THE BATTLE OF MALMAISON (# 59-62)
The more powerful St. Chamond tank makes its first appearance. It is paired with a Schneider for each of the four scenarios; there are none with two StCs.
Guillain Farm (#59) French 8, Germans 4 (Reset: Germans 9, French 6)
Both sides start with lots of useful SPFs; you only get to choose 1 additional per side. I'm trying it out with an Engineer on each side. The French Engineer will ride in the St.C tank. The German's have an interesting choice; there is only one infantry unit in which to place an SPF. I'm going to try and fortify the first line on the French Right with that Engineer unit, to hopefully delay or prevent the French getting Breakthrough Victory Points on that side of the board. I could have aided the German heavy weapons instead, but this seems to e the weakest point in the defense overall. The German's have all three Bombers at start; I must not be the only one who enjoys employing them against tanks.
Once again, as this scenario begins, I'm using new and different tactics on both sides. With only one French card for the Right, the others for the Center, and none at all on the Left, where I wanted to make my main attack, the mighty St. Chamond rumbles toward the center German MG bunker. Meanwhile, as the Germans, I build the Engineer Fortified Position on the trench one hex into the center from the construction unit, and crossfire the two MG on the big tank! Initially, no results score on the first tries for either side.
Then the French dump a huge five dice Reserve Artillery bombardment onto the bunker while the big tank gets adjacent to the bunker for a maximum shot of 4 dice. The artillery takes out one machine gunner, but then the powerful StC. Comes adjacent to the bunker...and bogs down! Sometimes with tanks you just want to stand off and take a lesser shot rather than risk a Bogdown, but in this case a bunker is the most resistant target there is (except another tank).
Also, now that the tank is adjacent, the Germans can no longer cross fire. The German MG is happy to do a close assault, but fails when re-rolling a Deadly Die. Meanwhile two German Bombers move up toward the tank, but it will take them a while to get there. Anything can happen on the battlefield! The tank fails to recover, but throwing three dice, gets two Bursts, taking out two more machine gunners. Amazing, but not unprecedented. Meanwhile, the French infantry begins to move up cautiously, with the French continuing to draw only Center cards. This is typically weird Commands & Colors action.
Desperate, the Germans play The Big Show, using up their last 3 Starts to fire the MG and one Bomber which has to expose itself out in the open to get an attack. With three re-rolls, the Germans hope to get a hit on the armored behemoth in front of them, but its an epic fail!
As a French infantry moves into the open, the French use up their only five Stars! The artillery barrage kills one man and retreats the lead German Bomber, hitting on other German units but getting no damage results on them. The St.C tank, with no Stars left for another Recovery attempt, fires with 3 dice on the adjacent MG, but misses. Its become a wild struggle on a very narrow part of the Center!
The lone bunkered German machine gunner gets a miraculous 3 re-rolls, but again all fail against the tank. The other MG takes out the first French infantryman. Everything hangs on a knife edge, as both sides continue to pour in the units they can. The Germans have also played Counter Espionage to blunt the impact of French Combat Cards.
The tank plays a Butt and Bayonet card (specifically allowed in the rules), and takes out the lone gunner, but can't advance into the Bunker since it is still bogged down, which would have given then a second VP.. Score French 1 Germans ) of 8. Meanwhile the French infantry, using a Counter Attack, are finally able to start moving up. As combat became general all across the line, a German Bomber reoccupied the Bunker, but failed to hurt the tank.
The St.C finally Recovers from Bog Down, but fails to harm the Bunker. But French infantry storms into the German trench now, killing a Bunker figure and getting the French their second VP; Score French 2 Germans 0 of 8. The Germans in the Bunker hit back, taking out two figures and reducing the foremost French infantry to a single piece. But the French pull the lone survivor back, and hit the Bunker with a fresh infantry, wiping out the Bomber in the Bunker. Then the French Schneider tank comes adjacent to the other MG Bunker, but bogs down likewise and cannot attack this turn!
The French play Storm of Fire, and the French casualties, minimal so far, now rise to exceed those of the Germans. But in a coup de main, the French played Short of Supplies, exiling the MG in the Left Bunker all the way back to behind the Farm! Yikes. The French will now surge forward, picking up more VP! And indeed, the Gauls take a second Bunker and reoccupy the trench; Score French 5 Germans 0 of 8.
