In 'Bitter Victory'
Scenario One: 'Operation
Part 1: The Landings
By Doug McNair
With the debut of Bitter
Victory, our game of the 1943 Allied
invasion of Sicily, our family of chit-draw-driven
games now has its first amphibious member
(and you thought cloning was no fun). In addition
to the challenges found in our Gazala
1945 and Red
God of War games, the Allied player
in Bitter Victory must use pre-planned
amphibious invasions and airborne drops to
outflank the Axis defenders of Sicily.
addition, the mountainous Sicilian terrain
provides a whole different set of tactical
challenges from our previous chit-draw games,
and gives the outnumbered Axis forces a good
shot at keeping control of enough of Sicily
to win — if the Axis player can keep
the Italians from throwing in the towel.
The main factors driving play in Bitter Victory are:
Sicily is a nearly-perfect natural fortress.
There are so many hills, mountains and rivers
that Axis units give up little by retreating
— every time they leave a strong defensive
position there’s another one just up
the road. The terrain actually gets more defensible
the farther the Axis units retreat, so if
the Axis player can keep the supply lines
open between his HQs and his units, his armies
can fall back in orderly fashion while forcing
the Allied units to take massive losses every
time they attack a hill or mountain stronghold.
This is why the Allies’ ability to launch amphibious
landings and airdrops is so crucial to their
chances for victory. A well-placed incursion
behind Axis lines can cut off large numbers
of Axis units from their headquarters, causing
them to become Unsupplied or Isolated. Such
units have their combat strengths and movement
allowances greatly reduced, giving the main
Allied invasion force a better chance of breaking
Axis lines and linking up with the newly-landed
units for the drive on Messina (the sole Axis
supply source and evacuation route).
Units must be supplied to operate at full
strength. The port of Messina on Sicily’s
northern tip is the sole supply source for
all Axis HQs. If the Axis player can keep
the supply lines open between Messina and
his HQs, then his or her HQs can supply their
units and keep the defense of Sicily strong.
But the Allies have to establish their own
supply system on Sicily when they invade.
The initial invasion force that landed before
game start brought enough supplies to keep
itself going for two turns, but it also appropriated
all of the Allied landing craft (called LSTs)
in the Mediterranean for the expedition. All
LSTs in the game are on-board at game start,
and as of Turn 3, the Allied invasion force
will need more supplies, which can only land
on LSTs (or LSTs flipped to their Port side
to increase their capacity to land supply
points). The Allied player must keep a good
number of LST/Port counters on the board to
provide a steady stream of supplies coming
The flip side of this is that units cannot
mount an amphibious landing unless they’re
accompanied by one or more LSTs. LSTs on the
board cannot be part of an amphibious invasion,
but at game-start all LSTs are on board. If
the Allies want to launch amphibious invasions
they’ll have to withdraw some LST counters
from the board and place them on the turn
track in the box corresponding to the turn
when they’ll land new units on Sicily.
Removing LSTs like this reduces the number
of supply points the Allied player can land,
so the Allies will be constantly walking a
tightrope between maintaining their supply
stream and supporting future invasions. This
is complicated by the fact that each supply
point is either American or British and can
only be used to supply an HQ of its own nationality.
This means each HQ must be careful to keep
a supply line open to its own beachhead, as
it can’t beg for supplies from an ally
should its own supply line get cut off.
Before the invasion of Sicily began, the
Italian armies in North Africa were defeated
decisively, along with their German allies.
This caused many back in Italy to start rethinking
their support for the war, and the arrival
of Allied troops on Sicily just drove the
point home that they were on the losing side.
This has a direct effect on the game.
Every time a force containing Italian units
either attacks or defends, the Axis player
rolls one die before combat and either adds
to or subtracts from the die roll depending
on how well Axis forces have fared thus far.
The higher the modified die-roll result, the
greater the chance that some Italian units
will surrender before combat even begins.
This, combined with the aforementioned defensibility
of Sicilian terrain, makes it crucial for
the Allied player to launch side expeditions
to capture important Sicilian objectives like
Palermo. Each captured objective adds to the
surrender dieroll, as do high Italian casualties
and Isolated Italian units. On the other hand,
if the Axis player manages to overrun any
Allied LSTs or Ports, that increases Italian
morale and subtracts from the surrender dieroll.
This gives the ongoing strategic situation
on Sicily a heightened importance for every
individual battle on the island.
With that, here begins a turn-by-turn replay
of Scenario 1: “Operation Husky.”
This is the historical scenario — the
invasion as it was actually launched. The
Axis player scores victory points for destroying
Allied units, repelling amphibious invasions
and airdrops, and keeping control of hexes
in Sicily by the end of the game. He loses
VPs when Axis units are destroyed and when
he loses control of important ports like Catania
The game runs from July 11th through August
13th (each turn is three days). The Axis player
wins if he or she has 10 VPs or more at the
end of the game. If the Axis VP score is –25
or less at the end of play, the Allies win.
