Sunday, 8 February 2015

Desert Campaign Game # 3: Panzer Battles

The North Africa desert campaign continued today with the third in which the Axis troops after being badly mauled in the previous encounter, were now to conduct a defensive retreat action (scenario 4 of the Chain of Command book).

An what an epic struggle it was: the DAK Panzer section won several iron crosses and other garlands, taking revenge on behalf of the beating received lat week by its brother infantry platoon. The Panzers on its own sent the enemy Indian infantry platoon reeling out of the table, destroying almost two sections and then  almost totally wiped-out the British armour assets.

The Heroes of the Day

The table today was simple: at the Axis edge a small oasis, probably a stop in the caravans route with a well and the ruins of a couple of huts erected long ago by some wandering Bedouins and where the Italians and Germans will make a stand; at the other edge, the desert, hot and dry, and the dirty sand track followed by the British troops pursuing its retreating foe.

The game today looked initially challenging for the Axis players, who lots a/3rd of a platoon in the previous game, while the British had replenished its ranks and the platoons were at almost full capacity and had some moral upgrades.

As usual, the game started with the patrols reconnoitring the terrain and looking to find the enemy's advanced posts. The British played an aggressive patrol game  and placed well forward one jump-off point, in the left side of the Axis defensive line, not far from its edge but at some distance from its own edge and main attacking line.

The Axis  played conservative as in previous games, placing the jump-off points close to its tactical edge, divided in two groups (one of the Italians and one for the DAK) on each of its flanks respectively.

With the British attacking and rolling a higher Force Moral than the Axis, started the game. In the first activation phase, already one Indian infantry section emerged in the forward jump-off point, while far back on the table edge, the first AFVs entered the game.

The Axis player scented blood almost inmediately:  two panzers were quickly deployed on the table and fired in open sights with the guns and the hull HMGs over the Indian infantry caught (again!!) naked in the open; even worse, as the Panzer commander won a second consecutive activation, another lead storm fell on the powerless Indians before they could even know what the hell was going on.

The supporting British tanks were still faaaaar away and would take at least three activations to arrive; the only possible way to resist was to obstruct the panzers LOS with a smoke barrier while waiting the cavalry arrival... but it was hopeless. The German brought a third Pz IV into play in LOS of the beleaguered infantry, while the  other 2 AFVs moved forward and crossed the smoke barrier... and with another lucky double turn they almost wiped out the remaining infantry teams.

The British player commanding the Indian platoon was disconcerted and hesitant on what to do next: first he announced he was withdrawing; but after some nouisy complaints of his fellow British team players, he decided the contrary and deployed the second section of the platoon to cover the remnants of the first infantry section.

It was like adding fuel to a fire: the Panzers disloged the new arrivals with some HE fire and the hull HMGs. As some of the brave NCOs leading the Indian platoon had already fallen or have been  wounded, the already low Force Morale of the platoon sank and went to zero... the Indian platoon was now KO and the survivors dispersed in the sand.

At this stage of the game, none of the Axis infantry troops had hit the table yet. The other two British commanders held a conference and ponder different options. There were yet 4 British AFVS on the table belonging to the tank troop plus another tank bought as support for the other infantry platoon... and the Germans had apparently put all the armour assets on the table (3 tanks). The final decision was... to continue the attack!.

Long faces in British HQ (Indian commander at the back collecting coffins)

A line of British tanks was no formed in the center and ordered to charge home... in my mind, a flash of the charge of the Light Brigade film... and there they went!!

"Form the line!"...
To be fair, the idea was not as crazy as it may initially seem: the British attempted to capture one of the Axis jumpoff points in the oasis, that will give them the automatic victory according to the scenario conditions. They had more tanks and with better armour, so there was still a chance. But... the gallant charge as in Crimea almost 100 years ago concluded in another disaster.

"Charge!!! Urraahhh!!!"
 The Germans put in play the last panzer of its reserve (the support of the DAK infantry platoon). The Panzer line (the 21st Panzer dice blessed today with several double activation turns...) fired shot after shot taking on one enemy tank at each time: a captured M 13 that had survived two attacks of an 88mm gun and the two consecutive games, was first shot two pieces; then the two Crusader tanks... until only the two thick skin Matildas remain operative.

The view from the German side

Luck however seem to have run out for the Germans as despite the carnage, one Matilda was now close to its target (the oasis) and the activation was now on the British camp... when suddenly an "Ambush!" cry was heard: a fDAK lamethrower team emerged next on the Matilda's flank side while tongues of fire engulfed the tank... the crew panicked, bailed out the tank and run for cover.

By now the British tank unit Force Moral had sank to zero and surrender. The astonished British infantry, witnessing the destruction of its tank force in the distance could resist no more and also made a hasty retreat.

An this is how the incredible game today concluded and was won by the tanks alone. Not a single Axis infantry soldier was seen on the table!!  The Axis has now tuned the tables when in the previous encounter looked like the chances of winning the campaign were slim to saye the least!!.

Tension is now at its peak: what will the Axis do in the next game? Will they counterattack? If winners, the campaign is over... or will remain in defensive mood, risking a defeat and moving into the last and decesive game of the campaign?... We will soon know


  1. This is why campaigns are so much fun. Just when you think it's all over, the situation changes. Look forward to the next report.

  2. Great report. Looks like it was a fun game.

  3. Gripping stuff! Such are the fortunes of war. I'm looking forward to the next game report.

  4. Hello Benito:
    Thank you for this very exciting bat rep. It's great to see how the players are adjusting (or maybe with the British team ) not adjusting to the demands of the campaign, conserving their forces vs taking risks. The German players seem to have done brilliantly in this game, and luck didn't hurt them, obviously. As always your models look terrific.

  5. What a close run thing this campaign is, looking forward to the next stage.

  6. Great AAR, and very interesting campaign. Fantastic the pictures!

  7. Following this campaign with great interest. Great reports and look forward to the next battle

  8. Truly, campaings get the best out of players for they won´t risk their troops unless they feel like they can really get a very good advantage (or victory chance) out of it. No silly heroic mavericks but hard group work.

    It makes it all more of a "real" simulation. And is it not what´s all about? :-)

    Very nice after action report, as always. Congrats!