The Germans now mounted their own Big Show, and although reduced now to only five units, managed to take out two reduced French units; Score French 5, Germans 2 of 8. Then, as the French continued to advance, th St.C Recovered, moved two, and Bogged Down again. The German Bomber unit fell back from fighting with the infantry while remaining adjacent to the vehicle, and hit the tank with an extra re-roll, finally scoring a tank hit, while playing a Recon card, Score French 5 Germans 3.
French infantry continued to advance. The Germans played Replacements just for the one Bomber unit, and got another attack on the Bogged St.C., but failed to hit it a final time. Temporarily unable to activate or recover their tanks, the French continued to advance six full strength infantry units, pulling toward the Center away from the German Engineer in its Bunker which had badly damaged an infantry advancing against it.
The German Bomber went tank hunting in the Center once again but without result. A Replacement card had brought it up to three figures. The German Mortar on the French Left also fired without result at advancing French in the trench line. The French player had drawn three Recon cards which the Germans would have been happy to get!
Yet again, the Bomber missed the tank. But the Germans had gotten rid of two useless Combat Cards, and filled up their hand with five of them now, while the French, needing Stars to unbog their tanks, had only one CC. Each side was playing very differently, to their strengths as possible. The Germans were limited by a hand of only four Command Cards, while the French had more leeway with five.
Finally, the French, in a perfect combo move, unbogged the big tank, advanced infantry around the right of it to take out a German Bomber figure, and then finish off the bomber with the St.C.'s powerful 4 die close assault! Score French 6, Germans 3 of 8. Plus the French now had a large gap in the Center in which to advance. The Huns would have to send in their last Bomber unit from the Left Rear trench to contest the ground!
The Germans now, having accumulated far more Stars than they were able to use, for the very first time employed the weak Reserve Artillery of 3 strength. They actually rolled doubles on an Elite in a trench target hex from the adjacent tank hex. And took out one figure and the SPF (about half of the many French SPFs had now been eliminated), but did not damage the tank.
The St.C. now advanced two hexes, so that it was only two more from the German board edge. Getting to exit if off the board would win the game for the French, but...it bogged down yet another time! Two French infantry units followed it in column up the empty German trench line. This danger had been foreseen in the nature of the German thin crustal defense, holding such a long line with so few units. Originally I had thought of pulling the Engineer back and trying to fortify the second line rather than the first line where it started, but this just didn't seem possible, and would have given up too much ground. Having a small number of powerful units can backfire when they go down too fast, and the MG crews in the two bunkers had (one having been thrown out by a Combat Card).
Unable to activate the Bomber yet, the German Engineer unit finally abandoned its now irrelevant Bunker and hit the rear of the French column, taking out two figures from the rear (third) French unit. But then the St.C. unbogged and moved two down the line, to reach the German board edge. Next turn, if not stopped it would win the game with two points!
The German Engineer wiped out the French unit; Score French 6 Germans 4 of 8. Then, using Advance Over the Top, the German Bomber managed to move an extra space and get adjacent to the Big Tank. One roll would decide the fate of the big tank, which could only take one more hit. Would the Germans tie up the game, or lose it now?
The German Bomber threw two Bursts, but both re-rolls failed. Then the weakened big tank lumbered forward for victory: French 8 Germans 4!
This long narrative should give you an idea of the very varied possible plays in this exciting game. While the scenario favored the French, it was no pushover for them. Had the German Bomber knocked out the big tank, the outcome would definitely been in doubt. This could have happened earlier if the French had not taken out the Right Bunker MG quickly and the pushed the second back with Short of Supply. And while the St.C broke down often, the Engineer aboard her was certainly a factor in her multiple Recoveries, and this will not always be available.
All in all, a fine exercise in WWI pregame planning, tactics, and “crisis management.”
Game Reset: The World of “What If...”
I've never done this before, but since the game is still on the table, and the back field of this game is so interesting, I'm going to do a “Reset” and ask “What if the German Bomber had destroyed the St. Chamond? Score French 6, Germans 6 of 8.
The Germans have 4 units left on the board:
The MG in the Farm, The Mortar three trench hexes down from it towards the French, the Bomber in the board edge between the two trench hexes, and the Engineer four trench hexes down from it, adjacent to the enemy infantry. All units are at full strength except the Engineer, which is down to 3 figures.
