Another game from the backlog files of CoVid YR2020. This Flames of War (FOW) version 3.0 scenario is a home grown scenario. Back in June 2020 we had an early summer like heat wave so Daniel and WR optioned for a “cool” scenario from the Bulge 1944 time period. Since WR had just finished up painting his Panzer Brigade 150 ersatz Panthers and StuG platoons, plus his Skorzeny commandos in their captured jeeps, the choice ready made. An uneven point scenario with the advancing Germans having 2000 points vs. the defending Americans with 1830 points and a patch of Ardennes to defend. All the special rules found in the Battlefront “Devil’s Charge” supplement booklet in play, the “disguises” of captured equipment, some sheet metal, English speaking Germans, rampant rumors, American bulldog rule, snowy frozen ground, and more. Plus bad weather for once.
Since this scenario was a “pick up game” there is no hand drawn scenario map for the 6×8 table. A typical Ardennes countrywide with forest, narrow river waterway and crossroad villages, all draped in snowy ground was laid out. Unlike many Bulge scenarios which WR has played over the years, this one has weather. Lots of cold temperatures, cloud cover, and ground fog to keep any pilots home in their warm cots and American artillery observers seeing German panzer shadows.
Forces: The starting line up for both sides, first the Germans with their Pz. Brigade 150 force under Daniel’s control (2000 points). Pz. Brigade 150 SS teams are all rated Fearless Trained (FT) unless noted.
Pz. Brigade Tank Company HQ: Co. Cmd SMG Pzf., 2iC team SMG Pzf., both with captured jeeps.  pts.
Skorzeny Commandos: 4x Skorzeny Commando jeeps rated Fearless Veteran (FV)  pts.
Ersatz Panther platoon: 3x Ersatz Panthers  pts.
Ersatz StuG platoon: 3x Ersatz StuG  pts.
Two SS Jager platoon: Cmd/Pzf, R/MG Pzf, 6x R/MG pts.
Two SS Heavy Mortar platoons: Each with Cmd, Obs. team, 4x 12cm mortar teams [2×160] pts.
Ersatz Panzerspah platoon: 3x Sd Kfz 234/2 Puma  pts.
WR’s American force represents the “Bloody Bucket” or 28th US Infantry taken from the same “Devil’s Charge” FOW supplement. WR deployed his Perimeter Outpost fortified company miniatures to try and stem Daniel’s advancing Panzer Brigade 150 ersatz panzers and SS infantry. Perimeter Outpost and support teams are rated Reluctant Veteran (RV) for this scenario report unless noted:
Perimeter Outpost HQ: Co Cmd, 2iC carbine teams in trench line  pts.
Two Outpost platoons fully equipped: Cmd, 4x rifle teams, LMG team, 60mm mortar, Baz team, HMG team, 57mm A/T in gun pit, trenches, minefield and wire [2x 260] pts.
Outpost platoon made of “reassigned veteran replacements”: Cmd, 4x rifle teams, LMG team, Baz team, HMG team. No trenches, wire, or mines. They just arrived at the front last night like trucked in frozen meat.  pts.
AP platoon: Cmd, 6x Pioneer rifle teams, 2x Baz teams  pts.
TD Platoon: 4x M10 TD, Cmd jeep, 2x M20 scout cars using TD rules  pts.
Rocket Launcher battery: Cmd, Obs. team w/jeep, 2x T27 Xylophone RL rated Confident Trained (CT)  pts.
Two off table 105mm Field Artillery batteries: Each with Cmd, Obs. w/jeep, 4x 105mm M2a1 howitzers [2×280] pts.
Terrain and weather: Ground has layer of snow so slow going (8″) for all vehicles off the roads. Narrow river has ice covering so infantry can cross but any vehicle, except jeeps, goes straight to the freezing depths. Weather is cold, slightly fog bound, and overcast so no aircraft flying. Visibility starts scenario at 24″ distance on tabletop. Every turn the visibility is rolled for change using a +, -, or no change 6D die (1/3 plus result, 1/3 minus result, and 1/3 no change). If plus sign rolled, increase visibility by 6″, if minus rolled, decrease by 6″ till lowest point at 6″.
