Monday, December 17, 2012

North Africa Battle - East of Maknassa

Played a "larger" North Africa battle last night with the sole intention of trying out more combined arms rules using GHQ.  In this instance, halftracks, infantry, and close assaults.  I diced for the scenario, which turned out to be a "meeting engagement."

The DAK, the Germans, with a force cohesion of 15, fielded 5 Panzer III J Platoons, an 1 Panzer IVF2 Platoon, along with 4 Halftracks loaded with infantry, some AAA, and an Artillery Recon vehicle.

The "Amis" had a force cohesion level of 13 (early war) along with 5 Sherman platoons, and 5 Halftrack platoons along with an FO in a jeep and an M20 Recon vehicle.  I will get right to the action, but I have some pointed comments on what the GHQ rules offer - and what they don't offer.
Both sides had a Battery of 105mm artillery on stand-by supporting the movement.  Under "normal war" this operation might be called a movement to contact, where contact is expected but unknown where it will be.

Unlike some "other" recent games, the Germans had no trouble moving out this time.

Hungry cats on the prowl.

US Armor grinding towards the enemy

The entire US Force.

US Teams break off and move out (note the artillery plot)
The Germans were task-organized logically according to their experiences in France and Poland.  Decisive Armor units working in conjunction with infantry.  An Armor Battalion and an Infantry Company for this game.  The Americans formed ad-hoc Company teams and while this strategy works for modern war, it doesn't do much in WWII when the weapons were more inaccurate.  The decision was stupid and dangerous.  More on this later.

So both units moved out.  The Germans chose to send their armor towards the large, open area on their right while sending the 222 recce vehicle towards the oasis to call in artillery fire on the Americans.

The American player had 3 company teams in all - sending one towards the oasis with the command element, and 1 up each flank.

Believe it or not, this game would have been over much faster but the US, even with a 13 cohesion, won the initiative 9 out of 10 turns!!!  Staggering!

The US Player launched the halftrack platoon that was backing up the recon team towards the woods to close-assault the Sdkfz 222 Platoon.  Remember kids, in GHQ games, dismounting a halftrack costs half of the truck's movement, and half of your troops' movement...  Not enough to get there.  Horrifyingly they dismount early in front of those 20mm cannons....
The 222 settles into the cozy oasis and immediately begins to call in artillery fire missions on the advancing americans.

Battle unfolds.  Note the ridiculously far-away half track from the German positions.  The poor, bloody infantry had to foot-slog it all the way to them.  About 3 football fields in game-terms...Miraculously, the Germans failed in their initiative roll to suppress the US platoon with opportunity fire while they moved in.  Talk about a "waste of damned fine infantry"
US player assaults the 222!!!

Close assault!!!  You get a -3 modifier in close assaulting.  The Germans failed their cohesion roll prior to the combat and did not get a preliminary attack.  They were pushed out of the woods.  The black bead indicates the platoon is "disorganized"  The Red bead indicates they are in the firing posture.  In our WWII games, an FO cannot call in fire if he moved.

From the pics, you can see the battle unfolding.  The German armor makes it precariously towards the American positions as one, combined force.  Albeit with inferior tank guns.  The Americans dont have enough firepower to win a stand up fight with them as they are too scattered.  On the American right flank, the 222 is pushed out of the woods, but not before their ride is blown the hell up from German armour.  By now, the half tracks of the German infantry platoon are closing in.  You can see in the last pic above the small front of the 251 as it races towards the oasis...

Close assault!  The Germans win the initiative on the turn when the US player REALLY didn't need them to win the initiative.

Germans deploy around the oasis.  Determined to hold it.

View before the German close assault on the oasis.

Close assault!  Even with a disorganized platoon, the US player knocked out 1 German platoon, before his platoon was KO'd.  Not bad!  Nice pic too...

Halftrack brews up.  Defense is a 3 and German attack is a 6.  They fire in the +3 column!!!

German side of the oasis.  Plenty of armor.  Everywhere.

attack!  advance!  assault!

Germans deploy an infantry company to hold the oasis.

So the Germans capture the oasis and their armor advances as a solid line on the right.  The Americans are in trouble and realize the error of their deployment too late.  1 German tank is suppressed by tank fire - but all of the rest misses.  The Americans withdraw and the battle is over with the loss of 2 US Infantry platoons, 1 US Tank platoon, and 2 US Halftrack platoons.  THe Germans end up losing only 1 infantry platoon...

2 yellow beads mean "double suppressed" and leads to "disorganized" if you take another suppression result on the combat tables.  The chit is the artillery plot from the americans.  Never materialized!!  The FO had to get the hell away from the German armor.

Germans in charge here.
A few observations from me.

