Monday, 13 May 2019

Assault on Floridia - Part 2 of an Operation Husky campaign

Following on from last week's game, the situation is as follows:

Despite being unable to meet up with Gruppo Mobile D, Gruppo Tattico Ronco has been ordered to carry on with the planned attack on Floridia. Rather than an operation to breakthrough towards Syracuse, this has now become one of slowing down the British advance by putting in a spoiling attack.

With the successful action against Gruppo Mobile D, the British 13th Brigade is still pushing to the West to protect the British left flank. Expecting an attack around Floridia, it has deployed the 2nd Wiltshires with support from 4th Armoured Brigade.

Gruppo Tattico Ronco
1 x CO (CV8)
2 x HQ (CV8)
1 x FAO (CV6)
1 x Recce
9 x Infantry Regulars (3 with ATR upgrades)
2 x MG
1 x Mortar
1 x 47mm ATG + tow
1 x Infantry Gun + tow
3 x 75mm Artillery (off-board)
1 x Bomber + Asset (the Italian player decides which Turn the support will arrive)

2nd Wiltshires
1 x CO (CV9)
2 x HQ (CV8)
9 x Infantry Regulars
2 x MG
3 x Shermans
1 x 25pdr Battery (off-board)

Scenario Details
The scenario last 8 Turns with the British deploying first using static deployment, the Italians using mobile deployment. The British can start the game dug-in, which counts as 5+ to hit from direct fire, but 4+ from indirect fire. This represents hastily prepared slit trenches as well as the difficulty of digging in the the rocky terrain.

The British lack their organic mortar and ATG support units due to problems getting them off the beaches (more details can be found on Bob Mackenzie's excellent Test of Battle site). Due to the failure to link up with Gruppo Mobile D, the Italian's have been allocated some bomber support, which has been diverted from attacking the ships and beaches.

The British deploy in the NW corner, the Italians the SE. The railway track offers no cover nor blocks line-of-sight. The terrain is largely made up of partially walled orchards and open fields. There is a dry river bed (indicated by the curving 'hedges') that is impassable to vehicles and tanks, except via the road. Infantry treat it as a linear obstacle.

An overview of the table, with the British deployed in the top left hand corner. Some of the Italians command units can be seen in the bottom right hand corner.

The British deployed along the walls and fences outside of Floridia. The attached Shermans can be seen by the sign for 'Dubya's Diner'.

Turn 1
The Italian right flank advanced on smartly, whilst the left moved and then Blundered, resulting in the CO being at -2CV for this Turn and the next. Unsurprisingly he failed to arrive, but the FAO and Recce moved onto the table. 

For the British there was little immediate threat, so they only advanced their left flank to meet Italians advancing parallel to the road.

The end of Turn 1.

The Italians arrive, except for their CO.

The British left flank has advanced into the vineyards.

Turn 2
This Turn was similar to the last, with both Italian flanks advancing, as did the Recce and FAO. Once again the CO failed to show up.

The British pushed their left flank to the edge of the stream and moved other units only slightly.

The end of Turn 2 and the Italians are making good speed with their advance.

The Italian left flank advances out of sight of the British.

The British have deployed to cover as much open ground as possible, of which there is little.

Turn 3
At the start of the Turn, the Italian Air Support arrived, hitting and suppressing an awful lot of British units. After they had left, both flanks advanced, but the CO stubbornly remained off table.

Despite having line-of-sight to the Italians, the British FAO failed his command roll, much to their relief. With many units suppressed or already in good positions, the British CO moved his Shermans towards his right flank.

The Italian air force arrives and ...

... delivers a 12" pizza ...

... with what looks like a pepperoni topping. That'll show the Allies for setting up 'Dubya's Diner' in Sicily.

The end of Turn 3.

The Italian left flank has deployed its ATG in a position to try and protest it from the British armoured support. An infantry unit has been suppressed by fire from the British left flank.

The British left flank unscathed from the aerial onslaught.

Turn 4
This time it was the Turn of the Italian FAO to fail his command roll. At least the CO finally arrived as both flanks advanced forward.

With no targets available, the British dressed ranks.

The End of Turn 4.

The Italian left flank advancing through the orchards.

The British can't quite see the Italians in the orchard.

Turn 5
A poor Turn for the Italians, with the right flank Blundering, the left failing its command roll and the FAO also failing. At least the CO managed to call up his reserve infantry units and posted them on the right flank.

Again the British simply held their positions until they could acquire targets.

The end of a quiet Turn 5.

Turn 6
Things got off to a good start for the Italians, with their FAO calling in his 75mm guns onto the British left flank. However the right flank Blundered once again (what are the chances?) but at least the left flank destroyed a British MG unit in an exchange of fire. Just when you needed him, the CO failed his command roll!

The British FAO not to be outdone, calls in his battery of 25pdrs to typically devastating effect. With the Italian FAO rather forward of his lines, the Shermans advance through the orchard and managed to drive him off. 

The Italian 8" pizza arrives ...

... and suppresses several units, including the HQ.

Not to be outdone, the British send back their own 8" pizza courtesy of 'Dubya's Diner' ...

... suppressing units including the CO.

The end of an eventful Turn.

The Italian FAO on the railway tracks having been driven off by the Shermans in the orchard.

Turn 7
Things started to Turn in favour of the British, as the Italians were unable to do much other than Initiative move some infantry. However the British got off to a flyer, with the FAO once again calling in his artillery right on top of the Italians with the usual mass of suppression. Fire from the left flank and the Shermans saw the loss of 4 infantry units, the Recce unit and an MG unit. This took the Italians close, but not quite to, their break point.