Deployment zones: Americans can deploy up to the table midpoint. Germans deploy up to 16″ from their rear edge. Germans will have the first movement and start the scenario with a visibility roll outlined above. Two objective markers placed by German player, 8″ from table midpoint or further back in American lines, but not within 12″ of table edges, and before American unit deployment. Table is WR’s standard size 6′ wide and 5′ depth.
Duration and Victory: Scenario lasts for up to ten turns maximum. Germans win by exiting two platoons off any American table edge road by end of tenth turn, take any objective marker and control, or force American company morale failure. Americans win by preventing two or more German platoons exiting or force German company morale failure. Basically the Americans need to stop the German advance for 10 turns.
Opening salvos and Turn: Weather 6D rolled and no change, so 24″ is the visibility range for this turn. A mechanical sound is heard as the German SS panzers start their engines and tracks grind forward along muddy roads or cross country. Out of the fog and mist hugging the ground, American GI see shapes appear….. they sort of look like American tanks…. sort of. Behind the left flank woods the Puma AC and both SS Jager platoons advance seeking the flank of the right hand Outpost platoon position. American await and try to stay warm in their frozen trenches.
Turn Two: Weather improves a bit and visibility goes to 30″ for the second turn. As the last wisps of ground fog burn off….. 12cm mortar shells land in the American trenches. What a wake up alarm clock! The front lines at both ends receive a sharp bombardment of 12cm mortar rounds from the two 12cm Heavy Mortar SS platoons. One team won’t make the morning coffee line this morning. A column of Sd Kfz 234/2 5cm Pumas is seen driving around the woods and stopping before the flank minefield. Their 5cm cannon send rounds into the American trench line as 12cm mortar rain down. Quickly, the nearby 105mm battery observer calls for his artillery CP…. one moment please… where do you wish the shells to land? “On you if I don’t see shells in two minutes” comes the reply by the FOO lieutenant. StuG rolling forward…. hey, those cannot be American tanks, as some sharp eyes young GI looks at the foggy StuG shapes. Waking up the nearby 57mm A/T crew, they open fire just to watch their shells bounce off. As for the grand moment, first time fire mission on tabletop, the T27 Xylophone RL battery…. their sleeping observer team is dead to the world in slumber, night eye shades in place.
Turn Three: Weather stays the same at 30″ visibility. Germans advance through the snow laden woods. Both SS Jager platoons seek position to assault the American right flank trench line. The stationary Pumas shoot up the trench line as the ersatz StuG and Panthers drive slowly towards the central village. Finally, the village encamped AP platoon comes to realize that those M10 shaped moving iron boxes have a weird cannon…. just as the Panthers cross the nearby river bridge and open fire, sending high velocity 75mm shells through the buildings.
Daniel’s Skorzeny commandos have been bidding their time lurking in the nearby woods. On turn three they spring into action. One jeep team intercepts a traveling 105mm battery observer team in their fast moving jeep They were shifting position from the inactive far left towards the central village. Pulled over for “speeding”… the Skorzeny fast talking lieutenant halts the American’s movement with a wild rumor that the Germans have seized the village ahead. Confused, the young American observer radios in for instruction and causes the battery to be off line for the turn. Different tactics but same result, the right flank 105mm battery observer goes off the air when radio contact is broken. Seems a unknown soldier removed a vacuum tube from the power supply. Crafty Germans lurk behind trees, ride jeeps, and have a soft touch for vacuum tubes. And they know the baseball Yankee line up.
Since the ersatz Panthers drove away towards the village, the American company commander orders his “veteran replacement” Outpost platoon to march quickly towards the village via the woods. Total fun walking in snow depth to your knee or higher, under snow laden tree branches, while carrying machine guns. Why us?….the veteran newly assigned platoon gripes. Something about “last in first out” thinks a former accountant. One good thing…. Daniel forgot to fire his 12cm mortars it seems. WR wasn’t speaking up.
Turn Four: Weather improves again so now 36″ visibility. So much for WR’s hopes for bad weather this scenario. German luck has been too good so Daniel opens fire with everything. Panther settle down to shell the village. One AP rifle team goes missing along with the prize kitchen wash basin. The StuG platoon shells rip a Outpost team out their trench line as the Pumas add firepower and losses to the American defenders (two teams removed). The 12cm mortars range in on the village… shells land everywhere but on American infantrymen. Well pinned in the cellars it seems. Wouldn’t you if Panthers outside?
For the Americans, the radio net comes alive. The 57mm crew keeps their heads down since the shells keep bouncing off the StuG armor. The Pumas get the VO 105mm shampoo treatment. A 105mm shell bails out one Puma with a flat tire. Next the exposed StuG receive their share of another 105mm battery FFE. No loss but the crews are deaden by the blasts,. Last… the T27 Xylophone rocket salvo lands among the Panthers… more paintwork blackened. Daniel now knows he must keep moving his tanks to avoid the American aerial shell factory.
Turn Five: Weather holds at 36″. SS Jagers arrive in their jumping off position to assault. Panthers shift left to avoid the bombardment zone. The StuG drive forward to dodge shells. Joined by the Pumas, all three armored platoons rake the American trench front line and building with HE and MG firepower. Several teams just vanish from the tabletop, including the unlucky 57mm crew, their cannon just a twisted pile of metal. To add to the American pounding… the heavy 12cm mortar join in to toss about frozen dirt. No American helmet can be seen. Only the American artillery observer calmly correct their batteries to the visible German targets in reply. The snowy ground is pock marked with black circles in front of the American lines. Replacement Outpost platoon reaches the outskirts of the village but remain in the woods nearby seeing (really hearing) the bombardment racket.
Turn Six: Weather stays the same at 36″. Shifting position besides the hunting lodge (frozen lakeside) and dodging 105mm shells, the Pumas keep up their 5cm shell volume into the American trench. The StuG drive forward to open sights gunnery range and pound the trench in preparation of the SS Jager platoon assault. Panthers train turrets and long 75mm cannon, seeking any form of helmet target from the AP platoon defending the village. Pinned again by 12cm mortar shells or shot apart, the reluctant Outpost veterans forming the the right flank defense crumble just as the leading SS Jager platoon surges forward from the lifeless woods. One round of close combat and two more American teams removed. Still the veterans hang in the fight atop the low rise as SS troopers reform in the captured trench works.
WR is grinning. Out of the village woods he deploys his TD M10 platoon in ambush position. They open fire on the exposed StuG platoon, quickly brewing up two ersatz StuG tanks and bailed out the last one. Raking along the trench, a HMG team catches two jager teams with lucky shooting, sending them to the dead pile.
Turn Seven: Weather dull and unchanged at 36″. Ambush done, the reply is equally swift. Panther 75mm cannon train on the woods edge and rip open two M10, their burning wrecks melting the snow. StuG brew up another M10 and in a short moment most of the American armor is barbecues. Here to stay, the scattered TD platoon pass their morale. Seeking vengeance against the trench HMG, the leading SS Jager charge down the former American trench line as 12cm rounds explode HE along the wood edge and support rear trench. Two jager teams drop, the HMG team is wiped out in return. Suddenly the M10 survivor drives forward and rakes the trench with its MG. Another SS Jager team bits the ground. Seeing the Outpost platoon leader left, the SS troopers fight on. M10 shoots but misses, so the Outpost command team charges in…. hand to hand between the two command teams. Team America for the win, then promptly disappear into the battlefield rear area (morale failure). Only the sole M10 is left holding the American right flank at this moment, but help is coming at a walking pace. Should note the second SS Jager platoon cleared the minefield holding up the Pumas.
Turn Eight: Weather unchanged. Having taken control of the American right flank trench, the supporting SS Jager platoon advances then stormtrooper move along its earthen walls. Pumas drive forward and threaten the 105mm observer team with overrun while blasting apart the remaining M10 TD. Being within 16″, the nearby Skorzeny commando team drives towards the German rear lines, sending their special radio code sign and quick uniform change. Otherwise, fire 75mm HE shells at helmets within the village this turn after redirection of the 12cm mortars fails this turn for Daniel.
