We finally had our big battle of Squarebashing 1915 just before the anniversary year was out! The battle was a abstracted representation of the Anglo French attack at Third Battle of Artois. In reality that meant just using a normal Squarebashing trench game. There were some game specific rules to account for the large game. There were 8 players.
The table was 12’ , divided in to 6’ squares. Each army was 500pts (rather than 620) and could only deploy in a 6 square frontage (rather than 8) , but they could move and fire into the 2 either side of their deployment , thus allowing a potential 10 square frontage. This was to allow some interaction between the forces. As it turned out each section settled down into their respective areas and there wasn’t too much interaction between players.
While the Germans were entrenched with MG bunker, they has some fearful deletions. The trench game doesn’t use the countdown to war, but has a specific set of defender depletions on top of the dice roll. Trench games are always ‘attack in force’ (6d6), and1/3 of infantry need to be off table as reserves. In addition the defenders must damage an additional 2 bases of on table guns and 2 bases of MG. On top of that each full strength unit of infantry after depletions have been made remove a base. So at best all the Germans could only have 3 base units. The only full strength units were those in reserve. The defenders also 1d6 in each of their barrage assets. So while it started looking all rosy for the Germans the line looked remarkably thin after this!
The trench game is direct. The trenches are in row 3 , and the MG bunkers in row 4. With the attacking allies getting the first turn they can (and did) assault the bunkers on turn 1. The defenders also had to raise the onslaught of the allies assets with gas , rolling barrage and point effect all possible.
However the attackers don’t get it all their own way. There is a complete line of rough going across the trench line and to assault the trenches then everyone has to roll to exit the square. This means that 1/3 of any attack is likely to get stuck and not participate. Against MG bunkers its not quite so easy.
The game looking likely it was going to be very bloody, and indeed it was. The allies pressed on quickly before the defending reinforcements could come into play. But the Germans held them back. The French , with a lot of reservists, took a lot of punishment. Pete’s densely packed ranks got by some severe German point effect barrage , and Dene on the other flank looked OK, but then threw some fearfully bad morale dice and had 2 units quit the field (which I don’t recall seeing happen before – that is 3 morale fails and then throw a 5+ to rout)
The British were more stable but didn’t really achieve much either. After the initial onslaught with many of the assets depleted the game bogged down and it looked unlikely that either side would get a major result . On the far left flank Peter threw in the towel after 90 minutes, only to realise that he couldn’t go home earlier so after sitting out for a while continued. I’m not sure that he was role playing a little Gallic temperament , or just following his normally defeatist rout to victory. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. On the right Dene showed savoir faire and did get a breakthrough of some success, capturing a few square of trench and ejecting the Germans , but I think Paul will put that down to ‘bad dice’
We played for just under 3 hours , and ran out of time when the countdown clock was on 1 . So we should have had 1 more pair of turns. But game was up. The British has had limited success in the centre capturing 2 bunkers , but with troops in a state unlikely to press the advance. The Germans still had sections that were still in good order so there was no conclusive result there. On the left Pete did have some limited success in the end, but James has cunningly picked his higher command order of assets and seemed to taking full advantage of the re-rolls that it gave him, and the French were taking a pounding.
Dene was the bright light in the attackers story. He did achieve a breakthrough into the trenches. But could not achieve a breakthrough – in games terms – to row 1
As umpire my job was to keep all the sections of the game synchronised in the unusual SB turn sequence. The game moved along OK, we could have done with 1 more hour to conclude to a calculable point, but I think were we left it was obviously heading for a draw, at best a minor victory for the allies. The trench game does have dominate early phase where everyone is at strength and the barrages are flying. If an early advantage is not achieved then that it does dwindle down to limited actions with likelihood of any major success reducing, probably much like the real thing
Thanks to all participants! The Mansfield boys for making their period trip down. Shout out to Richard who have never played before and was drafted in at last minute. He was put right into the centre of the attack and marched his Tommies into the machine gun fire with good grace.
Vorwärts !to 1916!!
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