The Germans Take Charge
The Americans: "I'll be back"
The German Diaries
The first scenario of the KGP I was an overwhelming German victory. But it started out much differently. The game was divided into two sectors. The South, mine, was the city. I had the responsibility to approach, take and secure a15 x 15 area, of mostly stone buildings. The North, Phil's area, was a vast plain, bordered at the very top by woods. To the west laid the Sanitarium, the focus of the game. Spotted occasionally by several buildings, his approach was essentially open.
The forces were divided according to task. My goals, mostly buildings and close terrain, required infantry with an armored hammer. I took two Panthers, two Pz IVs and one King Tiger. The King Tiger was unneeded, I'd meet no armor I couldn't handle, but there's no way I'd let Phil have both King Tigers; in an odd way I succeeded. I like the Pz IVs as infantry support. They have great MGs and sufficiently weak armor than you are never tempted to use it against other vehicles. Although slightly better than Shermans, I would not put one up in a fight.; certainly not with Panthers nearby. On the other hand, I took the lions share of the infantry. 4 SS, a Para pltn and the Engineers, leaving Phil with a scant 3 SS pltns, some 9 squads. We also got a heavy weapons pltn. I put half of that on reserve duty far in our rear area, an action I never heard the end of - until it almost saved the game.
Conversely, Phil had all the good tanks. 6 Panthers, 6 Pz IVs, one King Tiger and a gizzillion half-tracks of different sorts. The Flamm half-tracks are my favorite weapon but they have to be used carefully. Even so, Phil got one. I think he is way too impatient sometimes and throws armor around capriciously. At one point he declared himself immune to the destruction rules. What made me even madder is that he never lost a tank after that moment.
The general goals were easy. I would take the entire town and the farmland around it. To the very south are some hedges that make a defensible area. I would then drive north and link our forces; this would get us a good setup area for the next scenario.
Phil would drive to the sanitarium to the west, a small screening force would block off units from my area retreating north, and clear out the north woods. We conceded taking the sanitarium would next to impossible: it's pretty far away, we only had six turns and it was deep in the American set up area. While the Americans do not start there, certainly, it could be reinforced easily. At best we wanted to have at least one location in that hospital and be able to take the rest of it next scenario. The North woods would also have been easy, it should be lightly defended, having no strategic value. We only wanted the edge of the forest anyhow.
Clearly, we had much better fire power and elite troops. The only consideration was the lack of time. We had six turns to move half across the entire board, through hidden gun and tank traps, fighting Americans in stone building and a mist that limited our best weapons to within bazooka range. A fine mess we were going into.
The approach would be easy enough. While the Americans had good cover and foxholes plenty, I would make a cautious advance, using infantry to probe and the tanks would be a hex or two behind. All went well on the First Turn. A few Americans opened up but the little firepower, mist and elite troops negated everything. During DFPh, the Americans opened their most feared weapon, the 90L. He had placed it just outside of my movement limits and by the time everything stopped, he had shots on three tanks. To take the suspense out several minutes of play, he missed four shots and the infantry took it out of action. The only weapon that could hurt our steel was gone. The advance continued. We were on the outskirts of the town. A MMG opened up from the church tower but that was the extent of the DFF. Stupidly we ran a Panther way out in front to fire at the steeple. He uncovered a Sherman in the orchards concealment hex next to us and blasted the Panther's side.
Then things started going wrong. Several units opened up in DFPh. Silly, small attacks, 5 + 2, one was 8 + 1, but several of them. And my elite guys starting breaking left and right. After he was done, four of my five lead squads plus the supporting 8-1 leader were all broken. My armor was suddenly exposed. Even so, that's a substantial wall of fire he was facing nothing more than green unit and the standard six moral fighting units. I was even hoping he would do the obvious: leave his concealment in stone buildings and come after me. I was not worried.
Well, he did. PFPh finished off the last of my so called elite infantry and he charged me with bazookas. My tanks' fire was effective, breaking some, but in one case an American squad passed three NMCs and passed all three without even pinning. He charge in three different directions at my three tanks. When he did fire, it was with bazookas at two hexes. The first hit Panther 163 squarely in the side. Another fired at a Pz IV and missed. But the most important one was against my King Tiger. A side shot in the hull, a front shot in the turret; a reverse hull down situation. If he hit the turret, the shell would bounce harmlessly off the glacis. 9 TH basic, +2 AFPh, +2 mist, -2 size. A seven TH. He rolled. A colored four, a white, one. Hit. Hull hit. My heart sank. He needed a ten TK now and effortlessly rolled an eight. He had managed to kill an invincible King Tiger against all odds.
The Pz IV he had missed earlier was in no better spot. He advanced for melee but that was inconclusive. Still next turn brought little relief. The Pz IV was still two away from the King Tiger-Killing team. Start up and he would flame it during movement. Stay there and he would flame it during DFPh. My options were limited. For sure, I would attack the unit I CC'd last turn. Send up juicy infantry targets, hoping the Americans would take that bait rather than shoot at a tank. My elite units ran carelessly through the open. At least if the infantry made it to the stone buildings, they would have accomplished something. As I expected, he wanted tank meat. Foregoing all other targets, he waited and killed my Pz IV. In a matter of one turn, I had lost four tanks, one stupidly albeit, to nothing more than a force designed to delay me. Now that force was counter attacking - and winning to boot.
Ironically, as the American player drove the nail through the armor's heart, the seeds had been laid for German victory. The Americans held out of their tank, but it allowed me to get two and half squads next to him in stone buildings, something I do not think would have happened otherwise. Then something wonderful, almost miraculous, happen. He started rolling average. Even more so, I started rolling average. So now his pathetic four and six point attacks no longer killed, they were NMCs and Pin checks. And I starting passing them by rolling sevens. And his moral checks were sevens, breaking him. I was astonished, never in all the time Doyle played Americans, had any of his units broken before and now three broke in one turn. Flushed with success and downright giddy, I pressed the attack.
Actually the attack continued three more turns. Those few units I moved forward was what I needed to unseat him. Where he setup initially was a good solid line. I do not think, even with my tanks, I could punched through it. But now I outflanked him on the left (by the church, and threatened completely to surround him. As a result, he was losing the prime rout locations, freedom of movement in his interior lines and I carved out a blind area for my infantry to move quickly into the city. So instead of falling back a hex row at a time, allowing a centralized leader to rally troops, he double the size of his front, something those Americans didn't want to do. Most of their movement could also be interdicted and with a moral of six, they could not stand to take a lot of needless moral checks. Nevertheless, the fight would last three more turns with several surprises on both sides, but it was a fight I would win. He managed a critical hit with OBA and rolled a two on a squad bypassing in the open. For the most part rolls are average and the Americans were brave but the situation was lost. After Turn Six, I had taken the city and eliminated all but a crew and a leader that ran away to the west. Phil and I linked up and killed the last American.
The city had been captured in a big way. I killed almost every unit in my sector. The cost had been four tanks and three squads. In retrospect, it was those very losses than no doubt help us win. If I had not captured the city, the next scenario would have been very tough indeed and the city fight continued.
Phil's campaign in the north was vastly different than the city fight. Resistance was lighter but the clever Americans had strung out their front over the entire board. Five pockets of resistance formed the from line. Phil, while supplied with the armor fire power of 13 tanks, had only 9 squads to cover the front. Averaging that out, allowed two squads per pocket. Hardly the decisive force we were hoping for.
The goal was the sanitarium. We wanted to get control of some hexes for next game and six turns seemed awfully short. The Tank Force Phil split into two groups with the smaller force, about one third of the total, going north. The rest went west for the hospital.
Resistance was light. As expected, hidden forces, would take out a tank and several half-tracks. Some tense moments occurred with Panthers as they ran out ahead of their infantry support; infantry were in demand so much of the time the tanks operated by themselves away. Progress was made right on schedule. We just did not know what to do with that progress. Our armor was at the sanitarium by turn four but with no infantry to take the building. The Americans had been cut off by panzer units; no troops could dare cross the streets and American tanks (we'll call them Shermans; not to confuse them with real tanks) were readily dispatched by our steel. The only American units to make it in the hospital were two jeep crews, one with a HMG, the other, a MMG. The rest home was surrounded by Germans, but we had no way of taking it. The two Yankee MGs could not hurt our armor while buttoned but would slaughter any crews as they came out. Infantry support was still two turns away and Turn Six was quickly approaching. We needed to get lucky just one more time.
As German fortune would have it, we got lucky three times. Turn Six, possibly the end of the game, Phil Prep Fired one of the several tanks at the HMG team on the first floor. While protected by the stone building and a concealment marker, the shot rang true - the team broke. A second shot likewise broke the MMG. Within two rounds, the building was open. Half-track crews scrambled out of their vehicles. By the end of the turn, we had two crews in the two locations of the healing center. The third bit of luck allowed the game to run a eight turns. By this time, two intact squads, plus the two crews had secured the building. The Americans never had a chance to t rally, thanks to German vehicles surrounding the sanitarium.
When it was all over, we had taken the sanitarium in toto, cleared the Americans back seven hexes, captured the town. It was a complete victory. Now the Americans had to enter the board and come to us. They may be back, but we would be waiting.