South Africa's War #5
|(Attacker) Italy||vs||South Africa (Defender)|
|Italy||132ª Divisone Corazzata "Ariete"|
|South Africa||1st South African Irish Regiment|
|South Africa||3rd Anti-Tank Battery|
|South Africa||9th Field Artillery|
|Overall Rating, 12 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 567 of 609|
|Parent Game||South Africa's War|
|Layout Dimensions||88 x 58 cm
35 x 23 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Desert Rats||maps + counters|
|South Africa's War||counters|
The first task given to 1st South African Division in Operation Crusader was to "mask" the positions of the Italian "Ariete" division around Bir el Gubi. Two days earlier the Italians had mauled a British tank brigade; how an infantry formation was expected to prevent an elite armored division from moving where it wished was not explained by XXX Corps command.
The Italian tank force appears to have been seeking to suppress South African harassing artillery fire on columns coming in and out of the Bir el Gubi position. Italian accounts of the action are not very clear, and the tank force may simply have blundered into the South African lines and then gone after the guns on their own initiative. The South Africans claimed seven tanks destroyed, admitting the loss of two of their artillery pieces.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|2 Errata Items|
The Italian Order of Battle includes Off-Board Artillery, but by Rule 9.1 "Target Spotting", Tank Leaders may not spot for bombardment. This is a problem. Two methods of "patching" present themselves: allow the Italian Tank Leaders to Spot for bombardment, or Pre-Register the Italian Off-Board Artillery Fire using the procedure in Beyond Normandy.
(caryn on 2011 Jul 26)
Four counters (ID#s: 1502 to 1506) have the incorrect NATO symbol (infantry in lieu of armor).
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|South Africa’s War, scenario #5: Irish Eyes|
*South Africa’s War, scenario #5: Irish Eyes
*This looked like an interesting situational battle to play, so I went for it. With only 12 turns on such a large map area, the Italians will be hard pressured but I love moving those M13/40s tanks across the map, so let see what happens?
*I wasn’t sure which victory condition to go for as the Italians, clearing one hill of South African undemoralized units or eliminating both 18-pdr, both located on different hill embattlements. So when I entered the map with my Italian tanks, I kept them in one group with most stacked with three units and head for the closest hill and went after the first 18-pdr. I lost one step of M13/40 tanks to the combine fire of the 2-pdr & the 18-pdr but I managed to take both out and additional INF unit as well. At this point I decided I could take the whole hill but I risked that it might take too long and it would only give me a minor victory as the Italian player, so I pull my Italian armor out of this section and headed to the road to save time getting to the next hill.
*Hitting the second hill, I had only about five turn, so I went right to work, hitting my major target, the second South African 18-pdr gun. All eight tank counters went after it. The Africans tried to counter with AT-Fire and some assaults but three Italian units stacked together bring 24 Direct Fire Points and put adjacent to the enemy units, they get a plus 2 column modifier minus 1 for the enemy being dug-in but that is still a plus one column modifier. In Assaults the South Africans must leave their dug-in protection to assault the adjacent Italian armor firing upon them, thus facing that 24 point DF again. The Italians rolled well in their combat and the South Africans fell a little short in the strength of their forces, not to mention the Italians had 30 points of off board artillery. The Italians eliminated the other South African 18-pdr and 3 more INF, one HMG and two Leaders at the loss of only one more tank step. They were hard pressed for time but managed a Major victory and pulled out of the battle on the last turn, to let the South Africans lick their wounds.
*Italians losses: 2 steps M13/40, one disrupted as well.
*South African losses: 2 18pdr, 1 2pdr, 4 INF, 1 HMG, 2 Leaders & about 5-6 Disrupted or Demoralized units as well.
