I rarely have the chance to play WW2 rules as anything other than the umpire, and when I do it is usually PBI with someone else umpiring, so when Richard Lindley offered to put “Blitzkrieg Commander” on, I was happy to participate. Richard had put a lot of effort into the layout of the table for a refight of the American SALERNO landings. Four American battalions of the 36th (Texas) Division (from the 141st and 142nd Infantry Regiments) had been laid out ready to go, facing two companies of the von Döring group. As it happened, Trebian had visited PEUSTRA on Holiday, and was able to confirm that the beach in front of the temples did indeed offer a lot of cover. In reality, the Wehrmacht companies were some 5-10 km inland, but Richard had sensibly compressed the scale to fit a wargames table. The overall effect was splendid.
There were three of us on the night, the game being planned for six, so with YesthatPhil taking the German player, Trebian and I started rolling four battalions of infantry into a defended German position. The aim of the game was to introduce us to the game systems. With hindsight, we should probably have concentrated on half of the board with a battalion each for the Americans. My overall plan was to bypass the central position and concentrate on the two flanking positions that were lightly held. The first stage consisted of a massive naval gunfire bombardment, in which I rolled over the odds, was lucky with the “in which amusing direction does the fire deviate?” dice¹, and suppressed the German defenders in an old tower that I was aiming for with two battalions. The action then switched to Trebian’s flank, and he spent the rest of the evening trying to attack two positions with a battalion each. I never found out what happened on my flank, as I had to cut and run for work the next morning.
This did afford me the opportunity to watch the game sequence. All the right things seem to be in there for a tactical game: if you suppress an objective, then you can attack it, but if you go in prematurely, then you will be bounced out by counterattacks. It would be unfair to comment on the speed of the game with three new players, but Trebian and Phil picked up the game sequence and were soon rattling along in a protracted firefight and close combat that, from the sidelines, seemed to take a long time. This was because tactically, a lot was happening.
Of course, it serves me right for attacking a single objective with two battalions and overwhelming firepower. I’m sure that Richard plans to continue the game, and I plan to be there when he does. My first impression is that the rules handle a battalion per player nicely. I really wanted to spend time sitting under the Campari umbrellas by the restaurant, but the only way to do that was to fight over a railway track and through a battalion of StuGs. With a mortar platoon there, it would be impossible to enjoy a quiet coffee anyway. Another night perhaps? All-in-all, an excellently presented game.
- This is why professional armies use ranging shots, to avoid having to use wacky arrow dice :-),which work splendidly with mushroom munching goblin fanatics in Warhammer.