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Subject: 'The Italians Attack' - 27 May 1942 [Scenario One] rss

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Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff, 1927.
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"At the landing, and here ever since" - Anzac Book, p. 35.
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What follows is a brief report of Scenario 1 from No Question of Surrender. This is a fairly straightforward learning scenario, the Activation Chits are determined by the scenario so there's no need to purchase these as per the normal GTS rules.

The scenario depicts the initial Italian assault of three Italian Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 tank companies against the 13th Demi-Brigade of the French Foreign Legion [Free French], with their anti-tank guns, who are defending the eastern edges of Bir Hachiem.

The French setup within a pretermined zone, but they already wrestle with decisions around where to place their infantry, their machine guns, and their valuable 'antichar' guns. They finally decide to place the AT guns guarding the main track and open ground in the north-east, while the MG is placed in the centre to protect the central defensive area. Mortars are also situated just behind the lines.



9:00am Turn
The Italians arrive in column formation, which will enable them to rush through the desert quickly before filing out to attack the defenders. In this scenario, the Italians automatically go first, with their 132 Corazatto Formation Activation Chit drawn at the start.

Looking at the French defences, the Italians opt to focus their attention on the southern edge of this sector. There is only a single French infantry company here, and it's out of range of the MG guns in the centre. The downside is the heavy minefields outside the French defences which they'll have to contend with. With the plan set, the Italians race ahead, 2/VIII/132 and 1/VIII/132 tank companies drive south, while 3/VIII/132 shift to the northern track to divert French defences. The idea is that this will prevent them shifting all their forces south. Things are going well until 1/VIII/132 strikes a landmine and are Suppressed, by Ten. Col. Maretti spends a Command Point to Rally his men with a Second Activation! Further south, 2/VIII/132 drives through the minefield unhindered, but suffers two cohesion hits due to enemy Opportunity Fire. In the north, 3/VIII/132 draws the attention of the French antichar guns, but the crew are nervous and they fail both of their opportunity fire Troop Quality checks.



A consecutive Italian Activation Chit enables Maretti to drive his men on, and, despite losses, 2/VIII/132 pushes into the French defensive/setup area! If they can hold this until the end of the scenario it will be enough to secure victory!



The French draw their 'Commande Directe' Activation Chit, and they use this, and their limited 2 Command Points, to direct both small arms and antichar fire against 2/VIII/132, but the resulting action only causes one additional Cohesion hit on the Italians.



The fourth and final Activation Chit for the turn is another Italian chit, which means the French will have to save their valuable Division Activation for the following [and final] turn. The Italians use this to rally 1/VIII/132 in the east [which succeeds], and then to use a Second Activation to drive them west to held relief pressure on 2/VIII/132 and hopefully cause another breach in the French defences. Unfortunately they once again strike a landmine and are Suppressed just short of the French lines.



11:00am Turn

The French Divisional Activation Chit is first available at the start of this turn, and, with renewed Command Points, the French use 'Secondary Actions' to pour heavy fire on the 2/VIII/132 tank company that had breached their lines. Already reduced and suffering 2 Cohesion hits, it doesn't take much for the overwhelming French fire to eliminate the weary Italians.

The Italians received three consecutive commands next - their 'Ordine Directo', '132 D. C. Ariete', and then their '132 Corazatto Formation' - and they use these in an attempt to drive their two remaining tank companies towards the French. But, throughout those three activations they suffer heavy French opportunity fire which piles on Cohesion and Suppression hits, and despite using their Command Points freely for Secondary Actions and some good Rallying attempts, they ultimately fall short in both the north and the south, primarily due to the compulsory Suppression result by failing their 'Heavy minefield' checks [unlike other Suppression hits, these cannot be converted to Cohesion hits].



The Italian 1/VIII/132 in the south is currently at 2 Cohesion hits, is Suppressed, and has suffered a step loss, so one more hit of anything [cohesion, suppression, or step loss] would eliminate it entirely. The 3/VIII/132 in the north has suffered a step loss [due to a lucky combat result] and is suppressed, but with the French defences virtually untouched, the Italians decide to withdraw from the field, leaving the French victorious!

Summary

The scenario instructions make it clear that this is a tough scenario for the Italians. While French opportunity fire can hurt, the toughest part is the 50% risk of Suppression whenever they enter a Heavy minefield [similarly it's a 20% risk when entering a Light minefield]. The combination of those make it difficult for the Italians to advance, and even when they did breach the French defences, they were too weak to hold on for long. Nonetheless, this scenario is less so about presenting a balanced battle [nor winning/losing] and more about coming to grips with the basics of the GTS system and the exclusive rules for No Question of Surrender, and it does this very well in a fast-playing scenario!

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