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Barrage V after Action Report

Barrage V is a convention held annually in the Baltimore area. Fun was had by all as we sold a few games and met our local gaming friends. Your not-so-humble webmaster tried out his new digital camera (see the results below!). While I still have some things to learn about lighting, I was quite pleased.
We hosted a game this year to get some exposure for Battlefront WWII and try out a new scenario based on an historical action that took place to the East of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Below are some photographs showing the course of the game. Our participants seemed to enjoy the game, but the American player charged blindly into an ambush and was quickly beaten.

The battle was held on an 8' x 4' table. with a town approximately 3/4 of the way from the U.S. end of the map. (See Photo 1 below)
The U.S. Force was a small battlegroup:
HQ:1 CO (US-19) in a M3 Halftrack (US-08)
1 US ME-02 Medium Tank Company with one of the tanks being a 76mm (note b)
1 US ME-05 Armored Infantry Company
1 81mm Mortar Carrier (US-09)
1 105mm Sherman (US-07)
1 Medium Artillery Battalion (FS-03) with one battery in direct support and the other two in general support.+ 1 FO (US-19) in a jeep (US-13)
All were Veteran.
The U.S. mission was to clear the town and move off the road at the other end.
The defending Germans were a reinforced Company:
1 dismounted PanzerGrenadier Company (Motorized) (ME-08 with No trucks)
2 Panzershreck (GE-51)
1 Pak40 (GE-41), No transport. Note that this unit must fight from its initial position.
Supported by
1 Panzer platoon of PzIV tanks (GE-04) (ME-01 platoon)
1 FS-01 120mm off-board Mortar platoon in direct support.
The Germans were allowed to set up anywhere on the map up to a line across the forward edge of the town. All are Veterans.
Click on the Thumbnail for a full-size photo Description
Barrage V Photo 1
The Game Board
The battlefield, seen from the German end.
Barrage V Photo 2
The Town
A closer look at the town. The Germans were allowed to place dummy counters and set up in improved positions.
Barrage V Photo 3
Americans Enter
The Americans started off in a column entering from the edge of the board opposite from the town.
Barrage V Photo 4
Moving rapidly into the kill zone
Without reconaissance, the U.S. tank force drove off at high speed straight down the road, leaving their infantry support to move through the open on the left flank. The town looks peaceful and quiet from this angle, but it doesn't stay that way for long.
Barrage V Photo 5
The infantry is left behind.
The Germans bring down some artillery on the half-tracks. While not killing any, the suppressions and disorders break up the U.S. advance.
Barrage V Photo 6
The U.S. finds the anti-tank gun.
The Germans let the American tanks through the defile (Opportunity fire p.33) caused by the road exiting the spur of woods, in the hope that they will move closer, which they obligingly do. One U.S. tank moves right up to the AT gun, and is promptly killed. Other U.S. tanks continue to move toward the town. What cannot be seen in the photo is a German tank moving up the left side of the village and preparing to add its fire to the carnage. One interesting thing that happened is that the anti-tank gun created the wreck so close to its position that it was then subject to a -2 modifier both as a target and shooter for all direct fire. Normally this would have had the effect of rendering it ineffective, but the U.S. player exposed his tanks to flank fire, which allowed the AT gun to continue to be useful. The U.S. player also attempted to suppress the AT gun with direct fire, which was rendered completely ineffective by the wreck. The AT gun was not only protected by the wreck, but the spotting modifiers from the wreck made it only a suspected target to the long range direct fire. Most direct fire attacks were reduced to a -3 or -4 net modifier. The U.S. player did not attempt to use his artillery on this prime target, so it continued to destroy targets through the end of the game.
Barrage V Photo 7
The carnage continues
The anti-tank gun and a German tank combine to knock-out another Sherman.
Barrage V Photo 8
The Americans find a Panzerschreck
Continuing a head-long charge at the town, the U.S. player finds an infantry anti-tank unit in a forward position. It promptly knocks out another Sherman.
Barrage V Photo 9
The view from the German side
The two tanks coming up the left flank of the village and the anti-tank gun have devastated the U.S. tank company.
Barrage V Photo 10
The End
The German tanks move over to the right flank and start to whittle away at the infantry force. The finger of God (actually it was the finger of Mark Hayes, but he WAS the Game Organizer and Designer), points out the next victim. At this point, the U.S. player gave up. Even when we added an M10 tank destroyer platoon (the subunit from ME-03), we all agreed it was hopeless.
While we were edified that our rules properly punished a piecemeal charge into a prepared position, we all thought that proper tactics could have made the contest much more even, and this was not a true test of the scenario. The U.S. player had considerable indirect fire available, but made almost no use of it during the game. His FO was 'safely' placed in a position where it could not call in fire, and the mortar units charged forward blindly along with the rest of the infantry. Here are some thoughts on how the American player should have attacked.
1) Establish a base of fire by setting up both mortar units, the 105mm Sherman, and the Forward Observer in positions where they can spot the town and the surrounding woodline. Any German unit which fires will then be suspected and be a legitimate target for indirect fire concentrations. Until actual targets are spotted, the artillery can be used for random shelling missions. Note that the FO is a small T class target and can probably dismount and move up to the edge of an appropriate woodline without being spotted. The AT gun is a prime artillery target. As soon as it opens up it should be taken under fire until it is destroyed.
2) Move the Shermans up carefully, staying away from the obvious trap of the defile, and going hull-down at every opportunity. The 76mm Sherman should choose a covering position.
3) Use smoke to cover the final approach. If the U.S. player can get his infantry into the town without taking too many losses, he probably can make his extra numbers count.

Anyway, this scenario is certainly unofficial at this point, but we will be working on it. The U.S. player should get victory points for destroying units, moving vehicles off the German edge of the map, and clearing the town. The Germans should get points for destroying units and holding the town. We will refine this scenario some more before publishing it, but you are welcome to try it out. Feedback is welcome.

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