The French have 8 units left on the board (French Left to Right):
Bomber 4 hexes from French edge on extreme Left, Officer (3 figures) in curved corner trench 2 hexes away, Schneider tank (unhit but Bogged Down) SE of Left Bunker, Bomber in Shell Crater 2 hexes SE of tank, Infantry (2) in Shell Crater 1 hex up and 1 Right, Infantry (1) in middle Center German front trench, Infantry 1 hex to Right, Infantry (3) far up hexes from German board edge NE trench adjacent to German Engineer.
The French failed to unbog their tank, but attack the German Mortar and Engineer with two units in close combat each, although one in each attack had to step out into the open to do it. The engaged French infantry deep in the German Center could have broken away and headed for the board edge, but he just would have been intercepted by the enemy Bomber unit, so he stayed were he was.
The German Mortar lost a figure and had to fall back (the Frenchman advanced). The (ex-)Engineer lost two and the SPF, but stayed where he was. The Germans hit back; the Ex Engineer took 3 figures from its attacker out in the open. The German Mortar retreated two next to the farm, whereupon the MG there opened up and took 1 man from the advancing French.
The French Officer in the lead fell back all the way to the Bunker, deciding to leave the advance on the Left to the tank, but it failed to Recover for the second time (this smaller tank did not have an Engineer with it.). Meanwhile far away in the center, the 1 strength infantry forced the Ex-Engineer to retreat, and got into trench, where both it and other French infantry were adjacent to the German.
The German Mortar fired at extremely long range, taking out a French figure out in the open on the extreme left. Then a powerful German counterattack saw the Bomber taking out a figure and retreating one French infantry, then playing Battle Fury to get a bonus attack, and taking out the only figure of another. Score Germans 7, French 6. The the other German infantry took out another figure from the other enemy infantry, which was now out in the open. All of the Germans were staying in the trenches.
The French infantry now skedaddled for cover. The Bomber on the Left went one right into the trench. The single man unit in the center went all the way back to the Right Bunker. Then the Schneider finally unbogged and moved one to the Left, and one up to the curved trench corner. Time to consolidate!
With most of his cards on the useless Right sector where neither side now had any troops, the French played a Recon Right, to improve its hand, and took up a new Combat Card. The French now held some nasty surprises for the Germans, if there was time to set them up!
With few units left on he board, and some of these weakened, both sides were playing Command Cards without getting their full possible benefit. The full strength German Bomber came up adjacent to the single man French unit in the Right Bunker but could not yet attack. There were no other French within rescue distance except for the other 1 man unit nearby. With the Schneider still five hexes away from the Farm, time seemed to be on the side of the Germans!
But playing Short Supply to devastating effect for the second time in this game, the French sent the German Bomber back to the only trench hex on the German baseline!!! Now the rest of the French infantry came safely up into the German trench.
The French had had to abandon their original play to pull the tank up to the farm, and then play Short of Supply to get the MG out of the Farm, and drive the tank in for an auto VP. Now, as both sides reshuffled their positions as best they could, the Schneider jinked Left to get around the French infantry in front of it in the German trench communications trench line,entered an open terrain hex (tanks get no terrain protection anyway)...and Bogged Down.
Continuing sub optimal card play, the Germans used Artillery Bombardment, but the French Shell Shortage cut it down to only a single die, unable to register on the target hex. However, although unable to hit the TH with the single man French unit, the German shells landed on the adjacent single man unit...and then missed! The second German single die bombardment landed on an empty hex. Whew! A Burst result would have ended the game with a German win. The French tank failed to unbog, and the entire French Left advance stalled. Now another “first” ever for TGW; both sides played cards that were useless to them, just to get more cards. The French needed Stars to unbog; the Germans went defensive on the Left, and couldn't move up the Bomber in the Center.
Finally, as the Schneider remained bogged, the German Bomber moved adjacent to the Bunker and attacked, rolling a Burst and a Deadly Die, winning the game Germans 8, French 6 of 8. This was good to see, as at first I thought the Germans really had no chance in this scenario. I still think it favors the French, but certainly not so much that its not fun to play.
