August 13, 2013

Call to Arms AAR 5/5 - Fallschirmjager vs. GePzGr

Last game of Call to Arms 2013 and after my close run loss against Paul I was looking for a good win here to get me up the leaderboard. The scenario was Strategic Withdrawl another one of my favourites as it always produces (at least in my experience) very close games that force you to play well.  In this match I was up against Scott Bowman of the excellent blog Scotts Wargaming.  Id never played him before but have always wanted to so was looking forward to it.  The match would also mean I had played both of the Kapiti boys on Day 2.

(You can read Scotts account of the battle here)

The terrain set up offered some solid advantages for defense but also gave Scott a number of concealed approaches.  I put my first objective down on the left near the river that cut off the right hand 5th of the table.  This required Scott to place his over on the left and he helped out a little bit by putting both near forests.  These gave me great places to deploy my defending infantry.  To help cover all 3 objectives I created a small battlegroup taking 3 teams from each FJ Platoon to make a 3rd giving me infantry on all 3 objectives.

Deployment - 1st FJ on the forested hill objective (left flank), StuGs behind to cover the approaches to the other two objectives.  Nebs behind the hill.  2 more FJ platoons are dug in covering the other objectives.  The only elements not concealed back in the forest are the AA guns that are covering the centre & right flank. Tigers with ROF3 are in ambush
The crucial centre & right flank objectives
Scott masses his units in the centre with the King Tigers offering protection.  One GePzGr platoon is on the other side of the river though which I hadn't expected.  Kept this picture in full colour as I think his German Camo scheme is simply awesome - why I and a lot of others voted for him as Best Painted Army for the tournament.
My first mistake is revealed - Scotts Paks go down in the wheatfield and begin to slowly move up.  While the objectives are all in forests there are open spaces between them meaning my StuGs will have to cross that terrain exposing their side armour to his Paks to support the centre and right flank.
First moves by Scott - GePzGr move up to the river and begin to debus their infantry.  Fortunately they can't make it across in one move leaving many teams stranded on the river where infantry only get 5+ saves.
The big rush all of Scotts PzGr debus and advance to assault the right flank objective. I have no choice but to put the Tiger ambush down on this flank.  But where do they go?  I need to neutralise as many of his troops as possible and pin them down to lessen the impact of any fire coming the way of my infantry.  With his 1/2 tracks within 6" of the forest my FJ are going to take a pounding.
Enemy fire rakes the FJ but only takes out a single team.  The Nebs have managed to pin down one of Scotts Platoons while the other platoon on the river is weakened by the Tigers HMG fire and then fails to pass its tank terror to assault.
Tiger ambush goes down on top of the objective and opens up on the PzGr crossing the river.  I make a mistake here though that nearly costs me.  Rather than stay in place I opt to move my FJ out of their foxholes and back toward the rear of the forest.  I was aiming to get them out of LOS of his 1/2 tracks but they lost GTG and Bulletproof cover.  Plus his 1/2 tracks just looped around the side of the forest.
A ton of HMG fire comes in and my FJ are pinned down but amazingly I make my saves and dont lose anybody.  Nebs and Tigers continue to rake the PzGr who are now taking heavy losses. The Platoon by the King Tigers remains pinned down so Scott can only assault with a single weakened Platoon vs. all of my defensive fire.  The Tigers are also too far back for his tanks to see. 
Scotts assault goes in and its not looking good.  While he takes losses coming in his teams manage to bail both Tiger tanks leaving only my infantry to defend the objective.  I have to win and motivate or the game is lost. 
HOLY COW!!! What a battle that was.  Multiple rounds of assaults.  We both fluff attack rolls but Scott fails his motivation and has to fall back leaving my two bailed out Tigers my CIC and the sole surviving member of the FJ Platoon its Commander alive.  Somehow they both stick around.  Against his 1/2 tracks, tanks and PzGr I have 2 Tanks and 2 PF/SMG teams left and thats it.  Both Tiger crews remount and Scott cannot believe it... neither can I
Meanwhile things haven't been quiet on the left.  Scotts Paks and KT are keeping my StuGs at bay.  To counter the Paks the Sniper deploys on top of the hill and starts taking pot shots at them.  With his 4+ FP he manages to knock out 2 of them forcing the Platoon to fall back.  As the KTigers are occupied with the right flank objective the Snipers work allows the StuGs to move up - the aim to use their greater speed to get into the KT flanks but also to take out a few 1/2 tracks.
The Tigers fall back behind the forest but still in position to contest the objective.  Nebs continue to rain down on Scotts PzGr and now disaster strikes.  One PzGr platoon is shot away and destroyed by the Tigers I think (or from the failed assault).  The 2nd with his CIC is being battered by Artillery fire and the StuGs who have moved up.  Its down to less than 1/2 strength but manages to hang on.  FJ have also moved out of the forest to assault the Pumas that have gotten to close and this Platoon too is destroyed.

