Having played two games of ‘Rommel,’ we’d pretty much got the hang of the basics. For our third try we played the ‘Breakout’ scenario, with a German force attempting to exit the opposite end of the table before Soviet forces could prevent them. In ‘Rommel’ each base represents about a company size unit, so it’s pitched at games involving a division or more per side. The forces involved were early 1942. ‘Rommel’ is played on a square grid and everything that happens in the game involves spending ‘Ops’ from a ‘command post.’ Every turn you get a number of Ops to spend on events, tactics, or to invoke attack or movement phases, and there are no subsidiary command stands so you are only ever ‘being’ the overall commander. Ops are a vital resource. Purely from a resource management point of view, it’s an effective approach to maximise the use of your own Ops while denying them to the enemy.
The game was played down the length of the table. I played Soviet, Mike played German. The Germans began with a road move, followed by a tactical move. This cost a lot of Ops but immediately drove a long spearhead towards the objective. The Soviets panicked and desperately sent in some motorised infantry to the objective town to slow the enemy down. These would be badly mauled, but would hang on just enough for more Soviet infantry to arrive. This was when I remembered to start taking some photos….
The impressively deep German column attempts to seize the objective (the town on the far right) before the Soviets advancing from the flanks can cut them off from their supply source. Soviet infantry have occupied the town and the Soviets would spend as many Ops as it took to support them.
Soviet forces begin to attack the flanks of the column without much success. I couldn’t decide where to cut the column and wasted a turn or two preparing the attack. Fortunately, the Germans failed to make headway against the dogged Soviet defence of the town.
The lead of the German column manages to defend against some piecemeal Soviet attacks. German crew quality makes up for any deficiency in equipment.
Finally, the Soviets are in a position to attack the column and make a sustained attack on the German infantry in order to cut the column and isolate the armoured spearhead. When units can no longer trace a supply line, it costs more Ops to move them. I’d used a lot of Ops to carry out this attack, but if I could hold the line the Germans would struggle with their own Ops.
The German armour pushes on. The Soviets have cut them off but are now struggling to engage and destroy them. Similarly the Germans have no trouble pushing on towards the table edge, but cannot shift the Soviets defending the town.
The German infantry now launches an attack on the Soviet supply line. More dogged Soviet resistance delayed the German seizure of the supply source, giving time to establish connection to the second source.
At the sharp end, Soviet infantry cling on in the town despite repeated German attacks. With the Germans having to spend more Ops to carry out attacks, the Soviets now have the luxury of reserving defensive tactics purely to hold onto this square. However, there’s nothing the Soviets can do to prevent the Germans fulfilling their objective to breakthrough off the table edge. It’s all on whether the town can hold out until nightfall. I was wary of attacking too forcefully in case the Germans counter-attacked and reconnected with their supply line.
The Soviets still hanging on to their supply source (rear centre). Eventually it will become impossible to hold on, but by this time there will be no real possibility of the Germans being able to open up their supply route to the armour.
The German general’s finger points the way as the Soviets are gradually pushed back, albeit with losses on both sides. As night approached this was something of a sideshow.
As night falls, Soviet KV-1s finally arrive at the town where the defenders have held out against repeated attacks and still are relatively unscathed. As it turned out there was never a time where I had to risk a big attack to relieve the defenders as they were never reduced to a state where they were in danger.
Things looked bleak for the Soviets after the first two turns. In hindsight Mike thinks he should have been more aggressive and thrown everything at the town rather than worry about the Soviets arriving from the flanks. From my side it looked like being a very quick game initially. I was taken aback by the speed of the German attack and hadn’t set up to fight where the danger was, and had to waste a lot of Ops to desperately throw something in the way of the German advance.
It’s worth noting that this was a ‘fair’ scenario, so the Soviet command post is as efficient as the German one, arguably more so. Both side get the same number of Ops per turn.
Overall it was a really good game. There are lots of decisions to make every turn, and the Command Post gives you lots of choices. Whether to go with potentially powerful events, tactics that increase/decrease losses or multiple attack phases.
Rommel is available from Honour games HERE
All figures are Adler. All vehicles are GHQ. Bases are 60mm x 40mm.