Semper Fi in the E.T.O.

with Mike
(Cross-posted from Behind Enemy Lines...)

Hello and welcome to our first Behind Enemy Lines battle report! It's no secret that the PTO has us by the balls. It's new, exciting, and it's got MARINES! I was so excited to get a game in that I lept at the chance to play a quick game with friend of the crew, Patrick. Pat's an accomplished German SS player, often taking trackless armies and doing quite well with them. 

As he doesn't have a PTO force (yet) we were keen to have a go with the often pondered USMC vs Waffen-SS match up. So, we settled on 1500 points using the late war points column in Gung Ho!

Pat's force was three SS-Panzergrenadier platoons, some HMGs, a battery of mortars, a pair of 8-rads, a battery of 10.5cm guns, some FlaK guns, some Nebs, and a platoon of PaK40s. Nine platoons all told.

I wanted to try out a build for LW that focused on Marine M4A3 lates. I like the concept of Fearless Veteran Shermans, but I was a bit to shy to go all in and run a tank company. So I took it as a Rifle company. Obviously I don't have all my figures ready so I used my troops were forced to use US Army issue stuff in the mean time! 

Here's the list I decided on:

Marine Rifle Company (FV)
Marine Rifle Platoon230
Marine Rifle Platoon230
Assault Section160
Marine Tank Platoon (with 3x M4A3 Late)340
Marine Tank Platoon (with 3x M4A3 Late)340
NGFS - Destroyer150

The Marine platoons and the Assault Section are all at full strength. The Assault Section was divided evenly between the rifle platoons to provide a little anti-tank coverage. This made the platoons massive at 13 stands each.

Once all the attachments were made, this is a 4-platoon force, so the only thing that'll suck is to have delayed reserves. Hey, guess what?

We rolled up Encounter! I put the tanks in reserve with the big infantry platoons on each objective. Plan was to sit tight until the tanks arrived. Pat's was to go on the defensive and wait his chance. So the first few turns were uneventful as my NGFS picked off a few Nebs and I lost a team to artillery fire.

Then the tanks arrived and pressed up the middle, careful to screen out shots from the PaK40s. 

The infantry pulled up stakes and moved forward with the tanks, but were harrassed by artillery fire.

Meanwhile, Pat's infantry waited...

The PaKs opened fire on the Shermans as they came into view. Careful to limit their shots and make the target hard to hit and at long range, the Shermans were quite survivable.

Pat's infantry continued to wait...

I advanced the other flank when the other tank platoon arrived, taking a few casualties from the 10.5s (the Nebs had been neutralized by this point).

Pat's 8-rads then started to be bold, using hedges for cover they snuck around my flank. A snap shot from a Sherman dispatched one, but the other escaped.

Meanwhile, Pat's third infantry platoon arrived in the center and advanced into my vanguard. Luckily I brought up a flame-thrower!

Pat's 8-rad then assaulted the bazooka I had left behind. The pinned bazooka team bailed out the 8-rad forcing it back. But the team failed to rally from being pinned down, so I couldn't bag it.

The needing 6s to hit each other, Shermans engaged in a deadly duel with the PaKs, losing one tank, but eventually destroying all of the guns.

Pat's 8-rad continued to harrass the objective, but was finally chased off and destroyed some 3 turns later by some Shermans sent to help. By this point, my platoons were being cut to ribbons by Pat's artillery and I failed all, I repeat, all of my platoon motivation checks, losing a rifle platoon and a tank platoon. 

The latter was lost when two tanks charged the pinned down artillery battery with two guns remaining. One tank was bailed out and the other whiffed the assault check. The platoon proceeded to fail it's motivation to counterattack, even with the benefit of British Bulldog, and fell back. The bailed tank was captured, triggering a motivation test that I of course failed! So that ended my hopes and dreams on the center-right flank...

Meanwhile, on the left flank, a platoon of tanks tore through Pat's infantry advancing in the center (after his SS-troopers had sliced apart half of my Marine platoon, which as you guessed, failed to hit and motivate in assaults! The tanks had their revenge, mopping up the SS and moving to the objective where some 2cm FlaK guns were causing some trouble. After crushing them they crashed into a wood to have a go at Pat's grenadiers on the objective. All went well, but the humble AT 2 stat for his infantry in assault made me cry as I rolled up a lot of 1s for saves (his faust was a bit too far back for 2 rounds of combat, which is why I went in).

Anyway, the tank platoon evaporated in an instant, The hour was late and Pat and I had work in the morning, so we called it there for the Germans. Still, the damage was high on both sides. I had a lot of bad luck, but I gave as much as I got, destroying four fearless platoons, and nearly forcing a company morale test. But it wasn't to be, this time.

Lessons Learned
I didn't play this game to field a competitive list. Rather I wanted to test how how things worked and what didn't work. Top of the list for things that worked are USMC Shermans. FV tanks with protected ammo and British Bulldog are really, really good. Yes platoons are small at 3 tanks, but fearless *should* help with that!

Top of the Didn't Work List was large marine platoons. The platoon I lost in the center was down to 6 teams, barely under half when it ran away. When you get that many points sunk into a large unit, it hurts to test and then lose a platoon that still basically combat effective. In the future I'll likely run 2/3 platoons with attachments.

Jury is out on NGFS. At 150 points, at Trained, the bombardments were usually hitting on 5s or 6s, which was not optimal. I would probably have been better served with limited F4U Corsairs at the same points value.

Anyway, that's enough from me! Stay tuned as I'll have a really quick report from a followup USMC game I played at TCOW last weekend!

Until then,

Semper Fi.