The Tide Turns
Desert Rats #29
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||Britain (Defender)|
|Britain||22nd Armoured Brigade|
|Britain||4th "Black Rats" Armoured Brigade|
|Germany||15th Panzer Division|
|Overall Rating, 5 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 9 of 565|
|Parent Game||Desert Rats|
|Layout Dimensions||88 x 58 cm
35 x 23 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Desert Rats||maps + counters|
For the first several days of the Crusader offensive, the British took the worst of every clash between their tanks and those of the Germans and Italians. When the two German divisions turned back to attack the New Zealand Division in front of Tobruk, the British 7th Armoured Division raced to interpose itself. Outnumbered, with morale dropping and many tanks disabled, the Desert Rats stood little chance of holding back the Afrika Korps.
The British clearly out-fought the Germans, halting their advance and saving the troops trying to relieve Tobruk from being overrun. This marked the turning point of Operation Crusader, as for once, British scarifice was rewarded with clear-cut success. The Germans lost as many tanks as the British for the first time, and their transport and weapons units suffered heavily as well.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|6 Errata Items|
All Bren carriers should have a movement value of 7.
Two British infantry have their full strengths printed on the back. They should both be "2-3" when reduced.
Ignore the direct fire values.
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The Pz IVe appearing in the original Panzer Grenadier game had an Anti tank value of 4-7. As of Afrika Korps (2002), continuing onward through the 3rd and 4th edition games, the anti tank value has been 4-4.
(plloyd1010 on 2016 Jul 25)
The morale and combat modifiers of German Sergeant #1614 should be "0", not "8".
|An epic tank battle; Repair Depot forces made the difference.|
After having played 60 Desert War scenarios so far the last year I have found this one to be the best tank battle yet. There was much more to it than just tanks slugging it out though, this one required a lot of manuevering and plotting from start to finish. 'The Tide Turns' is a very befitting title as it turned for both sides back and forth.
To begin with it looks like an easy win for the British simply because of the number of tanks available if you consider the reinforcements of 12 Stuarts adding to the 10 units of the Crusader Is but more important are the Repair Depot forces which can become available, providing Matildas and Valentine tanks to the lot. All of these together will outnumber German armor 3 to 1. But winning the tank battle for the British is not the most important thing. The British victory conditions require just one unit, any unit, to occupy any road hex by scenario's end along with 10 or more German step losses. Eliminating 10 German steps is the easier part.
Unfortunately, the British tanks have low A.T. firepower compared to most of the German tanks and usually with a shorter range. Setting up crossfire is essential for both sides. The British also have no indirect fire support whatsoever, not even a 3-inch mortar unit. This gives the Germans a little advantage with incredible OBA available to them: 1x20,3x16,2x12. Also, Crusader I tanks alone are very vulnerable to INF assaults and almost half of the Crusader I step losses in my game came from INF assaults.
So much went on in this game that I am not going to bother with too many notes, that would be too tedious.
In retrospect I didn't have the best British deployment, I had all initial forces dug-in, including tanks by the road. I should have placed at least half of the Crusader Is by the north edge to link-up with the Repair Depot forces right away. These Repair Depot tanks were a very interesting addition. The scenario rules state: Each turn, the British player may place one of these units anywhere on the North edge (note that they have no tank leaders): 2x Matilda,2x Valentine,2x Crusader I,2x Stuart. So without tank leaders they just sit there unable to move and most likely no German armor units are going to go near them as they are far from the road. So they are brought into play with other tanks with leaders driving to the North edge and moving them into battle. This becomes a struggle throughout the game, Repair Depot forces get moved but then the tank leading them gets eliminated and they get stuck unable to move until another unit with a tank leader can get to them and move them again -fun actually.
The tank battle kept shifting from one side having the advantage to the other but eventually the Germans lost almost all of their armor. Amazingly, at games end the German still had one reduced PZIVE and three steps of PzIIs left. The three German 50mm A.T. guns made a difference in making up for lost panzers because there was no British bombardment fire to knock them out; they survived until they were caught trying to move loaded on trucks and were all eliminated in one turn when an attempt was made to move them closer to the road-blocking units.
Close to midway through the game the Germans were gaining the edge by INF assaults against British armor more than panzers. But at 15:00/turn 15, the tide really did begin to turn. First, the British reinforcements of 12 Stuart units finally arrive but even more, a random event causes a German ammunition shortage and now neither side has any indirect fire capabilities.
As the game neared the end, all British foot units had been eliminated and most British armor units were pushed to the West edge, desperately hanging on for control of the road. However, demoralized and disrupted British tanks began to recover that had been left spread out all over the map and two reduced Stuarts were able to rally and dash towards the Eastern portion of the road while a Crusader I recovered, with a tank leader, and was able to get to more Repair Depot forces that were stranded. Eventually, three other parts of the road became occupied by British units and by scenarios end there was no way that the Germans, with just three mobile units left could catch up with or eliminate them all.
So that is how the British gained their victory, not through winning a tank battle but by being omnipresent. Again, it was strength through numbers, not firepower that won it. As far as the tank battles went the armor casualties were:
Germany: 1 step of PzII; 10 steps of PzIIIG and 3 steps of PzIVE.
Britain: 20 steps of Stuart; 2 steps of Matilda and 19 steps of Crusader I.
