I knew that I'd be handing the Axis defence this week and read-up a little on some play-testing set-ups conscious that the Allies may elect to try the Alternate Landings instead of the Historical Landings used in Game #1. Unfortunately I was running late on the night and much of what I'd read was forgotten in my rush to get the game started. :)
There was however some method in my madness as I expected the British to deploy in the B2 through B6 landing areas (line A) to put pressure on the Port at Syracuse and the Port at Catania through Lentini, so I left Modica (point E) unpopulated. Elsewhere I constructed my own "Maginot line" (point I) as a strong fallback position should the Allies go for the Historical Landings.
|(1) Axis Setup|
I also didn't consider placing any units around Messina (red area F in the picture). There are a lot of potential victory points here for the Allied player, but I felt that I could route the more mobile armoured units there if I needed to.
Having considered my Axis setup the Allies chose the Alternate Landings option and placed their British forces in A4 and B1 through B4, with their US forces in D10 through D13 as pictured below.
|(2) Allied Invasion Setup|
The Allied landings were an almost complete success and only one untried Italian unit survived the beach assaults vs. the US 1st Infantry in Monti Sicani (point A below). The Allies claimed an undamaged Port Syracuse and claimed their first Fading Italian Morale chit for the draw bag.
|View after Allied turn #1|
During the Admin Phase of my Axis turn I damaged the Port at Catania (point A below), blew bridges on the Simeto River (point B below) and built defensive field works in Val Di Catania, Vizzini and Caltanissetta (orange dots below). Meanwhile the Allies were using the British 3rd Commando asset to perform a flanking invasion at Lentini (point C below). These commandos survived and would remain awaiting Allied reinforcements.
|View after Axis turn #1|
|A Panzer IV|
The beleaguered green Italian unit in Monti Sicani was also reinforced by a strong Assietta Mountain Infantry unit (movement E above) and I reserve moved the Elite 15th Panzer Grenadier to the centre of the island in order to support the VP in Caltanissetta (movement F above). +7 NET VPs to Axis
|Could the Allies exploit a gap in the Axis lines?|
Allied infantry did indeed move through the Mussomeli Gap (movements A and B below) and re-engaged the strengthened Italians at Monti Sicani (point D below). These advances and assaults would prove a devastating failure for the US forces.
|A critical passage of play.|
Worse was to come however as their drive to exploit the gap in the Axis lines had created one in their own between Canicatti and Agrigento (Axis movement D in the picture to the left). My Livorno Mobile Infantry units moved in picking up 2 VPs from the unprotected beachheads.
I felt pretty bad for not warning them during their Movement Phase, but it was something that we'd covered in our first game. This is WAR after all! :)
|Victory Points by turn.|
Stung by the events of Turn #2, the Allies had to respond choosing to complete their breakthrough on the Axis lines and threaten both Termini Imerese (point B) and halving the distance to Messina itself (point C) with the Elite 45th Infantry.
|The Allied Fightback|
Meanwhile the British forces were struggling to make huge progress, but still threatening to capture the airfield at Niscemi. Generally the Allied battles were more successful in Turn #3, but they didn't manage to capture either Termini Imerese or Cattolica Eraclea despite significant Axis losses.
|Allied 45th caught and destroyed at Nicosea|
In the responding Axis turn I reinforced Termini Imerese (point B below) and sent an elite PG armoured division to deal with the breakaway US 45th Infantry unit at Nicosea, en route to Messina (point A below and in right-hand picture).
Tonight's game really brought the game to life for me and although we are still getting the odd rule wrong, our pace has picked up considerably and we better understand the general flow of play. I was a little fortunate this evening, turning a genuine mistake into an opportunity to score two VPs from the US beachhead markers, but generally I was happy with how I handled the Axis forces.
I'd like to give the original fast action battles game "FAB Bulge" a try now and hope to pick-up FAB: Golan '73 when it comes out.
Next up is the full 9 turn campaign game via VASSAL.