Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Battle for France - Part Deux

A couple of years back at the Warlords, four of us played the Battle for France using the Blitzkrieg Commander rules (BKC). With the release of the second edition, we thought we would re-visit this campaign. Once again, I'm playing the French. We have a set of 30 maps covering the area, and a 'behind the scenes' set of campaign supply and manoeuvre rules run by Phil to keep us on the straight and narrow.

First game up, the Boche are attacking on two fronts. I am defending France with verve and elan (and a lot of horse-flesh), two tables away Mike had his Plucky Belgians™ who were preparing for the onslaught by planting their conscripts in trenches.

This game was played longways along a 6'x4' table. I formed up with a very high line, about 20" from his end of the table. Eight cavalry stands, a couple of cavalry recce, plus a 25mm AT gun, an HMG and a mortar, with off-table artillery support. My reserves were due to arrive from my end of the table gradually through the game, so it was a gamble; the reserves would be unlikely to reach me during the battle, so I had to survive without them, but at least the Germans would be bunched up for when my planned artillery strikes arrived.

Germans arrived, infantry in trucks, infantry guns, mortars, armoured cars and recce, the whole nine yards. The planned artillery did a great job, forcing him to spread out, and even my FAO got in on the act with some well placed 105mm strikes. Unlike the previous campaign, Phil's Stukas were ineffective this time around. In fact, I think all the casualties I inflicted were from artillery except for a single armoured car mobbed by the cavalry.

I over-extended the cavalry on my right flank, getting them well out of effective command range in my enthusiasm to chase down his recce, and had to pretty much abandon them to their fate (i.e. they were running on initiative rather than being commanded). Phil finally got his act (and his command rolls) together, with trucked infantry and armoured cars breaking round my right flank in a grey wave. Time to go...

I started to pull back the entrenched cavalry, with their HMG and 25mm AT gun, and a fortunate double-order let me pull the whole lot back by about half the length of the table, forming up again with the reinforcing R35 tanks and the Panhard that had driven on from my table edge.

Phil jumped his infantry back into the trucks and raced after me, straight into more 105mm artillery fire called in by the FAO. At this point, time was up and we called it. Overall I lost a couple of cavalry stands, recovering the rest of the cavalry under the campaign rules. Although I don't know the Germans' final losses, I suspect they are a bit worse.

So. First game played, French in retreat but still under command; this is an ordered retreat rather than a rout. The next game is likely to be the German assault on the bridge behind me, but I'm expecting my starting position to be dug in and with artillery plotted, rather than to be withdrawing in disarray (which is where I was last time we played the campaign).

A fun game, despite the disparity in troops, I feel I have inflicted some damage and got out with as good an outcome as I could have reasonably hoped for. Maybe next game I will get the tanks early enough to do some damage.

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