Calore River 1943 revisited

Last time WR’s Calore River crossing 1943 scenario was played the Germans eked out a narrow victory. For the Orccon 2017 convention, Daniel (WR’s son) wanted to run the same scenario since he missed the first game. Joined by FOW veteran Bruce, teamed with young Jesse, the scenario replay was hard-fought for ten turns. In the end, a new victor, American or German was determined, but the reader will have to read the AAR… or just scroll down to the final scene.

Scenario starts with the deployment of both sides (FOW meeting engagement mission basically, alternating platoon placement) and the Americans have first move. This is important for the German player to notice and plan his deployment carefully, knowing his exposed platoons will receive immediate American firepower after the American movement step is completed.

Full table with both sides deployment. Germans on left, Americans on right with first movement. Table is 6′ x 8′

A quick recap of the American and German platoons involved in the scenario before the AAR narrative. All the American platoons start on the tabletop, two of the vehicle German platoons are reserves and will arrive on turn two. Specific deployment zone bands are described in the scenario notes file. For a complete scenario background and scenario notes, click on this link: Calore River crossing 1943.  Continue reading

Calore River crossing AAR

Having written up the recent Salerno invasion “Crossing Calore River 1943” sscenario, it is time to play test the scenario with an actual Flames of War 20mm tabletop game. The scenario is based upon the efforts of 2nd Battalion, 179th RCT to advance across the shallow Calore river, march to block German access to Highway 19 near Serre, and link up with the rest of their 179th RCT taking a different route towards Ponte-Sele and Serre villages.

Scenario background and write-up article link: Crossing Calore River 1943 and scenario notes file (.doc) Calore River crossing 179th RCT scenario notes

To the scenario commentary. Start off with a quick view of the scenic scenario tabletop and suggestive platoon deployment. The scenario notes (.doc) file describes the platoon initial placement in map row assignment or specific map square, so the actual placement is freely determined by the players…. within the assigned map rows or actual map square location. Generally, the terrain is mostly open rolling ground dotted with low hedges, crop fields providing infantry concealment, a few farm buildings, and river or hill slope bushy zones. Woods are near the table edges except for one near the destroyed bridge – ford. The river is crossable for foot or vehicle, being low water flow during late summer, but does reduce vehicle movement.

For the players…. Paul, a seasoned German player, Luis a new-bee with the FOW system, backed by WR to coach him in the finer points of dice rolling. Daniel called to work at last minute.

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The Calore River crossing scenario on 8×6′ table. Both sides have deployed their starting units or platoons per scenario notes. Placement has some latitude and only suggestive in this photograph.

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Scenario map drawing with 12′ marked squares. Total table size is 8×6′. Map legend at right and scenario notes file have terrain description and effect.

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Paestum Landing – Salerno 1943 AAR

Recently at the regional HMGS-PSW convention held back on October 8-9th, WR arranged to play his new 20mm Flames of War Salerno invasion scenario “Paestum Landing – Salerno 1943” with six gamers. The American zone Paestum landing at Salerno involved four designated beach zones…. Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue. The 142nd RCT from the 36th Texan Division landed on Red and Green beaches. At Yellow and Blue sectors, the trained but untested 141st RCT, again from the 36th Division, landed against the 16th Panzer Division defending the dunes along the beach. For his Paestum scenario, WR narrowed the scope of the landing to represent only Yellow and Blue beach sectors, and the 141st RCT. WR intends to add future Salerno scenarios, several which will involve the 142nd RCT, in the foothills surrounding the Paestum landing, to the series listed at end of article.

Pregame historical material and Paestum Landing scenario design notes: Original Paestum Landing Salerno 141st RCT scenario notes. Since original play test and this AAR, WR has revised the forces , landing craft 1st wave rules, and reinforcement schedule for a Paestum Landing – Salerno 141st RCT Scenario notes revised  file.

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General view of the Paestum area. The old Greek-Roman town ruins at right with Via Magna Grecia (Highway 18). Plane models ready to deploy once daylight starts on turn five.

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The American view of the Italian coast. The Torre di Paestum, an old medieval watchtower converted into a HMG nest, formed the  linchpin of the German beach front defense.

Team America (141st RCT) played by Paul and Jordan with WR in the background. Basic pre-invasion planning: Land on the beach, use the dunes as cover to gather sufficient forces, then assault the tower and panzergrenadier defensive position, then break out to reach the distant inland objectives. Team German played by Daniel and Theron, with Paul, and Eric joining in as their adjacent game had action pauses. Germans decided to hold in place till the reinforcements arrive, hopefully the reinforcement can block the inland egress movement of the Americans before they reach the objectives. Dice gathered, charts ready… time to commence the scenario.

