Patch came over today, and we took the chance to use my French and Allied Minor counters in anger for the first time. (I’ve had Croix de Guerre for over 15 years by this point, and I’ve played with both nationalities before, but only on Vassal, so it was the first time using the actual counters.)

We picked out J45 “The Last Roadblock” from Journal 3, an interesting little fight between the Germans and the French Foreign Legion with support from the Norwegian Army. It uses half of boards 18 and 9 (which I don’t see enough of), with Mud and Alpine terrain. The Germans start with six squads (elite and 2nd line) versus twelve French elite squads (with underlined morale and broken morale increased to 8), and eight Allied Minor squads (elite and 1st line). Both sides have one 81mm MTR. Technically, the Allies are attacking, since they need to take half of the level three and four hexes in western hill of board 9 (the one completely on board) in six turns. However, the Germans move first and get eight elite squads on the east edge, and win immediately if they get 25 CVP. Finally, the Allies get some 70+mm OBA and a elite squad on the north edge on turn 3.

I took the Allies, as they set up first, though a lot of the setup is fairly restricted for both sides. The general idea for me was to press forward with the French (who start near the goal, with the Norwegians splitting between moving east to guard the MTR against the German reinforcements, and the rest headed for the hill. Patch effectively split his reinforcements between boards 18 and 9. Things started out poorly for me as I could not roll under an ‘8’ for a Morale Check for… oh, about the first turn and a half. Since Patch kept rolling 1MCs, French troops started breaking fast. However, my MTR got a ROF tear on my turn 1, and really pounded his troops up on the shoulder of the second big hill, breaking a couple units, and killing a squad.

J45 1F
Situation, Allied Turn 1. North is to the left in this shot. Grain is open ground, roads actually exist to negate mud penalties, but do not confer movement bonuses.

I followed this up with another rate tear that killed the crew of Patch’s MTR on my second turn. I was still having trouble passing MCs, but I was doing a lot more permanent damage. Part of the French force made it onto the eastern shoulder of the victory hill, while a fair amount of long range sniping continued. I was keeping the Norwegian MMG on a board 18 hill so that he would have to face its fire to get at my MTR from the east. On the other hand, I had malfunctioned, and then lost both my LMGs by this point.

J45 2F
Situation, Allied Turn 2.

Sadly, Patch managed to break two of the three squads of that effort, and the survivor had to duck around to the west, as I went with in for full assault on the hill on my turn three. I started by moving my new squad+leader down the road towards the HS still manning the ridgeline to the east and survived their fire. Then Patch got good dice as I attempted to press up the hill towards the level three hexes, and he sliced much of it apart, killing two-three squads, and breaking more.

J45 3F
Situation, Allied Turn 3.

A second attempt on turn 4 went about as well, and the CVP were really piling up. Patch pointed out after the end of the game that my MTR should have been smoking in his units by now. The early rate-tears had certainly done great things, but when the big wave went in on turn 3, there should have been smoke. Sadly, I still don’t think on those terms much.

I also make a couple mistakes in here that cost me a lot. I had three broken squads get trapped in 18L9, and then accidentally marked a leader OpFire when I was going to move him down there. I got so focused on that, that I also missed another leader that was in range of the place, and moved him the other way. However, faced with German units coming up on there, I barely manged to rally one on a 1st MMC attempt, and then another went Fanatic when he fired on the hex. That tied up things in that area again for the rest of the game.

Patch had a HMG stack in 9Z5 which was the bane of my advance. The leader there went Heroic early on, and I managed to wound him, but couldn’t do more. I eventually pinned the HS manning the MG, pushed in a stack with a couple of HS (one with my MMG) and a leader. That exchange went poorly, with the leader and one HS breaking, and more shots coming in. He got another 1MC… and the leader rolled ‘2’, going Berserk and taking the rest of the stack with him. However, there were prisoners there, so they got Massacred resolving the Berserk in my DFPh (we think that the entire stack is happy with that, instead of just one unit, the rule doesn’t seem clear).

J45 5G
Situation, German Turn 5.

I finally got serious force up on top of the hill for my turn 5. We were both pretty well shot up, and the CVP total was up to 22. Since I go last, I had a fair chance at grabbing a victory at absolutely the last moment by advancing into hill hexes. The problem was avoiding taking casualties. This proved impossible.

My impetuous advance in the north had gone all wrong with the squad breaking and getting captured. The leader survived, but got attacked in CC with his leader. There was no result until this point where he got an extra HS in there and the 3-1 did the trick. He also advanced into CC with a couple of my units on top of the hill. He had managed to pin a HS of mine, and then took it out in CC for the last point he needed, while next door another CC raged with no result for him and a CR for me. (Which had been a secondary goal: anyone in Melee wasn’t taking further hexes.)

J45 6G
Situation, end of game. (German Turn 6 CCPh)

So, I lost on a very close and enjoyable game. Thankfully Patch’s Sniper (SAN 5) only went off a couple of times, the first one being DMing an already DM unit…. Both of us had plenty of poor luck to complain about, though I had an amazing number of HoB results in the middle game. With some Smoke in turns 3 and 4, it would have probably been a different game. I need to get better about that.