Scott Parrino -> Afrika Korps Countdown -5: AAR on Battleaxe Scenario! (8/1/2012 9:51:41 PM)
Please enjoy this wonderful AAR done during the beta period of Panzer Corps: Afrika Korps, which releases August 6!
Greetings readers! This is Panzer Corps beta-tester “monkspider” and today I am going to be sharing an After-Action Report covering one of the new scenarios from Afrika Korps. Afrka Korps is both an expansion to Panzer Corps and also a stand-alone game for new players that does not require the purchase of the original game.
The scenario that I will be covering today will be based on Operation Battleaxe, a British counter-offensive that sought to push the Axis forces out of eastern Cyrenaica and lift the siege of Tobruk. Historically this battle was a victory for the Germans, we will see if I am able to achieve such success myself!
My plan is as follows, form a defensive line just south of our starting position until the English exhaust themselves, and then when the moment is right, my units highlighted in red, which I have christened the 9th Panzer division, will launch a counteroffensive that will regain Sidi Omar (labeled A) and “Point 205” (labeled B), both of which I expect to fall into enemy hands early on in battle. Then the units highlighted in Green, what I call the 2nd Italian armored division will strike toward objective C, the Halifaya Pass. One of the coolest new features of Afrika Korps is that you can now have Italian units as part of your permanent core. They have even implemented unique medals and heroes for your Italian troops to earn.
Here is one of the new Italian heroes I have earned. I am not sure, but it looks like he has a parrot on his shoulder. You seriously don’t want to mess this with this guy.
The British kick off their attack with a ferocious armored thrust toward Point 205, I would say that position looks doomed. But just like Macarthur after losing the Philippines, I vow to return!
Sidi Omar in the southeast was easily captured by the British. On the other hand, things at the Halafaya Pass look somewhat reasonable, three more Matilda II are roaming the area but at least I have an 88 on hand, one of the few units that can put a dent in those infernal things. I have always hated Matilda IIs , not only are they hard to kill, but, as the brilliant blogger Wartard has said, their name conjures up an image of your granny wearing combat boots.”
The German 9th Panzer division is setting up its defensive line right around these objective hexes. It has been joined by a trio of auxiliary 88 guns, which came in handy for clearing out a couple of British Crusader tanks that had attempted to intrude on this position. Long-time Panzer Corps players might notice an unfamiliar unit between the 88 and the recon car. You are looking at the Panzer II Flamm, one of the many new units that have been added in Afrika Korps. Essentially a Panzer II with a massive flamethrower attached, the Panzer II Flamm exceeds at fighting soft targets like infantry, and is uniquely powerful in close terrain.
My Italians are setting up a defensive line just north of point 205, and what is that I see? Hoo boy, yet another Matilda, joined by a Crusader this time. This should be fun.
Well, the English hit me pretty hard. What was that I was saying about the Halafaya Pass position looking decent? It was nearly completely overrun already. Granted, these were only auxiliary units defending this position, but it is still unfortunate to see.
At least the 9th Panzer division is in a strong position. During the AI’s turn, an 8 strength Crusader tank was ambushed by my Panzerjager and was killed outright, earning the heroic men of that battalion the Iron Cross, 2nd class. Two other units, still in their transports, moved themselves too close to my panzers and will be easily crushed.
My Italians on the other hand find themselves in a bit of a pickle (I believe that the technical military term for such a thing). Their M14 tanks are facing two Matilda IIs, and can scarcely put a dent in them. Some tough British infantry are in the area as well. Hopefully some Stuka bombing runs can take these Matildas down to size.
Well, the Halafaya Pass was officially lost, but we will get it back in due time. The rest of the front has taken an interesting turn, although the 9th Panzer division is easily dispatching the meager forces thrown against it, my Italian troops are facing the brunt of the English assault and are in danger of being encircled as the troops that captured Halafaya pass are also approaching from the east. My plan at this point is to order some elements of the 9th Panzer forward toward Sidi Omar, and to divert others to help the Italians.
Some success is achieved as my Panzer III and Panzerjager units succeed in eliminating a Matilda II and prevent a large-scale encirclement of my Italian troops. The rest of the 9th Panzer is racing south toward Sidi Omar facing only light enemy resistance.
The RAF also made itself felt with a Lancaster bomber attacking an Italian tank; it was without fighter protection however and was destroyed by a squadron of 109’s and a squadron of Italian MC 200’s. A Hurricane also showed up but it was weakened by anti-aircraft fire from one of my 88’s and finished off by one of my Italian fighters.
What treachery is this? Advancing mobile formations approaching our flank?! Mein gott! A cool new feature of Afrika Korps is that the player will occasionally receive intelligence messages like this in the middle of the battle.
More RAF units show up, and one of my Italian tank units is critically injured. Luckily, anti-aircraft fire once again cripples the RAF, allowing my fighters to easily finish them off and the two Matildas pictured above are destroyed by Stuka bombardment and attacks by my own armored units. In the southwest part of the map, Sidi Omar was finally retaken. All in all, it was a pretty productive turn. I do fear the arrival of this new British armored column however…
The first advance elements of the mobile formations I was warned about earlier have officially been sighted. They are coming from the west, attacking my 9th Panzer units that had retaken Sidi Omar. Unfortunately my best anti-tank assets are to the Northeast, assisting the Italians. Speaking of which, things are relatively quiet on that front until the British troops that were involved in capturing Halafaya Pass arrive in force.
The Italian front heats up with the British troops from Halafaya pass finally showing up, among them at least one Matilda II.
In the southwest, an English Cruiser tank briefly retakes Sidi Omar but is destroyed by a combination of artillery fire and an attack by one of my Pionere units, taking advantage of the tank’s defensive penalty in close terrain like cities.
The Italian front is mostly a stalemate, though slow progress is being made. In the south, elements of the 9th Panzer are on their way toward Sidi Suleiman but British troops using captured Italian tanks have been sighted!
Argh, a British diversion group has appeared in the north, easily rolling into undefended objective hexes. I didn’t expect any British presence in that area. This is going to be a major pain to rectify.
And if things couldn’t get worse, a British Cruiser tank, presumably part of that mobile formation that I was warned about earlier, launched a sneak attack out of nowhere on one of my vulnerable mobile Flak units, bringing it to death’s door. Luckily I had enough units in the surrounding area to ensure that it was not a further nuisance.
In light of recent events, it’s time for a reevaluation of my strategy. Taking into account the unexpected British counterattack in the North, My Italians are going to be tasked with retaking the ground that has been lost. It will then fall upon the elements of the 9th Panzer division in the south to continue their drive on Sidi Suleiman and then recapture the Halafaya Pass. Let’s hope that enough time remains to accomplish all of this.
The 9th Panzer continues eastward toward Sidi Suleiman with only light enemy resistance to slow its advance. The Italian 2nd Armored division managed to eliminate the remaining British units in the area, just in time to relocate and meet the British troops that advancing from the north.
The RAF made surprise reappearance with two new squadrons of Hurricanes showing up. And even worse, more enemy troops continue to come out of the woodwork. These newest ones are threatening the objective hexes near where the 9th Panzer division started off at the beginning of the scenario. I should have kept more troops garrisoned up here. I don’t know how I am going to be able to put out all of these fires before the scenario ends!
This battle really does a good job of depicting the back and forth nature of desert warfare. The British are retaking cities all over the place. I captured Sidi Suleiman and the Halafaya pass is within sight, guarded by a single infantry unit. Unfortunately, I spotted yet another Matilda tank in the north, and even more objectives continue to fall to the British. The red circles indicate objectives that the British have recently taken and that I will have to retake in order to claim a decisive victory.
Turn 13 (four turns remain)
Although things are at a critical juncture, I believe that I may have turned a corner! After capturing Sidi Suleiman last turn, I was awarded with my very own Matilda II, painted in luxurious Feld Grau. If you played Panzer Corps but not any of the DLCs, you may not be familiar with the gameplay concept of captured units. It is possible, if certain parameters are met, to capture enemy equipment that will become a permanent part of your core. The Matilda II is a tank with extremely heavy armor but slow speed. It is unlike anything in the German arsenal at this point in the war and should prove to be a useful asset to the German player.
I managed to retake a couple of the hexes that the British had captured and I also officially recaptured the Halafaya Pass. What it all comes down to now is whether or not I am able to capture the hexes depicted below, at least one of which is guarded by a Matilda II. Time for a blitzkrieg.
Turn 14 (three turns remain)
Okay, good news. All that is left is just that single Matilda II and I am throwing everything, and I mean everything I’ve got at it. My Stuka had a particularly productive bombing run, knocking the Matilda down to half strength. I rushed an auxiliary 88 right next to it to impair its ability to reinforce itself. I believe that victory is at hand!
Turn 15 (Two turns remain)
That’s it, I did it! The Matilda was finished off with aerial bombardment from my Stuka and 109, opening the way for the last objectives to be seized. Decisive victory!
Conclusion: In the end, the British assault was relentless but the superiority of German strength of arms was inarguable. This was a challenging scenario that will test your ability to operate an effective mobile defense and it showed off a number of the new features that you will see in Afrika Korps. I hope you enjoyed reading my after-action report and I encourage you to check out Afrika Korps when it becomes available!
Dustin "monkspider" Bond is a 30 year old history nerd from Wichita, Kansas. His favorite games are Bioshock, Civilization IV, and Panzer Corps. He has been a beta-tester for all of the DLC released for Panzer Corps thus far and has enjoyed reading Wargamer.com since he was a teenager.