FOW Barbarossa 1941 Mega game

Back on the 29th of July, WR and Daniel drove over to the scheduled Flames of War Ver3.0 Mega Game 1941 Barbarossa scenario hosted by Bruce and company at Games Empire Pasadena. Being “centralized planned minion Soviet players” to the larger actions surrounding both Daniel and WR at the event, we both charged forward as ordered into the teeth of the German defenses.

Scenario Basics: Per WR’s understanding of the scenario, we the Soviet side are attacking the overly extended German panzer (panzer grenadiers) lines. Once the Soviet assault begins, the German reserves arrive at predetermined locations to repel the Soviet onslaught. Both the German and Soviet teams had one player in charge to design (purchase) their several company sized commands, their local reserves, and the backup of divisional support (artillery and rockets). Their FOW Ver3.0 group rules have counter-battery abilities, “across the Volga” off-board artillery, and several AOP and spotting observers placed within both teams lines (see below). If a complete OOB for both the Soviets and Germans is located, WR will amend this article posting. Additional Russia 1941 scenario infomation from Bruce’s hand can be read here: Mega Battle Starya 1941 Russia notes

WR sits in the middle (cream shirt) as Bruce (black T) looks over Daniels deployments right of WR. Closer view of the “C” shaped table design.

A more panoramic view of all six 6 x 4′ tables. Robert, Beau, and Lance (l to r) stand on the German table side. Daniel taking the photos today.

Basic outline for FOW 1941 Russia Mega Battle scenario map as drawn by Bruce (GM). Soviets have the interior table edge and deployment zones. the Germans are on the outside perimeter.

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Battle of Singling 1944 (AAR)

WR staged a pre-Fourth of July Flames of War 20mm scenario event at his local warren last weekend. Set in the cold winter month of December 1944, near the Franco-German border and the old Maginot line, the scenario Battle of Singling Dec 1944 pits the advancing American 4th Armored Division under Lt. Colonel Abrams against the recently arrived kampfgruppe of the German 11th Panzer Division. Based upon an old WWPD (“What Would Patton Do” site) scenario called “Abram’s Folly”, WR enlarged the scenario forces and tabletop area to allow six to eight players the fun of gaming.

The original scenario from WWPD (What Would Patton Do) blog site was titled “Abrams Folly” and can be read complete with this .pdf file: Abram’s FollyThe Singling 1944 (Expanded) Scenario Forces (.doc) roster outlines the original forces and the WR expanded additional units highlighted in yellow. The enlarged scenario map drawn in typical WR style displays the 8×6 foot table and terrain layout and is followed by a recent Goggle satellite overhead photo and contour relief map.

“SINGLING, LORRAINE, DECEMBER 6, 1944: Lt Colonel Creighton Abrams directed Task Force Abrams, consisting of units of the 37th Tank Battalion and 51st Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division. On the 6th December a battered tank company and understrength infantry company came up against superior German forces in the small farming community of Singling. The assembly and staging area of the 37th Tank Battalion that morning was muddy from all of the recent rain. The halftracks were having difficulty maneuvering and the infantry were ordered to ride on the rear deck of the tanks for the attack on Bining. When Company B/37th was ordered to divert to Singling the infantry went with them unaware of the change of plans. The attack was hasty and unplanned. Intended to remove flanking fire from Task Force Abrams’ drive towards the German border, the attack was nearly a disaster for the Americans.”

Basic map for the Singling Dec 1944 scenario. Improved WR map with proper labeling will be posted in near future. North is left side of map.

Terrain notes: All open ground is a muddy condition. Fully tracked tanks have no movement reduction but all other vehicle restricted to 8″ maximum movement unless on roadway (paved or packed dirt). Woods are 6″ visibility while orchards are 8″ visibility. Long stream with bushes marked on stream bank considered concealment for infantry teams only. Hedges and low stone walls block LOS for infantry teams unless adjacent, all vehicles gain concealment if fired across. All streams, low stone walls, and hedges cause bogging vehicle checks if crossed. Low hill rise, buildings, orchards and woods equal in height for LOS determination. Church tall steeple observation point sees all terrain after 8″ dead zone from blocking terrain feature. Bunkers are noted as “nests” in original WWPD scenario write-up and played as such for this AAR, but looking at the actual modern-day photos, should be true concrete bunkers. German deployment zones (A-D) at scenario start are outlined by yellow boxes. American initial platoon forces and all reserve platoons arrive at respective red table edge marking. Overhead the sky is overcast with low clouds so no airpower present during scenario. Americans have first movement in scenario.