Laffaux Salient #60 French 7, Germans 6
The rather bland commentary on this and the following scenario boil down to “with tank support, the French took their objectives.” Hopefully the games will be more exciting than that!
Germans 1: (2 Bombers Preset) Engineer—French Right Farm.
Even if het just fortifies its own position, he should be worthwhile!
French:5: Engineer ( St.C), 2 Elite (1 each flank), Officer (Left), Bomber (Center).
Over the first few turns, the French got their units up to the barbed wire, and into the German trench for 1 VP. The Schneider bogged down just before the trench. The St. Chamond got into the trench adjacent to the French Right (only) Bunker and took out a machine gunner. The Germans used their 3 strength artillery once before the French troop concentrations out in the open broke up, but missed. However, the Germans rallied and took out a French unit. The French took heavier casualties than the Germans did. Score French 1 Germans 1 of 7.
During the next few turns, the St.C. And a French Infantry double teamed the MG in the bunker, and one by one took out its figures. The German Engineer fortified the French Right farm, and repulsed an adjacent French Elite with the help of a Bomber. Each side lost one more unit. Score French 3, Germans 2.
On the French Left, the Germans left the Farm to fight out in No Man's Land, destroying a French unit and then pulling back. Another German fell, and one French unit on the Right was sent off the board with Stretcher Bearer. SCORE French 4, Germans 3. Combat was exciting and continuous on both flanks, so the French had to ease up in the Center for a while, as they didn't have Stars to unbog the Schneider (or fire their 5 strength Reserve Artillery).
Finally the Schneider tank was activated, but failed to unbog. The French infantry took out the last Mortar crewman. The Germans though, using Artillery Bombard, blew up two French single man units, one in a forest and one in a trench! Score French 5, Germans 5. Slick! You have to use what you've got, and seize passing opportunities.
The French paused their advance to pick off a German Bomber i\still in No Man's Land. But the Germans played a Recon card: Score French 6 Germans 6 of 7. While not as Epic as earlier scenarios, its close one—Point Game!
The French now have almost all Center cards, and only four infantry units plus the two tanks against the three German units (two in farms and one in their rear trench in the Center). The French plan is to bombard the unfortified French Left farm, and then hit it with infantry. They cannot afford to risk serious casualties; and may have to use their strong Reserve Artillery more than once; luckily the Germans can't win the last point suddenly with a Recon card; if they have one. Two French infantry begin to filter through the forest on non adjacent hexes.
The Germans must be mostly reactive since they cannot leave the farms, and yet must prevent any French trying the exit strategy on their board edge with their Center unit. Luckily, the tanks are still far away from the board edge, and the smaller one is still bogged.
The Germans throw Counter Espionage on the French and discard two of their Combat Cards, missing a weak shot against the French Bomber who has emerged from the woods into the rear German trench. The French draw the Artillery Bombard card, and are preparing a double five die attack against the French Left Village. The Germans use Advance Over The Top to get their Bomber to intercept the French point unit and take out two figures from it. Both sides are managing to make meaningful moves with very limited resources.
The French, using a Recon card, had had to discard a precious left section card, which they had been dying to get, to keep the Artillery Bombard. Now they used their only non Center Card, Replacements, to replace one figure in the Bomber unit and attack the German. In hand to hand Bomber vs Bomber combat, the French killed two Germans! This was so essential to their game that they had to postpone the Artillery attack. Not knowing what is in store, the Germans nevertheless continue the crucial combat, not being able to allow the French unit to either attack the farm for behind or go for an exit off their board edge. There are now two German figures left in their Bomber unit, and only one in the French Bomber!
Desperate to save their weak Bomber, the French choose to forgo their use of Artillery Bombard, top play instead a Left Three card they just drew. This will allow them to continue the Bomber vs Bomber combat, put only one artillery attack on the farm, and move a second infantry adjacent to follow up attack on the farm (with a 1/6 change of getting hit out in the open with their own big guns)! If they do not wipe out the enemy Bomber or take the Farm, they may lose on the next German turn. And so they must risk it all, as they is no way for their own Bomber to escape an attack on the German upcoming turn. Roll the dice!
The French artillery take out one German in the Farm, and do not injure their own men. This French infantry attacks the town in close combat and knock out two more gray figures. The Germans hold the town with one remaining man!
The French Bomber knocks out one German and retreats the remaining one two hexes toward his board edge. They attack has gone well, but not well enough to gain that last elusive Victory Point. Will the Germans pick it up on their turn? The Germans in the farm take out two of the adjacent Frenchmen and retreat the others back to the trench. Their Bomber, still out in the open, attacks his French counterpart in the trench, but misses. The French will have another chance to wipe out the bomber or the farm garrison and win the game, if they have the cards they need. The world holds its breath, as the French player looks through his hand of cards.
The French have only Center section cards, but their Bomber is now on the Left. But they come up with Storm of Fire. Far off to the Right Flank, the St. C. and an Infantry fire on the Fortified Farm but get no hits from two away. Back to the main action on the Left, the French in the Trench fire on the town and force its single man to retreat, but have no one in position to take the town. Then the crucial roll, the single figure French Bomber in the far trench fires on the German single figure Bomber and takes him out for the win: French 7 Germans 6 of 7. Whew! C&C scenarios do sometimes come down to a single series of die rolls, and it often results in thrills and chills for both sides.
Although it seemed that the French had a good advantage at the start of the game, it was a very near run thing. This game was shorter than the previous one, and less complex, but fun none the less.
Vaudesson #61 French 7, Germans 3
The number and type of units and scenario resources are almost identical to the previous one, but the terrain is very different. I'm inferring that the full terrain hex SW of the Church, marked as “Fortified Position,” which also has a unit on it and is therefore impossible to identify, is a second Building hex, making Vaudesson a three hex village with the Church. The Germans have a Field Gun in a Fortified Position in an otherwise Clear hex just north of the village, as well as an MG in the hex noted above, but the other two of the village hexes unmanned. Since the French get a VP for each building hex occupied, the village should prove a key area, as occupying all three hexes and taking out these two units would give the French 5 of the 7 VP required. And indeed this time the St. Chamond tank is beneath that sector on the French Left.
German 1 (1 Bomber already prepositioned): LTMG (Center unit on Front Trench Line)
French 5 : Flamethrower (Left), Engineer (St.C tank), Bomber (Center), Elite, Officer (Right)
Suddenly at game start, the French draw the crucial Short Supply combat card! They will use it on the first turn on the MG in town in its Fortified Position Building, and advance Left section infantry as quickly as possible toward that crucial objective, through the wire that the initial NML Barrage has already flattened! This means the German MG will still be able in a couple of turns to reposition in Vaudesson, but probably one further away, ceding at least one hex to the French.
The Germans have drawn Lost Messenger, and would normally be able to counter the French play by stopping their first turn advance, but it costs 6 Stars, and they only start with 4, so that will not be available until their second turn.
Two French infantry and the St.C tank move forward. Like the other scenarios in this battle, the French need to break up the infantry adjacencies out in the open at start, and they go to the Shell Craters create by the NMLB. The Germans counter by not only moving up the MG, but the Field Artillery as well, since from its rear position it lacks the field of fire the MG had originally against the advancing French. They also take two Stars to power the Lost Messenger card on their second turn. This is a wild start and your mileage may vary on different plays, but right now this is the situation to game out!
The St.C bogs down on its third movement hex, and Lost Messenger cancels the advance of all the French infantry, whose point unit would have otherwise come adjacent to the abandoned Fortified Position in the first village hex which the German MG had abandoned. The German Field Gun now moves up into the Church, where it has LOS two hexes from the bogged tank, and the MG filters into the northernmost village building hex.
The French, rather than fire with a singe die from the tank, elect to use Infantry Assault, and move up their lead unit into the FP, gaining a VP for the first village hex taken, but unable to attack this turn, with other units moving up behind it. Score French 1 Germans 0 of 7. They and the Field Artillery will now engage each other in normal close combat, with the MG able to fire away at the lead French unit in the Building/FP hex. In this unique configuration of terrain and units, the Germans fire first against the French Infantry but get no hits.
On French Infantry attacks first from the FP, and another moves up adjacent in the open to both the Church and the second building hex, ready to follow up the attack against the Church. If successful they will leave the open hex. The Germans now do something diabolical. The do not use their Strike First card before the first French attack, absorbing the loss of a figure from the Artillery crew, because the first attack came from the FP/Building where the Frenchman was nicely protected. Now when the second attack comes from the open they play it, throw a Hand Grenade card on top of it, and with four dice in close combat wipe the full strength French infantry out. Score French 1, Germans 1 of 7.
