PzB North Africa 1941 - Fall of Sidi Barani AAR

There is a lot of desert to get through as the Allied Commander.  
If at the end of this digital battle I had a chance to meet the AI commander, I'd walk up to him, punch him in the face and then begrudgingly shake his hand.  The Italians are the most frustrating army you will ever face, there are a damn lot of them and they sure know how to lay out a defensive perimeter or at least this scenario designer sure does.

THIS IS YOUR WARNING: DO NOT REPEAT MY PLAN BELOW.  



Fun Fact: I was hoodwinked into complacency by the historical result.  

Scenario Briefing:

Sidi Barrani, Egypt: December 10th, 1940. (Scenario Size: Corps-. Head to Head possible but recommended for Allied Human vs Axis AI. This scenario uses variable objective victory points) The first day of the Compass 'raid' had exceeded the British expectations. The Italians had been routed from Nibeiwa & Tummar camps and the roads between Buq Buq and Sidi Barrani had been cut isolating the Italian forces east of Sollum. The British had earmarked the 16th Infantry Brigade, currently attached to the 4th Indian Division to clear Sidi Barrani and held the brigade in reserve during December 9th. Preparations were made to attack the Italians early on December 10th, but the late arrival of the Matilda's and the poor results of the 16th Brigades probing attacks forced a delay till further forces could be bought. In tandem, the Italian 1st Libyan Division had retreated from Maktila and had begun to dig in just east of Sidi Barrani. The British slowly became aware of the forces arrayed against them and delayed the attack till 4th Armoured Brigade could provide squadrons to support the infantry. The British finally started to move to contact at 3pm, with a strong sandstorm all but blocking visibility for both sides.

The British attack occurs along three lines of advance.  No line is preferential over the other, they are all a pain in the ass.
Turn 1:  Things are going swimmingly.  Early fighting against the Italian forces reveals a shell-shocked ring of disrupted troops.  I don't know if that's because there was an artillery barrage the likes of which they had never seen right before scenario start or that the scenario designer was looking to simulate the effects of poor command and control, but either way this feels like a cakewalk early.

A cakewalk, if you follow two rules:
1) stay on the road
2) follow your engineer units.

Early on the the naval support fire of HMS Terror, HMS Aphis and HMS Ladybird was very effective in disrupting the Italian units I faced.  By the end of the scenario though, the lads must have been drunk, because they couldn't hit the broadside of a camel.


Turn 4:  The visibility is worsening from a sandstorm though and the darkness of night gives this scenario a blind leading the blind feeling.

The poor unit quality of the outer Italian defenses is leading to the defenders melting away or unit destruction.  I've yet to meet the Blackshirts in any great quantity.

A company, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders blunders into a minefield outside the first line of Blackshirt positions. This was my error, not poor AI pathfinding.  I mis-remembered the path my engineers took.
I have two tank regiments under my command the 2nd and the 6th.  Here the 2nd readies for action.


Turn 5 2nd Royal Tank Regt of 4th Armoured Bde prepares to punch through hole on western approach that Cameron Highlanders and Queens Royals have opened up along the road

Click alt and the lead unit in a road column and the whole column will move along the road towards the hex of your choosing.
I've held the 4th Bn 6th Rajputana Rifles in reserve thinking I would use them to seize the objectives in Sidi Barrani, but by turn 8 I've come to realize I will need them to clear the approach.   One of a series of miscalculations I make.


Inside 3 kilometers on the western approach by turn 8, night time fighting during a sandstorm. Good times.
By turn 9, as my advance slows along the main roads into Sidi Barrani, I've decided to swing the 6th Tank Regiment along the coastal road and take a chance.  My second big mistake. 

At dawn the 6th Tank regiment blunders into a tank trap.  I lose three Mark VIs from the lead unit and two more from enfilade fire positions.  That is one big battery of guns on the western side of this wadi.

By Turn 12, I am 1.5km away and my attack has bogged down on all three approaches.  I am starting to worry.
Turn 14: I've rerouted the 6th Regiment off the coastal road and I am sending them pell-mell towards the objectives.


Turn 16:  The moment I realize that my final attack against the Sidi Barrani objective is going to fail.


I've killed 3x my losses and suffered a Major Defeat still.
With three turns to go, I was five hexes away.  Good luck trying to crack this nut.

All I can say is, wow...

Comments

Xaver said…
Thanks a lot for the AAR, this forum looks like the "fast" and now "the furious" to hehehe.

Without a rule similar to fragile nation from FWW (and PzC when France40 Gold be released) that kind of combats are hell on your HD because you feel like in "Groundhog day" never ends the "soft with arty-isolate-disrupt-assault" vicious circle... but for masochist is a pleasure at the point i create one of this hell scens for PzBN using luftwaffe land division in the italian role and a canadian division as Bill Murray hehehe.

I am curious if you are going to continue with your AAR killing spree or its time to take a break and stop the pixel slaughter ;-)

Thanks for your great AARs they are doing a good job in the "desire to buy increased" hahaha
Chris said…
Hi Xaver. I have at least one more AAR in mind. I am playing a Corinth Canal scenario and will definitely do an AAR for it. There is also a Beda Fomm scenario on a massive map that I might blog about. Thanks for reading!
Xaver said…
Good news for us, Corinth i only remember see it in "Command ops" i admit that the fall of Greece never attract me a lot, Balcans+Greece is allways a little like Vini Vidi and wargames focus in Crete assault hehehe.

Ummm a big scen to show in an AAR??? sounds interesting, maybe you could do a DAR over an AAR and blog it in "real time" could be great if you can play scen VS a human player if not well is a good way to test AI.

Thanks for you AARs they are doing a good job showing the game and learning about playing.