It took a while, but Mark and I finished going the Operation Dauntless tutorial scenarios a little bit ago. All of the last three were certainly interesting exercises, and the last one in particular has had some knock-on effects (which I’ll mention later).

T9 is focused on the transport pool, which is a part of the rules I felt I already had a good grasp on, and we did one play through in one session. The British have three groups loaded MG sections (which must stay that way), while the Germans get a few Sd Kfz 250/9 units. Both sides get VPs for causing casualties and for transport losses, and the Brits get VPs for successfully exiting units.

Mark set up a little too clustered, and one group immediately exited without him being able to take more than a couple shots, which missed, while the other two moved up to near 1204 (Bellemare). However, he sent a pair of units to assault one of my groups, and caused a transport loss in the AT stage, and I then withdrew out. His other two units assaulted the same group but didn’t get any hits before I withdrew out. The combat phase didn’t get him any luck either.

The British get a couple of recon platoons and a armored car troop on turn 2, which advanced all the way from the southern area to 0802 (Le Haut d’Audreiu). The group Mark had picked on was in a relatively poor position, but managed to get out with no losses and then get off the map. The last group had no problems exiting since the Germans couldn’t see them from where they’d ended up.

Mark tried assaulting my remaining group (where were much more capable than the MG sections), and I knocked out three out of four steps, one on the way in (20 AT roll…) and two during the assault, after which I withdrew out having lost a AC step. The second pair came in, and Mark finished off the AC unit in an assault, and I withdrew out again. I circled around to exit off of 1001 on my turn, taking a tranport loss on the way.

Overall VPs were 17:4. It’s a little hard to say how to do really well as the Germans here. There’s too many hexes to cover for exiting to really stop the British, and assaulting MG sections is essential (they can’t cause losses to the Germans), but the British can generally make sure the Tactical Advantage draws aren’t too good. Admittedly, actually failing a transport loss check would have hurt.

T10 is more of a proper dress rehearsal for dealing with towed units. The Germans begin in control of the goal, 0807 with two Pz IV, and one AC unit. They get a bunch more on turn 2, but that’s the initial defenders. The British start with three recon platoons, two 6-pounder batteries and an AC section, and get a full battalion on turn 3. The general idea is that the British should capture 0807 at the start, and then fend off German counterattacks for the rest of the six-turn scenario.

I started by bringing the three recon platoons in and assaulting the lone AC in 0806. I managed one AT shot in the assault to reduce the unit, and then set up 6-pdrs in 0705 and 1006, with my AC unit swinging wide around the NW corner of the board to end in 0606. In the combat phase, I managed to knock out a Pz IV unit (with help from a high roll and fire from the AC while the Panzers were faced towards 1006. However, Mark had good return fire to kill the AT in 1006. 0705 thankfully survived, but the lighter terrain it was in was a worry.

For my second turn, the scout platoons circled around to 0907, taking Friction Fire from the AC. This was ineffective, but set off an ARC with my AC missing, Mark’s AC reacting into 0807, my 6-pdrs missing, and Mark missing a return fire at them with the Pz IVs. I passed at that point and assaulted 0807, getting Tactical Advantage thanks to having the only infantry there for a DDA killed the Pz IV unit with good chit draws (and thereby skipping the “A” as the ACs had no AT capability). On the other hand, he didn’t have to take any results from the assault itself (and I took none; 0/3). The AC unit was finally taken out in my Combat Phase as the AT unit finally connected. (In an interesting wrinkle of the victory rules, that gave me control of victory hex 0807 as I had an uncontested ZOC on it).

On German turn 2, they get four Panzer IV platoons, already lined up in north edge of Fontenay, and six infantry platoons, an MG section, a mortar battery, and a AC platoon, all of which start at the southern edge of the board. With all the infantry having organic halftrack transports, Mark was able to drive them up to just east of my positions, out of site, and then do a one-hex move into close terrain, while the AC moved to 1309. Two Pz IVs stayed in 0710, while one unit moved west around to 0407, and the last moved east up to 1205.

The rest of my forces became available on my turn, and Operation Dauntless doesn’t disappoint on showing why tanks need infantry support. A two-company assault on 1205 got me an AA chit, and both shots got good modifiers (+7 and +14) to destroy the Pz IV unit in 1205. The other pair assaulted 1206 and forced a three-hex retreat to 1008. On the other hand, I tried moving my new 6-pdr unit down to 1606 to chase the Germans away from that part of the board, and Mark’s ACs shot up the transports, and I failed the survival check.

I tried suppressing 1107 for an assault, but failed, while the one platoon in 0907 moved out of the hex, and the last started digging in. In the combat phase, I went after 1107 with with the contents of 1106 and 1206 and plenty of support, while Mark with his available units, with only his AC managing a suppression, but it was still a 7:1 combat, which forced a three hex retreat to 1110.

