30/03/2020 at 02:01 #134010
Afternoon, 10 April 1941
Here we are, the inaugural battle of Kampfgruppe Klink’s campaign in Greece. A little background, first: the German invasion of Greece was known as “Operation Marita,” and commenced on 6 April 1941, finishing up on 30 April 1941. Following the Fall of France, KG Klink got to lounge around a bit in the French countryside. Then, as the seaborne invasion of the United Kingdom (the proposed “Operation Sealion”) was contemplated, they got to do some amphibious training and lounge about the French coastline. As that died down they were given a brief home leave, then set about conducting an intense training program to prepare them for ‘something big out east.’ As this was occurring, the Italians decided to up and invade Greece in 1940, and they were roughly handled, suffering greatly during the winter and into the new year, at which point the German High Command decided (was told) they needed to formulate plans to go pull Il Duce’s chestnuts out of the fire, hastened by the UK’s decision to reinforce Greece with Commonwealth infantry and armor in March 1941.
KG Klink was moved east, first to Romania, then on to Bulgaria, where they sat out the fighting in Yugoslavia. They also sat out the initial invasion, the breech of the Greek defenses on the Metaxas Line, and then of the Commonwealth defenses at the Aliakmon Line, before being committed. They fairly cruised along until reaching the area in and around Veroia, at which time they ran into strong, though hastily organized, Commonwealth infantry and armored elements which had re-formed there. KG Klink’s involvement in the Fall of Greece revolves entirely around the operations to break the Commonwealth defenses in and around Veroia, with the objective being the investment of Servia and its key mountain pass.
The first battle sees Captain Freitag’s 1st Schutzen Battlegroup advancing on a key mountain crossroads manned by members of the British Royal Engineers supported by Armored Cavalry from New Zealand.
Overview, north is left. The Germans will be entering from the north and attacking south, where the Commonwealth forces will be defending, able to emplace anywhere from their baseline up to the east-west running road. The road is improved (at least in terms of 1941 Greece), there is a small hamlet consisting of three stone buildings at center, a few patches of trees scattered about, but the dominant terrain feature is the hilltops dotting the countryside (clockwise from left): Hill 189 (left), Hill 234 (top left), Hill 320 (top right), and Hill 415 (bottom right).
I’m playing with very simple terrain so that I can lay it down and scrape it up as quickly as possible, to get in a lot of games as quickly as possible.
I’m playing solo using Too Fat Lardies’ Chain of Command, modified a bit. I’ve bumped it up a level (using multi-based stands, not individual troops), I simplified fire and melee combat, and morale (5Core concepts, as always), as well as movement (I like dicing for movement, but it significantly slows things down for me). I changed the CoC Dice so that it represents indirect supporting fires from Higher HQ, and I did away with the Patrol Phase. I love the Patrol Phase, but it doesn’t work for me playing solo, so what I do is designate an attacker and a defender; both sides start completely off table, using their Command Dice to deploy on table (as normal), but where it differs is that I basically give the defender a deployment area of half the table, and he can deploy anywhere in that area, even dug in, so long as it’s at least 6″ from any attacker.
If you’re now wondering, then, why do I still call these rules “Chain of Command,” it’s because the entire game revolves around the use of Chain of Command’s brilliant activation system (command roll/Command Dice), the use of leaders’ command initiative, and the ‘Force Morale’ concept of declining Command Dice and morale to breaking. To me, that’s the heart of the system, and it makes for a fun game.
The opposing forces, with Germans on the left and Commonwealth on the right.
Battlegroup Freitag (AKA, 1st Schutzen): consists of the CO stand, two rifle platoons (a Platoon Commander and four rifle squads, each), a weapons platoon (Platoon Commander, two MG-34s, and two 80mm mortars), and a platoon of three Stug-IIIs.
The Commonwealth force: Royal Engineers and New Zealand Cavalry
Commanding Officer: Major Butler, R.E.
Armored Car Platoon from the New Zealand Cavalry (two w/Bren, one with 2-pdr gun)
British Royal Engineer Platoon (Platoon Commander and three Engineer Squads)
Weapons Platoon (Platoon Commander, two Vickers MGs, and two 3″ mortars)
I’m playing these games in 10mm using figures from Pendraken and Minifigs UK, roads from Fat Frank, hills from Warzone, buildings from Crescent Root, rivers from Wargamers Terrain, and trees from Gunner at Signifer.
As German infantry move on Hill 415, a spotting round from one of their 8.0cm mortars fall a little short…
Commonwealth defensive positions in the village are under heavy fire from German heavy weapons and now the 2nd Germany infantry platoon is closing on them.
The Germans take the village!
While the Vickers MGs are engaging the Germans coming up Hill 415.
And one of the Stugs is knocked out!
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next up, Captain Freitag and his men are right back in the thick of it, taking on some Kiwis to take a bridge.
Jack30/03/2020 at 07:09 #134012kyoteblueParticipant
Good start, but what models are you using for the Brit Armored Cars???30/03/2020 at 08:27 #134014Norm SParticipant
Nice presentation Jack. Those buildings make for a lovely centre-piece.30/03/2020 at 09:42 #134018Harry FavershamBlocked
Now that’s how to write an AAR, great stuff Jack, just like reading a novel!
"Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"
"I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"30/03/2020 at 17:29 #134056Darkest Star GamesParticipant
Great fight there Jack, though bummer on losing 3 characters so early.
I think Germans can get oak leaves to their KCs, IIRC.
