A109 - Dreil Team

Another re-post from May 26th 2014. This game was against my Czech opponent which though it has a tank that tank is only there because I am controlling it and my opponent was not happy trying to learn the rules for. Curiously (heavily dependent on your point of view), this was one of the last posts I put up with an accompanying fiction. I suspect the increase in games meant that I had less time to imagine stories for every game. To some, no doubt, this came as a relief.

Back to the Western Front. My next game is ‘Driel Team’ – a small force of around a couple of platoons of SS supported by a solitary Panther has to hold off two companies of Brits. The Brits have to cross an overflowing river and can only do so at four very specific crossing points – two bridges and two flood hexes plus have no weapons that can threaten seriously threaten the Panther frontally so would have to look to destroy it in close combat or through PIAT side shots. They do have some medium machine guns and a mortar whose main use will probably be to smoke the bridges to allow some of the troops across.
I have the Germans and have decided to protect the bridge furthest from the Brit startup line with the panther and a solitary squad with the majority of the remainder on the right flank at the forward bridge. My reason for this is as follows: My opponent is likely to be very wary of the Panther and if I plant it at the forward bridge then I can see the main weight of the British attack moving against the other bridge and this means the British will engage me far closer to the exit row than I am happy with. I would prefer them to cross closer to their start line and then fight their way forward. I was not ‘fixed’ in this intention as doing the opposite would tend to make the bridge crossing a more severe challenge (this way round the Brits could cross the flooded area almost unopposed by fire).
There are many approaches the Brits could take. I personally would send a platoon to one of the bridges (to keep the German defenders ‘honest’) and then send everything else against the other. He could equally focus equally on both bridges or go mob handed against one. My plan hopefully can cope with all. Once they get across I intend to use the infantry to keep troops from closing with the panther. This way I should hopefully get maximum usage out of her capabilities.
Lieutenant Eric Marx or ‘commie’ to his unimaginative friends stuck his head out of the armoured cupola and surveyed the ground on the other side of the river with his binoculars. Nice new Zeiss specials they were magnificent examples of German workmanship just like his ride – ‘Baby Bertha’ a rather lewd drawing of said ‘lady’ was scrawled across the turret legs akimbo – not that long ago he would have been ordered to remove it but in the current desperate times some the old standards were sliding.
In the corner of his vision he could see several SS troops setting up a machine gun nest with their usual dedicated energy and a couple of unwilling Dutch civilians. You could say a lot of things about the SS – dedicated, well equipped, unpopular and brutal all leapt to mind but ‘unpersuasive’ or ‘authoritative’ rarely did. In this case the corpse of one of the civilians who had been less than willing to assist seemed to be the driving rational behind the remaining civilians enthusiastic though uncontrolled digging. Eric frowned as he noticed the absence of the pretty daughter of the local house but pushed any connected thoughts from his head – a British column was approaching and should they hold these crossings then the paratroopers trapped behind them would be doomed.
Turn 1 to the end of the British turn 3
The Somersets pushed hard for both bridges with a very strong flanking force sneaking over the flooded water in the East. Initially I became more and more confident as the east forces seemed to shatter under fire. The officer leading the bridge assault was hit by my sniper and failed his wound roll then the leading flanking forces broke with the 9-2 officer rolling box cars on his rally attempt and then failing his wound roll. With the two best officers down and an increasing stream of unrallied, ELR’d broken troops the British options were diving  rapidly. In the west I decided foolishly to be aggressive and advanced a squad plus light machine gun across the river – this ended up delaying the British by a single turn and resulted in one of my precious squads being pinned with fire then smashed them with a piat breaking them so they ran (slowly) towards the bridge.  I have to few squads to take risks like this and equally both my light machine guns should have been laying fire lanes down the bridges which I forgot (duh) to do.
Early stages of the attack. Bottom right you can see the flanking force of 4 squads, the 9-2 and a medium machine gun
British luck eventually changed on the east flank. A fortuitous solo smoke placement on Q9 did a good job of blocking some shots but eventually he managed to get a squad across the river. My fire then only pinned them and I advanced into combat killing them in combat, another risky move which cost me. Everything now went pear shaped. My open ground squads were walloped with mortar and point blank fire and the officer plus a squad pinned and the other broke. In movement he then ran one of the remaining two flanking squads towards P9 – My pinned squads finally managed to pin the squad in return. He then repeated the attempt with another squad (dropping the medium machine gun to allow him to do it – the Somersets seemed to have eaten excesses of butter before the engagement as they repeatedly failed to pick up all the machine guns eventually leaving a trail of them on the ground in various places). This squad shouldered off the low residual laid by my pinned squads and effectively shielded by the ordinance smoke arrived in my defensive building in P9 where they shrugged off two point blank attacks and automatically demoralised the broken squad next door.  At the end of the turn he then executed the broken SS initiating no quarter, I can’t say I blame them.
East flank defences end of British turn 3. The Exhausted squad in the building is the ‘problem’ squad. The concealed counter just hides a 9-1 officer. The two MMG’s and the mortar are on the floor.
What concerns me most, as we break up for the week, is that daring British squad in the middle of my defensive building. If I cannot get rid of it then the remaining four active British squads on this side will have a good chance to approach and potentially erase my East flank forces.  Fortunately the time off gives me an opportunity to strategise much more closely than I would otherwise do. There are two possible plans the first is defensive. Here I assume the bridge is lost and retire the troops backwards to new defence positions and hopefully slow the enemy down. After all he has no leaders on this flank and only five full squads versus two squads with two negative one leaders for me. The problem with this approach is that it allows my other bridge to be outflanked and I cannot protect both the western bridge force and the exit line with just two squads.
The other approach is more aggressive. If I can destroy or break the exhausted squad in the midst of my defence then the other British troops (who have dropped all their heavy weapons along with the smoke finally going when they next get a chance to move) would have to cover open ground versus hopefully the same two squads. It would also give me a chance to rally the third drastically increasing my available defenders. So, in detail, my plan is as follows (I shall use the rule of 7 to indicate risk of actions)

