There’s nothing more Christmas-like than a battle for the ages just off the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
At least that’s what Combat Commander fans think!
Yes, it’s time for the December game of the Combat Commander Ladder, the monthly play of one of my favourite games.
The Ladder is run by the distinguished Patrick Pence of Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials fame.
This month’s scenario takes us back to the beaches of Normandy, France, in 1944. Well, not quite the beaches. Instead, the American troops are trying to silence German heavy guns that are inhibiting the unloading of supplies onto the beaches.
This month’s opponent was Dave D, insuring that Dave would win this battle, no matter what!
Last year’s Normandy scenario saw me falter badly as the British trying to storm the beach.
This year, I’m the Germans (Grey – Me) trying to stave off the American (Green – Dave) advance.
Could I do it?
(Don’t forget that you can click on a picture to make it larger)
The Germans have some setup requirements. Sgt. Bohlen and two squads have to set up in the village on the southeast side of the map. The rest of them can be set up anywhere 8 hexes deep (though most of the time all of them, or maybe all but one, are placed in the bunker complex in the northwest as those two bunkers are worth a bunch of points).
Dave set up his American forces to stay on the right side, obliterate Bohlen and move off the right side of the board. He had a token force on the left just to make sure (I guess?) that I didn’t try to move my guys down off his left side.
I have to note that the Normandy rules make it so all of the hedges (the green lines along hex sides) are Bocage, meaning they are +2 movement and cover instead of the normal +1 for hedges.
Also, for this scenario, Objectives 3 & 4 don’t exist as on the board. Instead, Objectives 3 & 4 are the two German bunkers.
How’d it go?
It was a marathon, that’s for sure. Over 4 hours!
Let’s take a look.
Dave’s plan, as I mentioned, was to plow through Bohlen and exit, getting a bunch of points (2 points per squad, 1 point per team, and leader points).
My plan was to get Bohlen out of there as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, an opening hand of two Artillery Requests, a Rout and a Fire card made that impossible.
The Americans move first in this scenario and Dave opened up on Bohlen trying to break him and his men before they could do anything. The German squad broke, but Bohlen drew a Time trigger (12), not only not breaking but causing Time to advance.
Dave couldn’t have that, so he gave me the Initiative and had me reroll.
Bohlen broke on the reroll.
The other Americans who couldn’t see Bohlen fired on the other squad and it broke.
After that, Dave advanced the men who didn’t fire to make things really hairy for Bohlen and his men.
That was not cool.
Flamethrowers next to you are never cool.
I discarded to get rid of as much of the crap in my hand as I could. I get a radio on Time track 3 but that’s not for a while yet, so Artillery Requests do me no good!
Bohlen’s squad quickly succumbed to subsequent fire but he remained undaunted (or maybe he had found a really good hiding place in the building).
I had drawn a Recover card, though!
Bohlen recovered but the other broken squad kept cowering, drawing a Suppression result.
Another Recover card again failed to rally the squad!
They were quickly eliminated.
Bohlen was on his own. Could he get away?
Sadly not. The Americans rushed the building and Assault Fire broke him again.
He quickly died after that.
The rest of the next few turns can be summarized by this picture as Dave moved his guys to exit (though it took a few turns and thankfully not all got off before the first Time event!)
However, there was some fun stuff that happened in the meantime!
Lots of discarding ensued as nobody could see anybody to fire. Dave was hoping for Move cards and I was hoping for some Defense-only cards (Wire, Mines, maybe a Hidden Unit?).
It made for scintillating viewing, I’m sure.
But then I drew a Hidden Unit! And Dave discarded again.
Suddenly a German Weapons Team with a Heavy Machine Gun appeared just behind the rampaging Americans.
That’s why you never give up.
The Americans fired on them, but since they were somehow fortified in a building that the Americans had actually run through (!), nothing happened.
The Weapons Team and then the HMG separately quickly opened fire on the mortar crew.
The crew broke and on the HMG attack, the German Hero, Dietel, appeared in the same building!
The team didn’t break on the second attack, but Dietel (in his Heroic fashion) then Advanced into the hex and quickly eliminated them in melee.
He then moved back into the building because, hey, it’s Dietel. He can do anything.
Dietel is awesome, I must say.
The Americans did fire on that move but it was ineffective.
After a few fires and the American squad trying to run away, the HMG and Dietel also managed to eliminate the trailing American squad.
Samuels didn’t bother to come back for them.
I won’t bother showing you the pictures of all the American units exiting.
Though I will have to say that Samuels had to make a decision near the first and second Time triggers. If he exited so he could come back onto the board after the trigger, there would be three units that couldn’t get off the board. That would require three separate Move/Advance orders to get them off the board.
