Thursday, September 8, 2011

(Gnome Wars) Tanga Campaign #4: Dykstra's Mules

Again, special rules for this portion of the campaign can be found here.

November 3, 1914, 0930 hours, the thick brush of the northern base of Mt. Longido.

Lt. Colonel Dykstra's plans were falling apart. Aside from the assault on the southern slope which caught the Germans off guard, the Swiss offensive was disintegrating by the second. Reserve troops had not been able to move forward, and the supply train was now bunched up alongside them. Only Admiral Ackbar could declare a better opportunity for an ambush.

German Order of Battle (Field Marshal von O'Hara)
Objective: Drive or Kill of 75% of the Swiss mules

3 units
1 light machine gun

Variables (if the won battle #2, roll twice)
1-3 Skirmishers (5 figures from the base units can start the game hidden in the brush, no less than 12 inches from the closest Swiss figure.
4-9 Heroic Teddy Bear Askari Unit
10-17 German Unit
18-20 4 Bier Stein Grenadiers (from the base units) hidden on the far side of the board.

For our game, based on previous battles, I cut the German base down to 2 units and the lmg. As you'll see, that was my overconfidence of the German capabilities, and Steve's generalship.

Swiss Order of Battle (Nichols)
Objective: Prevent the German objective

1 unit of Red Hat Swiss
1 unit of Swiss Engineers
1 unit of Swiss Rangers

Mule Train of 8 mules and 6 Irish "Handlers"

Variable units (if the British won battle #3, roll twice)
1-10 Sikh Unit
11-13 Nothing
14-19 2 Extra Irish Handlers for the mules
20 Bicycle Tank ( I do not kid)

SPECIAL RULE: The trees represent the edge of the heavy brush. Treat the brush as light cover that does not impede movement.

The Supply Train

The Swiss deployed in a tight formation, with the Sikhs (!) taking point. The Red Hats were divided up for some reason, half keeping the morale of the Sikhs in check, the other half defending the rear.

Early turns: The Germans showed their hand early, the light machine gun emerging from the brush line and gunning down a number of Red Hats and Engineers. The Gray Germans immediately followed second and continued the barage with a full sound of their bugler.

After some movement from the Swiss rear who reacted far faster than their target practice brethern, the rest of the German appeared: the Green Germans and the Heroic Teddy Bear Askari (!).

Two things amazed me throughout the entire game. First, the Swiss St. Bernard medics healing rolls were ludicrous! Only Jesus Christ could have a better record. Everytime the Swiss took heavy damage, after the healing phase, only one or two figures would be removed. More traditional probability on the part of the German made it a battle of attrition. Second, the entire German army moved with a formal wheel, not exactly tactics you saw in the Great War.

The Swiss Rangers fired some long distance shots, and all they succeeded in doing was to scare off most of the mules! They ran off in all directions, the Irish handlers desperately trying to catch them.

The Germans wheel out of the brush?

Middle Turns: The Swiss continued the engaged the Germans. The Swiss Engineers continued to ignore the pounding fire of the LMG to focus on the Grays. Lucky for them, the Swiss Rangers charged along the edge of the board and wiped out the orignal crew. With their unit crumbling as well, two Gray Germans jumped into position and held the position just long enough to weaken the Rangers to keep them from being a factor for the rest of the game.

Along the brush line, wave after wave of melee attacks saturated the ground with blood, but as I mentioned before, the Swiss medics were up to the task.

Late turns: Avoiding most of the combat thus far, the Teddy Bear Askaris stayed in formation and charged a weakening Sikh unit. The melee was devastating. Only one Sikh survived the first round of combat, and he was quickly dispatched in the second. Having used up the Teddy Bears early in the turn, they were subject to the ravages of the remaining Red Hats and Engineers. The Red Hats chose to drive the bears away with Limburger cheese. Unfortunately, they ran away from the stench into the direction of the Engineer's medic. To add insult to the German injury, the St. Bernard dispatched the errant teddy bears with little problem.

Pure Carnage: The Teddy Bear Askaris wipe out the Sikhs and are the last German unit still intact, for now.

The Swiss had successfully fought off the German trap, but what of the mules? Nichols spent most of the game trying to get control of the stampeding beasts. In fact, it was turn eleven until they regained control of all but one mule, who managed to run off the board.

With a weakend attack, due to "referee overconfidence," the Germans were doomed to start with and showed no flashes of brillance to counter their disadvantage. The Swiss medics fantastic ability (or high quality lager) might never be matched. And best of all, for the Swiss, there are no morale penalties going into Battle #5.

Current Campaign Score for Longido Mountain: Swiss 136, Germans 135. And the German counter-attack is the only battle left to determine just how many reinforcements the Germans get during the battle for the town of Tanga.

The Swiss mules scattered to the four winds, the Irish handlers saved all but one.

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