Try and self rally demoralised SS unit. Broken morale is 9 in building with self rally so a 5 or less neededGerman player would have to be lucky to succeed so assume rally fails
Shoot at exhausted squad with 8+2 prep attackShould generate a pin check where with average luck the enemy would again pin with 7 morale.
Assault Move officer in open over broken squad If he rallied in step one then this will draw fire from the building and the key squad plus reduce the risk of continuing the plan
Assault move squad in open into buildingCould take an 8+3 from exhausted squad. British player would have to be lucky to do damage with the German pinning on an average roll
Take two 4 +3 shots and one 6+3 (smoke reduces targets available for some of the outside squads)British player would have to be very lucky for these to hurt (at worse if the exhausted squad did not fire on the assault move then they will get an 8+3 against 2 squads which would again need luck to succeed)
Advance the concealed officer and 1 or 2 squads (depending on what remained in good order) into cc with the exhausted squad
Ambush roll -4 for me -2 concelaed,-1 officer,-1cxd opponent has +1 for his roll as CX’dSo  I roll 3 or less and an auto ambush: if I roll a 4 he must roll a 1, a 5 he must roll a 1 or 2 a 6 and he must roll 1,2,3 to avoid the ambush. No chance of an ambush in return
If an ambushCc roll -3 for me +1 for him so for 2 squads plus officer 7 base needing 10 to casualty reduce and a 9 to kill. He would need (taking on one squad) a 4 to casualty reduce and a 3 to kill. For only 1 squad I would need an 8 to casualty reduce and 7 to kill. He would still be on 2:1 (as would have to fight the officer) so would need the same.
If no ambush with 1 squadHe would need the 4 casualty red/3 kill as before in either case whereas I would need  7 casualty red/6 kill
If no ambush with 2 squadsHe would need the 4 casualty red/3 kill as before in either case whereas I would need 9 casualty red/8 kill
Green indicate situations where with exactly average luck I would succeed and orange where I would have to be lucky to succeed. As can be seen the worst case is that I lose a squad before the advance phase pinned, broken or dead then fail the ambush roll and end up with my squads locked in melee. For this I would have to be unlucky (or the British player lucky) five times which means the plan has a good chance of succeeding. The rewards for success would be that another British squad would be taken out, my flank would remain secure, I should be able to rally the other broken squad (20% of my remaining Order of battle) and finally it allows me to hurt the other British troops in the open.
On the West flank a British squad has just stepped on my bore sighted location so is about to be hit with a prep fire nine to hit followed by a twelve flat Main armament attack.  This flank can hold a few turns yet as long as the British don’t manage to get a side shot on the tank or get into close combat.
The western flank. the acquired British squad has just unknowingly stepped onto the boresighted location.
Lieutenant Marx snapped his map case closed, scouts had reported that the British were close – indeed the sounds of a furious combat to the East could be heard and a large column of smoke thrust up into the sky presumably by the other bridge – if they were already engaged then no doubt their turn would come. He was about to give the order to prepare when the SS troops who had prepared their machine gun nest ran past the Panther and onto the wrong side of the bridge.
“What the hell are you doing?”, he shouted at their Feldwebel
He turned clambering up the side of the tank, “Sir! I have decided that effeminate foreign soldiers will stand no chance against the SS and so I shall delay them on the other side of the river!”, he jumped off and ran after his men
“But….”, Marx looked bemused. In the small building to their right the remaining SS squad was organising itself to defend the machine gun post which was now empty as the other squad had taken the machine gun with them. The Corporal in charge studiously avoiding eye contact with the now irate tank commander.. No wonder they were losing the war he decided. Slamming the hatch shut above his head he peered myopically through the aiming slit. ‘No matter, they would be back over the river soon enough and he had every inch of terrain on the approach to the bridge calibrated and measured, at least Bertha would not let him down’.
Next Three Turns
So what happened?. Well my squad did not rally, my prep failed (by one) to hurt the target squad as did the panther at the other side. My movement (as expected) was carried out without damage and I took my opponents defensive fire also without damage (pin check passed easily, I did roll his sniper on one of the passed pins but he had binged on some quality US rations and fallen asleep) then I advanced in, failed to ambush (I rolled a 4 to a 1 and he rolled a 2 to a 3) but I did manage to kill him (phew) in return he took the 4-6-7 on and managed to kill it as well. Good swap for him considering the numerical advantage. So all in all it was close but I carried out my objective. In his following turn things swung badly in the other direction. Firstly his east flank units fell to a mass of 8-3 shots as he moved next door to my two remaining squads – one was killed entirely and the other two broke. On the west flank the panther also broke two of the squads who approached.
On my following turn I then killed the only other squad across the bridge and broke another two squads at the west side with the tank. At this point since no unit on the east could get to the board edge without running non stop (and no officers existed to rally anyone else) plus on the west my tank was still practically invulnerable with only four squads even capable of getting close along with the fact my other SS squad would probably rally soon we decided his chances of winning were low in the extreme so he conceded.
The final placement. The complete lack of eastwards troops can be seen plus the strength of the westerly position
This turned out more interesting than I had expected. I had thought the brits would have easily swarmed the Germans but the panther and those choke points are big advantages in defence – also the limiting factor of only having four crossing points allows the defender to really focus on what he needs to do defensively without getting information overload as such this is probably a good beginner scenario as well.
The Panther roared defiance again and in the distance British troops could be seen scattering in a vain attempt to avoid its shot. Lieutenant Max was content. The arrogant SS squad had indeed returned with its tail between its legs and was currently hot footing it to the North – so much for the ‘elite’ SS. The other squad had not even needed to fire and his beautiful vehicle was doing a good job of persuading the enemy not to cross…

We have decided to replay this soon with my taking the British to see if I can work out a better way of dominating the defenders. My initial thoughts are that whichever bridge does not have the panther should be rushed. I still think that enough troops should move towards the other bridge to keep the defenders ‘honest’ – these should not try and take the bridge but to sit there and cross if the panther decides to move off to reinforce the others. IF the panther moves then by the time it arrives hopefully more chances at a side shot can be obtained. Anyway a good and fun game.


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