For our next game of Squarebashing we thought we’d try a canal crossing, this would allow Ray to use his newly acquired BEF. The canal game differs from the normal game in a couple of keys features. There is no countdown to battle, so that speeded things up a little. The table setup differs only that you put a canal traversing the tables (in-between rows 3 & 4) , it doesn’t occupy a square but acts as a barriers between the 2 rows. The defender gets to place the terrain as normal. The game type is always attack in force but with an extra depletion dice. The objective are different in that they are 3 crossing point on the canal. 1 is where the road crosses, and the other 2 are placed by the defender (each being at least 1 column apart) … AFTER the depletions are made. So the attacker gets to see where the weak point is and then placed the crossings there.
You can just see the BEF deployed above the canal here.Only 4 square of the 8 in the line have any occupancy
The plucky BEF only had 10 units of infantry , and after depletions only 5 were left on table, so the line was looking very thin. The defender also only gets to deploy in row 2 (so needs to move to occupy and defence of the canal crossing). So as always the defending position looked decidedly weak.
The Germans have raced forward to cross the canal quickly
With the attacker getting the 1st turn the Germans called for – and received – a suppression barrage. In a game of completely ineffectual artillery , which is very unusual, all but one of the suppression squares deviated. The only one that didn’t deviate didn’t have any enemy troops in. However, thinks weren’t so bad. The barrage fell largely short and into the squares adjacent to the canal. This has the benefit of preventing the British from moving into those squares in the British first turn.
The Germans lurked forward and occupied the canal bank, ready to cross in 2 out of 3 crossing point in the next turn. As the British were pinned and unable to move into the defending bank, things were looking rosy.
The British 1st turn was quite catastrophic. The higher command has been hit (during the prior suppression barrage) and an luck would have it failed to save (1 on a d6) and had retired off table to the reinforcement pool. Ray has picked ‘assets’ as his higher command type (which allows re-rolls on the asset attempts so means you can spend less dice to try to get assets). Being off table in the first turn meant that he didn’t get it. SO , to try and stop the Germans crossing the canal the BEF had to use nearly all of the dice pool to try and get their own suppression barrage. 10 dice were rolled needing a 6 ….. the result was no 6’s Suddenly with the BEF pinned back, and no artillery, there wasn’t anything that could prevent the crossing. Perhaps it would all be over for Christmas and there was talk of an early drink in the pub.
This was taken after all the bonus assaulting tokens were taken off. It looked so good to start!
The Germans second turn started well. They called and received a shock assault asset and rolled for a ‘fighting dice’ higher command. A large assault was massed on the leftmost crossing. This would be decided ‘a la bayonet’. Being that the assault took place one square back from the crossing the BEF didn’t benefit from any of the defended crossing rules. It wasn’t a completely perfect assault as the crossing was a pinch point and stopped other units supporting from the adjacent squares , rear support was also denied as it was on the far side of the canal. However I thought that the assault had a good chance . 3 full units (9 dice), +3 for shock assault , + 2 for fighting dice (-2 for attacking into hasty defences). The defenders had 1 unit (2 dice), 2 artillery (4 dice) and +1 for British firing. For a total of 7 dice. No –one had any supports . 12dice vs 7 dice … With odds like this there could only be 1 outcome. Yes, 2 hits each(after saves) and the British win (defender wins on a draw) .. the attack stalled. Further hits were applied and the BEF awarded the ‘winning the fight’ bonus for subsequent rounds. All of a sudden it would a lot harder to get past here
This was taken in the later turns where the Germans had spread out. However we do have some reservists having to fill in the line here.
On the central crossing as the Germans has less of an advantage they did not assault and crossed the canal and tried to fan out to establish a ‘beachhead’
At this point luck swung violently against the Kaisers boys. Ray rolled 4 6s for this reinforcements, so the majority of the infantry arrived. It should be said that prior to this Ray had rolled 22 successive d6s in various phases and not getting a single 6 (it was one of those were you count up it was so bad) . He chanced his arm on the central crossing and launched 2 assaults where the odds were even. He won both. The fact that the Germans has their backs to the canal was catastrophic . Being unable retired meant to take another 6 hits. So where we’d lost by 1 in the assault (1 casualty) , then there would be another 3 hits followed by another 6 hits (unable to retire). I’ve never seen so many casualties mount up so quickly. There were squares with 6 or 7 casualties in. Then the subsequent morale check was almost a guaranteed failure , which again because they couldn’t retire generated another 6 hits. In Squarebashing a unit can normally take a lot of punishment. Get caught in a position where you a unable to retreat … Well .. there is a lesson to be learnt!
Don’t get caught with your back to a canal
The rightmost crossing had now been reinforced. With a MG and riflemen in a defended position on the crossing that was shut tight.
The Germans on the left flank failed their single dice morale test – so got a no advance. This halted any further crossing their as the square was full occupancy. Things were looking grim now for the Germans and we could have called it there and gone for that early drink. However we played on.
In subsequent turns the Germans were given some slight chances. On the left they did rally and began to spread out on the far side of the canal and reinforce the crossing. However, were they needed a bit of luck none was forthcoming. All point effect barrage failed and therefore as best all further assaults were even , and nothing really happened.
So we timed out before the countdown clock reached the end. However the result was never in doubt. Not quite a massive victory, but a solid one for the BEF – well done Ray and his Brits (for their first outing)
Ray provided all of the terrain, and it all looks rather splendid I’m sure you agree. The carpet tiles from the 70s suddenly have come back in vogue!
The canal crossing game was good and provided some different challenges. The strange dice results we had were probably not indicative of a normal game would be like. After reading the rules I thought it would be tough as the attacker. But at the beginning I would see a route to victory. Squarebashing has this strange sensation where you think you can do a lot , and then when you make contact with the enemy everything bogs down quite quickly. Which is probably about right.