Alem Hamza : Right Flank
Desert Rats #38
|Britain||4th Royal Tank Regiment|
|India||3/1st Punjab Regiment|
|India||4/6th Rajputana Rifles|
|Italy||101ª Divisione Fanteria Motorizzata "Trieste"|
|Overall Rating, 9 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 444 of 598|
|Parent Game||Desert Rats|
|Layout Dimensions||88 x 58 cm
35 x 23 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Desert Rats||maps + counters|
With a full retreat underway following the successful Allied Crusader offensive, Axis forces stood at the Gazala position. British armour probed around the open desert flank, while Commonwealth infantry divisions pounded straight ahead to try to pin the Axis in place. Despite their own generals misgivings, the infantry went forward as planned.
The Italians held their ground, driving back repeated infantry assaults and eventually wiping out the British tank detachment. The attack turned into a disaster, and combined with the German attack on the brigade's 3rd battalion on the left flank (see scenario 39), this action wrecked 5th Indian Brigade as an effective fighting force.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|1 Errata Item|
The scenario calls for 6 Italian HMGs, however there are only 5 Italian HMGs in the Desert Rats counter mix.
(tlangston28 on 2012 Aug 14)
|Trieste Division's rearguard holds the line at bayonet's distance|
This was a very intense scenario as I wasn't absolutely sure of the outcome until the last two turns and was enjoyable right up until the last unit's activation. Each side held the advantage at given times and it went back and forth that way but in the end, Italy prevailed.
With the Italian deployment I opted to place units close to the center of the map, slightly East, where there where the most upper hill hexes, North to South. I chose not to use the hedgehog pattern with the 45mms and kept all support units in the center of an inverted triangle. I chose instead to place HMG units stacked at each edge of the triangle, making it tough for advancing forces to encircle the Italian camp. There were plenty of Italian units to keep 11 hexes solid with 2 units in each of them.
The Commonwealth advance went smooth at first though a few units were disrupted from Italian OBA fire before reaching the ridge but they were quickly rallied and a solid formation stayed intact. Italian opportunity fire inflicted a few step losses early on but soon the front lines of the Italian defense took casualties of their own as well. Soon a few demoralized Italian units had failed recovery attempts and were piled atop the dug-in rearguard, three units high but were able to rally most of the time and able to redeploy and dig-in again; if not back to the front, at least to the center where there was room to blend in with support units. This activity occured a lot in the Italian lines and one HMG retreated, recovered and returned back to the front twice and was actaully able to dig-in again.
By 10:15/turn 10, the Commonwealth had a bad stroke of luck when their Colonel was eliminated through compound demoralization which also in turn broke the advance formation in half along with the subsequent catastrophic loss and decapitation results. By this time however, the Italian front lines were very weak and at 11:00/ turn 13, one of the upper hill hex positions was abandoned giving the Commonwealth forces the opportunity to get in the breach and initiate assaults. By 12:15/turn 18, the Italians abandon another front post before it can be assaulted.
At 13:45/turn 24, the Italian front lines are non-existent and the second line of defense begins to show signs of caving in. However, the left wing of the Commonwealth force begins to dissipate and it's advance is stalled while it's units and leaders attempt to recover and reorganize. The right wing of the attack however proceeds and has made it adjacent to the rearguard forces. By 15:45/turn 32, the Italian rearguard is the front line but it is solid and mostly in good order and time is running out for the Commonwealth forces as nightfall is not far way. There still seems to be some hope that one last push may succeed in breaking the last line of defense. There are no Italian AT weapon units left at this point and both Valentine tanks and ACWs have advanced from behind and the last defenses are totally surrounded.
At 16:30/turn 35, Commonwealth forces are poised to launch 4 final assaults though not under the most desired conditions but have no choice but to go for broke. At this point they have suffered 9 step losses so there is no chance of a draw. Of course these assaults don't go that well and with one turn remaining it is certain the last line of the italian defense will hold, and it does. At the scenario's end there were still 11 Italian units remaining on the upper hill area though over half of them were reduced, demoralized or disrupted but they remained.