So Samuels stayed on board.
Dave brought his guys onto the board in the center, while Samuels and the remaining squads stayed near the German board edge, waiting for a Move card.
Did the HMG intimidate Dave’s placement, keeping him from placing them on the right and just exiting them again?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that even when Samuels and the rest of his men did exit, they also set up in the center of the board, ready to assault the bunker complex in the northwest.
Since the American reinforcements also come onto the board on Round 3, that would be a lot of American units entering the board!
The Germans just get their artillery in Round 3, though they do get reinforcements in Round 4.
Meanwhile, Dave moved his center forces toward the bunkers, but they were still out of my line of sight (LOS).
The Scout didn’t move, since his sole purpose is to direct the mortar, which was now gone!
Dietel moved the HMG into a better position to maybe support the bunkers as well as inhibit Samuels if he did come back on the right (that, or some of the other reinforcements).
The Americans kept moving, or discarding if they didn’t have Move cards. The Germans kept discarding looking for something decent.
One unit did blunder into a minefield, getting suppressed
Subsequent German fire broke it! But would it be enough?
Sadly not. They rallied.
But then all of the Americans surged forward (after some 8-Smoke being thrown).
One squad panicked. Attacking into the smoke, a low-percentage shot, drew a German “time” trigger.
That brought on the massive American reinforcements as well as the German radio.
Dave ended up placing all of the reinforcements in the middle. I guess the HMG was that intimidating!
All was set for a massive assault on the bunker complex.
After all of that, the squad in the minefield left, triggering the Mines again. And they broke.
Then the Germans fired on them, and they died!
Thankfully, with the German artillery now in play, I had an Artillery Request.
I spotted it 4 hexes away…and missed!
All of those juicy American squads all bunched together, ripe for artillery…and I missed.
The Americans made some more moves toward the bunkers, even doing an Assault Fire on Ohmsen!
In the way some of the luck went in this game, the American attack resulted in a random weapon breaking down, this time being one of his Satchel Charges. The German morale checks resulted in a sniper, which was ineffective and repaired his Satchel Charge!
That’s Combat Commander for you.
Another artillery attack this time hit, breaking a bunch of American units.
Then the Germans played a Rout that had no effect.
The American Recover order resulted in another Time trigger!
Now the German reinforcements were coming onto the board.
Since the Americans were all focused on the bunkers, they didn’t need to cover the German left flank.
Now that Dietel was in position, he started throwing artillery shells at the Americans.
Sadly, with all of the Americans clustered together, the artillery kept landing on a few units but not a bunch of units.
That made me sad.
However, the artillery did bring another Time trigger!
The Germans had 3 VP and suddenly the time was becoming an enemy to the Americans.
We were still 3 rounds away from the first Sudden Death check, though, so there was plenty of time.
Some Americans were routed by the Germans, but didn’t leave the board. And then they recovered.
Dave did manage to “Artillery Denied” me twice during the game, but he couldn’t get them in quick enough succession to keep me from regaining it.
German HMG fire on Samuels resulted in another Time trigger!
We were now 2 Times away from possible Sudden Death and I had a 4-point lead.
The American assault on the bunkers continued as well as the American traffic jam as they were all trying to get up there and stay out of the open.
Garcia and his men moved in front of the bunkers, though, facing some withering fire…which also resulted in all of the German machine guns jamming!
But also a bunch of broken American units.
See all of those lovely American units clustered together?
Another German Artillery Request managed to hit a couple of them.
Drift was not my friend in this scenario.
But it did result in another German Time trigger, bringing us to Round 7.
One more round (maybe).
Could the Germans hold out?
The only successful Sniper in the game also broke Dietel (poor guy was just run ragged).
And then Dave did what he admitted was a desperation move with Time trickling away.
He advanced Garcia and two broken squads, all three of which were Suppressed, into the first bunker!
He only had one Ambush too, so he was taking a major chance.
Unfortunately, I had no Ambushes so it was pretty much certain they would take the bunker.
The total firepower advantage ended up being 6-2 for the Americans. I rolled a 6, which made it a foregone conclusion. In that American way of overkill, Dave drew an 11 and just totally wiped them out.
I could have given Dave the Initiative and rerolled my 6, but I would have to roll really well to even have a chance of winning the melee. I wanted to save the Initiative for the upcoming Sudden Death or a better opportunity to change things.
With a 10-point swing, the Americans were suddenly ahead by 6 points.
Subsequent German fire brought on the American Private Adamson and the German reinforcements moved into position.
With Dietel broken, I needed to have a good leader for my artillery!
It didn’t do much, but it did kill an American unit, bringing the points back to 4!
