Friday, 9 February 2018

The Road to Bremen Scenario 3

With the British stalled at Map Two following the destruction of a Kangaroo and the full section riding in it, the Germans needed to test for the willingness of the defenders they had allocated to  Map Three to stand and fight. Those defenders, a platoon of Heer, proved to be more willing than their colleagues on Map One and so we will fight out over Map Three on what will be campaign turn three.

This seems a good spot to hinge a defence. An opposed river crossing is never easy. However I did need to consider the open terrain behind the river. The Germans have no entrenchments and so the house by the bridge is really going to have to be the anchor of the defence. While that doesn't offer the defender many choices, it's not easy to approach. I feel I can make a decent stand here and I'm pleased my platoon of Heer have decided to hold fast.

The German force will consist of the platoon of Heer, supported with a Hitlerjugend Flak 38 team.  The defence will hinge around the bridge and will make use of some wire and minefields to attempt to slow down the British. I plan to use the Flak gun on my right flank, deploying it to the rear of the table where I can take advantage of its ability to hit on a 4, 5 or 6 at any range (NOTE: since writing this and playing I've realised this is incorrect.  The Flak 38 is a 20mm auto cannon and doesn't fire as HE, at ranges beyond 24" it would need a 5 or 6 to hit regulars). It will make moving across the fields very dangerous for British infantry and with the boggy ground it will be risky for them to move any armour on this flank. The German infantry will consolidate around the house and cover the minefields and wire I plan to place to block passage over the bridge itself.

The Germans have a -1 on their Force Morale roll and end up starting with FM8, the British start with FM9. The British, as the attacker roll for their free patrol marker moves and receive four. The bridge is clearly the focus and so the patrol phase unfolds with both sides looking to get their JoPs established in that area or the approaches to it. With JoPs in place the Germans reveal a strip of barbed wire and a minefield on each side of the bridge. That should require the British engineers to engage in some hazardous work to clear a way through.

The British 1D6 support roll was kept secret and so I have no idea what they will be bringing on the table. I fully expect at least one Sherman, possibly more and some engineers. With that we start playing.

The British have a sprightly start rolling 6, 6, 5, 5, 1. With that they deploy the 2" mortar team behind the hedge on their right flank and fire smoke onto the bridge.

The following phase the 2" mortar team are joined by a section who take up overwatch positions behind the hedge. The mortar fires off another smoke round, and while this drifts a little off target it contributes to covering the lines of sight to the bridge approaches.

For now the Germans see no benefit in revealing their positions and so wait patiently to see how the British attack unfolds.

The British continue to deploy, with a Sherman appearing on the road and an engineer section behind the hedge on their right. There's no surprise the engineers include a mine clearing team, but the flamethrower team were an unpleasant addition.

A Sherman appears

The engineer squad is ready to tackle the minefield
The Germans remain concealed. Another British section deploys into the fields on the British left flank.

I see little reason to reveal the Germans just yet. The British section on my right flank in the fields is an obvious target for the Flak 38, but for the moment the ideal location for it to deploy is in line of sight of the Sherman, so I decide to hold off deploying just yet.

The next British phase sees a general move forward - the Sherman advances down the road, while the engineers make their way towards the minefields. The 2" mortar drops another round of smoke to provide a solid shield around the bridge approaches, while the section in the field advances.

The moment to deploy the Flak 38 is fast approaching and when the German command roll provides a double phase it's clear now is the time. The observant of you will note that the Flak gun model we used is the single barrelled version, but for this campaign the Flak 38 is a quad 20mm and that is how we will treat it.

As planned, I deploy the gun on my right flank to the rear, from where they can cover the entire right of the table. The British section in the field is fully exposed, yet the Sherman has now put itself out of sight behind the intervening orchard and will be unable to return fire.

The Flak fire is effective, causing two casualties and two shock. The next command phase sees another double six. That means I should be able to get at least three phases of fire on that section. To cut a long story short, the Germans actually managed four consecutive phases. The British section had its Corporal wounded and then killed; the Bren team was wiped out and the section suffered the loss of six men in total. The remaining four riflemen suffered two points of shock, but British force morale took the biggest knock (-2 for wounded leader, -1 for leader killed, -1 for team wiped out), taking it down to 5. I was hoping the Flak could do some good work on this flank, but this was far more than I expected.

Dave is an experienced gamer who doesn't let events like this break his spirit, but it was a tough series of phases to cope with and effectively ended his move on that flank. To his credit he just took it on the chin as one of those wild misfortunes of war and moved on.

Unfortunately the consecutive phases didn't really present any other opportunities for the Germans to deploy. The mortar smoke has effectively concealed all British units across the river and so the phases were only used to activate the Flak 38. I did however roll a number of fives and so had one full CoC dice and another on the way.

Despite that setback on their left flank the next British phase saw the engineers move towards the minefield with the Sherman moving up for support. Meanwhile the platoon sergeant ran over to the ploughed field to get the four surviving riflemen and bring them back across the road and out of harm's way from the Flak 38.

A Sherman arrives to support the engineers
With no more British in line of sight, the Germans once again decide to stay concealed and wait for further developments. The British engineers meanwhile set to work on the minefield, but progress was proving frustratingly slow. While smoke kept them concealed, other units used the following phases to move forward taking advantage of the same cover.

With one British section down to only four men, reinforcements arrived in the form of a section carried in a Kangaroo.

The engineers continue to find progress slow with the minefield, but after several phases they finally managed to clear it. With that done the Sherman rolled forward slowly and crushed a path through the wire. The way to the bridge was now open.

