Tito's (Kev's) Partisans Vs Jez's Germans: Yugoslavia 1942
This weeks game at Wally HQ was a bit different. Set in Yugoslavia in 1942 it dealt with a quite a dark subject - village clearances.
I decided to work out a scenario where the German forces were tasked with arresting the civilian population of a suspected partisan village and transporting them off for 're-settlement'. The German's were then to torch the village.
Tito's partisan forces were to arrive and attempt to prevent the German's doing this.
A contentious issue granted, and not everyone's cuppa tea but occasionally I like to play such games which hammer home to players the savagery and inhumanity of WW2.
It is very easy to play WW2 games where civilians don't actually make an appearance resulting in a sanitisation of the conflict which devastated the lives of much of the world. The village objective of the Germans was situated on a substantial hill in the centre of the table, accessed by a dirt track which crossed a stream via a wooden bridge.
The stream was crossable to all infantry but was impassable to vehicles unless using the bridge.
The surrounding terrain was very close; dense woods, marsh, several fields of crops and an area of rocks, south of the village.
Jez's German force consisted of HQ; an infantry section a Horsch field car, an SS Commander in Kubelwagen, with an Sdkfz 251/10 halftrack for support. In additon two infantry Platoons were present in motorised transport with six trucks for the captured civilians, plus a brace of ex-French Panhard armoured cars now in Axis service.
They were all rated as second class troops, with a lack of heavy support weapons.
Rifle Squad (8 men)
SS – Sturmbannführer BIG MAN 1 (D4)
SS - Hauptsturmfuhrer BIG MAN 2 (D4)
Three Rifle squads (8 men)
Two Horsch Cars SdKfz 10
SS - Untersturmführer BIG MAN 3 (D4)
Three Rifle squads (8 men)
Nine trucks (six empty)
SS - Scharführer BIG MAN 4 (D6)
Two Sp Pz Wag 178/204 (F)
SS - Oberscharführer BIG MAN 5 (D4)
National Characteristic Cards
Rally, Recce Force, Dynamic CO, Heroic Leader, Vehicle Breakdown
There were plenty of Big Men present though these were all largely poor with only D4. I also decided not to allow the Germans a 'Rapid Deployment' card.
The Partisans were all well motivated and armed quite well, in keeping with Tito's men. A Force HQ of a rifle section included two snipers and two Maxim MMGs. There were four Platoons each of three 8 man sections. Two Platoons in addition had AT rifles available. In support there were a pair of medium mortars deployed off-table and zeroed in on one pre- registered location.
Two MMGs (3 crew each)
Rifle Squad (8 men)
‘Officer’ Big Man (D6)
Platoons 1 and 2
Three Rifle Squads (8 men)
AT Rifle (2 crew)
‘NCO’ Big Man (D6)
Platoons 3 and 4
Three Rifle Squads (8 men)
‘NCO’ Big Man 3 (D4)
Two Medium Mortars firing on pre-registered location.
National Characteristic Cards
MMG Bonus, Heroic Leader, Dynamic Commander, Rapid Deployment, Off-Table Mortars, Sniper x 2, Uhraieeeee!
Jez obviously spotted that a perfect ambush game was in the offing but I decided to move the goalposts ensuring that the games progress could take many different courses, leaving it by no means certain who would win, nor how easy it would be. I decided that only D4 blinds would be available out of my entire force at the beginning of the game. This was to ensure that the German forces had a chance to actually reach the village and begin their searching for partisans/civilians.
I decided that any number of my blinds could enter the table on any edge of choice with the restriction of D4 blinds for the eastern table edge with the road.
The Germans would enter the table on the eastern edge, along the road. They must exit the table here also for a successful mission.
To search each building required one entire move's initiative dice spent doing nothing else. Jez would roll a D6 upon entering a building. 1-5 would equate to the number on civilians within each building with a six meaning that the building was empty. This hopefully would result in least a couple of buildings frustrating the Germans by containing no civilians.
If he had the time Jez could search again rolling a D6 to see if anything else was found. A 5 or 6 would indicate something else with a random die roll equating to arms and ammo, uniforms, food and rations or even a radio set.
Once found civilians would be attached to the section that discovered them, and would stay with the section until the section escorted them to a truck for their ride to 're-settlement'.
One move spent stationary in, or in contact with, a house would result in it bursting into flames should the Germans decide so.
The game kicked off with my secretly rolling for fakes (D6+1) resulting in five. I then rolled D4 for forces on table resulting three blinds being available for immediate deployment. I rolled a further 3 indicating that no more than three of my blinds could enter on the eastern edge. I then marked positions on my map of where I would like my troops to enter.
I also decided to zero in mortars on the bridge as knocking this out would result in Jez's transport having to take a northern circuitous route to get off the eastern table edge, it not being permitted to cross the stream except at the bridge.
I deployed the HQ Platoon's MMGs and rifle section in a small wood to the north of the bridge. A sniper was located in another wood, this time north of the village with the second south of the village, amongst the rocks.
I placed one fake in the woods to the west of the village to tempt the Germans further onto the table, and another in the woods with the northern sniper.
My 'Blinds Move' came up and I decided to hold all dice and not to bring on any of my other troops. I wanted him firmly in the noose before tightening the rope. It was too early for a show of force I reckoned.
Jez moved two blinds along the road and into the village on move one.