Mark pulled the west-side Pz IVs back, and advanced on the victory hex, only to take a step loss from my 6-pdrs (a ’20’ on 2d10 is generally bad news). They halted in 0808 while another unit Returned Fire from outside the 6-pdrs range. Another Pz IV platoon advanced to 0908, and lost a step to the 6-pdrs (19…), before advancing into, and retaking 0807 while my AT guns finally missed. He then sent the three platoons in 1008 to help hold it, but the first two were stopped by Friction Fire, while the third got through. The rest of his infantry gathered in 1008, and the ACs swung back to 0809. His only activity in the Combat Phase was an ineffective shot from the ACs against 0907.

For my fourth turn, a very good ranged attack roll got me a suppression on 1008, and my main force (two companies + a carrier platoon) moved in to assault, with a 0/2 on a final odds of 2:1, forcing them back 1010. The other two companies came out of the close terrain in 1107 and survived Friction Fire to assault 0908 at 2:1 for another 0/2, forcing them back towards 0709, but but they were eliminated with successful Friction Fire. In the Combat Phase, I hit 0807, and both of us threw in just about all the available support. I got one suppression, while Mark’s ACs caused two step losses and a suppression, for a final 3:2 combat and 0/1 result. Mark retreated out, and I advanced in with my two (now) reduced companies.

Mark moved an infantry platoon out of Fontenay, and it was immediately halted by Friction Fire. The remaining full-strength Pz IVs moved up to 0708, surviving two shots from my 6-pdrs. The other two infantry platoons circled around to 0710 and then moved up to 0808 without me being able to halt them. The MG section moved into 0809 and got halted by Friction Fire (the 6 RAS of my carrier platoon in 1008 was being really effective). The ACs moved up to 0808, but took losses from the 6-pdrs. For Combat, he attacked 0807, and we both threw everything available into support. Mark got two suppressions, and a step loss to eliminate a company, while I did three suppressions and two steps (my MTRs rolled 12 for a Final 19). The combat was 7:1 for a 0/2 result, and thankfully there wasn’t much available for Friction Fire as the remaining company retreated out to 0906. He reoccupied the hex, but lost a step of Pz IVs to the 6-pdrs.

The 6-pdrs knocked out the remaining Pz IV step in 0906 with a beginning-of-action-phase AT shot. However, Return Fire from one of the other Pz IV units eliminated them, losing more than three British units is an automatic German win (all my 6-pdr batteries and the one infantry company).

It’s certainly a good scenario with a lot of action. The AT Guns proved a lot more vulnerable, even in close terrain, than I expected, with that first loss being in heavy bocage. The second one was more of a gamble, but I still didn’t really expect a successful AT shot from the AC at four hex range. Without the final loss, my last turn was shaping up to have plenty of drama as I’d have a base 2:1 assault from 0907, and a decent shot at killing his AC before the main CRT part (which would give me 5:1 and armor bonus). But there was any number of ways that Mark might have forced some other unit loss on me before the end of his turn.

The final tutorial scenario is an interesting one. To a large extent, it is meant to get players used to the British towed 17-pdr AT gun. Most towed guns load up for two MPs and unload for two more, and have a dozen or so MP while loaded. 17-pdrs are unwieldy, and hooking/unhooking takes an entire turn. And in this scenario, the British get eight of them, unhelpfully deployed nowhere useful, so they need three turns to get into useful positions. There’s also three Achilles SP 17-pdr batteries, and one 6-pdr battery, and on turn 6 a full Sherman squadron arrives (largely Firefly-enhanced). The Germans have a mixed all-vehicle force that arrives over the first three turns, and it’s goal is to enter from the south edge of the map, and exit as much as possible off the north edge.

This is inspired by (and bears the same name as) the scenario “Breakthrough” in the classic microgame GEV. This has led to Mark trying the game out, and me playing it for the first time in nearly three decades. That writeup will be along in a bit.

The first turn was fairly simple as the bulk of my units were just loading up, and the rest raced to some scattered locations for a mid-board ‘front. The Germans enter two AC and three Pz IV units the first turn, which worked their way up the roads to come up just south of Fontenay. Turn 2 is basically where I declared I’d holding the line, as any 17-pdrs that moved on 3 wouldn’t set up until 4. I had a couple units in/near St-Pierre in the west, a couple in the woods in the east, with backup on Point 102, and a couple more lined up on the slope near Les Hauts Vents.

For Mark’s turn 2, the Germans get three units of Panthers (a company). Mark swung these around to the west, where they were just shy of being able to cross the 0411 bridge over the Bordel, while the rest advanced into Fontenay. The scenario advice points out 0409 as a good place to deploy a gun, but I considered it too exposed as there’s no cover, and plenty of places that can see it at a decent range. I unhooked everything for my 3, and redeployed the 6-pdrs and one Achilles, with the later going to 0310 to protect the bridge, while other units backed him up.

For turn 3, the Germans get two more companies of Panthers, and three Tiger sections. These moved up to 0813, 1313, and 1314 respectively. The Pz IVs and AC moved around inside of Fontenay, trying to find better positions that were still safely out of LOS from lurking British guns. The first company of Panthers pushed up to 0411, but stayed there. I was happy with my positions for turn 4, and only took a couple of potshots at 0810, which missed, and were not returned.

