My list was the same as in Game 2, which is reproduced here:
- 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 mission was Fighting Withdrawal, which meant that starting on turn three I could start losing units, as they retreated off of the board, and the objectives would start being pulled off on turn 6, and the game ending at the end of turn 8.
The Americans are at the bottom of the map and the Germans at the top. In the south the only terrain that played a role in the game was the river. This was ruled as Very Difficult, with a ford as Difficult, and units could "dig in" (representing them hugging the banks of the river). (Hey, I did not define the terrain here, so don't blame me.) In the north the terrain that played a role was the village on a hill on the west side and a single, two-story house on the east side. Although there was a hill on the east side and four orchards in the center of the southern half, they never came into play.
The objectives were in the northwestern village (two, one forward and west, one back and center) and behind the two-story farmhouse in the east. This setup made the two objectives to the west the most likely targets, so I stationed a platoon of Grenadiers in the village with the HMG platoon behind. In hindsight I probably should have setup those two platoons intermixed, with the Grenadiers on the bottom floor and an HMG team on the top floor of each building.
A turret guarded the center building, ensuring the Americans would have to go through it in order to get to the second objective. Further, if they tried to double-envelope the second objective they would hit an HMG nest and part of the second Grenadier platoon.
The eastern objective was guarded by the last HMG nest and the majority of the second Grenadier platoon. The trenches were all in this section, around the area of the objective. (Guess which objective I placed?)
Initial American Attack
The Americans started by bombarding the village, pinning the Grenadiers, and moving the first Rifle platoon forward to assault. The second platoon (in the center) moved forward to assault the turret, but was quickly repulsed. Immediately following, the first platoon prepared to assault, but were pinned in an unfortunate burst from the Grenadiers (and an HMG or two). The second platoon recovered first and diverted around the turret to attack the first house in the village from the flank, taking it, but being repulsed by the counter-attacking Grenadiers from the surrounding houses. (Miraculous rolls on my part. I usually botch the Motivation checks in assault.) With the casualties from the first failed assault against the turret, the defensive fire from the Grenadiers, and the counter-attack, the second platoon had had enough and quit the field.
The German Counter-Attack
When the center American platoon diverted to attacking the village, I pushed my eastern Grenadier platoon towards the flank of the Americans in order to blunt and stall their attack. Although the Germans ultimately had to retreat back towards their objective, they achieved their result. The remaining American platoon momentarily dug in into the river (it looked funny, let me tell you, seeing foxhole markers on teams fully in the water) before beating the Grenadiers back.
Final American Attack
With the Germans in retreat, the American platoon resumed their attack on the village (and the closest objective). By the time that they took the village, however, turn six had arrived and the first objective was removed. By the time they fought through the turret to get at the second objective, it too was removed. Still the Americans slogged on. The game ended with the Americans moving into the center buildings, but too late. Turn eight had arrived and the Germans were intact. They retreated off of the board in victory.
The numbers 1, 2, and 3 represent the three successive attacks made by the Americans on turns 6, 7, and 8 respectively. The numbers 6 and 7 represent the turn the indicated objective was pulled off.
As always, most decisive games show a concentration of force and movement with purpose. The Americans started somewhat concentrated, leaving 1/3 to 1/2 of the board unoccupied. By the time the attack started rolling, they had concentrated down to all forces being in about 1/3 of the board. Normally that is good, however they were concentrated on the opposite end of board from the objective placed by the defender.
The Fighting Withdrawal mission has one key footnote, one that I typically forget: the defender can only remove objectives placed by the attacker; he cannot remove the objective he placed. That means that if the attacker does not initially aim for the objective the defender placed, it really is a race against time, a race that it is questionable that foot-slogging infantry can win. Granted, had John attacked towards my objective, he would have been going into the killing fields of the HMG nests. However, I am not convinced yet that I had them placed properly.
John had some bad luck with rallying from pinning, which is always a bad thing in a race for time. Given that, it is understandable that he switched his flank platoon from a "guarding the flank" mission to "attack the objective". But it was that switch that lost the game for him. I am not saying it was a bad move. Had they pushed the Germans out of the village in the initial assault, John would have won the game by turn 4 or 5. The question is whether, after being battered unsuccessfully assaulting the turret, they had enough strength to push a full-strength German platoon - Trained or otherwise - out of their houses. Personally, I don't think they did, but it was close. So I think it was a gamble, but not too bad of one.
My counter-attack was timely, and deliberate. With the flanking platoon not only out of position, but subsequently destroyed, this opened the American flank up and allowed me the create a critical delay, which ultimately the Americans could never make up.
All in all a very intense and exciting game! Thanks John for the fun.
With that game my Infantry Ace earned enough points to get a second medal. I decided to wait to cash them in, allowing me to spend it on a Turn 2 ability. (I chose the one that allowed me to call in a free 10.5cm bombardment, once per game.)