Tank Action Three
DAK Panzers versus British Armour
been a while, well OK a month,
since we played any IABSM games so Jez and I decided to get together for a
bash at my place, Wally HQ.
We only had a couple of hours so the game had to be quick and exciting.
Jez and me are both 'tread heads' so I suggested to him that we fight a
tank action set in North Africa, with very little terrain, where we could
really get at it.
The 6' x 4' table was totally open desert with no ground cover as such.
However, I made sure that the surface undulated very slightly to provide
slight rises and depressions where hull down positions could be found.
This was done quite simply by cutting 6mm thick 12" square cork tiles, available from all good DIY stores, into random shapes and scattering them across the table, which was then covered with a cloth. By placing shapes upon one another rises can be created and depressions where no tiles are placed.
DAK Panzer Company (all Veteran troops)
PaK38 50mm AT gun (4 crew)
50mm AT gun (4 crew)
PzKpfw IV F1
105mm Howitzers guns firing indirect fire only using BIG MAN 1 as Forward
British Armoured Company
M3 Grant I
M3 Grant I
M3 Grant I
25pdr guns firing indirect fire only using BIG MAN 1 as Forward Observer
Blind Per Unit Plus D6+2 Fakes = 6 – 12 Blinds
OK so the game started with one of Jez's blinds being placed on the table, after I had chose its number. Then 'Tea Break' came up.
He decided to use what is known as 'The Skelton Gambit' and voluntarily deployed it behind a low rise - three Grant tanks.
Next turn my blinds card came up and I placed a blind on table behind a slight rise, its identity known only to me. Jez was then able to place another blind on table as his 'Blinds Move' came up again!
When his unit card came up the Grants successfully spotted my blind as a fake. 'Tea Break' came up and followed by Jez's 'Blinds Move' yet again.
Another unit and another 'Tea Break' once more Jez decided to deploy his blind - Another three Grants!
Next turn I deployed a blind only to have it spotted by Jez and revealed as a fake.
Jez had six tanks on the table I still had no units.
The next turn this time saw me lay a blind down which was successfully spotted as a towed PaK38 AT gun.
Jez now had a stacked pack against me. His Grants fired, hit and destroyed the gun.
Things weren't going to plan. Clearly the AT gun commander had ordered his guns forward expecting my Panzers to already be in postion but our communications had gone awry.
Another blind for Jez and this time when he deployed it it was a Recce troop of three Stuarts.
The next turn I had more luck in placing my blind on the table my Panzer Company HQ of a Panzer IV F1 and a 'Special' with long 75mm canon. However, the Grants hit my Company CO and forced him off-table. The Pz IV F2 'Special' looked very menacing as I moved on a 'Blitzkrieg Bonus' card into an enfilade position on a Grant platoon. However, a long range shot across table from his other Grant platoon blew it to pieces!
The game was becoming decidedly one sided.
In subsequent turns more of jez's blinds entered the table but as nothing of mine was on table I had nothing to spot with and he didn't see the point of voluntarily deploying them.
When at last another blind of mine was placed on table it was another damned PaK38, which suffered the same fate as the first! Ka-boom!
At last I was able in the next turn to deploy my second Panzer Platoon; two Panzer IV F1's and a Pz III J. I was outnumbered 3:1 and it was little surprise when my Big Man's Pz IV was hit and forced off-table by a Grant. the other Grants missed though and then 'Tea Break' came up saving my arse!
Next turn my Panzer unit came up first, but only after Jez had voluntarily revealed a blind as his Company HQ of another four Grants! I was outnumbered 13:2, where was that damned support?
Some commanders would be defeatist and some players would have bitched about luck and bad rules. However, I'm a gritty bastard and the game was turning out to be a chaotic nightmare that I'd hoped it would be.
Jez was beginning to feel very guilty, which is a rare thing in the man who delights in using his tanks to crush the enemy as Rob Avery will testify. Jez was showing remarkable reserve in not advancing pell mell up the table, as he is accused of often in our games. For once he was not rash but calm and collected. His entire force was on table and I was arriving piecemeal like lambs to the slaughter.
My remaining Panzer unit arrived next followed by 'Tea Break' allowing me to deploy them without loss. At last a hope!
I decided that I should advance swiflty to put some space between my troops and their base edge, somewhat as a preventative against being forced off-table by fire. With this in mind when my 'Blitzkrieg Bonus' card came up I decided to get into him. All tanks were within 6" of each other so the whole lot went forward for three initiative die.
Luckily my second Platoon had a chance to open fire then with their remaining Pz IV and Panzer III. One Grant was disabled and a Stuart knocked out. I was beginning to level the scores.
Jez now raced his surviving brace of Stuarts on his 'Recce Bonus' towards me. One rolled two ones for movement so was declared as having hit soft sand and becoming immobilised.
One Panzer III however, was hit by a Grant and was succeptable to engine failure.
The next turn saw my Panzers becoming hit by Grants but failing to be penetrated by the shot from the turret guns. Jez was deployed hull down and couldn't use his hull gun.
When my Panzers could fire, their Veteran status, combined with a three man turret meant that I was able to hit another couple of Grants and cause minor damage.
Jez was luckier though he immobilised two of my five Panzers and, a nice flank shot at short range from Lt Hugh Jarce's Stuart, destroyed a Panzer IV.
More worrying was that Jez now directed his Company HQ across the table from its reserve position. Capt Roundwood's Grant hit soft sand and became stuck though forcing him to dismount in search of another mount, after jez rolled another two ones for movement.
My Panzers were repeatedly hit, and now received turret jams, from the rapidly advancing Grants. Jez was becoming a little frustrated at his ability to penetrate my light armour and so had decided to close to short range to add another two to his gun ratings in an effort to see me off.
It worked too. The only remaining tank which could move AND turn its turret was Leutnant Bockstein's Pz III J with a short 5cm. I raced him toward the Grants hoping that the ability of his Veteran three-man crewed turret, with his calming influence would ensure that I could take out at least a couple of Grants with flank shots. I hit one three times but still failed to cause any major problems even though at short range.
Bockstein's Panzer though erupted in a loud explosion as a Grant brought its 75mm hull gun to bear on the courageous Panzerwaffe officer.
When my last Panzer III - a 'Special', had its card drawn, the crew decided that their immobilised vehicle was beyond hope and bailed out.
My last remaining Panzer IV, immobilised permanently, turret jammed, but crew still intent on fighting, was finally destroyed by a close range shot from a Grant.
The game was a victory for the Brits, largely as a result of good luck. Jez managed to get his tanks on table, mostly en masse, whereas the DAK force arrived piecemeal to be destroyed iin detail.
The DAK Panzer's though fought remarkably well, inspite of the odds and situation. The superior crews and three-man turret design of the German tanks offset their weak armour and mostly poor armament.
Jez really began to sweat a bit when the 50mm shells began clanging off his Grant's armour and the Panzer's came at him. The tanks which I had lost earlier due to their retreat off table would have made a huge difference and possilby tipped the balance in my favour.
Hero of the game was Lt Hugh Jarce whose Stuart personally destroyed two Panzers at close range using his superior movement to good effect.
All in all an excellent game which accurately recreated a confused tank battle in the desert. Lots of seemingly open terrain, but providing hull down positions when examined closely. Dust and burning vehicles being a major problem to visibility in spite of no real cover. Total lack of co-ordination and a breakdown in command and communication on the German side though it could've gone either way. I did have a lot of bad luck but no sour grapes. Jez played a very good game and proved to be quite shrewd.