Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Going back to school...or was it getting schooled: JT's Campaign Series

John Tiller's Campaign Series is the one wargame I keep returning to on a regular basis. Updated for the modern era and still a good bang for the buck the Matrix version of the game covers three fronts and includes random campaign generator and all the grognardy wargame hex action you can ask for at a platoon level.

I recently reinstalled it and went on the hunt for a low complexity scenario on the early 1940 side of the western front. Playing the Germans I thought this would be a pushover but I was dearly mistaken as I lost and lost bad in my first returning scenario.

The history of this small battle reads as follows:
A fortress called "Hoornwerk"was built to protect the lock in the Grebbe river. In 1939 with the treat of  war on the doorstep, the Dutch hastily tried to improve and modernise the old line. Pillboxes and bunkers were added and a motor powered pumping station near the Rhine was being build to complete inundations. When war broke out on 10 May 1940, this station was not yet finished. Already on the second day of the war the German 207th ID reached the town of Wageningen directly in front of the Grebbeline. They found the town completely empty as the civilian population already had been evacuated by the Dutch. Commander Tiedemann of the 207th ID decided that after artillery preparation SS Rgt "Der F├╝hrer"  that was attached to the division, was to attack the Dutch outposts and after these had been defeated to take the Grebberg.

So the game starts. The forces for the Germans are lined up exactly like history would dictate and it would be up to me to push forward, cross the river line and take the Fortress. The game had only a few objective points and the fat juicy one was all the way over on other side of the map. I only had a few turns to accomplish this so I had to strike and strike hard. Fog of War was on and I had no idea what waited for me out there as I rumbled through the empty Dutch town.Click the jump after the picture to read more. Of course I opened with a artillery barrage on every spot I thought the enemy would be camped out.

After the barrage went down with unknown results I moved forward. My first contact with the Dutch was a small HMG crew hiding out in the woods. I would have to march over fences and barbed wire to bypass the obvious trap that the road represented to get to that treeline. Off I went.

The SS units moved forward and more Dutch appeared in the fruit vineyards and to the south. I would be in for a fight and my units opened up. Further to the rear I unloaded my troops and moved my trucks to the back so as to avoid having them blown up for easy points to my opponent. Dutch artillery was raining down now and the ground was becoming pockmarked with explosions. Some of my men retreated so I had to move leaders up to rally them next turn.

Moving forward my upfront German units spot the command post of Lt. Vos of the Dutch army and his units firmly entrenched in a bunker system. I coordinate my artillery to drop right on his location and maybe shake him up a little to reduce his command rating. Hunkered down in the Kruiponder Farm my artillery blasts have little effect from the great distance they are firing.

Things are starting to heat up now. To the south of the main approach along the ride the German SS units send a couple of platoons south to assault Dutch positions there and secure the left flank so that the road can be cleared. The odds are heavily in my favor and the Germans take the southern orchard.

Advanced units of the SS push forward with the road clear and run into the rear Dutch gun emplacements.

As time runs low I realize I did not push far enough ahead fast enough. My frontal attack is too thinned out as I am harassed from the side by the Dutch. Germans units push onward and soon the 300 point objective is in my sites. I have broken through to the weak Dutch rear forces and the road is open but how open? With Fog of War on I find myself tentative to sacrifice men to find out. We take Anna's House and prepare to launch ahead. Waiting another turn may cost me the speed I need though.

The Germans push forward next turn and swarm the 300 point objective and open the road the big prize: The fortress Hoornwerk. My advanced infantry can see it in their sites, much like they will no doubt see the spires of Moscow over a year later. Time is running short in the scenario and I have to hurry to get as many points as possible or I may lose

Pushing onward the Germans take more fire from the northern trenchworks and become too weak to push over the terrain. Advance units on the road however take the next objective and push to within just a kilometer or so of the Fortress Hoornwerk. However the rear elements have not caught up due to mopping up resistance and resting the wounded. Alas, as time draws to a close I lack the punch I needed to take the Fort and my efforts fail. Along the way I lost a lot of men and found myself too strung out to mount a proper offensive when the time called for one.

The last 200 objective points elude me and I need over 700 to pull even a minor win. The loss of those 200 points coupled with sloppy casualties I take dooms me to lose the scenario and lose it bad. This goes to show that even a rusty master can have a bad day and in this case I learned the hard way that the early stages of the war were not all easy like many things in history have portrayed them to be for the Germans. The stout defense by the brave Dutch kept me from attaining my goal as did my lack of a full frontal thrust. Final scenario tally below. I am not even sure how to get 700 points in this scenario but I need to try again. If I had attained the 200 that would put me at 590 which is a draw. Hard to win this one if you take as many casualties as I did. You can find out more about John Tiller's Campaign Series here: