Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Battle Report of 9th Armored Division

On December 16th, 1944 the Germans launched their last major offensive on the Western Front. The resulting battles were know collectively as The Battle of the Bulge. At the center of the offensive was the important town and road junction of Bastogne. The Germans had to take Bastogne and the Americans not only had to hold it but also relieve it because it was surrounded.

As Patton's 3rd Army sped to the rescue it became critical that the Americans already on the scene hold the Longvilly\Bastogne road since the 3rd Army was headed along the same road.

The Germans being aware of 3rd Army's approach sought to cut the road by sending elements of the Panzer Lehr Division around the American flank at the same time trying to interdict the American traffic already holding the road. Elements of a Volksgrenadier battalion were tasked with holding Nederwampach and pinning down the American forces in that area.

This set the stage of our little group's latest game. It was played out on a 16' by 4' highly detailed layout. The central feature was the Longvilly\Bastogne road and the small towns along it. The scale of the models is 1\72nd and the scenario was planned by our friend Jim Z. All the models, terrain and buildings were his.

The Order of Battle included accurate unit names. The game scale is built around companies\platoons. For example, three Sherman models represent a company of Shermans rather than individual tanks. A company of American Armored Infantry is represented by 2-3 platoons (of 10-12 figures each). Support weapons such as 81mm mortars are also included in the OB. The whole point is to use a combined arms approach to solve various tactical problems at a company level and accomplish the game in 3-4 hours.

The rules used are called THAB which stands for To Hell and Back after the exploits of US Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy. The rules draw from a number of sources but really are homegrown and tailored to our style of gaming.

Immediately below is the battle report from the point of view of the American commander. It's short and to the point and probably typical of what would be filed by the Colonel in over all command of the American forces. The game itself told a story and told it well.

After the battle report are the pictures I (BR) took with my iPhone and close up lens.

Battle Report of 9th Armored Division

As the Panzer Lehr Division elements failed to move into Longvilly, they were quickly diverted to flank American forces holding the Longvilly/Bastogne road.  The 77th Grenadier Regiment from 62nd Volksgrenadier Division was to hold Nederwampach as the Lehr swung around.

American units reacted quickly. This led to the 130th/2 Panzer company (Panzer Mark IVs) being destroyed trying to advance to Mageret to support the Panther and infantry drive down the Bastogne road.
Task Force Harper slowly advanced using combined arms and ended up evicting the 77th out of Nederwampach. 

90th Recon retreated in front of the Panzer 130/1 and began an assault on Benochamps that destroyed the 902 battalion Panzergrenadier's headquarters and a battery of Nebelwerfers.

As 130/1 (Panthers) began their advance down the Bastogne road Team Cherry's armored elements took up positions to deal with the German attack.  609 Tank Destroyer battalion stood in the way but was soon dispatched by the German armor.  Meanwhile Team Cherry's Sherman tanks moved onto the flank of the Panthers and opened a withering fire that effectively put an end to any other German attacks.

Losses where acceptable for the Americans but German forces were reduced to noncombat worthy elements.

A M4 Sherman named "Little Fury." It's little Fury because it has the standard 75mm gun. The Fury in the movie was an upgraded Sherman with the 76mm.
A depleted company of Panzer Grenadiers from the 902 second battalion.
The HQ of the 902 PzGren. The unit would be destroyed by the American 90th Recon unit. The armored car is a 234 with a 75mm ATG.
Another asset of the HQ PzGren Bn. The vehicle is a RSO and it's towing a small 75mm infantry gun. 
Two more assets from the 902 HQ unit. In this case a platoon of armored infantry and a Maultier Nebelwerfer battery. The Nebelwerfer and 75mm infantry gun were meant to interdict and harass American forces on the road. The unit was destroyed by the 90th Recon before they could have much of an effect.
The American TD Bn which was part of Team Cherry. Assets include two M10 Wolverines and a towed 57mm ATG. This unit would be destroyed by Panzer Lehr's Panther company.
90th Recon. This unit sighted the advancing Panthers and got out of the way in time to assault the HQ Company of the 902 PzGren Bn. Assets include a platoon of armored infantry, a HMC (75mm) and two M8 Grey Hound Armored Cars. (90th Recon provided an exciting part of the story.)
Close up of Team Cherry's M10 Wolverines. The white markers identify the unit and assist in the move sequence. 
Team Cherry's Shermans, two standard M4's and one up gunned 76mm. Little Fury is on the right. The lead Sherman platoon would be taken out by a PzIV early but the other two Shermans survived to later be part of the force that stopped the Panther's advance.
Part of the  infantry and ATG component of the 902 Pz Gren. The ATG was destroyed early on and the accompanying PzIV's not long after. The unit was key in the German plans to cut the road but it quickly ceased to be a threat.
This would have been the view from the Panther company coming up the road. Team Cherry is strung out along the road with the 90th Recon in the rear.
One of the small towns along the road. 90th Recon can be seen on the right just off the road.
Team Cherry's Armored Infantry Company. They would take cover along the stone fence and hold the road just in case the Panther's got past everyone else!
A better shot of Team Cherry's Shermans. The 902nd PzGren HQ unit is directly across from the Shermans in the bombed out area.
One of the PzIVs that so much depended upon. They knocked out one platoon of Shermans but fell victim to the TD's from Team Harper and Team Cherry.
90th Recon close up. Very cool little unit!
Yikes! A company of Panthers moving down the road. Clearly, a significant threat! The M8 in the lower right will get out of Dodge before the the Panther's get too close.
Better move now 90th Recon-you did your job now let the big boys take over.
The Armored Infantry of Team Cherry take up a good defensive position. They are happy "grunts." They got to hold their ground without firing a shot or taking any fire.
The M3 Halftrack from 90th Recon and Jeep plus one of the M10 Wolverines. The Wolverine is engaging the PzIV's. The Panthers would later destroy the Wolverine.
A Sherman is brewed up, done in by a PzIV.
Team Harpers Recon assets, a M5 Stuart and M24 Chaffee. They are approaching Nederwampach. 
The ATG assets of the Volksgrenadier Bn holding Nederwampach. The unit would be troublesome with the Pak 38 taking out a Sherman before it was finally destroyed. The other Pak 50mm was smothered by mortar fire and didn't do much other than delay the American advance by blocking the road.

Little Fury-the name is on the barrel of the model.

More of Team Cherry's Armored Infantry safe and secure in a fine defensive position.
One of the 609th TD Bn's Wolverines.

Team Harper's Shermans and Armored Infantry. The infantry are clearing the wooded area and headed for the church. A company of Volkgrenadiers are occupying the church but would be destroyed by close assault.

Team Harper needed its Sherman's asset to duke it out with the Volksgrenadier ATGs.
The German defenders of the church. The Americans got the drop on them and they didn't do any damage. Whew!
Getting ready to assault the church. Another platoon is behind this one for support.
The biggest threat after the PzIV's were destroyed. 
Little Fury  taking some cover next to a building.
Nice shot of Team Harpers Recon elements and one Sherman.
Close up of the unfortunate Volksgrenadiers trying to hold the church. 
Team Cherry's towed 57mm asset. If the Panther's got that far the 57mm would be called upon to stop them but alas the Panthers destroyed them first.
Remnants of the 902 PzGren HQ fleeing. They would not get far.
Part of the 902nd Panzerjager unit supporting the Volksgrenadiers. It's an assault gun usually referred to as a Hunting PzIV.  It was a significant threat but FOW favored the Americans and the asset was destroyed by the M24 Chaffee.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Geronium 217 BC

This is another battle simulation in my 2nd Punic War Series.

The rules used have been derived from my friend Jim's DBA 1.0. I've modified his original work and called my version DBA_BR. We are able to play the battle simulation with a single page of charts and rules.

