Having now previewed a copy, I am not going to delve into the details but my Initial thoughts on the book is "That it is the best peice of historical Fiction I have ever seen" and I am yet to be convinced otherwise, but it is for you to make your own mind up.
Moving on. I purchased on a whim, July's edition of Wargames Illustrated and noticed that it had a mini campaign with-in its glossy pages depicting Peiper's rapid advance. So having convinced a willing victim... Game On!
Game 1 of 3
Setting up the table as in the magazines article, we noticed a few irregularities in the scenario notes.
Points: The Germans are short by 105 points?
A quick look through the lists revealed that the ME 262 Air support was 105 points. We discussed whether the fact that this was a coincidence or it had been the original plan to include the ME 262 and it was decided to be too effective so had been replayed without it.
We decided to add the ME 262 from turn 3, only arriving on a roll of 6 to limit its impact.
Off Road Movement?
Off road movement is considered as Slow going with out bogging checks due to snow. Looking at the rules, unless we missed something, Slow going is not an option, so we assumed that they meant to move as if it was bad going.
It states that the Ardennes region is a heavily wooded area with areas of open woods (Plantations?) so do not treat woods as Area terrain and are not considered bad going and troops within them are concealed. So now we are playing an Ardennes game with NO woods. So we played the woods as offering concealment and block LOS.
|End of German movement phase, Turn 1|
8 turns to rach the other end of the table (6 feet). The road jam begins, The Fallshirmjager deployed on table adjacent to the mine field whilst a column of vehicles arrive behind. First to arrive were the 2 Panzer IV platoons and the Panthers, which spread out to provide covering fire. The Fallshirmjager cleared the booby trap and mine field and also started an assault on the defending American Platoon.
Fallshirmjager Looses 2 stands to the US 1. The US platoon falls back into the house at the bottom of the trench line as the assault had come from the top house.
In the American turn they un-pin and machine gun 2 stands of the Fallshirmjager
|End off turn 2|
The Fallshirmjager unpin and supported by massed fire from the tanks assault the small US platoon and wipe it out, consolidating towards the next town. It slowly dawns on me that 8 turns to reach the other end of the table may not be enough what with the road blocked by the barbed wire and trench line slowing the tanks down even more.
|German Armour pour from the town.|
Nothing to stop them, The German Armour pour from the town with the lead PzIV platoon racing towards the next town and their objective; The fuel Dump. Peiper advances protected by the remnant's of the Fallshirmjager. The Sig's move into position to lend long range support.
The German air support arrives and bails a M10, The two lead Panzer IV's finish it off.
I remember to do my Storm trooper move which I forgot to do turn 1.
Then the Americans turn up the heat....
|US Air support arrive to ruin the day.|
Hmmm...This is where I loose half my force in one go, I thought. But unfortunately for the Americans there are 4 AA vehicles sat there watching the plane arrive, 24 shots latter and what? aircraft.
With every thing now struggling to move on the road I start to move across country straight towards the exit at the far end off the table. The panzer Iv's fail to hit the 76mm Sherman's facing them. The SiG's hit the two 76mm Sherman's with indirect fire and blow one up. In the assault phase the Fallshirmjager move towards the American platoon defending the town and engages them in hand to hand fighting. They loose 1 stand to defensive fire but manage to kill 3 US stands, the Americans then fall back further into the town.
The Americans respond by getting more air support which is in turn chased off by the ME262's. They then Blow up the 2 Panzer IV's leading the charge blocking the road.
|The traffic jam continues.|
|American Armour moves to block the German Advance.|
The German advance continues. The last M10 racing to support the beleaguered Infantry platoon is hit and blows up. The Fallshirmjager assault the US infantry again pushing them back beyond the Fuel dump.
The American armour move into the woods to try and flank the advancing panzer's.
The Germans need that Fuel dump as there is no way they can make the deadline over wise. One last push by the Fallshirmjager clears the Americans from the building next to the fuel dump and to my relief they had enough and promptly surrendered... Later the German's would say "Prisoners...What Prisoners???"
The American Armour manages to bail a Panzer IV, and the Air support was again shot down by the AA, 6 shots, 5 hits, 3 Fire power tests passed.
With the extra movement gained by the capture of the fuel dump, it was possible for my panzer IV's to reach the objective, only just.
|Spurred on by new fuel supplies the Panzer's swarm past the few Americans blocking their way.|
With that many tanks now closing in around the Sherman's, they had no chance. 3 long range shots from a Tiger 2 ripped into the front of the 76mm Sherman, the result a smouldering wreck. The last 2 M4's both suffered at the hands of the Panthers now swarming about them.
With nothing Left on table the field belonged to the Germans but there was still one turn left but there was no company morale check in this game so...
|USAF roar overhead|
With the objective in sight the clouds parted and down came the Thunderbolts of the USAF racing towards Peiper and the lead Panther Platoon...Would they be able to make a difference......
All that stood between the Thubderbolt rockets of doom and the Panther's was the Silent grey hulk of the Flak Panzer..."Whirblewind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", Silently it turned its turret and with a deafening roar, cannons blazing, it fired at the oncoming planes..... for a tense moment all seemed to be lost then the shells found their mark and cut down the Thunderbolts, one after another they fell.. The guns fell silent, shell casing dancing around the turrets floor, The Panzer's had made their first deadline....
...But only just!!!!
Did the ME 262's make much difference, they turned up once claiming a M10 and intercepted the American planes twice. But the latter we agreed probably would not have made much difference as I had kept the Wirblewinds back in such a way that they covered the advancing Germans, providing a good protective umbrella.
Rereading the article we did do a few things wrong, forgot the US infantry had a type of British bull dog re roll, but again with the weight of supporting fire from the Panzer's it would not have helped.
The Fallshirmjager were lucky and a rushed deployment by the Americans did help matters. Clearing the minefield for the Panzer's on turn 1 made a big difference but not being able to use the road movement for 2 turns slowed the tanks down.
Could the American Armour have made a big difference if it had not tried to get to the fuel dump before trying to cut off my Panzer's which had decided to head straight across country towards the table edge objective? Maybe but the weight of return fire especially from the panthers would have taken care off them, but not before I lost a Panzer IV platoon.
I was lucky, I managed to stave off the USAF and that dreaded rocket attack off theirs and in the next game I need to try and not bunch up as much.
Using the SiG's to bombard the Sherman's was a stoke of genius as it took out one of the 76mm armed Sherman's scaring the other one. In the magazine article the German player use the Sig's to take out the infantry in the buildings, but they were in turn destroyed by an ambushing AT gun platoon.
knowing this I decided not to make the same mistake and kept them back, like wise the Americans stayed out of the buildings.
It was a close run thing and we are not 100% sure as to whether I made it to the objective in time, we shall discuss that before the next game.
2 Panzer IV's
5 Fallshirmjager Stands