Tuesday 16 June 2020

Let's see some more action

I said that the delivery of my rubber railway track inspired me to set up a 'Square Bashing Game', but it was also because I have been reading C.S. Forrester's 'The General', as recommended by David form Suffolk on his blog. As with his other recommendation, 'Private Angelo' by Eric Linklater, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have no hesitation in adding my praise to his. Towards the end of the book the unimaginative eponymous Lieutenant-General is astonished as his Corps is very quickly overrun when the dastardly Hun comes up with some new tactics. Crucial to these tactics were the Stoßtruppen (I'm going to call them that, not for the usual pretentious reasons which often find me using untranslated foreign languages, - vous savez parfaitement de quoi je parle  - but in order to distinguish them from the Nazi thugs of a later generation) whom I mentioned the other day. So, there are two things in particular that we know about these units: they were specialised assault troops and were equipped and armed to facilitate that role; and whenever they came up against a well-defended strongpoint rather than attack it themselves they by-passed it and left it for the ordinary troops following behind to deal with. You don't need me to point out that there is a bit of a contradiction there. The rules writers at Peter Pig have opted to follow the first line of approach, presumably on the basis that if you had a special type of unit whose main objective is to rush across the board and leave by the opposite baseline then no one would choose them and even if they did then it wouldn't make for a very good game. All of which is a long-winded way of justifying my decision to charge the German's two Stoßtruppen battalions straight at a defended town.

That all happened on the special opening phase, so now we are on to the first German turn proper. This opens with the asset phase. When we played 'Square Bashing' a few times a year or so ago I came up with a number of brilliant alternatives which greatly improve this aspect of the game. Unfortunately I didn't write them down and, with one minor exception, I can't remember them, so I shall be using the rules as written. The board above shows the assets available to either side. I decide to call in a suppression barrage with the aim of pinning the units in the town while the main German attacking force comes up. I committed eight of the available twelve dice to this and succeeded. 

Or, to be more precise, succeeded up to a point. The barrage came in and missed everything, a combination of overs and unders ensuring that no British units were hit. Still, those in the town can't now withdraw in their turn, which both suits the Germans and, by removing one decision, makes it easier to play solo. (By the way, there will be no overhead photos for the time being as I am doing some decorating and the stepladder is required elsewhere.) Next comes the higher command phase. This is also one that seems ripe for a tweak or two, but for this game I'm playing it straight. During their respective turns the Germans will be able to attempt to improve the fighting spirit of selected units and the British may do the same to the morale of theirs. On this occasion the Germans try to affect the less weakened of the units attacking the town, but fail. After this is the German morale phase in which the unit half way up on the left of the above photo, badly beaten in a failed assault in the opening special phase, turned tail and ran away, although it didn't rout. 

Moves and assaults are next. The whole line moved up meaning that those remaining in contact with the town were now supported. I decided that they would assault again, because even though they would do so at adverse odds and probably lose (they did), it probably wouldn't suffer more casualties than they would be letting themselves be shot at (which they didn't). On top of which there was always the remote chance that they could have forced the British back into the barrage thereby inflicting heavier casualties.

In 'Square Bashing' you shoot in the opponent's turn if you haven't been assaulted. The unit above found itself in the open and targeted by two mortars and a field gun. However, the dice have swung back against the British and nothing happened. The rather odd looking deployment along the British line was caused by some dreadful dice rolling during the depletion phase of the set up. If I was the Germans - which of course I am - I would be intending to put some gas down to stop the off-table reserves moving forwards and reinforcing the line at this particular point.

Lastly, the Germans brought on their only off table unit to add to the attack along the road in case the gas ploy doesn't work.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting game, thanks for the report; it does seem to model the confusion and disruption that seemed to affect both sides in these battles. My grandfather was apparently in the way of the stormtroopers on March 21st 1918 ( York and Lancs regt ) and ended up wounded and a P.O.W. Glad you enjoyed the books!