As I am moving to a new home by the end of the year, I wanted to break out my unfinished trench system terrain boards which have not been used for a game, nor are they completed. Screw it! I want to play on them!
I recently purchased some late war French from Brian and with that I have a new French army to assault a German held trench system.
I'm going to use Great War Spearhead 2 rules (our first try with these rules in a trench system). GWSH2 is a popular and well-supported WWI ruleset for 15mm and smaller scale battles. This is not for skirmishing. You can pick up GWSH2 and their fantastic scenario books on Lulu.
The battle played out over two nights. First night, late start as the French\Germans had to do planning before we could truly begin. We played two hours after that and got in all the preliminary bombardment (3 days) and 3 turns. We then finished (or nearly finished) on the second night and got through 5 more turns. This is a long battle report and I hope you make it the end!
Background setting for this battle:
Some shots of the terrain before it got destroyed by artillery. :-)
Below, the view from the German side of the table. As usual, click to get larger images. Right click and open in new tab to get largest version of the image.
French Order of Battle
The French had 8 Regiments of infantry\MGs, plus an enormous amount of artillery. Roughly 2 Divisions. Yes, the regiment names are incorrect. I found the right ones, but that was after the battle.
German Order of Battle
Germans had one Division with 3 Regiments (Infantry, MGs, and Minenwerfen). Plus they had one battalion of stosstruppen. (one company was armed with flamethrowers).
French and German Planning Maps
I made this planning maps for both the French and Germans so that they could devise their preliminary bombardment (French only) and then their pre-planned indirect fire during the game.
Due to me being unclear, the French didn't understand that they had to do pre-planned indirect fire, but took about 30 minutes on game night to map out five turns of it. Germans mapped out 3 turns of pre-planned fire. (Next time, they will both likely due about 8 to 10 turns of pre-planned fire)
I won't lie. This is a LOT of work for the game master too.
The Preliminary Bombardment
There is a HUGE learning curve for first time players (both sides in this case) with regards to plotting artillery fire in a trench game. I thought Phil, overall French commander, did a pretty good job of this considering he has never fought a trench battle before.
The French plan was to bombard the trenches for three days targeting all sectors for wire destruction, while attempting to shatter the bunkers and pillboxes. Due to sighting distances, the damage to the pillboxes and bunkers were not immediately known to the French.
The artillery regiments needed a 6 on a D6 to destroy they wire and they only got 4 hits out of 33 tries. We have a fascinating discussion on the GWSH2 GroupsIO forum about this right now. I will be changing my games to destroy wire on a 5 or 6 in future games.
Six of the eight French infantry regiments went over the top on Z-hour.
Below are a series of photos at the end of Turn 3 (end of the first night of game play). Here you can see that the first trench line has been breached by the French in several locations.
Turn 4 has begun! I have kinda lost track of the turns at this point. I'll comment on them, but without turn references. The next series of photos until the end cover turn 4 through 8.
Overall an outstanding game and definitely a hit with the Charlotte Garrison. I'm hoping to get one more trench assault in before I move to my new home away from Charlotte.