My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Infantry Aces Cassino Game 02

For my second game in the Infantry Aces Cassino campaign I decided to mix it up a bit. I wanted to ensure that I was the defender* so I took the Cassino Fortifications option. This required that I purchase a Turret and two HMG Nests or HMG Pillboxes, at a minimum, for 110 points. At that cost I would lose a Weapons platoon, but gain a "fortifications platoon" (i.e. a set of fortifications that count as a platoon for deployment and victory point purposes).

* To be perfectly honest the idea of attacking and assaulting with Confident Trained platoons of seven teams seems like a no-win situation, especially against Veteran Allied troops.

My new list was as follows:
  • Company HQ with CiC and 2iC and no options
  • Two Platoons of 3 Squads of Reichsgrenadiers each and no options
  • HMG Platoon of 2 Sections
  • Panzer II Turret
  • Two HMG Nests
  • Three Trench sections
This still gives me four full platoons (one being the fortifications platoon) and six HMGs! Granted, I do not have a mortar platoon, but I don't see it as being as valuable when defending, especially as I would be paying for smoke that I would probably never use. The trenches were purchased simply because I had 15 points left over. Other options are one trench and one barbed wire or a bunch of panzerknackers that have the side effect of converting my command teams from Rifle/MG to SMG, which I did not want to do.

The Opponent

Don was to fight me with his 3rd Infantry Division company from Devils and Dogs. I knew about this list as he had used it two weeks prior against a different opponent,. Although he had lost with it, I am sure I would also have lost, given the mission and terrain he was forced to play, so I wasn't discounting his list in any way. His list was:
  • Company HQ with CiC and 2iC
  • Assault Platoon of 2 Squads and having two flamethrowers but no other options
  • Rifle Platoon of 2 Squads and no options
  • Weapons Platoon of 2 LMG teams and 3 60mm Mortar teams
I was looking forward to seeing just how well the 60mm mortars performed, given the comment Mike (at Battlefront) made about it being his favorite artillery piece. Would its 3+ firepower be enough to overcome the disadvantage of no smoke bombardment (or even smoke rounds)? I should also point out that Don did not combat attach the LMGs to the Combat Platoons, but kept them with the mortars.

The Mission

Per the campaign rules we are using, Don rolled up the mission and terrain (using the Mediterranean chart) and came up with No Retreat and the following map.

Excuse the "checkerboard" effect. That was simply used to measure out where the terrain would be placed. Each smaller square is 6". At the top left of the picture is a farm house with stone walls. In the top right are two olive groves in front of a rocky hill. In the bottom left was an ancient ruins (rubble). And in the bottom right is a stream with a ford. This was a very sparse board, rolled randomly.

As we were fighting in the valley, there were no significant scenario-specific rules to worry about.

The Deployment

As this was No Retreat I would get 1/2 of my platoons on board (2), of which 1 could be in ambush, and the remaining (2) in Reserve. As the fortifications count as a platoon for deployment, that was the one on-board platoon not in ambush. I decided to have a Grenadier platoon in ambush, leaving the second Grenadier platoon and the HMG platoon in Reserve.

I looked over the board (before objectives were placed) and decided that I would more than likely put my ambushing Grenadiers in the olive grove, to cover any objectives placed on that half of the board, and use my fortifications to cover the half of the board that was relatively open.

In hindsight only one of the HMG Nests should have been on the right flank. I should have moved the HMG Nest farthest on the right to the left, covering the approach around the olive grove. Due to the turret's placement Don swung wide around the grove to stay out of its fire.

Don's deployment was to place his Assault Platoon in the first wave facing the olive grove and the Rifle Platoon in the second wave. The Weapons Platoon with the three 60mm mortars and two LMGs were placed, out of range, facing the fortifications. From there he could bombard the turret and the very end of the olive grove.

The Game

The Americans started off their attack by sitting and bombarding with the 60mm mortars, in order to soften up the Germans prior to the infantry's assault. He failed to have any effect for two turns.

After the fruitless bombardment he started his advance with his infantry. Because of the stream he was unable to Move At The Double, so he had to slog his way around outside of the range of the turret. When I finally sprung my ambush (in the olive grove) I stupidly put one where it could be bombarded by the 60mm mortars and the template would also cover my CiC (Infantry Ace). So in my subsequent turn I ended up moving them out of their foxholes and retreating behind the olive groves.

The ambush went well, allowing me to blast the Assault Platoon. Don's infantry saves did not go well and he lost two teams. Although he was able to take out one of my teams with a flamethrower, my (pinned) defensive fire combined with Don's poor saves allowed me to break his platoon (he failed morale on the first roll).

With that, Don pulled back his Rifle Platoon and decided to try and soften my Grenadiers in the olive grove with his mortars before going in again. It was at this point that Don realized the difference between 60mm mortars and the 81mm mortars he typically uses: AT 1 versus AT 2. With an AT of 1 he stood no chance of penetrating the top armor of my turret. And because I had no other targets around, and you cannot target a Nest with a bombardment, he had no way to hit the HMG Nests.

But, it was too late as all of my reserves came on turn 5, charging forward and moving towards the fortifications and looking like they would attack the Weapons Platoon. Don tried one last bombardment against the reserves, failed to range in, and conceded.

More Hindsight

After watching the next game (which will be my next Infantry Aces blog entry), Don indicated that he should have probably fought on. There was no time limit on the game, so a combination of Veteran status versus Trained might have produced an advantage in a firefight, had he dug in within rifle range. But, I think the odds were against him and the decision to stop a good one. I was going to throw 2D6 per team to his 1D6, unless he could keep me pinned. With a CiC within command distance, my Confident troops stood a 75% chance of unpinning, so I think the odds were on my side. And that is not even counting that I had two platoons of Grenadiers and one of HMGs to bring to bear (although they were heading towards the Weapons Platoon to silence those mortars and get rid on the primary source for pinning). If he were to have played it out, the place to have stopped would have been after the attack on the mortars reached a conclusion. If I would have spent myself on the attack and failed, it would have made sense to stay in the game. But if I had destroyed the mortars, the game would have been over, save for outrageous luck.

I need a lot more practice with fortification placement.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").