These Italian forces in the 'Desert Rats' scenarios are not the "Surrender Monkeys" (As Shad would refer to them as) of 'Afrika Korps' and with my plays so far have the best record of all the nations involved at: 11 victories; 1 draw and just 6 losses. In this scenario the morale of 7/7 helped a lot with reduced units and was amazed at how many times the Italians were able to rally, regroup and bounce back. A very solid 4 of 5 rating and a great play in my opinion.
|The lowly 81mm mortar makes the difference|
Playing as part of the scenario of the month club, this scenario looked interesting and challenging for both sides. The Italians stuck on holding a hill with the Commonwealth forces attacking to force them off without taking to many casualties. The Commonwealth have a decent force to deal with the Italian and with supporting Valentines and OBA they should have been able to go into the attack with a decent chance. But Italian 81mm mortars had a different idea. But I get ahead of myself.
With just an infantry force to cover the whole hill, the Italians opt to dig in a hedgehog defense just to the east of the center of the hill. This would allow them to cover the approach of the Commonwealth forces as well as provide some room to maneuver late in the game to keep troops on the top of the hill. AA and HMGs positioned on the corners to provide the most DF on the advancing troops with AT's positioned in a triangle within the dugin INF's. The Valenatine's would have too much to worry about with them as they have the armor advantage, but it will give them something to think about when they get in close. INF's are positioned in front of all the supporting units to provide an initial break for the attack. A small reserve is kept with the three 81mm mortars in the center of the defense. Italian leaders are average to poor, with just one leader with mods.
For the Commonwealth advance they will come on from the south just to the left of center of the board. The bulk of the force will advance here, while the useless 2pdr's will enter in the south west corner and digin as not to give the Italian gunners any free targets. Once off the ACW's, the transports will join the main force for moving units. Commonwealth leaders are average to good, with a number of leadership mods.
There attack will start with an advance just out of range of the Italian support weapons, moving up the hill to the west and then advance down the ridge and assault the Italian defenses. Hopefully clearing them and taking the ridge.
The advance goes well for the first 8 turns with some harassing fire from the Italian OBA, but nothing more than disruptions that are easily worked off and the Commonwealth force makes it up the ridge. They form up for the assault and that's where it falls apart for them. The Italian 81mm mortars open fire on the leading Colonels command killing and step and destroying his command. Stunned by the lost the Commonwealth troops are now stuck within range of the Italian HMG's and AA guns. This fire disrupts and demoralizes some, but the 81mm mortars strike again at one of the leading Captains. Another step lost and the loss of command. At this point the Valentines advance to try to cover the broken attack. They are able to disrupt some of the machineguns but constant AT fire makes them nervous that a luck hit will take them out.
Meanwhile the Commonwealth infantry is trying to recover and get moving after the loss, but many early FoW rolls slow them down again. By mid game their losses are four steps and two key leaders. While the Italians have, at worst suffered a demoralization.
Regrouped the Commonwealths try again with a combine arms attack on bolstered west flank of the Italian defense. Support OBA for the Commonwealth soften up the Italians but not enough and the assault group bogs down in assaults. AT fire from the 47mm still hits the Valentines with no effect. Commonwealth OBA rains down on the AT guns taking out one, but the other gunners find their make and reduce a Valentine. But continuing to push the assaults the Commonwealth make progress. FoW continue to create short turns so many units are left unactivated. By turn 30 the Commonwealth are no where near getting the Italians down under six units as well as the Italian pulling some units back out of the fight to ensure that there will be some on the hill. The assaults grind on and by the end the Commonwealth has lost 12 steps and 4 leaders, while the Italians have lost 10 steps and only 4 units and 3 leaders.
As for impressions of the scenario, it is an interesting puzzle for the Italians and their setup. Staying together is important, but near the end the ability to pull a few units out can help with the VC's. In my game it really did not come to that as the Italian mortars were key to breaking the Commonwealth advance. For the Commonwealth, they have a tough task. There is a lot of Italians to kill and if FoW happens enough the 36 turns will seem like 12. The loss of the Commonwealth Colonel did not help either with two turns where the bulk of the force was under fire from the Italians without being able to move. The Valentines helped get the attack going again, but enough shots by the AT's will get a hit at some point.
