The Battle of Normandy Campaign
Scenario 3 - Withdrawal From Hill 112
This was the third game in the campaign I’m currently playing with my good friend Danny from The Boardgamers. To read our other session summaries you can check out:
To summarize though, Danny had won both of the first two closely contested scenarios. I really needed to win this one and for once I’d be going first and would be on the offensive.
Looking at the board the Odon River ran through the centre of the field of battle from the inside edge of my left flank and through the centre. It was crossable at two points, the closest of which was bordered by a hedgerow. On the right flank, Danny had the heights of Hill 112 fairly well defended with a couple of tank units and a couple of infantry units (one of which hid behind sandbags). Two more infantry units were hunkered down in nearby towns. On the left flank was my objective: a small town defended by entrenched infantry who would be tough to move. They were also supported by two more tank units and a few infantry.
Looking at the board I decided that I wanted to go for the objective. Between the objective and the units over there, there were enough points to win the game or at the very least prevent the Allies from winning by the margin of two they required.
My reserves roll allowed me to bring in an elite infantry unit which I put on the left flank hoping to utilize its mobility over there. Danny’s roll allowed him to bring forward one of his tank units on my right flank.
Sadly my initial hand of Command Cards wasn’t a great match for my plan. I drew: Attack on the Right; Recon in the Centre; Close Assault; Barrage, Attack in the Centre; and Direct from HQ.
The Barrage would be great against the town and should hopefully shift or seriously weaken the unit in there. Close Assault and Direct from HQ would also be useful. But I really did need something extra over there on the left…
I decided to go fishing for my first turn to see if I could find some options on the left. I played my Recon in the Centre and moved one of my infantry into some woods in front of him. For a replacement I drew not one but two Attack on the Left cards! So I took one in hand and discarded the other. Now my plan on the left looked in order.
Danny responded to my tentative probe by moving one of his central infantry units up to the hedgerow adjacent the bridge. Sadly that would hold up my plans to reinforce my left flank forces with units from the other side of the Odon.
On the second turn I played an Attack in the Centre card to bring up two infantry units towards the bridge (who are sadly quite ineffective against the guarding infantry unit on the other side) and one tank unit out of its cover to menace the town guarding the other bridge. Sadly the tanks were also ineffective in combat. While combat was less than impressive this turn I was happy with my new command card: Behind Enemy Lines! This would really help bring up one of my infantry units on the left flank.
Danny quickly pulled some of his forces from Hill 112 to deal with the assault on the town and my tank unit was quickly wiped out.
On turn 3 I decided to begin my attack on the left in earnest. I began, appropriately enough, with my Attack on the Left card. I moved my two tank units and my elite infantry forward to attack the fortified hill which was the Allies first line of defence. While I caused some damage I failed to budge the defenders. My replacement card was a Recon on the Left.
Danny played a Recon in Force card to bring both of his armoured units on the contested side of the river to bear against my tanks. Fortunately he was unable to break through my lines as he had hoped. Danny also brought up another tank unit on my right flank to begin harassing the forces there.
I decided to bring out some big guns by playing Direct from HQ a bit earlier than I had hoped. The plan worked well though and my tanks were able to wipe out the Allies’ tanks in two successful overrun moves. At this stage I was still feeling confident about the battle on the left flank but drawing an Assault on the Right card didn’t help to bolster my options there.
It was in turn four that Danny made his most decisive play. With memories of less than impressive results from this card in previous games, Danny played Their Finest Hour. He rolled very well and was able to activate two tank units in the centre and three infantry units on the closely contested left flank. His infantry were able to finish off my tanks on the left while his tanks in the centre were able to penetrate into my back lines on the right flank.
So at this stage of the game I held two medals to Danny’s three (if my recollections are correct).
This is the perhaps the turn when I made my most fateful decision. I played Behind Enemy Lines and activated one of the regular infantry units on the left. The unit performed superbly, taking the well defended hill that my tanks had initially tried to take and then moved to take the hill above the town (and my coveted objective).
Danny continued to assault in the centre and was able to mop up one of my infantry units while also starting to bring reinforcements across the bridge to the battle on the left flank.
The medal count was now 4 to 3 in the Allies favour…
On turn 6 I was quite torn. Danny was making a mess of my back line over on my right flank (technically my centre in game terms) but with no cards to play in the centre and really bad positioning to be able to utilize my units on the right flank I decided to persist with my plan on the left. Erroneously thinking I only needed one more point to prevent an Allied victory I decided to let rip with the artillery. I played Bombard on the town and the defending infantry was wiped out in an impressive display of firepower! It was now 4 all on the victory medal count and both Danny and I failed our basic maths and assumed that the Allies couldn’t win.
Danny played another attack in the centre and mopped up two of my weakened infantry giving him 6 victory medals. I was feeling a bit frustrated about falling just short of the objective when we performed that basic maths bit again and realized that the Allies had taken the outright victory and brought the Flanking Caen campaign to a close.
Well I suspect the German High Command will have my scalp for this one with an embarrassing 17 to 10 score at the end of this first part of our Grand Campaign.
While I was somewhat limited in my response option in the centre during this battle I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had concentrated my efforts on the right flank. But I do feel that objectives are something that should be pursued if for nothing else than to support the theme and flavour of the game and the particular scenario.
Regarding objectives, it’s interesting to note that in the campaign scoring for Flanking Caen, the Allies stand to gain up to 4 points for gaining their objectives (and risk losing none) while the Axis stand to gain no points from their single objective (and losing a point if they fail to make it). It’s an interesting campaign balancing decision which I’m not entirely sure is needed. I’ll be interested to see how it plays out in future campaigns and subsequent replays of this campaign.
You don't need any more.
Good reports, thanks! Keep on writing.
Games: Design 'em, rewrite 'em, play 'em!
Its interesting note the effect of our basic math error here. Having convinced myself that I had lost (the scenario requires a 2 point lead for a win and somehow neither of us seemed to see 6 to 4 as a 2 point lead) I decided to go for a revenge rampage in Craig's back line with my tanks.
Strangely, if I was still trying to win I wouldn't have done that, so I would probably have lost.