Late Saturday Youngest RockyMountainNavy and I played a scenario from Panzer Expansion #4: France 1940 (GMT Games, 2018). It has been a while since we played Panzer so we went for a simpler scenario and chose the all-tank Scenario 35 Tank Battle at Crehen, Pt. 1: Crehen, Belgium, 12 May 1940. The battle pits a French Light Armored Company (Mixed) with 5x S-35 tanks clashing with a German Light Panzer Company (Mixed) with 3x PzIVD attached. For victory, control of a town and hilltop are needed.
Our play started slowly as we had to relearn the rules. Although the scenario is designed for use with the Basic Game, we used the Advanced Game Spotting and AP Fire rules. Not using the Command Span rules made a difference as Youngest RMN Boy, playing the French, split his forces and fought towards both objectives. As the Germans have better mobility, I was able to reach the victory objectives first and seize then. After that, it became a slogging match as both sides traded ineffective fire. The battle ended in a French victory as Youngest RMN Boy was able take the hilltop and destroy enough panzers to achieve the needed victory point margin.
After the game, Youngest RMN Boy stated that he had a new appreciation of French tanks. Although slow and poorly armed, the French have comparatively good armor against the German tanks of the day. He started reading up on the French SOMUA S-35 using the excellent Tanks-Encyclopedia site. In the course of doing so, we were able to talk about why the French historically were defeated in the battle and how the use of various Special Conditions in the scenario could bring our play closer to reality. In particular, Without Radio Sets (7.4), Command Span (7.52), and Tank Crew Size Rules (7.57) can be used to show the massive command and control advantage the Germans had over the French.
In the course of reading about the S-35, Youngest RMN Boy ran across a name, Colonel De Gaulle of the 4th DCR (4th Armored Division). This gave me an opportunity to ask him if he recognized the name. He didn’t, but after a short time googling about he discovered who Charles De Gaulle was. He was highly intrigued that another major figure of history has ties to a wargame he enjoys. We looked through the Playbook and discovered Scenario 42 De Gaulle’s First Action: Montcornet, 17 May 1940. Maybe next game….
Feature image SOMUA S-35 from tanks-encyclopedia.com