So it was that time of year again…time for the giant D-Day Flames of War battle at Valhallas Game Center. This is an annual game Valhallas puts on for pretty much all-comers. This year I lost count of the number of players. There were four of us playing the Germans, and, I believe, 8 Allies, mostly playing Americans. Each player had a 1500 point force, plus the Germans had 120 points of fortifications from the “D-Day” FoW book. This is a “for fun” game, so though we generally based things off of the “D-Day”, “Omaha Beach”, and “D-1” books, pretty much anything within reason was allowable. I played a 1500 point Panzer Company, with 2 platoons of Panzer IVs, a Gepanzerte platoon, Nebelwerfers, and Scouts.
The game board for this battle is enormous, and simply amazing. A long beachline broken by a “Pointe du Hoc” type outcropping and a large inlet, a canal cutting across the map, passable only at certain bridges, anbd two villages further inland, lead to all sorts of tactical obstacles and possibilities.
Our basic strategy for the Germans was to hold the majority of our forces to the rear and in the center, a hedgerow filled area. Because the flanks of the board are dominated by marshland on one end, and the inlet, crossable by only one bridge at the other end, we decided that the most likely Allied advance would be through the center hedgrow area, pushing allong 2 parallel roads that lead off-board. The Objectives for the Allies were the two bridges crossing the center canal, the bridge crossing the inlet, and the 2 village centers. We decided to sacrifice our fortification units (bunkers, turrets, etc.), and hold our main forces back until the Allies had finally worked their way off the beaches.
The Allied landings went off pretty much as we expected, with the exception that very few units landed on the inlet side of the board. This freed up some of the Grenadier company that was protecting that flank and the village and bridge there. What units did land were destroyed by fire from the fortifications and artillery from inland.
The surpise was the appearance of a U.S. Airborne Rifle company right in the center of our line from the rear of the board, almost right on top of my 2 onboard platoons (my panzers and nebelwerfers were offboard as reserves). I immediately sent my scouts and Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers to assault them, but because of some really terrible dice rolls, they had little effect, and I almost lost both platoons. In the meantime, the allied landings on the main beach floundered, and were torn up by artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank fire from the beach fortifications and the “Pionte du Hoc” area. US Rangers landed below the cliffs, and began to scale them.
During the next couple of turns, the allies struggled to get off the beaches, and some of their platoons were forced back to their boats. Meanwhile, the arrival of my panzers settled the battle between my company and the U.S paratroopers. With aid from artillery and mortar support from the other companies, I was able to succesfully assault and destroy 4 of their platoons, losing one of mine in the process. With a failed morale check, the paratoopers were pushed off the board, ending the threat to our rear area, and allowing all of our companies to focus on the main beach landings. The U.S Rangers did manage to capture the “Pointe du Hoc” area during this time, though.
With the way clear, I moved one platoon of panzers to the canal line to engage the now emerging allied tanks, while the other platoon and the remaining infantry moved up the center road to cut the beachhead. The 2 infantry companies in the hedgerow area also began engaging the allied forces, while the grenadier platoon from the inlet area advance on “Pointe du Hoc”.
By this time, the day had gone by rather quickly, some of the players had left early, and, after 6 hours of playing, not counting the 3 hours getting everything set up, we decided to call it a day. Though the possibility of an Allied victory was there, it would have been very difficult, most of the German forces still being intact and actually moving in for a couterattack against the beach head. It was a great game, though like all large games, it did bog down a bit, and by the time it was over, we were a bit worn out. We discussed some options to speed up the game the next time, and may try out some new ideas next year.
The best part for me was meeting a number of players who I had only communicated with through forums before, and getting together with other players I hadn’t seen in some time, and pushing some tanks around the table with them. I couldn’t make the traditional Hooters trip afterwards, but next time, I’m there! (For the wings, of course…)