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Panzer Grenadier: 1940 – The Fall of France» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Scenario 1 - A Beautiful Morning rss

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Nick Raeder
Canada
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Before playing this scenario my only experience with the Panzer Grenadier system had been playing though some example setups using the PnP demo files. Seeing as this was my first play through of a 'real' scenario and solo to boot I had already accepted that I was going to get a bunch of the rules wrong. On the other hand the scenario itself turned out to be quite fun to play; I thought it would be good to share so here goes..

The scenario is based on an attempt by lead elements of the Gross Deutschland Infantry Regiment to take control of the bridges at Etalle in Belgium on the morning of May 10th, 1940. The initial setup has the German units starting in the north east corner of map 29. The French are defending in the village on the south side of the river, and also have some armored cars and motor cycle units that enter the map from the north west on the first turn. Victory goes to the side most successful at eliminating their opponents units and/or that have control of the buildings in the village.


Scenario 1 Set Up


New things in this scenario (to me at least) are the roadblocks on the bridges, which are impassable to vehicles and give automatic dug-in status to any infantry unit that sets up there. The Germans also get an engineer unit, which opens up the possibility of them making their own river crossing somewhere other than the bridges.

Looking at this from the German player's point of view, there were two ways to approach the scenario. One would be to seek out and eliminate the French units north of the river and then go for the village. The other would be to get their units across the river and assault the village from behind, leaving the French motorized units on the north bank stranded on the wrong side of the roadblocks (or forcing the French player to take them down).

From the French player's point of view I figured their best bet would probably be to try to play for time by delaying & harassing the Germans as much as possible.

In the end I couldn't decide which approach to use for the Germans and so ended up doing a little of both. I sent the bulk of the German units east to engage the motorized units and an armored car, infantry & engineer unit to cross the river on the east side.

By the end of the second hour (turn 8 of 15) the Germans had succeeded in destroying the units on the north bank, mostly in an epic multi-turn assault-fest combat that took place on the road leading up the hill to the church in hex 0412. By this time the crossing units had got behind the village and it became a race to see if the French could hang on to enough village hexes to avoid a Major Defeat (short answer being no, they didn't).

One of the challenges for me was to get my head around the differences between the platoon level tactics needed for PG and the squad/skirmish level games I'm more used to. In particular it was good to see that artillery & mortars played a bigger role and that units typically get gradually worn down over time rather than being quickly eliminated. The PG rules are reasonably dense, but at only 16 pages they're fairly manageable. By the end of the scenario things were starting to flow.

So what went wrong? Apart from a long streak of truly miserable bombardment dice rolls for the Germans, it was mostly screw ups on my part over the rules. In particular, next time I need to remember:

o Leaders can activate groups over multiple hexes, but can't form multi-hex fire groups unless they have an appropriate combat modifier. (see 6.41)
o AFV's can only join a multi-hex fire group or join with infantry in an assault if they're activated in the same hex as the infantry leader (or their activaing leader is). (see 6.84)
o River crossing units need to dice before they can exit the river hex. (see 5.73)
o The German infantry have a 1-in-3 random chance of being able to use an AT 0 attack during assaults on vehicles. (see special rule 12)

In summary, I found this to be quite a fun scenario to play through. I particularly enjoy games that generate strong narratives and this one certainly did. I'm planning on giving the rulebook another read through over the weekend before replaying the same scenario again & seeing what changes.

I’ve had this game sitting on my shelf un-played for almost a year now but didn’t get it on the table due to the density of the rules. Reading through the comments for other games in this series I’ve seen people say they’ve got as far as setting a scenario up but couldn’t bring themselves to actually start playing. That was me before, but I can now say that it turned out to be way easier to play than I expected.
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Eric Walters
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Chesterfield
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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Glad you've given this game system a try and you did quite well in starting with this particular module. Don't feel bad about forgetting some of the rules the first (or even the second and/or third) time out as we all do that.

This series is one of my favorites in the WWII tactical ground game genre and I usually want to play this when I've overdosed on ASL!

Hope you keep playing! And don't forget to join Panzergrenadier HQ online at http://www.pg-hq.com/!
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Joshua Gottesman
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Darn, Eric beat me to recommending pg-hq.

Quote:
o Leaders can activate groups over multiple hexes, but can't form multi-hex fire groups unless they have an appropriate combat modifier. (see 6.41)


I have played a fair amount of PG and I still sometimes forget this rule.

