Wednesday, 8 August 2012

AAR - FAB Sicily 05-Aug-12

FAB Sicily
Following a few evenings of late night reading, I was as ready as I was going to be to introduce FAB Sicily to the KoffeeKlub. Both the rulebook (24-pages) and the playbook (32-pages) are pretty well laid out, but it was clear that in our first game we'd be referring to them quite often.

I picked the 5-turn tournament scenario as a starting point, but the playbook also offers up a short 4-turn introductory scenario (Sunrise Bridge) and a full 9-turn campaign scenario.

The Tournament Scenario

Historical - US deploy in Zone "A" and British deploy in Zone "B"
Representing a period from the landings on July 10, 1943 through to July 19, 1943 for a total of 5 game turns, this is expected to take experienced players around 3 hours to complete. The entire Sicily map is use and the Allied player has the option to follow the historical deployment around the southern and western coasts of Sicily, or to try an alternative approach which includes options to land of the east coast as well.

The historical deployment allows the Allied player to setup four beachheads in Zone "A" for his U.S. troops and in five consecutive beachheads (from the six landing spaces available) in Zone "B" for his British troops.

Alternate - US deploy in Zone "D"
The alternate deployment moves the U.S. troops to the east coast and four consecutive beachheads in Zone "D" (see "Alternate" picture to the left) and opens up Zone "A" and/or Zone "B" for the British deployment of five consecutive beachheads.

I had planned to cover the rules in a battle between AndyA and GaryB, but Andy was running a little late so we forged ahead with GaryB taking on the role of Axis player vs. my Allies. Game On!

The Axis deploy first and start with a number of German and Italian units in preset locations across Sicily. Once these units are in place the spread of the untried Italian units must be completed. A couple on things to consider here as these units are generally very weak and the scenario dictates that they are placed face down in locations selected by the Axis player. So he could choose where the units go, but not choose which type of units go there. Additionally units placed on coastal areas exposed to the possibility of beach assaults would begin the game with a defensive field works marker.

Initial Setup
Having seen the spread of the Axis forces, I elected to stick with the Historical Landing Deployment and setup my U.S. forces in the four boxes of Zone "A" and placed my British forces in landing areas B2 through B6 of Zone "B" to put some immediate pressure on Lentini and through that hopefully Catania.

No real surprises in the setup, but I did try to keep same division units together where possible to provide a +1 die bonus during combat.

Early game view
As the U.S. stormed the south-coast beach of Sicily (A) it quickly became clear how weak the untried Italian units could be. They would need to make a pre-combat morale check or become immediately disordered and they would need to survive a combat before becoming a useful tried unit.

The British were having a slightly easier time on the west-coast (B) not having taken the step losses that the Americans had taken in Scoglitti and Licata (D). Both of the Allied airborne units to step losses in trying to secure Comiso and Palazzalo Acreide (C). Meanwhile the Axis took the opportunity to reinforce Catania and Vizzini (E) ahead of what would surely be a strong push from the now grounded Allies. 

The Battle for Catania
Having repaired a blown border bridge during the Admin Phase and bhoyed by their early gains British forces advanced the elite 51st Infantry towards a key western V.P. location, Catania. We expected stiff resistance from the Axis units based there, but didn't expect the bridge that we'd just repaired to go again forcing us into a more difficult river assault. The hilly terrain in Catania didn't help as we engaged with an elite 15th Panzer Grenadier unit... Catania would stay contested for the rest of our game...

The Wall
Deserving of a Patton slap!
GaryB's "3-finger" Assault
Elsewhere the Allies were making slow progress and finding gains beyond the coastal areas difficult as the Axis re-enforced their southern locations, especially around Niscemi and Mazzarrone. The plight of the U.S. wasn't helped by some of AndyA's rolls, an early one coming up with three tens! (low is good).

A lot of credit needs to be give to GaryB here as his early to mid-game defence prove too tough for the Allies to effectively breakdown.

Final Clashes
Approaching our final turn for the evening the Allies launched a commando attack in the Mount Etna region placing the asset to limit any retreat options for the weakening German unit in Catania. The battle for Catania remained contested though and reinforcements soon arrived, strengthening the Axis hold in the region. Elsewhere the Axis moved to block a gap in their lines with some experienced Italian troops and the defensive position looked certain to be held.

Surprisingly the Germans elected to attack in Catania and ended up losing a unit and seriously weakening their position there. GaryB later described it as the "red mist settling". In any case we were done for the evening and decided to call a close to the game.

Would this have changed the final outcome? Possibly, but with one more turn remaining it is likely that the German lines would have been strong enough to hold.

Thoughts on FAB Sicily
I found the evening a hugely enjoyable yet challenging one, given the fairly steep learning curve to incorporate all of the rules. In the end I think we'd cracked most of them, but are still missing some subtleties around strategic movement, special actions and timing event/asset plays. We need to reduce our play time for sure, but this one is worth the little bit of extra effort required.

GaryB - "...I think it plays very well, very fast...unfamiliarity with the rules slowed us down a little...I see a lot of pain in mixing forces (placing supporting assets) for the Axis..."

AndyA - "...a very enjoyable, playable game..."


  1. Overall I rate FAB: Sicilly fairly positively after the first run through of the game on Sunday. I am sure that we made a number of mistakes but got the rules close enough to get a sense of how the game is meant to play.

    I am not sure I understand how to damage the ports as the Alles were into the Italian defended ports on turn one leaving the regions contested and on the way to being taken well before I got the chance to damage them. I think these rules need reviewing.

    I was pleased enough on my own Defense in the game though it was clearly only a matter of time before the Allies broke through. Definately a game of desperate defence for the Axis. I like the asymmetrical forces in this game makes for great replayability s players an can play both sides and have very different game experiences each time

    I would definately like to try this game out again from the Allies side now tha I have seen the difficulties of defending


  2. I've checked the rulings on Port damage and they read as follows: "An engineer may be used to damage (Axis) or repair (Allies) one port. (exception is Messina). Ports may receive up to two levels of damage. A port may only be damaged or repaired one level per Admin Phase. The port must be friendly controlled and in supply to perform this function, and for the Allies, occupied by a British (Catania or Syracuse) or American (Palermo) unit."

    As our tournament scenario begins with the Allied Operational Movement Phase, the first Admin phase is lost and the Axis don't have an opportunity to damage the port until their own Admin Phase in turn one. The port is likely to be at least contested at this point and so the Axis will not have an immediate opportunity to damage Syracuse (or Palermo if Zone D is being used). They can however place two starting units in Syracuse and potentially try to reinforce and hold for as long as possible. The Allies cannot use the port (or gain the fading Italian morale event) until Syracuse is friendly.