Once again the German MG and then Artillery attack the FP. Not only do they not score, but with Butt and Bayonet, the French roll two Deadly Dice and a Burst, wiping out the Artillery and moving into the Church, completely overriding its protection! The French score a VP both for the unit and the Church: Score French 3 Germans 1. Wow, what a fight!
Its frustrating for the Germans that they have just drawn a Machine Gun Barrage card but cannot use it, because their MG, the last unit in town, must now do close combat. But the Germans knock out two French figures, and the remaining French are 3-4 hexes away, and their big tank bogged down. So since there has been no fighting at all so far in the (French) Center or Right sectors, the Germans peel the Leftmost infantry off to come to within two of the Church, to reinforce the town fight. Each turn of the last several it has seemed that a different other side had the upper hand. The most fascinating thing to me in the entire French Army Expansion is the difference in each scenario, which is why I've ended up describing some of them in such detail.
The French plays Forward (2-2-2), and Move up now in all three sectors. In the Center, the Schneider fires but misses, as a blue infantry advances on the trench section the Germans have just abandoned to reinforce the town. Meanwhile on the Left another French infantry comes adjacent to the FP, but the St.C, even rolling four dice (including 1 for the Engineer), fails to unbog. The C&C system continues to generate surprising and challenging situations with the variable matrix between cards played and the dice rolled.
So far the Germans, with very limited assets, and circumstances against them, have managed to play a forceful role. Now they play Artillery Bombard, and hit the reinforcing French infantry out in the open twice, driving it back 1 hex with 1 figure loss, and then back 2 more hexes, to rest two hexes behind the bogged tank, and quite out of the immediate action in town
Once again the St.C fails to unbog, and the Schneider, not advancing (the French will unleash a surprise next turn, and which to not engage the German LTMG unit in close assault just yet), misses. But this time the French Elite advances in the Right into the German trench, which gains it a VP, and takes out 3 figures from a full strength German infantry unit. Score French 4 Germans 1.
Double teaming the French in the Church, the Germans close assault with first the unit from the center and then from the MG, taking out one figure in each attack, and now advancing the MG in the Church, replacing the Artillery unit there. Score French 4 Germans 2 of 7, With LOS to the bogged tank, the Germans have reestablished themselves in town nicely. Unfortunately for them, they cannot recover the two town VP earned by the French, as these are Permanent.
The French move up troops on the Right now, with the Elite close assaulting the German mortar, adjacent to the Left Farm, and killing one figure from the crew. The Germans, somehow keeping their nerve, move the Mortar sideways into the far, and advance a Bomber unit one hex, to attack the lead French Elite and take out 1 figure and its SPF! The single man German bypassed now also hits this unit, taking out a second figure. While you'd expect the attacker to be most disadvantaged in a WWI fight, its the defender who can afford the least mistakes, and I usually offer to play them against less experienced live opponents.
On the Left, the remaining two French infantry advance 1 hex each into Shell Craters, while the St.C finally unbogs, moves up 1 hex, and fires at the MG in the Church from two hexes, missing. With combat raging on both flanks, the French are now ready to prepare their big surprise in the Center, which should create a crisis for the unsuspecting Germans.
The German Bomber on the Right takes out the ex-Elite French unit. Score French 4, Germans 3 of 7. On he left, the Germans get a second Flag on the tank and reroll two dice, but fail. Using Storm of Fire, the French boost up both their tanks. The St.C takes out a machine gunner in the Church, and the Schneider two figures from the LTMG in the Center. On the Right, the French infantry takes out the one man German unit, Score French 5, Germans 3 of 7.
The original French plan had been to would the German LTMG (Center) and then use Stretcher Bearer to pull the unit out and advance up the Center for an exit victory. However, Storm of Fire proved so powerful with tanks at at a two hex range, that they now played their second one, taking out both the MG in the Church (Left) and the LTMG (Center), to win the game much faster French 7, Germans 3. The Germans were caught with a Recon card in their hand that they never got to play. With the French tanks able to use a Deadly Die at Range 2 (Schneider) or 2-3 (St.C), its often better to stand off and fire than go into close combat, although in adjacent fighting the tanks do get an automatic advance and second combat.