The rest of the American units rallied, and in doing so Garcia’s men managed to scrounge an unused Satchel Charge!
This would become important (you knew I would have to say that at least once in this post, right?)
A US Air Support event broke the German HMG crew, but they weren’t doing much anyway so it wasn’t that important.
Garcia then used a Fire order to first throw the Satchel Charge and then fire into Ohmsen’s hex!
The squad would have broken from the Charge but I finally gave up Initiative. That’s because I was holding 2 Ambush cards and was just waiting for the Advance card to jump back into the bunker!
A German morale check did result in a KIA event which killed another American squad (down to 2 points!).
The subsequent fire did break everybody, though, which also hindered me. I would need a Recover card first!
In that Combat Commander way, I drew my Advance card just before he broke my units (and rallied his).
Things were getting tense around the bunker.
More Americans had moved next to it. The Americans were down to 13 cards in their deck. The Germans had 23. Time was coming.
And I had no Recover card!
I only needed 3 points (since I didn’t have Initiative) so even killing a squad and a team would do it for me. I didn’t need the bunker back.
Of course I didn’t think of that at the time. And I had no Fire cards anyway (except the Ambushes).
Another Artillery Request missed badly even though it was at close range.
And I drew my Recover!
Just as Garcia obliterated Ohmsen’s squad and suppressed him.
So instead of advancing into melee with two Ambushes, I advanced a squad and LMG from the other bunker and into Ohmsen’s hex, moving the other squad and leader into the bunker.
Lo and behold I drew 2 Advance cards!
But with the Americans not being broken, I would need some luck (as in Dave not having any Ambushes).
Dave discarded 5 cards. He had one Ambush already and drew a second one in that redraw.
But I didn’t know that!
So I advanced in.
Four Ambushes (two on each side) later, there were many broken units fighting it out.
Now, as Noel pointed out later, I should have just killed my leader instead of breaking both my leader and my squad. I don’t know why I didn’t do that.
Anyway, the firepower advantage was 9 against 2 for Dave. (it would have been 9 against 5 if I had killed the leader)
There was almost no hope of this working.
Dave rolled a 5, getting 14 points. I needed a 12 just to have mutual annihilation, though actually that wouldn’t have happened because in a bunker, the defender survives mutual annhilation.
Anyway, I rolled a 7, which means it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Four more points for Dave.
Dave played a Recover card and ran out of cards.
The Sudden Death roll was a 7, meaning the game was over.
Here’s the final map.
The Americans won with 8 VP.
This was at the 4-hour mark, a tremendous marathon that Noel stayed with us through even though it was 2 AM his time. Thanks, Noel!
Dave was a great opponent, and for the first time in a while, I didn’t feel like I made any major mistakes.
Minor ones, yes. Things that might have made a difference, or maybe not.
But Dave made some too, so they evened out.
Even the luck evened out. I got some fortuitous rolls early, but I had a terrible opening hand that doomed Bohlen and his men. Getting my HMG and Dietel was great, though!
Time started advancing quickly, which was in my favour.
But then that last sequence where twice I got the card I needed one turn too late, that did me in.
Overall, it was a great game.
It was a fun game.
Representative of what you can get on the Combat Commander ladder if you join us!
In January, we go back to the Resistance expansion for some Partisan action.
I’m now 10-9 on the Ladder.
I really need a win next month.
Thanks to Dave for being such a great sport and Noel for all of the rules help, even as the night turned into morning for him.
And join us next month!
Combat Commander Ladder – After Action Reports
May 2021 – Scenario #112 – Sonnenwende
July 2021 – Scenario #23 – No Man’s Land
August 2021 – Scenario #34 – Encircled at Hill 30
September 2021 – Scenario A – Grassy Knoll
October 2021 – Scenario M6 – Breakout
November 2021 – Scenario #35 – Spartakovka Salient
December 2021 – Scenario #51 – The Uneasy Wait
January 2022 – Scenario #65 – Road Trip
February 2022 – Scenario #75 – Sturmgruppe Beton
March 2022 – Scenario #90 – The Man Who Would Be King
April 2022 – Scenario LoM9 – Operation Mercury
May 2022 – Scenario #119 – Sky Fall
June 2022 – Scenario #9 – Rush to Contact
July 2022 – Scenario #14 – At the Crossroads
August 2022 – Scenario #30 – Red Skies At Night
September 2022 – Scenario E – West Tank Barrier
October 2022 – Scenario M4 – Templeton’s Crossing
November 2022 – Scenario #41 – The Commissar House
December 2022 – Scenario #53 – Deeds Not Words
January 2023 – Scenario #67 – The Orient Express