Here is an AAR of my game of Into the bastard made this Week End. So we are in 1918 and the Germans are almost in front of Amiens. Villers Bretonneux is the last defence point between them and the town, and a new offensive is planned to break the British lines.
Warning: these pictures are NOT made with the components of the magazine. As BM6 had not arrived in my mailbox and as I had to play on June 4, I had the authorisation from Olivier Revenu to print the components (with the pictures he sent me already for me to make the cyberboard module). So this is manually mounted, even if the graphics and the rules are the final version. To summarize, don't judge the quality of the components with those pictures
I will lead the good allies (French in blue, British in red and Australian in yellow) that defend the free world. And my opponent will lead the evil Germans that want to take over the world and invocate Cthulhu to bind them in the darkness, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie... hum ok I maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I assure you that they are reaaaaally bad
So here are the positions on April 24 1918 at 6h. The British don't know what will fall upon them and the German Guard stare with astonishment at the steel monsters that will lead the Assault.
Turn 1 April 24 6h
The German offensive begins with a strong artillery preparation. Losses are weak but in front of the Guard's positions, which leaves my lines pretty weak just where it is not a good idea. The A7V launch assaults after assaults against the British lines and a hole is soon made. 3 battalions rush into the open wound in the British front and goes trough the first and the second trench lines. On the right the Moroccan division hold the line, but they are of better quality and don't have elite guard units attacking them.
Turn 2 April 24 8h
In the middle the bleeding continues and the German Guard is now in front of Villers Bretonneux, weakly hold by the British. The right border of the "wound" is hold by a ragtag of battalions gathered from everywhere, but it won't hold long if attacked seriously. 3 British Mark IV arrives in reinforcement to oppose the German A7V, even if a third has already been destroyed by their assaults on the British trenches. Unfortunately only one is able to fight them as the other 2 are "female" tanks, meaning that they only have machinegun and no canon.
On the right the situation worsen brutally and the German break the French line, taking Hangard and cutting in two parts the French division. The “bois de Hangard” (Hangard Woods) is still strongly held as well as the forest in front of the village, but for how long?
Domart and Cachy are defenceless and the Germans rush toward them. The situation is not what I would call "ideal".
Turn 3 April 24 noon
The battle rages on inside Villers Bretonneux and 2 Guard's battalions have a foot in the town, despite the British resistance. Due to the losses the tanks dare not assault anymore the British trenches, which leave some spot of resistance hard to destroy with only firing shots. But the allied line on the right of the German breakthrough is wiped out and the "bois de hangard" is now isolated form the rest of the allied lines. Despite this situation the French hold the place and tie up a large quantity of German battalions with their tenacity.
Fortunately for the allies, around 10 small "Whippet" tanks (named affectionately "Noddy and his car" by the generals of both side. Numerous "Parp Parp" will be heard during the game while they move ) arrives on the battlefield. These tanks are weakly armoured and very vulnerable, but fast and numerous. They will be very useful. At least more than the Mitchell "Male" mark IV, who tried to engage the A7V, but missed his target and then was hit by a bombardment and then executed cowardly by 4 A7V.
Turn 4 April 24 15h
The battle continues inside villers Bretonneux but the Germans don't gain much ground, the dead British being quickly replaced by new battalions.
On the right a Moroccan battalion arrives to defend Domar, and another one in the middle to hold Cachy. The Germans won't be able to get the place too easily. In the middle the allies hold as best as they can due to the numerous German tanks and having a continuous frontline is an illusion. The French continues to hold the "bois de Hangard" and the forest just up Hangard, inflicting losses to the attackers.
My goal is now to eliminate German Battalions to rise up the battle intensity. Once it arrives at the confusion level the number of actions is greatly reduced until night comes. And this is what happens at the end of the turn. From now on this will depend on chit pulling until nightfall.
Turn 5 and 6 April 24 18h to 21h
In the fury of battle confusion and fatigue reach both sides. Actions are sporadic and the fights in Villers Bretonneux decrease as the Germans tries one last time to hold the town more strongly. Fortunately an allied bombardment and a Hero makes the British line hold until night comes. The soldiers are so tired that at 21h no activity is seen on the battlefield (1st chit pulled is a end of turn one. lucky me).
