I attended the Brighton Bridges Tournament, LW, 1750pts from the Market Garden/Bridge by Bridge book. If any of my opponents spotted I’ve missed anything, let me know and I’ll make the changes.
I initially looked at the Brits as I’ve played the Germans a lot recently, yet few of the lists really caught my attention without buying and preparing a full new army (particularly difficult with a newborn taking up all my time). Next, I thought as a challenge a RT horde backed with many 88s and Tigers was the way forward, but I wussed out! I thought against Fearless Paras or Veteran tanks, I’d be huddled in my holes all weekend, so that was out. Then I fell on the SS-Kampfgruppe Arnheim, modelled on whatever troops were scraped together from all branches to counter the landing Paras. Fearless CHQ? Fearless troops with Fausts? Pioneers? Tigers, admittedly with all the drawbacks but still mounting that big gun and armour? Air? Anti-Air? 88s? And still able to get 9 platoons?! I liked this list, and it turns out some parts really delivered for me whilst others were less rewarding. So here it is;
SS CHQ (FV) iC with Faust SMG
SS Kampfgruppe platoon (FV), 2iC with Faust SMG, 2x Panzerschrek
SS Panzer Crews (FT), Cmd Faust SMG, 6 Faust MG with no tank terror tests
Heer Pioneers (CT), Cmd Pio Rifle, 6 Pio Rifle, Pioneer Supply Wagon
SS Rocket Launchers (FV), Cmd, Observer, 3 15cm Nebs
SS Armoured Anti-Air (FV), 2 Mobelwagens with 3.7cm
SS Anti-Tank (FV), Cmd SMG, 2 PaK40
Ersatz Panzers (CT), Panzer IV G, 2x Panzer III M all with Schurzens
Hummel Schwere (CT), 3 Tiger 1e with no Tiger Ace, no Wide Tracks, Unreliable, Overloaded
Luftwaffe Heavy AA (RT), Cmd SMG, 2 88s with extra crew, gun pits and trench line
Game 1 – No retreat vs Tom’s 82nd Airborne with Guards Armoured Support
This all came down to the roll off, as he had so many FV infantry and gun teams I would have struggled to make an impression without heavy losses. So glad I rolled low! Although this was to become an unwelcome pattern…
Tom CA’d his LMGs into the already large Para platoons to create two large blocks, supported by the Brit Shermans and US Armoured jeeps, with his mortars & 75mm howitzers at the ready. I used barbed wire to slow the infantry and especially the jeeps, allowing more turns of indirect fire. My Panzer crews covered the right objective, my 88s had better field of fire covering the left, and my Nebs dug in to the rear. The pioneers were in ambush, ready to support whichever flank was hardest pushed.
On Tom came, my air was absent and my Nebs flubbed. As he got closer, my Nebs flubbed and my air was absent. Only until these large FV platoons were almost on top of me did I manage to get involved! The Panzers came on to snipe at the Jeeps, only popping one (the rest took so much incoming and smiled it off the rest of the game!). His Para platoon assault on my right objective was very worrying, and almost won the game early. I had to throw in every vehicle MG, Rocket barrage, Rifle and MG shot to slow it down and slowly repulse this, particularly with my abysmal shooting.
The Firefly edged a little too close before the reserve armour was in range and got popped by the 88s, mostly nullifying this semi-indirect threat. In return, my left objective was attacked by more Paras, needing the fire of the AA, the 88s, even the observer to fight off a determined assault.
By this point, with time running out, we decided to call it with his assaulting platoons mauled and my infantry and armour strong on both objectives. Despite the murder and mayhem, we had both survived thanks to Fearless so neither lost a single platoon! A good game, very lucky on my part with my saves and that first roll.
Game 2 – Breakthrough vs Gav’s Guards Armoured
In this game, my dice rolls were much better to start with, only to desert me JUST as I began making stupid mistakes and JUST as Gav’s full strength came on from delayed reserves. Gav’s list featured Royal Artillery, Stuarts, Shermans with Fireflys, Guards Rifles and two M10s.
My 88s, PaK40s, Air, even Nebs took a toll on the iC, Stuarts and Shermans early, but not enough quickly enough.