WR’s right flank is missing in action and the objective marker nearly uncovered. So time to pull some AP platoon teams into the nearby woods and run fast with the “veteran replacement’ Outpost platoon to retake the trench line. Since the T27 Xylophone observer lies dead in the trench, the two RL trucks have advanced to direct fire into the village woods area. Before going off the aire, the right flank 105mm observer calls in and orders the fire correction directly atop his position… and the nearby Pumas. Shells land on the radio set….
Turn Nine: Weather worsens to 30″ visibility. WR’s wish for bad weather is a bit late for this scenario. The village woods come alive with American veteran infantry teams and SS Jagers. Panthers and the remaining StuG approach the fairy tale snowy woods…. with burning M10’s, sending bullets deep into the trees. Suddenly the American artillery found the stack of fire mission requests. Observer team’s last message was FIRE everything! Even the T27 Xylophone battery launches rockets into the Pumas. One Panther stops, burning inside. A Puma blasted on its side, the crew bailing out and running. The American soldiers charge into the woods behind the wall of HE landing outside the woods. Both sides know the next turns is going to be messy…..
Turn Ten: Weather holds at 30″. The big event! Everything rides on who controls the German objective marker for this scenario. SS Jagers charge in, the remaining StuG drives forward, and even the two Pumas drive into the gap between the trench lines. Bitter hand to hand fighting, tossed grenades, bayonets, even heavy boots fighting erupts. The StuG drives into the leading AP teams, crushes one under its tracks and machine guns down two more. SS Jagers fall from close range M1 rifle fire just as the Pumas arrive. Those replacement veterans… toss grenades at the Pumas, one left burning, the other Puma cuts down the attackers. Meanwhile the two infantry group brawl it out, teams being removed on both sides. American win a round, the Germans win in reply. The last Puma is destroyed or firebombed. The AP platoon breaks and runs away from the StuG assault, leaving the “replacements” to fight on. The SS Jager back off from the fighting, losses too heavy. So, the StuG drives deeper into the woods (bog checks aplenty) and routs the veterans, who leave two more teams under the StuG tracks. The fighting ends…. The AP Platoon runs from the battlefield, the nearby “replacement” veterans last seen rallying outside the village. Puma platoon wiped out, and the SS jager team survivor hiding in the trench. Just leaves the StuG assault gun controlling the objective and German scenario win. What a miniature battle in such a small area on the tabletop.
Scenario end: The weather worsens again to 24″… back to where the scenario started. WR called the game, on his American turn, as contesting the German objective impossible since he had no operational platoon near the German controlled objective marker. Losses heavy for both sides. Daniel lost effectively both SS Jager platoons, his armored cars or Pumas, most of the ersatz StuG platoon, one Panther, and one Skorzeny commando team back for reassignment. WR loses were effectively two Outpost platoons, the AP platoon, one T27 Xylophone on the last half turn, and his only armor platoon, the M10 TD platoon just burning. Victory to Daniel.
Fun scenario and a “cooler” activity from the outside early summer heat wave last June. During the summer and fall WR and Daniel, with other local masked FOW gamers, played several smaller player vs. player FOW battles. Most were undocumented / photographed with no formal scenario notes written down. Therefore, the next report brings WR closer to the present day and features a FOW battle completely designed by Daniel on his own. Set in France countryside 1944, Daniel drew up the scenario map, the forces, and victory conditions. To the keyboard!
WR and Daniel used the FOW 3.0 version supplement “Devil’s Charge” to roster their Ardennes 1944 scenario forces. Along with the FOW supplement “Nuts” there is plenty of scenario material for gaming the Bulge 1944.
Note: For the Enemy Disguises rule WR and Daniel used the following skill check adjustments: 1). Only command or observer teams can roll the skill check for their platoon / battery using direct fire or bombardment, so they must be able to see the disguised German team(s) with LOS. 2). Minus one (-1) If over 16″. 3). Minus one (-1) if bad weather or night turn.