I played a second game of Blitzkrieg Commander on Friday, this time with a real, live opponent; Mr. Gary Chappell. I spent a good chunk of my hobby time this week ragin ahead with Project Rebase and got a pile of 20mm Paras and Germans done – I even painted up a couple paras to finish up some stands. 20mm guys are kind of fun to paint… Quicker than 28’s, easier and less fiddly than 15s.
The scenario I cooked up was called "Tiger Route". This was the path to be taken by L.Col Fitch's 3rd Parachute Battalion along the Utrecht-Arnhem highway. The battalion was to sweep into Arnhem from the north and link up with Frost's 2nd Battalion at the bridge. In his way, however was the 16th SS Grenadier Training and Reinforcement Battalion commander by Major Sepp Krafft (and later elements of the 9th SS Panzer Division!).
We used relatively small forces for a quick game just to figure out the rules.
Operation Market Garden, 17 September 1944.
1x Commander (LCol. Fitch) Command Rating: 9
9x Parachute Infantry (3 companies of 3 platoons each)
1x Support (Vickers HMG)
1x Support (3" mortar)
1x Support (AT, 6pdr)
1x Jeep (to tow the AT guns)
Get to Arnhem!
If the British player can exit 25% of his unit of the far end of the table by the end of the 12th turn he will score a minor victory. If he can exit 50% or his force by the end of the 12th turn he will score a major victory.
British can set up on the table in column along the Utrecht –Arnhem highway up to 50cm onto the table or deploy anywhere along the table edge using Mobile Deployment
1x Commander (Mjr S. Krafft) Command Rating: 8
1x Support (HMG)
1x Support (Mortar)
Each turn the German player will roll 2d6, if the score is less than or equal to the turn number a single reinforcement unit has arrived - they will arrive in the following order:
#1 Recce (Sdkfz 222)
#2 Recce (Luchs)
#3 SPAT (Jagdpanther)
Stop the British!
If the German player can cause 25% casualties he will score a minor victory, if he can prevent the British from exiting any forces off the table before the end of the game or cause the battalion to break he will score a major victory.
Germans may set up anywhere north of the Utrecht-Arnhem highway and east of the major north-south road (about halfway across the table…)
I played the attacking Paras (no surprise there…) and Gary played Major Sepp and elements of his Grenadier Training and Replacement Battalion (other elements were busy engaging the 1st Parachute Battalion to the North).
Here’s how it played out. …
(Remember: click on the pictures to see a biger version!)
Initial Dispositions: This picture is taken from the North. At the west end of the table (right) you can see the 3rd Para Battalion marching in column up the Utrecht Arnhem highway. In about the center of the table are Gary’s units. Off to the East (left) is Oosterbeek, my exit point.
A close up of Gary’s initial deployments
A close up of my initial deployments
That’s Gary in my silly German hat.
That’s some goof wearing my Para beret… oh wait… that’s me…?!
Off to a bad start; I roll a 10 for orders. My troops just hang out on the road – accepting apples and other refreshments from the jubilant Dutch.
Gary’s doing no better as he rolls a 12 triggering a Command Blunder – “CEASE FIRING!” – Some anxious 16 year old German hiding in the woods thinks he sees Some British paras lurking in the hedgerows just down the line and starts firing… his equally youthful and inexperienced comrades join him… (Krafft’s HQ takes three attacks from firing – luckily he is neither killed nor suppressed).
Crappy as that may have been for Gary he has nowhere he needs to be by any particular time, I have 12 turns to get these hardened killers into Oosterbeek and on their way to the bridge at Arnhem and I just lost one turn!
The far off chatter of small arms fire (krafft getting shot at by his own me..!?) reminds the lads that there is actually a war on and they’ve places they need to be. I successfully issue one set of orders, which gets the column a whopping 10cm up that wretched corduroyed road.
Krafft, on the other hand, had to teach some of his recruits how to reload their weapons (after firing off all their initial magazines – at HIM!!!) and was thus unable to issue any orders this turn.
The Paras start to feel a bit of a sense of urgency (perhaps they can hear the far off shooting as 1st battalion runs into the norther part of the line Krafft is holding – or maybe the tank guns firing at Major Freddy Gough’s Reconnaissance Jeep squadron as they blunder into elements of the 9th SS Panzer “Hohenstaufen” Division!). I issue three consecutive, succesfull move orders to the entire battalion! WHOOSH! They go storming up the road.
Unfortunately this put the first unit within 20cm (initiative range) of the germans MG and one rifle platoon. These open fire at the start of Gary’s turn scoring 6 hits and wiping out that lead platoon! During his orders phase Gary dashed two platoons of infantrymen south across the Utrecht-Arnhem highway into blocking positions in the wood there. He then issued two more successful fire orders to the MGs, infantry, and mortar platoons still north of the road. Each one took out another platoon of Paras. Three down – Gary’s scored a minor victory already…
In the shock and confusion of the initial ambush LCol Fitch has a brain-fart – rolled an 11 for my first attempt to issue orders. Everyone stays on the road.