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."30/03/2020 at 18:17 #134061Deleted UserMember
Rushing dug in MGs head on? I was sure those Stugs would get chewed up by the one AC with guns.30/03/2020 at 19:10 #134065WhirlwindParticipant
Very good, thanks Jack. What are the dimensions of the battlefield supposed to be?30/03/2020 at 21:00 #134072
Kyote John – Thanks, and I believe it’s a Daimler Armored Car and two Daimler Dingos, which are not correct for the year but is close enough for me!
Norm – Thanks! And yes, I like them very much, they’re 15mm from Crescent Root.
Harry – Thank you Sir, I greatly appreciate it! Along those lines, I think the best set of batreps I ever did, certainly from a tactical discussion and decision-making standpoint, were the five Eastern Front games I played using IABSM last year.
Darby – Yeah, it sucks to lose named characters like that, particularly such experienced guys. And yes, after the Knight’s Cross they add Oak Leaves, Diamonds, Swords, purple horseshoes, green clovers… 😉 But I gather those are pretty much out of reach for mere mortals; it seems (and I could be wrong) that those sorts of things are reserved for Generals that take over countries, or dudes that kill 500 tanks or shoot down 500 airplanes.
Thomaston – Yeah, when the Brits plopped those MGs down on Hill 415 I thought there were going to be some real problems, particularly as bunched up as the German infantry were, but the dice just weren’t with them. My textbook, tactical answer would be that the gunners allowed the Germans to get in too close, didn’t have supporting infantry nearby for protection, and weren’t even properly positioned to be mutually supporting in terms of firing the FPF. And I wasn’t too concerned with the armored cars; only one had a 2-pdr, the other two just Brens.
Whirlwind John – Do you mean in terms of ‘real’ space or scale space? Either way, I was playing on a 4’ x 4’ table which, for my purposes would be around 800m x 800m. So, to the issue above regarding the British machine guns, the Vickers would have been wanting to open fire across the table, where the German infantry could hardly return fire (and was completely in the open, vice having cover afforded by the slope of the hill).
But that’s kind of the trick (in my opinion) for Chain of Command), when to deploy? The MGs could have gotten on the board earlier, and if things went right (read: activation dice cooperate) they tear the two German rifle platoons to pieces. But if things don’t go right they’ve just exposed themselves to the German MGs, mortars, and Stugs, and become neutralized without having accomplished anything.
Certainly my style is the ‘ambush mentality,’ so I’m almost always going to delay deployment in order to allow the attacker to overextend and expose himself, then throw it on the table in one final, desperate ploy to pull off a victory.
It seems the right strategy to me; the Commonwealth forces are outnumbered, outgunned, and relatively immobile (from the standpoint the lord infantry were foot-borne and thus weren’t going to be able to pull off a fighting withdrawal in the face of the Stugs, which really weren’t threatened by the NZ armored cars), so they held out as long as possible then went for it.
The dice just didn’t cooperate 😉
Jack31/03/2020 at 09:50 #134087ThuseldParticipant31/03/2020 at 14:26 #134099
Thanks, Thuseld! It was a lot of fun, and I was very happy with how the rules modifications worked out.
Jack31/03/2020 at 14:52 #134102Darkest Star GamesParticipant
But I gather those are pretty much out of reach for mere mortals; it seems (and I could be wrong) that those sorts of things are reserved for Generals that take over countries, or dudes that kill 500 tanks or shoot down 500 airplanes.
Just went down the rabbit hole of German wartime decorations. From wiki: ” The Knight’s Cross was awarded for a wide range of reasons and across all ranks, from a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle to a low-ranking soldier for a single act of military valour. ”
The Oak Leaves was created 3 June 1940, Swords and the diamonds on 28 September 1941. From wiki: “Analysis of the German Federal Archives revealed evidence for 7,161 officially bestowed recipients. The German Federal Archives substantiate 863 awards of the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, along with the 147 Swords and 27 Diamonds awards. Author Veit Scherzer concluded that every presentation of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, or one of its higher grades, made until 20 April 1945 is verifiable in the German Federal Archives.”
Pretty stringent requirements indeed, it seems. But not impossible to get the oak leaves, as Otto Carius (Pnz tank commander, wrote Tigers In The Mud) was awarded not too long after the initial award.
It’ll be cool to see what it takes in your campaign to merit such awards (and there’s also the P le M, et. al.!)
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."01/04/2020 at 01:58 #134117
Fine, so I’ll start handing out the Knight’s Cross like candy, then! 😉
You mention Carius; a few years back I read the “Panzer Aces” series of Stackpole books, and that’s partly where I came up with my statement above regarding award criteria for the Knight’s Cross and above; it was always talking about guys being awarded Knight’s Cross or above and it was more like a cumulative award (i.e., knocking out ‘x’ amount of tanks), not for an actual singular act of valor.
Jack01/04/2020 at 10:09 #134131ThuseldParticipant
Fine, so I’ll start handing out the Knight’s Cross like candy, then! 😉 You mention Carius; a few years back I read the “Panzer Aces” series of Stackpole books, and that’s partly where I came up with my statement above regarding award criteria for the Knight’s Cross and above; it was always talking about guys being awarded Knight’s Cross or above and it was more like a cumulative award (i.e., knocking out ‘x’ amount of tanks), not for an actual singular act of valor. V/R, Jack
As someone who loves military history, but doesn’t read as much of it as he would like, the mention Stackpole’s Panzer Aces excited me. For a moment I thought there was a series of historic fiction about panzer crews by Michael A Stackpole. Disappointment as that amazon link opened. Still probably a good read though.01/04/2020 at 14:14 #134138
Yeah, they weren’t as good as I hoped they’d be. As I mentioned above, it seemed roughly half of them were general officers, and while the other half were tank (or tank hunter) commanders, their pieces were done in an interview fashion, so while you might have a few interesting insights, you didn’t have details of units involved or maps.
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