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    Avatar photoDCRBrown

    As the design process of O Group WW2 rules moves to a close, I received a warning order to attend Lard Island, where O Group would be put through its historical paces by the Too Fat Lardies.

    The action to be recreated was part of Operation Charnwood, as the British once more attempted to take the city of Caen, during the Normandy campaign. The engagement centred on a battalion attack carried out by the  South Staffordshires, aimed at a capturing the La Bijude and Epron corridor. These two villages were held by two companies of the 12th SS and one infantry Jager company, making up the ad hoc German defensive battalion.
    The denizens of Lard Island were exacting in what they wanted to see from the rules. This was to recreate the British attack as it unfolded historically. So, an opening barrage effect, an initial attack upon La Bijude marked as phase line 1, consolidation and attack upon phase line 2, the village of Epron. (For those interested in such things, Richard laid out the terrain with the correct distances between villages, etc, to test the move rates and deployment frontages.)

    (This map is from one of the TFL campaigns covering Op. Charnwood.)
    So how did this unfold?

    The Opening Moves.
    The British player opted for a Broad Wedge formation deployment, two Companies up and one Company in reserve, along with his armour. “A” Company deployed on the left while “B” Company deployed on the right tasking with the initial objective of taking La Bijude. The Germans followed a historical deployment, placing one Company of SS to hold La Bijude, while the Jager company held Epron further to the rear. The final company of SS was held in reserve.

    O Group covers the initial battalion deployment and opening barrage impact through a single set of dice rolls. First these rolls provide the attacker and defender with the state of their initial deployment. If you score well consider this as the Battalion having sufficient time to prepare a good attack or defence plan. If you roll poorly then you’ve been ordered into the attack before you’ve had time to prepare thoroughly or you’ve been caught out by a surprise attack. (Obviously players can amend this to reproduce a historical set up if they prefer.)
    The British rolled well, permiting both companies to deploy a healthy number of platoons and combat patrols. (Combat patrols are the rules method of depicting hidden movement and the fog of war.) As a benefit the British roll also indicated that the opening barrage had been quite effective, resulting in the elimination of a complete enemy platoon, forcing the German player to remove a platoon from his battalion strength.
    Similarly the Germans also rolled well, first the roll permitted a very healthy number of platoons to be placed in ambush deployment positions, where a platoon holds a terrain feature but is not placed on the table and only deployed when the unit opens fire or is discovered via enemy recon. The German roll also avoided any Opening Barrage Interdiction turns. Interdiction means that when the Germans attempt to deploy reserves within the interdicted sector of the battlefield reserves may be prevented from deploying this turn or deployed in a less than healthy state.


    Attack on la Bijude.
    “B” Company deployed swiftly against the forward village of La Bijude, two British infantry platoons pushed up, one attacking frontally, supported by a Vickers MG carrier section, while the second platoon attacked from the right. “B” Company soon become pinned down by accurate German defensive fire, being unable to push closer over the open ground towards their objective, while the second platoon struggled to find an effective fire position. Not to be frustrated at this early stage the Battalion Commander ordered forward a platoon of Sherman tanks to support the attack. The combined HE fire from these tanks and the Vickers machine guns forced the SS defenders of La Bijude to beat a hasty retreat, but not before a brave Panzershcreck team attempted to take on the Shermans, in this they failed and were also forced to evacuate village, permitting “B” Company to move up and secure the village. “Phase Line La Bijude” was complete.

    Phase Line Epron.
    The British now prepared for their attack upon the final objective, the village of Epron. The British commander decided that he needed to consolidate further forward, beyond La Bijude, to give this attack less ground to cover. Therefore “B” company, with the help of their tank support pushed out beyond the village to secure a suitable consolidation point for the next attack. However although “B” company did drive back the remnants of the SS defenders who had fallen back from La Bijude, their tanks support fell victim to concealed German A/T guns or panzerschrecks sneaking up on the tanks form the cover of hedges and wheatfield’s.

    This left “B” company now devoid of tank support and being pressed for time the British commander decided to consolidate on his far right flank at this point and bring in his reserve “C” Company which quickly deployed.

    He now ordered in the remaining armour to consolidate with “C” Company for the final assault. However the armour now faced a problem in moving up to the new position. Under O Group rules, in order for armour to use the consolidation action and deploy quickly forward onto an advance position, the player must be able to trace a clear road or track back to his rear table edge, i.e. his Company Forming Up Points. Unfortunately for the British the wrecks of the original Sherman platoon blocked the road to “C” Company’s position, forcing the armour to move onto the table via the main road on the British rear table edge.

    Due to the dispersal of the armour “C” Company had to advance without close armour support and came under heavy fire from multiple German positions holding Epron, which pinned down the first wave. This prompted the British commander to urge his tank support forward as quickly as possible in order to support “C” Company, however the lead Shermans also came under attack from hidden German A/T guns which left several tanks knocked out by the main road, and caused a temporary halt while the British requested mortar and artillery support to clear these positions. This of course, left “C” Company dangerously isolated and the German commander lost no time in launching a swift counterattack against the pinned down British infantry, driving them back in disorder to their start line. Despite requesting more artillery, the British attack had now stalled before Epron, had suffered significant casualties and could make no further headway. The British withdrew, leaving Epron in the hands of the Germans.

    Fortunately for O Group the battle unfolded along its historical lines and passed (hopefully!) the stress test. Historically,  the South Staffs were unable to take all their objectives, as in our game before being pulled back to regroup and were replaced with a fresh battalion from reserves. The rules also coped with permitting the British commander to take an initial objective and then consolidate and bring in fresh reserves onto those objectives, but also highlighted the importance of roads if armour is to be brought into the battle quickly. It also highlighted the importance of close armour/infantry cooperation, the failure to achieve this was a major factor in the British reverse in this wargame.


    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games

    Sounds like a smashing game and good time.   I like that the rules sound like they can recreate historical actions without them having to be that way all of the time.  Looking forwards to hearing more!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Avatar photoJozisTinMan

    Looks great! I like the process that you and the Lardies go through.


    Avatar photoTruscott Trotter

    Sounds like a smashing game and good time. I like that the rules sound like they can recreate historical actions without them having to be that way all of the time. Looking forwards to hearing more!

    Have heard enough I am looking forward to getting my paws on a set!

    Avatar photoDrussTheLegume

    Looking forward to getting my hands on a set of these rules

    Avatar photoDoug Eaglesham

    Was watching Rich and Dave play this scenario on the Lard TV on YT, got me interested in playing the same scenario when I came across this posting.  Just gather the troops for both sides and making terrain for it 😀

    Avatar photoTony S

    Storm of Steel just put up a video of an O Group game, with some wargaming notables as participants!  Stars in the firmament of Wargaming.

    I played the rules for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  Very, very impressed.  I really liked them, even though we just played infantry – no armour or artillery – just to keep things simple and digestible as possible for our old brains.

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