ranged in, hit, he failed save, I made a '6' firepower roll!), causing him to check, and he failed, causing them to rout.
Meanwhile, on the right flank, my Grenadiers popped their ambush at the edge of the vineyard and let loose with the weapons into the advancing US Rifle team (3 Squads, plus the CiC). I was able to pin the platoon and achieve another three kills from that volley. (Something about Bill and missing infantry saves in threes!) But, they quickly rallied and kept coming. They assaulted and my defensive fire took its toll, but again failed to pin. (This time I had 12 dice from Rifle/MGs, 2 from a Panzerschreck, and 6 from an HMG team, but I still only got four hits! Bill failed to save an impressive number again.)
In this picture, the Americans are at the bottom and the Germans at the top, after being pushed back.
This time, however, the assault tore into my guys pretty badly. I failed the counterattack roll, of course, and had to break-off. The US assaulted again, this time with fewer dice coming at it (as my platoon failed to rally from being pinned too), but whittling them down to 2 teams and the CiC. (Sound familiar?) As for my platoon, after failing to counterattack, failing to unpin in its turn, then failing to counterattack when assaulted again, it failed it platoon morale and ran. I was now down two platoons, leaving me with the 2iC, the HMG platoon, and the mortar platoon when...
It was at this point that I misread the Strategic Withdrawal mission rule. I thought that you accrued one delay counter for each platoon you had, and when it reached 5, you pulled a platoon off. Rather, it was one delay counter per turn under 5 platoons and when platoons + delay equalled 5, you pulled a platoon off. It was this error – my error – that caused me to pull a platoon off. As the mortars were sitting on an objective and the HMG platoon was (mostly) on the flank opposite the US Rifle platoon, I chose to pull off the HMG platoon.With the second Grenadier platoon gone, the US Rifles marched straight to the flank objective unopposed, one-half turn before I could pull off that particular one.
In the picture you can see my 2iC in the upper right, the mortar observer in the upper center, and the mortar platoon just sitting there, on the wrong objective, in the upper left.
My only chance was for my 2iC to shoot one of the US Rifle teams and hope Bill's bad luck for infantry saves held, forcing a morale check, and hopefully having him fail. (Okay, not likely given they were Veterans and had an attached CiC.) But all calculations were for naught; I failed to hit.
In hindsight I could have teamed the 2iC and the Mortar Observer and together they could have assaulted. Not good odds, but it was a chance of success greater than 0%! But, coulda' shoulda' woulda'!So, a lot of rules mistakes on my part, but I don't think it would have changed the game. The big mistake, however, was tactical, and it was not deploying the HMG platoon close enough so it could defensive fire on turn 2 and then not moving the mortar team to cover the right objective at the end of the game. I just did not "see" it. It was definitely out of mind. Ah well!