Monday, April 30, 2012

(Gnome Wars) Tanga Campaign #5.5: Escape on the Usambara Railway

November 4, 1914, 0600 hours

With the German Counter-Attack a rousing failure, Major Kraut's mind was weighed down by two facts. One, his forces on Longido Mountain could hold off continued Swiss attacks. Two, the damaged telegraph wires mentioned in game #1 had been repaired, and a desperate order for reinforcements to the port city of Tanga finally arrived.  Still locked in battle, he could not send the requested troop levels, but he did decide to send a handful of troops, and a few support weapons by rail, before the Swiss had a chance to seize the rail station.

The Swiss had made a foothold onto the mountain. The had only seized meager water supplies, and Lt Colonel Dykstra's men were exhausted from a full day of fighting.  When he received reports of German movement towards the railway station in Usambara, he had little choice but to send whatever troops he could muster and try to prevent whatever the Germans were attempting to do.  Good news for Dykstra was some Native units were, coming to reinforce the attack, but would they arrive in time?

German Order of Battle
Objective:  Defend the station and allow the train to leave (sometime after turn 8)

1 unit of Green Germans
1 unit of Grey Germans with an attached heavy mortar
1 unit of Purple Germans (half-strength) with an attached heavy machine gun

The heavy mortar was order behind the rail lines and was given specific orders to stay there until the train was ready to leave. This was to ensure that in the event of a Swiss overrun, the mortar could fall back and rejoin the remaining forces on the mountain. They would use indirect fire and could spotters positioned in the two forward buildings. Hits would still deviate 2d6 inches, however missed shots would be 2d6+8!

Swiss Order of Battle
Objective:  Seize the train (Have one figure touching the train at the end of any turn)

1 unit of Red Swiss
1 unit of Orange Swiss
1 unit of Tan Swiss with Bicycle Tank!
Unknown Reinforcements

Special Rules:
#1 All hills blocked line of sight for troops on the ground.  Elevated troops could fire at enemy troops next to the closest group of hills with a heavy cover penalty.

#2 The Train:  On turn 8, the German player would roll 2d6 and add it to the current turn number.  If that number is equal to or greater that 20, the train leaves the station.

The Swiss Deployment

Irish Laborers Load the Train
With the rushed nature of the engagement, there were no variable attachment rolls.

Turns 1-4
The Swiss began to work the flanks, the tan on the left, the red/orange on the right.  German machine guns and mortar rounds began flying.  With the exception of one hit, the mortar was largely ineffective the entire game. The machine gun, with it's position on the second floor of the station, began a deadly barrage that last a good part of the game.  Its 45 degree arc of fire out the window limited its targets, but those targets were decimated.  Poor rolls by the Swiss medics did  not help matters.  The Orange Swiss, after much deliberation, decided to send a tunneling unit ahead.  This was the first battle in the campaign that allowed tunneling.

Turns 5-8
The Swiss continued to slowly work the flank, but the lack of adequate medics were depleting their numbers.  The Red Swiss movement in the woods attracted a lot of German attention, and again, it wasn't the lack of tactics on the Swiss, it was the messiah-like ability of the Bier Nurse to resurrect all the German casualties that put them in a pickle.
The Germans Fend Off a Swiss Attack from the Woods
The Tan Swiss were getting picked apart.  However, the Bicycle Tank finally began firing into concentrations of Germans and dealing decent casualties. With the only weapon that could take out the tank ordered for indirect fire, it was better to move the troops  defending visible positions, than have them all wiped out.
The Swiss Bicycle Tank Finally Lays Down Covering Fire
Around turn, the few Swiss reinforcements arrived. Despite different target numbers, they all showed up at the same time.  Swiss Askari Colonial Rifles and Native Cavalry came charging down the left flank to support the withering Tan.  Also, making his first appearance in the campaign, it's the outhouse Wizard!  The outhouse was  well behind the German lines and with one good shot available before he had to run of/get gunned  down, he chose a German Bier Stein Grenadier rather than the officer next to him.   Perhaps he was too concerned with the cleanliness of the accommodations.

Finally, on turn 8, the engine sounded.  The German player rolled a 4, and play continued.

Turns 9-12
With the train almost ready to go, the Germans fell back to the rail line to prevent  the Swiss victory conditions.  The first wave of Swiss were pretty chewed up and the second wave was rolling in fast, but late.   The tunneling group of Orange Swiss melee specialists made it within 5 inches of the tracks before popping out and getting slaughtered by the defending German rifles.  The heavy machine gun was pulled from its position to be sent on to the train, but the remaining Germans hiding in buildings popped out to form a wall of lead to neutralize the Native fighters.  On turn12 I was forced to call it.  The Swiss did not have significant forces to break through and seize the train.

As I had stated during game #5 Counter-Attack, I miscalculated not only the German forces for that battles, but rolled fewer dice for the machine gun.  That turned a close battle into a rout, so I designed this scenario to appease my sense of fairness.  This scenario is designed not to be balanced in a typical attack/defend scenario.  The Swiss forces should be exhausted, the Germans are trying to load as much equipment as possible, and the pictures I've seen of the rail depot involve some very sparse terrain.  It should be an easy German victory, unless the Swiss did some significant tunneling.  Multiple small teams of tunnelers, with a few harassing shooters up above  could drive the Germans crazy.  Plus a 1 in 6 chance of  tunnel collapse is still better than a 2 in 6 chance of getting shot at mid range with poor medics.

I chalk this up as a minor German victory.  For the second half of the campaign, the Swiss will earn bonuses on the variable attachment table as if they won the Longido Mountain portion (which they did).  The German effort to send what they could to Tanga will earn them a +1 or -1 adjustment on their variable attachment table.  If the train had managed to leave turn 8 or 9, I may have upped that to +2/-2 to reflect fewer casualties.

I stole the scenario idea from Tim's Miniature Wargaming Blog.  I'll let you the reader try to find the scenario, it's worth the "research.". If we play non-Tanga games in the future, he has a few more set-ups I'd love  to try out.  He was using Contemptible Little Armies for rules, so movement, weapons range, and morale are treated completely different.  Of course the biggest fault of mine is that we had the big table at the con to play with and I wanted to use every inch, if possible.

Next up in the Tanga Campaign:  The amphibious assault on the port city of Tanga commences... someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment