Monday, 13 July 2020

29, Let's Go! The Radar Station at Cardonville (the second attack)

We return to scenario 4 and the radar station at Cardonville on the American right flank. The first American attempt to clear this map was repulsed and the Germans took the opportunity to further hamper their progress by making a local counterattack in the last game. That attack achieved its key aim which was to stall the US advance, however it failed to halt or push it back. That means the Americans can continue their drive to Isigny, but first they must make a renewed attempt to clear the right flank.

The Americans will start with their force morale at eleven, while the Germans are only at eight. The Americans have four free moves to begin the patrol phase and they don't make as much progress as they did in the previous playing of this scenario when they benefited from the full six moves. The phase ends with German jump-off-points concentrated on their right flank, while the Americans, as much by circumstances as design, are also weighted on their right.


I can see an immediate threat to the German left flank via the orchard. From there it could be possible for the Americans to make use of the cover to roll up the German defence. I intend to close off that option by placing a minefield there.

With five support points the Germans don't have many options. I expect to face American armour and most likely a mortar barrage so I decide to go for the protection of hard cover by entrenching two of my squads. The Americans have nineteen support points and while six must be spent on a Sherman it still leaves them with several good choices.


The minefield is placed just prior to the start of play.



The Americans begin the game by placing a lone sniper in the hedges at the centre of the table.


It is far too soon for the Germans to reveal their hand and so I elect to remain concealed. In the following US phase a squad deploys on their right flank and is placed on overwatch.


A second squad joins them, taking up tactical positions around the road.


American firepower builds up with the arrival of a 30 cal MMG team, which deploys alongside the farmhouse. 


From there it can cover the central orchard and support the advance of the two squads to its right.


Once again the Germans choose to remain concealed and let their phase pass. The American command roll of 55532 provides useful CoC points but limited activation options. The squad on the right moves forward along the hedge row.


Meanwhile the squad across the road takes up overwatch positions to provide covering fire if needed.


The next German command roll is 66311. Although it offers a double phase I think it would be premature to make a response to these opening American moves. I decide to let this and the subsequent phase pass without any activity. 

The next American command roll is 66443, a double phase that they will find far more useful. The platoon sergeant deploys in the centre near the farmhouse.


He directs the 30 cal MMG team onto overwatch.


On the right flank the squad continues to make its way forward along the hedgerow.



The platoon sergeant then directs the squad on the road to move at the double and catch up with the others.


They remain within command range of the platoon sergeant. As there are no enemy units in line of sight he uses his remaining command initiative to rally one of the recently acquired points of shock from the BAR team.

In the following phase the sergeant then rallies the last remaining point of shock off the squad before placing both teams on overwatch.


The squad on the right continues making its way along the hedgerow. There is a good vantage point from the upper level of the barn and from there the Germans can cover the open ground in front of the orchards. The Americans will need to be cautious about their forward movement. Nonetheless I can't ignore the fact that this foremost squad is now beginning to close in on one of my jump-off-points.


A forward observer deploys into the ground level of the farmhouse. As I feared and suspected, the Americans plan to support this attack with a mortar barrage.


The view out of the window is not ideal and the FO can see only one half of the middle orchard, but for now the building offers him concealment and solid protection.


With the Americans drawing close to my jump-off-point I want to ensure I don't lose it to a sudden move. In previous games I've gambled on a late deployment. With uncanny predictability Dave has managed to roll a double phase at that critical moment and combined it with rapid movement to close down several of my jump-off-points. I intend to avoid that happening today.

In the German phase a squad deploys into the barn. The MG42 team take up position at the solitary window in the upper level and are placed on overwatch to cover the open ground in front of the orchards. For the moment this is a good location. They are in a building and beyond 18" from the nearest Americans so they won't present themselves as a target unless they fire (we play using the Advanced Rules, Targeting and Buildings 8.2.3 on pg 70). In the meantime they offer me some insurance against any sudden American moves (a lesson I've had to learn from bitter experience).



It turns out to be a very wise move, because with that very uncanny predictability I just mentioned Dave rolls 66531 in his next command phase. While the MG42 won't be enough to stop the Americans completely, it will certainly give them pause for thought.

The first thing the Americans do is have the forward observer call an aiming round into the central orchard. It is not on target and deviates to the left, out of his line of sight.


The threat of the MG42 is enough to slow the squad on the right which moves tactically to the edge of the hedgerow. While the German LMG team could take advantage of their overwatch to open fire I see little value in doing that while the Americans are at effective range and in good cover.


In the following American phase the squad at the hedgerow is placed on overwatch.


The platoon sergeant orders the forward observer to call down another aiming round and while on this occasion it doesn't deviate as far from the target it still can’t be seen by the FO. 


The American squads continue to push forward but now with a little more caution. The squad at the road edges forward using tactical movement.


The platoon sergeant moves forward to the side of house.


From there he can continue to remain within command range of the advancing squad.


Despite the opportunity presented by a double phase Dave is not taking any risks. The last time we played this scenario a lack of caution saw the Americans caught off guard and so this time their approach is slow and steady. For now the two squads are working their way carefully towards the orchard under the watchful eye of the 30 cal MMG team and the forward observer.


The German command roll of 55521 provides some welcome CoC points and with them the first full CoC die. Despite the proximity of the aiming round I decide I need to deploy and prepare to take on any advancing Americans. With that an entrenched squad deploys into the central orchard and are placed on overwatch.


They've positioned themselves to the rear of the orchard, taking care to stay back far enough to remain concealed from enemy armour or any Americans who may appear in the upper level of the farmhouse.


It was a timely German deployment because the next American command roll is 66541, heralding another double phase. The 30 cal MMG team clamber over the hedge and move to their left.


It's a position that allows them to cover the road and any German movement out of the barn.


Frustrated at the poor line of sight the platoon sergeant orders the forward observer to come out of the house.


The sergeant then moves forward himself and commands the nearest squad to move at the double down the road.



That's a very tempting target for my MG42 on overwatch and without thinking I open fire. It's not a very smart move. I forget that there is an American squad on overwatch and that this is only the first phase of a double phase. The German LMG fire has no effect other than to inflict a single point of shock on the rifle team. The American squad returns fire. I'm fortunate that the hard cover of the stone barn provides such good protection, as the fire has no effect.


Firing the MG42 was unwise for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I've lost the concealment that the team enjoyed before it fired. Not only did it have to face the overwatch fire, it will most likely suffer another burst of fire in the next American phase. Secondly, with another enemy phase to come my team is no longer on overwatch which will free up American movement unless I want to use my CoC die to interrupt.

As it turns out the Americans are not going to have just one more phase, a command roll of
66552 means another double phase. Their activation choices are limited to the command roll of 2 but that's enough for the squad at the hedge to fire once again at the MG42 team in the barn. This time their fire is much more effective. They kill one of the crew and inflict three points of shock. 


The following US command roll is 53322. While there won't be another phase it leaves a number of activation options. The squad at the hedge push forward and take advantage of their semi-automatic rifles to use marching fire to maintain their attack on the MG42 team.



Another German is hit but this time it's the squad's obergefreiter who is lightly wounded. Their force morale remains unchanged but with an additional point of shock on the LMG team the American fire is starting to take its toll.


The platoon sergeant commands the forward observer to bring down the full force of the mortar barrage which blankets both the barn and the orchard.



The squad in the barn suffer more shock, which really is starting to accumulate.


However the barrage has no effect on the dug-in squad in the orchard.


The sergeant then moves off at the double towards the squad in the road.  


With the smoke and explosions from the barrage restricting all enemy line of sight he is able to rally off one point of their shock as he approaches.


The platoon's third squad then deploys in front of the farmhouse. That makes it clear that the main American assault will come down the centre.



With two of my squads pinned down in the barrage I need to find a way to drive back the Americans. In the German phase I deploy the third squad in dug-in positions on the road to the left of the orchard and they open fire.

I want to take advantage of the fact I can catch the Americans in the road in open ground. They make for a very inviting target. They are also so close that the FO cannot risk moving the barrage toward the German squad without hitting his own men.


The German fire has an immediate effect. Both teams suffer shock and the BAR team lose a man. The squad sergeant is also hit and lightly wounded, the sight of which takes American morale down to ten. The Germans are not quite finished yet. A hand grenade is hurled up the road but lands short of its target.


In the American phase the squad attempts to fall back, but I use a CoC die to interrupt and fire at them again. The BAR team lose another man as does the rifle team and the squad suffers further shock. Despite that shock they still manage to fall back a considerable distance which takes them out of harm's way.


Unfortunately it’s also moved them well away from the barrage, which means the forward observer could now make an adjustment to hit the recently deployed Germans without fear of hitting his own men.


The squad sergeant in the road rallies off the last of his men's remaining shock.


Meanwhile the platoon sergeant, alert to the new danger, orders the FO to shift the barrage over to the right.


It moves away from my men in the barn, but hits those in the orchard and the newly deployed squad in the road. Fortunately it has little effect and inflicts a single point of shock on the rifle team in the road.





The platoon sergeant then orders the third squad to move off towards the hedgerow to its left.


The mortar barrage has really limited what the Germans can do, however at some point the Americans will have to come into the orchard to drive them out. I'm hoping my men can hunker down and take advantage of the hard cover of their entrenchments until the barrage lifts.

In the German phase, with the barrage no longer hitting the barn, the platoon Feldwebel deploys and rallies three points of shock from the MG42 team. 


The American command roll is 66511, yet another double phase. However, as is so often the case, the number of useful activation command dice is quite limited. All that can be done this phase is for the squad on the American left to continue moving towards the nearest hedgerow. 


Their subsequent command roll is 66553. Once again a double phase but with limited command activations. Nonetheless the squad on their left makes its way over the hedge towards the large orchard on the German right flank.



The next US command roll is 54432. Not a double phase, but with two senior leaders it provides for a range of possible activations. The platoon lieutenant deploys in the centre to the left of the farmhouse.



He orders the nearest squad to continue working its way towards the large orchard by the barn.



He then puts the 30 cal MMG team on overwatch looking directly down the road.



Lastly, he orders the nearby FO to move the barrage forward.


As the barrage moves I can see that Dave is going to pace this attack very carefully and ensure his squads are in ideal positions for when the barrage lifts. Unfortunately there's not much I'm going to be able to do about it.

So far at least the barrage has had very little effect on the entrenched squads. This continues with a point of shock on each team in the orchard, but no effect on those in the road.




The squad in the American centre moves forward towards the orchard, keeping up a steady pace behind the advancing barrage.


After its mauling by the Germans the American squad on the right returns to the fray, advancing up to the hedges by the road.



The platoon sergeant moves towards them and rallies more of their shock.



A German command roll of 66422 is very welcome, however with two squads pinned down by the barrage there is not a lot that can be done. The Feldwebel in the barn spends the phase rallying off the squad's remaining shock.

The following phase allows the obergefreiter in the orchard to rally the shock off his men. 


Meanwhile the obergefreiter in the barn assigns one of the rifle team to join the LMG team to keep it up to strength. While the barn offers solid protection it has limited entry points and there's a danger my men could become trapped in there. I contemplate moving them out and have the Feldwebel throw a smoke grenade out of the door into the road.



I then have second thoughts. I may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. If any of the squad leave the safety of the barn they could be struck by the mortar barrage and find themselves without any protection whatsoever. Not a wise decision and so the squad stays where it is for now. 

In the American phase the lieutenant orders the squad on the left to climb over the hedge into the large orchard and move towards the German jump-off-point.



He then has the FO continue to move the barrage forward.




Once again the German foxholes do their work and the mortars have no effect on either squad.


The platoon sergeant moves up to join the squad on the right flank.


Once he reaches them he rallies off some of their shock. 


The American squad in the centre follows the barrage and moves toward the hedge surrounding the orchard.



All the Germans can do is prepare for the lifting of the barrage and the inevitable firefight with the advancing Americans. The obergefreiter puts the squad in the road on overwatch.



Over in the barn the Feldwebel directs the MG42 team to turn and focus their attention out of the rear window.



I think both players can see how this is going to unfold. The Americans will get their house in order ready to make the most of when the barrage lifts and the Germans must try to do the same. In the US phase the platoon sergeant continues to rally shock from the squad on the right. 


In the centre the platoon lieutenant and the 30 cal team make their way over the hedge and forward into the road.


Once there he calls the forward observer to come across to him.



He then sends the squad in the orchard forward and they move to capture the German jump-off-point nearest to the barn.


I've resigned myself to losing both jump-off-points on this flank. There's little I can do without taking risks with my squads. So far my casualties have been low. Once the barrage lifts I have two squads, dug-in and in good shape ready to face the Americans. If I have any hope of salvaging this game then it will most likely come from successfully winning the firefight that will inevitably erupt once the mortars stop pounding my positions.

In preparation for that inevitable firefight the American squad in the centre moves up to the hedge at the orchard.


In the German phase I try to get my men as ready as they can be to deal with the attackers. The squad leader in the road rallies the shock off his squad.


