S48 Confusing Renaults (or something like that)

So my regular Starter Kit opponent and me sat down to play our first match of 2014, “Converging Assaults” (Starter Kit Expansion Pack #1, S48), which was probably the weirdest match I’ve ever played.

What’s it about? US troops advance into a city in Sicily from the West and meet Italian troops advancing from the West. A firefight ensues. For added fun, some Italian tanks are added into the mix and fall into the back of the US infantry.

And I use the words “fun” and “tanks” quite wrongly. We are talking about the Renault 35, this tin can:

(Image courtesy of Bukvoed on Wikipedia, CC-by 2.5)

(Image courtesy of Bukvoed on Wikipedia, CC-by 2.5)

In game terms, they have a 37* main gun in a one-man turret, a 2FP sort-of-coax-but-sort-of-AAMG thing and [4][4] armor. We’re talking late-war here, with the US fielding a 57mm gun (normally useless against anything, able to kill the Renault 35 with anything but boxcarts) and bazookas! But at least there are many of them – eight, to be precise, in a single-board scenario.

So, what happened when we played is this: My opponent (playing the Italian side because tanks) parked four of his tanks and most of his infantry around a stone building in the north, while the other four tanks tried to encircle my units. That plan was quickly prevented by my HIP 57 AT gun, which took out two tanks in short order, moved a bit and took out a third one, and some infantry which decided to go punch some metal in Close Combat. A fifth tank got recalled because the MA broke down, but the commander of that one had already taken a bullet. Tank Number 6 tried to move in a more offensive position, came into the line of sight of the AT gun, which fired with a TH of 4, penetrated the hull, retained RoF and proceeded to harass some Infantry just for shit and giggles. The two remaining tanks remained undamaged, partly because they were parked in a stone building and partly because I had stopped giving a damn about them.

Meanwhile, my Infantry tried their hand at this “fulfilling victory conditions” business. The scenario demands that no Italian Good Order squad (or two Good Order Half-Squads) are in any single building hex. Well, turns out this isn’t half as unfair as it sounded at first. The Italian squads break really fast, and once they’re broken, they stay broken thanks to their reduced broken side morale. In my last turn, there were two unbroken Italian squads left on-board, one of which broke during Prep Fire. I put down as much firepower as I could on the last stack, but only got a 8+2 attack, unfortunately, because of some quite effective Defensive Fire. On the last roll of the match, I rolled… boxkarts, and lost.

All in all, I would say this scenario is pretty balanced despite looking really unfair on first glance, but it is also really really frustrating to play for both sides. The US player is confronted with a victory condition that’ demands of him to be everywhere at once, and that can be prevented by a single bad die roll on the last turn. On the other hand, the Italian player can’t do much except hoping for some good morale rolls buying him time, because of his low firepower and lack of leadership on the infantry side and the completely useless tanks that broke one squad and pinned another one in the course of our game. I’d say the whole thing lacks lot of structure, and, say, N-463 or Cooks Clerks And Bazookas are all more interesting AFV scenarios, with more interesting things happening and more options for both sides. But YMMV, of course.

Next up: Out of Luck (S28, available on the MMP website). IS-2s and 122mm artillery against Panthers and Hetzers – looks like loads and loads of fun.

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5 comments

  1. Nice report. You probably need to learn to love those tin cans. They are often used far more aggressivly than the scenario designer intended. If you can get hold of it I recommend one of the early Journal articles “What To Do If You Have a Tin Can” by David Ollie (I think) – it was in Journal One and was a very well written article on how rubbish tanks can be better than you think.

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  2. Well, you have to remember that the Renaults were very obsolete by the time you are talking about. They were actually considered adequately armored in 1940 and the 37mm gun, a fixture in interwar French military planning, was pretty hopeless. I actually stood by one of these in the French museum at L’Invalides. I was struck by how tiny it seemed. Yet it had a high profile. The cast body of the Renaults were actually more susceptible to bazookas than tanks with armored plate. I would disagree most strongly, however, about the 57L AT gun. It is a nice piece of work. TK of 15? That’s plenty to do any German tank and a PzKwIV or a StuG from the front! It’s small and if it has APCR/APDS its to-kill goes up to a whopping 21 at point blank. Nothing that can kill a Panther or a Tiger from the front can be dismissed. It’s punch is a tasty 6FP (7IIFT). It is an above-average weapon.

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  3. The American AT Gun is a 37LL, not a 57L. It’s still not a bad gun against these former French tanks, with a TK# of 11. The tanks can also be a problem for the Italians if they are destroyed in the wrong places. They can provide cover for the Rangers where the Italians would prefer open ground, so they have to be placed carefully.

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