My buddy James Manto, also known as Rabbit Man, invited the local Gang In The Basement over to Rabbit HQ on Saturday night for a game to welcome me back to our Wargames AOR, which was demmed nice of him, demmed nice. He has already described the game here but here is my take on it.
Myself, Dan and Mikey agreed to the onerous and morally challenging job of taking on a kampfgruppe of the 12th SS as we prepared to hold the key crossroads and village of St. Pierre Lapin against Canadian forces advancing out of their beachhead. We were given two platoons of panzer grenadier infantry, a troop of three Panzer IVs, another of three Panthers, two PAK 40 AT guns, and a small HQ group including two HMGs and a group of tankhunters.
Here are the German initial dispositions. We had a platoon of grenadiers in the orchard forward on our right, strengthened with one of the HMGs. The Panzer IVs were in the village in the centre, along with the remaining elements of the company HQ. Our second platoon of grenadiers held the hedge on our right, supported with our two PAK 40s. Also anchoring our right were the Panthers, led by our best Big Man, a dynamic leader who was soon christened Dynamic Panther Man.
We didn't have long to wait to see what was coming at us. To our astonishment, the Allied player henceforth referred to as WW sent an entire infantry platoon through the hedge at Mike's platcon of panzer grenadiers. To be fair to WW, he hasn't played IABSM before, and didn't realize that the game rewards historical tactics and punishes bad ones. In IABSM terms it was the best possible target at close range, served up on a platter, or to mix metaphors, it was a hanging curveball over the plate.
Mikey's troops draw a bead (15mm Battlefront figures from my collection).
The sad aftermath. Between three German sections and the MG, the infantry melted away like snow on a hot day.
So that was our home run, but the game was still in early innings. Allied armour advances on the right.
While on our right, more armour rolled up to avenge their fallen infantry supports as a kind of tracked firing squad:
And began shelling poor Mikey's grenadiers to blazes. The plan was for Mikey to fall back on the village, but unfortunately several turns passed before he was able to activate his platoon, which was shortly ruined and badly shocked. I guess the young lads chose to hug their foxholes and scrapes when all that armour appeared before them.
On our left, we opened up with our PAKs, but not all at once. I mistakenly held one of our AT guns and two of the three PZ IVs in concealment, allowing the surviving Canadian armour to focus on a few threats when we might have overwhelmed the survivors with threats and increased our survivability. We lost one of the PAKs early on, thanks in part to some unfortunate dice rolled by Dan, but we also dealt out some punishment and soon the Canadian HQ troop was in ruins.
Undeterred, James continued to try and push his surviving armour around our left flank. Since my Panthers had duelled briefly with the Allied armour before them before Canadian smoke rounds masked them, I decided to pull our Panthers through the village to face the Allied threat on our other flank.
Alas that move was probably another bad call on my part, as it made our precious Panthers a target for Allied air support, which finally decided to show up after finishing a leisurely breakfast in England. The first two times the air support card came up the rockets missed, though the overhead threat kept our grenadiers pinned to their orchard and thus spelled their gradual doom. For a while the Jabo was just annoying, but on the third pass he nailed one of our Panthers, brewing it up. Fortunately, Dynamic Panther Man, who had by now acquired a theme song (to the tune of the old Spider Man cartoon show theme), survived.
Finally the Allied attack was getting some traction. On our right, their armour pushes forward along lines no longer covered by our Panthers.
While their second platoon of infantry push through the orchard, hard on the stumbling and shocked few of our infantry who were finally falling back on the village.
Could we hold? By now it was in the wee hours of the morning and we were all yawning, so we decided that with half the attacking force knocked out, the attack would likely be called off and a more organized assault teed up for the morning. If the Allies had pushed on to the village, it would have been a stiff fight, as we had our second platoon ready to go in to the counterattack in support of our HQ and remaining HMG, and still had five tanks operational, so who knows how it would have played out. A great evening with a robust set of rules that left new and old (me) players thinking of how they could improve their tactics, and a great reunion with some old friends and fellow Lardies.