*This was a fun battle to play, most likely better played solo, as the Italians have more to do then the South Africans, as far as movements.
|When Irish Eyes are Smiling|
Well, after reading over other AARs on this one and wanting to get my feet wet with this book, I jumped right in, having chosen to take the whole force towards the southern hill after a faint down the middle. As the South Africans, I had chosen to set up the 3in mortars with the 18pounders to help with possible disruptions to the Italian armor, anyway, and defended the western approaches with plenty of dug-in infantry. I did a pretty good job of playing against myself, placing my AT guns front and center in a place that later on they had little chance to shoot from. As the Italians made it to the spot that they turned and committed themselves to the southern most hill, the northern 18 and mortar got a hit on one of the 4 stacks, disrupting the one with the tank leader and brining those platoons to a stop for the moment, separating them a bit from the rest of the unit. The Italians moved around and attacked the hill from the East, throwing into disarray the dug in positions, and easily killing the 18pdr there by direct fire, and demoralizing the mortar crew. That was about the moment, in turn 5, that the dice started rolling middling numbers, which pretty much stuck for the rest of the game. Lots of assaults, lots of disruptions and a few demoralizations, and lots of recoveries with little additional loss. In the end, The South Africans lost 8 steps of infantry and the one 18pdr and 1 7-0-0 LT, and the Italians had lost 2 steps of armor, cheating either side out of a complete win. With the obvious need for both sides to break away for their noon tea time, the game ended in a draw. This was a good game to work with the new rules for hills and contour lines, and otherwise didn't play much differently than Afrika Korps games I had already played.
|Boer commando tactics make a Springbok victory decisive|
This was my first foray into 'South Africa's War' and I didn't have high expectations for Italy after reading the victory conditions and a few AARs of other's experiances with this scenario, but since it was only 12 turns long I gave it a go anyway.
The South African deployment is very specific with the placement of the 18-pdrs on two separate hills so likewise the foot units were divided evenly. The conditions for a major Italian victory seemed more obtainable than the minor conditions so I split the M13/40s up evenly to assault both positions at once in hopes of eliminating both of the 18-pdrs. It just seemed highly unlikely that either hill could be cleared of South African units in so little time.
The first four turns (09:00-09:45) pass by very quickly as Italian armor slowly approaches South African positions while 3-inch mortar rounds bounce off of the approaching tanks. At 10:00/turn 5, Italian armor is in range of AT capable units at the southern hill area but even with a crossfire modifier the guns fail to take out any tanks. In response,at 10:15/turn 6 Italian OBA is able to disrupt the 18-pdr at the south hill gaining a brief reprieve. The M13/40s aren't so lucky in the northern hill area and suffer a step loss from AT fire there. Then, at 10:30/turn 7, Italian OBA eliminates the 18-pdr at the north hill. This boosts Italian morale as there is only one more to eliminate for a major victory with 5 turns left. The tanks prepare to link up at the other hill but South African infantry units are close and furious enough to brave an assault before they can hit the road. Meanwhile, the 18-pdr at the other hill is again disrupted. At 11:00/turn 9, South African forces have left dug-in positions at both hills and an assault on "Ariete" tanks commences in the northern sector but is ineffective in the first round. Italian tanks then exit the assault hex unscathed. At this point the Italians have had incredible luck and a victory seems remotely possible.
At 11:15/turn 10, the tide turns. The remaining 18-pdr has recovered and cleaned it's sights, scoring a step loss on the southern attack force. At the same time, a second infantry assault eliminates another M13/40 step further north. The other Italian tanks counterattack to assist the reduced unit and get trounced, losing yet another step. At this point South Africa has met the requirements for a minor victory with 4 enemy step losses, 2 of those inflicted by infantry. Another 15 minutes passes with no results from either side. Finally, at 11:45/turn 12, AT crossfire eliminates a whole platoon of M13/40s meeting the conditions for a major victory with one 18-pdr intact. Italy spots for one last shot with OBA hoping to at least force a draw and are very close with an M2 result but it is not enough though the artillery unit is demoralized. Since the 18-pdr has already activated there is no chance of it failing a recovery roll and being eliminated and time is up.
I was really surprised at how this battle turned out and the Italians were close to at least achieving a draw all the way up until the last turn. Unfortunately the M13/40 tanks aren't very fast and weren't capable of out-running the Springbok infantry who made the difference between a major and minor victory. The tanks had to move in close to get direct fire results but were too far away from the road to make a clean getaway. I believe I would try a very different plan with the Italians on another go at it, perhaps sending only one platoon of tanks to spot for OBA on one hill position and making a brave charge with the 7 remaining tank units on the another hill position. Either way, I don't see this being impossible for an Italian victory, apparently others have been successful in their attempts. Also, the South African victory wasn't decisive until the last turn. I rated this a heavy '3', very close to '4', which is not bad. On a scale of 1-10 more like a 6.75. A good fast play that was over before dinner.