Any score in between is a draw.
As the game begins, the British and Canadians
have landed on Sicily’s southeastern
beaches with four LSTs, 13 infantry brigades,
three commando battalions and a glider brigade.
The Americans have landed on the southern
beaches with four LSTs, eight infantry regiments,
three commando battalions and an airborne
regiment. Both forces are backed by warships
and air power, and as the Allies capture Sicilian
airbases their available airpower will increase.
are many units in the Allied Units Available
box which can be brought in as reinforcements
or included in preplanned amphibious invasions
and airdrops. Of particular importance are
the Allied HQs, which the Allied player must
land on Turn 1 so his units can activate on
Turn 2 and beyond. More reinforcements will
become available as the game progresses.
Most Axis forces on the island are Italian,
and they’re spread quite thinly at game
start. A good number of Axis forces occupy
the southeastern quadrant of the island (roughly
southeast of a line from Misterbianco in the
north to Caltagirone in the south). But the
area directly northwest of the American beachhead
is all but devoid of Italian forces (just
the motorized Italian 4th Infantry Division
is strung out along the highway from Caltanissetta
to Canicatti), and the strongest Axis forces
west of the Americans are way out near the
western tip of the island.
Due to poor preparedness, Axis units have
movement restrictions on the first turn, so
the #1 priority of the Axis player on Turn
1 will be to move whatever units he can into
strong defensive positions on the hill roads
north of the American landing beaches.
Turn 1: July 9 – 11
Initial Segment: The weather is clear
on the first turn, so the Allies will get
two air points this turn while the Axis get
The Allied player must begin by making airdrop
accuracy and drop-and-landing disruption rolls
for most of his units (to see how many casualties
they took in the drops and landings before
game-start). The results are as follows:
Americans: The 505th Regiment of the
82nd Airborne Division drops on target north
of the river at Gela and takes no casualties.
All regiments on the beaches land safely as
British: The 69th Brigade of the British
50th Infantry Division takes a step loss due
to disruption and local defense forces while
landing at Avola. All other British forces
The Allied player decides not to preplan
any airdrops or landings yet (he wants to
see how things develop on the first turn),
and he can’t land any supply points
on Turn 1.
Scenario instructions say that on Turn 1
only the chits for both Axis HQs plus the
Allied AMPH/PARA chit (which will activate
all Allied units) may go in the cup.
Play proceeds to the first impulse, and the
first chit drawn is:
Italian XVI Corps: The Axis catch
a break — they get to activate their
HQ on the eastern half of the island, near
the Allied beachheads. Unfortunately, due
to poor preparedness, only Axis units relatively
near Allied units can activate, so that leaves
out anybody north of Misterbianco.
All available units move south and pile two-high
into forward hill and rough hexes, setting
up a line of zones of control (ZOC) directly
opposite the invasion beaches. This will slow
the American advance. No Axis units attack
— they want to let the Allies throw
themselves against their defensive positions
and take step losses, then withdraw in orderly
fashion. XVI Corps HQ moves south to provide
support against the Americans; the lines near
the British to the east are too weak to risk
XII Corps: The Axis catch another break
and can activate their other HQ before the
Allies. But since no Allied units have moved,
very few unmoved Axis units are left which
are near Allied units. The two Italian units
west of the American invasion beaches (near
Agrigento) consolidate their position in the
coastal foothills and wait to see what the
Allied AMPH/PARA: All Allied units
activate. The fact that all Axis units activated
first means they had no choice but to spread
out and block all possible Allied routes of
advance. This means the Allies can choose
a few points where they can strike hard and
force breaches in the Axis lines.
British: The Brits start by sending
their battleship to a point offshore between
Augusta and Syracuse, and then sending four
infantry brigades north across the river at
Syracuse to strike the Italian 75th Infantry
Regiment (supported by a German infantry battalion)
in the rough terrain to the west. The 3rd
Commando Battalion supports them with an attack
north across the river at Floridia, and the
remaining British and Canadian forces march
due west to attack the Italian Recon, Coastal
Defense and Infantry units guarding the hills
and roads near Ragusa.
The attack on the Italian 75th west of Syracuse
has a base odds of 6:1. Support fire from
the British battleship off Syracuse adds a
+2 column shift, but the rough terrain the
defenders are in gives a –1 column shift.
The total column shift is +1, so the attack
goes in at 7:1 odds.
