Appologies. This was to have been written and posted last night (15th) but there was some terrible things going on in Italy that were distracting me and causing severe depresion...not to mention some a$&! of a Millwall fan that kept texting me with comments about those terrible things.
I do not have the same kind of relationship with Saint Valentine as I do with Santa. Whereas Santa is good enough to call me, albeit whilst I was out so Maria takes his call for me and passes on messages, Saint Valentine simply ignores me. Not once have I ever been bothered by his presence, or even received one of his rather tacky and over-priced slices of rain forest corpse. This is somewhat helped by having a wife endowed with all the depth of emotional feeling of a saucer and my being, I am reliably informed, an annoying fat git with a face that looks like somebody had tried to put out a forest fire with a screwdriver. So, when by chance our club meeting was set to fall on Valentines day I was not too concerned. However, it seems that others were. One member after another got in touch to say they couldn't make it as they were doing something that night, candle lit dinners and trips to cinema or restaurants....I know! Appalling way to behave. Who would turn down wargames for a mushy, commercially driven and highly implausible day of romance? Quite a few as it turns out.
I did try pointing out that, like Christmas, Easter and any other Abrahamic based religious festival, it was all made up....at best the stolen and sanitised version of earlier pagan rites they couldn't stop people celebrating despite them being silly and ineffectual anyway. That it was no more than a commercial ploy to empty their wallets should have settled it and that once they explained all this to their partners, who would understand and see the error of their girlie ways, everyone would be happy. One wife actually emailed me to say that her husband was no longer allowed to come out and play as I was a bad influence! I dont know....you give them the vote...............waste of good racehorses.....
So, on February 14th just four of us were allowed out to play but that was fine. I had arranged an 'Operation Squad' game between my German Fallschirmjager and new Italian paras and as two members had not played before the small forces at hand would work out well. I set out an encounter battle, a fairly wooded area bisected by a road along which stood five ruined houses. The squad that controlled the most buildings at the end of play would be deemed the winner. Andy and Alex took the Fallschirmjager whilst Phil and I ran out the Italian Folgore squad, and great fun we had too! Well, me and Phil anyway.
Phil tool half the squad, those sub-machine gun armed troops, to assault through a large wood to a building at its far edge. I took a Breda light machine-gun and the Brixia 45mm mortar, along with a spotter. We kept the mortar behind a building but put the spotter and the Breda into the building to control it and the ground in front of it; a very successful deployment. Andy advance his section of the Fallschirmjager squad through a narrow wood to cover their approach opposite my building. They were spotted and the order to fire the mortar received...it then got messy. The Brixia fires two rounds a turn and the first landed in the lap of Andy's command figure killing him outright; ok, the dice were on my side this day. the other round helped sew confusion. During the game I was able to drop plenty of rounds into this small wood and given that Andy's figures were bunched quite closely chaos ensued. I managed to kill a couple of figures would another and pin yet another all for no loss.
Phil had a trickier task through the wood, Alex was going to be waiting at the other end for a start. Here the fight was more evenly matched, both took pins but slowly Phil managed to get the upper hand. Judicious use of grenades, dogged approach play and shooting wounded two of Alex's figures whilst a nippy little run and grenade lob killed another for very little in reply. All in all things were looking bad for the Fallschirmjager however, time was running out (the hall heating was broken and we were all freezing to death) and so the game was ended. Each side had control of two buildings so, despite the Italians very strong position, the game was called a draw. If it carried on for another couple of moves I am confident that the Italians would have carved out a brilliant and decisive victory. The Germans had three dead, three wounded and a pinned figure whilst the Italians had but a single wound and one pinned figure.
In all it was a great game and the Brixia 45mm mortar worked out brilliantly. Ok, it might not work again next time, dice being what they are, but this first outing showed some promise. There are still a couple of rule points I need to check out but I still remain a firm advocate of Operation Squad. We are to look into running a large WW1 game with the rules with three or more players a side, each with their own individual squads; essentially, a platoon a side. The idea so far is that the Germans will be assaulting a Belgian village. Each attacking player and squad will be given a fixed task/section of the village to deal with and paired with a Belgian defender. Each pairing, despite all pairs being on the same table, will fight their games at their own speed, which should make things interesting! I shall tell you all about it when it happens!!!!