As for some of the other stats mentioned in the forums:
Step Losses CW - 8 INF, 2 HMG, 1 Valentine, Colonal, Captian, LT, Subar Italian - 6 INF, 1 ATG, 2 HMG, Captaino, 2 Tenente
Commonwealth losses were reached on turn 32 and the Italians never went below 6.
FoW Stats 25 FoW turns 12 7 activations 5 8 activations 6 9 activations 1 12 activations 1 15 activations
|CW lead by Mat Cauthon|
For those of you familiar with Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, try playing PG against Mat Cauthon ... a twister of fate.
Below, D = disruption, DD = demoralized, R = reduced, CW = Commmonwealth, IT = Italian
The IT set up was along the 40-m hill line at the East edge. They employed a two-hex; three-hex; three-hex; two-hex grouping with the first two oriented facing South, the latter two oriented facing West: spaces separated each "company". This formed a kind of "box" facing either a direct approach or a western "hook" by the CW. The IT artillery was spread about to avoid the 3-units col shift with the IT 10-1-1 colonel in the middle to assist with morale and/or to combine.
The CW approach was simple and effective. The entire force simply charged north with no delay for "softening up." Unlike some other plays, OBA and 81mm mortars were relatively ineffective, though one INF and the CW 3-in mortars were morale "hit" and eventually one 3-in mortar step was eliminated. Once in the 20m hill LT, they became immune to the self-spotting bonus until they fired (which they did not do until adjacent to the infantry).
The first sign of what was to follow was the incredibly poor fire by IT infantry and HMGs upon CW approach - i.e. OF was relatively ineffective (hurt by the -1 defensive col shift due to the approach being through hill terrain and the lack of IT leaders able to combine fire). Once adjacent, both sides began to take losses, but the higher morale and preponderance of +1 combat leaders for the CW side began to tell.
By the end of turn 9, IT had lost 5xINF steps and 1xHMG. The CW 3xACW + 4xINF + 1x3-inch + 1 Indian major. After this, though, it was all grim for the Axis.
After getting a DD on a CW HMG, the IT tried a mortar attack albeit the unit was next to an assault. After getting an M2 result, the CW proceeds to make its morale check; the IT player rolls for a FF attack; rolls a 5; gets an M1 check against itself; then proceeds to demoralize its assault team losing one step to compound demoralization! Ta'veren at work!
It gets worse: Axis has two 21 and one 16 col attack in sequence with essentially nil effective result. The CW side makes 12/14 M1 checks and the two failed were simply D's.
In desperation, the IT side launches its western wing (leaving their dug-in network) to counter-attack: 30-col and 22-col DF attacks against CW stacks roll a 7 and 8 respectively. The CW, on the other hand, in three sequential attacks, rolled 12, 12, 11. That pretty much put an end to any chance of the IT side prevailing given the large number of turns remaining.
By turn fifteen. the IT player had remaining:
four leaders, only the Col in good order; 2xHMG; 1xHMG-DD; 1xHMG-D; 1xINF-DD; 1xINF; 1xINF-RD; Still had most of the artillery park, but the 81mm were DD or D.
CW loses in terms of steps (easier to designate): Ind-Maj; 1x3-inch; 3xACW; 2xValentine; 4xINF; 1xHMG
Counting tanks as dbl, this was 13 steps.
The IT side surrendered at this point, however, as with nineteen turns remaining; its defensive framework shattered; the artillery park about to be assaulted; the only possibility for victory was to force the CW to chase seven or more IT units Westward across the ridge until game end. This seemed a bit cheesy and probably not practicable given that the surviving IT units were predominantly slower moving HMGs.
