M St
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The next scenario in line for us after was #3. This is the story of a German assault on British trenches in early 1915, the Germans have to take the town of Hooge in the center of the board (spelled "Chambley" on the map) for a marginal win, and a hill on the other side of the map for a major win. More on this anon.

Both sides rolled their artillery parameters, and got Destructive Barrages (no gas), and the British have Drumfire barrages while the Germans can choose. (As this was the first time we had a chance to use them, the German player promptly forgot about trying out Hurricane barrages during play. Oh, well.)



The scenario starts with two turns of night attack, and then continues in daylight. In the first two turns, between special barrage rules, assault modifiers, enforced British inactivity and reduced terrain modifiers, the odds are stacked so high towards the German that one could just as well start the game on turn 3, with the Germans already through the trenches. In our case, exactly one British platoon escaped from the trenches (and was eliminated out in the open by the advancing Germans). [The artillery special rules are a bit ambiguous; we now have a clarification that we should have applied the Secondary Impact Zone effects to the adjacent Germans as well, which might have made the start slightly slower.]



The Germans then started moving towards the town, and this quickly resulted in minor traffic jams, as there is only one road leading there. The powerful British reserve stack (5-6-5 inf and 5-9-5 MG plus a FO) in the town fell back towards a patch of wood on the riverbank in front of the eastern bridge. (The river is fordable, but in Landships one is always aware that foot troops off roads are just very slow.) By turn four, when the British planes appeared, the Germans had reached the town.



The British FO managed to get connected to HQ immediately and placed a barrage on the town. The front German unit, a MG with a flamethrower, was pinned by the barrage, taken under fire from the reserve, and retreated into the barrage where it was eliminated and the flamethrower destroyed.

By this time, British reinforcements had started to appear, but the British player chose to move them towards the main German objective, the hill. It was, however, becoming very clear that the British did not really have a ghost of a chance to retake the town against the flamethrower-armed Germans, except for the town being left empty, or for a lucky barrage that might have killed everyone. The initial advantage pretty much guarantees a marginal German victory. Taking the hill would be a serious challenge though.



The barrage in the town (now guided by one of the British aircraft) meant German units were piling up on the road south of it, but few were getting through. Another one made it to the north side, only to be picked off by the reserve firing from the riverbank, and another one died in the barrage (with its flamethrower lost).



On turn 6, the Germans finally managed to bring multiple units onto the northern side of Hooges, and eliminated the stack on the riverbank (luckily, the British do receive another FO this turn). The second British aircraft is directing barrages onto the two advancing units in the west.



On turn 8 the first of these is pinned by a barrage, but to prevent the British reinforcements threatening to reach the hilltop before it, has to try to march through the Secondary Impact Zone and is killed. (Its flamethrower remains on the map.) The German Fokker fighter plane arrives, fails to kill the plane observing the town, but then swoops down on the other and shoots it down.



By now the Germans are crossing the river in strength by both bridge and are shooting up the British rearguard guarding the trenches near the eastern bridge. On turn 9, German artillery starts firing on the hill (guided by the German observation plane) while the Fokker shoots down the other British plane in its last attack (and is taken down by it at the same time, a slightly odd occurrence). As the British try to reinforce the hill, two units die in the artillery barrage, and one of the two units on the top is also eliminated. The British FO cannot get a connection to HQ.



As turn 10 comes around, the Germans manage to place a double barrage on the hill, but realize that only two units have a chance of even reaching the hill by the last turn and have to rush everybody forward.



The front unit (a MG platoon with a flamethrower, perfect for a Close Assault) is hit by a barrage and eliminated. The second unit pushes through the Secondary Impact Zone without being Pinned.



With British artillery fire tapering off as the planes have gone and the FO still can't get the HQ on the line, the Germans look forward to keeping up their Standing barrages. Instead both fail to continue (two sixes rolled), but instead the observing plane manages to guide a new barrage to the hilltop (roll of 2 on the FOT reduced to 1), and it kills the MG there. Now the hill is empty of defenders. Another British MG unit reaches the hilltop through the barrage but is killed by German defensive fire.



This was the point where we decided that the previously encountered clarification on the Infernal Machines spotting rule that we were using (a unit is spotted once *any* enemy unit has spotted it) made things too easy. In this case, of ten units spread across a kilometer of frontline (some of them 8 hexes away), the closest (2 hexes away) managed, and all of them opened up in unison, obliterating the hapless target. We will be trying future scenarios with the house rule that units in adjacent hexes all spot a unit once the first of them has spotted it, but that units that are not adjacent do have to spot separately. In any case, we went through the combat again with separate spotting, and due to a good dieroll, the target unit still died, so in this case it would not have mattered.

In the 2nd FTMP of turn 12, the German barrages cease and an infantry platoon reaches the top, while the second platoon that survived taking the western route earlier (but was delayed by having to make its way around the British artillery) picks up the flamethrower left there by the unit eliminated earlier by artillery, and manages to get adjacent to the trench hex that leads up to the hill.

In their own player turn, with their FO finally in communications again, the British manage to place a barrage on the hill but it does not hurt the Germans. The British have a stack of two units that can still reach the top to engage the infantry platoon there. The stack has to brave that platoon's defensive fire, as well as the British barrage out in the open, since using the trench would expose it to defensive fire from the adjacent flamethrower equipped unit! (Ironically, this was the only situation where a flamethrower had any effect in the game after turn 2). In an incredible display of heroism, both units survive and enter the hex in a Close Assault. An unmodified roll of 4 or less would eliminated the Germans and leave at least one British platoon alive, but the British player rolls a 5. This is reduced to 4 for the British MG, but the result is 2/2 - both sides die! The hill is empty but as the Germans were the last to solely occupy it, they eke out the closest of wins.

Summary: great scenario, but right then were inclined to think that really the hill should be the German objective; if the Germans hold only the town should arguably be a draw. Verdict was suspended for now since we didn't quite play the turn 1/2 artillery right. We were looking forward now to trying out the first gunboat scenario!

Scenario first posted on Web-Grognards and here on CSW: http://talk.consimworld.com/WebX?14@@.ee6cc99/681

Reminder: this is a long AAR, so pls thumb the thread at the top at the end.
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Martin Gallo
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O'Fallon
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I vaguely recall that the spotting rules sort of killed this game for me. Tracking who spotted whom is a chore but the ganging up version is also bad. Maybe limiting how many can shoot at one target, though gamey, could help? I dunno, it has been a lot of years and WWI and I just sort of lost interest in one another.
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M St
Australia
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As I wrote, limiting spotting to adjacent groups worked for us.
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