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Subject: Scenario G: Block Clearing – Caen, 1944. “Puma on the prowl” rss

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Roar Stensrud
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This is scenario eight from the “Caen” Historical Campaign that I and my friend finished yesterday evening. I was playing the Germans defending the city of Caen against the British. I wasn’t planning on doing any AARs from this campaign, but this scenario is a prime example that events can indeed take on an unexpected turn in Up Front. In particular when playing the Historical Campaigns.

Some background information first:
This scenario has several campaign special rules. First, the pillbox function as a strong building in addition to yielding the attacker an additional 12 Campaign Victory Points (CVP) if he’s able to finish the scenario with, at least, four unpinned men occupying the pillbox. Second, both sides are eligible to get support from artillery barrages, depending on their first RNC/RPC draw of each deck (it has to be black and at least a 2 for both the British and Germans). And third, the Germans in this scenario can receive armor-support from deck 2, based on their first RPC/RNC draw of each deck. We’ve modified this rule to bring in armor-support only if the draw is also black. But if one player eligible for armor-support does indeed draw a black card, he’s sure to receive support as we pick out only AFVs available at the time the campaigns takes place and stack them after increasing fighting quality. In effect this means that the higher the black card, the better the AFV one gets. This is not always true if you follow this rule as it is written. Especially for the British who are troubled with a host of mostly useless, early-war vehicles in their ordinary selection.

I set up my force in two groups. Group A consisted of Corporal Steiner along with Volke (RFL) and Hauptmann (MP) who had earlier been killed, but was brought back as a replacement for this scenario. Hauptmann and Volke each carried a panzerfaust. My Group B, receiving the pre-dealt -3 building, was composed of Schussel (LMG), Loth (MP) as crewman (he’d had his morale/panic boosted from 2/3 to 3/4 making him a bit less lousy than originally), Schumacher, Wolf and Beck. Beck had made a good campaign, having had his values boosted from 1/2 to 3/4 and newly been promoted to PFC. The last man in the group, was Corporal Hessel. As I had lost both my sergeants, Hessel acted as the SL for this scenario. Not bad really, because ha had also hung on for the whole campaign and had attained morale/panic values of a respectable 6/6. I was also lucky with my initial setup as my cards brought me another -3 building to shield my panzerfaust-toting Group A.

The enemy set up with five men in Group A. Two MPs, the Bren and two riflemen who were substitutes for dead MP guys (in campaigns rifles and machine pistols are interchangeable for purposes of substitution). His Group C consisted of three high-morale MPs. And Group B was the dreaded Sexton SP gun. This is a fearsome weapon. Its HE effect-number is 5 and it also has a respectable boxed effect-number of 4. Its drawbacks are being open-topped, thus subject to pinning, and low armor values. I’d been up against this one time before in the campaign. That had cost me the scenario as well as my three best men in addition to several other casualties.

Play started and quite early the British Group A advanced to range 1 and took up position in the pillbox… Effectively earning my friend 12 CVP if he could stay there. Well, at least I knew he wasn’t likely to move his guys out of there anytime soon. Then the Sexton advanced to range 1. I had it put in the stream without bogging it, and followed up with fire to pin it. I had a row of useable fire-cards pinning it several times, but the damn thing kept coming back and started to hurl 105mm shells around my guys. One hit killed Schumacher and my LMG, Schussel. Then the Sexton forded the stream, only to drive into another one. It bogged this time, but unbogged only a short time after. In the meantime I put smoke on my Group B. Loth acquired the LMG and Hessel took over as crewman.
The Sexton seemed content with having reduced my Group B and shifted fire to Group A. The poor guys were quickly bracketed and one shell killed both Volke and Hauptmann and pinned Steiner. Shortly after a sniper pinned the Sexton and Steiner got the peace he needed for rallying and acquiring one of the panzerfausts from the dead guys in his group. Things were starting to look grim and something had to be done. I had a gully on my hand and advanced Steiner into it. Luckily, I quickly drew another gully, bringing Steiner to RR3 with the Sexton. Steiner needed to come out of the gully, though. I found only a lowly brush, but decided to advance Steiner to RR4 with the Sexton. This also brought him to RR4 with the brits in the Pillbox. I figured Steiner would, only if very lucky, get a chance at a shot with the panzerfaust. Then my friend, for some odd reason, decided to discard a Hill on Steiner. He probably expected me to have a building on the hand and wanted to reduce my cover. I was only grateful, though, as this allowed Steiner to get to fire the panzerfaust before he was shot to smithereens by the guys in the pillbox who could now muster a respectable firepower of 17 (if adding the British firepower-bonus). I even heroed Steiner to give him the best to-hit chance I possibly could.

The first deck was at this time exhausted, so we reshuffled and the first card drawn from the second deck was Steiner’s to-hit resolution. This draw would also decide if I’d get an artillery barrage and armor-support. Steiner’s to-hit number was 0-2, rather good for a panzerfaust. I drew a red 5! cry
Steiner had missed his target by quite some distance and, as expected, the next moment he was cut down by a hail of lead from the pillbox. I was down to one group, granting my friend with the brits an extra card. The situation looked even worse and I started the search for a red movement-card to be able to withdraw. I quickly found one. However, I also had a healthy supply of concealment and rally. So I decided to hang on as long as I could in anticipation of what the third deck would bring me of armor and artillery.

The rest of the second deck was rather uneventful. The British were ahead in scenario victory points and even proceeded to advance Group C to range 3, taking up position in
-3 buildings and securing another 9 scenario victory points. The Sexton advanced to range 2 and continued to try to blast my remaining men, but I kept concealing and rallying and even firing back from time to time. I took pot-shots at the guys in the pillbox to exhaust the deck, and used the higher fire-cards on the Sexton. I managed to pin the beast a few times, but my friend also had a good supply of rally. At the end of the second deck I had a fine selection of small fire-cards amounting to a Fire 6 on the Sexton. That fire would be my first action of the third deck, that RNC also deciding if I would finally receive some support.

Our German vehicle-selection of 1944 from black 3 and up is a veritable panzer hall of fame (or chamber of horrors, depending on which side you play). Black 3 brings the Pzkpfw IV. Then the Panther comes, followed by the Tiger I. And if you’re lucky enough to draw a black 6, you get the legendary King Tiger.
Naturally, I had high hopes for the draw. I pulled a black 2.
That pinned the Sexton, brought me one barrage of fire strength 5 and armor support in shape of the eight wheeled armored car nicknamed “Puma”. Reviewing the Puma, I saw that a hit from the Sexton had a good chance of reducing the Puma to a heap of smoking junk. But I considered the Puma to be my last chance. And, besides, the Sexton was currently pinned. So I sacrificed my red movement-card to bring the Puma into play as Group Z. That also removed the British advantage of unbalanced position, bringing his hand down to five cards again.

The Sexton got only a rally 1.

I moved the Puma to become Group A.

The Sexton didn’t rally.

The Puma entered brush to, at least, get some protection against a 105mm armor-piercing round.

The Sexton still didn’t rally.

The Puma fired. It was a hit! The RR of 2 was added to the boxed fire strength 3 of the Puma’s 50mm gun. The RNC was a black 1. My tormentor finally brewed up with good margin and I could virtually hear my cardboard-soldiers cheer!
But even if the killing of the Sexton gave me 9 scenario VPs, it still left my opponent with more than the double of that.
The Puma set to work harassing the enemy, mainly the three in Group C, while I dropped smoke on my Group B and started to look for the right cards. I also managed to drop my barrage on the enemy Group C, to no effect. After some time I found a -3 building, a wire and a couple of movement cards, one with flank-movement. I had seen one stream pass by and my friend was steadily discarding, so I figured he had not the right cards yet to corrupt my plan. I advanced to range 1.

He discarded.

I decided to take my chances and flanked the pillbox. This was a potentially dangerous move as I left the safety of my -3 building by playing the second movement-card. Also I discarded wire on the pillbox-group. That was also potentially unwise, as a movement to rid the wire would also rid the brits in the pillbox of my flanking-fire advantage. But I suspected movement wasn't what my friend was hoarding at the moment...

Another British discard followed.

Finally I reached safe haven in the new -3 building, with flanking fire on the pillbox and a Fire 7 card on my hand. But now the three guys in the British Group C decided to have a say in the events. They fired and pinned one man. Fortunately I had a Hero-card. Schlaffer was heroed and my Fire 7, reduced to 4, pinned two men in the pillbox and killed the Bren-gunner. The brits were now down to only two unpinned men in the pillbox.

He rallied the two.

My last action was a Fire 4 attack, reduced to a lowly 1. The last card of the third deck pinned one man in the pillbox. We reshuffled to allow me to finish the attack. It didn’t do more damage, but the pinning of the one man was enough to deny my friend the 12 CVP for occupying the pillbox with four unpinned men. My advance of Group B to buildings at range 1 also gave me enough scenario VPs to deny my friend the scenario victory.

The appearance of the Puma had turned the scenario from a likely British win for a total of 24 CVPs to a German win and -10 CVPs for the British for loosing the Sexton and one man, and, in addition, not be able to hold the pillbox with the required number of unpinned men.

My friend conceded the campaign. The final CVP tally was Germany: 71, Britain: 27.

Up Front never ceases to surprise and bring nail-biting action to the game board!

R.
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Edward Kendrick
United Kingdom
Redditch
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Fascinating account, which as you say illustrates the superb qualities of Up Front. I was reminded of my Staff Sgt Diettinger, M7/P7, who made it all the way through a campaign to the defence of Berlin. At a critical point he ran up to RR5 against an unbuttoned T34 and drew a black 2 to kill it with a PF, then killed a Russian M5 who was armed with a rifle ... only to be killed by another Russian M5 armed with a rifle.

One advantage of OT AFVs is that, when pinned, they're a lot easier to rally than a conventional tank which needs a Hero - as your opponent demonstrated. On the other hand, if he'd had a Churchill, your Puma probably wouldn't have got him ...!
 
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Roar Stensrud
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I've experienced a few heroics with Dittinger myself, but he usually gets killed when I play with him...

Had my opponent had a Churchill, I'd probably have run away instead of entering the Puma.

R.
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