This evening I got another playtest of Scenario 14: Static Defense. It was with a new gamer who was interested in miniatures and the WWII period - thus far he'd played video games. Still, that made him familiar with the period and the terms in general, so he caught on quite quickly!
Below, at start. The Italians were set up quickly and with my advice based upon my previous play of the scenario, and the disastrous errors that took victory out of the Italian grasp. Upon the hill is the Mortar Unit, with the ATG Unit on the front of same. Both are Dug-in and Ready. In the town are two Infantry Units, facing the British onslaught, one behind the other. between are the two Carri Tank Units, with three tanks covering each objective.
The ATGs have a great field of fire and tank support, and the Mortars are there to be run over at the last desperate defense if need be. The infantry in the town hold it pretty tightly, as they 1/4 Hits against them since they are in the town - 1/2 - and Dug-in, also 1/2. Nothing but a close attack will be able to root them out. They are also set back behind the edge of the terrain, so can only be seen at 4" or less, which is Close Range [so Hits x2]. The tanks between will have one in position and one moving to help when the Brits go "all-in" on one objective. Looks like they're ready for the Cruds!
Below, Turn 1, end. The British go after the town, the open field with ATGs Dug-in, Ready and with Tanks handy was too daunting. Besides, I've won this going after the town at the first! Instead of swinging the 2nd Tank platoon over with the first, the Italian decided to swing wide and threaten the British flank. This not only threated the C.S. tanks, armed only with 3" mortars, but gave them "eyes-on" the Motor Infantry who were then ravaged by Italian mortar fire. Ugh! British have the Mortars to left with Motor Infantry in front, with all four Crud platoons heading towards the town - Tally Ho!
Turn 3, end. The Cruds have encircled the town and closed into 4", which leaves them at x2 Hits with the Infantry garrison. They lost a Crud platoon in that process, mainly due to the Ready shot plus the shot on their own turn, plus some Mortars, also. One platoon had to remain in place to fend off the threatening Carri platoon. With only two Crud platoons against two Dug-in Infantry occupying a town, this isn't going anywhere. Suddenly, the open field to the left seems much more appealing...
Turn 4, end. Ergo, the British begin shifting that way, using their "superior" mobility. This doesn't really pan out, however, due to lots of low - very low - rolls, that continue. Clearly the crews are worried about their tanks breaking down and are taking it easy. Italian commander gets aggressive with the ATGs while the Motor Infantry rally in the woods, going from 11 Hits down to 8. Still, ugly mess it is. Hits continue to pile up even as the Brits disengage.
Turn 5, end. Brits continue to swing around to the left, Infantry rally down to the 5 permanent Hits, and the Mortars hit the danger zone - 10 hits. Italian ATGs move again towards Brit left and forwards. Take some hits, but it still seems a bit crazy. Carri platoon is at ten hits, hoping to wipe them out next turn...
Turn 6, end. Brits continue swinging left. Italians disengage battered Carri platoon behind the woods, and advance one Bersaglieri platoon out of the town. Discouraged by reports of British infantry in the woods, they hang back. Wisely, it turns out. Brits do some rallying also, getting a few tanks back in shape.
Turn 8, end. As the battle continues to swing to the Brit left, the Carri rally behind the woods as Bersaglieri move into it. The Brits prepare to counter this. The ATGs are dug-in, and have taken some Mortar fire, but are still a threat. The fresh Carri platoon moves against the British advance.
Turn 9, end. British move in front of the Italian infantry, but still out of LoS. This blocks the Italians. Fresh Italian tanks are now supporting the ATGs that are holding off the British. Proximity Fire rule helps distract Crud fire against the ATGs to the tanks - as it should be, and would be historically I may add! Very happy with this rule. The British movement, combined with pauses to rally, is not fast enough. Italian infantry advance against the Motor Infantry, much to the surprise of the Limeys!
Turn 10, end. Pressure but no progress on the Italian ATGs. Carri platoons have repositioned. Mortar fire is called down and a whopping 7 Hits are added to the Motor Platoon! With the 5 they already have, they're at 12, and the Bersaglieri hunt them down in the woods and wipe them out, adding exactly 3 more Hits. Very happy with how this played out in the rules. Only thing I didn't like was how easily Units maneuver around in the woods. There's a 4" penalty just for being in them, and an additional 4" penalty if you get within 2" of an enemy stand, but it still seems too easy. Brits don't like the look of this at all...
Turn 11, end. Brits engage the Carri and get them to 14 Hits, but can't seal the deal. They drive them off as the Italian commander withdraws. Bersaglieri engage the closest Crud platoon, and get 8 Hits for their troubles. Serious error in not calling down Mortars upon them, but I was trying to stay focused on the ATGs as blocking the objective. Cruds are once again getting shot up, and need to Rally.
Turn 12, end. After successfully rallying and getting organized, things look a bit better. Time is passing, but perhaps one round of fire will polish off Italian resistance and leave the hill open. Even so, there's still the time to knock out the guns on the hill itself.
Turn 13, end. Another Carri platoon at 14 Hits, but the ATGs rally to 6 Hits. Lack of progress with a ticking clock = defeat...despite the Carri backing off to rest, reorder and rally.
Turn 14, end. Big push against ATGs and the Italians seem vulnerable, but time has basically run out. The Italians have held the British at bay too well, it seems.
Turn 15, end, and game end. ATGs are FINALLY destroyed! But the Carri are recovering. Italians just haven't taken enough damage to pull back. By all rights, BOTH their carri should be destroyed, but intrusions and distractions from Italian support Units, expertly coordinated, resulted in the British being unable to overwhelm any single platoon but the ATGs. A great defense!
Great game, and it clearly showed how well the rules work. All the action felt very historical and made both obvious sense and "memoir-sense". I should've pushed hard against the Italian tanks and bypassed the town temporarily. Poor movement rolls had me take a shot at the town since I was stuck in front of it. Big question is should I allow Units to both Dig-in and occupy a town? I still think so, as towns were tough to take if the defender had time to prepare the defense. Lots of heroic defendings of town by all sides, so it will stay. Attacker definitely needs heavy artillery fire, in that case.
Clearly a special rule is in order!
Kudos to the Italian commander, a new player, who caught on quickly with just a little coaching, mostly about the mechanics of the rules and such. He felt pretty overwhelmed by the Crud onslaught, but soldiered on thru for the win!