Scenario Preview, Part I
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
Is there anything better than a new game? Well, maybe freshening up a game you already had with new pieces and scenarios. Books and other supplements that add to the play value of our boxed games are a major part of what we do here at Avalanche Press.
Panzer Lehr comes with 176 playing pieces in Panzer Lehr livery, and a set of 27 scenarios by Mike Perryman. Here’s a look at the first third of them:
Curtain Up at Ellon
9 June 1944
Bayeux sat in the center of the area’s road net, making it the prime objective of I SS Panzer Corps. Panzer Lehr assembled in the Tilly-sur-Seulles area and then proceeded northward along both sides of the road leading to Bayeux. The recon battalion accompanied by General Bayerlein bypassed Ellon in order to set up the divisional command post in Arganchy, leaving its status unknown. Meanwhile, the assault group received an unmerciful shelling from several Allied warships during their approach march. On nearing Ellon the shelling lightened.
Note: This scenario requires boards from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
It had been a long, grueling march for the grenadiers just to reach Ellon, made worse by the shelling that forced them to seek shelter in the dust behind the panzers. Upon reaching the village the German panzers spread out over a wide front seeking to envelop the village. The aggressive defenders quickly counterattacked with one squad of infantry proving particularly troublesome. They managed to pin down Panzer 604’s supporting infantry and leapfrog their way to the tank for a close assault. Despite the British bravado the grenade attack failed to cause any damage, and the tide turned against them. Soon Ellon found itself in German hands.
The book starts off with a pretty intense scenario: a Panzer Lehr force spearheaded by a whole battalion of tanks is trying to force its way up a long, narrow corridor held by a tough force of tank-supported British infantry. The Brits actually sport better morale than the Lehr troops, and they are backed by the heavy guns of warships floating offshore.
Panzer Lehr Stands Strong
9 June 1944
Caen was a first-day objective for the British forces on D-Day. Now, three days later it was still German-held. The leadership recognized the significance of Bayeux’s position, and after capturing it, planned to use it as a strong base for the next stage of the offensive. Taking little time to consolidate their gains of the last few days, the British pushed aggressively south towards Tilly-sur-Seulles. Just to the east of Tilly-sur-Seulles lay the hamlet of Saint Pierre, and just beyond that, the all-important bridge over the Seulles River.
Note: This scenario requires a board from Eastern Front and Battle of the Bulge in addition to pieces and leaders from Beyond Normandy.
The British advanced southward unimpeded until they neared Saint Pierre. Panzer Lehr had aggressively moved forward upon their arrival and occupied the village in order to facilitate future counterattacks. This position also secured the rear of the Panzer Lehr contingent fighting around Ellon. Two companies of panzers sat in reserve stationed nearby if necessary, but the British were turned back without their help.
On a fairly small battlefield, a battalion of British infantry accompanies by a full battalion of Sherman tanks (plus one Firefly platoon) assaults a prepared Panzer Lehr position. Once again the Brits have better morale than the teachers, who have no tanks of their own but can set up what anti-tank guns they do have in hidden positions.
10 June 1944
With British armor on the prowl yesterday, General Bayerlein pinpointed Ellon as the best place to meet any future incursions. However, on the field the commander disregarded orders and not only left the victorious grenadiers in Ellon but brought up his new JagdPanthers, fancifully referred to by the troops as Guderian's Ducks. Mounting the Panther’s effective L/48 75mm gun and standing only a tad over 6 feet tall it, the Jagdpanzer IV was a fearsome defensive weapon.
Note: This scenario uses boards from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces and leaders from Beyond Normandy.
Panzer Lehr boasted many veterans of the Eastern Front who were astonished at the scale of the British preliminary bombardment. But being professionals, they shook off the effects of the barrage quickly and manned their positions. Eventually five Cromwells managed to work their way to Major Zwierzynski's Headquarters where his Ducks proved their worth. When night fell things stood pretty much as they had at dawn.
It’s the same long corridor board layout from Scenario One, but this time it’s the British driving southward behind a half-dozen platoons of Cromwell tanks. The Brits have good artillery support and better morale than the Germans, but Panzer Lehr has Guderian’s Ducks.