Had the French not started with the Short of Supply card of course, the game would have played out quite differently. This is a fun scenario for both sides.
Fort Malmaison #62) French 7, Germans 4
In this final scenario of the French Tank Expansion/The Battle of Malmaison (aka the full Kickstarter package for The Great War Expansion #2: The French Army), the resources, victory conditions, and force sizes are similar, but with an extra unit or two for each side. Forbiddingly for the French, they historically lost this action, which means that it will be a tough battle for them! There are two German MG bunkers on the French Left, a village on the Center/Left border, and a Quarry on the Left. The German defense is much tighter than those in the previous two games. But the exit strategy is still available, although I haven't managed to use it yet in this campaign. It may be more necessary here.
It has been suggested by an FAQ poster that the No Man's Land Shelling should be moved up a row, and I concur, and will play it that way.
This scenario is programmed for the French to take the Quarry on the Left first—two French infantry are only two hexes away across wire from an entrenched German, so they need to attack quickly or be destroyed. The St. C tank is supporting that flank. The Schneider is in the Center. Whereas the two MG Bunkers are on the Left, and considerably further to the rear, as is the wire protection. So to take the Quarry first, as the French did historically, seems forced. Then it would make more sense for the French to do an exit strategy rather than go for the Bunkers. But the four French Infantry, while far away and behind a forest from the MG bunkers, are adjacent and out in the open, and should break up so the German artillery doesn't eventually get them. As are all 12 French Infantry across the board. Wheeling from sector to sector and transferring large numbers of units among them is notoriously hard to do in C&C before time or victory points run out. Its quite a challenge.
Germans 1 (Bomber and 2 Elite preset) LTMG (Fortified Position/Village)
French 5 Engineer, LTMG (closest hexes to Germans, first and second Leftmost), Bomber (Left), Elite and Officer (Center).
For the first time, rather than put the Engineer in the big tank, I'm using it to clear wire and assure the leftmost infantry unit of a close assault on the First Turn, that First Turn being the only thing I can be sure of. I sure hope I don't draw a hand with no Left cards!
The Germans should be able to hold out for a while at the 'moated' (surrounded by trenches) Quarry, and back up the rest of the line with two Elites and a Bomber 'reserve' units. Should the Bunkers be attacked, they would be able to crossfire their MG against any frontal attack. And with even a weak 3 strength Reserve Artillery, they should be able to get in some shots against French infantry out in the open.
The French played Forward. On the Right, infantry moved into the forest and one actually backward, to break up the group. In the Center, one infantry took down wire and the St.C did also, but immediately bogged down. On the Left, the French Engineer took out one German, but then the German with Butt and Bayonet took out two Frenchmen and retreated the blue unit. The Schneider tank advanced adjacent to the German trench and killed one figure. The Germans truck back and took out a third Engineer figure, but failed against the Schneider in close assault.
The French, now with 21 Stars, went crazy activating many units. The Schneider and the lone Engineer each took out two German figures, leaving both German infantry with only a sole survivor. The German Mortar in the Quarry had not gotten off a shot. Over in the Center the St.C failed to unbog. The Germans killed the last Engineer, but the French then moved into the German moat with their LTMG and Schneider, killing both sole Germans and getting another VP for entering the trench. Score French 3 Germans 1 of 7.
The Germans used Mata Hari to reduce the French 5 card Command hand down to 3. Then the Huns activated the Mortar in the Quarry with a Recon card, and eliminated the French LTMG. Score French 3 Germans 3 of 7. Wow, the points were piling up quickly! The French had attacked violently, but the Germans had hit back hard.
The Schneider squashed two German mortar crew in close assault, as the French began to build their hand back up. Forced to play a Center card, the Germans moved a Bomber toward the French Left, and the LTMG in the FP Village caused an Elite to retreat.
The St.C unbogged, lunbered forward two spaces, and took out two figures from the LTMG. The dice had been causing very heavy casualties with almost every die roll, regardless of protective terrain. The German LTMG played Return Fire, and from two hexes away, rolled four dice and put a hit on the big French tank, removing its silhouette from the board! These are a tough bunch of troops on this game board, on both sides!