Quick notes on the initial German deployment. The Torre di Paestum nest contained two HMG and one sniper team. Located in the beach dunes of Blue beach was two 2cm AA guns, one a quad mount, protected by barbed wire, Two minefields covered the two open ground exit passages. Behind the beach dunes was a very strung out panzergrenadier platoon in foxholes. Behind them and some low hedges, the reduced 8cm mortar platoon entrenched. Way back in the orchard was Company headquarters with two attached 8cm mortars. Off-board artillery observers behind the old roman town wall (at table edge) and in the left beach front building. Hidden assets included the StuG III G platoon, a reduced PzGren. MG platoon, and two additional sniper teams.

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The American LCVP approach the Italian shoreline at night (3:30am). Hearing the German loudspeakers, the GI’s know the Germans are ready.

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Ordeal of 179th RCT AAR

WR’s Flames of War (FOW) 20mm scenario written AAR from the recently played “Ordeal of the 179th RCT” Strategicon Gateway convention. This scenario covers the fighting between the 179th (Tomahawks) RCT of 45th (Thunderbird) Division, and the Kampfgruppe Ulrich formed from elements of 29th Panzer Grenadier (Falcon) Division and 29th PzGrenadier Division Aufklarung (Recon) battalion, on September 11, 1943, during the early days of the Salerno invasion.

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Grand view of the “Ordeal of 179th” Salerno 1943 scenario tabletop from Persano (western) end of table (west) towards the Ponte-Sele and Serre low heights (eastern sector) in distance.

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Eastern table shows German starting control of the Ponte-Sele to Serre heights. American lead Rifle platoon in center crop field behind hedge. JU 87 does a fly by….. for now.

Ordeal of the 179th RCT scenario notes (.doc) file below has complete OOB, scenario rules, deployment, reinforcement arrival, weather, terrain notes, and victory conditions:

Ordeal of 179th RCT scenario-notes

Scenario historical background material posted on WR in previous post link:: Ordeal of 179th RCT.

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Ordeal of the 179th RCT scenario map. Shows the Persano table zone, the eastern Ponte-Sele zone, and the joining transit (yellow) zone linking movement between the two battlefields.

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FOW Valmontone 1944 revisit

A first for WR’s son Daniel. Daniel ran his first convention scenario at Strategicon-GAMEX over the Memorial Day weekend (sunday). Basic and proven Flames of War 20mm action, the Valmontone Italy 1944 scenario has been played several times between WR and Daniel. Set during the Anzio breakout battles before the entrance of the Allies into Rome, the scenario has the US. 3rd Infantry Division against the tough opponents of the Herman Goring Division.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6'x4' tabletop.

Scenario map for Valmontone Italy 1944. Each square is 1 foot for 6’x4′ tabletop.

Scenario notes and Allied or German forces has been covered in a previous WR post Valmontone 1944.  A previous Valmontone 1944 after action report can be read for a comparison of the basic scenario action. Valmontone 1944 AAR

For the convention scenario game. Daniel made two changes to the tabletop terrain and forces involved. He added one additional M4 Sherman platoon (5xM4) to the American roster and expanded the table width to 8 feet from the basic 6 foot set up. The expanded table width is common for WR’s FOW 20mm scenarios due to the increase 20mm base footprint on the tabletop (+25% adjustment for scenario width). The German entrance points along the Highway 6 were adjusted for the increased table width.

Before the narrative, a quick review of the American and German force deployment. For the Americans, the weight of the assault was placed on the right half of the table. Both M4 Sherman platoons, the M3 Stuart platoon (or M5), the armored rifle platoon in their M3 halftracks and the assault reinforced rifle platoon (in the vineyard). An observer from the M7 Priest battery (center table near back edge) joined the American Company HQ command group in the vineyard building. The remaining reinforced rifle platoon entered the central woods to hold the flank and threaten the German controlled center road junction objective.

The German deployment, completed before any American forces were placed, forced them to cover Highway 6 with interlocking fire zones. With both American objectives placed on Highway 6, one panzer grenadier platoon directly defended their placement, supported by the Pak40 75mm platoon with their anti-tank cannon and the German company HQ. On the German right the other HG panzer pioneer platoon, the NW41 Nebelwerfer rocket battery (6) and the heavy AA 88mm battery (2 cannon). Lastly, on their left, sort of by themselves, the Wespe artillery battery behind the tall hedge. Off table and placed in reserves, the StuG III assault platoon (3) and the mixed Panzer III / IV platoon (4), rolled to arrive each turn at either Highway entrance point 12″ from table edge. Unlike most American or German match-ups, both sides for this scenario are rated confident veteran.

With only six scenario turns, the American platoons must advance quickly across the Italian countryside. No time to sit back and shell the German positions to soften them up. Turn one has the American armor platoons race ahead across the tabletop followed by their armored infantry rifle platoon. The M7 Priest battery ranges in and shells the objective position on Highway 6, covering the German panzer grenadiers and their Pak40 A/T platoon under bombardment. The two American infantry platoons advance forward into the vineyard and central woods respectfully. In the shooting phase, the American tanks opened fire on the concealed Wespe platoon behind the hedge. Three of the Wespe armored 105mm vehicles quickly become burning torches but passed their morale test. Germans mostly stayed low in their prepared foxhole positions during their turn. The Pak40 75mm platoon drew quick blood, brewing up one M4 Sherman. Another Sherman quickly brewed up alongside from the distant 88mm battery zeroing in. No German reserves arrive.

