This is my first session report and it's for Panzer Leader - which is a game I have played off and on for almost 20 years (1 campaign and probably 20 scenarios or so, but not for about 3 years). While it's not a review, I will discuss some strengths and weaknesses of the game. We played the Omaha Beach scenario and there was a marginal Allied victory. I was Axis, my friend was Allies. I think he was really lucky the scenario ended when it did, because by the 15th turn the Allies were barely holding on to Rieux (the city on the coast) and I had Fratelle (the little town to the far West) completely surrounded. But he deserved the victory because of my overconfidence as you shall see.
Town control is important in this scenario since it dictates the outcome. A decisive Axis victory means no towns are controlled by the Allies (tough to do when Rieux is on the coast), 1 town means a tactical Axis victory, 2 towns a tactical Allied victory, and 3 towns a decisive Allied victory. The whole town needs to be controlled. All towns start off in control by the Axis.
The invasion started on turn 4 after some serious pounding from the naval units. I kept most of my very heavy artillery back from the coast and used infantry spotters in the forts to help target the big guns. The one exception were the cliffs to the west where I kept two forts with heavy guns to make a death trap for the invaders. These guns were still alive when the invasion struck. The Allies started strong taking Rieux by turn 6 (I used infantry and light artillery to try to hold it to no avail), but the DD tanks were sinking at a horrendous rate (only two survived the artillery and the 4-6 sinking rule).
The infantry and engineers came to shore first and tried to fight their way up to the ridge along the coast, but they were bogged down with mindfields and crossfire from unengaged forces. On turn 8 I lost a strong fort to naval attack and then again on turn 9, so I could no longer put pressure on Rieux. Also, one trap had been cleared and the Allied armor escaped to the crossroads behind the ridge and then turning west towards Lomarre where it threatened to envelope my units on the hill. I had infantry and artillery in the little forest between the crossroads and Cavergne which stopped them with a miraculous disperse roll for one turn. Volle (the town to the east) was protected by the artillery on the hill and I had 3 infantry units. Therefore, I sent 2 of those units to the crossroads, thinking that I could use artillery to hold the armor down until I could CAT attack them. On turn 10 the Allies tried to storm the fortified positions east of Rieux to no avail, but they also moved infantry down the gap towards the crossroads to reinforce the beleaguered armor. I could not disperse the armor again on turn 10, but my friend :^) decided to engage the forces in the forest (probably thinking that Cavergne was as easy to take as Lomarre, but this was a terrible ploy. Not only because of the unlucky roll (a 6! Mmmmm), but because I nailed the armor with a spotted artillery hit and then a CAT attack (attacking a dispersed unit subtracts 1 from the next combat table roll), so my CAT attack succeeded in a DD - ELIMINATING the 2 tanks that survived the assault. Now the infantry reinforcements were pinned between my still untaken forts on the hills, my artillery in the forest, the infantry units that could spot in H infantry from the back.
Victory was in my grasp, but then I made a tragic blunder - actually it had happened turns before when I ignored a small ally incursion to the west (only 3 INF - one light MG). The problem was this is when my guns in the west were finally taken out by the naval support fire and, hence, this force was unstoppable. While I fought in the gap back towards Rieux and rushed units no longer needed in Lomarre to engage the small force, they marched relentlessly to the little mostly undefended town. With a vengeance I proceeded to concentrate my artillery strikes on their progress, but he played clever and engaged me on turn 13 - capturing the town of Fratelle easily. My reinforcement forces wouldn't arrive their until turn 15, so I would have no chance to take Fratelle back.
With Rieux unlikely to be retaken (the Allies had about 11 infantry and 6 artillery in the gap) and knowing I couldn't get back what was so easily lost, I resigned myself to fighting a defensive war of attrition to make sure the Allied forces did not break out and take any of the other towns (Lomarre and Volle are actually right over the hill from Rieux, so if the Allies break out, I would have to fight in the villages themselves). Turn 14 went better than expected though as I one 3 1:1 battles and managed to put 2 of my infantry on the edge of Rieux. I still had artillery on the back lines and was able to rain it down on the troops in the gap, spotting from the hill. Also, my friend's attempt to breakout towards Lomarre left a lot of the artillery unprotected. And on turn 15 I defeated the last of his engineers, so (if ther were any more turns) his forces had only two clear hexes out of the town. His naval support did take out one of my forts though, so I don't know how long I could have kept him pinned in.
Well, now the game was over and I felt a bit humbled for having missed his ploy when I thought I was crushing him. This was the first time he played the scenario and I had played the Axis twice and the Allies once, so I was very familiar with both sides while he was just learning. I think his gambit was a desperation move, but it was very effective and it did show that while I had a good plan for dealing with the main force, once those western forts were gone (and they could have been gone on turn 1 or 2 instead), I could not hold back the assault. On the other hand, a lot went right - the lack of surviving DD tanks (typically half are gone, this time was more like 3/4), the heroic stand at the crossroads and the brilliant CAT attack after the artillery hit. Man, that was nice. At that point I was thinking decisive Axis victory (or at least tactical) so to have to swallow a marginal Allied victory because I missed one play, well...
Anyway, I think this game played out very well. The game itself has very simple mechanics, but an enormous number of tactical and strategic choices. Luck is important in every game, but in this game it is vastly diminished because there are many different combats (each squad can stack, but with a small scenario like this often the units are on their own) and luck becomes less of a factor than good planning. I think this recreates the battlefield pretty well. I'm not very happy about losing this match, but I think the punishment was right for not considering that force a threat.
- Last edited Fri Dec 2, 2005 7:11 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Thu Nov 11, 2004 3:28 pm