Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Playing as the Germans for a Change

Had to postpone our Gallipoli game, as I'm bone idle and unable to get my painting groove at the minute. But the lads wanted to come over last night so I had to rustle up something in a hurry. So we went back to the Western Front in 1914. Not part of mine and Sickly's Rommel campaign, just a one-off thing thrown together at the last minute. As Sickers is usually the French in our campaign, he fancied being the Germans for a change. Wakey joined with him and they teamed up on Chronoglide as the French, as he wanted to be on his own, and to compromise for no man.

(Click on pictures for a slightly bigger version)
The game depicted a fictional French village somewhere in Lorraine. Retreating French troops decide to stop and make a stand here. The Germans reach the place, and are determined to drive them out. Both sides have limited artillery support.

The rules we used this time were Iron Ivan's Price of Glory.

The Players. National stereotypes abound. Left to right we have Wakey, depicting the jovial German of the Beer Hall. Next is Sickers, revelling in the glories of Prussia's military past (and practising clicking his heels). Meanwhile Chronoglide attempts to encapsulate his view of the entire French nation with a facial expression and a hand gesture (he really needs a pack of Gauloises to pull off that look).

The Germans emerge cautiously from the woods on the edge of the village. They also had a fifteen-man assault detachment. Wakey, given the option, rather than keep them with the main force, had sent them around the village to approach from the northern flank. Would they arrive in time to be of use?

The French lookout/sharpshooter was ensconced in the windmill, and signalled the approach of the enemy. Chrono had been given the choice of placing him here or in the campanile of the church...

...St. Grimm's where the resting French soldiers suddenly had to get their shit together and spring into action.

A desperate race to occupy the buildings on the edge of the village began.

The German attack had it bad from the outset. First of all the sharpshooter in the windmill took out 1st Squad's sergeant, and then the French 75s on the ridge behind the village spotted the Germans in the open and started dropping shells on them. Contrary to expectations (off-table arty in Price of Glory doesn't have a great chance of doing much other than demoralising the enemy) they scored a direct hit, instantly putting out of action much of the squad. The remainder, somewhat discouraged, cowered in the shell craters for a bit.

Not long after, the German artillery began shelling the main street. At first it had little physical effect, but it did make them get their heads down...

...But then they found their mark. A devastating succession of hits wiped out the platoon HQ, and thinned out one of the squads somewhat.

Sickly really took to the Pickelhaube. Wore it all night, not just for the photos. Even continued to wear it when Chrono and Wakey had gone home. In fact, I can't get it back off him. He's been wearing it all day today, and as I type this he is still wearing it, while dancing round the living room listening to Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" on my iPod. I should start calling it the Sicklehaube.

The German 1st Squad were the first to regain their composure, and so won the race to occupy the stone house, leaving the Frenchmen in the street somewhat exposed.

Meanwhile, thanks to their artillery support slowing down their foes, the other French squad had reached the safety of a house. But this was not enough for them. Seeing the enemy pinned down in the open, they fixed bayonets and charged out from cover. En Avant!

The German platoon HQ was close enough to the conflict to lend support to their comrades (according to the Price of Glory rules) and so Wakey bravely joined in with his personal character, the German leutnant, hoping to add enough to the fight to tip the balance in his favour.

Melee in Price of Glory is brutal, bloody and decisive. We like it that way. A desperate, pitched fight developed.

Eventually the tide turned in favour of the Germans. A single valiant Frenchman remained. The intervention of the German platoon HQ perhaps had been decisive. But Wakey paid for this victory with his life. The last act of the lone Frenchman before he fell was to bayonet the German leutnant through the throat.

Back on main street, a combination of artillery and rifle fire forced the remaining French back to St. Grimm's. Their numbers were steadily dwindling.

At this point, just in time to do nothing in particular, the flank-marching assault detachment arrived.

For realistically, it was all over. Probably it was the frenzied melee that had tipped it in their favour, but it seemed obvious that the Germans had won. They had paid for their victory dearly, and it had been quite close at times, but the French were not going to be able to hold the village. The last of them abandoned the church, and some were cut down as they tried to retreat across open ground. The sharpshooter had quietly slipped away, after the German artillery had used up the last of their shells using the windmill as target practice. The original Germans were mighty glad to see the flank marchers turn up though, for they were severely depleted and perhaps could not have finished the job on their own. The German players (getting rather too much into the spirit of things I fear) now started to talk of deflowering the local maidens and emptying the wine cellars, but I had to remind them that they weren't in Belgium now so they should behave themselves, and besides, it was still a long way to Paris.

Once again Price of Glory had delivered a fast-paced, brutal and challenging game that everyone said they enjoyed. Could have been very different, especially as the artillery seriously punched above its weight with some pretty flukey dice-rolls for both sides.

The only trouble I anticipate now is getting my Pickelhaube back off Sickly and persuading him into going back to being French for the remainder of our campaign. Now he has experienced the delights of being a pointy-headed Teuton, I don't think he wants to relinquish his new identity.

Figs were from Renegade and Great War Miniatures. Scenery was a mix of stuff, but the buildings all came from Germany, courtesy of ESLO and our dear old LAF chum the Grimmster.


Siaba said...

Very enjoyable battle report.
It's after reading such things that I'm tempted to game also early WWI.....

Kasper said...

Hello - you really need to get postinng again! I just spent a most enjoyable afternoon reading all your posts (bravo on your writing - truly inspiring) instead of working on my Ph.D... and now I'm forced back to it because there are no more posts. So by public demand you must get posting again!
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

OMG. I have been gaming since 1972 and that was the funniest and coolest game description I have ever encountered. Absolutely brilliant.

Thanks for the inspiration.