Friday, August 19, 2011

Operation Squad and the Flea Market

A couple of weekends ago I attended a wargame flea market in Bath Maine. Although sorely tempted I didn't buy anything as I am both poor and getting ready to move. There were a number of games/demo games in the afternoon and I had arranged with Wayne (One of my local historical gamers and all around good guy) to play a game of operation squad, a WW2 skirmish game in 28mm. Although I had never played the game before I found it easy to pick up and very exciting. I played against John a slightly less local gamer who will hopefully still be dropping by the local game store for a few games.

In view of my accent it was decided that I should defend the Mother Country with the British Infantry while John commanded a section of Panzer Grennadiers. I owe a special thank you to Dean for taking a few snapshots with his I-Phone. Although I had intentionally charged my camera battery I was still stupid enough to leave it at home!

I did up a short report of the battle but I have to admit due to the action/reaction action/reaction system that Operation Squad uses it is a little difficult to reconstruct the events of the battle afterwards. I very much approve of this as it certainly adds to the sense of confusion on the battlefield. I had to improvise certain aspects of the battlefield that weren't caught in the photos which gives the whole thing a sort of aerial photography feel.

This scenario was a patrol with an objective of eliminating the most enemy in the time allotted. There was a farm house in the center of the board that was a secondary objective.

John won the deployment roll and forced me to start deploying first. I spread my troops across a fairly wide front. The basic plan was to use the house as a shield to keep as many of the Germans out of the fight as I could while I bought all my weight to bear on one flank. Unfortunately I didn't realize that the house had a back door and this was doomed to failure. Johns deployment concentrated most of his forces on the western side of the road with a mind to seizing the farm house.


The bloodletting started immediately thanks to my careless deployment. A german light machinegun rather negligently gunned down a rifleman whom I had deployed in his line of sight. The rest of my gallant Brits moved forward to the cover of the house and towards the eastern woods. The germans advanced towards the western woods and the farm house with the exception of their machine gun teams and the sniper. One of my riflemen managed to wing an advancing german and my motar team delived the coup-de-grace. Unfortunately his companions managed to clear the blast area before the shell came down.


The second turn started in a similar vein to the first. The MG scored a second kill, avenging his recently shot and mortared comrade by killing the rifleman responsible. Unfortunately this used up his action and my bren gunner and a rifleman stepped around the corner of the farm house and killed the gunner and wounded his assistant. The Germans moved up through the western wood and my would be turning movement made it into the relative safety of the eastern woods. Johns sniper rather ominously turned to draw a bead on my bren gunner but for now held his fire.


Turn 3 began with a general rush for the house. I was staring to feel worried that the germans in this area had definite superiority both in weapons and numbers at the farm house (I also discovered the back door at this point!). One of my riflemen entered the house and my corporal moved towards the door. The wounded german dragged himself into the safety of the hedgerow as his compatriots blazed away at the group advancing through the eastern woods fortunately for me to no effect.


Having finally moved into position in the eastern woods I launched a rather cavalier bayonet charge on the German sniper. In retrospect im not sure why this was appealing, I had no guarantee of beating the German and in all likely hood the higher quality of the Panzer Grenadiers would have given John the edge. In any case he made the wise decision to flee and the sniper scampered across the road to safety despite my corporal taking a pot shot as he crossed the road. One of my other riflemen in the eastern woods tried to run to the hedgerow but was pinned by fire from the German corporal. Mean while a german rifleman stepped around the corner and shot my Bren gunner wounding him before he could return fire. Luckily for me he managed to crawl around the corner to questionable safety. The Germans also lobbed a grenade into the farm house but by luck and grenade bounce my rifleman was unscathed.


Things were now looking grim for the british. My troops were outnumbered, my only support weapon was wounded and by bad management on my part what little reserves I had were far from the action. Everything seemed to be on the German side and their predominance in machine guns and other automatic weapons was worrying in the extreme.

The machine gunner in the north west woods dispatched my charging rifleman with a burst of gunfire. The German sniper fired and wounded my corporal. I fired my mortar at the now exposed German but bad luck on the damage roll meant he was only pinned. Although at the time I was disappointed by this it was to have grave effects. Out numbered and out classed I tried to extricate my rifleman from the farm house but he too fell before a German machine gunner.

By this point British casualties were such that they forced a rout test. Amazingly all but one of my men held firm and I could continue the dubious struggle. My seargent managed to bring down the German who had wounded my Bren gunner and a second rifleman rushed for the hedgerow only to be met with a storm of fire which pinned him down.
At this point I had exactly two soldiers who weren’t pinned or wounded.


In desperation I moved my seargent and my mortar forward, hoping to use their fire power to somehow check the Germans and their infernal machine guns. John moved into the house with his seargent and a machine gunner. My corporal moved forward to throw a grenade at the sniper but it missed and he was cut down by a German rifleman. There was some ineffectual firing across the hedgerows and I managed to unpin my troops their. John hid his sniper preventing me from taking advantage of this.


Realizing that any chances I had would be lost if the Germans got MG's into the second story of the house I moved my wounded Bren gunner in and hurled a grenade through a window before the German's had a chance to gun me down. It deviated slightly but both the Seargent and the MG were caught in the blast and killed prompting a rout test for the Germans.

This test was DEVESTAING. John had rolled well all game but his luck abandoned him here. Five men including his sniper and an MG team booked it for rear leaving two solitary Germans facing five Britons. This stunning tactical reverse undoubtedly saved me. It wasn’t a done deal yet however, both of us were at our break points and the next casualty would decide the game.


 John hurled his remaining men into the farm house. If he could get to the upper floor odds were in his favor that he might gun down the exposed Brits on the other side of the road I was already trying to mitigate this risk by bringing my men across the hedgerow to the farm house. Unfortunately John rolled poorly and one of his men was caught on the bottom floor by a grenade hurled by my sergeant. This kill bought the Germans below their ultimate break point and the plucky Brits, more by luck than good management, had triumphed.

This game was a tremendous amount of fun it was tense and exciting throughout and I found the rule system to be very interesting particularly in the way it allowed reaction and counter reactions. Although I can technically claim the victory John had me dead to rights from Turn 1 and it was only due to a tremendous fluke that I pulled it out of the fire. I definitely need to think about my deployment and making sure I use all my available troops in future games. I under used my mortar and I committed the cardinal sin of focusing way too much attention on the sniper. Even without scoring a kill he was definitely the MVP for the Germans. That being said the Panzer Grenadiers are just SCARY. It seemed at times like every single one of them had a machine gun and was not afraid to use it.

All in all I had a great time at the meet. If I had one complaint it was that our game ran so long that it was the last to finish and I would have loved to have checked out the other fascinating games that were going on! Oh well, next time I guess. Many thanks to Wayne for setting up the game, John for playing and Dean for taking some photos for me!

Oh I also learned that Paint is a total pain in the rear for this sort of thing, time to learn to photoshop...

Now to scrape together the cash for some Chindits….

The Brits at the Hedgerow

The Farm House

The Germans gain the upperfloor too late.

The backdoor I hadn't planned on.


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