L’ Abbaye Blanche – IABSM 3
Yes, I’m still kicking… Been a busy few months, will little time for games, much less writing about them. Spent most of the fall playing stuff I could walk into the game store and plop down such as Blood Bowl and Warmachine, but this week I got a few guys together for a game using the new version of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum from Two Fat Lardies. We’d played a couple of games of IABSM last spring and enjoyed them. At Historicon I was able to play in a game of Through the Mud and Blood hosted by chief Lardy Richard Clarke and really enjoyed that game, which had a number of elements that were to be included in IABSM 3. So when the rules became available this fall, I immediately picked them up and put together a scenario.
For this game I decided to base the scenario around the defense of L’ Abbaye Blanche north of Mortain, where the Americans established a roadbloack during the German Operation Luttich counterattack. I had a couple of pretty good articles on the actions there with good order of battle information and maps. I made a couple of alterations for the sake of game play. First, I only own a pair of American towed 3″ AT guns instead of the 4-gun platoon that was there. I also currently don’t have any crew for those guns. So I switched the towed gun platoon for a platoon of M10 GMC tank destroyers (which I have four of). This filled out the platoon and gave the Americans a little mobility. The second tweak was to compress the timeline of the battle. Historically the German attacks filtered in an hour or more apart, and the US position was able to defeat each one in detail. I pushed the German attacks closer together, creating a more tense situation for the US players.
The German attack started up Highway 3 with a column of blinds that moved up and made some attempts to spot any enemy in the hedgerow at the base of the ridge. The fog and cover made spotting hidden units difficult, but the Americans obliged by spotting the German column and oping fire with MGs and 57mm ATGs. A platoon of panzergrenadiers came under fire and was forced to abandon their tracks and seek cover in two stone farmhouses. The Americans attampted to destroy the German ammo truck, but it escaped an was able to sneak behind a house and hide. The Panther leading the attack was revealed and came under blistering fire. The 57mm guns were not able to penetrate the Panthers armor, but did apply some Shock. At this point the American committed their M10 platoon, which rolled around the corner and began pounding the Panther with 3″ AP rounds. The Big Cat rattled under repeated hits and after suffering 5 shock the crew had had enough and abandoned the vehicle.
The Americans were feeling pretty confident, having driven off the Panther and causing a slow but steady stream of casualtries on the Germans in the houses. However, Lt. Marzen, commanding the 1st Panzergrenadier platoon began to impact the battle, rallyng his men and directing effective fire onto the US M2 0.50 cal MG. The M10’s were starting to roll forward toward the houses to shell them with their limited stock of HE when the second German group rolled out of the fog and straight into the rear of the M10 platoon. The Germans immediately debussed, moved forward, and put a couple of panzerfausts and a 75mm HEAT round from the accompanying gun halftrack into the rear armor of the M10s. The tank destroyer platoon immediately lost three vehicles and the remaining one put the pedal down and scooted back toward the US lines before turning around to establish a defensive fall back position. The German infantry then poured into the orchard atop the ridge and made a series of aggressive attacks on the US machine guns and 57mm AT guns. The heavy fighting saw both the overall US commander and the commander of the 2nd panzergrenadier platoon killed in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. Supported by withering fire now being directed against them from the squads of the 1st Panzergrenadier platoon, the US position on the ridge was rolled up, although second platoon took heavy casualties in the action.
The morale of the German players took a further hit as the final group of German reinforcements came up Highway 3. The surviving M10 spotted the armored halftrack platoon on one of the blinds and promptly destroyed one track with a 3″ gun, killing everyone on board. The other two debussed and began moving forward with the 1st panzergrenadier platoon. When the three tank Panther platoon was revealed from their blind and disabled the gun of the remaining M10, the Americans decided that it was time to fall back and join the defenders of Mortain.
The game was really fun and flowed well. The commander of the lead German group was a player who was completely new to miniatures games (except for a brief try at Warhammer back in his youth). He played his role excellently, revealing the main American position, then pinning them with fires while the reinforcements arrived, then moving out to assist in the final assault. The US players believed their intel reports a little too much and considered their flanks secure. The Germans made good use of supporting fires and assaults to clear off the main US position. The US had an entire infantry platoon in reserve, but they did not move them out in time and the once the Germans controlled the ridge, they would have had to cross a lot of open space in front of German guns.
As for the new version of IABSM, I really liked it. The TFL guys have come a long way since the last version of IABSM in terms of rules presentation and this set is very nicely produced and laid out. The rules have been streamlined in many places, making a cleaner game while retaining all of the flavor of the original. I especially like the command initiative system for the Big Men, which is the feature of Mud and Blood I enjoyed at Historicon, as it really helps the gamers to use their leaders to affect the outcome. I’m definitely looking forward to more games of IABSM 3 … and hopefully the return of regular installments here at The Repple Depple.