Set up: medium
Game time: medium
Solo play: suitable
At the beginning of the Allied landing in Salerno, British commandos captured Molina Pass and the neighbouring hills to secure the northern flank of the beachhead. No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando hold the pass and No. 2 Commando under Lt. Col. “Mad Jack” Churchill are entrenched on the hills around the village of Dragonea. On 13 September, German troops coming from Naples attacked the commando positions with the objective of reaching the Salerno beaches. The battle was fierce all the day. In spite of the heavy fire of Nebelwerfers and the assault of German paratroopers and panzer grenadiers, the commandos stayed in their positions. However, losses were heavy for the two sides.
Axis 6, move first. Allies 6 cards.
Conditions of Victory:
For the Axis player, Exit marker rules (Actions 23) are in effect on the hexagon marked ‘‘Vietri sul Mare’’.
BCF Command rules (Nations 5) to all Allied units.
Special Weapon Asset rules for units equipped with anti-tank weapons (SWA 5) or mortars (SWAs 6).
Specialized Units rules (Troops 2) for all Axis and Allied units (commandos, paratroopers, panzer grenadiers).
Screaming Meemies rules (Troops 25) with incendiary shells.
A tale of two games!
Set up 20 minutes
Game time 40 minutes
It’s not often that the mechanics of MM44 leave you frustrated and disappointed, but…
A very slow start, with most units out of range and the British having to sit and wait for the Germans to advance. They did so on the British right, but with limited effect at the beginning.
They then took Marini (1-0) and had a great Counter-Attack (all units in the centre) which saw them take a lot of ground with the Nebelwefer finishing off a Commando unit in Molina (2-0). Then Dragone fell (3-0). It was here that the contrast in cards and dice had a huge impact; the Allies had no good cards and were throwing flags or nothing - the Germans threw 2 consecutive 3 dice = 3 kills followed by a 2 dice = 2 kills!
Suddenly it was 5-2, then the Germans finished off the last Commando unit on the right, leaving the exit wide open (6-2). A last desperate British attack threw just flags again! On their last move, the Axis took another medal and one unit left through the exit for a comfortable 8-2 victory.
So, what should have been a really tight game was ruined by the luck of the dice and cards - I cannot recall another situation where it happened this badly. Ok, you get a few bad throws and have to wait ages for a good card, but this was extreme. The Allies only had Assault, Attack, and Probe cards; alongside their great Counter-Attack (which gave them 1 medal), the Germans had 2 Armour Assaults (2 medals) and Their Finest Hour (2 medals). Air Power, Barrage, Behind Enemy Lines - any one of these would have given the British hope.
End of game 1: the German infantry (circle) and tank (star) units were all weakend and attacked, but they British could only throw flags!
There is only one thing to do - set up the pieces again, give the cards a really good shuffle, clean the dice, and have another go!
Much better! A one-hour game with more even distribution of cards and both sides having good and bad dice throws. (At the beginning, however, it seemed like déjà vu when the Allies played Air Power but only had 1 hit out of 8 dice!)
The Germans attacked the British left, but lost a tank unit (0-1). They hit back, destroying the anti-tank unit, but then the attackers were also eliminated (1-2). A German Behind Enemy Lines had limited success and the unit involved was then wiped out by 2 commando units (1-3). A German tank attack bought it back to 2-3 before the Allies used Their Finest Hour to regroup and push back the Germans (more flags!).
There then followed a lull in the fighting as the Axis accumulated cards for an attack in the centre, moving units around in preparation. The attack began with a Barrage on the British mortar, but only 1 hit was scored; the Allies played a Counter-Attack, but also only had 1 hit! The Germans attacked Molina in Close Assault, but the extra dice had no effect with only 1 hit, leaving their tanks exposed and 1 was destroyed (2-4). They finally managed to take the mortar (3-4) before a successful Assault (all units in the centre) saw them take a 5-4 lead. The commandos hit back, before the Germans finished off the British left (6-5).
It was suddenly very tense - both sides had 1 unit with only 1 figure and 1 German tank unit was down to 2. Neither side could risk weak units in attack. The Axis moved carefully on the British right to pick off a unit. They finally attacked with 4 units but it almost failed - the last dice throw took the win at 7-5!
Final assault: it almost failed, and the British might have won with 2 kills against weakened units in the next move…
The red numbers indicated the weakened units on the board when the Germans made their final assault