Gary ‘s guys take full advantage of this hesitation and again carry out three successful fire orders; the first took out my mortar platoon, the second scored 5 hits and a suppression on a Para platoon, and the third finished it off. Five down, one short of my break point….
Here’s what my column looked like after Gary was finished mauling it this turn…
Still reeling from sudden violence and the loss of nearly half his battalion Fitch is slow to get things moving and only issues one successful order this turn “GET OFF THE ROAD!!”
The German’s firing takes out the jeeps towing the 6 pdrs. His second attempt to issue orders comes up box-cars – “OPEN FIRE!” suppresses one of my units – at least he’s done… Unfortunately I’m at my break point.
Fitch is finally getting things together. First he gets the AT platoon deployed and the rest of the paras a little further off the road. The gets two more orders out moving the paras across the open ground south of the Utrecht-Arnhem highway while the 6 pdrs of the AT platoon cover their advance – first suppressing the German MG platoon, then causing it for fall back! Yay! Things are looking up!
Krafft holds a moment of silence for the hundreds of dead paras they slaughtered before them on the road – no orders issued.
Again Fitch got his 6 pounders firing and covering the advance. First a hit, then two more and a suppression before those hardened killers of the 3rd parachute Battalion charged into the woods assaulting the two platoons blocking their way to Oosterbeek. Unfortunately Gary shot up one of my platoons as they charged in, suppressing them. In close combat this platoon was finished off and the platoon that had been supporting in was forced to retire. The Germans disengaged and fell back further into the woods. The other German platoon, which had been suppressed by the 6 pdrs was over run and the paras engaged in this action took up positions in the north end of the small wood to cover the flank for the remainder of the battalion as it tried to press on into the woods over the next couple turns.
Positions at the end of my turn.
Gary gets reinforcements this turn - a reconnaissance platoon of Sdkfz222 armoured cars from the 9th SS Panzer Division rolls up and offers their assistance to Krafft. Gary moves some guys around and fires on my units causing some hits and suppressions.
The Paras don’t break (I’m now making break checks at -1…). The remains of the battalion tries to move up into the woods.
More Recce troops arrive to reinforce the Germans, this time a platoon of PanzerIILs. Gary does some fancy maneuvering and firing causing 2 hits and a suppression one my flank protection platoon and brought one unit into close combat with them. The MG moves and the mortar fires causing another hit and suppression and another unit moves up to support the close combat.. They do the same thing another time and cause two more hits..! The Gary’s luck runs out and he rolls a twelve again… the third time this game so far!? This is the worst; “CROSSFIRE” – Three units nearest the command take 3 attacks from firing. Guess those young Germans got a little too excited and started firing at just anything that moved… including some of their own guys. The result of all this indiscriminate firing is that the unit in close combat with my para platoon at the north end of the woods takes two hits and is suppressed; the supporting unit also takes a hit, but is not suppressed. The MG platoon (which was probably the instigator of all this “friendly fire” incident) took fire back from their angry comrades and was, itself, suppressed with two hits.
This totally saved me from immanent destruction! In the close combat the Germans were forced to retire and my guys held on.
Gary doing some of that fancy maneuvering.
Snake-eyes for the Break Test – think this should give me some benefit.. maybe no more break tests for the rest of the game or something… Box-cars for my orders – nothing of interest takes place this turn. The two platoons that could have done initiative fire were suppressed – they recover, that’s about it.
Just can’t get through these woods…
Gary gets more reinforcements – the Jagdpanther! He doesn’t know what to do with it so leaves it off the table. The Germans then suppress some of my guys with some initiative fire but do little else of interest this turn.
The Paras hold on! Initiative fire suppresses one German unit and I finally got all my guys moved into the damn woods. That’s about it.
Gary suppresses a unit with initiative fire… that’s about it…
Still not breaking. Initiative fire suppresses two German units! Fitch’s nerves are rattled… he can’t decide what to do… Communication has completely broken down with the division and now there’s tanks (TANKS!) rolling up! So he does nothing…
Gary blazes away for two consecutive order phases and knocks out another platoon of Paras.
The boys hold on! Finally cleared and consolidated the woods but can’t press on as we are totally surrounded… and that’s it for the game.
Gary plays out his last turn but fails to knock out anything else.
A major Victory for SS Major Sepp Krafft (Gary)! He wiped out 6 platoons of paras along with their mortar platoon and the jeeps that towed the AT platoon to a loss of only two of his own platoons!
A fun game I was pretty much done for after Gary’s extremely successful ambush of my column on the Utrecht-Arnhem road. There was a lot of give and take though. I really like the command and control system – I think it accurately reflects the chaos of command and how communication can totally break down.
Gary and I are keen to try it again. We may even try the same scenario again later this week but switch sides…. In the meantime I will continue with Project Rebase so we can potentially try a bigger game with more than one HQ/Command unit per side.