 First of all, if you're playing GHQ - make sure your Recon vehicle is up to the task.  The only advantage of recon in GHQ is that they get to move on their own initiative and not be penalized for it.  Other than that - it's like having a "free" AFV that doesn't need to be under movement orders to go somewhere.  I almost always make the Recon platoon my forward observers.

Most games have rules for dealing with infantry close assaults.  You should know the rules before planning and ordering a close assault.  In this instance - the US player could have been messed up by those 20mm cannon and HMG's from the recon platoon while they were marching towards the objective.  Luckily the Germans lost the initiative and they moved into the oasis without a scratch.  You can't always count on good dice rolling.  You have to have 1 movement point left to carry out the assault.  That leaves only 3 other inches to go.  And it costs 2 inches just to dismount....

Troops need to be up to the task.  Not over what you actually need.  The US Player should have kept his armor together.  It would have made sense to cross-attach 1 tank platoon to the infantry company as support in case they got into trouble.  That being said, making the company teams up was a really, really bad idea for a WWII game.  You need lots of armor to counter the enemy's armor, and you need lots of highly mobile infantry to counter the enemy's infantry.  Combined arms doesn't always mean they fight side by side - it means they fight in concert with each other's actions in a decisive manner.

Artillery Forward Observers:
I am really disappointed in my original branch here...  Not only was the artillery practically a no-show but they never got the chance to suppress anything because the FOs were busy either driving around the battlefield, or taking objectives like the Sdkfz 222 in the oasis.  The 105mm is a great and awesome projectile and works wonders suppressing tanks and killing infantry in the open.  Imagine if the FO would have been stationary in the rear watching the battle unfold in an overwatch position.  There would have been free US 105mm shells for everyone, falling everywhere and exactly where it was needed.  It was a gunner's dream for both sides and they all missed the opportunity.

You can plan to use the artillery to interdict the enemy's movement and force him to either turn and expose a flank to you but enemy armor doesn't care as much about that so here's my advice:


Armored vehicles lose 50% of their armor value when being attacked by artillery.  And halftracks have even more restrictions.  From now on, unless it's a major and concerted effort, I'm going to nail the halftracks with artillery.  

Anyways those are my thoughts.  Look for a Volley and Bayonet Napoleonic game coming up soon and another WWII game.  After that I'll try out some Disposable Heroes rules for moderns, WWII, and the AWI.  Yes you heard correctly, the AWI ;)


  1. Nice looking game! Why do I feel North Africa tugging at my sleeve?

    1. John,
      North Africa is awesome Panzer Country! where else can you get such a wide range of vehicles to play with. Plus the terrain is super easy ;)

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. Very nice AAR, vehicles are looking great, and pictures are impressive!

    1. Thanks, Phil. I appreciate it. I thought some of the pics turned out nicely. Don't be surprised if I use the pics as a future blog cover!


  3. Thanks for a great AAR Steve, I quite enjoyed it. I don't know the GHQ rules at all. Are they your preferred rules or are there other WW2 rules that you use? Just curious.
    Pity that your arty was silent, but that tends to happen when the FOOs are arsing about the battlefield.
    Your kit is all,nicely done. I noticed the weathering on the German vehicles. Nice.
    Cheers mate,

    1. Thanks, Mike. Glad you enjoyed the report.
      GHQ has some great rules although they are intended for MicroArmour. I just add 25% to all of the move and range values and it works well for 15mm.

      GHQ are my preferred WWII 1:4 rules although I am a big fan of Pete Jones' Blitzkrieg Commander (actually it was a tough call whether to play GHQ or BKC the other night). I enjoy Spearhead and Fistful of TOWS on occasion also, but my 2 favs are definitely GHQ and BKC.

      Thanks for the kind words, Mike. I appreciate it! Tune in often,


  4. I enjoyed seeing this. The pictures are great and it is well written. I agree, the picture of the close assault in the oasis is very cool! Oh, I though you may be interested so see that Zvezda is starting a 1/100 plastic series with modern tanks now. It looks like they have some of the basics already. Merry Christams :D

    1. Ben,
      It's not nice to toy with my emotions!!!! Is this really true? If so, it will be the best Christmas Present and New Year's Tidings EVER.

      15mm cheap plastic moderns is something I've been waiting for for a very, very long time!!! :) I'm already hatching a plan to buy a ton of US infantry and USSR infantry in 15mm from Old Glory (sale on warweb - 1 bag of 50 is only 9 bucks).

      Thanks for the heads up! I'm keeping my eyes out for any openings.

      Merry CHristmas and happy new year to you and yours :)


  5. Nice AAR. Enjoyed reading your conclusions. More of the same please.

    1. Thanks, SRD. I will continue to post more AARs as I get to game. Stay tuned.