Ending step losses were:
Italy: 6 steps M13/40.
South Africa: 1 INF and 1 18-pdr.
The first hurdle was deciding why the Italians had Divisional Artillery and no one to Spot for it (no Regular Leaders), as well as why the British had 3-Inch Mortars and no one to use them on (though it was ultimately just possible to disrupt an Italian tank with Bombardment Fire). As the scenario clearly envisaged the use of the OBA, for this battle, we agreed the Italian tanks having Tank Leaders could Spot for OBA. Using the OBA as Pre-Registered (as in Beyond Normandy) was also a possibility, but my opponent, playing the Italians, didn't like that idea. The Mortars took up space.
As a side note, we used the Divisione Ariete counters from the Avalanche Press download, and they looked brilliant on the board.
As Jay mentions in his AAR, the beginning of this fight appears a bit slow, but this is, in my opinion, deceptive. In point of fact, the decisions the Italian and South African Players make during the manoeuver phase of the scenario are decisive.
The Italian player chose a long approach, threading through the defile between the South African positions so as to avoid AT Fire. He deployed all his armour in a single concentration, and moved it en masse until he drew abreast of the backs of the hills. He then split his tank column in two and went after both 18-Pdrs, thinking to take them in a sweeping attack from the more lightly defended rear. He would pound any unit that fired with his Divisional Artillery. His objective from the outset was the 18-Pdrs.
The South Africans
The South Africans have the opposite problem, with only the 2-Pdrs and the 18-Pdrs having any hope of hitting the Italian tanks, unless the Italians are clumsy enough to let the South African infantry assault them. Mobility is extremely limited, with the 2-Pdrs able to move one hex per Turn by being manhandled. So if the Italians rush the position, Moltke's Dictum is starkly brought home, and the game is likely decided in a few Turns of ferocious combat. As my opponent is often recklessly aggressive, this seemed likely. But the South African strength is really in their Leaders. Those Leaders may not be of particularly high quality, but there are plenty of them for this scenario, and they can be deployed so as to allow the South Africans to maximize the mobility of the 2-Pdrs and the hitting-power of the 18-Pdrs. I deployed my 2-Pdrs foreward, stacked with two Infantry platoons and for the sake of doctrine, protected by a HMG platoon and a covering infantry platoon. The 18-Pdrs were protected by a further three infantry platoons, including one guarding the rear. The 3-Inch Mortars were adjacent to the 18-Pdrs for the sake of appearances. My plan was to try and hit the Italians as they rushed whichever Hill they choose to attack with my 2-Pdr, following up with my 18-Pdr, and then try and execute an Assault as the Italians skirted my infantry positions. Because my opponent is usually shy of Assault combat, I did not expect him to come right at my 2-Pdrs.
The Italians moved slowly across the desert and into the defile between the two hills, frustrating South African gunners by staying well out of range. The 18-Pdrs and 3-inch Mortars opened up on the Italians, but this was really little more than harassing fire, and no appreciable effect was had on the Italian advance. The South Africans were not slow to react to the Italian attack, however, their infantry platoons straining to manhandle the 2-Pdrs back along the crowns of the kopjie to get into firing position should the Italians wheel and strike up the flanks. Italian Divisional Artillery kept up a suppressing fire on the South African 18-Pdrs, which several times scattered the inexperienced South African crews.
