Battle of France 1940 at Mass Pikemen

The Mass Pikemen played an action-packed game at our February gaming session.  The game was a What a Tanker© game for my Battle of France, May-June 1940 scenario.  This also served as a final play test of the scenario before using it at upcoming gaming conventions (TotalCon 34, HAVOC, and HUZZAH!).

At the start of the game, each side gets 200 points to buy tanks and armored cars as well as Bonus Attack cards if the vehicle has a radio (all the Germans have radios, many French vehicles do not).  The French are defending and have the ability to deploy at secret positions known only to their side and the GM.  The French forces are divided – with half of the battlefield being under the responsibility of cavalry tanks, and half under infantry tanks.

The Germans are exiting wooded areas on two congested roads heading to two bridges over a river.  The German mission is to cross the board and exit the other side (and head to the English Channel) – and gain points for doing so.  There are also several possible fords over the river that are minor obstacles.

The French player may also spend points to wire either one or both bridges (or none) for demolition.  This status is also known only to the French side and the GM.  The French side may attempt to blow a bridge at any time, but failing to blow the bridge or allowing any Germans to cross makes subsequent demolition attempts more difficult.  If a bridge is blown while a vehicle is on it, that vehicle is destroyed.  Any side that destroys a vehicle gets points for that action as well.  As GM, I only announce who is ahead at the beginning of the turn, and I do not share the score so as to maintain a fog of war for the players and try to maintain a crew-focused battle.

1 Battle of France set up
Overview of the battlefield from the French side.  The French deploy infantry tanks left of the second road on the left, and cavalry tanks on the right of that road. 
2 Battle of France set up town
Detail of the town where most of the hidden positions are for the infantry tanks.  Both infantry and cavalry had access to Panhard 178’s and H35’s.
3 Battle of France French cav side
The right (French cavalry) side showing the river and the bridges.  The rocks in the river were designated as fords.
4 Battle of France Mike rolls dice
The German players deploy.
5 Battle of France Panzer 35(t) knocked out
From a hidden position, a Panhard 178 calls for anti-tank support.  Using a 47 mm anti-tank support card from the Bonus Attack cards, a Panzer 35(t) is torched before getting to a bridge, while a wary Panzer IVB watches.
6 Battle of France Panzer IVB on blown bridge knocked out
A German Sd.Kfz. (6-rad) recon car crosses the bridge without incident.  Feeling safe, the Panzer IVB tries to cross.  The French had waited for a bigger target, and successfully blew the bridge with the Panzer IVB on it – destroying the Panzer IVB.  In the rear, another Panzer 35(t) observes multiple burning comrades.
7 Battle of France Sd.Kfz. 231 knocked out by SOMUA
The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) recons around a building and finds a SOMUA S35.  The SOMUA easily kills the German scout car, but not before taking some damage from Bonus Attack card artillery.
8 Battle of France river forded by Pzjager I and 38(t)
The battle heats up.  The surviving Panzer 35(t) fords the river as does a Panzerjager I with another Panzer IVB behind them.  The French activate the hidden Panhard, and the SOMUA S35 takes some more minor damage.
9 Battle of France SOMUA finally taken out by 88
The SOMUA S35 is hit by 88 fire and finally taken down by accumulated damage.  The black smoke indicates that the tank is knocked out, but the crew survived.  I use orange smoke to indicate that both crew and tank are destroyed.  
10 Battle of France Panhard dispatches 38(t)
Having taken damage from the SOMUA, the last Panzer 35(t) is knocked out by a daring attack by the charging Panhard 178.

At this point the game ended, and the French had a solid victory with the score being 158-112.  The French also got bonus points for no German being able to traverse the board.  The Germans made a couple of unsuccessful Luftwaffe attacks which hindered them as well as the early casualties.The scenario is pretty solid and the gamers made key decisions that affected the game.  I did run this scenario and three other games at TotalCon 34.  I will share the results of what happened at TotalCon 34 on a future post and things went differently!.

Thanks for looking!

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

17 thoughts on “Battle of France 1940 at Mass Pikemen”

    1. It’s a scenario rule. Prior to play starting each side secretly chooses their vehicles from a menu and buys (unseen) Bonus Attack cards. The French also secretly decide to wire one, both, or neither bridge for demolition. This must occur before any play. Only the French and the GM know if a bridge had been wired. The French can attempt to blow a wired bridge at any time (even during the Germans’ turn), and normally come to the GM and secretly roll two D6 – needing to roll a total of 6 to blow the bridge. The Germans do not see this roll. Depending on the roll, as GM I announce if the bridge blows, or if it seems like it might have been partially destroyed, or if nothing happens. This is important because the French also have a pair of “dummy explosion cards” that they can use to come and roll a secret and fake demolition attempt to make the Germans think that a real demolition attempt was made somewhere. Of course, to the Germans, a dummy demo roll would look no different than a failed real demo roll as I would announce that “nothing happened “. A failed attempt can be retried on another turn but gets +2 to attempt per try – so a needed 6 becomes an 8. Also, for each German vehicle crossing a bridge, the attempt gets +2. Again, the decision to wire the bridge happens before the game starts, but the decision to try blow it happens during the game. Hope this is clear and helps!

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