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Nick Raeder
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Thanks for the kind words of encouragement.

ericmwalters wrote:
Don't feel bad about forgetting some of the rules..


I can be something of a perfectionist in its least constructive sense. I sometimes don't feel like starting play because I don't have a good enough mental model of what is supposed to happen.

This can be a particular problem when playing solo since I tend to look upon the game as more of a puzzle than anything else; I often feel I need to have 'solved it' before I can start.

This time I thought 'To heck with it! Lets throw some counters around and see what happens', and had a surprising amount of fun doing it.

ericmwalters wrote:
..don't forget to join Panzergrenadier HQ..


I've lurked there for a while; it's quite impressive. I'm avoiding it just at the moment, though, since I'd be tempted to peek at the AAR's for this module's scenario but don't want any spoilers on how to solve them.
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Nick Raeder
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Well, I played thru this scenario again and the short version is that the French got hammered once again.

This time I’m pretty sure I got most of the rules right. On re-reading them I spotted some other things I’d missed. For example, there’s no concept of shadow hexes or crest lines which means, for example, units behind forest or city hexes are not hidden from units on a higher level hill on the other side (see 8.36). This meant that I didn't need to worry so much about whether the German's mortar unit had spotters or not.

The French kept the same game plan as before. I hoped to be better at hit & run tactics against the Germans using the north bank units; with the town units turtling as before.

There's errata for this scenario on www.pg-hq.com which says that the DRG units have to dismount if they want to occupy the roadblock hexes. I figured this’d be worth doing, but it doesn’t say what sort of INF counter should be used to replace them, so I assumed they’d lose some mobility but not firepower and so used one of the ESC 4-3 counters.

The last time I played I split the German force, which meant that there wasn’t really enough firepower on hand to force a decisive outcome against the north bank French units. This time I sent them all west and after they’d dealt with the DRG’s & P178’s they turned south, assaulted the bridges and fought their way into Etalle. By the end of the final turn the French were down to a single stack in the center of town containing a leader, reduced P178 & reduced INF. The final score was something like 20 to 7, giving the Germans another major victory.

The French reinforcements had still not arrived when the game ended, but I don’t think this materially affected the outcome. The German's arrived on the penultimate turn, but did not get a chance to enter combat.

This time the north bank units lived longer but doing hit & run is difficult when the enemy has a higher initiative. A couple of times I moved them to a ‘safer’ hex only to have German units catch up with them and move adjacent in the following AS’s, and then assault them in the following turn after the Germans got the initiative.

I’m not sure what more the French player can do to halt the German juggernaut given they generally have lower DF firepower too, so even ganging up on German units is difficult.

Anyway, that’s enough of scenario 1 for the moment. On to No. 2...
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Joshua Gottesman
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Nick,

Remember that city hexes are actually 20m higher than the terrain on which they are located (rule 8.42) so in effect they do create a shadow hex. Also from 8.36, note that you have to be higher than the blocking terrain, not higher than or equal to. So a unit on a 40m hex can't see past woods that are also at 40m, only woods at 20m. They couldn't see past a town at 20m, only one on ground level.
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Nick Raeder
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Joshuaaaaaa wrote:
Nick,
Remember that city hexes are actually 20m higher than the terrain on which they are located (rule 8.42)


DOH!

NickRaeder wrote:
This time I’m pretty sure I got most of the rules right.


Hmm, but not as many as I thought..


Anyway, thanks Joshua, that makes more sense.
 
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Robert Makowsky
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Rhinebeck
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Great AAR.

Just got the game and like you, pulled this scenario out solo to play through the rules.

My plan for the Germans was to force a crossing south of their start hexes and to put a few units to the west to block the French mobile forces.

French followed your setup, being in the village and using the roadblocks. Once they recognized that the Germans were moving south, they sent an Armored Car platoon to the top of the ridge south of the river, which kept fire on the units attempting to cross.

The Germans rolled poorly for crossing, staying in the crossing hex for a number of turns allowing some disruption to happen from bad die rolls.

In the west, the French advance was held up by the Germans but I did consider advancing the German infantry into Assault.

Game stopped due to obligations but enjoyed it. I also missed the rule about leaders needing combat value to do multi-hex fire groups, but found it on checking something else, only made about 3 attacks like that. (My French leaders were all poorly picked none had combat value).

Thanks, again.
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