Finally played a game!
This will be my first shot at a wargame battle report, so I expect it to be a bit rough. I'll hopefully iron out some of the rough parts after some experience, but if you're reading this and have any comments- either things you like, or things you feel I should leave out, please please let me know. I don't take any criticism personally. The photos are of course terrible, but I'll figure that out as I get more experience photographing games in progress.
So, for my first foray into the Panzer Grenadier line, I've decided to start with the first scenario of Airborne 'Introductory' set. Now, as many gamers, and even Avalanche Press, have agreed, this product isn't really that great as an introduction to the series, but I'm not terribly concerned with that at the moment. I really just want to get the hang of the rules before trying some other scenarios.
Scenario One is called Orange Hero, named because future Syracuse University football coach Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder fought in the action depicted here. In it, a few American paratrooper squads are trying to take a town held by the Germans (or kill a significant amount of German soldiers), hopefully using Hedgerows to provide some cover from the superior firepower of the German infantry.
When looking at the scenario, to decide what to do, the first thing I noticed was the relative firepower of the units involved. The Germans have 21 Direct Fire strength total, plus 2 random strongpoints (with firepower from 0 to 4), plus three leaders (who might have a point apiece), and also an 8 strength bombardment piece.
The Americans, on the other hand, have a total of 12 Direct Fire strength, with an additional 5 potentially coming on as reinforcements, plus two leaders, one of which when drawn actually gave me a two strength bonus. Still, that's quite a difference, especially since the Americans really have to take the town in hex 0412, where the Germans will already be located, and eat one or more shots already (due to the mechanics of the Panzer Grenadier rules, units can't move and shoot during the same activation).
In addition, a quick rush to the town is both helped and hindered by the presence of Hedgerows, those joyous terrain features that annoy players in so many WWII games. The Hedgerows around hex 0513 specifically will help block shots from German units in the town. The Americans also have slightly higher initiative, which will help them go first every turn, but again, it doesn't give them a chance to shoot first. American paratrooper morale is pretty good also, with both good bonuses from the leaders I drew, as well as a good 8/8.
First things first- I have to draw leaders for both sides. I ended up with a 9/1/0 Captain, an 8/0/1 Lieutenant, and an 8/1/0 Lieutenant for the German forces, and a 10/2/1 Captain and a 9/1/0 1st Lieutenant for the Americans. The Germans get moderate morale bonuses from their leaders, which will help keep them in the town, and the Americans received good fire support from theirs.
That's the German setup. The Germans have to start on the opposite side of the swamp from the towns, but have more than enough time to get there. Of course, I spread out when I really had no need to, but it didn't matter in this case. The fire strengths of those strongpoints are unknown until the Americans spot them (I randomly put some out there face down).
This is the American setup. I was under the impression that this was a night scenario (which really helps the Americans get close), which means that they didn't have to spread out so much. Of course, it turns out to NOT be a night scenario, but regardless, you'll need all of these guys forming a single hex to deal any damage anyway.
The Americans get a 7 for their initiative roll, the Germans a 6. The Americans (again, I had thought this was night) advanced over the railroad embankment in front of them, and with a squad in spotting range of the first strongpoint, it's turned over to be revealed as unoccupied (therefore removed).
The Germans advanced towards the town, but the 81mm mortars stays put. He'll end up depending on a leader spotting for him to get his shots off.
Initiative rolls: Americans get a 6, the Germans a 4.
Americans continue their advance. Some members advance into the town in hex 0613, others get into the hedgerow nearby.
The Germans send the HMG and the Captain into the town, a Lieutenant plus the GREN through the town to the other side, and a Lieutenant + the Engineer unit on the bridge behind the town. For some reason, I still had it stuck into my head not to stack; forgetting how many opportunities the Germans would have to fire at the Americans once they got into range to be dangerous. Turned out not to matter though.
Positions at 0630.
The Americans roll a 7 for their initiative, the Germans get a 4. Normally, this would allow the Americans two activations, but because there are so few units on the board, there wasn't much point.
The Americans rush the position. Everyone moved either into the Hedgerow adjacent to the destination town, or in the clear hex in front. Several chances at Opportunity Fire happened (each unit that can direct fire gets two Opportunity Fire shots).
