Power Armor

Power Armor
Khurasan power armor infantry with conversions

Sunday, December 7, 2014

After Action Report: Small unit action in the Hurtgen

I playtested my rules, A Sergeant’s War, again tonight. This was a generic scenario set somewhere in the Hurtgen Forest, November 1944.  An understrength American platoon has been ordered to clear a ridgeline of German resistance.  AAR and some discussion of the rules below.

Refinements continue, but I think the game tonight was another good test of the system and the tactical result was realistic.  Even better: it was a tense, fun game.  The game is 1:1 troop scale, with a typical table (2’x2’ or 3’x3’) representing an area a couple hundred meters across.  It emphasizes squad leaders and morale. 

Tonight's game is 6mm (a lot of my playtesting is done in this scale because it's so space efficient), but the game could be played with any scale.

The set up.  Area was about 20"x20".  Americans are attacking from the "bottom" of the board.

The Americans are attacking with an understrength platoon, with 2 Sherman tanks due any time to support, but the Germans have a Pz IV-H coming in as well.  Both sides were regular troops with reliable morale.  The Americans had an advantage in NCOs, with one per squad and a platoon leader—the Germans only have a single leader in charge of their force.
Germans: 2x LMG teams, 10x riflemen, 1x leader, 1x Pz-IV H
US: 3x 9 man squads w/1 BAR and leader each, 1x command element, 2x Shermans; one squad has a bazooka

 The game opened with the Americans moving into the woods.  As they make contact with the Germans, fire is exchanged and there are several American casualties.  The German foxholes provide good protection. 

The Americans make an attempt to cross into the bombed-out village, but take fire and waver.  The squad leader tries to urge his troops forward, but he’s hit by German fire.  With him down, the squad retreats back into the woods.

Squad leader hit


A strong base of fire: 5 riflemen, the platoon leader, and an MG-42

The Shermans arrived then (roughly turn 3) and roll into position, but fail to immediately acquire the German positions.  They won’t be able to open up until next turn.

The Pz IV arrives as well and unsuccessfully engages one of the Shermans.   The Sherman’s defensive fire misses as well.

As one Sherman duels with the Pz IV, the other lays HE and MG fire on the main German position on the hill.  The other Sherman successfully damages the Pz IV (which is later abandoned), leaving the Germans with no long range AT ability.

As German casualties mount, the Americans make another move—but the remaining German riflemen, stripped of their MG-42s, put up enough fire to pin down the American advance.  One squad breaks and retreats—by this stage in the game, American casualties have damaged the platoon’s cohesion enough that retreating troops can’t rally without direct leadership, and the American platoon leader is occupied with the assault.  

Smothered with HE and .30 caliber MG fire from the tanks

Shermans engaging the hill

American assault under heavy fire

American squad breaking and retreating

One American squad is pinned down in the open for two turns and is shot up.  The platoon leader, trying to urge the troops forward, is also hit.

The American infantry’s morale is weakening and they were down to two maneuver elements, but the raw firepower of the Shermans finally drives the Germans off the hill.  One squad is routed from its foxholes by 75mm fire, and the other voluntarily withdraws.  American victory…at a price.  The platoon of 38 men has suffered 14 casualties, including two NCOs and the platoon leader.  The Germans have 9 casualties and a damaged and abandoned Pz IV.

Germans cracking


Shot-up US force

Realistically, I think the Germans would have engaged the Americans briefly and then withdrawn to reverse-slope positions to force the American infantry to leave their tank support—but I reasoned that the Germans have hastily occupied this position, and their inexperience put them on the forward slope in full view of American firepower.

I feel that my game is coming along nicely.  Crossing open ground, even with fire support and only against light enemy fire, is still difficult.  Squad leaders are critical to keep the troops moving. 

Thanks for looking!

Game material notes:  The troops are mostly Heroics and Ros, with a few GHQ(I think) mixed in.  The trees are scratch-built.  The game mat is a piece of brown flannel with light a scattering of flock glued to it.  Hills are foam underneath the mat.  The road is felt.  The buildings are paper and are by Paper Terrain. Plastic game tokens are by Litko.


  1. Great report! And good to see more 2'x2' and 6mm, I do it all the time.

    1. Thanks Shaun! Over the last few years, I've really downscaled---most of my stuff is now 15mm or smaller (except for Saga---and I might get a second Saga force in 15's so I can play at home). The kitchen table is the biggest surface in the house I can reliably set up on; my usual space is my hobby table, which has about 3x2 of usable space.

  2. Well done, great report with nice pictures and explanations...

  3. Being a small apartment dweller, I also like the 2' by 2' table size. Nice report and am enjoying your other reports and the gaming system itself looks good. I like the fact that when leaders lead from the front they put themselves in harm's way.

    1. Paul, thanks! Over the last few years I've downscaled my collections to 6mm and 15mm, so that I can take maximum advantage of the space I have. I haven't regretted it at all.

      Expect your leaders to suffer very high attrition if you use them aggressively in the game. It's basically a 1 in 6 chance every time they lead from the front, which from my reading of WWII might be generous rather than strict.