02/02/2020 at 18:27 #130863Nathaniel WeberParticipant
I have started a series of games to play through the British 1st Airborne’s attempt to seize Arnhem Bridge during Operation Market Garden. My first game, using Hammer of Democracy, aimed to recreate 3 Para Bn’s attempt to fight through/around SS Krafft, a kampfgruppe of Waffen SS trainees which was one of several units whose hasty defenses helped to unhinge 1st Airborne’s 17 September movements. Prattle follows; some pictures below.
Historically, SS-Krafft’s blocking position delayed 3 Para by several hours, giving time for heavier kampfgruppen to form defensive lines nearer Arnhem. I tried in my scenario to recreate this by having both sides’ troops arrive in stages, with the Germans trying to block the British advance and the paras trying to exit forces off the west or south-west table edge. The game started at the north end of the board, where paras tried to smash through Krafft’s initial defensive position in some woods. The paras didn’t mass enough strength and were repulsed. As this went on, paratrooper reinforcements flanked south, with German reinforcements also hurrying south to block them. Ultimately the British landed their attack on the Germans about 1 turn too late, and the brisk but unsupported paratrooper assault broke up under heavy fire.
It’s been said here and elsewhere that Hammer of Democracy is an excellent set of rules, and I want to repeat that sentiment. It looks quite thin on the surface but the subtle way damage works forces players to choose between pushing an attack (or defense) to the maximum, risking unit destruction, or to stop and give your troops time to rest and regroup, which risks giving the enemy time to respond. It encourages players to keep a reserve–two up/one back is vital, because the one unit back gives you either something to fall back on or a “send in the old guard”-style reserve to overwhelm the enemy. The game’s support points system really replicates coordinating machine gun and mortar fire.
I played the rules almost as is, with the exception that 1) paratroopers could recover 2 damage when they defend rather than 1, representing their fighting elan and aggression, and 2) Commanders are non-combat, self-ordering units who can also give out one free order per turn.
My next game will feature KG Allworden’s mixed troops–good infantry, lousy infantry, mediocre armor–launching an opportunistic counter attack against 1 Para battalion on one of the roads north of Arnhem on 17 September.
The table: 6’x4′, a mix of wooded areas and open fields; and one road, which heads north to Wolfheze and the 1st Airborne’s drop zones
The fight in the woods: The British attack wasn’t deep enough and broke up against German resistance.
But the Germans were tuned up in the process and needed several turns of regrouping before they could do anything constructive.
Falling back out of the forest: this has been a rough introduction to combat for 3 Para
British flanking south–I am considering a rule for the first couple days of the attack to give the British rerolls on their at-the-double movement, to reflect aggression, physical fitness, and being a rested unit
Vickers with a nice field of fire
The commander rushed to support the flanking force.
The final British attack charging to ruin06/02/2020 at 18:46 #131164Tim SnoddyParticipant
Lovely looking table and great report as ever.
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