Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memoir ’44 Campaign: Capturing the Crossing

Start of turn 1, Allies in the south, Axis to the North. Note the Allied temporary medal objective on the Odon bridge.
My cousin Pat and I met over the Memorial Day weekend to continue our Battle of Normandy campaign from the Memoir ’44 Campaign book, Volume 1.

History buffs will be familiar with Operation Epsom, the backdrop for this second battle in the four game chapter of “Flanking Caen”.
Patrick won the first battle in this chapter as the Germans, with the mission“Securing the Flank”, scoring 5 VP’s to my 3. As the Allies, had I won that battle I would have had been able to remove his artillery battery on his Eastern flank this mission. As it was, that battery did not factor into the game, so while the loss by VP’s hurt me overall, missing the campaign perk did not.
Vicious fighting hand-to-hand and house-to house
As the 15th Scottish Division approached the town of Cheux and the Odon river bridge from the south, German resistance responded by centralizing in and around Cheux, where Patrick’s infantry and my own fought most of the day. My 31st tank brigade pushed north, attempting to break past the bottleneck to the southwest of Cheux but it was not to be. I played the majority of my turns with Center flank cards and activated at least 3 units a turn but did not get the combat results needed to sustain a confident advance. Patrick’s Germans pulled ahead on VP’s as my attack met his lines and luck was not with me. I even cashed in one of my Campaign Reserve Tokens to keep another Sherman unit ready to deploy onto the board. It did arrive towards the end of the game, engaging Panzers south of the Odon bridge but failed to wipe out fleeing German leftovers.

Reserve units use casualites from matching units to build to full strength and then they can deploy from the Reserve staging area, which is the Center and Right flank only.

 True-to-life, unfortunate Allied infantry assaults on Cheux and strong attacks by Patrick’s 12th SS and 21st Panzers blunted my Allied advance, with German Armor Overruns and Taking Ground a theme along my advance.

Patrick’s Germans swept up my fully committed and floundering infantry company, which happened in real life, forcing the actual soldiers to admit their situation, bed down overnight within sight of the river crossing and struggle to establish a fulcrum to drive across the river. Patrick, like German General Dollman in the flesh, played the field as a straight up defensive line and it worked.

We both agreed that I literally played all of my cards correctly and I attacked as well as I could but the rolls were not with me. I staged my cards to feed a center advance over the game, positioned units in center/flank hexes to deny flanks and generally took risks that were the right level of aggression and caution. 2 of my 4 attacking infantry units to the Southeast of Cheux assaulted the town all day and did not inflict any casualties at all. If that were not the case, then I would most likely have gained a better, swifter foothold that would allow me to contest North across the bridge, allowing an early game attack on the elite panzer unit guarding the bridge, maybe forcing casualties from flags as well as grenade and tank rolls with its back to the board edge. At very least, the medal track would be closer, which favors the Allies as they attack but punishes them if they stall. A Barrage card would have been really, really handy. The only card I sat on as insurance was a Counter Attack card, in case Pat played Barrage, Air Power or the dreaded Behind Enemy Lines.

Well played, cousin.

The board at game's end.
So, the Allies are down two games in this chapter, me having lost this game 2 VP’s to Patrick’s 6 VP’s.

Though this series is a best of 4, I have to win the next battle “Withdraw from Hill 112” by two VP’s. If I do not, the Axis win this chapter outright in three. I have one more Reserve token that I will cash in for a unit next game, it’s do-or-die! If I win “Withdraw from Hill 112” we end this chapter with “Hill 112” and then we move to the next Campaign Chapter, “The Breakout”.

Stay tuned for more Memoir '44! What a great game.

Pat, celebrating the win by holding up some brass fired from a real M1 Garand, proving to the world somehow that he won and I did not. It feels right.

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