Due to ‘popular’ request, I thought I’d do an AAR on Conquest of the Aegean, a pausable-real time operational-level wargame from Panther Games, published by Matrix.
Tempe Gorge Crisis - 17 April, 1941, 1200hrs. Greece
Briefing: The Allies are being pushed back by the Axis advance. The Allies, lead by NZ Brigadier Allen must hold the Germans back for at least two days and prevent them from seizing Larissa and driving on south. A natural barrier to German movement is the river and terrain in the area, we must use these advantages to prevent the reinforced mountain division overwhelming our allied infantry brigade.
On day 3 I am to exit via the town at the bottom of the map between 0001 and 12000. This will generate the bulk of my points to win the game. The rest come from holding on to the bridges and main road for as long as possible.
Situation on the ground
We’re in a pretty tough position. We’ve got three under strength battalions against what is reportedly an entire division. We benefit from a total of 16 25lb’er artillery guns, but other than a few mortars and a couple of AT units, we’re very short on heavier equipment. Reinforcements of a company or so of light armour are due on day 2.
Our initial tactical choices are very limited. almost all of the troops are wedged between the river and the hills to the south. Two bridges on the eastern end of the position are primed and ready to explode, but only if our boys can hang on long enough to pull the switch at the right time. Other crossings are ferry crossings only, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be used by the enemy, and it doesn’t mean they can’t be blown either. We’ll see what we can do about this problem.
Here you can see the situation in the north. Missing off to the north east, on the northern side of the river is a reinforced battalion who will almost certainly be able to cross a bridge near their position unopposed, whereupon they will likely head down the southern side of the river (their only choice of route) and into my boys. Maybe we can ambush them with my company pushed out to the North East. However, that company is unlikely to be able to stop the enemy’s advance and thus might get stuck behind enemy lines pretty quickly. Tricky.
On the left of the image you can see the full order of battle for the brave Allies.
I feel like I’ve been dealt a hand of cards from a stacked deck! This is going to be an extremely tough battle. I’m going to risk some quick move orders to reposition my troop slightly. I don’t want to hang around too close to the river or it may be impossible to save my boys when the inevitable crossings occur. I’m under no illusions that we’ll be able to hold off the Germans for very long. We just need to hold them off for long enough.
My plan, by the numbers:
I’m sending one company to go watch the western most ferry, with orders to delay any enemy it encounters by stepping back through a series of positions. I’m hoping it will stay alive long enough to keep feeding me info on enemy movements, should any come this way. And I expect they will try it.
Central Btn. will be re-organised with delay orders as well. I want them to be fairly tough and fairly reliable on their own without me interfeering. Once we’ve lost the river things will move very quickly and with order delays and whatnot I won’t be able to organise a good defence fast enough. Delay orders mean that at least I know the pass will be held for a period of time while I recover the rest of my force and set up new positions further down the main road. In this area I also jiggle the position of the mortars a little.
I reposition the units here a little to try and provide them with a bit better cover and better escape routes when I need to pull them back. In particular I get the AT guns off their very exposed spot on the hill and into a little cover, which I hope will keep them alive for longer.
I pull all the units to close to the bridges with orders to ‘deny crossing’ for the two closest. I am hoping this will be enough to set the bridges off when the enemy start to take a heavy interest, but you can’t be too sure. My company of engineers and infantry in the town should make it a tough nut for the approaching armour column, and I’ll have them shot up from the flanks with the remaining AT unit and other infantry too.
The rest of my plan involves hammering the enemy with artillery if they get too close to the bridges to try and dissuade them from continuing, to slow them down, and to hopefully cause as many casualties as possible. I’m not too concerned about dumping a lot of ammo on the bad guys as I’m not even sure I’ll be able to keep my heavy guns going for day 2, and I’m likely to get a resupply sometimes in the evening anyway.