Monday, September 20, 2021

Tactical Exercise without Troops: Tigers at Caen on the Mapboard!

 Not much time for gaming recently (although I was able to link up with Ken for a very quick game of Crossfire) but I wanted to get some of Norm's "Tigers at Minsk" on the table, although set on the western front with Americans.  

Rather than go through the bother of setting up minis, I felt this would be a good opportunity to try out TaM on the Western Front in 1944-45 with the ole' classic Squad Leader counters.  As has already been shown in previous posts here, the transition was seamless.

American company attack - the "question mark" is an out of command squad (I also realized that the troops are facing the wrong direction within the hexes - the side not a vertex - but it worked out OK)

The mission?  Seize this "lightly defended" village from the Germans.  Here you are given 2 x platoons of American troops, along with an MMG section.  Starting farther back, you only have one hour to take the village.  You will have to balance speed along with risk to meet your objective.  The objective is the large building at the top of the map.  Good luck, Captain!

With such small forces, the turns are pretty seamless and some of the more nuanced changes from Norm's West Front module dont really impact play here.  Both sides have standard command (2 hexes allowed to be in command).

1110 Hours

Both 1st and 2nd Platoons step off from the Line of Departure headed towards the objective.  One of the squads from 2nd Platoon (on the right) is out of command.

1117 Hours

Americans making slow progress through the woods.  The HMG in a stone farmhouse opens fire on 1st Platoon's left flank in opportunity fire.
German HMG marked with an OP Fire Marker from Squad Leader.
1124 Hours

Germans reinforce the front line with their reserve squad.  American OP Fire is ineffective from the 1st PLatoon.  Americans still trudging up to the front.

1132 Hours

1st Platoon's 1st Squad far left goes out of command and the US Company is having a hard time keeping its far flanks in command.  Heavy shooting from the US 1st Platoon and the HMG pins a German squad in the stone house.  The American 2nd Platoon on the right occupies a row of houses in the tree line to suppress the German defenders.  German OP fire is ineffective against them.  Lots of shooting from house/building to house/building now.  

The American Commander is eyeing his watch now...

1139 Hours

The German HMG that was pinned rallies in front of 1st Platoon in the stone house.  The Americans probably should be getting their act together to assault the houses but choose to shoot instead to continue to try and pin the defending Germans.

German HMG rallies - Americans have established their base of fire but have not been able to effectively suppress the defenders.  

1147 Hours

Doubles!  US rolls "men of action" and the Germans roll "HQ Suppressed".  The clock is ticking.  This is perhaps the impetus needed to get those GI's moving across the road and assault that village!

Good US shooting eliminates a German squad on the American right in front of 2nd Platoon but is it enough?

1151 Hours

The US 2nd Platoon is ordered forward against the lone squad on the German left.  They move forward and German OP Fire is ineffective against the 2 squads!  1st Platoon throws smoke to assault the HMG Position in the stone house.  They're out of smoke for the rest of the battle.  The GI's break from cover to assault!  Heavy German fire causes a pin against 1st Platoon in the smoke.

1201 Hours

Time is up.  The Americans at the outskirts of the village are out of time.  I end up fighting both assaults anyways, and both are repulsed!  The Germans win this one.

After Action Report

Lots of fun with this small scenario.  While not balanced in terms of forces, the Americans are starting farther back and must cross much ground just to come to grips with the Germans, who are defending a row of buildings.  Overcoming those buildings proved too difficult for the US commander.  In hindsight?  The entire company should have focused on one single section of the line to breach - probably the stone house with the HMG.  That would have enabled better use of the smoke, and would have increased the odds of a success against in close combat.  In this instance, combat broke down into smaller engagements by-platoon.  A lesson learned for next time.  I'd like to try this with armor as well to see how that goes.  

Some modest progress on teh hobby front as Davout's Corps for Eylau is almost wrapped up and I play more Crossfire.  Stay tuned!


  1. Perfect solution to time and space constraints. Fun to see the old SL game out on your table.

    1. I agree completely, Jon. In a pinch it works great and not much fuss. Yes I kept it purely for nostalgia. I never play SL anymore now that there is TaM!

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for continued support of TaM, the squad leader board is a perfect solution. Vertex facing only matters to vehicles and guns, so this scenario would not have produced a rules conflict. Your counters and board are ins superb condition for such a veteran of a boardgame - all good stuff, enjoyed, thanks.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Norm. Some of my best TaM games have been with counters. It's funny - the box is in tatters and horribly faded but the contents are still in great shape.

      I only use it (SL) for TaM games, now. I dont play Squad Leader anymore, although I played it ALOT in high school and college.

  3. Excellent drama, even without miniatures - and a great way to try Norm's rules I think.
    You have me wondering now if all those squad leader scenarios would be better suited to TaM and TaC...

    1. Darren I had often wondered that same thing myself. The more numerous units might require some tweaking with substantially more units on the table (Per Norm, units out of command only on a roll of "6" etc). The playing area would also, I think, need to be expanded due to the firepower in a small space. That said, you can play the game with all of the counters in the classic Squad Leader box with no additions. And its alot of fun!

    2. Darren, I have fought a few SL scenarios using TaM. The SL scenarios are easily converted to TaM with little modification.

  4. Great idea Steve. I need to pull my finger out and get some toys on the table.

    1. With as easy as this is using the SL counters, you have no reason not to!!!! :) you could also select any of Norm's existing scenarios and find a SL map board that somewhat resembles the scenario map. Get to it!!!

  5. That would be interesting to replay as a Crossfire scenario...

    1. Indeed it would sir! I definitely could and even with hexes!!

  6. That is such as great idea to reuse SL kit for a game. It is very cool. I have a stack of SL and ASL stuff I have not used for 20 years and was going to get rid of it shortly. I am tempted to keep it and play some games like this. I never really liked multi-board scenarios and have a few rules that work on a small number of grids/hexes. Only tempted though - do I really need another project when I can just use minis? :-)

    1. Hey Shaun! So I found the counters and size gle map board are perfect for Tigers At Minsk and while I do mostly play TaM with minis, this is a great solution in a pinch. This gave a very satisfying game with a handful of counters, a map, and the rules.

      Agree 100% it's no substitute for a mminis game, but for the lazy gamers like me it worked a charm! :)