The Stuarts played a significant part in this victory even though they were almost all destroyed as they were the only tank that really had decent direct fire capabilties against German foot units. But really, if one looks at the statistics above, if this battle depended on armor step losses it would of clearly been a German win. But the British held on to the road in the end. Overall a brilliant scenario and the only reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 rating is that it is slightly biased for the British but this one is definitely worth playing again. With a better strategy and luck, the Germans could have done a lot better.
|What more could one ask for|
A 30 turn scenario which goes the whole 30 turns, oodles of tanks, both sides with opportunities to attack equals a great scenario. What a game to end a good unbeaten streak for me, this scenario has a strong German force with very good OBDA trying to clear a east-west road. Facing them is a smaller Brit force supported by 10 Crusader platoons. The Brits though get a further 8 platoons of tanks from a nearby repair depot at a rate of one platoon per turn and on a roll of 6 a whole regiment of Stuarts entering from the south. The Brit set up was in two small groups all dug in near the road, with the Crusaders to the north (the reinforcing depot units would need tank leaders to get them to the action) and I hoping to set up some cross fire opportunities later on. The Germans units enter on the road all mounted and speed up the road. As the British commander I hopped the Stuart reinforcements would come on about Game turn 6-10 just as the German player would be launching his first major assault, however they came on GT2 which put me in a quandary, I could and in hindsight should have left them on the edge of the board as a threat for a few turn before sweeping to the east and then the German rear, I in fact flung them into the battle and launched the Crusader's also into a counter attack, this initially brought some good result with three PZIII steps being lost to AT cross fire but this success in true British cavalry style resulted in the Stuarts charging towards the remaining PZIII survivors who calmly and efficiently destroyed several of the British tanks who had to regroup further to the west. Meanwhile after trying to disrupt armour with his OBDA the German commander turned his attention to the first blocking force which was swept away with typical German efficiency. The Afrika Korps attack now gained almost unstoppable momentum and swept towards the final British potions. By now though German losses had crept up to the point where a drawn game would not be an option and although there were lots of wrecked British tanks littering the desert floor time too was slowly ticking away. By now the British tank forces had regrouped and apart from some dug in Maltida's were moving to the east in a bid to deny a German victory by occupying a road hex at game end. Here though the cunning German commander had placed a small reserve of AT guns and reduced PZ111's whose job it was to stop this ploy. This they did with some assistance from the OBDA meanwhile at the front of the assault the PZIVs where methodically shooting up the remnants of the 22nd Armoured Brigade while German MCY's, HMG and INF assaulted first the Maltida's then the final remaining Brit INF. However this took to the last GT to do and I am sure the German commander was rather dreading his next meeting with Rommel should he have failed at the last gasp. This was played in four shortish session against Brett, and there is no doubt the best player won. This was an exciting battle with swarms of inferior British tanks trying to get the upper-hand over their German counterparts. However the key for the German player is to keep the advance on the road going and not get too diverted with the tank battle which is what Brett did. I think this is a pretty balanced scenario, the British tanks are going to get pounded but the VC's are well worded so although I was losing this scenario from about the second session there was some hope I could pull off a lucky win. There could be no better praise about a scenario than me saying at the end of the game "Well I could play this one again tomorrow against anybody with either side".
|Even better second time around|
My second play of this one, this time a shared match with Wayne Baumber via skype. Playing with the Germans I was at first worried as during my previous solo play they were outmanuevered by the Brits and lost the battle even though British armour losses were incredibly high. However I apparently was able to correct a few mistakes that I made before with Germany and perhaps having played this one before gave me a slight advantage.
The details are not so clear to me as this one was played out over the course of a few months in at least 4 sessions. The one thing that Wayne and I agreed on was that in this scenario it's not the best thing for the British to receive their reinforcements of Stuarts too early on, which is exactly what happened in this match. It would of been better for the flotilla of Stuarts to have arrived sometime mid-game after the panzers were either reduced in strength and/or spread-out engaging the other thicker skinned tanks(Crusaders, Valentines and Matildas). One thing for certain was that it was never a sure thing for the Germans until perhaps turn 29 out of 30. The British did fare well early on up against the PzIIIGs and were able to eliminate a few steps of those and also managed to set up a few crossfire opportunities. However, just about everytime the panzers got into trouble well-placed shots of German OBA were able to bail them out in the nick of time, especially against triple stacks of tanks when firing on the 55 column. Also keeping 3 batteries of 50mm AT guns on the move and intact greatly assited the German effort. What really helped also were the motorcycle units combined with a good portion of INF which were able to assault and eliminate the Valentines and Matildas.
The battle stretched out all over the map and it was tough work keeping mobile Britsh units away from the road. Once again I was worried that somehow they would manage to keep just one unit on the road and snag a victory as after midway through German losses had gone over 10 steps lost voiding out any chance of a draw for Germany. Towards the end things became really tense as one platoon of INF refused to yield after nearly all of the British tanks had been wiped out save one reduced and demoralized platoon of Crusaders. I got so nervous that I considered calling down OBA into that last assault hex but held back. Finally, on turn 30, the final turn, the last step of British INF struggling to hold on to the road was eliminated and the Germans were able to win this one with no time left to spare.
I gave this one a "4" after first solo play because I believed then that it slightly favored the British but now have to raise it up to a "5" after the second play, shared. There is more than just play balance to consider in rating this one. It is very challenging for both sides and also will test your nerves on either end. I would definitely have a third go at this one playing either side in a shared match. This was my first win with Germany in a shared match and it was not an easy win but regardless of the outcome I would of still rated it as high. I can't remember ever having to fight so hard to keep an attack going before in any previous play.