North of Caen revisited

Having enjoyed our first IABSM game, Michael and I agreed to try the first scenario again, to see how the game flowed when we had some grasp of the rules. This time, I’d printed the scenario map out, made a new quick reference sheet including the Fire table and the Unit Actions table, and put stickers on the Big Man cards with each one’s name, rank, Command Initiative, and what they command. Last Friday at the NWA was very busy indeed – when we went to grab a table, we found there was only one trestle left. Luckily an old hand pointed us to some others. After a period of dithering, we decided to just play the sides we’d played last time.

After we’d set up the table, Michael spent a while writing his hidden deployment on the printed map. Having read the scenario a bit more closely I found that I had three pre game ‘stonks’, so I chose to spread them along the hedgerows and orchards bordering the wheat field I was to advance through. Michael then spent a bit more time rolling dice and writing notes while he resolved all that. I then placed my three platoons, with my dummy blind on the far left.

The empty battlefield

The empty battlefield

We decided that we should make spotting easier than we did last time, so we decided that spotting would be only partially obstructed in the wheat field. The consequence of that was that my 3rd platoon was spotted in the very first action of the first turn. Michael had deployed his two tripod mounted MG42s in the centre orchard. They were only a little worse for wear after the stonk that had hit them, and they and my 3rd platoon exchanged shots for a few turns. That was not the best thing I could have done – I should have closed the range, but I kept just shooting back and forgetting to take cover. Another mistake I made was to move my dummy blind right up to a range where it was auto-spotted, but the Germans, who were in better cover, were not. That felt like a bit of a waste, but I didn’t have anything over on that side of the table anyway, so it wasn’t as if I could have done anything to the unit the blind was trying to spot. My other blinds made good progress down the table. My 1st platoon, on my right, was spotted and engaged by Michael’s 1 zug.

1st Platoon faces off against 1. Zug (behind the hedge)

1st Platoon faces off against 1. Zug (behind the hedge)

Luckily the stonk that had hit that platoon gave them quite a beating, which meant that my platoon was able to do some good advancing by bounds. The Germans didn’t manage to kill many of them, but the platoon commander, Lt Watson, was kept pretty busy keeping his men moving. As an aside, it really made a difference having the Big Mens’ names on their cards (‘Come on Sgt MacAlpine’ is rather more catchy than ‘Come on Allied Big Man 4’). My 2nd platoon, still on its blind, managed to get in close to the orchard before it was spotted, and with some good shooting it was able to cause one of the German HMG teams to lose their bottle.

All my force is now deployed (remnants of 3 Plt are out of shot)

All my force is now deployed (remnants of 3 Plt are out of shot)

They then advanced right up to the hedge surrounding the centre orchard. Michael’s 2 zug deployed (it was them on my right, after all) and moved to the orchard as well.

Sadly we had to call it a night at that point. It would have been fun to see how the shootout in the centre orchard played out. The game flowed quickly enough, but I suspect that IABSM in Northwest Europe might need just a fraction more than a club night to finish a game. Playing at a club you have to do all the terrain setup and packing up on the night, and there’s a fair bit of terrain in a Northwest Europe game. To save time the stonk and hidden setup could be done before the game. Also I hope to have some Soviets painted in a few months, so there should be a bit less terrain to set up too. If I can get enough done I could host the odd game at my place, so that I could set up the night before and pack up the following day, so the whole evening could be used playing the game. The kids would just have to eat their dinner off the floor or something…

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