Played / fought 11/08/2008
Hedgerow Hell, well that’s what the Americans called it and in this game played using a scenario from the excellent series of skirmish campaigns by Scott Fischer and Nathan Forney the Germans were to find out why the Americans called it that. My buddy Steve Gausche and I got together for another 20 mm World War II game. We used my set of rules: frontline and took a scenario out of the book “Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr”. The scenario we used was the last one of the book “Battlegroup Scholze” which takes place in Normandy on July 11, 1944 and approximately 1:30 in the afternoon. This was a big battle as far as the scale we play on, one man equals one man, one tank equals one tank. Probably too big since we have not been playing the rules for a while and were pretty rusty on the charts. This is a German attack, something unusual in the fighting during Normandy. The Germans were finally bringing their armored forces online and attempting to break up and push back the American gains. When I say the battle was big there are four Panthers! on the German side along with Panzer Grenadiers in 251 half tracks, mortars, artillery support, and more. The American side consisted of a bazooka team, one infantry team, 30 caliber machine gun team, a rifle team of three men, and two and M10 tank destroyers. The tank destroyers were impersonated in the game by M18s since I have yet to paint my M10s. Both sides have some reinforcements coming in. The Americans however have lots of reinforcements coming in all during the game. The German victory conditions are to force a crossing of the board and exit at least four armored vehicles off the north side. American victory conditions are simply to prevent the German victory conditions.
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So the German problem is that while they have an overwhelming force in the beginning by nature attacking through Hedgerows needs to be slow and methodical. With constantly arriving units later in the game on the American side the Germans have to make their gains early on to have any hope of winning. German firepower is much greater than that of the allies when it is concentrated for the most part but finding the enemy and concentrating that firepower without being knocked out first is very difficult in the Hedgerow country. The German troops being from the “Panzer Lehr” division were very well trained, with many battle hardened veterans, and high Morale. I played the American commander, my troops were basically green with little or no combat experience. I did however have a tremendous advantage, using a map I got to place my units in hidden positions. Sighting rules in frontline make it very difficult to spot hidden units in this type of terrain. The Americans also had 2/3s of the board to pre deploy in.
Steve is a very good German commander, but with both of us being rusty and the threat of a phone call at any moment from his lovely wife he was a bit off his game… LOL! I set up my defense in somewhat of an V. facing him with the point of my V. being slightly behind crossroads. I went heavy on the right flank with a bazooka and rifle team covering that side and one of the M10s covering the side road too. The other M10 stayed on the main road just round the bend of the crossroads. The crossroads were to be my killing ground if he should foolishly come up the road. I didn’t think he would since it would be obvious to defend that, but by defending and denying him that I thought I could possibly force him to slow his attack going through Hedgerow’s until my reinforcements came. Once he identified my units and could bring his firepower to bear I knew I would be toast. On my left flank I placed the 30 caliber machine gun in the Hedgerow where it could swing to cover two open fields. A little farther forward in one of those fields I placed my three-man rifle team. This was a trap. Knowing it would be near impossible for him to see those three riflemen in the Hedgerow until they fired I figured they would get one shot off and then run back through the field to the next Hedgerow. I hoped that the Germans would follow them, thus leading them into one of the fields covered by the 30 caliber machine gun. My plan was to hit, run, and give up ground for time.
Well luck played into my hands! Knowing he was up against a time limit Steve came straight up the road with only a few of his Panzer grenadier units swinging off through the orchard on his left my right, the side and put most of my defenses on! After a few moves his leading panther came under fire by my bazooka team. My usual “Major Roller” dice rolls were not that good, my first opportunity shot missed, my second bazooka shot succeeded in only tracking the panther. Damn these green troops! His Panzer grenadier’s and the panther spotted the bazooka team and brought them under fire. I believe I lost one man on the team before getting off a third shot, and to pass a morale test to stay and fire this shot, the third shot succeeded in forcing the abandonment of the tank. The bazooka team came under heavy fire losing two men with the third being pinned down.
This seemed to throw the German attack into a little bit of chaos but once sorted out the attack kept coming up the route with the Panzer grenadier’s still advancing on my right flank. Steve kept failing his spotting rolls and his Panzer grenadier’s advanced into my rifle squad hidden in the Hedgerow. This time of the war the firepower of an American M1 equipped squad at close range is devastating. His Panzer grenadier’s recievd two casualties, heavy suppression, failed their morale roll, and went to ground. My riflemen hung around for one more fire phase and then backed out. Meanwhile on the road one of his Panzer’s advanced past the disabled panther to the crossroads. Two other Panthers now attempted to move through the bocage on the right flank. One panther made it through but the second one got hung up and was stalled there for several impulses. The moving panther continued through the field hooking up with some grenadier’s. However they turned back to support the attack on the center not realizing that to the right was the 30 caliber machine gun that opened up behind them.The panther that advanced to the crossroads now revealed the first M10 at near point-blank range! Opportunity fire resulted in misses by both sides. But the first fire phase after that brought two hits one from the M10 one from the Panther. The M10 shot bounced, while the Panther destroyed the M10. I revealed the second M10 on the side road by firing at the Panther. My die rolling was enough to score a hit but my damage dice were not too good. It took three shots to brew up the panther with the panther getting one shot back at me for a miss.
At this point in the game, about four turns, or 16 impulses, my reinforcements started to arrive on the board. This consisted of a squad and a half of armored infantry, one M3 half track, two M8 greyhounds, and four Sherman’s. At this point the German commander had two operational Panthers and pretty much all his grenadier’s and his artillery support still intact. It was still a considerable force and give them time could deal with my force. However his victory conditions were to get off the board and link up with other German units advancing. We both realized would not be able to do that in the time allotted and he would also have to do it without losing another Panther. Game was called with a American victory.
The American win was due solely to the Germans playing right into their hands. If I had set up differently, or his attack was made differently it would’ve been a very different game, but as it was he attacked just how I want him to but never imagined he would. My defense worked even better than expected and bought me the time needed to achieve my victory conditions. All in all it was a lot of fun and great to see the Germans having to attack through the Hedgerow for a change!