Google satellite map of the area around singling France.

Google map terrain contour relief showing the ground elevations matched to satellite map above..

The After Action Report (AAR): Last weekend WR invited a group of Flames of War (FOW) gamers to his warren for pizza, snacks, drink and miniature gaming. Team U.S. formed up with Bruce, Andy, and Daniel. Team German had Gary, Lance, Paul, and WR pushing the miniatures. The scenario scene opens with low cloudy sky, the town of Singling centered on the table, just as the American arrive at the table edge. Ahead the entrenched Germans are ready for the approaching Americans who have twelve turns to capture / control all the Singling buildings (six in number) alongside the paved roadway.

Tabletop terrain layout from the east (German) view. The old church is the foremost building. Before scenario start WR noted a missing hedge and building, quickly emplaced.

Side or southern view of Singling town. Clearly the bunkers can be seen. The bunkers (r to l) matched to the attached photos are #1 (upper right), #2 (in town), #3 and #4 lower left. Number 5 bunker off photo to south near lower left road.

The American view approaching Singling from the west. Tabletop ground is muddy causing reduced vehicle movement except for proper tracked standard tanks. Bunker #3 and #4 seen.

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Troina 1943 FOW AAR

Last Memorial Day weekend Daniel and WR staged their Battle of Troina Flames of War (FOW) 20mm scenario at the Los Angeles regional GAMEX convention. With two player teams of three players each, the scenario opens with the Germans assaulting the Monte Basilio ridge held by a U.S. 26th Regiment battalion. Later in the scenario, about midpoint, the American 39th Regiment arrives to assault the German held flank south of the dry Troina riverbed. So, on the same FOW table, each side has attack and each has defend missions to content with.

Historical background material for Troina 1943 previously posted to WR link: Troina 1943

Complete Troina 1943 scenario notes (.doc) file: Troina 1943 Scenario notes

The full Troina table display. German assault left foreground and their defensive zone upper left. Americans defend Monte Basilio right foreground and attack later from upper right entrance.

Opening Set up: German assaulting command is placed, using alternating platoon placement method, in conjunction with the American Monte Basilio defenders. The German team players kept all the Italian platoons off-board at start, thus only placed the three panzergrenadier platoons (two on left, one on right), their MG platoon, the 5cm Pak38 A/T cannon, and Senior HQ team, along the opposite hill ridge. The Troina dry riverbed separated the two forces. For the American team, they elected to retain some support platoons off-board and avoid the German preliminary bombardment effects. Starting on the scenario tabletop was, front to rear, a rifle platoon manning the downslope front positions, then their A&P platoon in line near the central building. Between them they placed the A/T 57mm platoon, not realizing the “No HE” rule was in effect. Finally another rifle platoon was positioned around the hilltop woods. Held in reserve was one rifle platoon, a weapons platoon, and the machine gun platoon. German objectives, one placed by team America, dot the Monte Basilio position. One in lower corner of the hillside, the other placed high on the hill near the woods. Overhead the off-board “on call” 155mm Long Tom battery has their AOP L-4 Grasshopper plane buzzing overhead.

Americans atop Monte Basilio ridge across the dry Troina river bed. The hillside has been bombarded in recent days. German will assault from near foreground positions, Italians off-board.

The German southern Troina river position is placed on the tabletop. As seen in the photo below, the StuG III F/8 are placed in their special “StuG” pits covering the open ground. One panzergrenadier platoon on the hill at left and their second platoon stung from the StuG III position back towards the nebelwerfer RL battery concealed in the woods. Minefield and three barbwire sections emplaced in steep hill woods or flat open terrain. Both American objectives (one placed by the German players) on the tabletop, one near the front lines or “StuG” pits, the other behind the left rear hill. The Ponte di Failla bridge is the fifth objective (marker underneath). Off board is the German 10.5cm field battery with entire tabletop observers. Later in the scenario, the other half of the American forces (39th Regiment) will appear in front of the southern Troina river German defensive position.

German defensive positions on south bank of Troina riverbed. StuG III F/8 assault guns in their modified tank pits while nebelwerfer battery, a bit dense in placement, lines the near woods.

American 26th battalion sits in their foxholes before the preliminary bombardment and German first movements. Front line rifle platoon, then 57mm A/T, then A&P platoon. then another rifle platoon in woods at left.