Another delivery from 'Dubya's Diner' ...

... with the usual results.

The end of the Turn and the British with a slight advantage.

The Italian left flank has taken quite a beating, with little to stop the Shermans.

The Italian right flank equally under pressure.

Turn 8
This was do or die time for the Italians if they were to rescue anything from the situation. Luckily it got off to a good start with the FAO calling in his artillery almost on top of himself leading to the loss of 2 British infantry units. With most other units suppressed, the CO manage to activate his reserves to lead to the loss of the remaining British MG unit. 

The British were over half way to their Break Point and had lots of units close to the hits total, so it was getting close. However the Italians were unable to capitalise on this, whilst the Shermans killed another infantry unit, taking the Italians to their Break Point.

The Italian FAO came good at a critical moment.

The British left flank has ceased to be an effective fighting force.

The end of the Turn and the game.

Little Italian resistance is left.

The British have defended Floridia but at a high cost.

End of Game
The game went right down to the wire and the result could have gone either way. The Italians were a spent force, but the British had suffered lots of hits, so could easily have reached their break Point too in another Turn. A game that got off to a cagey and quiet start, but really came to life in the last 3 Turns. We both enjoyed it immensely and I think that's the first time we have played right to the end.

Post Game Thoughts
As always, some thoughts on the game, the campaign and the rules in no particular order:

  • I always love the chance to get some Bomber Air Support going, but in recent games they have been somewhat effective, maybe too much so. Certainly in this game they caused most of the problems encountered by the British. In BKCIV not being able to use AA fire against them feels right, but it does mean they become a devastating weapon if not used carefully. Going forward I would advocate using them rarely and mainly for historical actions. 
  • Both sides artillery was very effective, given the close nature of the terrain and consequently limited deviation on the die rolls. The British 25pdrs are very effective and, rather like the bombers, can be game changers if used en masse. Again a level of common sense is required re: their usage so as not to overtly upset game balance.
  • The Italian Blunders came at the wrong time on several occasions, which really impacted on their ability to prosecute their attacks. C'est la guerre.
  • The Italian CO not turning up for 3 Turns or more was as above with the same French phrase! Still, given these handicaps they still made a fist of it right to the end, which surprised me to be honest.
  • I thought the scenario worked well in context of the campaign and a stand alone game. Running the game diagonally not only looked good but changed the dynamic of the game. We both certainly enjoyed it.
  • I'm slowly taking bits from BKCIV that I like, such as 'Reserves' and 'Dig-In', which I've used before from CWC and BKCI respectively. Other special abilities are in the offing, such as Low Profile, which will likely feature in the next game.
  • For the core game I'm still using BKCII as I'm so familiar with it and know where to look for rules etc. I'm sure I'll eventaully migrate to BKCIV, but no just yet.

In campaign terms, the Italians achieved there objective of a spoiling attack and certainly gave the British a bloody nose in the process. So much so that the British advance has been slowed down somewhat, allowing the Italians time to form a better defensive line than planned. The German Kampfgruppe Schmaltz may make an appearance, but I'm not sure yet as I'm still working on the next scenario. One thing for certain is that the British are now on the attack and the Italians the back foot. How much support the British can expect is, again, being worked out, but they will have Air Superiority now and can expect support as such. So until next time...


  1. Pizza Wars! I am somewhat surprised the Brits could deliver a better pizza than the Sicilians. Very enjoyable report to read. My sense is that luck or misfortune contributed to this game. Was this Divine intervention equal to both or favoring one?

  2. Hi Jonathan,
    well technically it was an American chain, hence 'Dubya's Diner'. One of those throw away comments in an earlier game just led to us being a tad silly and it grew from there.

    I don't think there was much between both sides in terms of luck and misfortune. The Italian blunders just slowed down their closing with the British, but other than it was a fairly close game.

    Glad you liked the report and it's always nice to get feedback.

  3. Thanks Steve, enjoyed and I am getting a better understanding of the rules now (threw my first figures onto the table last night for a test run), which makes the AAR even more enjoyable.

    Do you remove hits in the End Phase or adopt the Optional rule and allow a carry over to the next turn?

    1. Thanks Norm and good to hear you've had your first test run of the rules. Looking forward to hearing your views on them in the future.

      For a long, long time we've played the 'hits stay on' optional rules for several reasons. Firstly it speeds up game play and you don't end up with a slug fest in the middle of the table. Secondly it felt wrong that infantry especially could advance in the open with almost impunity, take 5 hits, then at the end of the Turn they all disappear. thirdly dug in troops or units in built up areas were virtually impossible to shift. Whilst quite accurate, for the attacker it became nigh on impossible to winkle them out, leading to rather dull games in our opinion. This is another reason we use the optional 'auto suppression' of units that take hits from mortars or artillery.

      In the end we came up with tweaks that worked for us and felt right. Others of course will disagree, but each to their own.

    2. Having had a run through, I can get that. In my game, what should have been a surprise Soviet attack with some benefits, turned out to be negated and then the German reply pretty much destroyed the opposition and I also think an unnatural ‘ganging up’ mentality starts to develop when firing.

    3. The rules do rely upon combined arms attacks, but using the 'hits stay on' rule, you do tend to spread your attacks around, which does feel more realistic, if that makes sense?

  4. A great write up and an enjoyable read!