It’s the second week of the month and I’m already posting about my monthly Combat Commander ladder game?
Yes, my February opponent and I managed to get our game in early this month over two lunchtime sessions.
In fact, we finished on Tuesday though due to other posts being scheduled, it’s not going live until today (note to self: if you say “today” then it doesn’t matter what day it is!).
What the hell am I talking about?
The Combat Commander ladder tournament, of course!
This ladder, run by the brilliant Patrick Pence of Patrick’s Tactics & Tutorials fame, is where we get our monthly fix of one of the best wargames out there (ok, my favourite, anyway).
The February scenario comes from the Fall of the West battle pack using the French forces (so it does require Combat Commander: Mediterranean if you are playing on the table). This battle pack has a bunch of scenarios taking place during the German invasion of France.
It also has a couple of scenarios (including this one, #82, Hidden Guns Lash Out) that have tanks in them!
Tanks are a bit beyond the scope of Combat Commander, but in these scenarios the tanks basically consist of a leader, 1-2 crews/teams, a couple of machine guns, and perhaps a gun or two, along with an entrenchment for “armor” (i.e. cover for morale checks).
My opponent this month was Nathan F, a guy after my own heart because he actually finds it easier to play on lunch than at night too!
We played the scenario over a couple of lunches earlier in the week (thankfully on VASSAL you can save the game state and just pick up where you left off).
The scenario has a number of French forces (light blue – Nathan) facing off against a German (grey – Me) attack force heading toward the railway line, with a couple of tanks thrown into the mix.
Here’s our set up.
A couple of interesting special rules, though.
First, the French guns (circled in red above) aren’t set up at the start.
Instead, the French can place them during the game in any hex with at least one Cover between the railway and the French (south) side of the board. They can then fire them!
Which brings us to special rule number two.
When the French guns hit a tank, the French player can discard a Sustained Fire action to count it as a “critical hit,” breaking one counter (unit or gun) in the tank before doing the attack role.
The Germans do get one special rule in their favour: they can use Command Confusion orders as Smoke Grenades (not to mention that the tank rules let you drive a tank with a Command Confusion order).
With that, we drew our objectives and our cards.
Nathan drew the “eliminated units count double points” open objective, which was great fun!
I drew Objective 3 being 1 VP and the public objective indicated that each objective was worth 1 VP.
Would the German attackers be able to overrun the valiant French with the ability to discard only one card?
Let’s take a look.
The Germans move first in this scenario with four orders, and I drew a pretty good starting hand.
Three Movement and three Fire cards!
I could do a lot with that.
I opened up with one of my tanks firing, which turned out not to have line of sight with my intended target. Nathan graciously let me shift it one hex.
I wanted to take out the French squad with the light machine gun in the woods.
The cool thing about tanks is that the main gun (a mortar in this case) and the machine guns can fire separately.
The first broke the squad and the second, unfortunately, just suppressed them.
But it was a good start!
The other tank fired at the same target but missed.
I then sent both sets of Infantry forward to take two of the objectives and enter the forests.
My plan was to bring the infantry down south as much as possible before moving the tanks forward to prohibit Nathan from putting the guns in the forest.
Also, getting objectives is always a good thing when they’re worth a few points.
After a French discard (excuse me while I laugh at the one discard), one of the tanks opened up on the LMG squad again. And the guns jammed! Both MGs.
I couldn’t have that, so I gave up the initiative and rerolled.
Turned out to have no effect, but having a tank with jammed guns is not a good thing.
I then played a Rout order to try and get him to retreat. The roll would have made him go back one hex…but the sniper that I drew ended up killing him first.
First blood (and 4 VP) to me!
I could have broken his leader, affecting his ability to form a fire group, but I figured the sure points would be better than him possibly rallying that squad *and* the leader shortly.
(And I just realized as I typed this, looking at that picture, that if I had broken the leader, the squad would have had to rout into a hex and be overstacked, meaning that he would have had to deploy into two teams. Not that it would have made much difference).
A couple of turns, some German movement including me moving one tank forward (I kept missing on my main gun shots so I wanted to get a little closer) followed all of that.
And that’s when the French guns showed up.
Nathan put them both in the Covered Road so that Lt. Serrault could activate them.
And they opened fire!
Of course, the French luck did not hold and the first shot hit but the subsequent German morale check brought in an Infantry Gun reinforcement!
The second morale roll resulted in a Interdiction event, which I chose to suppress the newly-arrived weapons team.
While the second gun didn’t do anything either, the rest of the French units fired at Huntziger and his men in the forest. The first attack broke all of them while the second attack killed the weapons team and LMG!
That wasn’t good.
On the next turn, I played a Recover. The squad recovered, but Huntziger…well, he only needed an 11 or lower to rally…and promptly rolled a 12 Time Trigger.
He rallied the next time, though.
Over the span of a couple of turns, my advancing tank made a beeline for the right side of the board.
I had somehow forgotten that tanks can actually move into an enemy hex and stop, causing a melee! They have a melee value of 11 so unless your opponent has a couple of ambushes, it’s actually pretty deadly.
But no, I forgot and instead was trying to stay away from the guns while intimidating the French squads on the right side.
That didn’t help, as Nathan promptly activated Serrault again. One French gun fired on the moved tank, hitting it and using a Sustained Fire to break the leader (which means the tank can’t move until he rallies)
The attack also resulted in the only other effective German sniper of the game.