Once the lead tanks had drawn abreast of the rear of the left-hand hill, the Italians split into two forces, then swung around and attacked both hills from the rear-flank. Unfortunately, this brought them into the field-of-fire of the South African's guns, with both the 2-Pdrs and the 18-Pdrs able to strike at the thin-skinned Italian tanks. The attack on the right-hand hill was a fiasco, with all three tank platoons wiped out before reaching the hilltop. The attack on the left-hand hill faired somewhat better, as it managed to hug the hill line and get clear of the line-of-fire of both South African guns. With four tanks already lost, the Italians had only one Tank Leader left; the necessity of leading from the front cost the Italians dear. With their last four tanks emerging onto the hilltop, the Italians were at last able to come to grips with the South African guns. Unfortunately, the loss of so many command tanks had drastically reduced the speed at which the Italian tanks could act or react, so the South Africans were afforded ample opportunity to bring their 2-Pdr and 18-Pdr into action, and to close up their infantry platoons on the slow Italian tanks. Two more tank platoons were smashed by the South African guns and assaulting infantry platoons, before the final Tank Leader, dazed by several hits to his own tank and the loss of half of his platoon, was at last able to order the sole tank platoon remaining in action to assault the enemy 18-Pdr. This it did, but by now South African infantry platoons had swarmed back to the scene of the fight, and the 18-Pdr was protected by a well set-up HMG platoon and an infantry platoon. The Italian tank simply could not overcome the strength of the defenders, and the resulting defensive fire paired it down to half strength. The South Africans, scenting blood, again acted quickly, and the pitiful state of the Italian attackers left them spectators at their own destruction. The 18-Pdr fired AT rounds into the remaining Italian tanks assaulting it, blasting them to pieces, while the 2-Pdr finished off the Tank leader with a close-range shot, just before more South African infantry platoons swarmed over him. Grenades rained into the Italian commander's tank, and the last Italian tank became a pyre.
Facing me, with my very conservative approach to casualties and deployment, the Italian tactic of a long approach march and then diffused attack was a poor decision. It gave me most of the scenario to adjust my defence to meet his slowly developing attack. With his excellent Morale and numbers, a better choice would have been concentration and rapid attack, followed up by exploitation; roll over the first position, and then roll up the second.
Even against a more aggressive opponent, the Italian plan of attack was poor. With no infantry and only two companies of tanks, the Italians simply don't have the forces to employ manoeuver against the more numerous, widely separated South Africans in their dominating terrain. There was nothing to hold the South African infantry platoons in place once the Italians began moving into the defile, and on the right flank, this proved disasterous, as the left-flank 2-Pdr had been manhandled into a position which let it set up flanking fire for both the right-flank guns; the results were hardly surprising. With one weak force destroyed, the Italians lacked the firepower to both suppress the South African infantry and attack and destroy the South African guns.
The Italians lost six of their eight tank platoons, including all of their Tank Leaders, rendering the two remaining half-platoons useless, even if they hadn't already been Demoralised, as they in fact were.
This scenario's Victory conditions seem excessively hard on the Italians. Given their lack of infantry (and by Rule, that makes their OBA useless), there is no way they can clear a hill of South African units, unless the South African player bungles the initial deployment, which is going to happen maybe one time with a new player.
I suspect the best the Italian Player can hope for is a draw.
A battalion of Italian M13/40s is given the task of destroying some gun emplacements on two widely separated hills. As noted in other AARs the Italians must decide whether to go after a complete wiping out of one hill or to take out the heavy guns on both hills. The South Africans have a battalion of infantry and some AT support to help. The scenario is short (12 turns) so there is little time for the Italians to change their mind. The M13/40 has only 6 MPs so movement off road will be slow.
My Italians chose to split their force with the concept of completely wiping out the smaller hill (with only an AT gun, 1 INF and 1 HMG along with the 18 pdr), sending 5 platoons of tanks there with the remaining 3 platoons maneuvering to get a crack at the gun on the southern hill.
As others have mentioned there is a glitch in the scenario. The Italians are given a substantial amount of OBA (3 10-factor packets) but no leaders to sight with. I chose, as others did, to permit tank leaders to spot.
For those looking at the title of this AAR and the winner you can guess what happened. By the end of turn 4, three complete platoons of tanks were eliminated and two were reduced and demoralized. The Italian attack was in shambles and the tanks were pulled back. I do not believe that this was the result of a poorly designed scenario but rather very high rolls by the South African AT gunners and equally high rolls from the a8 pdrs. In two cases a modified 13 or higher came up eliminating a whole tank platoon with one shot.
Add to that the fact that the Italian OBA was ineffective, not due to lack of results but due to good morale check rolls by the S.A. guns.
Still this one was over quickly and I left feeling somewhat cheated. I will probably play this one again to see if reasonable rolling would give a different feel.