For his turn 4, Mark started with forcing the 0410 bridge. My Achilles forced a step loss, and one unit stopped to Return Fire, causing a step loss, and the Achilles Reaction Moved back to 0309. The other two units followed, and my Achilles in 0308 caused another step loss. Return Fire caused a step on that unit, who Reaction Moved back to 0307, and he halted the remaining Panther unit. He then moved one Panther unit into LOS on the east side in 1411, and the guns on Point 102 quickly reduced it. Return Fire did nothing, as did another shot from the 17-pdrs, and then the ARC ended. The Tigers moved into light cover without me being able to touch them, and the other two Panthers moved up to 1211 with similar lack of effective AT fire.

The third group of Panthers moved up to 0410, while Pz IVs in the village split up, with one platoon going to join a second one in 1111, and one moving over the west bridge to 0310. AT fire reduced it a step, but Return Fire finished off my reduced Achilles unit.

My turn 5 saw me reposition the 6-pdrs to 0307, and the reduced Achilles unit there went to 0406. The east side opened up, but only got one one hit, on a Panther unit, while Mark refused Return Fire, and causing extended ARCs with all the guns over there. This repeated in the Combat Phase, but this time with no hits (I mostly had -1 shots).

Mark started his turn 5 trying to force the east side, first with the reduced Panthers, then with the heavier-armored Tigers, but good mods and decent rolls killed them before they could get to overrun the ATGs. (Hey, the rock-paper-scissors of Panzer General works!) Then the 0310 force swung through the light bocage on the west side of the board, and the 6-pdr took out the Pz IVs before getting overrun in a 3:2 assault that killed it. Reaction Fire to the advance did nothing (as did the 6-pdr’s AT fire at the start of the assault), and the assaulted 0406. I took a No AT Fire, and the Achilles withdrew. The follow-up group of four Panther units went to 0306, but each unit lost a step to the various AT assets still in the area (four shots, four steps; Mark didn’t interfere with 0406 as anyone who fired would take a rear shot from another British unit).

The ACs went west to follow in the wake of the Panthers, while the Pz IVs in Fontenay moved up to the edge of the village to get involved in a gunnery duel that I lost, getting no hits, and eventually losing the 17-pdrs in 1108. The Panthers in 1211 went to join them, and again took no hits from my AT fire (which at this point was all coming from 1307, which was out of effective return-fire range of the tanks.

The Sherman platoons came in for my 6, and three went to the east side (0202, 0403, 0505) to backstop the crumbling defense there, one came  on 1602 (the British supply points are the legal entry hexes), and circled around to 1207 to stiffen that line, and the non-Firefly platoon went to 0303 as a final defensive position. Meanwhile, the existing defenders opened up, largely without effect, but both 0407 and 0506 got hits to eliminate the two reduced Panthers in 0406. Combat phase saw 0407 get another hit to eliminate a reduced Panther in 0308.

Mark’s first move was to send the 1110 force NW through the open shooting gallery that I’d arranged in the center. Taking losses with almost every hex, a full-strength and a reduced Pz IV platoon made it into 0805, and out of my LOS (I had some units that could see the hex, but I couldn’t see into the hex). However, 0403 could still see the next open area, and reduced the full-strength unit as they crossed 0804 and 0803, and then sped off the north edge of the board on the roads.

The ACs moved around the west edge of the board, both losing a step before assaulting 0407. The only Tactical Advantage draw was AAAA, giving them a free pass into the main assault which knocked out the guns with a 0/3 result on a 3:2, and then one of them was lost to reaction fire. The Panthers charged 0506, and the Achilles killed one on the way in; Tactical Advantage was A, which missed, so the Achilles withdrew into 0605. A reaction shot from 0606 missed, and the AC in 0407 knocked out the battery, and was in turn killed by the battery in 0508.

The Panthers continued to 0605, with a AAA Tactical Advantage which eliminated the Achilles, and a Panther was lost to reaction fire from 0505. They continued on, and another was lost to reaction fire in 0804, and the last one was lost to reaction fire in 0803. With only two steps actually getting off the north edge of the board, it was a fairly solid British victory (5-7 steps is a draw).

I think Mark’s biggest problem was not getting on with the assaults with the initial sets of units before the 17-pdrs could set up. That still would have been bloody, but getting rid of the some of the guns would have been very valuable, especially as one British weakness is the need to cover all the possible approaches, since the bulk of their forces are effectively immobile.

The drive up the west edge was very dramatic, and played out about as I envisioned with us trading losses, and me chewing up his movement so I could get a chance to react. The middle section proved more vulnerable than I immediately thought as you just can’t shoot up a determined rush fast enough. A couple of full eight-step groups rushing that could have done very well. I had extra coverage of the back at the start, but it was the extra gun on the Firefly in 0403 that actually saved me. A rush on 0805 (when there was still a gun there) followed by a second group could have put a lot where I didn’t have backfield coverage.

Another bit that came up was needing to actually duel with the guns in 1008 and 1108, as many of his units have very respectable RAS. The guns in the open in 1307 were actually less vulnerable as the four-hex range halves the RAS.

So, we’ve now been through all the tutorial scenarios, some more than once. We’re not sure how many of the regular scenarios we’ll end up playing, but we will play a fair number of them.