Friday, March 16, 2012

GHQ's WWII MicroArmour - The Game

Tonight I played my old, favorite MicroArmor rules but with my 15mm figures and vehicles.  Dave F and I had been talking at length about GHQ's excellent WWII Rules set and I thought it was about time I played a game with them since it has been so long.

Tonight's scenario pitted an American company with mortars and a weapons platoon defending a small bridge and road junction against 2 German Companies with a Tiger I platoon in support.  Both sides had reinforcements scheduled to arrive.  The Americans on turn 5 and the Germans on turn 7.  The Americans were to receive a Sherman platoon and an additional company plus heavy weapons and the Germans were to receive a Stug III platoon and a Mk IV platoon along with the Battalion HQs, Mortar platoon, and some more infantry.  Add it all together and throw in a self-propelled battery of 105mm tubes on both sides and you've got yourself quite a battle.
American Company dug in at the tree-line defending the bridge

View towards the Road junction from the bridge

Here comes Gerry!
The attack started off slowly.  Infantry only moves 3" (i never changed the distance to accomodate the larger base sizes...) so it took the landsers a hell of a long time to get into the fight.  Not to mention the awful-accurate American artillery began to fall on them as they advanced causing devastating casualties.

The southern prong of the attack grinds forward.  Eventually I learned about the "tank rider" rule and the Tiger platoon transported an infantry platoon to get them to the fight faster!

The American company Battle Position.  CP & Mortars

Right off the bat on turn 2, two German platoons are KO from 105mm strike in the open.  We Americans sure love Artillery and we know how to use it!!!

Fritz has some arty of his own and a 105mm mission (platoon  2, HE PD in effect!) double suppresses my weapons section and I gotta move that .30 back!

The Germans want to move 1 Kampfgruppe parallel to the river and another up from the road.  Unfortunately the movement was so slow that the southern most arm never got into action until the second last turn of the game.  One platoon hopped onto the Tigers backs and off they went.  I picked the coolest painted platoon to go into action first...

The American artillery was very responsive the entire game.  The German FO was a loser and kept failing his cohesion roll and the Battery never even fired much after turn 4.  By turn 5 the American reinforcements arrived but had some trouble of their the form of a Panzer VIA Tiger I and it's 88mm main gun.  The Sherman platoon took up a position by the bridge and was knocked out almost immediately.

The US infantry reinforcements crept along the edge of the map and attempted a battalion river crossing under fire.  Needless to say I learned the wrong way to cross a river this evening.  3 American platoons were KO'd as they reached the bank or were hammered with artillery fire while they were stacked up waiting to cross.  The US reinforcement objective was the manor house and orchard that would dominate the road and provide a blocking position against the Germans.  Too bad the Germans got there first.

Company thinned out by the American artillery

Hopping on the Tiger platoon for a lift.

Riding in style!  The Green bead indicates movement posture

American reinforcements arrive and not a moment too soon 

Germans advancing

Sherman position shortly before it brews up.

Tiger on the prowl - advancing towards the bridge.

Germans reach the manor house and orchard first

sweet fences....

German Battalion CP and mortars

business end of the Panzer IV engaging the Sherman


American artillery impacts the tree-line keeping these guys out of the fight!

Putting those .30 cals to work

The Peter Pig Platoon.  All of these jokers hail from the illustrious Peter Pig

After a nasty close combat round, the Manor House and orchard falls to the Germans.  Good thing too because the Battalion river crossing wasn't going so well.  The Germans were forced to break off the attack and never actually reached the far side of the shore.  So for all of their tactical successes - they never did capture the objective today.  There were several reasons for this.


Synchronized Artillery with the Scheme of Maneuver:  German artillery was more focused on causing casualties than supporting the advance.  I don't want to spoil the ending but the only platoon that managed to cross the river intact was shot up so badly it disintegrated because it had no smoke and the far side observers were not suppressed.  Stopping the river crossing was great, but shouldn't someone have made sure the Artillery was focusing on the objective???

Supported River Crossings:  When you cross a river you need everything you've got working together to keep the bad guys' heads down and get the good guys across.  Tonight's action didn't go off so well becuase the infantry crossed without any concealing smoke and with a full treeline of Americans shooting at them.

Economy of Force:  Why on Earth was the Tiger platoon on the Southern prong of the advance?  It took them almost half of the game to get into action.  Besides the nice taxi ride they gave an infantry unit, they were sorely needed.  While they made up for it showering the river crossing Americans with shells, they could have been used to cover the advance.

Do your Staffwork Well:  With an advance of only 3 to 4 inches per turn and a game of 12 turns, the bulk of my infantry would literally arrive on the objective on the end of turn 10 giving them only 2 turns to engage and defeat the enemy.  That being said, it's not even a guaruntee they'll pass their cohesion roll to even engage.  They should have started farther up and closer to the objective earlier on.

Always buy artillery!!!! - preferably an entire battalion of it!  In GHQ, the Artillery is terrific and you don't need much more than 105mm to knock out infantry in the open.  even the deviation distances aren't too bad (nothing like those scatter dice with GW)  If you time it right and you are sharp with how you place your observers, you can get the enemy as he advances towards you and really shake things up as with the Germans this evening.  The Americans totally broke up the German advance on the northern prong.  They needed reinforcements to bring the attack home because of the US Artillery attacks.

Artillery as Counter Maneuver:  I used the Artillery to blanket the tree-lines that Gerry was going to need to step off his attack.  Perfect support by fire positions that were denied to him simply becuase there were 50 lb shells falling there all turn!  Brilliant!

It's easier to kill something if it's already suppressed.  You can do this with a combination of attacks and weapons.

Remember your mortars can lay smoke too!  Lots of guys forget this simple fact.

All in all, it was a terrific game that brought back alot of fond and not-so-fond memories!  I really love this game for its simplicity and elegance.  It's not as simple as spearhead and not as complicated as some other systems out there.  It was also nice NOT to have to throw buckets of dice tonight a la Blitzkrieg Commander.  I am going to play around with unit movement rates and weapons ranges to accommodate larger bases but I think we have a winner here!  Huzzah!

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