I give this a '3' for the combat and play; but a '2' for the VC's which seem odd to me. The CW player could win with his entire force eliminated if in doing so, they reduce the IT force to fewer than seven units (on the 40-m terrain).
|Location, Location, Location|
Two relatively equally matched forces of Italians and Indians face off with the Indians goal to push the Italians off a ridge. The Italians are tasked with staying on the ridge in some force and eliminating enough of the Indians to have actually fought a battle rather than running around aimlessly. Both forces are primarily infantry with the Itlaians having some AT and AA guns and the Indians being supported by a company of Valentines and some ACWs carrying some aboslutely useless 2 Pdrs. The key is that the Indians have a multitude of leaders since they have the VCOs and a morale advantage so that they will have the upper hand if it comes to assault combat.
It seems clear that the Indians will come rushing across the flat land to get to the ridge and will push forward to assault. Once on the ridge the limiting terrain will hide them until they close for assault. The ridge is too long to defend all of and too wide in most places to be able to spot the Indians if they choose to infiltrate the line and then come from behind.
Since survival is the key for the Italians I use a time-honored approach and set up a box close to, but not at, the east end of the ridge. I provide sufficient room for the Indians to pass through the east edge unseen (due to the limiting terrain). I have left a weaker section of the box in the northeast corner, primarily due to the limitation of the force mix. It was only after the Indian assault that I saw this as critical.
A quick view of Daniel's (Hugmenot's) pictures of his replay on the forum makes it clear what happens if you try to use the map edge to aid the Italian defense. I did not see these before my play so I can only say that my setup was fortuitous to the Italian cause. The Indians lost their mortars while crossing the flat and were led by the Valentines up the ridge. Correctly surmising the weak corner of the Italian box (for those statistics hounds, the box was a rectangle five hexes long with a four hex bulge at either end. Most heavy weapons were located at the corners with only the northeast corner without a gun) the Indians began a trek across the ridge.
The Valentines move in to soften up the corder and eventually disrupt the Italian infantry on the eastern edge of the box. At that point the British tank commander, clearly out of his mind, ordered an assault. The Italian infantry platoon passed the ensuing morale check and was joined by two other platoons, led by a Tenente in a counterattack which demoralized two of the Valentine's (Turn 10). Tea leaf readers will realize this leads to the loss of two tanks through double demoralization as the Italians immediately seize the initiative and repeat their assault in the next turn.
The Indian infantry then catches up to the Valentines and begins assaulting as well. In order to minimize the Opportunity Fire they assault directly from the east and take no losses with the only serious morale failures being leaders, thus slowing the process of investing the Italian line. Italian reserves are rushed to the corner but not committed to the battle pending the results of the assaults. While the Italians were not particularly successful in their rolls on assault combat or opportunity fire they seemed to have extreme luck on morale checks, rarely failing beyond disruption and often recovering. The Indians were able to eliminate many steps but couldn't eliminate entire stacks until 3-4 turns had passed.
The Italian Colonel (located in the southwestern corner of the box considered his options as the game approached the halfway point. It was clear that his forces were getting chewed up and that continued combat would only result in the entire Italian force being frittered away. As of turn 15 the Italians had lost 18 steps (one AT gun, one AA gun, one mortar, 5 HMG and 10 INF), the Indians had lost all three ACWs, the two Valentine steps and 2 mortars. both sides had a number of troops in DIS or DEM stage but the key factor was that the assaults were clearly going to take a number of turns to resolve and that survival was now the key as the Indians had lost the requisite number of steps (although not inthe fashion one would expect). Seeing a vast distance to the west of ridgeline, the Colonel ordered the western half of the box to begin a trek leaving behind those troops trapped in assaults or immobile (the AT guns) which could delay the Indian pursuit.
This was the key. By removing these troops from contact, while the Indian forces were still in assault hexes they were able to make a clean break and remove themselves from sight. One can only consider the plight of the British Colonel when looking up from the successful conclusion to another interminable assault on turn 22 saying "I thought there were a whole bunch more of them. Where did they go?". Italian defenders from the western edge of the initial box continued to hold out through turn 25 and the guns and HMG which were left behind did their job of delaying the pusuit sufficiently that the remaining 12 Italian units at the western edge of the ridge were able to reconstitute a box (much smaller) and the headlong rush of the Indians was disrupted as it came into view.