In the barn the Feldwebel puts the LMG team on overwatch to cover any flanking move in the orchard. 


In the American phase the lieutenant has the forward observer continue to bring down the mortar barrage.


The hard cover of the entrenchments continues to provide excellent protection to the German defenders and they suffer no ill effects. It was for this very thing that I wanted the entrenchments and so far they have proven their worth.



The Lieutenant then orders the 30 cal MMG team to follow him down the road.



On the opposite flank the platoon sergeant directs the squad to move at the double towards the central orchard. He accompanies them so that he can rally the shock acquired from the rapid move.


The Americans are making steady progress and are looking to build up a frightening base of fire to tackle my squads.


In the large orchard by the barn the squad sergeant assigns a man to detach himself as a scout and capture the other German jump-off-point.



In the German phase there is nothing to do. The squads are all in good order and waiting on overwatch. With the majority of the Germans pinned by the barrage it has meant the Americans hold the initiative and are able to control the flow of events. During the next phase their units continue to move forward and take up positions. In the centre the right hand squad joins the other squad behind the hedges at the orchard.



On the other flank the squad leader orders the single scout to climb the hedge and take possession of the German jump-off-point.


He then commands the BAR team to take up overwatch positions by the hedge.


The forward observer calls the barrage down once again.


This time German luck appears to have run out and one of the riflemen in the road is killed.


The German command roll is 64442 which leaves no real options and so the phase passes back over to the Americans. Their command roll is 66431 and so they enjoy another double phase. I feel the moment of decision is fast approaching.

The lieutenant has the forward observer bring down the barrage one more time. German fortune takes another turn for the worst and despite only a few hits, two of the rifle men in the orchard are killed. The LMG team suffer a point of shock. Fortunately the squad in the road are unharmed, but this is not the time to start taking casualties.


The lieutenant continues to move forward with the 30 cal MMG team. 




With the jump-off-point captured the scout moves back to join his squad.


In the following American phase the lieutenant has the 30 cal team position itself so it can target the barn. There are two German riflemen on overwatch at one of the barn doors and they open fire when they see the MMG team, but they fail to hit.


Across the road in the orchard the squad's rifle team move up to join the BAR team at the hedgerow.


The forward observer calls the barrage down yet again. This time it inflicts a single point of shock on the rifle team in the orchard. Everyone else is unscathed.


At this point Dave uses one of his three CoC die to end the turn. The smoke from the grenade is removed as are the overwatch and tactical markers. The Germans have lost two jump-off-points. I use my sole CoC die to negate one of the force morale rolls and so German force morale drops only one point, down to seven.

Despite feeling as though I am on the back foot when I come to assess my position it is not quite as bad as it seems. I have lost only a few more men than the Americans and with force morale at seven the situation still appears to offer hope. I suspect it is all going to come down to the fight around the central orchard. While I might be outgunned by the Americans my squads are in hard cover and that should count for something when the bullets start to fly.

The barrage may have ended but I will spend my phase unable to fire as the smoke from the explosions will linger. That will put me at a disadvantage and so I'm fortunate in my phase to be able to place both the squad in the orchard and road back on to overwatch.


At the barn the Feldwebel has the LMG face out of the other window and places them on overwatch too.  


From the ground level of the barn a rifleman and the obergefreiter are about to fire at the 30 cal MMG team when the Americans use another of their CoC die to interrupt and fire first. However both the American and German fire has no effect. With that the German phase ends, at which point all the smoke from the barrage is removed. Things are about to get hot.



In the American phase the firefight for the orchard starts in earnest and both squads pour fire at the entrenched Germans.



My hope that the hard cover would prove an advantage proves unfounded when I manage to roll a handful of 6s for the fire effect. Three men in the MG42 team are killed and the squad obergefreiter is wounded and stunned. German force morale drops a point to six. That's not the start I was looking for.


The squad is on overwatch and returns fire but with the MG42 crewed by a single man the return fire is not as much as it might have been and the Americans lose a single man.


The 30 cal MMG fires across the road into the barn. Unfortunately the Feldwebel is hit and wounded which takes German morale down to five.


The MG42 team in the barn are on overwatch and they return the fire, inflicting one kill and a point of shock. I fear my return fire is simply not doing enough damage to the Americans.


It has probably come too late but the next German command roll is 66442. Can it make any difference?

The wounded Feldwebel rallies off a point of shock and orders the squad in the barn to fire across the road. The Americans choose this moment to use their last CoC die and interrupt. One of the squads divides its fire, with the BAR team firing at the barn and the rifle team firing into the orchard. The platoon sergeant is attached and so he contributes his SMG fire.



The fire into the orchard kills the surviving member of the MG42 team and that sees the team wiped out. German morale takes another fall down to four. The loss of the LMG has really tipped the odds against the squad in the orchard who are reduced down to the obergefreiter and two riflemen, all of whom are now pinned.


The BAR fire at the barn proves equally deadly. A rifleman is killed and the Feldwebel is wounded again. Once again German morale takes a fall and is now down to three. How did things go so bad so quickly?


When the Germans finally get to fire it has barely any effect, inflicting a single point of shock.


For the moment the German squad in the road can't contribute to the firefight and so they attempt to move into the orchard and fire once they get there.


However a movement roll of 1 means the entire squad are unable to cover the short distance, but at least the LMG team are able to fire. 


Their fire is not particularly effective, it only hits one man but it's the platoon sergeant and he is killed. American morale drops to nine.


In amongst all this activity you may have forgotten that this is the first phase of a German double phase. While that looked positive at the start of the phase the devastating American fire has seen German force morale drop to the point they have gone from rolling five command dice in the previous phase to only three command dice in the subsequent one.

The following German command roll is 421, which is not bad considering the small number of dice rolled. The Feldwebel, whose wounds reduce his command level to a single CI, orders the squad in the barn to fire at the Americans across the road. The fire manages to inflict a single point of shock.

In the orchard the obergefreiter orders the rifle team to move into the orchard and join the LMG team engaging the Americans behind the hedge. Unfortunately another movement roll of 1 sees them fail to make the move. So the LMG team is left to fire at the Americans behind the hedge and they are joined by the obergefreiter firing his machine pistol.


They manage to kill one American and inflict two points of shock.


This firefight had the potential to be a close run thing but it all seems to be going the way of the Americans and nothing confirms this more than their next command roll of 66322. Both squads pour fire into the orchard. It only results in two points of shock on the entrenched rifle team (or what remains of them) and two points of shock on the LMG team that came in from the road. However the two points on the rifle team is enough for them to break.


They are close to the back of the table and so they end up routing off the table taking their squad leader with them. German morale drops another point down to two.


The 30 cal MMG team and one of the BAR teams fire across the road into the barn. 


Two Germans are killed and the squad accumulates another two points of shock. This is all looking very grim indeed.


Having captured the jump-off-point the squad works its way around the rear of the barn.


In the following American phase one of the squads at the hedge fire into the orchard at the German LMG team.



There are eight hits but I manage to roll four kills and two shock. That sees the MG42 team wiped out and the squad's leader wounded. German morale drops to one.


The 30 cal MMG and BAR team continue to fire into the barn. 


It's another disaster with four kills that includes the death of the Feldwebel. Little surprise this bring German moral crashing to zero.


This really comes as little surprise as the writing has been on the wall for the last few phases. Much was going to hang on the final firefight and it was one the Americans won comprehensively, overwhelming my hapless squads with firepower. It was a very well conducted assault. Dave was careful and steady, so much so that at one point in the game he felt he had to apologise for being so. However, I couldn't blame him for his caution, in our previous playing of this scenario he overstretched his platoon and was mauled quite badly by the waiting Germans.

On the other hand I can only reflect on a poorly conducted defence, which was disjointed and lacked coordination. Where as the Americans provided support for each other my deployment was haphazard at best. The barn was a bad position and was unable to provide sufficient support to the squad in the orchard. The deployment of a squad into the road was a serious error. They too could not provide adequate support for the men in the orchard or the barn. The temptation to catch the Americans in the open overcame my better judgement and for that I paid the price. To be honest, dear reader, this game is a model of how to conduct a coordinated attack. Sadly it's also a lesson in how not to conduct a defence.

Overall I shouldn't complain too much. While I can castigate myself for poor decision making and failing to set up a defence with mutually supporting positions, I can take some comfort from knowing that this platoon has outperformed any other German platoon in the campaign. They have successfully forced the Americans to use up two additional campaign games to clear this flank and in the bigger picture of what I need to achieve in this campaign that is a cause for a small celebration.

We now return to the American push up the main coastal road where the original German platoon from the first two campaign games will once again attempt to stall their advance. If I can hold the Americans here then there is still a chance for the Germans to prevent them winning the campaign in the allotted time.