One blind headed off to the north of the village. I reckoned that this would be a fake and upon spotting confirmed it, using my reserved dice. I also spotted Jez's armoured cars leading the column and a further spot revealed his HQ in tow.
I was taking a real gamble as Jez had lots of chips going in the hat for the next turn and I may find that my reinforcements would take a long time.
One of Jez's blinds hung back and entered a small wood just south of the road, and adjacent to the bridge. This I presumed would be a fake.
Jez immediately advanced his armoured cars to the west of the village on his 'Recce Force' chip.
Next turn Jez's swore as he realised he had screwed up royally and had in fact handed me the game on a plate!
Jez had mixed up his blinds and had in fact moved the wrong one into the village! He had meant to actually move his Platoon with the trucks for transporting civilians into the village. Instead he had moved the first Platoon which had no transport for prisoners.
Oh joy! What a cock up and showing that even IABSM players of Jez's experience can have an off day.
Anyhow the Germans now began the long process of searching the houses. A peasant couple emerged from the first house , but the second proved to be empty. The third house Jez moved into and saved his dice, expecting an ambush he wisely decided to keep one section as his security element.
The SdKfz 251/10 took up position at the western end of the bridge and then promptly broke down, requiring a six to mend.
On his 'Dynamic Commander' chip Jez moved his Black coated, swastika armband wearing CO from the kubel to harang the crew of the halftrack. I had told Jez there was less chance of it being abandoned if accompanied by a Big Man and told him that so long as the Big Man kept shouting at the halftrack crew they could mend it on a 5 or 6 with his 'encouragement'.
Jez all the time was wondering where my forces were hiding and why I hadn't attacked him yet. His plan was to get in, capture some civilians and exit ASAP.
When I spotted Jez's remaining blind in my next turn and it turned out to be nine trucks, I knew this was it. I reserved the rest of my dice waiting for them to make a run for the bridge and village.
In retrospect we both admitted that it would have been better had he left them on the eastern side of the bridge and escorted the prisoners across the bridge to their rides.
A it was, when he tried to cross the bridge I hit and destroyed a truck, blocking the bridge entirely, with reserved dice fire from my maxim guns. I used the reserve fire dice from my rifle section to poured fire into Jez's troops in the empty house he had discovered earlier, but which he still occupied.
Snipers began to engage Big Men targets without success but made Jez and his Germans very nervous.
Jez's chips didn't really come up this turn but he did manage to find another two civilians in another house.
Next turn when my 'Blinds Move' card came up Jez realised that the shit had hit the fan! Practically the whole table edge surrounding the village seemed occupied by four blinds and three fakes. I now moved my fakes that had started the table making Jez really flinch a bit.
He failed to spot anything as once again his chips didn't turn up, and then was really displeased when my mortars landed on target, right on the bridge and its truck road block. I had put the chip in the previous turn when my Big Man had signalled for support. Three trucks were damaged and/or their drivers concussed into inactivity. Mega block.
Jez fired at my Maxims and infantry section but caused little casualties due to their range and cover.
When my blinds came up yet again in the first few chips of my next turn I decided to activate everything.
One Platoon appeared in the western woods and made a run for the village. Another worked its way across the rocky and marshy area south of the village, whilst a third appeared in the fields to the northwest.
My final Platoon appeared on the eastern table edge cutting off his retreat.
Withering fire poured forth from Tito's boys causing a few wounds and pins.
Jez's armoured cars recoiled at the sight of AT rifles, into the village, after some very non effective fire on their part. The expression couldn't hit a f*****g barn door at three paces comes to mind.
My maxims opened up again setting fire to a truck containing a section of infantry which took several casualties and abandoned their burning truck, only to be hit by reserved dice from a Maxim causing half of their comrades to fall and pinning them.
Yet again my mortars landed on target causing more distress.
Upon an 'Uhraieeeeee' card I assaulted the remnants of the pinned rifle squad killing all except one lonely German soldier who was captured.
On 'Heroic Leader', my Big Man accompanying the victorious section, shouted to his men to use grenades and attack another truck of troops. They did so destroying this and forcing the luckless Germans out into the open.
As yet another chip of my forces was drawn the remnants of this section were fired at at short range from Tito's boys. Talk about a run of bad chips!
Two sections all but wiped out in four successive chips.
Jez had some luck elsehwere though as some of my forces reached the village and entered the buildings.
Close range fire brought them to a halt with several casualties. One section of German's made a run for the wood to the north of the village flushing out my sniper but then took casualties from the Partisans in the cornfields to the north west.
Jez decided to call it a day as he no longer had a prayer of winning and in fact would probably lose his entire force.
A lovely victory.
But it could've been so different. I had a lot of luck in that by choosing to wait so long to bring on my forces I had ensured that almost all of Jez's chips were in the bag early on. It could've taken ages for my 'Blinds Move' chip to turn up, along with my mortar fire. I was very lucky indeed that they did so, so rapidly and so often.
Once my forces' unit and national characteristic chips were in the bag Jez ensured that he drew a devastating sequence of chips which allowed me to turn an ambush into a massacre.
I have played five times with Partisan forces now and won every time. Most games they have been a real shock to the German players but seldom has a victory been so easily achieved!
Jez had really handed me the victory by confusing himself as to which blinds were which early on, moving the wrong troops into the village. Then trying to move nine trucks across a small bridge was a really bad idea which was bound to go pear shaped.
Still I enjoyed myself.