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Le Point Roc, 1944


The Second World War, Rules of Engagement, 28mm

This game was laid on  up in Orkney, as a form of initiation of the local wargaming group into Second World War skirmish games. It was also a chance to try out a new set of rules – well, new to me in that I just bought a copy. The game was set in Normandy in mid-June 1944, a few miles north of Tilly-sur-Seulles. The River Seulles itself featured in one corner of the table, near the hamlet of Le Pont Croc (the blown “pont” itself being off-table.) It featured a straightforward infantry clash between a British platoon from Durham Light Infantry (part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division, and a tooled-up platoon from Panzer Lehr. Both sides fielded three squads or sections, supported by a small platoon headquarters group and an attached heavy machine gun. The out-gunned British were also given a 2-inch and a 3-inch mortar team. We didn’t include vehicles of any kind, apart from using a knocked out Sherman Firefly and a Universal Carrier as tabletop decoration and a useful spot of hard cover.002Both sides were lined up on the long edges of the 6 x 4 foot table, and advanced forward  until they made contact with the enemy. The British realised they couldn’t match the Germans in infantry firepower, so they formed a defensive line along the road leading into the village, and let the Germans come onto them. Mark and Roger planned to use their Vickers machine gun and mortars to break up any concentrations of the enemy, and hang on as best they could. As for the Germans (played by Chris and Alan) the big plan was to pin the enemy centre and flank close to the village, while swinging a left hook through the small farm to the left of the T-junction. So far so good…016First blood went to the British, as the 3-inch mortar observer spotted the Germans advancing towards the farmyard, and yelled directions to the mortar team hidden in the wooded knoll in the corner of the table. One German was killed, and their cautious advance came to a brief halt. In the centre Chris’ Nazi squad passed through the field with the dead cows in it (dead livestock is a must-have for a Normandy battlefield), and then split up – one squad taking up position on the bocage line beyond a small cider orchard, while the other one moved into the two small hedged fields in the centre of the table. There they were spotted by the mortar observer, whose team soon began dropping rounds in their midst. Two more Germans went down.014That was when the British decided to abandon their policy of caution. They moved through the hamlet to line a hedge just past a fish pond, which wasn’t nearly such good cover as the bocage hedgeline occupied by the nearest Germans. They also came under crossfire from Chris’ second squad, backed up by the MG42 team. As the Germans could lay down a much larger volume of fire then the result was inevitable, and the surviving British pulled back into the buildings behind them. There they stayed for the rest of the game, and the Germans made no serious attempt to winkle them out.012By then Alan’s Germans had reached the farmhouse, and were engaging the British facing them across the road. They also began working their way around the left of the farm, in an attempt to reach the knoll. Casualties were relatively light at this stage, as the two British mortar teams were foiled in their attempts to plaster the Germans near the hamlet, and both sides made good use of cover to minimise their casualties. Still, a few guys were going down, and the majority of them seemed to be German. Things started to look good for the British, which of course is usually a recipe for disaster.008Mark was worried by the Germans sneaking forward towards his 3-inch mortar team. They had already spotted the observer, and kept him pinned with fire as they edged towards him. He pulled one of his sections away from the firing line and moved them towards the knoll. This of course meant they had to leave their nice bogage hedgeline behind the cornfield, and rush across a small gap at the end of it to reach the cover of the nearby trees. Unfortunately for them the Germans were waiting for them. Mark had to go home before the Germans could conduct their opportunity fire, so Angus the umpire stepped in, and played the turn through. Three British squaddies were cut down, but the rest made it into the trees. Unfortunately these casualties, plus the one they received the following turn led to the section falling back out of the fight.005The Germans were now on a roll. To turn things around Roger sent his Vickers and the platoon headquarters forward to the hedge by the fish pond by the hamlet, while the remaining intact squad raced into the road, in an attempt to close the Germans using the burning Sherman as cover. Unfortunately they forgot about the German MG42 team, which was deployed to cover the road. In the opportunity fire phase the British lost four more men in the road, plus three of the five guys by the pond. At that point I donned by umpire hat again and declared the game a German victory. The British had suffered enough casualties to force them to test for their platoon morale. They failed, and so the British survivors pulled back off the table towards the north, leaving the Germans in command of the battlefield.018I have to say Rules of Engagement worked OK, and the system was fairly intuitive. After a few turns everyone knew what to do, and how to do it. On the minus side they use a “Warhammer-esque” dice system, where you have to roll to hit, the other player makes an “experience roll” to dodge the bullet, and then the firer has to roll again to kill. That’s a lot of dice rolling. The indirect fire system was also very simplistic, making it all too easy to call in mortars, and to have the rounds land spot on target. Still, with all those dice to roll, being in a mortar blast zone isn’t necessarily fatal. I’ll certainly play them again, as they seemed much more flowing than other systems I’ve tried, such as Disposable Heroes (which I’ll be playing in a fortnight). Who knows – I might even get round to reading the vehicle rules…

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