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Drive on Aachen, 1944


The Second World War, Disposable Heroes, 28mm

About three times a year a group of wargamers get together in the small Scottish towns of Kirriemuir or Stonehaven, and play a large game over the course of a weekend. This time it was the Second World War, with a Normandy game on one day, and a street-fighting one in Aachen (or somewhere in Germany) on the next. The premise of the first game was that British and American paratroopers were scattered over the French countryside, while British, American and even Free French armour and infantry tried to fight their way through to help them. Naturally their progress was impeded by lots of well-armed Germans, and the result was an enjoyable but not particularly historical game. We fought it out on an 18 foot by 10 foot table (with cutouts).logw-ww2-13Each player had a small platoon-sized starting force – mine was all from the Irish Guards – a mixture of Shermans and infantry in half-tracks. When casualties mounted a player could bring on reinforcements by dicing from a list. This meant that throughout the day nobody ever ran out of troops to command, despite the carnage on the tabletop.  To add extra interest, the umpire inflicted the occasional artillery mission or airstrike on the players – and an awful lot of “friendly fire”! logw-ww2-29Progress was slowed by two bridges ands three villages, all of which were Allied objectives. The bridges were particularly important, as without them the Allies were unable to advance across the table. The Germans managed to block the main bridge for most of the game, first with an infantry garrison, then a Tiger tank, and finally the charred remains of the same Tiger, which was too large for the Allied tanks to move. It was evening before it was finally pulled out of the way (using a captured German Bergpanther), and the Shermans rolled on to link up with the British paratroopers.logw-ww2-15After trooping off to the local Indian restaurant we completed the game in the early evening, by which time it was clear that it was an Allied victory. In terms of points the Allies had done particularly well, holding three of the objectives (including the two worth extra points), and contesting two others. In fact, one of these was only “contested” because the Germans had sneaked a couple of fixtures into a house earlier that day, and everyone forgot about them! It was all good clean fun, and while it wasn’t a “proper” wargame, it was all highly entertaining.logw-ww2-26The Sunday was spent fighting through a city (presumably somewhere like Aachen), which was divided into districts (Haupbanhoff, Tiergarten etc.) Each player had a starting force and a starting area, and was randomly assigned a district as an objective. inevitably, on a 16 x 6 foot table, some players never even came close to their objectives, as they became bogged down in fighting somewhere else in the city. Each building outside their starting area was assigned a number (1-3), and on capturing it the player drew a card from one of three piles, which gave him victory points. He also spawned a little garrison, allowing his assault squad to move on somewhere else. If a player lost one of his three starting units (one mechanised, and two infantry), he rolled for reinforcements – which inevitably resulted in him getting a bigger and better tank to play with!logw-ww2-22My British soon became embroiled in a private war with Peter Nicholson’s Germans (when he wasn’t shooting at the Americans commanded by his brother). Peter is a disarmingly charming fellow, and consequently his outrageous sibling rivalry antics were quite an eye-opener! . Of course, I can push rules to their limits with the best of them, which meant that Peter and I were well-matched, and consequently we had a rare old time trying to “do the dirty” on each other!logw-ww2-25All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and while this mightn’t have been the Second World War as any participant might have known it, it all made for a fun game.

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