To Embark Upon This Great Crusade – Part 7

The two marks (Mark and Marc), continue their chronological newsreel AAR series thru the sands of time  with Combat Commander as the metaphor of their exploration of squad level combat in WWII.

It has been a while since we had  some posts from the 2 M’s. Lets dig in and see where we are at in the chronological walk thru of Squad level combat in WWII.

News from the Fronts, August 1942

From the sands of North Africa to the malaria-infested swamps of the Pacific to the dense woods blending Europe into the Soviet Union, we witness a world at war! The Nazis, well into their drive into the Soviet Union–some say Hitler is Napoleon reincarnated–battle against Soviet defenders who often take their fight to the last man. In the Pacific, our own American boys have a foothold on Guadalcanal but must hold tight against waves of suicidal Japanese soldiers. In the hot sands of the African continent, our brave Allies are hounded by Mussolini’s troops.

Egypt, August 11

A road in the middle of nowhere. British troops facing off against Italians in this “no man’s land.” The British have set up a position from which to harass their enemy.

Suddenly, orders come in that the road must be taken and held at all costs. The Italians apparently have the same order as they begin to fire and move. It’s a race to claim the center of this barren strip of highway. The Italians are able to send a squad to take out the British HMG. But a hero appears who dashes without a thought for himself to take and hold the road. Mortar fire seems to end him but he reappears! And he takes the road again. But the Italians who are close by now are too strong. He is killed. The remaining British forces run forward but are hit by Italian fire. It’s a disaster and our Allies cannot retake the road before the Italians call in additional forces to secure the area. A bitter day for the Brits under the hot desert sun! Smythe was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

On Guadalcanal, August 21

Most have not heard of the island of Guadalcanal in the vast Pacific Ocean. But it was there that a determined band of United States Marines held their ground against an onslaught of suicidal charging Japanese soldiers.

Here are the forces, grouped tightly, their firepower concentrated for when their enemies would cross that river:

Through the palms and swamps, our boys heard the crash and rush and horrible shouts of the Japanese army as they streamed forward in their furious waves of Banzai charges. Their view hampered by great swaths of putrid swamps, our Marines had to bravely hold their fire until they could “see the whites of their eyes” and open up their weapons at close range. Men washed across the river like waves, their horrible yells clawing at the courage of the young Marines. But from the Halls of Montezuma to the rivers of Pacific islands, our boys stood strong. With Medium and Heavy machine guns, .50 caliber machine guns and good ol’ fashioned rifles and small arms, our Marines did their country proud. Those Japanese shrieked and charged but our boys held steady and let ’em have it! It might have been a close run thing as the enemy finally crossed the river and engaged our men at close range but their fire was true and it wasn’t long before the Japanese couldn’t advance in the face of the hail of bullets from our boys. Be proud, American as your Marines held fast this day. You can see just how close it was in this military news photo!

A Little Place You Can’t Pronounce: Spartakovka, August 23

The forces of the Fuhrer have made inroads into the great Soviet Union. But as they approach the Volga river and the outskirts of the city of Stalingrad, they find they are slowed by Russian troops who are prepared to fight to the last man! Here is the situation near Spartakovka, not far from Stalingrad. Our Soviet friends must make a stand, and keep the Germans from advancing!

The Russians have an MMG well-placed in the central house to cover the German advance, but heavy fire from the Germans not the edge of the woods kill Gulkevich and send the MMG routing back where the men manning it are picked off by German riflemen in a nearby building. A brave squad of Russians is able to set a nasty Ambush for one of the German leaders and his squad, but it is not long before German reinforcements arrive, bring their deadly “buzzsaw,” the MG42 to begin shredding the trees and the men hiding in them along the edge of the woods. The Germans are advancing steadily, driving their Soviet challengers back. The Russian units are fleeing but some hold fast, sticking to the forest to try to get close and shoot as many Germans as they can. In the end, the Germans do not move quickly enough and even though they have taken the important central house, the Russians hold the field! See here all that’s left of the Soviet defenders!

Game Notes

Scenario 23 is a Combat Commander: Mediterranean scenario in which there is nothing but open ground and a road. Both the British and the Italians came up out of their trenches. Objective 5 turned out to be worth 10 points! So it was all about fighting for that. I couldn’t get a good mix of cards, it seemed and never got to use my artillery before the radio was eliminated. With Singh and the HMG gone, it was tougher for our limited forces to hold back the Italians. Smythe appeared twice and did us proud, but we couldn’t hold on. Italians won when Sudden Death hit, with 12 VPs.

Scenario C is the first of the included scenarios in Combat Commander: Pacific. This was a prettily classic result for this scenario. Here the Japanese have to move quickly to kill lots of Americans and grab the objectives. With the the way the Charge Order works, they won’t be racking up lots of VPs since the Americans will kill so many. But the Japanese just keep coming and if they can cross quickly and overrun the American positions, they can win. But that didn’t happen today. I had a Leader and MMG and Pack Howtizer in the same hex. Though their LOS was blocked they had good coverage with men strung out to both sides to hit the Japanese hard as they made it into the swamps on the American side of the river. Fortunately, as the Defender, I was able to drop a trench into that hex and so keep the guys safe. The Japanese made a few kills but it wasn’t enough and the Americans won it with 27 VPs.

Scenario 35 is the first one from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #2 – Stalingrad. It turns out Objective 5 was worth something for both of us. I really wanted to hold it with my MMG but that didn’t last at all. It was nice to take out a leader and squad with two ambushes and melee, but that victory was short lived. Marc thought he didn’t have the time to move units off the map (double exit points) as time was flying by so he concentrated on killing my units. All my men on the left, in the woods, were hampered, especially when wimpy Gordov broke and routed. He came back but not in time and was later killed. The highlight of the game seemed to be how fast the boxcars were being pulled. In the end, I had one squad that was suppressed in the woods, the only possible threat to the Germans. A leader, squad and team moved through the trees and I fired the suppressed squad. Marc rolls boxcars and passes the Initiative Card. I was one away from surrendering but ahead by 9 points so I gathered he thought he could finish me off. But that same Op Fire action brought me a roll with a Time Trigger and I rolled Sudden Death, ending the game. But Objective 5! It swung the VPS 7 in his direction but that still left me with 2 for a win! That was really tense!

We are rocking our play through of all of the Combat Commander Series scenarios in chronological order. It’s pretty wild to think that while the Germans and Russians are duking it out in the forest, just a few days earlier the Marines and Japanese are in a vicious battle on the other side of the world!

This helped my record a bit today so the standings are Allies (Me) to Axis (Marc) at 8-10.

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