With the smoke providing ample cover the other section made its way to the hedge by the river bank.

With the likelihood the British might make a move across the river I decided it was time to deploy a squad into the house by the bridge and place it on overwatch, just in case the British enjoyed some double phases of their own.

The British continued to move the engineers and infantry section forward to the river line. The bridge is a real choke point and I can see this is quite a challenge for the British. Patience is the name of the game for the Germans.

The Sherman is a little exposed in the road and so I take the decision to end the turn using a CoC dice and hope the command phase gives me plenty of options to take advantage of the clear line of sight. I'm not expecting any more double phases, but perhaps the chance to deploy the Panzerschreck and take out the Sherman.

With the smoke gone the Flak 38 opens fire at the Sherman. With AP4 against Armour 7 I'm not expecting much, but anything that can discomfit the tank or inflict some shock is better than nothing. The Flak fire is very effective with four hits. The Shermans armour saves are only two, resulting in 2 net hits, this is enough to kill the driver and inflict 2 shock. The tank will need two phases to replace the driver. That's far more than I expected from the Flak 38, which has turned into a very deadly weapon.

So, feeling particularly lucky, I deploy the panzerschreck team into the road, ready to take on the Sherman.

Before I can do that Dave uses a CoC die for an interrupt and the Sherman fires its MG at the panzerschreck team. It kills one of them and inflicts one shock, but it's not enough to stop the remaining team member return fire. The rocket has no problem hitting the Sherman, but with an AP strike of 13 it can only manage 3 hits, which is disappointing. Yet while my luck in this instance isn't great, Dave's is even worse, he fails to roll a single armour save and with 3 net hits his tank explodes in a ball of flame. His engineers are very close, but just beyond 4", so they escape any harm, but the loss of the Sherman brings the British FM down even further.

One surviving panzershreck man, one burning Sherman
With British morale low and the German platoon having lost only a single casualty the British use the next phase to pull back to the JoPs and withdraw, heralding a German victory for this scenario.

The British lost one Sherman destroyed and took six casualties from the section in the field, one of which was the Corporal. Three of those casualties are lost permanently and a man will need to be promoted from the ranks to fill the Corporal's role. The large difference between British and German FM means the sole German casualty is returned to the platoon.

A good result for the Germans, certainly helped by some good fortune with the multiple phases that allowed the Flak 38 to make one British section ineffective for the remainder of the scenario. The Sherman was unlucky to suffer damage from the Flak 38, but it was less of a surprise to see it destroyed by the panzerschreck.

So we will return to this map again for what will be campaign turn four. This starts to put some time pressure on the British and opens up the opportunity for additional German support from campaign turn five. The Germans will receive no additional support for the replay and cannot replace the minefield and wire removed by the British. The British will get 12 plus 2D6 of support points with the additional advantage of being able to call on the Main Column support options as well as the Core support list. I suspect the Germans won't find it quite so easy next time around.

You can follow the next game in the campaign The Road to Bremen Scenario 3 (round two)

All the AARs for Chain of Command pint sized campaigns are here Chain of Command campaign AARs


  1. that flak crew all need to get the Iron cross for that effort, very nice AAR

    1. LOL and I probably need to get some award for flukey die rolls, either that or I should go out and buy a lottery ticket, my luck is certainly in.

  2. Great AAR as always thanks for sharing.

  3. Sometimes the underdog has a nasty bite! Great AAR, looking forward to more.

  4. Thanks A J, I suspect the British will return with a vengeance, not to mention a mortar barrage and more nasty supports, but my unit has done all I have asked from it and more, so no complaints.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, certainly the right dice at the right time, it was as if they knew the plan.....

  6. BTW where did the British come up with a flamethrower team? I didn’t see it on the list. It’s in the nominal British 3 support, but not in this campaign.

    1. The campaign has a list 4 Engineer Section and pg82 of the rulebook says this can be made up of any combination of engineer teams, including flamethrowers. As there is nothing in the campaign to disallow it and if we use playing the period as a rule of thumb, then the British had them in 1945, so I see no issue. I don’t like having to face them but it all seems legit.

    2. Looks like you have a point, see Andy Duffell’s comments below.

    3. I asked Rich the question in the Yahoo forum and his answer was:

      "Yes, you can have the flamethrower. The advantage of choosing a section is that you get to see the table before deciding which Teams to select for your force. So, rather than having the team you think you might need, you get the teams you certainly do need. And a Leader, which is another bonus."

  7. I think you might have overplayed the Flak a bit. 20mm autocannons don't automatically hit on a 4+ like HE guns. They roll to hit like small arms, so at over 24" you'll be hitting regulars on 5+.
    I also agree that if flamethrowers aren't available on the list you shouldn't be including them in an engineer section. If they're not available they're not available.

    1. Andy, well spotted with the Flak auto cannon, that’s one we missed, and one to remember for the next playing. Also see your point with the engineers, that interpretation certainly suits the Germans just fine LOL.

    2. Yeah, the 20mm rule is slightly obscure and often overlooked I think.

    3. Andy, you may have seen, I asked Rich on the Yahoo forum about the flamethrower and he answered:

      "Yes, you can have the flamethrower. The advantage of choosing a section is that you get to see the table before deciding which Teams to select for your force. So, rather than having the team you think you might need, you get the teams you certainly do need. And a Leader, which is another bonus."

    4. Yup, I stand corrected! The ruling has come from on high!