The infantry and Schreks rushed to take up position covering the two objectives. I lost a Tiger to a 25pdr shell, and the 40s and Panzers to vengeful Stuarts.
The M10s came on, the Shermans came on and my AA and Tigers could do nothing. Stupidly, I decided to smoke only the M10s and one Firefly, hoping to plink one with four Tiger shots… forgetting I was being heavily punished by the Dice Gods. In return, that surviving Firefly plus his moving friends wiped out my Tigers and Mobelwagens, leaving my infantry hopelessly exposed. The 25pdrs turned their attention to the 88s but I must have dug VERY deep as they survived the rest of the game!! Air was non-existant until too later, but more on that later.
So the game would swing on my Panzer Crews and Schreks on the far objective, encircled by infantry and armour. The infantry tried an early assault but were repulsed, and slowly whittled down but not fast enough. My Nebs could do nothing against this clustered target, except provide smoke to cover my counter-assaults. Two Shermans broke off, shot up some pioneers in their way to partially overrunning my Rocket Launchers.
There was nothing for it but to use those Fausts and that Fearless to try to strip platoons away from Gav before I bled to death. I went in against the M10s, careful to minimise defensive fire with smoke and placement, still losing casualties but taking out that platoon. With my heavy losses, this platoon and the initial Shermans, this meant it was either a 4-3 or 3-4. Another bloody assault took out a Firefly and most of the Rifles. I finally got a three flight of Fokkes to turn on the Shermans but I couldn’t move away from the main threats enough despite much measuring, and when he finally turned on the 2iC he flubbed. Sigh.
In the end, I was too weak to stay in cover, and cover the objective, as time ran out. A well deserved win for Gav who runs his armour very, very well. Helped by that I lost the Tigers early and should have used the range of the 88s, Tigers and 40s far better. A repeat note for me in my final game, but my concern for Semi-Indirect was forefront.
Game Three – Fighting Withdrawal vs Billys CT Cromwells with US Para support
I’ve never played this in defence so this was interesting. With one temporary objective and the permanent on my right, I put my infantry and guns on this flank, protected from flanking by a minefield and V2 launch base. On my left, I put my Schreks, iC Faust into buildings surrounded by woods, with Tigers in ambush. All of Billys strength came down this flank, so I’d be hardpushed to get the shots downrange fast enough. On his first turn, his self-propelled artillery failed to hit my centre, but many MGs and HE took down the observer in a building as they advanced at a fast clip. In return, I got no aircraft (again!), popped my Ambush away from the AT15 guns and killed two Stuarts (bailing one), and a further Cromwell. The Nebs in the centre hit the advancing Paras hard and my Panzers swung across using cover to act as a mobile reserve.
Unfortunately and regrettably my opponent withdrew from the game at this stage, giving me a 7-0 score, and I had no opportunity to see how the game would develop. I was confident however that I could pull off a 6-1 or 5-2, particularly with my 9-platoons ignoring the first platoon loss, against trained tanks facing a lot of hedges, woods and AT guns. Maybe another tournament in future we’ll play again and it’ll go down to the wire.
End of Day 1, two fun games and one with a potential to have been. Back home to spend time with the in-laws.
Game Four – Counter-Attack vs. Jamies UK Armoured.
Even less to say about this one, as despite my scheming after the premature end of game three Jamie was struck down by the Sunday incompetence of Transport for London and First Capital Connect, so a no-show and another unwanted 7-0. At least it gave me time to admire the other players models, tactics, and plan to take on Polish Tom at Dust-up on a board which I thought very favourable to me. This was not to be, as the tournament was re-jiggered and I was to face another very good player I’d played before, Skip, with an army and board that required a lot of luck to even stay in the game. Luck, whats that?!
Game Five – Dust-up vs. Skips armoured car coy
Sorry for the lack of photos, phone had died and far too tense a game. A village in the centre, two roads bisecting in the middle, with low rises, cornfields and woodlines all around.
I put barbed wire down at the crossroads and across my nearest objective to thrwart the marauding recce. I needed not to bleed platoons and thus Victory Points if I wanted to stay competitive in the tournament, so I put five platoons in reserve and four on the board. My Panzers and Pioneers covered the village, with 88s and Panzer Crews tucked in covering the wire and nearest objective. Skip had his Shermans with two FFs hidden by haystacks awaiting my Tigers, 25pdrs fronted by infantry throughout, all covered by a ridiculously cheap, veteran, highly effective Bofors anti-air umbrella. No Fokke will get through that, never mind all the woodlines!