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Battle of Troina – Sicily 1943

After General Patton’s “end run” across the Island of Sicily, taking the western half and the old city of Palermo on the run, his II Corps headed eastward entering the mountainous northern half of the island. Quickly the pace of advance was reduced to a slow ridge line, or river line, or old hilltop town clearing process. Skillful German rearguard actions, holding the key terrain features, maximized German-Italian efforts to delay both the American and British advancing armies as preparations continued for the cross strait Messina final evacuation to mainland Italy.

The Battle for Troina was a week-long bitter struggle to seize control of the old Sicilian hilltop town and nearby “mountain” terrain. Being somewhat central on the endgame Allied frontal map lines of Sicily, with the Americans battling along the northern coastal road at San Fratello, and the British around the flanks of volcanic Mt. Enta to the southeast, the town of Troina was seen by both sides as a linchpin or hinge to stall or finish the Sicilian island campaign.

Linchpin or hinge on the military maps, the American 1st “Big Red” Division wanted the town and access to the eastern narrow highway SS120 beyond towards Cesaro and eventually Messina itself. The German 15th Panzergrenadier Division, their hilltop town and nearby low mountains having a view of the American advance, planned the defense with deadly precision. The Americans didn’t disappoint them, their August 1st first probing frontal attack was quickly rebuffed when launched by the 39th Regiment (transferred in from US 9th Division to support the 1st Division).

II Corps advance prior to the Battle of Troina. Map from the US Army history WWII MTO.

Troina as viewed from the American general approach during WWII. Lots of open hilly ground overlooked by the German defenders. (US Army photo)

The American viewpoint towards Troina and the 39th Regiment (attached 1st Div.) tried a direct August 1st assault up that slope. Compare modern-day Troina view with previous historical photo.

Historical WWII picture of Troina looking westwards. Another axis of American attack (16th Regt.) approached from that direction with little success before German retreat.

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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.

calore-river-crossing-scenario-map

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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Crossing Calore River 1943

The Salerno – Calore River crossing 1943 Flames of War 20mm scenario is based upon the efforts of 2nd Battalion, 179th RCT to advance across the Calore river, 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. To this current day, the open fields around the battlefield are pretty much untouched except for the local farming. The road network, maybe gravel back in 1943 but paved now, is basically unchanged. The bridge has been replaced since the battle, the original one destroyed by the retiring German panzergrenadiers prior to the American arrival.

calore-river-bridge-at-base-hill424

Google view: Current day Calore bridge crossing. Note the underbrush near the river across bridge. Hill 424 is short distance behind the camera. Modern day building at left.

calore-battlefiled-towards-hill424

Google view looking south: Center of battlefield with Hill 424 in distance overlooking  entire area with German artillery spotters. As seen, ground is flat with slight elevations and raised roadway.

calore-battlefield-near-modern-development-crossroad-looking-south-towards-hill424

Google view looking south from near the modern developments and cross-road junction. Basically farmland. the roadway looks the same except repaved since then. SP88 is the Italian route #.

After splashing ashore during the dark early hours of September 9th, the American beachhead steadily enlarged on the 10th and early morning hours of the 11th, beating back several local German counterattacks during the first days on mainland Italian soil. During the early morning darkness of September 11th, the American RCT’s (142nd, 157th, and 179th) advanced into the local Italian foothills and Sele-Calore river corridor inland from the invasion beaches, hoping to control Highway 19 near Ponte-Sele and Serre, plus occupy the valuable observation hilltop called Hill 424 and nearby Altavilla village. Unfortunately, the early arrival of the 29th Panzergrenadier Division, joining the defending 16th Panzer Division, soon stopped the American general advance cold, then changed the battlefields to desperate defenses, as successive German Kampfgruppe attacks impacted each of the three RCT commands that and following days.

Fifth Army Landing Beaches Salerno 9-13 Sept

Salerno beachhead enlargement from landing September 9th to September 13th, The RCTs are marked for their Sept 13th position… the 179th was pulled and sent west of 157th for example.

Concurrent at the same time of this Calore river crossing scenario, the three other significant events occurring on the American Salerno invasion battlefield: 1) The early stages of the battle for Altavilla town and Hill 424, 2) The efforts of the 179th RCT (1st and 3rd battalions) to secure the Sele-Calore corridor region and occupy Ponte Sele and Serre across Highway 19, and 3) The initial assault on the Tobacco factory by the 157th RCT, trying to take pressure off the beleaguered 179th RCT.

Left Flank Sept 11 179th & 157 RCT

Crossing the Calore river scenario lower right quarter of map. Map covers all the engagements fought by 142nd, 157th, and 179th RCT on September 11th and German movement / attacks.

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