Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Mussey-la-Ville Road (including the Return of the Fog Machine!)

22nd August 1914, later that same morning. The Lorraine countryside is still shrouded in fog. Having linked up with the rest of his platoon, Lt. Rommel orders them to halt as he scouts ahead to the outskirts of Bleid with three men. In the poor visibility he blunders into a group of French infantrymen resting by the side of the road.

The layout of the game. The fog machine sits nervously waiting at one end for a chance to redeem itself.

Rommel's small force started at the windmill. The variable attachment they had rolled from the scenario was a squad of infantry coming to support them on turn four, entering from the northern table edge.

The French soldiers, resting by the road. Their variable attachment was the ability to act on turn five. In reality Rommel stumbled right into them and started blazing away, and normally they wouldn't be able to act until attacked by the Germans. Their attachment put their destiny back into their own hands a little.

To win the French need to capture or kill Rommel or his sergeant, or survive to the end of the game with twelve unbroken and uninjured men. The Germans simply have to prevent this.

Yeah, the whole cricket thing again. You probably know the drill by now.

So the game began with Rommel cautiously creeping forward in the fog, towards the unsuspecting Frenchmen.

Did I say fog? Hurrah! As inexplicably as its refusal to work the day before, now the fog machine was working perfectly! Bravo, Foggy!

But what's this? More blurry figures in the mist?

Yes, Rommel's support, right on time.

Hearing French voices in the fog, Rommel elected for caution, heading towards a nearby shed.

And then taking cover therein.

The German squad took cover among the haystacks, and started firing into the smaller body of Frenchmen.

Which quickly had them scurrying for cover.

Quickly, the other French lads poured into the house to take cover, and took up firing positions at the doors and windows. The house and shed fired ineffectively at one another for a while. The geese didn't seem too bothered to be caught in this fire.

This was getting nobody anywhere. The French sergeant had an idea...

He called for his men to leave their cover and take the shed. A rush and a push, a bit of bayonet work and that would be that. Things looked perilous for Rommel, if they made it into contact they would surely overwhelm his little band. But no! Despite his frantic squawking, none of the men would budge. They felt too safe in their cover to risk moving in the open under fire. It seemed the moment for French glory had passed.

For as though punished by the Gods of Battle for their timidity, their fortunes took a decisive turn for the worse. Some incredibly unlikely good shooting from Rommel's scout team brought down some of the defenders of the house. Then, their (dice-rolling) luck now totally deserting them, the French broke and ran.

Rommel quickly signalled to the infantry to advance. With a cheer they dashed across the open ground to the house.

Occupying the ground recently vacated by their foes, they then poured fire on to them...

... Causing more casualties and sending them into a headlong rout across the road and into a nearby field.

Things looked bleak for the French.

Those in the field finally managed to regain their composure, but it was too late, time was up and the Germans had won. The French here were in no state to resist. The way was open for the assault on Bleid...

It was most pleasing to see the fog machine work so well. It certainly has redeemed itself, and will definitely be used in the next scenario set on this foggy morning: The assault on Bleid. In an ideal world I'd have someone as a dedicated Fog Machine Operator, as it fills the table with fog for a short while, but it soon dissipates. You really need a hand on the button at all times, to keep the flow of fog coming. That's why in some pics there seems to be lots of fog, and much less in others. We had to keep interrupting play to make more fog.

Still, on the whole I was very pleased with the second outing of the machine.

The game itself, while fun, was slightly less satisfying, as it was so one-sided.

French Casualties:
Seven Killed

German Casualties:

This one turned on a handful of flukey die rolls. Rommel's team really had no right to expect to cause so much harm with their shooting, and the French were very, very unlucky to fail the two crucial morale roles which led them to quit the house. I have been thinking that when using these scenarios with Price of Glory, the pretty green French troops really do need to have officers around if they hope to prevail. In the one game where they had officers they did okay, in the other two where they didn't they were soundly beaten. On the other hand, I think even with officers present the die rolls in this game were so in favour of Germany that it may not have made much difference. Except that with good leadership rallying would have been much easier.

But speaking as the German player, Gott really was Mit Uns this day.

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