The woods are full of them

This is a scenario with surprises in it for both players. Do not use this scenario if your players do not like nasty surprises, or if they get a bit discouraged when things look desperate.

One side attacks, the other defends. I used British paratroopers as attackers, and German leg infantry as defenders. The British had one battalion, with three companies of veterans, and the Germans defended with one battalion of leg infantry: two companies of regulars and one of green troops. Each British platoon had a PIAT, and the German infantry all had panzerfausts, and a few panzerschrecks, not that they had much to shoot these at. I gave the paratroopers one Tetrarch glider tank.

The table is square, and has a lot of woods, densely packed in the centre, and an even scatter of rural scenery all around. One nice idea which seems to work, but is far from necessary, is to count the entire edge of the table as a crest line, so all troops coming onto the board do so by coming over a crest, which gives some rationale for why the edge of the table is the edge of the world.

If you are using an umpire, brief both players separately. Otherwise, just tell your opponent his brief, and keep yours a secret. If this seems unfair to him, tell him that life is unfair.

The German player may be happy to learn that in addition to his three companies on the board, he has LOTS of AFVs. I used 3 Jagdpanthers, a Panther, a Tiger, a Marder III, a Hetzer, two Pz IVs, a PZIII, an Elephant, two StuG IIIs and a JagdPzIV. Note that the majority of these is turretless. You need a fair number of biggish vehicles. Use whatever you have the models for. These, he deploys on a map of the table, direction of facing to be decided by the umpire or randomly. He is the infantry commander. The panzer commander is up the road, off table. His orders are to guard the wood. The AFVs have been parked there as a precaution against air-attacks, and everyone is feeling fairly low-spirited, as it has been raining all night. This is a vehicle "harbour", and the panzer troops have already decided on an alternative harbour, which acts as a rendezvous point, off table, should this harbour be overrun. Victory will go to the defender if he can get his AFVs off table, in any direction. To lose the AFVs is to lose the game. The infantry are expendable.

The defending Germans will probably deploy around the wood, and should be told to expect attack from any direction.

The Brit attack comes on the board from a side determined by a die roll. When the attacking troops enter a section of woodland, they will see all the AFVs within it. They will also get to see any vehicles in a section of woodland, if they are in LOS of it, and the defending player tries to start the engine up. The likelihood is that the defender will try to start as many of the AFVs as he can, all at once. It is therefore likely that the attacker will get something of a shock when he discovers so many AFVs in the woods. If he contacts his commander, he will be given orders to enter the woods and overrun the vehicle harbour. All going well, the attacker will rise to the challenge, and his men will win many medals. The attacker wins if the majority of the tanks is destroyed.

So much for the big shock for the attacker. The defender has a big shock and a lesser shock coming.
Exploding Jagdpanther
When the German player tries to start up an AFV and move it, he must make a roll. World War Two tanks, which have seen a lot of action, don't start as easily as modern cars, especially when they've been badly parked in the dark, in woods, which have since turned into a quagmire of mud.

To get a vehicle unbogged, two hits on two dice are needed (55,56,65,or 66 on 2d6 = 4/36 or 1/9 chance). The first time the defender tries to start up a vehicle and move it, he does not lose the initiative if he fails. Once it has been established that a vehicle is bogged (first roll failed), this changes. If the battalion commander or company commander co-ordinates things, a group of tanks in LOS of him can roll to unbog as a single action. If no AFV is unbogged, initiative is lost. If one AFV is used to tow another, 3d6 is rolled, and 4d6 is rolled if two vehicles are towing. Panzer crewmen need not be represented on table. One has to imagine that these are running around and trying their best. A roll of double-one bogs a vehicle permanently. If a vehicle that has escaped the wood goes back into a wood for some reason, it gets bogged down on a roll of 1 or 2 per move action.

In playtest, the German player did not think of using tanks to tow out other tanks. He should have, especially since he used to be a tank crewman himself, in Challengers and Chieftains*.

Now for the second shock for the defender (and a pleasant surprise for the attacker). When the game is set up, give an alarm clock to someone else, and tell him to set it to any time between an hour after the start of the game, and two hours after that (naturally, you be the judge of how long you think the game will last - you don't want the alarm going off before the game has really got going, nor after the game has come to a conclusion), and not to tell you what time they chose. When it goes off, this is when two Typhoon ground attack 'planes whiz overhead, to let lose at any tanks they can see. All forces in woods are hidden from the air. Any tank visible from the air will get eight rockets fired at it by the first Typhoon, and, if it is solitary and survives, eight from the next. These rockets were 4" things, and the whole lot being fired was equivalent to a broadside from a cruiser. Against soft vehicles they were devastating. Against AFVs they had little effect unless they scored a direct hit, in which case the vehicle generally bought it. Roll a die, on a 5 or 6, the vehicle is destroyed. If no tanks are visible, roll to see if any troops can be spotted and identified. On a 4+, some Germans visible from the air will be strafed with gunfire: roll four dice, regardless of cover. Repeat for the second aircraft. If a 1 is rolled for the observation, an attacking stand of friendly troops is misidentified and strafed.

I ruled that a PIAT got +1 ACC if in the same section of woods as the target, that bogged vehicles were -2 in close combat, and that PIATs hit on 2+ at close combat range. Really, the bogged vehicles were just objectives, not designed to be part of the fight.

This scenario was designed as an excuse to put lots of pretty models on the table, as a way of giving the players some amusing shocks, and as a challenge, especially for the German player: should he try to unbog tanks now, or concentrate on pinning those paras? Should he use his tanks to fight, risking them in action, in woods against veterans with gammon bombs, or just get them off the table double-quick? Will he think to use officers to organise the unbogging, and free vehicles to tow?

*He told me an interesting thing about Challenger IIs: that the turret shape is unknown to him. What you see when you look at the turret of the tank is thin metal sheeting which bends when you stand on it. He and his crew were not allow to drill holes in it, for the attachment of bins and kit, and if any hole or crack appeared, they had to summon a special team of people who would come and seal the gaps up. Very few people know what is under there.


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