At the end of this first day we can see that the allied forces have hold their line, and despite the loss of the 2 trench lines in the middle, and the loss of Hangard, the Germans did not reach their goals. And now the big bad wolf is getting out of the forest. Run Peter, Grandfather was right, you should have stayed home...
Turn 7 night of April 24 to 25
While the situation looks grim for the allies, an Australian brigade arrives to the front at night with the firm idea to show to these spiked helmets how an Anzac is dealing with such manners. 6 elite battalions and 1 British battalion storm the Guards units in Villers Bretonneux, driving them out of the town up to the second allied trench line. All the German battalions that where going for the town are wiped out and the Australian battlecry (Into the bastards) pursue them in the night. Unfortunately 2 Australian battalions are destroyed at the end of the night due to an impossible retreat while they are disorganised. But their action saved Villers bretonneux, probably definitively, the Germans having lost their best elements during the counterattack.
In the same time 3 other Australian battalions attack on the right to get Hangard back from the Germans. Hangard is emptied and a link is made with the French units still holding the "bois de Hangard". This is now the Germans that advanced toward Cachy that will soon be isolated. The Australians saved the day.
Turn 8 April 25 6h
A new day begin but this time the situation is totally different. This time I'm attacking and due to the situation I'm able to get a strong victory. For this I have to keep Villers Bretonneux empty of German units, but I also have to keep Hangard and more importantly I have to get an hexagon of German trench. This is this last action that will be the hardest. I have to do it before confusion once again reaches our troops as once it happens it is impossible to mount big actions.
In the middle the allies goes to the battle and captures back the second trench line, and even get a foot in the first trench line. My attack will be in the centre, my right wing having few chances to breakthrough to the German trenches. Near Cachy the French and an Australian battalion are dealing with the isolated Germans battalions behind my lines. My only big problem is made by the German tanks that are impossible to destroy for me. And since they are only moving in clear terrain, they don't have any chance of mechanical breakdown. The result is that the small whippets tank are being destroyed one after the others, as well as battalions moving in clear terrain.
Turn 9 April 25 8h
The attack in the middle goes well and the first allied trench line is taken back by the Australians, leading the fight. I'm helped by the Germans themselves as they are concentrating on the "bois de Hangard" to emptied it of the French units still resisting there. Looks like their strong resistance there bothered the Kaiser, but it is good news for me as with it I'm able to get the German trench line. And it better be the case as battle intensity is near maximum. There is 99% of chances that progression will be random after next turn.
Turn 10 April 25 noon
We are in. This time the allied troops are in the German trench line. Thanks to a victorious assault on the tank that was in the way, the Australians made a hole and another Australian battalion as well as a British one rushed to the German trench. My opponent realise that his action on Hangard cost him much, and getting a coordinated counter-attack will now be very difficult and depending on luck as battle confusion is now on, and both sides actions depending on Fortuna.
Turn 11 April 25 15h
The Germans counter-attack an destroy the 2 battalions that infiltrated, but when the situation began to get better for them the British break the German lines upper and, with the help of the only surviving Whippet as well as with the last Mark IV still working. Once again a British battalion is in the German lines, and another one follows just behind.
Turn 12 April 25 18h
The fights for the German trench line continue furiously, and a German Hero allows them to repulse once again the British. But those answer by pushing another battalion into the German trench. Once again they will have to get him out of it, and the surrounding Germans begin to be in bad shape.
Turn 13 and 14 April 25 21h and then night of April 25 to 26
But Fortuna is not with the Germans this time, and at the end there are 2 British battalions in the German lines. An entire part of the German trench line is about to fall and the day ends quite differently from what was expected 2 days ago by the imperial chief of staff. The German offensive toward Amiens is now definitively stopped.
So we finished the game on an operational allied victory, the German victory in the first tank battle downgrading the allied strategic victory into an operational one.
I really had fun and liked the game, which present with a simple system (6 A5 pages, which mean something like 4 or 5 A4 pages) an atypical First World War battle, and with lots of tanks on both sides. I will have to play the German now, to see how the Germans can win
Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff, 1927.
"At the landing, and here ever since" - Anzac Book, p. 35.
Great report Francois-Xavier! Thank you for the time and effort invested into the report and the illustrations.