Sunday, 21 December 2014

Dash for Dunkirk 1938

Looking back over this year I have actually had very few games of Blitzkreig Commander II. It's not for want of trying, but just as I plan to have a game, something seems to come along and 'spoil the show'. However with the run up to Xmas the planets seemed to have aligned in my favour, giving me some gauranteed free time to get a game in. Having recently finished off an A7V and armoured cars from Pendraken for my AVBCW The King's German Legion, it was only fitting that the game would feature the behemoth that is the A7V. The game would be a stand alone one rather than part of the Storm Clouds Gather campaign that we have been running, albeit rather spasmodically over the past few years.

Elements of the Loyal Army of the South have conducted a raid into South Gloucestershire and are returning along the road to the relative safety of Old Sodbury. The raid caught the Army of the Severn Valley with their pants down, but having recovered their composure, two seperate forces are converging on Dunkirk with the aim of cutting off their escape route.

Scenario 8: Encirclement
As per the rulebook on page 39. The game will be played on a 4'x4' table, due to space and time constraints

Army of the Severn Valley
The King's German Legion 3rd SS 'Black Forest Battalion:
1 x CO (CV9) SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Horst Jankowski
1 x HQ (CV8) SS - Sturmbannfuhrer Otto Krug
1 x Recce armoured car
6 x Infantry Regulars with 2 AT rifle upgrades
1 x MG support unit
1 x Pz I
1 x Pz A7V (as per MKIV male)

British Union of Fascists, Kingswood Fascist Commitee branch
1 x CO (CV9) Major Reilly-Ffoul
1 x HQ (CV8) Captain H P Flashman
1 X Recce scouts
9 x Infantry conscripts with 3 AT rifle upgrades
3 x MG support units
1 x 81mm mortar
1 x 37mm ATG with tow
1 x Artillery support unit with tow
1 x Pz I

Loyal Army of the South
Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry
1 x CO (CV9) Lt-Col 'Biffo' Frimley-Green
2 x HQ (CV8) Major 'Bonzo' Atkinson & Captain ''Wagger' Thornton
1 x Recce Morris armoured car
9 x Regular infantry with 3 AT rifle upgrades
2 x MG support units
1 x 3" mortar
3 x Cavalry units (attached from 'Wagger' Thornton's  Imperial Light Horse)
3 x Vickers MkVI Light tanks
1 x Whippet Light tank
1 x MkIV male  tank
1 x 25mm ATG with tow
2 x 18 pdr artillery support units with tows

Wansdykes 5th People's Flying column
1 x HQ(CV8) Lieutenant-Commissar Norton Malreward
6 x Conscript infantry
1 x MG support unit
1 x 3" mortar 
2 x T-26 37mm tanks

The Loyal Army of the South deployed as per the scenario. As I would be playing the LAotS, I wanted some form of random deployment for my 'opponent'. To achieve this I simply allocated each HQ a marker, and deployed them 'blind' on each flank of the table. This way I wouldn't know when deploying what units would be where, adding a certain level of friction.

The Loyal Army of the South en route towards Dunkirk.
The 5th Peoples Flying Column Souht of the woods.
Elements of the PASLI lined up on the road.
'Wagger' on the left and 'Biffo' in the centre.

Turn 1
A slow start for the LAotS as 'Wagger' failed to move, as did 'Bonzo'. the Commissar made a careful move forward with the T-26s, but the infantry failed to follow their example. 'Biffo' seemed to circum to the same hesitancy, with the units under his command moving only slowly along the road.

For the AotSV, the BUF under Flashman made one move, whilst Reilly-Ffoul got off to a blinder, moving his units into a postion to cover the advance of the enemy right flank. For the KGL, Krug failed to appear but Jankowski moved on slowly, but at least the A7V behemoth had arrived.

A slow start for the LAotS.
Reilly-Ffoul of the BUF gets off to a blinding start.
Jankowski and the A7V behemoth move into action.