The GREN fired first, using 6FP, and getting a net +2 column shift to fire on the 11 column. A roll of 9 resulted in 'M'- a morale check for the American PARA squad fired upon, who easily passed (needed a 9 or less on 2d6). Second shot by the GREN resulted in nothing as well.
From the town, the strongpoint was revealed to be a 4-4, which combined with the HMG to fire at the PARA in the adjacent hedgerow, resolved on the 16 column. The result is again an 'M', and again the PARA passes. Second shot accomplishes nothing.
The 81mm mortar fires at the squads out in the open in hex 0413. It's resolved on the 8 column, but the roll is an 8, so there's no effect. However, since the target was adjacent to friendly squads, they both have a chance to received friendly fire... and thankfully don't.
The Germans ended their turn by moving the ENG and the Lieutenant with him into the town.
For the Americans, this was the closest I ever rolled to getting their reinforcement on. Every turn, a single die was rolled, and on a '6', another American PARA squad would come on. This turn, I rolled a 4. It's the only turn I rolled above a 1. A shame too, they really could use the help!
Regardless, the Americans again win the Initiative, with a roll of 10 to 4. That's 3 activations for the Americans! Sadly, it's wasted as the Americans decide their best bet it to fire everything into the town, and hope for some good rolling. They manage to get a total of 15 firepower, meaning they fire on the 11 column. However, modifiers bring them down to the 7 column. A roll of 10 results in an M check, disrupting the HMG and the strongpoint. Being disrupted hurts the strength of the firepower those counters can produce, meaning they'll be easier to assault, or won't shoot so effectively. Of course, the Americans would need troops available in order to assault.
The Germans start their activation by firing the mortar into the clear hex (0413) hoping for a disruption so that decent German firepower might cause actual damage (if a disrupted unit disrupts again, it becomes demoralized, and could run). The shot gets lucky and disrupts the 2-3 PARA squad there.
The Germans then recover their two disrupted units.
They end the turn by firing the GREN, the ENG, and the two leaders into the clear hex. A total of 13 firepower, plus modifiers means the shot is resolved on the 22 column. The roll is a 2. That means the result is a 2X- two steps have to be lost by the target hex. That effectively eliminates the 5-3 PARA in the hex, although everyone that survives passes the resulting M2. The American initiative is now lowered to 2- the same as the Germans.
The Americans luckily roll a 6 for initiative again, compared to the German's 3. The 2-3 PARA and the 1st Lieutenant in the clear hex realize how bad things are for them, and move into the hedgerow with the rest of the American troops. The Americans already there open fire on the town, but resolve the combat on the 4 Col, resulting in another M check, and the strongpoint + the ENG disrupting.
The German mortar again fires, using a German leader in the town to spot, but fails to deal any damage.
The Germans again recover from their disruptions, and again take a shot into the hedgerow, but don't accomplish anything.
The Lieutenant + GREN move adjacent to the hedgerow to provide more firepower.
The Americans again win the initiative roll, and immediately open fire at the town with everything they have, but don't cause any damage.
The Germans return fire on the 30 column, and roll a 10, giving an X result. That means the 2-3 PARA squad is dead, and the American initiative is dropped even further.
The Germans finally win an initiative roll, and open fire at the Americans, resulting in an 'M1'. The Americans all pass the morale check, however.
After some thought (the Americans were going to have to assault at some point and pray for some luck, it seemed), decided to take another shot at the town, and force the Germans to take another Morale check, which they all pass.
Both sides again exchange fire to no effect.
Again, both sides fire... nothing happens
This is the final turn of the game, and the Americans really needed some luck here. However the Germans won the initiative roll, and on their shot, they roll a 9, resulting in a 'M2' result, forcing the PARA to disrupt.
Already looking at probably impossible odds in the Assault, I call it in favor of the Germans.
The Panzer Grenadier Headquarters website for this scenario lists the Germans as the winners in 69% of the games played, and that's without the night rules used (meaning the Germans can actually start shooting sooner). It's very unlikely as written for the Americans to win- they just don't have the firepower to make meaningful shots at the Germans in the town.
With that said, the scenario was still a good time, as I both learned the system, and finally played a game of something. I'm going to give scenario #2 a shot when I have some time this week. It looks to be a bit better balanced, so hopefully it will be a closer game!