Sunday, January 11, 2015

Operation Jupiter Game 02 - Horseshoe wood

Introduction
This is game 2 is replaying the scenarios from the Briton Publishers Operation Jupiter skirmish scenario book (Lulu PDF link).  I am replaying them on a 4.5'x5' table using 20mm, my own Advance to Cover rules and a figure scale of 1 figure = 1 section.  Background on why I am playing these is at the start of the first game post.

These games are like vignettes of larger battles.  The report is not long nor very detailed...and I took no notes during the game as it was so much fun!

Scenario
Germans are dug-in within a horseshoe shaped wood.  The British have 12 turns to dislodge them.

The Germans setup in foxholes about 12" (300 metres) from the woodline - far enough away to not be spotted too easily, but close enough to fire rifles (18" range). Battalion HQ is in the centre rear foxholes.

Germans in the foxhole.  British enter from bottom right (you can just see the front of a Churchill there).
Troops
British
The British force
1 Battalion HQ
     4 figures + 1 PIAT
1 Company:
      1 CO, 1 2" mortar and 9 figures
2 Churchill VII

Note: I only realised when writing this up there should have been two companies.  One was enough.

German

The Germans - Battlaion HQ and one company + foxholes.
1 Battalion HQ
   3 figures + 1 radio
1 Company
   1 CO and 9 figures
2 2x80mm mortar fire missions

Game
British plan: Advance with a Churchill and a platoon to draw fire and so spot the positions.  Then open up with everything that should be at the edge of the woods.
German plan: Fire at will - the range between the foxholes and the woods is only a few hundred metres.

The British advance to edge of wood.  This takes 4 turns (due to the fall of the activation cards) of the 12 total in the scenario.

British travelling through the woods.
The British advance a platoon and a Churchill out of the wood line and towards the foxholes.

The Germans spot the British moving in the woods and radio in mortar fire that causes 3 casualties to the British Battalion HQ that is pinned and does not do much the rest of the game. Receiving mortar fire in the woods is not recommended.

Not wanting to stay in the woods, another platoon exits the woods behind the first one.

The platoon advances, followed by another one.  The Churchill follows soon after.
British still fail to spot anything after 2 turns of spotting. Finally after another turn, the company spots someone in a foxhole and open fire with everything they have.  One foxhole down.

The Germans have lost half of their battalion HQ (the foxhole centre right)
Fire continues back and forth for a few more turns.  Time is on the Germans side and they are only losing about 1-2 figures a turn.

Some of the defenders, already down a figure in the foxhole.  The Battalion commander and radioman can be seen at the back.
The German mortars suppress a platoon in the open.  4 dice but only one casualty.

The German mortars suppress (green bush markers) a platoon. 
Another foxhole is emptied.

A defending foxhole is lost (centre left).  There are six defenders left - 2 are the remainder of the battalion HQ in the centre.
The German company is reduced to 4 sections and routs. The required overall force morale test fails and German retreat.   This was at game turn 10 so it was a close game.

Routing German company (3 to the top left and one top right, hard to make out).  Battalion HQ left in centre pulls back.
Verdict
Another great game.  Short and fun.  I am enjoying the scenarios and my rules.  The scenario calls for another 10 figures but I think the game would have been much more one sided to the British.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Operation Jupiter Game 01 - Les Duanes Farm complex

Introduction
Wanting to drag out my 20mm WW2 stuff over the holidays, I looked around for some scenarios to play and settled on Operation Jupiter by Bennett P. Lacy, published by Britton Publishers and available in print or PDF from lulu.com.  A collection of 30 skirmish scenarios set on the 10 July 1944 British offensive Operation Jupiter. Recommended.

The skirmish scenarios are designed for final combat but have been scaled down from Company actions.  The rules I am going to use, Advance To Cover (ATC) are my own rules and are based for about a battalion on the table, so I just scaled them back up!  So 1 figure = 1 section/squad.

It is also designed for a 5'x6' table. when using my rues, I found that using around a 4'x4.5' was all I needed, setup on 1/2 a table tennis table.  As per the suggestion in the rules, I doubled all turn requirements.   All worked fine and have produced some tense games.

Notes on the rules (skip if not interested in rules development)
I restarted playing WW2 in about 2011 and was using Britannia Miniatures Take Cover!! (review here) which is what I used and loved in the early 2000's.  Of course, being a rules tinkerer, I have modified these rules over the last few years, going through various names.  I have just settled on Advance to Cover as a ruleset name and am quite happy with the mechanisms as they stand.  Operation Jupiter will be an opportunity for any refinement required.  They use card based activation; 1d6 for everything; and are derived from Take Cover with the usual spotting, infantry, antitank and indirect fire rules seeming familiar but streamlined.  Latest rules are here.

Scenario
This is Game 1 - Three infantry companies, supported by Churchills and dedicated 25pdrs, attack a Farm across open ground. They have 16 turns to do so.

The game board. British start in the woods at the botton and the main building in the centre is the objective.
Troops
British

The British attackers
 Battalion HQ
     4 figures + 1 radioman
3 companies each
      1 CO, 1 PIAT, 1 2" mortar and 9 figures
4 Churchill VII
2 dedicated 2x25pdr fire missions

German

German defenders
1 Battalion HQ
   6 figures + 1 radio
1 Company
   1 CO and 9 figures
   1 MMG
2 Pak 40
1 Nebelwefer fire mission

The Game
British plan: Advance the Churchills with a plation each in support.  Engage the enemy and when reduced, advance the remaining companies.  Destroy spotted AT Guns or MG nests with the artillery.
German plan: Engage any tanks as soon as possible; MMG fire at good targets. Infantry to hold fire until required. Rockets to be used when suitable infantry targets are in the open.

I apologise in advance for those wanting a very detailed battle report (and a sigh of relief for thise that did not) - I was having too much fun during the game to write any notes.  You are lucky I took photos!

The Germans deploy in foxholes and in the buildings.  The anti-tank guns are on their right flank.  The Battalion HQ is split between the main building and the line of tress behind the main building as a reserve.

The German deployment -guns to the right of the photo.
The four Churchills advance with 3 figures and a platoon behind each of them.  The remainder of the infantry in the the woods, waiting to see what happens.

The German anti-tank guns open up - two hits but no damage due to the Churchill armour. If they were Shermans, the British would be two tanks down at this point.  The Churchills spot one of the Pak-40.  In ATC (Advance to Cover) a firing anti-tank gun in total concealment over 18" (about 450m) will only be spotted on a 5+, 3+ if in partial concealment.
The activation cards favour the British who fire HE at the Pak-40s for no effect.  The Pak-40s fire again but both miss.
British Battalion HQ call in the 25pdrs on the building with Pak-40.  There are two 25pdrs, 3 dice each and need a 6+ to hit in hard cover.  Three 6's from 6 dice and one Pak-40 is destroyed.

It is turn 6 already of 16 turns and it will take 4-8 turns for the infantry to cross the field (it is a 24" distance, infantry move at 6" but only on their card that will appear about 50% each turn).  The British main forces advance out of the wood.  And are promptly fired on by the MMG and the squad. This causes one company to lose 4 figures in one attack and are suppressed.

Company advances out of the wood and promptly depleted and suppressed (green bushes are suppression markers)
The German rockets are also called in - rockets in the rules are five simultaneous attacks of 3 dice each with some deviation on where the template for each attack lands.  A 1 is a misfire.  Rocket attack - 3 1's for 3 duds!  And the rest cause no casualties!  This seemed to be the German story for the game.

The other Pak40 is destroyed by concentrated direct HE fire from the Churchills.

The Churchills advancing on the British right. Most of the German defending company can be seen to the left of the picture.
With the Churchills now able to advance without fearing at-guns, they all advance.  The vehicle MGs and HE cause terrible havoc to the German forces.  The British advance is slow, but the Germans are feeling the pain of such fire and being whittled away, figure by figure.  The German MMG goes, as does some of the company.

Another view of the British advance.  They still have all 4 Churchills, and a lot of infantry remaining.
The final 25pdr mission is called down on the main building and manages to remove one figure (section) out of four defedning.  They are also suppressed for being under indirect artillery fire.  A British platoon takes advantage of this (is was planned this way) and charges from the safety of a Churchill to enter in close combat with the occupants of the building.   The result is a tie!   One figure lost each.

British platoon charges into close combat at the objective.  Subsequently repulsed.
The remainder of the German Battalion HQ runs into the building to reinforce the defenders. Next turn the British lose and are destroyed.

All the remaining German defenders - 1 in the main building (about to be reinforced by the rest of Battalion HQ), 7 of the German company.
Even though the Germans have repelled the British from the building, things are not looking good.  The German company in defence is down to 6 figures, the HQ is four figures, the MMG is gone, and is their entire left flank. The British still have a lot of troops left.  The only good news is it turn 12 and so the Germans are slowing down the British advance.


While the German's fire on the British forces in the open, they now only have about 5 figures left in total..  The Churchills pour in fire into the buildings while the infantry continue to advance.  A 6 is required to destory a figure; vehicle MGs are 2 dice, and so it the HE...and the advancing British fire as well. It all starts to add up.  The German company finally routs with only two figures left.  The only remaining unit on the table is the Battalion HQ and a force morale rolls sees them pull back.

Turn 14.  The German company (2 figures left) routed and The Battalion HQ pulls back.  Still lots of British infantry.  
  
The British win on turn 14.

Verdict
Firstly the game - Once the Pak-40s had not taken out any Churchills, the game was a bit of a walkover from a firepower perspective.  It was still a little tense though as time was running out for the British to achieve the objective in time.  I think if the Pak-40s had KO's at least 1-2 tanks, the British would have failed to dislodge the Germans in time.  I found it a balanced scenario.
An after action report for the same scenario using different rules is at Just Jack's BlackHawkHet blog post.

I am finding I am really liking this setup for a game - a few tanks, about 20-30 infantry and maybe some artillery.  And a small table scenario.  For a larger game, this scenario would likely be about a third of the table, with some other objectives as well. Rather than decide how to split forces to achieve these objectives, there is really only one with a small force.  I feel like it is a vignette of what would normally be a larger game.  It also feels a like a puzzle - how to best achieve the objective with the forces your have.   I have played a few of the Operation Jupiter scenarios and am loving this sort of scenario and game.  The size of forces is  what I have found over the years I enjoy the most; now I have also found a scenario type I love that matches them.