Today was the monthly Strategy Wargaming meet-up at Sentry Box. I managed to be able to arrange a game of Combat Commander with Kevin. He graciously brought along his collection and we determined that we would play the St. Martin de Fontenay, Normandy scenario (#116) that, I believe, came in C31 issue #26. The scenario has a small group of SS troops defending a fortified building against a wave of Canadian troops.
The game was played on map 14 with the Germans attempting to defend the three building VP objections (3,4 and 5) while the Canadians come on the boards from the west through a wheat field. Objective 4 is a fortified church steeple with a cover bonus of 6 meaning that it will be very tough to take. Making this even more troubling is that the SS troops all have a broken morale of 10. So you might be able to break them with fire but eliminating them due to fire will be next to impossible.
Kevin put his 10 morale leader, an HMG and a Line team in the fortified church steeple and then spread his remaining SS squads in the other two VP objectives. An LMG was put into objective 5 which oddly had no set VP value for the game. I had a secret objective which gave me an additional VP for objective 3.
My setup was simplified by the fact that I could only deploy one hex in with the exception of my Lt. who could set up with his troops two hexes in. I decided to put a small force to the north that would try to pin down the SS troops on objective 5 and then use the Lt. to move the main force to the row of buildings in hexrow F and then use the limited cover of the orchards to advance towards objectives 3 and 4.
The first part of the game saw Kevin using his HMG to great effect breaking most of the troops moving through the wheat fields that he could see. Sadly for Kevin I was blessed with a great supply of Recover cards. An early Time event also allowed me to then shuffle them all back into the deck and happily redraw them again as Kevin’s ability to roll 8+ for his attacks with the HMG continued.
I was finally able to use my light mortar to drop smoke next to the SS troops in objective 5 to stop them from cross-firing my troops. I was able to successfully move troops across to advance into objective 5 but before I did so Kevin played an action to place a pillbox in the hex. When I finally did advance into melee we tied which meant that Kevin won due to the protective influence of the pillbox.
My Lt. and his troops advanced through the orchards and Kevin’s luck finally came up short and he jammed his HMG. Kevin delayed my advance with several wire actions but I was finally able to move the Lt. and several Guards units forward and take objective 3. Kevin responded by moving his SS troops from objective 5 into a foxhole he had deployed in hex J4. Luckily for me he lost the melee against my troops and I was able to advance into the foxhole myself and then break the troops in objective 4 and melee against them to win the game.
The last few turns were quite tense. Kevin had, as I suspected, three Ambush cards. I had dropped a 8 factor smoke grenade in my own hex and so my fire was, even with Marksmanship and Hand Grenade actions, quite useless against his Fortified position. The smoke finally blew away and I was lucky enough to again have a hand with +8 attack factors in Actions so I broke the SS in the last objective and then advanced into melee.
Unknown to me, Kevin had a fourth Ambush card in his hand and had discarded it to try to draw a Recover. Since we were both quite close to our Surrender levels if he had kept the card he would have caused enough losses to make me surrender even before determining the outcome of the melee. As it was I rolled a 10 and Kevin rolled a four and even after he gave me the Initiative and did a reroll he still lost the melee by 1.
The game quite literally went down to the last action.
It was a great game, Kevin was a great opponent as usual, and this shows again just why I love Combat Commander so much. Some people decry what appears to be a highly random game but managing your cards and attempting to use them to determine a strategy is what really makes the game shine. Bad cards can indeed cause you to rethink an approach or force you to take a new avenue of attack but for every bad draw there is a fortuitous draw and it is in attempting to minimize those random effects and still keep your plans intact.
The game again provided a great narrative with my losses in the north imperilling my actions to the south, my troops stumbling into wire emplaced around the church steeple and the volumes of fire from the SS HMG breaking but never thwarting the Canadians.
So another great game and a unique victory for me :-)