The Italians pass their morale roll, but
the British roll a 5 and take no damage while
inflicting three hits! The two weak Axis units
have only two steps between them, but only
half of all hits taken must be taken as step
losses, and (luckily for the Axis) defenders
can round fractions down. The Italian 75th
dies bravely (–2 VPs for the Axis),
and the German support battalion satisfies
the remaining two hits by retreating two hexes
westward, ending up in the town of Lentini.
The four British brigades advance and pursue
the Germans, with the commandos crossing the
river behind them from Floridia.
Three hexes to the south, the central British
thrust has seven brigades attacking two Italian
regiments in the hills northeast of Ragusa.
The base attack odds are 12:1, reduced to
10:1 by the –2 column shift for hill
terrain in the defending hex. But 10:1 is
as good as it gets . . . except when the Italians
make their morale roll and the Allies roll
a 2. Once again they score three hits, and
the weak Italian 76th Regiment dies (–2
VPs for the Axis), leaving the weak-but-fast
MG-D Recon regiment to skedaddle west and
block the highway to Vizzini. The Brits advance
The last attack on the eastern tip of Sicily
sees all three brigades of the Canadian 1st
Infantry Division plus the British 40th and
41st Commando Battalions attacking an Italian
coastal defense division supported by a recon
battalion just east of the town of Scicli.
These Italians are stronger, but the Allied
player wants to save his air support for the
Americans (who have much tougher opposition).
So, the attack goes in at odds of only 2:1
(base 3:1, –1 for rough defender’s
terrain). Once again Italian morale holds,
and the Allies roll a 3, which yields a result
of . . . no hits! As bad results go, that’s
probably the least-bad, since the Italians
will have to withdraw next turn on account
of their crumbling lines to the north.
The British have no mechanized units on the
board, so in the Mechanized Movement Phase
they land their XIII Corps HQ on the LST east
of Pachino, and the powerful 4th and 23rd
Armored Brigades on the two LSTs in the road
hexes adjacent to Avola. The armored brigades
will be of particular use in clearing the
way to Messina next turn.
Americans: The Germans and Italians
are holding a concave defensive line around
the American beachhead, and because of the
first-turn Axis movement restrictions the
eastern and western flanks of the Axis line
are relatively weak. The Americans would prefer
to head northwest, break the line and cut
off the Axis units on the west end of Sicily
from their east-end brethren. But with the
Italian 4th Division’s two regiments
now in the same hill hex at Canicatti, they
have divisional integrity and their combat
strength is doubled to 12. An attack on them
would be suicide, so the Americans decide
to hit both flanks of the Axis line and go
defensive in the middle until their armor
The Americans post two infantry regiments
each on the roads running west and northwest
from their beachhead, plus a regiment and
two commando battalions guarding the northern
approaches near Piazza Armerina. The two regiments
on the western road hit the Italian 207th
Coastal Defense Division and the 177B Motorized
Infantry Regiment east of Agrigento. Italian
morale keeps holding, so the Allies commit
one of their air points to boost the attack,
and it goes in at 2:1 odds after adjusting
for rough defensive terrain. The Americans
roll a 4 and both sides take one hit. The
attacking Americans have to take a step loss,
while the defending Italians can round the
hits down and retreat to Agrigento. The Americans
advance west to expand their beachhead.
Then, leaving just one commando battalion
to guard their northern flank against two
regiments of the Hermann G_ring Mechanized
Division, four American infantry regiments
try to break out to the east. They attack
the Italian 18th Coastal Defense Division
and the MG-G Recon Regiment on the road east
of Gela. The Italians just barely hold morale,
and after spending another point of air power
the attack goes in at 4:1 odds. The Americans
only roll a 2, and once again they have to
take a step loss while the Italians can just
retreat east to Vittoria. But, that lets all
four American infantry regiments advance east
across the river, giving them a shot at linking
up with the Brits next turn.
There are no American mechanized units on-board,
so they land the II Corps HQ on the LST at
Licata (far from G_ring’s friends),
and all three regiments of the U.S. 2nd Armored
Division on the three other LSTs to the east.
If those three regiments can get together
in the same hex, their divisional integrity
bonus will give them a total combat strength
of 26 — enough to send G_ring’s
buddies packing in a hurry.
All chits have been drawn. As the first
turn of Operation Husky ends, the VP score
is –4 and the Brits have shredded the
Axis lines south and west of Syracuse.
But that’s still a long way from Messina,
and with Patton posting only minimal gains
to the west it’ll be Monty’s show
on Turn 2. Will he sweep the enemy from his
path and blaze a glorious trail north to Messina?
Or will the Axis get the initiative again
and set up new defensive lines along the rivers
west of the Brits? Or will Patton’s
armor break him out, cut the two Axis HQs
off from each other, and send him surging
northward to beat Monty to the prize? Will
Luke ever forgive himself for using an experimental
drug on Laura? Tune in next time and find
click here to order Bitter Victory