What I've been doing is using some of the excellent scenarios found on the Command and Colors Ancients website. I adapt the scenarios to our rules and we play out the game.

This scenario was tricky because it featured an ambush by Hannibal. In a simulation like this it generally goes against the side that is ambushed and so it was in our game.

The map below is a rough representation of my 3' by 3' game table. It's all I have room for so the size of the armies and rules are constructed constructed accordingly. On the Carthaginian left there is a hidden contingent of Libyan SP, Celtiberian WB and Iberian CV led by Hannibal's brother Mago.

The elements on the hill are commanded by the great man himself as is most of the main battle line. Maharbal, is the third Carthaginian leader and he is in support of Mago's hidden force.

If you read the historical background below you will see that Marcus Minucius Rufus and his legion fell into Hannibal's trap. I chose to start the game just as Mago's contingent have emerged from being hidden.

In the meantime the Carthaginian light elements on the hill will check and hold in place Minucius's legion while Mago crushes the flank. Fabius will, as he did historically attempt to withdraw and avoid a total catastrophe.

Note that the elements are double stands. They act like normal elements with appropriate bonuses. I simply think the game looks better with element blocks.

The Roman (me) right collapsed rather quickly as the Carthaginian (Jim) commander was aggressive. The Carthaginians achieved a major victory under Hannibal the great.

The captions will tell some of the story.

A splendid time was had by all!

Historical Background
Following the Roman defeats at Ticinus, Trebbia, Trasimene and Umbria, the Senate elected Quintus Fabius Maximus as Dictator in command of all Roman Forces. Fabius followed a strategy of avoiding open battle with Hannibal so as to prevent any more disasters. But with Hannibal freely roaming Italy, conquering and plundering as he went, the Romans called Fabius back to Rome to explain himself. In his absence his Master of Horse Marcus Minucius Rufus initiated a successful skirmish action against Hannibal's army as it foraged around the town of Geronium. Ecstatic with this minor victory in a sea of defeat the Romans took the unprecedented step of appointing Minucius as a co-dictator with Fabius.

Fabius and Minucius did not get along and so they split the army in half. Each man received 2 legions and associated allies and each camped separately near Hannibal at Geronium. Hannibal, seeing the Roman split and aware of the eagerness of Minucius for action, set a trap for him. There was a low ridge in the plain between the camps and Hannibal posted his light infantry there in full view of the Romans. Around the ridge the ground had many dips and hollows and in these Hannibal concealed 5,000 infantry and 500 cavalry with orders only to emerge when the Romans were committed to action on the ridge. As expected Minucius took the bait and advanced on the ridge with his army. Hannibal responded by moving his own army forward in support. When Minucius was fully engaged the hidden troops attacked the Roman rear where they were joined by Numidian cavalry.

Minucius was now in dire straits, but Fabius had been observing the action and his army was ready. Fabius attacked the encircling Carthaginians, and seeing that they would be trapped between two Roman forces they fled leaving the battered army of Minucius to escape. Both sides now retired to their respective camps. The Romans should have learnt their lesson that they could not at this stage beat Hannibal in the field. They did not. For the following year's campaign, they raised an enormous army of approximately 80,000 men and committed them to the catastrophe at Cannae.

Hannibal Die roll plus one for pips

x3 SP (Reg-S)
x1AX (Irreg-O)
x1WB (Irreg-O)
x2 LH (Irreg-S)
X2 AX (on ridge, fast) (Irreg-O)
x2 PS (on ridge) (Irreg-S)
11 elements

Maharbal 1\2 die roll for pips

X1 CV (Reg-S)
X1 CV (Irr-O)
X1 WB (O)
X1 AX (O) 
4 elements

Mago1\2 die roll for pips

X2 SP (Reg-O)
X1 CV (Reg-S)
3 elements

Total Carthaginian elements=18

Romans OB

Fabius full die roll for pips
X1 CV (Reg-O)
X2 PS (Irr-I)
X1 AX (Reg-S)
X3 BD (Reg-O)
X1 SP (Reg-S)
8 elements

Minucius full die roll for pips
X1 CV (Reg-O)
X2 PS (Irr-I)
X1 AX (Reg-S)
X3 BD (Reg-O)
X1 SP (Reg-S)
8 elements

Victory Conditions

The Legion under Minucius must try to take the ridge and must advance the maximum toward the ridge according to the pips rolled . The Legion under Fabius may not move until Turn 3.

