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Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage
with Tony Bates

September 5 and 6 saw the third iteration of my Iron Cross Flames of War competition. When Battlefront was in the middle of releasing their D-Day books, I decided to run a Late War comp around this most famous of campaigns. At the heart of each of my competitions is a team element (axis versus allies in this case); however the team nature is pitched at the strategic level while the individual match-ups take care of the tactical level.

With the ongoing COVID19 situation, it was very off/on again trying to organise the competition as New Zealand went through a nationwide shutdown and then a smaller regional lockdown. Nevertheless, despite COVID thirteen players from Wellington and one intrepid Aucklander came together on a rainy weekend to refight the Normandy campaign.

With the ongoing COVID19 situation, it was very off/on again trying to organise the competition as New Zealand went through a nationwide shutdown and then a smaller regional lockdown. Nevertheless, despite COVID thirteen players from Wellington and one intrepid Aucklander came together on a rainy weekend to refight the Normandy campaign.

In 2017 we had a full 3d table of the North African theatre to play out the strategic campaign; this year with COVID complicating everything from venue to attendance I simplified things this year to a 2d wall map of the greater Normandy region. I spent a bit of time (as did my two young sons) making a lot of magnetised flags and unit markers as can be seen in the image below (hat tip to the club in Swindon who had originally designed the map).

The competition comprised of six rounds, with the Allies attacking in the first three and then the axis forces counter-attacking the remaining three.

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

I also wanted to provide players with individual opportunities to sculpt the mission to their particular play style. I implemented a system twist cards that would enable the players to alter the mission parameters such as the Dummy Minefield option to the right.  This idea was initially triggered by Battlefront’s Tactical Edge cards but soon took on a life of its own. By the start of the competition I had devised over 50 different twists. Players who had attended the 2017 competition Torch to Tunisia were also given a single Veteran Card which provided a minor in-game benefit. The benefit was relative to their points standing from the previous competition.

Round one was a combination of FUBAR and Seize & Hold missions intended to replicate the initial beach and paratrooper landings. Following that missions were generated using a modified form of Battlefront’s battle plans concept. I removed the dice roll and just had various attack and defensive battle plans that cross-referenced to show which mission would be played

Interestingly, with the conclusion of Battlefront’s Global D-Day campaign, a range of new missions have been introduced. With missions like Meatgrinder, Cornered, and Outflanked players had a host of new tactical challenges to work through. Since the strategic campaign dictated which players were the attackers or defenders the battle plans cards worked really well.

After round one the Allies had quickly captured the beaches and landing zones. Despite pockets of stiff German defence, the Allies were able to exploit quickly into the Normandy hinterland. By the end of round 3 the Allies had almost total dominance of the map.

The German players began their counter attacks with high hopes and enthusiasm; however, stout defence by the Allied infantry companies stymied most of their attacks, with the notable exception of the superbly led 2. Panzerdivision which got around the map with alacrity, recapturing Cherbourg and then swinging through the south to put pressure on the British defending Villers-Bocage. The luckless 2. Fallschirmjägerdivision and 10. SS-Panzerdivision were unable to come to grips with their various opponents and suffered some grievous losses.

By competition end, the allies still controlled the coastal regions and great swathes of central Normandy. The axis had managed to wrest back control of most of the Cotentin Peninsula and the southern extremities of the Normandy region, at least preventing another Falaise pocket.

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage
1st Round - Allies Capture the beaches and landing zones 2nd Round Allies now dominate central Normandy

In keeping with Iron Cross’ branded merch from previous years, each player left the competition with a set of commemorative pens (every competition I’ve been to seems to suffer a lack of pens for recording scores…but no more!) Each member of Team Allied left with a winning team member medal. Medals were also awarded to the top three players, and the players who each destroyed the most infantry teams, tank teams, or won the most assaults. 

So 2020 was another successful Iron Cross competition featuring some really BIG wins and equally big losses, but also lots of close fought battles that could have gone either way except for the tyranny of the dice!

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

Iron Cross: Beachhead to Bocage

6th Round - The Villers Bocage Merry-go-Round

Iron Cross 2020 Standings
Simon McBeth 43
Cameron Wansbrough 41
Graham Henderson 40
Russell Briant 37
Sofia Chambers 31
Chris Otton 27
Julian Harkness

26

Simon Taylor 20
Alistair Ramsden 18
Andrew Olds* 15
Mark Taylor 13
Regan Robinson 11
Damien Tyson 11
Stuart Davidson 7

Allied Players in Blue
*Andrew only played Sunday and did well!


Last Updated On Thursday, October 29, 2020 by Luke at Battlefront