After Action Report : S4 Welcome Back - Part 4
Turn 2 (German) - Angriff !
With the start of the German turn 2 we get to rally our battered units and push them back in to the line. At least, that's what we both get to try.
The four broken German squads don't rally though but their 9-1 leader appearantly notices the promising situation on the battlefield and gets back up to fight the American .50 machine gun again. The American squads seem to despaired to rally anything and remain broken.
Next Jeroen seems to go for the old 'kick them while they are down' approach and releases a hail of fire on the American left flank, breaking more or less anything left unbroken. Before prep-firing however he has held back with a Squad/LMG/Leader stack and this stack now tries to envelop the undefended left flank in a large sweeping move to force its surrender. This whole break-envelop-force-surrender tactic has been very well thought out and executed . The broken American MMG squad will be forced to the northeast due to the proximity of the German enveloping stack towards the German MMG position in the rout phase, and due to the routing rules this is illegal so with nowhere else to go it's all over for these guys.
However... When we check the Lines Of Sight (LOS) it appears that the small building in R7 is situated between the retreating US MMG unit and the German MMG squad. So, I get a bit of a break and my MMG squad makes in to the stone building in R7, it has tot stop there because once in R7 the German MMG unit comes into view.
The other broken squads have only one more building left to go to (V6) so they move along 1 hex in the rout phase and that's about the end of the US exploits on the left flank.
The (broken) German units on the far left actually get to rout towards the southern board edge because there is nothing preventing them from not doing so. Great. The only unbroken squad on the far left gets even further and is now uncomfortably close to exiting the map and bring in the first German victory points.
On the right flank the Germans know it's now-or-never as well. They charge the remaining American squad which fails to hit anything at all and later gets locked in close combat. The remainder of the Germans on the right start to do some serious double-time and pour through the gap toward the south. In theory they could exit the map next turn without much trouble.
The last best hope in the American order of battle is the fearless 10-2 leader who seemingly unaware of the developing disaster continues to direct fire against the stagnant German center. It manages to hit absolutely nothing however and the Germans shuffle some units to get their MMG position back up and running and the broken units to the rear.
End of German turn 2 : Collapse of US left and right flank
Turn 2 (American) - Retreat!
If things didn't look grim and the end of turn one, then they most certainly do now! The Germans are positioned to exit the map and get their Victory Points on two sides now and almost the entire US order of battle is broken and reeling from the massive German onslaught. The only thing left to do know is to hope for a really good Rally Phase and retreat as much as possible to the southern board edge to make the front as small as possible.
However, the Rally Phase turns out to be a disaster with no American squads rallying (fortunately neither do any Germans) and the only units I have left to move voluntarily is the big 10-2 leader with .50 MG stack.
There really is no option. Our 10-2 captain will have to run the gauntlet of German fire through open terrain to a position that oversees the German exit zone in the south or the first Germans will soon exit and score VP's. If I don't move it to the south immediately I'll never get another chance again because most Germans forces will soon cover the fields near to the exit zone on their way over to the exit. The German 'enveloping-stack' already has a good clear line of sight on them.
A quick look at how far we can actually move;
The 6-6-7 squad will do double-time, but not the leader. The squad now has 6MF, but the CX counter it gets lowers the Infantry Portage Capacity (IPC) of the squad by one.
The squad (now 2PP) and leader (1PP) now have 3 Portage Points left to drag the 5PP worth of .50 cal MG around. The difference (5PP-3PP) is 2PP so the squad loses 2MF and only 4 Movement Factors remain, even though it's doing double-time.
So with a one hex advance in the Advance Phase my stack moves to P2, fortunately surviving all fire from the German 8-1/Squad/LMG stack nearby. If it wouldn't have survived this move in one piece, this game would have been over.
As it is, it's now in a very nasty spot as every German trying to exit the board next turn will have to endure a -3 shot on the IFT ( -1 no assault movement, -2 leadership) with at least 8FP from the .50 cal MG!
Yes I know... Just sitting in the open with no cover with that precious leader and .50 seems silly, but they are not as vulnerable as they look. As long as the 10 morale leader stays unbroken the stacked squad manning the .50 MG will benefit from its -2 modifier, effectively boosting its morale from a 7 to a 9. And every German that wants to take a shot first has to take up firing positions.. Right now, I dare them to do so. Should things get too hot after all, there is always a stone building 1 hex away in P1.
Closeup of the US .50 cal MG stack covering the entire German exit zone
All other (broken) American units get fired upon by Jeroen's Germans to keep them under DM and prevent them from rallying. When under DM and in suitable cover you get the choice to either sit tight and stay where you are, or move to another location under normal routing rules. I choose the first for my broken units except on the right flank, where I have no choice because some Germans advanced next to me.
I have one unbroken second line US squad left in the center, and pull it back as far as possible to cover the exit zone. The other second line squad is still slugging it out in close combat behind enemy lines, and my attempt to at least kill the German halfsquad fails again.
End of turn.. Fingers crossed and on to turn number 3!
End of German & American turn 2 : US rout from the battlefield !
Turn 3 (German)
The German rally phase starts of well for the Germans, the Krauts on the left flank haven't been under Desperation Morale for some time now and both rally. Bringing the German far-left flank back up to three-squad strength. The rest of them is not so lucky and the remaining three German squads remain broken.
The US units that once proudly defended my left flank still remain broken allthough their 8-0 Sergeant recovers, opening up some rallying possibiities for next turn. What's massively important though is that my other 8-0 leader on the right flank gets my 6-6-6 squad with MMG back in to the line. This is a major showstopper for any German efforts trying to reach the exit zone on the right flank as this squad has a great view on the terrain between the large woods and the exit. It also takes some of the burden of the 6-6-7 + .50 cal + 10-2 stack in the center that now only has to focus on covering the center and left part of the board.
With very little Prep-fire the Germans move up in the movement phase, as if suddenly aware that time is not working in their favour anymore with the stiffening defence. While doing so one German squad gets broken but further casulties are avoided when my 6-6-7 + .50 cal + 10-2 combo once again fails to dispatch its target as the German 4-4-7 + LMG + 8-0 stack assault-moves and advances slowly toward the stone building in U3 and to the exitzone.
On the far left the newly rallied Germans take up position to dash for the exitzone next turn (now only 3-4 hexes away) and on the right flank the Germans advance grinds to a halt before my rallied 6-6-6+MMG+8-0 stack. With 3 movement phases to go the Germans have some time left to slug it out there, even bring up reeinforcements once the US second line squad is finally destroyed in close combat.
The turn ends quietly with the German Advance Fire too weak to do much damage to the American squads and with the close combat still raging on.
An interesting development is that with all this running about Jeroen misses the opportunity to fire on all my broken units and thus fails to put my 6-6-6 + MMG stack in R7 under Desperation Morale. The next player turn is American and with the one allowed self-rally this guy could get back in the game rolling an 8 or lower (8 broken morale -1 for selfrally +1 for being in rally terrain). This shows just how important it is to keep badgering broken units until they are gone, even if there are no leaders around.
End of German turn 3 : Germans press on to the objective (exit the southern board edge)
The situation seems a bit less desperate now, after almost giving up the game with only two unbroken squads left I decide to keep hanging in there as it's seemingly not over. We're not out of the woods yet though, with five Germans squads and two leaders within reach of the exit zone. That's about 13VP worth of units within walking distance of the exit and there is still three German movement phases left to go with plenty more enemy squads moving in... It looks like we're in for an exciting next turn.
< To be continued in Part V >