The second gun fired and did the same thing, completely immobilizing the tank!
That also means that the main gun and the remaining MG can’t fire on the same order, since there is no leader to activate them both.
Huntziger also came under attack again but nothing happened.
The next turn is when the French gunners suddenly lost their eyesight or something as Nathan kept missing with his shots.
Then Sgt. Duris on the French right decided that he didn’t like that tank just sitting there unhindered, so he would lead his men on a charge to take it out.
It didn’t end well.
Duris himself broke on the initial move and the trailing squad also broke.
The next turn, the German main gun finished Duris off, leaving his men scattered in the road and the brush.
The French guns missed but Huntziger came under attack yet again!
He and his men broke, but an event brought in more German reinforcements!
This time a leader to go with that Infantry Gun so maybe it could actually move.
It didn’t…but the point is, it could have.
Both sides did some shifting, especially Huntziger’s squad who failed to rally and then was routed out of the woods.
The immobilized tank finished off the one squad adjacent to him and the German deck ran out. We were half-way to the Sudden Death point and the Germans had a small lead.
Benzing and his men took the opportunity to lay some smoke and move down toward the one remaining French squad.
The French right was looking pretty open at this point.
Some more ineffective French fire, Huntziger’s squad still not wanting to rally, even after advancing back into his waiting arms, and Benzing’s men moving out toward the board edge all happened in short order after that.
One broken French squad in the way, what’s stopping them?
Next turn, the immobilized tank fired at the broken French squad and they quickly died.
The Germans took Objective 5, Huntziger’s squad finally rallied and the lone broken squad by the tank didn’t.
Then the fully intact tank fired at one of the the French guns. The combined power of the main gun and all of the MGs, in two separate attacks, obliterated the position.
I kind of felt sorry for them.
With the French gun knocked out, the rest of the troops moved to consolidate their position. Meanwhile, now that Huntziger’s men were finally rallied, they decided to move out as well.
Some timely smoke helped with that.
And that’s when we decided to call it for the afternoon.
The next day…didn’t go as well for the French.
With only 7 cards left in my deck, I decided to get Benzinger off the board so he could come back almost immediately.
And my tanks started opening up and getting some very high-firepower shots.
One squad broke and stayed broken for the rest of the game.
The French did manage to destroy the broken German squad on the French right that never rallied since it was out in the open.
One funny thing near the end was the broken French squad in the woods and foxholes to the south.
I kept routing him, drawing an 11 (morale of 10 with cover in the foxholes), routing him one hex. Then Nathan would advance him back to the foxholes. Then I routed him with another 11.
Some ineffective fire later, a German Time trigger happened. The first Sudden Death chance of the day!
And I drew a 6. You have to be less than the number (which is 6) so we went on! I didn’t think it was worth trying to draw a 5 or less by giving up the initiative.
Later, the German tank opened fire on Serrault and his boys in the foxhole.
It was devastating, killing Serrault and breaking both the squad and weapons team.
The other tank then finished everybody off.
The French were one loss away from Surrendering.
Another Time trigger due to the French deck running out.
Nathan drew a 7 (needed a 6 or less) so we continued!
My first order afterwards was a Rout on the broken French squad.
I pulled a 12 Time trigger!
But before we could do Time, the routing unit left the map, making the French hit their Surrender level.
(though actually I think you do the sudden death first, but it didn’t really matter. Pretend I drew high and we continued)
The game was over.
We revealed our objectives (even though it wasn’t a points win), giving the French 3 more points.
Here’s the final situation.
Notice the lack of French units?
I really felt for Nathan in this one. The French 1-discard rule was tough on him a few times.
The French gunners’ marksmanship was also a failure, at least after immobilizing the one tank by killing the leader.
After that, he rarely hit with his guns.
My firepower the first day was kind of deadly but often not as much as I would like.
That second day, it was almost like something possessed the Germans because the firepower falling down on the French was devastating.
Attacks of 16, 17, 19, and 20 just blew them apart even in their foxholes.
Also, this was the rare game where there were no real mistakes made.
Sure, charging the German tank might have been questionable, but I wouldn’t call it a mistake. It could have worked.
And that was the only thing questionable about Nathan’s play.
He maneuvered really well and was still in the game after the first day. I think I had the advantage, but it was still possible for him to pull it off.
The fact that he couldn’t was through no fault of his.
Nathan was a great opponent and I hope he draws better luck next month. I look forward to playing with him again.
That puts me at 11-10 for my time on the ladder. Back on the winning side!
So next month I’ll probably lose.
In March we’re back to jolly old England in the “what-if” scenario pack “Sea Lion,” with scenarios taking place during the hypothetical German invasion of the British Isles.
Won’t that be fun?
And if this sounded fun, why not join us on the Combat Commander ladder?
We’re a great group of people.
You will have a blast!
Until next month, keep your foxholes warm.
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
February 2023 – Scenario #82 – Hidden Guns Lash Out
Those German tanks were deadly…
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Yeah, they were kind of nasty. With a few more French hits, though, they could have been toast!
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Oh wow, what a tough scenario for the French side! …or maybe just played so well that it seemed they never stood a chance!
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LOL that is a tough scenario for the French, definitely. It’s doable, but tough.
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