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Turn one completed. American opening flank movement with massed tanks, M3 halftrack rifle platoon, and two rifle platoons enter the central woods or vineyard. M7 Priests shell the objective road junction as the American tanks brew up the German Wespe platoon..

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Pointe du Hoc 1944 AAR

First post for the 2016 New Year and cleaning up the small backlog of AAR reports from the past holiday season gaming. First up is Pointe du Hoc Normandy 1944 on this rainy day in California. WR’s background introduction on this Normandy seaborne cliff assault and historical forces scenario was covered in a previous Pointe du Hoc post. WR used the old Omaha Beach or Normandy Battles supplement Flames of War (FOW) scenario outline converted to his use of 20mm miniatures and larger infantry team basing.

The assaulting US Rangers were commanded by Daniel, his first time using these fearless-trained infantry teams. WR recently painted up his Rangers to cover the Ranger platoon FOW structure and also First Special Service Force (FSSF) platoon structure for future Italian scenarios. WR commanded the 352nd Division Germans at Pointe du Hoc, organized with a Festungskompanie structure, with several open bunker (nest) structures positioned on the forward cliff. The scenario tabletop map review again and Ranger reserve arrival (diced for) locations.

Pointe du Hoc scenario map. Each square is one foot for 5x4 foot table.

Pointe du Hoc scenario map. Each square is one foot for 6×4 foot table.

The terrain for this scenario was a bit of a challenge for WR. Creating a specialized tabletop with the cliff and moon-cratered terrain wasn’t in the cards or storage space. So WR thought about the problem and decided to simply use a stacked textured boards look on the scenario tabletop (four layers in all), similar to past scenarios when heights play an important part of a game. Once the cliff issue was covered, the shell crater effect was created using all WR’s “crater/shell hole” washer markers scattered about. WR used every shell hole marker in his collection. Barbwire, the hedgerows, and concrete fortifications came stock from the terrain file cabinet drawers. For the sea and beach, the materials are basic thin Plexiglas (blue) and textured paper sheets. With terrain on hand, the scenario tabletop can now be set up on the gaming tables.

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The scenario tabletop set up. German defenders positioned and the US Rangers approaching the cliffs. Side view of cliff, cratered shell holes, barbwire, hedgerows, and fortification in place.

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Valmontone Italy 1944 AAR

Valmontone Italy 1944 is a straight forward Flames of War (FOW) scenario taken from their Italy Battles book (or use the original .pdf from BF). Subject of WR’s previous Valmontone 1944 blog post, the scenario is an American assault to seize control of a vital Italian highway and cut off the possible retreat route for the German Cassino front divisions. Players can use the pre-generated scenario forces: US 3rd Division with attachments vs. defending components of the Herman Goring Panzer Division, or construct your own pointed forces from the Dogs & Devils, or the Fortress Italy and Road to Rome supplements with approximately 2,000 points per side.

The scenario plays to FOW form with lots of quick action and typical force reduction on both sides. This after action report (AAR) parades the two forces prior to the scenario deployment and tabletop terrain then a brief overview of the player chosen deployment. Team American was played by WR’s son Daniel. His opposite number was Dan M., a long-term friend of WR and fellow gamer in multiple wargaming periods. Both players are somewhat novices in Flames of War but Dan has lots of wargaming experience and a veteran. Like many of FOW pre-packaged scenarios the weather was the perfect sunny Italian day… just like the local weather outside the warren.

Previous pre-game blog post for Valmontone Italy 1944.

American and German platoons used in scenario. American on left, Germans on right.

American and German platoons used with FOW scenario and supplement covers. American on left at 1995 points, German on right with 1935 points.

Valmontone 1944 American roster. Breakdown of each platoon in text.

Valmontone 1944 American roster. Breakdown of each platoon in previous blog post text.

Valmontone 1944 Herman Goring (German) roster. Platoon breakdown in text.

Valmontone 1944 Herman Goring (German) roster. Platoon breakdown in previous blog post text.

With the terrain placed on the scenario 6′ by 4′ tabletop, both sides then placed their platoons, German side first, then the Americans. Prepared positions rule in effect so both sides can start the scenario in dug-in positions… foxholes and silt trenches for the battery crews. The German pioneer truck placed a 8″x 2″ minefield across the central roadway covered by the German 7.5cm PaK40 and panzer grenadier platoon position.

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Grand view of the scenario terrain and starting platoon deployment for both sides. Missing the vineyard it seems WR!

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