Monday, September 30, 2013

Engagement at Baraque de Fraiture -- A Flames of War Battle Report

Anyone that is active in the wider gaming community is more than likely aware of Battlefront's Flames of War rules set for World War 2 gaming.  One of the greatest criticisms these rules get is that they are too gamey.  I don't think anyone can or would deny that as a set of rules the design philosophy of Flames of War skews more toward the "game" end of the sliding scale between game and simulation.  As a challenge to the rules system, I decided we would try to play a historical scenario using Flames of War. I searched my library for something interesting that included a basic order of battle.  I settled on the engagement at Baraque de Fraiture as outlined in Osprey's Into the Reich compilation.  An American force during the Ardennes offensive is cut off and surrounded by  larger German force. Historically attempts to break through to the Americans failed, and they were forced to surrender.  I wanted something more of a balanced game, so I changed a few parameters.  In real life, a platoon of M10 tank destroyers attempted to get through to the surrounded battalion under cover of darkness.  They encountered  German infantry and were captured. In our scenario I decided to proceed as if two of them made it into the perimeter.  We gathered on a hot July afternoon at Fire for Effect games in Oshkosh, WI to test it out.

The American forces thus consisted of two infantry companies, a platoon of Shermans, a battery of 105s, a recon patrol, and a platoon of two TDs.  They were dug in in a perimeter around the town which was situated on a crossroad in the middle of a forest clearing.

The Recon patrol moves out to locate and slow as much of the approaching German force as they can.

Off table, the Germans assembled their forces.  Two panzergrenadier companies, one Gepanzertpanzergrenadier company, a company of Panzer IVs, and a platoon of two Panthers.

The Germans begin their assault moving in from the southern wooded quarter spread out in the face of American artillery.

The Panzers move up to the edge of the woods and discover that the Americans are equipped with 76mm gunned Shermans.  Several Panzer IVs brew up.

The Panzers return fire knocking out one of the Shermans and bailing another.
Just when the Americans thought things were going their way, an entire company of Halftrack mounted Gepanzertpanzergrenadiers rolls on from the west. The recon patrol does what it can to slow them down.

In the ongoing tank duel the Americans start to run low on armor as the Panzer company's superior numbers begin to tell.

 The Panzergrenadiers deal with the recon patrol and move against the dug in infantry.
 The M10s move from their reserve position to engage the Panzer IVs.  The results are devastating.  Five of the eight Panzer IVs are now burning.


In the center of town the artillery fires over open sights into the halftracks attempting to halt their advance. On the opposite side of town, two panthers arrive and catch the TDs in the flank, destroying one (seen burning in the background).  Two platoons of German infantry break cover and attempt to rush the American lines.  One is cut down by machine gun fire and a well timed counter assault.  The Panthers bog in the snow, having left the road, and are essentially hors de combat.  They are ultimately permanently removed while assaulted by infantry while still bogged.
 The Gepanzertpanzergrenadiers are checked by the concentrated fire of all four guns of the 105 battery.

 With one final rush a platoon of Germans makes it into the two story building at the corner of town. The rest of the German formation is broken though, and the Americans have enough remaining infantry to push them out.
We called the game at this point. The Germans had taken massive casualties, but if it hadn't been for both Panthers becoming hopelessly bogged, it would have been considerably closer. 
In the end, the modifications to the historical scenario made for a decently balanced game.  Historically the Germans had another whole battalion to throw in.  If we had done the same our results would have been historical. Does Flames lend itself to historical scenarios?  I think it can.  We didn't use any particular army lists for this battle.  Thus the only special rules we used were those in the main rule book. In that context they work well.  Still gamey?  A bit, but not as much as is commonly thought.

1 comment:

  1. It was a nail-biter till the end. Paul's burning markers look even better in pictures than they do in real life. Lots of eye-candy everywhere.