Back in March, during our Foy game, we got to talking ’bout some Arnhem. A quick lookup turned up that the anniversary of Market Garden actually lined up with our regular gaming slot in September, with the actual day being the anniversary of Operation Berlin (aka: the evacuation ending the endeavor). With six months lead-time, surely we could do a big Market Garden game by then, right?
Fortunately, we very quickly scaled back our plans from a series of linked games covering the high points of the Operation from start to finish down to ‘simply’ doing Frost’s attempt to hold onto the bridge in Arnhem. This was the right call.
Steve, who knows a lot more about this than I do (I’ve watched A Bridge Too Far, and have read the book on which it’s based, but that’s about it), did all the planning, John already had the Germans painted, and did all of the table, which is (as you’ll see) amazing. I painted up the British paras.
There was an online, pre-game component where the British and German teams determined how they would deploy and maneuver.
Although the Germans responded the same way they did historically, the British did things a little differently, which resulted in 1) Frost not even getting to the bridge and 2) the British that did needing to defend it from the town and across the river.
(Would you just look at this table?)
I ended up on the German team. Because we assumed they would concentrate their forces on the buildings overlooking the bridge, the plan was to advance through the buildings on the East side of the causeway, ensuring they were clear and approaching under cover.
That didn’t last long. It turned out the British were riddled throughout the those houses. Assaulting in Bolt Action 1E is decisive, and my rolling wasn’t so hot, so I lost 2 out of 3 assaults, which wiped out my infantry units pretty much by the very beginning, leaving me with a tank and not much else.
That’s the silver lining of playing Germans in WWII: when you’re winning, you’re winning. When you’re losing, the Germans are losing, and that means all is right with the world.
We had a tough time pushing up that flank: both because the BA building rules, which are normally Good Enough, are especially punishing when there’s basically nothing but buildings. Needing to go room-to-room is entirely on point here, but I think we need to tweak things a bit somewhere here.
Eventually, the models I painted deigned to leave cover, which let me get some photos of them in action:
(I’m particularly pleased with that first image in the post. How cool is that?)
We eventually got near enough to the buildings around the bridge, which meant the PIATs opened up. I did have one, brief, shining moment of usefulness when a PIAT from the top floor of one of the buildings fired on a tank: my tank returned fire and handily returned fire, killing everyone in the top floor.
At the end of the game, though, the German progress was too slow: of the six buildings around the bridge, the Germans had taken/cleared two of them, and the British still occupied four. All pretty much agreed that the British had won the game.