At the end of the scenario the Italians had lost half of their infantry, 4 of their six HMGs, two mortars and all of their guns. The Indians had lost 4 infantry steps in cleaning up the mess of the original box. This was a clear tactical victory for the Indians but a strategic victory for the Italians. I enjoyed the play as the Italian strategy did not come to me until late in the game. It was a little "gamey" but reading the storyline in scenario 39 it becomes apparent why the Italian suvival was necessary. I give it a "3".
|A Contest Right To The End|
This was played over Skype in no less than 4 sessions with Tony Langston from Chicago. It was the August scenario of the month that we volunteered to take part in and it turned out to be a real struggle right through to the end.
The Italians were asked to hold the 2nd level terrain rise across the map and were required to keep more than 6 units by the end of the battle. However, the fly in the ointment was that even if they achieved this, they would only win if they managed to inflict more than 8 enemy steps. The Indians, regardless of losses, needed to oust all but 6 of the Italian units from the high ground.
On the high ground on the right flank of an area known as Alem Hamza and in the path of an Indian division’s advance were the positions of the Italian 101st Trieste Motorised Division. Here they had dug-in in an intricate array of close and connected fox-holes and other dug-outs that represened an oblong brick. The Italian positions were sighted by the Commonwealth troops around 0800 hours and therefore, they still had a march of some four hours ahead of them if they were to engage this enemy. The Italians had also spotted their enemy too and before long OBA FO’s were sent ahead to harry the Allied advance. The Italian bombardments proved completely ineffective and by 1100 hours (turn 13) the attack lines were being deployed along the higher reaches of Alem Hamza.
It could be seen by the allies that the Trieste Division positions, although dense and connected was set-up in a very thin stretch of the high ground. The Italians chose this defensive tactic so that any Commonwealth attack would have to be launched on a very small frontage thus denying them to be able to bring their numbers to bare and have to try and grind its way through four lines of dug-outs. Or, if the allies decided they wanted to bring more of their firepower to bare and attack from the flank, this would then give the Italians the advantage of the slopes. In the event, the allies set themselves to attack on the small front and would try to pile-drive through the dug-outs.
About 1130 hours (turn15) fire began to be exchanged in earnest and British tanks were immediately hit by Italian 47mm AT guns (1 step). Indian ACW’s and infantry also suffered losses (1 & 2 steps respectively). Unperturbed by this fire, the Indians pushed on as their courageous leaders encouraged them forward. For the next half hour, the Punjabis and Rajputanas crawled and clambered through the rocky heights, taking whatever of the little cover might be available. With minor damage inflicted, the Indians, by 1230 hours (turn 19) had pushed to the Italian perimeter. Italian losses at this stage were negligible. At 1245 hours a rousing ‘Hurrah’ went up along the Indian lines and a direct attack was made on the Italian front line. British OBA had completely demoralized a couple of Italian MG units in this line, and as the Indians surged forward, these Italian machine-gunners ran to the rear ! However, the artillery could not account for the whole line and most Italians held their nerve to unleash some heavy fire on their assailants. One Indian platoon was rendered completely combat ineffective from the Italian fire as was an Indian MG platoon too. Yet another platoon suffered heavily as well (5 steps in the charge) but by 1315 hours (turn 22) the Indians were just short of the Italian positions. Within 15 minutes the Punjabis and Rajputanas were amongst the Italian dug-outs and now benefitting from local superiority. The melee proved furious and over the next 75 minutes most of the Italian front line had been cleared with heavy casualties (8 steps) and of its front, only a corner position was holding out with the 2nd line now exposed. The Indians had suffered too, losing yet more infantrymen (4 steps). These mainly came from vicious counter-attacks when an Italian position was taken, other Italian infantry dished out close range fire from the next row of dug-outs that lashed into the freshly victorious Indians. British Valentine tanks too had pushed in amongst Italian ordnance and managed to clear two positions (2 steps) as they cleaved a way through.