Minor Carthaginian Victory-hold the ridge and destroy 8 Roman elements not counting PS.
Major Carthaginian victory-hold the ridge and destroy 12 Roman elements counting PS.

Minor Roman Victory-hold the ridge and destroy 8 Carthaginian elements
Major Roman Victory-hold the ridge and destroy 10 Carthaginian elements


Sudden Death Leaders: All leader elements function as +1 to the CF except for Hannibal and he is a +2. If Hannibal dies the Carthaginians automatically lose. If Fabius dies the Romans automatically lose.

Roll for lose of a leader on two dice. Roll a 2 or 3 if recoiled leader dies. Roll a 2 and not recoiled leader dies. -1 to pips of secondary leader commands if leader dies.

Game notes

1.    The elements in this game are double blocks but function as single elements.
2.    Units that receive the bonus for a double rank are SP, WB if they initiate contact.
3.    The Iberians on the ridge and the Celtiberians on the flank are rated (F).
4.    The Iberian AX in Hannibal’s main line are rated Special (CF 4 -3) instead of AX.
5.    Roman AX is rated as (F).
6.    The ridge is bad going.
7.    Elements rated as (F) or AX\ PS ignore bad going penalties.

Fast moving Iberian AX and PS hold the rough going ridge tempting the Romans to attack.  Figures are Hat and Newline.

Mago's flanking ambush force of Celtienria W,  Libyan SP and Iberian CV. Figures are Hat and Zvezda.

The Carthaginian right consisting of the famous Numidian LH, a Gaul WB and Hannibal's Iberians. Figures in this picture are all Newline.

Hannibal out front of his Libyans and Iberians. Figures are Hat and Newline.

Maharbal's command of Iberian\Gaul CV, Gaul WB and Iberian AX.

The Roman right that would cave in. The CV are Hat and all the Roman infantry are Zvezda.

The Roman left under Fabius. Fabius could not move until T3. I'm not sure it would have mattered.

An intimidating sight but not today!

Italian CV and Italian AX. 

Close up of my Newline Numidian's.

Close up of some of my Newline Gauls and Iberians.

Newline Libyan SP.

Newline Iberian and Gaul CV combined into one element.

These are Hat figures. I use them as fast Celtiberians. (My rules are evolving a little with the three figure stands becoming fast as in later editions of DBA or DBM.

The Triarii. They ended up quite surrounded and would have perished to the last man had I not called the game.

Better picture of the Iberians that held the rough going ridge. They suffered a little but checked the majority of the Legion that got sucked into the ambush.

Mismatch. Note to self-avoid Hannibal (Fabius)

The Roman's had one shot. Turn the flank before the ambush could fully develop or die. They died. If I ever redo the scenario I may give the Romans a bit more time, but not much.

Th collapsing Roman right.

This is whee the Romans had a slight chance to gain the high ground. They did not.

Carthaginian Ax and Ps descend on the flank of the hapless Legion.

The Triarii look defiant as the right collapses. The small white die keeps track of recoils. Accumulated recoils can destroy the unit. The Italian Ax has one recoil. They are rated superior and can take two more. Before that happened they were destroyed in a 2-1.

Hannibal leads his Iberians.

Close up of the Newline Libyans

Close up of the Newline Iberians and Gauls.

There was not way Fabius was going to dislodge Hannibal's main battle line from the ridge.

The end of the Roman right.