Tuesday 25 October 2016

Capturing El Shuheeb, BG: Tobruk, play-test

During Operation Crusader, 7th Armoured Division’s advance towards Tobruk is going well, but after a slow initial response, the German panzer divisions are now rapidly moving into position to counter the advance. At a small isolated compound called El Shuheeb both sides are racing to seize the area, led by their reconnaissance troops.

This would be a play-test for some of the special rules, units, stats and the army lists for BG Tobruk. The scenario was a straight forward meeting engagement, because I didn’t want the scenario objectives to skew things, this needed to be a clean fight as a 600pt platoon-sized game.

Once we had both deployed our scout units, the Germans got first go, and from turn 1 the Brits were under pressure. My single LRDG patrol watched on from high ground as the Germans advanced, using their Panzer Marsch ability to get the tanks on fast, and the towed 88 speeding forwards into a good firing position (oh dear). The British response was painfully slow, a grand total of 4 units after 3 turns of reserves. I was forced to put something on the table that would give the Germans some pause, they already had two objectives and the third was in danger if they rushed it before I had the troops to stop them. I used 2 Crusader IIs to try and ward-off his armoured cars and infantry in trucks, but after a brief exchange of fire both were hit and KO’d by AT fire, one from the 88 the other to the PaK38… but their sacrifice bought me time to get my FHQ on, and use his senior officer re-roll to get the Brits arriving faster to make a fight of it. Still, the Germans were well in place and their infantry in trucks were now moving against the last objective (at the compound). This could still all be over very quickly.

The rapid deployment of my two 25pdr guns on the high ground saw the Germans paused, as the gunners started winging HE area fire across the desert and had a few of the panzers pinned. They were doing stirling work and would throughout the game, until one had an ‘Ammo Low’ chit played on it and ran out! Late in the game I towed it away to save me any lost BR from a useless unit.

I sped the bulk of my motor rifles and the 3 man SAS team into the compound, to claim it just before the German infantry, and an infantry firefight developed around the compound, trading Bren and MG34 fire (one sided that). My guys were soon heavily pinned, but the SAS team did good work in return fire with their rifles and the Vickers HMG on the 15cwt truck seriously worrying the Germans and keeping their heads down too (have it!).

My A9 Cruisers rattled on the meet his right flanking Pz III and armoured cars, and over the next few turns lost that duel, all three being knocked out for nothing in return… a 222 survived a 2pdr AT hit! That was the way it was going, a bit of  kicking in the early turns. The A9s proved, well, a bit rubbish.

Things looked bleak, so I decided that only decisive action would change the course of the battle. I send my last 3 Crusader IIs on a bold attack, targeting his weak Panzer IIs on his left. They moved up, firing, and KO’d one, pinned another panzer. German return fire was wild and so my Crusaders heroically pressed on across the open desert.

Things also turned a bit when the SAS Air Spotters called in a P-40 Tomahawk to help me. The air attack’s bombs blew his 232 armoured car sky high with a direct hit and had the Germans worried, as the P-40 turned to come round for a few strafing runs.

The furious firefight at the compound continued, with supporting '88' HE rounds now smashing the buildings and keeping me pinned. MG34 fire wrecked the SAS 15cwt truck and its Vickers, but my PHQ and a Bren section saw off the leading German squad and their MG team. Both sides were taking losses. My last 25pdr also KO’d a Panzer III after switching to AP shells (star man). German losses were mounting at last, but my BR was almost wrecked. But, all wasn’t lost, another Air Attack counter came my way, and the SAS air spotters did the business again, another P-40 buzzed over and released its bombs - 2 aircraft were now in direct support, with multiple MGs to cause carnage on soft skins and infantry. The first P-40’s strafing run destroyed a truck (not great) but it still a counter.  The German player groaned, he’d have 2 strafing runs a turn to deal with next turn and no AA.

On my right the Crusaders traded fire with 2 Panzer IIIs, both sides scoring hits which glanced off (The Crusader’s front armour is surprisingly good against 50mm rounds). I even moved to get a flank shot, hit, and saw that bounce too… drat. The German player was now concerned, his earlier easy stroll was now a tough battle, the counters had mounted for him too.

But, in the end, I couldn’t recover from my terrible and tardy start. I eventually lost one of my Crusaders to a Pz III hit and the resulting chit pushed me to 49 points, 1 over my 48 total. The Brits withdrew back across the desert and the ruined, smoking compound was in German hands. He had reached 29 from 39 BR, so a solid German win in the end.

It was a good game and revealed few things about the army lists and special rules, most of which I liked. The SAS guys are ace (of course), and all round useful. Portee guns are very easily pinned (mine spent all game pinned by long-range 222 20mm fire).

All boded well for BG Tobruk next spring. Here are the force lists and a few photos of the action.

British Forces
FHQ in staff car   
FSU - Dorchester ACV       

Motor Platoon (in light trucks)      
PHQ 6 men, 3 x 7 men sections
HMG team

Crusader II tank Platoon (5)       
A9 Cruiser tank Platoon (3)           

2 x 25pdr with loader teams+ tows   

LRDG Patrol
with Vickers HMG + K gun       

Supply Truck         
2pdr AT gun portee on medium truck  
Totals                    599 pts    48 BR    4 officers, 2 scouts           

DAK Forces
FHQ in staff car       
FSU - SdKfz 263     
Signals Intelligence

Schutzen Platoon         
In 3 medium trucks

Pz II Platoon (3)           
Pz IIIH Platoon (3)           

FO Team               
2 x 105mm guns (off-table)   

SdKfz 222 AC       
SdKfz 232 AC      
PaK 38 AT gun with tow

Supply truck            
88mmL56 AA gun + tow

Totals                    593 pts    39 BR   4 officers, 3 scouts

 The battlefield and a few German scouts, watched by my LRDG patrol.

 The scouts take up firing positions as the 88 arrives.

 Serious firepower...

 The panzers arrive, each with a infantry squad in a truck (Italian in this case) behind. 

 First Crusaders try to stem the tide, and lasest 2 seconds. 

 25pdrs deployed on higher ground, with loader teams. 

The compound, the scene of the infantry fight. SAS are in the far building, whilst their 15cwt is pinned. 

 On-table counter-battery fire from 105s, woefully inaccurate for most of the game. 

 The 25pdrs dish it out. Resupply truck just topping-up a Panzer III. 

 German right flank, Pz III, 232 and infantry in a truck.

 Direct hit by the first Tomahawk. Two aircraft today, and still I couldn't turn it round. 

Infantry fight in the compound at close range. Germans pinned and vulnerable to a close assault, but the British PHQ got pinned too before they could fix their bayonets and go-in. 

 Crusader II rolls past one of its victims on my far right. By now the desert 'brown-out' was in effect. Thick dust reducing visible and firing ranges.

 My A9s, in flames, having done nothing. One Pz III accounted for them all!


  1. Great report Warwick, really looking forward to this coming out next year. Sounds like I better get cracking on painting up my Pz IIIs :-)

  2. Great report- another good looking table too.



  3. Terrific AAR. Looks good and has all the feel of the action.

  4. A nice article here, i think that people who have grown up with the idea of using computers are showing more responsibility towards writing posts that are thoughtful, do not have grammar mistakes and pertinent to the post..

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