Friday, 13 April 2018

WW1 - Germans vs British. Germans win on penalties

Thursday night saw another WW1 battle between Jon and myself (and apparently Russ who despite being referee kept on referring to the Germans as 'us') vs Mark, Frank and newbie Ben.

British waiting for the battle to start

The Germans were defending a narrow frontage with 3 lines of trenches, wire and a selection of strongpoints.  Rules were Spearhead Great War II which we're all still getting to grips with (artillery seems to be the tricky bit although Mark and Russ now seem to have this fairly in hand.

Mark came up with the British plan (at least that's what Frank told us).  This took some time to get to fruition - meanwhile myself and Jon just took it easy waiting for the action to start.

Field Marshal Haig (aka Mark) explaining to Ben what he needs to do.   Ben is not convinced.

Jon enjoying the lull before the storm.  Russ checking if Mark has added more artillery than he should have and Frank checking the morale-check rules (because they're going to need them)

The action started with a pre-bombardment of 2 days of shelling the German lines.  Jon and I kept all troops out of the front line trench and held our troops back in the second and third trench line until the shooting stopped (then snuck a division into the front line before the end of the second day).  There did seem to be an awful lot of guns on the British side though...

Our counter-fire managed to take off 6 stands from the attackers (mainly on Frank's side).

We didn't lose much at all in the pre-bombardment.  A few troop stands, some barbed wire and a front line bunker.  We lost all the pillboxes in the second line) although the British didn't know that at the time).

Key was the failure to destroy a bunker in the front line (despite the attentions of the massed British artillery).  We quickly put two machine guns into it and waited for the British to come into view.  We also had a horrendous 240mm mortar in the front line which basically killed every time it shot.  And it pretty much did.

Our surviving buker - quick, get the MG's set up!

So once the firing stopped, the British came over the top and charged towards us.  We'd left our 'green' division in the front line and our regular divisions in the 3rd line of trenches.  The green division was just there to hold the British up for a bit before they got routed - inflicting hopefully enough casualties to make the task of winning the battle near impossible for the British.  But it depended on how well the green division could do....

Here they come!

Our thin line of green troops waiting for the inevitable storm

Frank took the British left and Ben the right (with Mark taking the middle).  Frank had already taken casualties but the flood of troops coming over looked impressive regardless.  On my side the MG's in the bunker opened up and as troops in the open are incredibly vulnerable in GWSII Ben started losing troops.  Frank too found the going tough as we'd given Jon all the 7.7cm guns which blatted his troops as they approached.  Our indirect fire was limited - unlike the British who not only had pre-planned

The battlefield from the German side.  Bunker to the right is still intact.  Hordes of British on the way!
As the British ploughed in, they started taking heavy casulaties (unlike the Germans who lost stands mainly to pre-planned artillery).  It was clear that the dug-in Germans were fairly happy trading shooting with the British because they were taking far fewer casualties.  So Mark committed another Division (down the centre) and went for a direct approach - assault the trenches!

This proved to be a sound tactic - the ground on my side of the battlefield had been heavily shelled - slowing the British advance down but providing them with cover.  So the German firing was less effective (even the bin-lid mortar missed!) and the British finally got to apply cold steel to the filthy Hun!

There was a lot of British indirect artillery - so much that questions were asked (by me, obviously)whether the British were using what they were allowed to use OR what they wanted to use!    And also who could call the artillery in.  We had to pull Mark up for trying to call in guns which had just fired on another target and Russ had his hands full trying to keep up with the bookeeping as to who had shot with what and how many shots were left.

We hang on with whatever we can!
We felt a bit frustrated as we couldn't call in our ridiculous off-table big guns in retaliation becasue we needed a 5 or 6 to do so and rolled a lot of 1's instead.

Frank  had got close enough for an assault on Jon (albeit with fewer troops than Ben) and managed to get into the trench line (making them harder to hit with the 7.7's).

This led to a morale check on the green division - which we passed!  Yuk yuk yuk.

So we carried on pouring fire into whatever we could - mainly Ben and Mark's troops - and made some miraculous close-combat rolls (like the bin-lid mortar holding off all comers and the MG's in the bunker slapping away the close assaults).

This forced our own morale check on Ben's troops which was failed!  So we'd seen off one division and badly mauled another two.  My machine guns in the bunker had no-one in range to shoot at!  Which was unfortunate as the remnants of Mark's division ran into my trenches and finally forced another morale check - which we failed.

But the green division had performed well above expectations and had effectively already won us the battle.

We already ordered our other divisions into the second line of trenches - making it look like a formidable obstacle and despite Jon losing some stands to indirect artillery we felt confident that Frank and Mark's depleted divisions would be unable to have much effect on two entrenched regular divisions - especially having to cross a lot of open ground and be in range of on-table 104's and off-table 210's and 150's/.

A good run out for the rules (gameplay seemed to be a lot faster this week) and Iron Crosses First Class to me, Jon .....and Russ.


russ fewtrell said...

Two WW1 AAR reports Phil.... You are obviously enjoying the rules!

As the third German player, I mean Umpire..... This was the best game to date. We have ironed out the Artillery rules and I was really pleased we managed to get a result by 10.30 even after the setup phase. Well done to all!

I thought that everything flowed smoothly and I really enjoyed taking a back seat (ish) as referee.

With the re vamped rules on trenches it made a big difference to the attack. With very little cover the British were subjected to a rough time in the open with heavy casualties being inflicted.

The green German regiment did a great job holding the front trench, by passing the morale roll after losing 1/3rd losses was really outrageous and I was shocked at how many casualties the regiment inflicted. Phil sunk two Mg stand into the front bunker which the British failed to destroy in the preliminary bombardment. i would have been chuffed to have this asset as the guns cut up Ben's infantry like butter.

Frank played a more canny game against Jon but the second attack proved costly as Jon's second regiment poured fire down on Franks open advance.

A great game and played in good spirit on both sides. Being a German referee is not easy!

Ian said...

Sounds like a great game. Did the German's know that the British only had two days of preliminary bombardment or did they manage to put troops into the front line trench by outguessing their adversaries?

jono said...

The British actually had three days and we moved after two. Mark Was going to go for a fourth until the German ( I mean totally neutral umpire) informed them that we would get an extra reserve regiment. If they had gone for the fourth they might actually have knocked out the bunker and caused significantly more casualties to the front line Green regiment