Turn 2
Once again 'Bonzo' failed to move in the centre, but 'Wagger' rushed up to the hedgeline, dismounting his cavalry and deploying the RHA 18 pdr. The supporting Vickers MkVIs lined up ready to provide supporting fire as required. On the right, the Commissar failed to get through to his units, but 'Biffo' moved down the road towards the crossroads. Opportunity fire from the BUF resulted in a hit on the RHA 18 pdr, but failed to suppress it.

Krug of the KGL failed to appear once again, but even Jankowski failed on a CV of 10! The BUF under Flashman continued to advance towards Dunkirk, whilst the units under Reilly-Ffoul caused a hit in a Vicker MkVI, only to see it bounce of as it made its armour save.

Both sides move slowly and carefully forward.
Flashman and his BUF move past hss CO, Reilly-Ffoul who is deployed nicely in the cornfield, awaintg 'Wagger' and his cavalry.

Turn 3
Sadly the Commissar of the 5th People's Flying Column was still having a patchy day, only being able to move his T-26s forward. Once again the infantry languished far behind in the woods. On the right flank 'Wagger' got his RHA 18 pdr to suppress the BUF mortar unit. 'Bonzo' finally got his act together and a combination of martr and hmg fire saw the demise of the BUF artillery support unit. The loss could be a major blow to the BUF units on the flank, but only time would tell. 'Biffo' moved up the Whippet and MkIV Male tank to the crossroads, with the latter exchanging fire with the A7V.

Krug finally arrived with his infantry and Pz I, but could do little but deploy out of sight behind the hedgeline, owing to the presence of the T-26s. Jankowski ordered his infantry to advance whilst the WWI tanks continued to trade blows, with both tanks armour coming to their rescue. At a crucial moment both Flashman and Reilly-Ffoul got cold feet and failed their command rolls!

Krug of the KGL arrive, but with an immediate threat from T-26s on their right flank.
The Kings German Legion face the lone MkIV Male at the Dunkirk crossroads.

Turn 4
Finally the 5th Peoples Flying Column Commissar switched his attention to his infantry, who made three successful orders and moved swiftly through the roads lining the road. The  mortar unit deployed and promptly suppressed the KGL AT rifle unit. On the right flank, 'Wagger' saw his RHA 18 pdr finish off the BUF artillery support unit, leaving this flank open for exploitation by his Vickers MkVIs. Seeing an opportunity, they rushed forward, surviving opportunity fire from the BUF AT rifle unit. 'Bonzo' saw the threat to the Vicker MkVis and directed his fire at the BUF AT rifle unit, suppressing it and forcing it back into the cornfiled. For now the tanks were relatively safe. Meanwhile the WWI tanks continued to fire at each other but with no effect. At least the RHA suppressed another AT rifle unit, which 'Biffo' knew would help his tanks survival.

Both Krug and Jankowski had limited options, given their current positons, but the latter moved his unsupressed infantry towards Dunkirk. The A7V took another hit in its duel with its WWI foe. Reilly-Ffoul made a tactical withdrawl to what he hoped would be a better defensive postion, now that he had lost hos mortar and artillery support units. Flashman carried on his move towards the Dunkirk crossroads in the hope of sealing off the escape route. However he was in danger of leaving his left flank and his CO exposed to a determined thrust from 'Wagger' and his troops, especially his armour.

The Loyal Army of the South move forward on both flanks and in the centre. The BUF right flank is hard pressed from 'Wagger' and his troops.

Turn 5
The Commissar continued to attack with his infantry, with combined fire suppressing the KGL AT rifle unit. 'Wagger' sensed an opportunity to turn the BUF flank, rushing his tanks forward and saddling up his cavalry. The Vickers MkVIs rushed past the BUF AT gun, with one being suppressed as it hove into view. The AT gun was quickly suppressed by a combination of mg fire from the tanks and the supporting RHA 18 pdr. 'Bonzo' quickly followed 'Waggers' advance, with his troops supressing another BUF AT rifle unit. The BUF were running out of options to counter the armoured threat on their flank, short of potentially suicidal close assault attacks. 'Biffo' added his fire to the attacks on the BUF, but failed his command roll at a critical point, where his was in a position to really press home his attacks on an exposed enemy.