It was now 1500 hours (turn 29) and the whole of the hilltop near Alem Hamza was awash with battle, blood and death. The fighting had degenerated into close-quarter melee and point blank fire. The Indian attack, despite its success in the first line was looking quite blunted at this stage, with perhaps one company in particular still in good shape. Allied troops cohesion had been disrupted and many others were simply demoralized. The Allies looked as if they needed to take a breather and regroup some, but the hill was needed to be taken by 1700 hours and time was running out. So, with scant regard to the remaining strength of the troops, the Allied commander demanded his troops continue to press. The results were mixed with some Italian dug-out positions being overcome, but elsewhere, small Italian units were holding out. Like the mythical Hydra, the many heads of the Allied thrust were finally cut back and the momentum lost. By 1615 hours (turn 34), although more Italian units had eventually been eliminated than allies, there was simply no strength or time for the remaining Indian forces to muster for the final push. At least 14 Italian units still remained on the hilltop with some others close by. The Indians probably only had around 6 good order units remaining if that. The rest were all disrupted or demoralized or were simply too far away after previous fleeing. Also, just one of their officers, an Indian Subedar Major was the only leader that was in good order. With that situation, any further push was going to be futile, and the allies called off their attack handing the hard-pressed Italians a slim victory.
The battle had been very close. Both sides could claim to have missed chances through fate by not having inflicted more damage, but the Italians were left with the victory. Casualties in steps were - ITALIAN: 11 INF, 5 HMG, 2 OFF, 5 GUN :::::: INDIAN: 10 INF, 3 HMG, 1 OFF, 1 AFV, 1 APC, 1 GUN
Anybody looking for a competitive head-to-head game, this one can be recommended. ITs got infantry, AFV's, ordnance and OBA as well as a dug-in defender with lower morale than the attacker. Good scenario !
|Alem Hamza: The Italian Hedgehog|
The Indian 3/1 Punjabis and Rajputanas Rifles advanced on Alem Hamza, looking to dislodge the Italian 101st Trieste division from their hilltop redoubt. The Italians setup in dug out positions 800 meters deep on top of the hill. The Indians with British artillery and armored support entered the battle area in the range of hex rows xx21 to xx31.
The Indians decided to make for the hills straight ahead and then approach the Italian postions in order to negate their defensive bonus whilst defending uphill and to avoid OBA and mortar fire until the last possible minute. I took a methodical approach and tried to keep leader cohesiveness intact and to drive the entire group together so that when we hit the Italian force, many units could be called into the fray and hopefully dislodge the entrenched units. The Commonwealth troops moved slowly to keep the HMGs and INFs together as they climbed the hill and turned west. The Italians sent forward an observer and started to call in OBA which, except for momentarily disrupting a Mortar platoon, proved mostly ineffective. Once the Indians/British made it to the Hill, the Italians had no option but to wait for the approaching Indians.
Both sides exchanged OBA until the Commonwealth finally came into range of other fire. Thus begun a slow, steady march under fire that increased in intensity as the Indians closed on the Italian positions. As the Indians moved into position to assault across the front of the "box", deadly HMG fire at close range, combined with overlapping AA and Mortar fire caused several disruptions in key areas that force flees out of the contact area.
Finally, on Turn 22, The first Indian units along with the Valentines were able to make contact and assault the Italians. Even though Italian small arms fire proved effective against the Indian troops, their AT Fire and close-range bombardment from the 81mm mortars was mostly ineffective, only claiming 1 step loss on the Valentines and a few disruptions. Once the Indians closed to assault, They began to make the most of their morale and succeeded in clearing the first two rows of trenches. It was close and a few rolls either way would have swung this in either direction. The Indians proved highly effective in assault combat, but every trench cleared left a 3-stack Indian force vulnerable to close-range direct fire and OBA. In the end, this is what wore down the Indian advance and gave Victory to the Italians.
As Vince stated in his well-done AAR and in several posts, This battle was a drawn-out affair in which actual melee contact did not occur until turn 22. In my plans, I had decided to try and rush to the hills and then approach along the narrow front where I would be able to spot and drop OBA on the front trenches and hopefully disrupt the units enough to allow me to advance. Additionally, I was hoping to put some troops on either side of the hill after assaults to force the Italians that demoralized to flee straight off the board instead of down the hill on either side. My decision to do this instead of approaching directly from the south along the shortest path relied on the fact that I did not want to expose the troops to OBA and mortar fire (as spotting would have stretched all the way to the group of hills to the south - +6 hexes per elevation rule). In hindsight, this may have been a wiser course as it would have provided me with much more time to recover troops that disrupted and demoralized, rather than trying to take out 4 levels of dugouts in 14 turns against Italian "F-P" units!
