Well that in the end was a very enjoyable series of games that certainly lived up to expectations from my point of view. So to cap things off to a nice week of gaming, as promised some post game thoughts in no particular order:
- Being able to leave the table set up nearly all week was an incredible luxury as far as I'm concerned. It meant that nothing felt rushed and the whole experience was a nice and gentle pace. I had time to play bits of the game as and when I wanted, as well as think about things on various levels, such what assets might be available to either side after Day One, where and when to move units etc. This is something I want to do more of, subject to gaining 'Brownie Points' from SWMBO. Oh for my own dedicated games room!
- Due to the room still being used by the family, I kept the table against the wall which meant I had a rather one dimensional view of the game. In future I will try and move it away from the wall when playing, so I can get a better view of things from both sides positions, which not only give a better perspective on things, but might affect certain decisions based upon the view available.
- I've been playing BKCII since they were published and they are still my favourite WWII rules. Familiarity hopefully hasn't bred contempt, but I feel I'm at a point where my knowledge allows me to set up games and scenarios by second nature, without having to think too hard. Also the game flows nicely as I know the rules are rarely have to look anything up. There is a lot to be said from finding a set of rules you like and sticking with them, which I've started to do over recent years. No more chopping and changing from one ruleset to another and then trying to remember which rules apply to which set (famous last words!).
- With BKCII (and BKCIV) it is all about combined arms operations to allow you to achieve your objectives. Obviously this is historically accurate and the rules certainly encourage you to do this. If you don't it is very hard to achieve said objectives, which is good IMHO.
- Dug-In troops and troops in Stone Buildings are damned hard to shift as one would expect. As with the above, you need to combine your arms to winkle out these troops. Knowing how many troops to have dug-in, how many stone BUAs etc is something that is hard to get right, as too much and it is nigh impossible for the attackers to win. You also need to know what sort of numerical or materiel advantage to give the attackers to balance that defensive position of the defenders. Again knowledge of the rules certainly helps in achieving this balance. With this being a series of linked games, I had the luxury of adding units to either side as I deemed fit if I thought they were warranted based on the above, such as the Churchill AVRE Petard being given to the British when requested by the CO. A bit of flexibility to give a good game is not to be sneezed at.
- The British decision to use smoke to mask the Tiger I and Pak 40 really helped the British cause. If the requests had failed to go through, then the Tiger and Pak may have had a field day, halting the British advance before it had really got going. Then we would have had a Day Three and replacement units and most likely some scheduled assets as the higher command realised that this was needed to overcome the Axis positions.
- The use of the early morning mist felt right and helped in game terms to give the British a good start out of sight of the Tiger and Pak front. This is something I enjoy using in my games, no matter the period. On recent walks on the local hills looking down in to the Avon river valley and the amount of mist/fog there in the early morning, and you realise that it would actually make it hard for both sides to maintain C&C, spot the enemy etc. In my game I had a -1 to command rolls, 30cm visibility and -1 to hit when inside the mist/fog. I though this worked well and can be tweaked as required.
- Having the air support arrive at a variable time felt right in terms of the scenario and certainly made things a tad tense for the British. If they Desert Air Force chaps had arrived an hour or so later, then the British might have already been in rather dire straits.
- I enjoyed starting things off with the British Recce units probing forward, with the battle then developing from thereon. I've done this before in some games and will continue to do so as and when appropriate.
- With the 145h Tank Brigade having mixed squadrons gave a good game and a nice mix of tanks to play with. The Churchills are really, really tough but lack that good AP firepower. In contrast the Shermans are great support tanks but a real 'Tommy Cookers', as shown by a rather good turn of shooting by the Tiger I and Pak 40. If the British hadn't had the Churchills, I think it would have been a very tough ask for the British.
- The British certainly needed the close support tanks as in the Churchill V CS and the Churchill AVRE, although the latter didn't get to take part. Ditto the WASP carrier. Hammering away with 6 pdr's and 75mm guns isn't going to do much damage to thick stone walls.
- The concept of the defence in depth worked well and gave me the game I wanted, so was very pleased with that. I could have placed the Axis positions a bit better but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Having access all round the table might have helped improve this.
- I pondered long and hard as to whether to open fire with the Axis mortars earlier than I did on the advancing 'B' company when in the open. I decided not to as I thought the Axis CO wouldn't want to reveal them to British artillery fire, when he at that point still had a good defence in depth. So I played the scenario as it were rather than the game, in the sense that they should have opened fire and would probably finished off 'B' company a turn or two earlier. The Axis CO wasn't to know that the British actually had limited artillery support, so the decision felt right to me.
- The Tiger I is a very, very tough opponent, with its good armour and great gun when dug-in with a commanding field of view. Without the smoke to mask it I'm sure it would have devastated the British armour. Again it shows that you need to use combined arms to overcome such a tough opponent.
- Using only one minefield felt right considering this was a stopping position before the main line of resistance. However the did leave a gap which the British were able to exploit to great effect, turning the Axis left flank with relative ease. I should have positioned it so as to block that gap, funneling the British closer to the bridge and the killing ground dominated by the Tiger I and Pak front. Let's hope I learn my lesson.
- Playing this solo meant I could tweak things here and there that suited me and my 'house rules' without having to explain every situation or decision to an opponent. Not having to cross the 'T's' and dot the 'I's' was nice as I could just concentrate on the broad game rather than the nitty gritty.
- I didn't position the Pz IV well and with hindsight shouldn't have moved it, as it was is an OK position and would also have meant that 'C' company couldn't have moved towards the Axis mortar positions quite so easily.
- As with the above, I failed to use the 6 pdr ATG at all, when it could have helped shoot the tanks onto their objectives. After all that's what it was there for.
- To finish things off, I highly recommend anyone getting and reading the Gooderson book to get an great overview of what both sides had to do when fighting in the Italian theatre. It certainly helped me with things such as the limited artillery support for the British and the use of airpower as an adjunct to this. I will certainly continue to use this book for reference in years to come.
And so it ends. I hope you have enjoyed following the action and have stuck with the long AARs, which I broke up into more easily digestible chunks to facilitate this. I certainly enjoyed myself and hope to do similar games in the future, but on a 6' x 4' board, which is need to get as my old one is no longer usable. Although I enjoy my 4' x 4' games, the extra space allows for a greater variety of scenarios or ideas to be tried out.
So what next? I'm not sure really as I have a lot to do on the house and hope to get some units painted ready for some FtF games as and when they can safely resume. Nothing is planned yet but it will not be WWII as I've had a nice few games this week and want something different going forward. so until next time stay safe and keep healthy.