Finally Krug was able to get his AT rifle team to fire at the T-26, managing to brew it up! He then rashly advanced his Pz I across the 5th PFC front to try and get to their flank, only to be supressed by opportunity fire from their AT rifle. Jankowski continued to move into the woods whilst the A7V tried to finish off the remaining T-26, but to no avail. A glimmer of hope appeared for Reilly-Ffoul as his AT gun unit finished off the stricken Vickers MkVI. Flashamn was securely esconced in the BUA of Dunkirk, but the BUF flank was well and truly exposed now.

Tanks brew up on both flanks as the attacks are pressed home.
Reilly-Ffoul is under severe pressure from all sides, taking mounting losses in the process.
Despite Flashman being in buildings at the crossroads, things are looking bleak for the BUF.
The WWI era tanks are threatend on both sides by the KGL and BUF.
The A7V tries to dominate the right flank.

Turn 6
Finally things came together for the Commissar as his remaining T-26 moved under initiative to attack the Pz I. He then rolled a double 1 on his command die, which led to the end of the Pz I and an AT rifle unit. With these out of the way the T-26 moved towards the large target that was the A7V. On the right flank 'Wagger' and his troops played a blinder, seeing the demise of an AT gun, mg and infantry unit. The cavalry advanced next to the Vickers MkVIs, with nothing to stop them leaving the table should they so wish. 'Bonzo' and his chaps did their bit, splendidly finishing off the last two BUF AT rifle units. In effect the BUF were no helpless against any form of armoured attack and could nothing to prevent the troops streaming past their open flank. To add insult to injury they were now at their breakpoint. With victory more or less in the bag, 'Biffo' moved his tanks back from the crossroads back down the road safe from view of the enemy.

The BUF passed their breaktest, but it was obvious that the game was lost as the LAotS had already achieved a minor victory. Their losses were minimal compared to the AotSV and there was no way they could prevent 'Wagger' and his troops easily exiting the battlefield to gain a major victory, so the BUF and KGL conceded defeat.

Reilly-Ffoul and his BUF cease to be an effective fighting force.
The KGL attempted counter-attack comes to nought.
'Biffo' moves his tanks to safety.
The KGL are severely depleted and present no realistic threat to the 5th PFC.
The right flank of the BUF has ceased to be able to offer any meaningful resistance.

Post-game Thoughts
Well first and foremost it was nice to be playing BKCII again after quite a break. Being able to field the A7V was great, even though it didn't exactly perform as hoped. There's always next time I suppose. So as always, a few post-game thoughts:
  • Even with boosted command values for both sides, the game got off to a slow start due to some pretty poor die rolling. Only a few times in the game did one side really get going, but when they did, it made a telling difference.
  • I'd forgotten how short some of the ranges are for tanks of this period, especially their AP values. I will have to pay more attention to these in terms of selection and deployment.
  • Mortars, infantry guns and artillery support units are very telling in terms of their potential firepower and can be real game changers. This certainly happened in this game.
  • Cavalry are very, very useful due to their speed. There are no rules for horse artillery that I can see, so I decided that they would have the same movement value as normal cavalry. They are however very vulnerable to any form of fire whilst mounted, so they should be used with care.
  • Some of the tanks for this period are very slow, reflecting their WWI vintage. Not suprisingly they need constant infantry support, but afterall the game is all about combined arms.
  • I need to add a few units here and there for all sides to make sure I have broadly rounded forces. The T-26s seem streets ahead of the other tanks in my collection, so I can see the need to paint up some inter-war British AFVs.

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