Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Silly After Action Report - Training Day Part 1 - Failing to Learn From Experience

After my ghastly showing in the previous scenario I am determined to gain revenge on Ivan the gently smiling assassin.  The next scenario on our extended torturing Poland to death is BFP-109 Training Day.  This features a ridiculously overequipped German force attempting to drive the Poles out of some fearsome looking fortifications.

The German objective is to seize something that looks suspiciously like a castle despite this being 1939.  The Poles simply need to retain control of one location of that "castle" in order to win.  The Germans win automatically if they manage to destroy it.  For the defence the Poles have thirteen first line squads, five officers including a 9-2 superman.  For back up they have two medium machine guns, four light machine guns, two 76mm artillery pieces, two 37mm antitank guns and a 75mm antiaircraft gun.  Fortifications consist of two roadblocks, ten wire counters, ten A-T ditch counters, eight trenches, two pillboxes, twelve factors of A-T mines and 48 factors of A-P mines.  Plus the castle has cellars which open onto the trenches and there is an armoured cupola at each corner of the castle on the roof (turret?) mounting a heavy machine gun.  In addition the Poles get sixteen dummy counters to spread the load and are able to hide three squad equivalents.

What do I, as the Germans, have to counter this staggering defensive array?  Good question.  I have seventeen squads of elite SS troops and eight squads of very elite army engineers.  This field grey and sinister black horde is commanded by six officers (including an awesome 10-2, he will no doubt die soon).  Between them they are toting two heavy machine guns, four medium machine guns, four light machine guns, four flamethrowers, six demolition charges and are backed up by two 81mm mortars and a radio connection to 150mm artillery sitting on top of an embarrassingly large supply of ammunition.  To escort my troops forward I have a pair of PzIAs, a pair of PzIBs, six PzIIAs, three PzIVCs and a pair of PzII bridgelayers, presumably for bridging the antitank ditches as neither Ivan nor I can come up with any other reason for their presence.  Over it all hovers the threat of dive bomber attack as the Luftwaffe too is coming to my party.

Wow, what a force!  How could I possibly lose?  People who've read previous AARs know better than to ask questions like that.  My first decision was a trade off.  I didn't have to set up everything on board.  I could choose to enter some of my force later after I had felt out the Polish defences.  On the other hand this would delay my attack.  I held back the bridgelayers but set up everything else.  I had to set up on or north of hexrow 6 on board 13 which meant that much of my approach was blocked by the streams.  Apart from the flanks (which had their own threats) the only way across the streams was on a pair of elevated roads. 

I crammed the bulk of my force on the west (left) edge and in the few hexes south of the stream I could occupy over there.  Both my mortars and all of my assault troops were there as was my artillery officer with the radio.  On the east I had a more modest force on the far flank and a trio of tanks up on the elevated road.  Yes, targets I know but they had to get across somehow.  Below you see my set up, including such fortifications as the presence of my troops was able to reveal.  Ivan has obviously set up his antitank ditch to prevent a straight out frontal assault which I must confess I didn't contemplate making.  Wire and concealed troops guard the flanks and it is those flanks I am obviously planning to hit.

The start, my troops are tripping over each other while Ivan cringes beneath concealment counters.

The first turn was modest in its achievements.  I inched forward on both flanks cautiously feeling my way.  A few sacrificial halfsquads raced forward trying to tease some fire from the defenders to no avail.  The only defensive fire was from the cupolas attacking my troops armoured assaulting along one of the elevated roads but I got away with a pin result.  Over in the east in response to the antitank ditch blocking the path of my tanks I simply roared a tank into the forest, and promptly bogged.  However a comrade smashed through the adjacent woods hex blazing a path for my infantry to follow.  My eastern flankers starting trotting forwards.

On the left and centre anticlimax was the order of the day as my modest moves were met with no response.  My fit young SS troopers proved physically incapable of moving a mortar and collapsed gasping around it while other troops moved past them on the left and right.  My assault force on the left inched forwards preceded by half squads who completely failed to detect the antitank mines which blew a track off a following PzII, my first tank loss of the day.

Anti tank guns with a high rate of fire.  I weep tears of blood.

The first tank loss of the day was swiftly followed by two more as Ivan revealed a 37mm atg in the marsh on the right.  He promptly went on a rate tear which enabled him to swing the gun around to the east and destroy my trail blazing PzII and then swing back around to the west and take out a PzIV on the elevated road.  Naturally this was the tanks with my 10-2 armour leader and I'm sure you can understand the relief I felt when that useless bastard finally died and I didn't have to remember what tank he was in anymore.  Seriously, sometimes my armour leaders hang around until turn three, I've never managed to find a use for them so they're essentially pointless bookkeeping.  I have a 9-1 armour leader (somewhere) but I confidently expect him to be dead before long as well.  Sanguine though I was about the armour leader's passing I was ropeable that I had lost a precious PzIV.  Athirst for vengeance I fired my entire infantry force on the right at the guncrew for a 24+3 shot.  Naturally I rolled a ten and cowered thus producing a thirteen on the twelve table, no result.  Infuriated I smashed them with my next prep fire but I don't think Ivan was complaining at the loss ratio.  All other troops I had encountered proved to be dummies so that gun crew is Ivan's only genuine casualty so far.

I have skilfully identified more of his antitank mines by the simple expedient of driving tanks over them which has led to another PzIV being immobilised in an utterly useless position (right next to a roadblock).  I then decided to fire on the roadblock and promptly broke the MA, this tank just wasn't interested in the war at all.  If I try and repair the gun I will no doubt recall the vehicle which will be awkward since its immobile.  I've also managed to bog another tank trying to blast through the forest on the left.

As Ivan's turn 2 approaches I have closed up a little on the left, lost a stupid amount of tanks and am starting to make plans for the future.  At some point best known to themselves the Luftwaffe will deign to put in an appearance hopefully at a time when it will be useful.  At the very least it should help me find where he's hidden his AA gun.  I now need to sort myself out and transform a rather incoherent attack into a dagger driven deep into the vitals of the Polish position, twisted brutaly and then extracted with soft, dripping squidgy bits dangling from it. 

No I don't think playing wargames increases ones propensity for violence.  Why do you ask?

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