First four turns, very little as we awaited reserves, didn’t have targets and left the Luftwaffe on standby. My PaK40s came on, using what little cover there was to suicidally snipe the veteran Shermans at short-range, only bailing the Firefly. Surviving casualties and a morale test, it tried again to no avail and then was wiped away by Skip’s laser-guided smart-MGs… seriously, they should have 2+ FP!
Skip’s recce jeeps came scooting on and I was able to only get a couple and an observer under a three-flight of Air. Losing one plane to a self-defence AA, I was able to kill only the observer. This limited his 25pdrs effectiveness, sure…but that was all the air did.
On getting my reserves, I thought who dares wins! Or dies. Three Tigers come rolling up, hull-down, against two Shermans and a bailed Firefly, veteran, concealed. I needed to be very lucky, and I was. Three hits, three kills, astonished Craig.
In return, the 25pdrs were unable to cause a kill and I rolled a six to survive a short-range AT15 response from the suriving firefly! In turn, in revenge for him semi-indirect splatting my virtually-defenceless AA, all Tigers ganged up on him killing the platoon. On this flank, I advanced the Tigers into assault with the infantry three times, supported by the Schreks and with pinning from the Nebs. Three times I bounced back, not losing a Tiger but losing time until they finally broke. The iC Staghound nipped in right at the end to contest the objective and keep the game alive, whilst Skip’s recce in the centre poured through, knocking out my AA and nearly the same with the rockets before they scampered for safety… towards the British lines!!
For Skip’s assault with his armour and heavy armoured cars, they gunned down the 88s who were incapable of hitting short-range Shermans…damn Luftwaffe. The Panzers survived little better, although the bailing of the Firefly by a long-range Panzer III was very helpful. In the end, the Panzer 4 was triple-bailed and politely decided to call it a day, also leaving the field. However, Skip pointed out the Dingo midget-car, which led the heavy armoured cars, had advanced a little too close to my iC and his Faust. Pop. Seriously, this car was so small I expected at least a dozen clowns to inexplicably climb out. But now the armoured cars were stuck in place unable to contest.
In came the Shermans, after a good round of shooting against the Panzer Crews. Skip initially thought he had taken two Faust DF hits, but I pointed out I was also pins so those 5’s were safe. The crew got mauled, but took down two Shermans before the iC also met his doom. Think it’s safer for these guys inside armour, not against armour. With this, I was below half but my Fearless leader inspired those around for one last effort. The nearby pioneers went in for the kill… or they didn’t, wussing out but staying mostly concealed and still within 4” of the objective.
If Skip stayed still here, it was a draw. If he shot me to death or assaulted me back, he’d have a clear claim and would win 4-3. If he lost, it’d swing against him. Full respect for throwing his armour in for one last do-or-die charge. The iC used his faust to bail one, the other took down a pioneer before the iC also knocked him off. Game over, draw but my objectives were uncontested so the most wafer-thin of victories, with bodies and armour burning all across the board.
So that’s it! Thanks Tom, Gav and Skip for great games and teaching me more about tactics, gameplay and rules; thanks to the organisers too for another excellent weekend with beautifully designed boards. I ended up second place axis, third overall which I was extremely happy with.
Knights Cross (Top Team) – the iC neutralising the Dingo, then both remaining Shermans whilst keeping his boys focussed and on-board.
Shot at Dawn (Biggest let-down) – My air was neutralised in the last, sure. But being unable to plink clustered Brit tanks and especially US Paras totally let me down. Bad Luftwaffe….
I’m already preparing for the clubs winter campaign, North Africa 1650pts, although should I go Irish or Churchills? (N.B. no Churchills apparently, hmmm… tough choices ahead).
And I’ve learnt a lot in running tournaments, which I’ll put to great use in Solent Wargames inaugural Late-Late War One-day tournament, would love to see players from this tournament and wider come on down. More details to come…
Thanks again, hope you enjoyed the read. Enjoy these shots from other games too.