Time to start the New Year 2015 with an upcoming WWII themed HMGS-PSW convention to be held Jan 17th in Anaheim CA. With good Southern California weather predicted this weekend, expected to be in the 70’s and clear skies, it is time to continue with WR’s 20mm Flames of War 1944 American sector Normandy battles. WR scheduled two Flames of War (FoW) scenarios for the next Saturday HMGS-PSW Anaheim convention: The String of Pearls and Roncey Pocket scenarios direct from the old FoW Cobra 1944 Normandy supplement, playing in mini-campiagn format. Last year son Daniel and WR battled the Barkmann’s Corner scenario twice, with one victory to each side for results. Barkmann’s Corner is the first of a trio set of Normandy scenarios named above. Since no clear winner from SS Unterscharfuhrer Barkmann’s efforts, neither side will have scenario starting advantage in WR’s second String of Pearls scenario.
First the String of Pearls scenario: General Bayerlein once described his Normandy defences as a “string of pearls’. Key hedgerow village road junctions held by small and determined groups of men backed by a few panzers, strung across the German Normandy battlefront. This tactic worked because, hindered greatly by the thick bocage hedgerows, the Americans were unable to maneuver around the junction roadblocks so many of the Normandy battle became frontal attritional affairs. The invention of the Sherman M4 tank, equipped with frontal hedgerow cutter, spelled the end for the German road junction defensive lines. Now a fighting retreat became the only option.
String of Pearls complete written scenario with victory conditions (.pdf). Normal Battlefront FoW setup instructions include the forces involved, reinforcements arrival, map terrain notes, victory conditions, expanded play possibilities and background material: String-of-Pearls
Scenario map adjustments for 20mm gaming. Normally WR increases the frontage for his FoW tabletop battles. This is due to the basing of 20mm miniatures vs. the normal 15mm scale used for standard FoW games. So where the above map has 12″ squares, WR will lay out his terrain proportionally wider to 16″ per square. Hence the tabletop will be five feet across in width (four 16″x12″ rectangles) vs. the standard four 12″ squares drawn above and six feet long. Works out to be 125% scaling ratio for most FoW games. Tabletop depth normally is retained the same at 12″ squares for WR’s FoW scenarios unless the action is two-sided… frontal and from the sides.
Hedgerow terrain notes: WR generally plays the hedgerows per the FoW rules with two exceptions. Since men and vehicles cannot clearly see over the hedgerow for distant direct firepower (not bombardment), WR allows teams to travel centerline along the road or pathway and cannot be directly targeted unless their enemy is adjacent (across) to the roadway hedgerow. If a player elects, position the miniature along the hedgerow to show that it can fire, and be fired upon, across the hedgerow terrain. The second exception is passing a vehicle or gun team within a narrow lane situation. A skill test, not a bog roll, is required to pass any vehicle or gun team found on the narrow roadway. The passing vehicle must completely clear the blocking vehicle model and cannot be tabletop positioned alongside while in the narrow lane. All vehicle team transit movement is reduced to 8″ maximum. Typically having two bumper to bumper vehicles blocking the roadway causes total transit blockage along that portion of narrow lane. D-Day Bocage Rules
German scenario orders: Under a massive American aerial and heavy artillery bombardment, the German front line has broken. An US armored division is on the loose tearing into your rear areas. Your 2nd SS Das Reich force has been ordered to form a junction roadblock and stop them long enough for other units (supply convey) to retreat to safety.
American scenario orders: Operation Cobra is underway. The Germans have almost nothing left to stop you onslaught. You must advance your 2nd Division “Hell on Wheels” armored column quickly into the German rear area and destroy the retreating troop columns before they can reach a new defensive position.
The American and German forces involved for the String of Pearls scenario are presented below. In addition, the 2nd SS Das Reich Division have their “Instant Readiness” rule and the Americans their 2nd Armored Division “spearhead, tank telephones and hedgerow cutter” rules. Will be interesting to see what American platoon is selected to use the spearhead pre-start reconnaissance deployment move.
Scenario adaptions: The German convey will move 8″ per road-bound move instead of 6″ as written in the scenario .pdf rules. This accounts for the wider table layout (see above) and the German convey road travel (to safety) scenario victory calculations. For the small German panzer IV reserve platoon, the scenario uses Scattered Reserve rule and specific restriction to enter on a road. Roll 6d: 1 or 2 enters the west road entrance (#1 on map), 3 or 4 enters on east edge road (#2 on map), 5 or 6 enters on southern road (#3 on map). The special 2nd SS Das Reich and American 2nd Armored Division rules are outlined below.
WR searched the internet and found these AARs for this FoW scenario. Interesting reading so WR provides the links. From Lonely Gamers Lonely Gamers String of Pearls and one written by PanzerCDR: PanzerCDR Sting of Pearls
Background Operation Cobra material from the FoW own website: Operation Cobra Normandy 1944.
