It was a time for our semi regular ASL weekend game, and this time my opponent decided for Birds of Pray (ASL #11), scenario from Doomed Battalions (Originally Last Hurrah). Briefly, German paratroopers are under fierce attack by Belgian Carabiniers and as a last resort are to be relieved by Luftwaffe Stuka dive bombers.
I have played the scenario before as Belgians, and nobody got even close to the bridge before being moved down. Hardly unusual outcome according to ROAR data and I thought that since the last time decade ago my skills have improved marginally, I would give the Belgians second try.
Yes, they have about 2:1 force ratio, total of 16 squads, 2 50mm mortars, three leaders and single MMG to haul around. German forces are, well not a whole lot, but very good quality. A bit of extra punch in a form of two Stukas appear later. I do sort of like the small calibre mortars, especially the variety with ROF of 3 in any scenario which has mostly forest for cover. Unfortunately these were not the kind. Having ROF of 2 they are light but modest tools. Anyway, my regular luck worsens proportionally to the firepower increase, so it may not be as bad as it looks.
First, I deployed couple of half squads to take care of the mortars and MG. No point to do it in any other way. Mortars were placed on the only elevated location in the starting positions and intent was to keep constant harassment around. In the middle opening was a good destination for the MG – it would dominate the majority of the German defensive perimeter, and as a small bonus, it would cut any defense in half. Rest of the forces were divided to the right, to look for opportunity to cross the grain field and to prevent Germans from vacating the close proximity of the bridge, while another more substantial force would flank the positions from the right.
I got going quite well – actually event the mortars filled their task, and by turn two when the German planes arrived to the sky, I had troops in safety of forests and buildings – the best possible ground to remain undetected.
Well, then the hilarious thing happened, for all the four turns German planes were present, not only did they miss every single bomb and shot, but second plane could not even drop the bomb because it did not spot anything. Well. that was interesting. Considering that the whole point of the scenario is the air support, thanks to the blunder of the Luftwaffe, the task of German soldiers got just a tad bit closer to being impossible. Considering the last time, when Stukas destroyed pretty much any chance of getting to the bridge, it was interesting to see how much that single event changed the game.
So, after the air support accomplished absolutely nothing whatsoever, the Belgian assault went in and in no time they were occupying the forest near the bridge. Situation was overwhelming, German forces defending the perimeter were one LMG and three good order squads agains modest number of about 12 squads and half squads close enough to CX to the bridge and claim control.
Just at the eve of that final drive, my opponent understandingly conceded the game. There just were no practical way the defenders could have kept the bridge clear with the firepower they could muster.
Of course it last moment suicide dash to the bridge with massed infantry sounds, well, a bit gamey, but I could probably have been able to do that and severely maul the defenders before that moment. So, Belgians won – no by skill or talent, but because the worst blunder of Lufwaffe since placing Herman Göring in charge.
What about the little Belgian mortars then? Oh yes, they did well indeed. One squad killed outright and at least two routed & reduced. Not bad considering about 25% of the German forces falling victim to them.