My key problem are the King Tigers.  They can kill my tanks easily but even my Tigers can't hurt them.  Nebs have a slim chance of bailing them but thats it.  Only the StuGs have some ability to hurt them but only from the flank.  I have no option but to get the platoon in to engage them
But crossing open ground isn't a good idea though as Scott has 1 Pak 40 left.  It quickly vaporises 2 StuGs while the King Tigers bail out two more.  Things are getting dicey now as the scenario rules mean I am now starting to withdraw Platoons from the board.  Turn 6 isnt far off and Ill be able to take objectives away too - just not the one on the right where only 2 FJ teams and the 2 Tigers are in defence.
Last throw of the dice for the GePzGr as the few remaining teams assault the 2 FJ command teams still alive.  The Tigers meanwhile continue to brew up more and more 1/2 tracks.  On the left and in the centre objectives and Platoons are now being withdrawn.  Its all down to the right flank.
The StuGs are all done so the KT can move up but there are only a few 1/2 tracks left.  My Tigers now have to hide as they are too slow to flank the KT's
The last ditch assault by the GePzGr fails as defensive fire from the Tigers and my 2 FJ Command Squads somehow forces them back inflicting heavy losses.  The surviving teams break and fail their motivation including the re-rolls.  All of Scotts infantry, his 1/2 tracks and recon are now dead.  There is only one objective left... the King Tigers have to go in
Aggression has to pay off - 2 King Tigers against 2 Tiger IEs and 2 PF/SMG command teams both dug-in
The King Tigers go in....
What happened next basically summed up the game from Scotts point of view.  Defensive fire from the Panzerfausts doesn't hurt the King Tigers but then he fluffs his attack rolls.  I still have to motivate to attack him and I pass.  2 hits 1 on each top using Panzerfausts are both successful, one tank is destroyed the other is bailed.  The FJ have hung on - somehow and Scotts final assault brave as it was has failed...

HOLY COW!!! WHAT A GAME!!! This was an absolutely fantastic way to finish the tournament and the most enjoyable game of the weekend for me.  The final score 6-1 to me didn't even come close to representing what really happened here. I ended up voting for Scott for Best Sport for the event as he just kept on trying right up till the end - 4 or 5 different assaults went into those FJ.  Countless rounds of HMG fire from his 1/2 tracks and nothing worked.  It was just one of those games.  

Final result from the tournament for me 17 points putting me up in 10th equal place only my 2nd top 10 tournament finish and another fantastic weekend at Call to Arms


Scott said...

Excellent report John! Great to see it from your perspective, and the pictures just bring back to me how close it was! Curses, foiled again! ;-)

I'll put my game report up tomorrow, to close out my tournament report.

It was good to get a game with you finally and I look forward to more...

Mark Stanton said...

Sounds like a good close game that come down to the wire on motivation tests - something I sorely missed playing in the fantasy comp this year, not that I am saying it wasn't fun playing fantasy, but you never know how close it is until you calculate it out at the end.
I will be going FOW next time I think though.

John Murrie said...

@Scott - looking forward to your side of it :)

@Mark - close games are why I enjoy FOW more. WHFB its always the same armies with the same lists winning everything gets really old after a while.

Red Dog said...

What a game! I love Fighting Withdrawal as it constantly swings back and forth and you always have to work hard for a win. Motivation seemed to be a key theme in the close games.

Congrats on the placing, it's always satisfying when you've had fun games and managed some good results.

Scott said...

BTW, thanks for the painting vote :-)

Tea Urn said...

Thought I'd take a break from just lurking and say how great I think your FoW battle reports are - always nicely balanced, especially when you lose and just good to read. As a fellow FoW player it's good to see some other games and how they went.

Danisnotatree said...

Great report and by the sounds of it the game was very close. It does seem that some of us for reasons you cannot explain, fluff rolls at the big moments, whereas others pass. Hard luck for Scott there, but a good game all round.

John Murrie said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone glad ppl are enjoying read :)