Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Attack on Port Stanley

I put together a scenario based on the Argentinian attack on Port Stanley not long after I first bought Memoir '44. To be honest I haven't played it in years, and reading through it now it has some definite flaws, but I still thought that it would be a fun game to try out my solo Memoir '44 variant.

For these games I had each side draw one card, plus they rolled one Battle Dice for each Command card they had and got an extra card for each Star rolled.  You got an extra dice if you played a Recon card on the previous turn and lost a dice for each Ambush card you currently held. I then picked the best card for the side, and played it.

Here's the setup for the scenario, with the British as the 'Allies' and the Argentinians as the 'Axis'. The river represents the coastline; everything to the left of it is the sea and is impassable.

The western end of the board has Government House, defended by a detachment of troops, and some lurking Argentinian commandos advancing to attack it. In reality the defenders of Government House actually outnumbered the attackers by two-to-one, but it appears that neither side was really aware of this and the defenders thought they were facing much larger numbers of troops.

Beyond Government House is the other Argentinian objective, the town of Port Stanley itself. This is defended by the Falkland Island Defence Force, about 40 civilian volunteers. Two units is probably excessive, but the British need all the help they can get in this scenario. The FIDF units only have three figures, though.

The Argentinian commandos count as special forces.

At the other end of the field, more Argentinians are deployed. They are four figure unit, with the first figure being a tank to represent their armoured transports. This allows them to move two and battle, until they lose their first figure, at which point they revert to being ordinary infantry.

In the first game the Argentinians got off to a flying start ...

... and launched a fierce attack on Government House.

At the other end of the field they were able to quickly push their main force into action, against a small detachment of British troops holding a scientific research station.

The Argentinians had already attacked the Marine barracks at Moody Brook, and the game allows for some of those troops to enter the fray as Argentinian reinforcements. They appeared quickly in this game, and the defenders of Government House found themselves under extreme pressure.

However there were also scattered units of British troops around as well, and the scenario also allows those to appear. A group of Marines comes to the aid of Government House.

The Argentinians kept up their attack ...

... at both ends of the field.

Government House fell, and the commandos moved on the town itself.

The troops in the research station were also being driven back.

At this point, with everything going the way of the Argentinians, the British won ...

You read that correctly. The British won. When I wrote the scenario I added a 'ticking clock' for the British, which gave them victory medals if certain types of cards were played. This was to encourage the Argentinians to push their attacks forward a little recklessly, thus giving the British player more to do and prevent the game bogging down with Argentinian caution. I think that really I set the clock too much in the Brits' favour; they won 4 medals to 3.

I scrapped that particular clock and tried a second game. In this the British rolled a Battle Dice at the end of any Argentinian turn in which the Argentinians failed to inflict a casualty. On a star the British got a medal.

Once again the Argentinian reinforcements turned up early on.

Once again Government House was the target of a massed attack.

The defenders were quickly driven out.

The Argentinians pressed them, an attacked the town.

Meanwhile the troops in the armoured transports advanced cautiously toward the research station, and came under fire.

The defenders were quickly driven out.

British reinforcements appeared, confusing the Argentinian advance on Port Stanley.

But not enough to stop the commandos from seizing two of its three hexes to pick up the final medal they needed for victory. The British picked up no medals.

Time for the deciding game. This time it was the main attack force which led the advance. The defenders of the research station were missing a figure when I set up. It was getting late.

The defenders of Government House managed a pre-emptive Behind Enemy Lines attack on the Argentinian commandos.

When it came the attack on Government House was less aggressive than in the previous games.

Indeed the attackers quickly retreated to regroup.

The troops in the research station were also holding off the Argentinians at their end of the field.

The defenders of Government House were slowly whittled down.

British troops arrived to bolster the defences of Stanley itself.

The research station was assaulted ...

... and the defenders fell back.

Government House in Argentinian hands.

Port Stanley came under attack by the armoured infantry. Some of the FIDF had already fled.

More Argentinians advanced on the town.

The British put up an heroic defence, though, breaking up the Argentinian attack.

An attempt was made to retake Government House.

But the Argentinians were prepared. The attack failed, and fierce fighting in the town saw off the last of the British regular troops. The Argentinians won again.

This third game was closer, with a few Argentinian units close to being destroyed, and their hold on Government House in doubt as well. The British got unlucky with their cards in the middle, drawing little of real use, whilst the Argentinians were able to get some real momentum going.

There is, of course, no reason to make any Memoir '44 scenario balanced, but it's nice to feel that victory, of a sort, is a possibility. In this battle the Argentinians were always going to win. A British 'victory' represents their defence being a particularly epic one. This is partially why I'm keen to keep the 'ticking clock' aspect; the British can win by just sitting tight. What I will try in future games is to allow the British to play any section card as an Epic Defence card. This allows them to roll two Battle Dice. If either one is a star, then the British get a medal. No units are activated. The low unit density of this scenario often seems to give players cards that they can't use. This allows the British to use them.

Note: If you are reading this post on http://morioergames.info/ then you are reading a stolen version. Please go to 'The Stronghold Rebuiltfor the original posts. Thank you.

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