British MissionIt's soon after the allied landing in Italy. The British spearhead was able to advance from the landing zone which lies somewhere westerly of the board. To secure the arriving reinforcements it is vital to conquer the village nearby to expand the beachhead (2). Additionally the allies will need a high-capacity supply line. Therefor the well supported road in the east must be taken (3).
Although the Allies were able to bring the first wave of troops onto the beach, there is still a chance to baulk the invasion. Therefor it is vital to stop the allied advance and keep control of the village (2). Additionally the pressure on the landed troops must be enhanced. The Italian forces have to gain control of the hill in the west to install an artillery observation post there (3). This would open the chance to overlook the landing zones and range in long-range artillery.
|The deployment zones and the mission objectives (yellow).|
After having set up the brave troops (and additionally some Italians...;-) ) we rolled for initiative. Initiative is checked every turn and the winning player may decide wether he wants to play first or second. However the British fielded more NCOs than the Italians so they got a bonus and won the roll. I decided to have another cup of Earl Grey tea with my subordinates and presented the first turn to Michael.
The first surprise on this foggy morning...
The beginning of the game:
Italian pressure and British counterblast
|Advance and firefight (yellow) during the first turns of the game.|
On the southern flank an Italian truck dashed over the road. It headed towards the cottage in the South and I was afraid that they might to install a strong defensive position there.
The other Italian troops just made smaller movements behind the church to reorganize the northern flank.
|The cold-blooded British gun crew destroys the 90mm AA-gun.|
|The Sherman hits the Italian Truck and causes severe damage. Meanwhile the mortar prepare to finish the job...|
During their turn the Italians tried to put away the counterblasts and tried to regroup. They gathered behind the church and prepared a counterattack for the next turns. To cover this attempt the Carro Commando advanced carefully trying to come into a good position the overlook the plaza in front of the church. He ranged in Italian mortar fire on the Sherman but the impacts skattered too far. No damage caused on the tank.
The Italians try to break out of the pocket
Initiative for turn three was won by the British again. Because the only visible threat was the Carro Commando I decided to pass the right to play first to Michael. As expected the Italians were not prepared for this twist. He continued arranging his troops in cover of the church but he wasn't able to develop a powerful breack out yet. He hid his left flank with smoke when the Semovente dashed through the bushes and attacked the southern flank. I piped down when it turn to the Sherman on the plaza and fired a 105mm shell at him. Fortunately the front plate was thick enough to withstand the impact.
Impressed by this strike the British slowed down their advance. They came to more infantry to support the armoured spearhead. The only significant blow hit the Italian Carro Commando which risked a bit too much. When the mortar shells covered the car in shrapnels its tracks were heavily damaged and one crew member died. The Sherman tried shot the Semovente but didn't penetrate its heavy front armour.
Afterwards the Italians raised even more pressure. The Lancia Lince scout car darted out of the smoke and ranged in all four Italian mortars on the Sherman. Four heavy shells detonated around the tank and his drive was damaged. For the rest of the game he was limited to go straight forward or backward but he didn't suffer major damage.
|The Lancia Lince drives down the road and ranges in mortar fire on the Sherman.|
|The Carri Veloce bring forward their charge in front of the burning truck... and end up in mortar fire.|
However I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and wanted to go straight for the decision!
The Daimler Mk. II armoured car rushed forward to outflank the Semovente. The 2pdr hit but and damaged the tracks. Not great but anyway the tank was more or less immobilized. Again the British used their 3" mortars and let the shells rain between the Carri Veloce and the Lancia Lince. All three vehicles took severe damage and the two light armoured cars were destroyed. Concurrently the last British charge began. The 6pdr crew attached the gun to their Lloyd Carrier and moved forward. The second Sherman as well as the Bishop rushed along the left flank and headed to the church. Infantry followed as fast as possible.
The British enforce the decisionThe next Italian turn elapsed nearly without significant events. Because the road was completely blocked with wracks Michael had no chance to reinforce his left flank with vehicles. The Semovente wasn't able to turn because of the damaged track and was blinded by the burning Carri Veloce. An Italian machine-gun section entered the church and laid fire on the advancing British infantry. Combined with Italian mortars they scored 8 casualties and nearly wiped out a full British Rifle Section.
|The British advance on both flanks facing resistance of Italian infantry in the church and in the Northern woods.|
|The British mortar crew recalibrates their weapons to lay fire on the Semovente.... and hit devastatingly.|
|British infantry rushing forward...|
ConclusionMy first game in 2012 was really fun and we had a great time. Nevertheless Michael wasn't satisfied with the progress of the battle.
He really did his very best but some parameters just went against the Italians:
At first glance we thought the Italians might have a great advantage because they were able to cover behind the church and might conquer it as strong defensive emplacement. The game proved that it was more loss than gain. Since the British 6pdr gun was able to overlook the Northern flank Michael tried to carry the battle to the Southern part of the battlefield. After the road was blocked with wracked vehicles it was too narrow there to expand troops.
Although both forces completed 750 pts. The Italiens had technical problems. The British were able to field the Sherman tank which has a good armour and a reasonable gun. Most Italian tanks are equipped with outdated 47mm guns or even lighter guns. The only exception is the Semovente SPG which is available with 75mm and 105mm guns. Since only one model was available to Michael he only deployed one of them. Not enough to cover both flanks...
The other heavy anti-tank weapon was the 90mm AA-gun. Dangerous for Sherman and Bishop but lost in the very first exchange of fire...
Maybe in some situations other decisions would have caused better success. The Italians did use too little smoke shells to blind the British forward observers or tanks. Perhaps that would have bought them enough time to advance with the infantry and attacks the British tanks in close combat.
Although Michael was deservedly a bit disappointed I hope he had fun alike. We played in a very relaxed mood and got the game played rather fast. For the next game I wish him better luck and a stronger force...
I hope you enjoyed this review. Albeit I tried to describe the game rather neutrally I wasn't able to leave my involvement behind all the time...