For the first time, with a Box Barrage card, the mighty 5 strength French Reserve Artillery roared, getting two sets of doubles! And while they missed the adjacent French Elite, they wiped out the German LTMG in the fortified town! Score French 4 Germans 3 of 7. A German Elite remanned the Bunker, while a German Bomber shot down a French infantry figure advancing in the open, and another German Elite moved to (French left) from Right to Center.
Firing from long range with Storm of Fire, the French infantry took out a third French mortarman. Then one infantry and the St.C took out two more figures from the Bunker, now manned by a lone Elite figure and the SPF. That unit killed another French infantryman and retreated the unit. Meanwhile the lone mortar man attacked the adjacent Schneider to no effect. The French now repaid the Germans for a previous game by doing what they had done then: taking out two single figure enemy units with their Reserve Artillery and an Artillery Bombard card. This eliminated the German Mortar and the Elite in the Bunker, leaving both empty. Score French 6 Germans Germans 3. While the Germans could probably reenter the Bunker on their turn with their nearby Bomber, there were no Germans anywhere near the Quarry, which the advancing Schneider, even if it bogged down afterward, could enter for the winning VP on the following French turn!
Playing Recon Left, the Germans scored another point while taking a second shot with their Bunker MG and missing. Score French 6 Germans 4 of 7. This was the only action either German bunker had seen in the entire game, as the French player chose not to engage them at all. The Germans could only pray the French would not have a card they'd need to enter the Quarry.
But they did, and with no Germans at all in the French Left sector, the Schneider advanced into the Quarry to win French 7 Germans 4 of 7. Although the German defense had looked better than the last scenario, the extremely high casualty rate early on doomed them to be unable to cover their front. The French Plan had worked perfectly, not even requiring any units to exit. And while you can make fun of WWI tanks, some times they make a major contribution to victory; a fitting end to the French Tank Expansion: Battle of Malmaison.
The almost hypnotic succession of turns in Commands & Colors kept me enraptured all game. And The Great War remains one of the best new C&C designs!
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- Excellent write up...thank you!
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Thanks. I'm now working on more Strategy articles for TGW, based on these experiences. Meanwhile I'll hope to get in more games with live opponents, as we wait for the next expansion. My Game Log, in addition to the scenario plans, can now suggest which scenarios to offer to opponents in terms of length, balance, and special features like forts, tanks, field artillery, and the optional selection of SPFs, since the average pal is only up for one or two games at a time.
I'll also be looking at the older scenarios to see which suggest themselves as most interesting with the addition of retrofitted SPFs for the first time! I'm thinking right away of that first canal and tank scenario that begins with a damaged bridge! Now it can finally be repaired, offering new options for the British.
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- Look8ng forward to more of your strategy articles...
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- Bill Koff(spindoc)United States
- When we did Scenario #59 it was a French victory, and when we did #62 the Germans won 7-1! Just goes to show how much variability there can be with card play in TGW, which keeps it exciting. It seems a lot of thought was put into balancing the scenarios. And we now have 62 of them!!
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- Bill Koff(spindoc)United States
chas59 wrote:I'll also be looking at the older scenarios to see which suggest themselves as most interesting with the addition of retrofitted SPFs for the first time!So far we've done #27 and #42 with retrofitted SPF's. I'd especially recommend #27 (Flesquieres Ridge, with field artillery).chas59 wrote:I'm thinking right away of that first canal and tank scenario that begins with a damaged bridge! Now it can finally be repaired, offering new options for the British.Yes, we're planning on doing that one next!
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- As noted in my earlier "Transition" post, I started out using SPFs before beginning the French scenarios with the original Kickstarter Extras: Scenarios #17 and #18, that I had never played before, and had fun with them.
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- StevenE Smooth Sailing...(StevenE)United States
- Such a great write up and no images?...
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StevenE wrote:Such a great write up and no images?...I don’t think Jon mas mastered uploading pics yet
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- Believe it or not, one of my live opponents did take a few pics during our games. I'll have to ask him to get around to uploading them here!
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Some photos are now in the Core Game Image Gallery Page 5 on Berry Au Bac (#57):
These show the beginning and end of the game. If you go to maximum magnification you can see my minimal 'trim paint' job on the figures better--the German Field Artillery Crew on the Left in the end game photo look very nice! The session report on this game is in my previous post The Nivelle Offensive.
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