Update 01/23/15: String of Pearls AAR posted
Following the scenario end of String of Pearls, WR will immediately re-terrain the HMGS-PSW convention tabletop for the final Roncey Pocket scenario outlined below.
Roncey Pocket scenario continues the mini campaign from the String of Pearls game. As the battle raged along the weakened German front, 2nd SS Das Reich Division received orders to withdraw towards Percy and link up with reinforcements from the British sector. The combined German force would then launch a concentrated counterattack against the American armored divisions, thereby attempting to stabilize the Normandy front once again. As they withdrew they discovered that the US 2nd Armored Division had already advanced across their retreat path towards Percy. To reach Percy that evening, a night column movement, within the American lines, is required. Speed and quick action soon lit up the dark night as American and German units mix up and engaged in pointblank firefight.
German orders: With the American Jabo fighter-bombers totally controlling the daytime sky and interdicting all German movements, the only way to reach Percy in time is a night march. Speed is the survival essence if you are to reach the assembly area before the fast-moving Americans so hooded headlights use is permitted. You must get through any weak American screening forces in your way and clear the road to Percy before dawn.
American orders: You have cut off a large German force of mixed armor and mechanized infantry formations in the Roncey Pocket. They want out and your duty is to hold your positions and contain any weak German units till morning. Once the morning light breaks, your swarming P-47 fighter-bomber squadrons and massed divisional artillery batteries will reduce the German pocket around Roncey. All seems going to plan till a broken down M-10 starts firing at “American vehicles” within your perimeter defensive zone.
Roncey Pocket complete written scenario with victory conditions (.pdf): Roncey Pocket
Depending on which side wins the String of Pearls game will influence the Roncey Pocket scenario. If the Germans win the String of Pearls game then their Northern Column receives a small motorized 10.5cm 2nd SS Divisional battery (one gun section of two 10.5cm guns plus transport and observer), placed at rear of Northern Column. If the American win String of Pearls they cause fuel restrictions on all Northern Column German tank and self-propelled guns. Roll 6d for each vehicle. Any roll of a 1 results in that vehicle running out of fuel earlier in the march and not taking part in the Roncey Pocket scenario.
Scenario map adjustments for 20mm gaming. Normally WR increases the frontage for his FoW tabletop battles. This is due to the basing of 20mm miniatures vs. the normal 15mm scale used for standard FoW games. So where the above map has 12″ squares, WR will lay out his terrain proportionally wider to 16″ per square. Hence the tabletop will be 5 feet across in width (four 16″x12″ rectangles) vs. the standard four 12″ squares drawn above and eight feet in length.
The American and German forces involved for the Roncey Pocket scenario are presented below. Like String of Pearls scenario above, the 2nd SS Das Reich Division have their “Instant Readiness” rule and the Americans their 2nd Armored Division “tank telephones and hedgerow cutter” rules. Note that “spearhead” special rule is not used for Roncey Pocket scenario as the American forces basically are starting in prepared positions for night.
WR looked but found no web posted Roncey Pocket AAR unlike the several for String of Pearls above. There are several more written FoW scenarios in the American Normandy sector to play. American pre D-Day airborne assault, proposed Utah beach landing, without the historical southwards tidal drift, thus landing at the planned D-Day location. Battlefront FoW wrote an open scenario design called Operation Cobra: Breakout and the always fun Ponte-du-Hoc cliff climbing exercise. WR will have a use for his recently panted US Ranger platoons it seems.
HMGS-PSW January 17, 2015 (Anaheim CA) convention PEL information sheet for anyone thinking of attending the event: HMGS-PSW World War 2 Day PEL
FoW Basing and tabletop size notes: Back in YR 2004, when WR started to play FOW Ver1.0, the infantry basing system was slightly different under Ver1.0 of the rules. Additionally, since WR uses 20mm vs. the normal 15mm scale miniatures for his gaming, the standard FOW infantry basing measurements wouldn’t work as the miniatures would be shoulder to shoulder ranks so to speak. Therefore WR simply increased the basing dimensions to allow miniature spacing but retained the same organization strength in miniatures.
Small based teams; like command, light mortars, machine guns teams are based on a 1.75″ width and 1.5″ depth (one to three miniatures). For teams of four or more miniatures excluding HHG teams, the medium basing is 2.5″ width and 1.75″ depth is used. All vehicles and larger guns or artillery pieces are based to suit the model miniature size with a small perimeter border edging (1/8″) to protect the model miniature.
Another rule change WR plays is the removal of the burning vehicles (ie.. tanks etc) after one complete turn cycle brewed up on the tabletop. Unless the vehicle is brewed up in a narrow passage terrain situation or required by scenario, the view of endlessly burning vehicles and the smoke concealment given only lasts for one complete game turn cycle (for both players/ team sides) after loss.
Update: The followup convention report (link) HMGS-PSW WWII January Convention report.
Cheers from the New Year gaming warren.