I did enjoy the scenario, having shifted the casualty ratio in my favor although it did not result in victory. It took 4 sessions to complete and I wish I would have taken more pictures in the beginning and middle sessions as it would have illustrated the approach, attack and defense in a much better fashion than any words would have. I have posted pictures to the SotM:August thread in the forums and will include a small explanation of the pictures there.
|Tough time in the desert.|
Played solo over three session, this was the scenario of the month for August. It depicts a Commonwealth attack on well defended Italian ridge. Please note I used the OOB as given which includes 6 Italian HMG, not sure if one less HMG would have made much difference to the result. The Italians set up in a box defense on the ridge with their left flank resting on the map edged. MTR and ATG guns in the middle with a box of HMG/INF/20mm stacks around them. All units are dug in, all are in limiting terrain. The Commonwealth force enter and swiftly dump the useless 2prs well to the rear. This was to free up the ACE wheeled APC's for action later once all the Italian ATGs had been neutralized. As the Allied force move to the attack the Italian forces hold their fire not willing to expose themselves to the slightly stronger Commonwealth off board artillery. However after 90 minutes of cautious advance Indian casualties start to mount as accurate ling range machine fire takes it toll. At 1100 three hours into the battle a minor Italian counterattack takes place and this halts the Indian advance from the south. More accurate shooting from the on board Italian mortars cause further losses and after 3 hours the Italians have knocked of the 8 Indian steps required to fulfill the It VC. There was now a lull in the battle as finally the Indian commander managed to get together a fire group of 4 MG platoons, well led, and began a fire fight right across the ridge Italian losses were slowly starting to rise, but accurate counter battery had destroyed the Indian 81mm mortars and a lucky ATG shot had disabled a Valentine. Eventually having knocked out all the Italian units able to damage the APC's and Valentine's a combined arms attack was made but this got bogged down in HtH fighting as a second Italian counter attack led by their gallant Col in person stymied the Indian advance. By GT 32 it was obvious the the Indian forces could not gain their objectives and they withdrew to lick their wounds. This is not a bad scenario and would normally rate a 3 but the doubts over the It HMG count and its seemingly unbalanced VC have dropped it down a point. At first glance it looked tough for the Allies, on set up it looked even tougher and on play so it proved. A slight tweak with either OOB or VC would make this a better game. Still has a simulation of an attack on a well defended ridge line it hits the nail on the head
|A very soft box|
Played solo over 2 sessions.
I decided to experiment with a suggestion made by posters in the http://www.pg-hq.com/comms/showthread.php?tid=172 thread and set up the Italians in a box anchored by the east edge (you can see a picture of the setup sans leaders and DI counters on page 4 on the same thread).
The Indians entered the board far enough west to be out of range of the Italian mortars. Their first goal was to climb onto the 40m hill before they made their way east towards the Italians. Their force got into fire position within 8 or 9 turns, with only a few stragglers left behind due to failed morale checks.
The Indians concentrated their fire in three hexes until the Italian defenders were shaken by the fire. The Indians moved within assault distance on turn 12.
The battle turned very ugly quickly as demoralized Italian units were forced to retreat into a bunch which was constantly bombarded by the Indian mortars and off-board artillery. The net effect was very few Italian recovered if they failed their first recovery attempt.
Easy Commonwealth victory with all but 3 steps of Italian units eliminated by the end of turn 27.
I did not like (or did not handle well) the box defense anchored by a map edge. The two issues which I had were: (1) all demoralized Italian units were forced to retreat within a very small area and were easy pickings for the artillery, and (2) the Indians had no options but to fight on the small piece of land they occupied at the beginning of the scenario.
I gave this scenario a "2" but keep in mind it may be more a reflection of the defensive setup selected than of the scenario itself.