Sunday, 24 July 2011
Night of the Hunter
Sidney Roundwood is another of my favourite bloggers and a key member of the TooFatLardies community. His blog, mainly dedicated to the WWI rules set Through the Mud and the Blood is a source of inspiration for wargamers and aficionados of this period. Sidney has published several add-ons to the main rule body dealing in detail with tanks, snipers or trench raiding actions. More recently he's be working on night fighting and today we we have played one of his latest scenarios, "The Night of the Hunter" which can be downloaded here.
The scenario simulates two parties (one British and one German) in a night recon-and-grab-prisioners mission to an abandoned trench line located in no-man's land.
The photo above shows the table (6' x 4') with the decaying trench position next to a forest extending along the center of the gaming area. The players were given ample freedom to organise their forces, with a selection of bombers, trench raiders, rifles as well as 1 LMG team. In addition both have a sniper team available, which in the case of the British player could act independently. The leading Big Man in each party also carried a number (1d4) of flares to help locating the enemy in the pitch dark night.
The first 2-3 turns saw the Germans and the British blinds arriving almost simustaneously to the trench area. The British were more fortunate in their spotting attempts, forcing the Germans to deploy the squad filtering the trenches to the British right, concentrating some rifle fire on it after being unveiled...
...and being followed by a hand-to-hand assault...
... which forced the German unit to retreat, albeit with light casualties and in good order.
The sitation in the British right flank came to a standstill, as the German unit was made up of bombers and started pounding the British with hand grenades.
Action now shifted to the left flank, where the British commander decided to redeploy a unit of 8 trench cleaners, sending them in a frontal attack into the German blind defending that side of the trench line. Unfortunately for the British, the German initial plan was to put the stronger force there, aiming to flank the British line; they just crashed against a wall of 10 German trench cleaners, supported by a LMG team and directed by a Big Man Level III.
No surprise, the British squad was reduced to half in size and was routed beyond recovery because of the accumulation of shocks. The British commander committed his last reserve, counterattacking with another squad of trench cleaners.
This time the combat resulted more balanced, the first melee achieving a draw with similar number of casualties for both sides; unfortunately foir the British, the Germans Germans had better dice results in the second melee, basically wiping-out the the unit and the remmanents routing to their own lines.
Following this attack, the Germans were in clear control of the situation, with two half-sized squads accumulating some shocks but not routed yet, at both wings of the trench system, and a full-size reserve squad in fresh condition ready to confront the last British reamining force (the squad standing on the right flank that initially defeated the German bombers).
It was only a matter of time before being overrun by a the superior firepower and assault force quality of the German; therefore, Lt Whitechapel very judiciously decided to crawl back under the cover of darkness and move back to its own lines... to the great relief of the victorious but increasingly wearyGermans.
A farily short but dynamic game, concluded in less than 2 hours. I think the players did not use the whole potential of the night rules (for example: they did not fire a single flare and did not use the dummy-blind options), but to be fair this was their first time with them.
The German player surprised the British with the heavily reinforced squad but luck also play his part in the melees that were decisive to win the game, through some good dice results. Having said this, the British had better rifle-fire results on average and the German bombers depleted the stock of grenades after the thrid snifter. So not everything was luck.
In general players satisfied but I feel that a little bit more home-work was needed to understand and internalise the night-fighting rules.