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I cut my teeth on PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader back in the day. My first game was Tactics II; my second was Squad Leader. But shortly after that I discovered PB. I was really excited when MMP released PanzerBlitz Hill of Death, but it was only now that I punched the counters and played it. Solo, yes, but isn't that fairly typical of most gamers?
I apologize for my photos up front. The photos did not turn out as good as I had expected. And I'm sure that I missed a few rules, too. I did download the second edition of the rulebook, which from what I have read, is a much improved version over the original rules. I will give a brief explanation of events during each turn, and show the disposition of the units at the end of each turn.
Here is my initial set up, with the British coming in from the north and the Germans only able to opportunity fire on Turn 1. There are no chit pulls on turn 1. The British move and the Germans opportunity fire. I have covered the victory objectives of the British by not only occupying them but also covering the probable avenues of approach. The German setup is pretty limited, though, as they have to set up within 3 hexes of 2421, which is just below the base of the hill. The victory hexes are marked with red circles.
My plan was to come around on either side of the hill and see where the weak link was. Right off the bat, the German 88 on the right flank lit up one of the M4A4 platoons coming out of the woods on the road. They are just as deadly in the game as in real life. The wreck created a bit of a hindrance during the game as every British reinforcement entered from hex 2111, along the road just north of the wreck.
Coming around the left flank, the other 88 located in the woods at the south end of the German area of operations hit another British platoon, and they lost a step. The Panzer IV platoons also inflicted some damage, but overall the Brits were able to move up north of the hill out of sight and line of fire.
At the end of turn 2, I was able to knock out one of the M4A4 units with the German 88 located on the right most flank. The other Flak 88, located in the woods at the south end of the operational area has been able to deal some damage to the British as well. Nonetheless, the Germans will have a tough time initially holding off the onslaught of the Brits. The chit pulls allow the British to maintain the initiative. Additional British reinforcements coming in on turn 2 add to their strength.
During turn 3, the British continue to push forward, though rather slowly, due to the threat of the Flak 88's. This was the first turn that the air support chit was pulled, and the Typhoons unloaded their bombs on the Panzer IV units in the right most victory hex. Good aiming by the British took out the entire platoon. The initiative of the Brits also enabled them to disrupt the flanking German 88. The Kangaroos were bringing up Infantry reinforcements. The Brits tried to use artillery on the Flak 88 in the woods, but it scattered widely and wound up in the open hex north of the woods.
The Tommys had a bunch of reinforcements come in on Turn 4, but due to the chit pulls and my poor planning, they never made it out of the town. I drew a British OP chit last, and according to the rules, that chit does nothing. The reinforcements were left in the town waiting for orders. However, the Typhoon air support continued to rattle the the Germans, with pressure being put on them as the Brits came in from the left side. The numerous Shermans tended to overwhelm the effective Flak 88s and numbers finally won the day. At the end of turn 4, the two Flak 88s and a Panzer IV platoon were disrupted, while one of the objective hexes was open and ready to be taken.
The British finally were able to get out of the town and made their way up the road and close to the action. The Germans got a few reinforcements in the form of a Panzer IV tank company and a Panzer Grenadier company. One of the tank platoons was hit by several M4A4s, and was disrupted. Additionally, a push by the British took two of the four objective hexes, with the Germans barely holding on to the other two. Both Flak 88s continued to be disrupted while a one-step Panzer IV platoon held on to the orchard objective.
Turn six saw more German reinforcements and an upgraded chit. The GErmans were finally starting to show some initiative. The upgraded chit, from an Op 0 to an Op 1, and the Panthers, would help matters immensely. A couple of Panther platoons arrive on the scene, but the Brits still are applying pressure to the Germans and especially the last two objective hexes. The Panthers came up from the south via the road network using assault movement/fire. The original German infantry is still holed up in the improved positions just south of the hill. The germans are still barely holding on to the two remaining objective hexes.
Turn 7 saw the initiative stay with the British, and they took another objective hex. In fact, the last hex, in the red circle, was captured by the British only to be recaptured again by the Germans in a Close Assault push. However, the Panzer Grenadiers were able to get out of their foxholes and in position for another close assault attack to hopefully retake one of the other objective hexes. The Panthers were able to eliminate several British armor steps, while their 15 defense factor held off several attacks by the M4A4s and Fireflys.
It's funny how things work out. On the last turn, the initiative switched from the British to the Germans, obtaining the first two chit pulls. The Germans held on to the wooded area in the south, and were able to close assault and take one of the orchard hexes and keep it. Additionally, a Panther platoon and Panzer IV platoon were able to clear out another one of the other orchard hexes, which allowed the other Panther platoon to sneak up and occupy it. Despite the best efforts by the British, they could not retake any of the objectives. The Germans pulled out a victory on the last turn, mainly due to the drawing of most of their chits at the beginning of the turn.
This first scenario was a learning experience for me. I like the chit pull activation system, as it allows some fog of war into the scenario. The Germans received an additional Op 2 chit on turn 7, and this made the difference for turn 8, at least in my game. The reinforcements in the later turns also help to turn the tide in the Germans' favor. The Panthers are nasty, but can still be met by the British Fireflys.
The Typhoons were a big help to the Brits, but the artillery did not seem to play a big part in this game. I used mostly HE, but should have probably used more smoke to cover the advance by the British on the left flank.
I am definitely going to play a few more scenarios, and have even punched PB Carentan from the Operations Special Issue magazine. I am anxious to see how these scenarios play out.
More to come, and hopefully with better photos.