Saturday, February 21, 2015

One - Hour Wargames WWII Batrep: #8 Melee - redux

One playtest RAW just isn't enough, IMHO.  I also had some ideas about how to defend and attack differently, so I thought I should give them a second go.  This time, I deployed the Italian Infantry and the ATGs behind the hill, out of LoS for at least two turns.  As the Italian reinforcements arrive on T3, I figured they'd only fight for one turn outnumbered and the Brits would have to move to them resulting in the Italians getting the first shot.  Altho the Infantry would sacrifice the terrain protection [halved Hits] the overwhelming firepower of the British armor negates the protective cover.  The ATGs don't get any cover bonuses at all anyway, so blocked LoS seemed the best protection.  

Below, Turn 1 end.  Both Italian Units are against the hill, and altho that doesn't contest it I hoped their firepower and location would be enough of a threat to hold the British at bay. The British armor dashes towards the hill while their mortars [moving the correct 6" - the tanks are just for show, Crusader CS with 3" howitzers] slide right towards the hill.

End of Turn 2.  The mortars move again since they've no targets.  I figured they looked better behind the hill hull down, altho this could count as out of LoS since they are Mortars. Must keep up appearances!  The two armor platoons continue to the hill.  Clearly, they'll be on it hull down Turn 3.

Turn 3.  My 5yo son wanted to take a picture [Puhleeeeeze?].  So he went for the dramatic closeup!  The limit of the ATGs range is the end of the ruler.  British Tank 2 is "sideways" shown by the column formation, but this has no effect on its shooting.  It can be argued that the tanks are tightly deployed at the top of the hill to concentrate their firepower.  The LoS rules say that "other enemy Units" block LoS, but I'm thinking that it's a typo and should be "other friendly Units" block LoS.  Angle of shooting is 360, and measured from any part of the base.

Turn 3 end.  British armor on the hill.  As the Units have no facing, it doesn't matter that Tank 2 is in column. with one tank on the top of the hill.  The stands / tanks are just for show and the three-stand platoons are just marking the space of the Unit which is about 6x3". Italian tank platoons arrive as reinforcements.  Only shooting was British Mortars upon the Italian infantry, where they did 5 Hits. Note that Tank 2 is just out of the 12" range of the ATGs.  These could redeploy closer, but they'd be vulnerable to British Mortar Unit fire. 

Turn 4 end.  Tremendous firepower is put upon Brit Tank 2, which takes 14 Hits, but the hill reduces it to 7.  Return fire puts the hurt on Italian Tank 2 and the Infantry are feeling barraged at this point. Brit reinforcements charge up the road, two tank platoons and some Motor Infantry in trucks [strictly for show, they're played as Infantry per the rules].

Turn 5 end.  Good rolling helped knock out Brit Tank 2 despite the hill's protection.  But Tank 3 is now on the hill, and Tank 4 is about to drive upon it.  Conceding the high ground may have been a poor idea given the armor-heavy attacking force.  Not in line with the books force matrix,but at the moment it's what I have.

Turn 6 End.  Italian Mortars and Infantry 2 arrive.  They lose Tank 2.  ATGs are in range of Tank 4, but the hill protects them from the concentrated firepower of the entire Italian force and they only take 9 of the 18 Hits. Brits do a little damage to Tank 1 also, sparing Italian Infantry 1 as they use the Mortars to help finish Tank 2.  
Both sides have lost an armor Unit, but the Brits have three more!

Turn 7 end.  No need to maneuver at this point.  Italians knock out Tank 4, but lose their Tank 1. Infantry 1 takes another barrage putting them at the brink.  The Motor Platoon probes up the roadway to challenge the ATGs at the request of their armored brethren.

Turn 8 end.  Italians are in tough spot.  Fighting against armor protected by the hill and infantry in a pass, they aren't able to see or fight effectively enough.  They take a lot of Hits from high rolls and lose Infantry 1, while the ATGs and Infantry 2 get pummeled.  In return, they scratch the paint off of Tank 1 and put some more Hits on Tank 3.

Turn 9 end.   The Italians gain speed down the slippery slope of defeat, losing Infantry 2 and almost losing the ATGs.  The Mortars are fine but they aren't that useful against the threatening armor.  I should've shot them at the Motor Platoon in the pass, but not only did I forget but the constant threat of armor platoons had me attempting to roll up against them instead of using them against the Infantry against which they're much more effective.  Brit Tank 1 enters the valley to threaten both the ATGs and the Mortars since they were out of range of both.

Turn 10 end.  Italians lose the ATGs and any hope of contesting the hill.  They get Tank 3 to 14 Hits, but can't seal the deal.  The Mortars only have 1 more turn of life, but could spitefully knock out Brit Tank 3 if they don't botch the roll!

End of game, Turn 12. Mortars wiped out with 16 Hits.  But they took Tank 3 with them by rolling a 6. Final count is a 6-3 win for the Brits, who lose three tank platoons.

Analysis.  Another fun and thoughtful game.  The concession of the hill itself to protect the original Italian defenders worked in that it preserved those two Units longer.  But the high speed of the advance and the power of tanks hull down on the hill were too much to overcome. While neither force is legal, the hill itself is a powerful position to concede to armor.  But if the Italians sit upon the hill and contest the victory condition, they lose two Units quickly British firepower.  If they are on the hill, would the Italian armor be able to get into the hill quick enough to hold it? Overall, there's some tough choices for them to make.

It would help them a lot if the hill was terrain that gave a cover advantage to infantry. Historically, that's an option as the plateau is meant to reflect the rough terrain of a jebel - a relatively simple scenario change.  

These 1HW: WWII rules are a fun, fast game.  If one accepts the many things left out, it does deliver a realistic series of decisions for a company commander within these limits. The overall deployment, plan and movement of platoons is what the player controls while the rest is controlled by the dice.  In this sense, it is a lot more realistic than a much more complicated game like Flames of War played out with the same limitations.  In the execution of plans and period feel, it is not as good as FoW, since I think the smoke and assault are essential parts of a WWII plan, among a few other details.

Still, this is an excellent game to introduce friends to the hobby.  If they like history and games then they will enjoy the gaming spectacle and speed of play and the tactical options and decisions that _are_ offered.  They will also like that it isn't tedious and the action moves along quickly.  So a "highly recommended" with just a few changes that I'll cover in another post.

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