On Thursday I had chance to trot out some new toys to play Squarebashing. I’ve just completely my late war French and Germans and it was an opportunity to experience the full fat armies of Squarebashing. After playing the last few games with the Belgians in 1914 the smorgasbord of quality assets was a luxury. What I failed to released was that both armies were kitted out to the gunnels with bombardments and therefore I would be on the receiving end of it also.
We decided to play the trench game. I’ve only really played this a couple of times and we missed a few things. However it did mean we didn’t have to worry about the countdown to battle phase. In the trench game its always ‘attack in force’ for depletions, and as the defending French we have a trench running the length of row three. The defender can be deployed in row 2 and 3, as per usual the attackers are in row 6. After deploying the position seemed impregnable (doesn’t it always) .
2 professional infantry
6 regular infantry
4 reserve infantry
5 professional infantry
5 regular infantry
1 Heavy Tank
Both armies were rated 47 … I think the highest in the book (no one would have a bonus for being a ‘better army’)
As defender the French has 12 infantry units and after depletions would have to have 1 on 3 off the table (4). Depletions were applied. It always seems horrific when you see a couple of 6s appear on your best troops and have the ultimatum of deploying them at half strength or in reserve. In the end it probably wasn’t that bad as I ended up only with 4 infantry in reserve (also 2 guns and 1 MG), which is just about the minimum. It did look that the front line of regular in the trench had taken the worse of it and were all ‘bases down’, while the reservists looked largely untouched.
However the trench game nastily also requires the defender to lose 1 base from 4 full strength on table infantry units AND damage 2 guns AND damage 2 MG…. also losing d6 of each bombardment asset!
After this the defending French looked threadbare and it might be the case for the Germans to walk through.
There is also a mine phase (forgot that !). The Germans also have the option to swap infantry for Stormtroopers (forgot that!)
The German lined up to advance. Ray had picked the ‘fighting’ higher command order (to bolster his attacks) and I pick ‘morale’ and I felt I might need it.
Turn 1 the German point effect barrage the line. It looked bad and I took a few casualties , but it was the centre of the line. My higher command would be close enough for his command orders to be of use (the French only have a command rating of 2 – boo – compared to the Germans 4 ). One of the objectives to fight over is a MG bunker in row 4 . The Germans did attack this , but the trenches and bunker do have a contiguous line of rough terrain in front of it so each assaulter does have to throw to exit (and assault). I was fortunate here as the professional German failed (on rolling a 1 ) leaving the regulars to advance on their own. This happened a couple of times in the game and did forge the narrative of perhaps why they were veterans. The initial assault faltered, but the MG bunker was damaged.
The next turn saw the French suppression barrage failed spectacularly. The Germans were all lined up nicely , but even with a good artillery rating I managed to throw 3 consecutive 6s to see the artillery to go over the heads of the advancing troops and fall harmlessly into no mans land. It clipped the end of the line, but the centre of the defending line was left under pressure.
The next German turn was a rolling barrage. With only 5 dice in the asset (needing to roll 1 6 ) it wasn’t guaranteed, but it was granted. This could potentially fill 15 squares ( a 5 x 3 section) with barrage markers. The German artillery is also rated as good, and they obliged by getting all the first 5 all on target , except 1 which fell short … on top of my MG bunker. It was the perfect shot. Luckily the rolling aspect of the barrage was minimal and it only rolled forward in 1 column. But the initial barrage was terrible. All the targeting squares took hits and combined with the barrage markers it looked ripe for an assault and a swift victory. This was the case. The MG bunker was captured and there was a breakthrough right in the middle of the line. The French teetered on defeat…
The following French turn saw them call for urgent arrivals. Not my favourite asset as it doesn’t ruin your opponents days as much as savage artillery barrage. But , the situation was dire. The centre was breached and I only had 1 damaged MG holding the left flank. I had to send my professionals from reserve to assist there otherwise it would be over very quickly. The French second line was mainly damaged conscripted with some field artillery. It would be a mainly static defence. The Germans breakthrough did take some withering fire as it pushed into the 2nd line. But some nice dice saw then shrug off the injuries.
There was a then a slight lull in the battle. The Germans didn’t have an artillery asset to support the ongoing assault and chose to erect some hasty defences (to facilitate a improved morale check that they were due to take) . The French followed up with successful point effect barrage right on the schwerpunkt of the attack. There was a glimmer of hope for the gallant French defenders. The Germans would have to take some nasty morale checks. However, their nerve held…. It all looked good, but they were professionals and in trenches (by this time), so in the end it wasn’t that bad. They stalled but it was only a brief respite.
With a master stroke the Germans then called up their suppression barrage. The was targeted just behind the lines (in row 2). This had the double whammy of denying troops in those squares giving support to the front line troops and also preventing and movement into those squares….. in the form of retreats from the front line!! The main assault went it. The French were weakened and could only offer minimal resistance, the Germans too had a bloody nose, but just did enough to win the critical fights which would have been OK (relatively speaking) , but the fact that the retreat was blocked by the barrage meant they took a lot of damage. This just crushed the French and a couple of units were just annihilated.
At this point we called time and added up. It was just one point from a decisive German victory (but we were only about ½ way down the countdown clock ) so given another hour it would have been a major German success.
Despite the feeling like a kicked puppy the trench game does offer a lot of challenges and makes what look like a drole gaming experience into a white knuckle ride – recommended.