Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Friday, 27 June 2014

Panther, Panther, burning bright

Thursday night's club meeting was slightly unusual in that we had a guest appearance from a 'big man' in the wargaming world, Richard Clarke from the Too Fat Lardies (TFL) rules stable. Richard had kindly agreed to come up and run a few of us through the TFL Chain of Command rules, which have already proved a big hit at the club. In fact, in addition to the CoC game Rich was running, set in Normandy, the table opposite had the British and Italians facing off in a CoC desert war scenario, and further down the hall was a Dux Britannarium Raiders scenario (another TFL rule set, forming part of an ongoing club campaign).

Richard explained he wanted to run a larger than normal CoC scenario, with the Brits fielding two full infantry platoons and a Sherman troop against a mixed force of Germans defending a town crossroads against an Allied advance. With three of us playing per side, it looked like being a lively evening.

The Allies were uncharacteristically sensible and decided to mass their four Shermans rather than splitting them up in support of the two infantry platoons. The Shermans would carefully push up the road towards the town while the two infantry platoons moved up the flanks to find the German defenders. 

The opening phase turn was fairly quiet, but the British had a knack of throwing double sixes for their command dice, thereby gaining immediate extra activations, and allowing them to get most of their forces on quickly. The Germans began their turn, and brought on what should have been their ace in the hole, a Panther tank. This caused some consternation from the Allies and the Panther raced up the road onto the bridge just outside the town, while the German infantry and MG teams deployed into their defensive positions. 

The Germans prepare 
 A plucky (or perhaps foolhardy) British Sherman gunner decided to have a pop at the Panther as it sat exposed side on on the bridge, hit it, but failed to penetrate even the big cat's side armour. There was a general feeling of resignation on the Allied side that our tanks were going to start brewing up rapidly. Meanwhile the British infantry moved up the flanks towards the objective, with some fire and grenades being exchanged in an orchard on the right.   

British infantry advancing to contact

The Germans then made a fateful decision; rather than move their Panther off the bridge (remember it is side on to the Shermans), it returned fire at the impudent Sherman which had dinged a round off it, and...missed! Much relief on the Allied side. The infantry continued to move, while the other Shermans lobbed HE rounds into the Germans defensive points. And then the unthinkable happened - the impudent Sherman gunner had another pop at the Panther, hit it, and then destroyed it. Immediate Military Medal for that man. There was a stunned silence followed by general incredulity all round - even Rich appeared a little surprised by this turn of events. And it got worse for the Germans, the burning Panther was now blocking the only clear access into the town, and their following armour (a Stug and a Lynx recce car) were forced to go the long way round and played no part in the ensuing fight.

Bang! And the Panther is gone.  
And in case you missed it the first time....
After this, the game was really only heading in one direction. The British, emboldened by the removal of the main armoured threat,  started  to close up on the main objective in the town, but began to take infantry casualties on the left with some fairly bloody house to house fighting - this platoon suffered about 50% casualties overall. They also had a nasty surprise when a HMG team appeared in the house to their front and started inflicting casualties.

On the right, the other British infantry platoon chipped away at the Germans dug in around the edge f the town. However, the four Shermans were now free to form an effective base of fire, out of range of any sneaky Germans with Panzerfausts, and repeatedly blast the German defenders with HE, to the point where some of the buildings were beginning to collapse around their ears.

British infantry being uncharacteristically aggressive (and about to get bloodied for it) 
The all important Shermans
At this point, it was getting late and Rich decided we should call the game for the Brits. The Germans were being gradually whittled down by tank fire and were likely heading for crippling force morale losses. All in all a great game (particularity for those of us on the Allied side), but one which turned on a very lucky Sherman crew.

It was great to meet Richard from TFL and a good experience to be taken through a game by the author of the rules. Three a side got a little chaotic at times, but we had a very effective umpire keeping us in line. Apparently there is a modification in the works to adapt CoC for modern warfare, specifically Afghanistan, so I'm looking forward to seeing that develop.

Figures and vehicles were 28mm from Richard's collection and terrain was provided by club members.

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