|The first battle briefing|
A day at the manoeuvres
|A tidy little force|
Anyway, I checked what was available for requisition and quickly realised I wanted 2 things above all: scouts and armour support. So the Recon Infantry were a no-brainer, and the Sdkfz 250/10 was an easy choice, combining as it does recon and command (if it survived its recon mission, naturally enough). The Sdkfz 251/1 (sMG) HMG halftrack was cheap mobile fire support and the 7.5 cm le.IG 18 gave me a proper 'big gun'.
|Unfolding like clockwork|
My position hinged on my infantry gun holed up in the farmhouse: the beast wasn't going to be moving so this was the best place to deploy it- with cover and a good field of fire. I just had to hope that the Russians couldn't swarm it with human waves- the crew would be dead meat if a squad stormed their building. My plan hinged on my scouts who led the way into enemy territory, staking out positions which were then established and consolidated by the squads following up. My manoeuvres unfolded in 4 discrete phases:
- The scout car dashes forward hoping to draw- and survive, fire from the AT gun so as to locate its position; this seems to work.
- The scouts lead the way in bounds to the lee of the hill, out of LOS of the expected Russian AT gun.
- 2 squads and an MG team follow.
- Von Lintock, a squad and an MG team head for cover across the southern hill.
- Von Lintock's section work their way across the open field into a field of crops, there to provide crossfire opportunities in support of Phase 3.
- The scouts lead the way into the houses by the bridge, the jumping-off point for my attack on the bridge.
- The scouts take the bridge while von Lintock's section move to a covering position.
Continuing the attack
|Look at all that armour!|
What went down
Once again my manoeuvres unfolded in 4 phases:
|Not all smooth sailing this time|
- The scout car makes a high-speed run around the southern farmhouses to discover that they're empty; it gets back over the hill but is KOd by a direct hit from the inevitable Russian mortar fire.
- The scouts creep towards cover on the edge of the stream.
- A squad and MG team move to cover the scouts.
- Von Lintock and his section move to secure the farm buildings- the only decent cover in advance of their start line.
- The armour moves up behind the crest of the hill ready for rapid deployment.
- The scouts occupy the objective.
- The armour comes over the hill and down into cover behind the buildings.
|In for the finish|
- The tank duel: the StuG drives forward to attack a BT7, kills it, but is immobilised- still, it'd done its job.
- The scouts work their way into a new forward position near the bridge objective.
- The covering section rejoins the platoon.
- The HMG carrier moves forward into cover.
- The scouts grab the objective.
- Squads move forward to cover.
- The HMG carrier moves forward to cover.
Smooth victories aside, I was finding the game really rewarding at this point. I've rarely if ever used scouts in single games- you can get away with it because you're not worried about casualties. You can't be so blase about your pixelated subordinates in operations and campaigns because casulties reduce your long-term resources through refits and replacements. Proper use of scouts to reveal enemy positions and to lead a carefully phased advance turned out to be the solution to this problem in a way which just shows how well Close Combat's core engine encourages and rewards realistic tactics in a way all-too-rarely seen in comparable tactical board wargames. In fact tactical board wargames are often literally lamentable in this respect; that is to say, wargamers lament over how even the best of their cardboard tacsims so often encourage unrealistic tactics!
Setbacks, disarray and demoralisation
|Three tanks this time-|
how can I fail?
I either fled or got out with a truce, I can't remember now.
Day 4 also passed in a blur because I seem to recall that was the day I had to rest most of my infantry platoon. What I did with half a platoon on map #2 I can no more remember than my actual fate on day 3, but it was certainly no more heroic.
|The failed forward ambush|
I almost gave up but I decided to have one last go- I wasn't going to let that pesky machine get the better of me!
One last chance
|The final platoon|
|"Yes, yes, yes...!"|
Whew, what a thriller! I really thought I'd had it for a while. And Close Combat's campaign system has revived my interest in the game. At its core it's still a solid implementation of my favourite subject at my favourite scale and level. It was the prospect of managing force depletion in the campaign system which drove me to develop recon tactics (which can easily be ignored in one-off battles), which paid off at both battle and operational levels and- most importantly, in the fun factor.
I'll definitely be back for more, this time braving the infamous Russian winter on the 'Roads to Moscow'. ;)
|A daunting prospect|
Analogue gamer finally grokks digital?
- #1. In which I neither got nor 'get' computer games
- #2. In which, getting neither rules nor manual, I am confounded