Death of a Prince
11 June 1944
As part of their ongoing offensive the British continued to attack southward on a broad front. The Green Howards engaged the Hitler Youth Division at Cristot while the East Yorkshires advanced on Saint Pierre. As the latter directly threatened Tilly-sur-Seulles, 7th Army quickly assembled a combined arms battle group to counterattack. The lead company commander protested that the line of attack was too wooded and lacked enough infantry support to be successful; the commander of the Panzer IV Battalion soon arrived to lead them in person.
Note: This scenario uses a board from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
Major Prince von Schonburg-Waldenburg led his battalion through the woods and into the British positions on Hill 103. After intensive fighting the Germans managed to break through to the thinly wooded northern slope. There an enemy antitank round found the turret of the commander’s tank killing the Prince and his radio operator. This took the heart out of the Germans who soon retreated.
This is a small scenario, with a tank-heavy German force trying to eject a British infantry battalion from a strong hilltop position. There is some German infantry in support of the PzIV battalion – just not as much of it as the German player might wish.
11 June 1944
The battle for Tilly began early in the morning and strong British pressure finally gave them the upper hand. The Germans knew that if the Brits forced their way through Tilly-sur-Seulles the Germans lacked the resources to contain the breakthrough.
Note: This scenario requires maps from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
The commitment of Guderian’s Ducks tipped the scales in the Germans favor. Refusing to be sucked into the vicious street fighting, Captain Oventrop dug in his tank destroyers to the south of the town. When some British tanks attempted to advance out of the town his men popped three in quick succession. This ended the British effort to move south and they concentrated on securing the town. When they realized a while later that wasn’t going to happen either that day, they withdrew.
This is a big scenario, with two fo the war’s most famous divisions squaring off. The Desert Rats of 7th Armoured Division have a powerful tank force with a full battalion of Cromwells backed by a company of Fireflies and some other tanks as well. Morale’s even; the Brits also have a preponderance of artillery but the burden of attack is strongly upon them.
Through the Woods
11 June 1944
The British attack on the Tilly-sur-Seulles area employed good planning, intending to extend the defenders to the breaking point. The plan encompassed the western wing taking Lingevres. In the woods just north of the village the two sides met to decide if the reality would conform to the plan.
Note: This scenario requires a board from Battle of the Bulge and Elsenborn Ridge in addition to pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
With the panzer grenadiers busy at Tilly and two companies of Panzer IVs tied up at Saint Pierre, there was little strength to deal with the British at Lingevres. The five Panthers that arrived that morning had already been committed at Tilly, so headquarters ordered the two remaining companies of Panzer IVs to gather up whatever grenadiers they could find and attack. With both sides short of infantry the tanks carefully engaged each other in a deadly game of hide and seek. The British tankers lost heart first after taking an undetermined number of losses, and retreated.
This is a tank battle, and the Desert Rats have a 2:1 edge in tanks. Infantry, what there is of it, is about even. Both sides get to place some of their troops in hidden positions, making for an unusual cat-and-mouse opening as in addition to defensive ambushes sprung by the Germans, some of the Brits may come surging out of nowhere at any moment.
14 June 1944
On the 11th the 7th Armoured Division had proved unable to clear the woods north of Lingevres, leaving the village in German hands. After their further debacle at Villers-Bocage on the 13th, it appeared they would be unable to conduct offensive operations in the near future. So the 50th Infantry Division slid over and assumed responsibility for taking Lingevres.
Note: This scenario requires a board from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
While the 7th Armoured Division drew intense criticism for falling to press home their attacks in Normandy, the 6th Durham Light Infantry spent six grueling hours clearing the woods north of Lingevres. The fresh 9th Durham Light Infantry then destroyed the 6th Company of the panzer grenadiers and claimed the village. Panther tanks soon appeared to dispute that claim and a spirited tank battle began. Sergeant N. Harris ended the contest in the British favor when his Firefly accounted for five of the intruding Panthers. The rest of the panzers withdrew leaving the village firmly in British hands.
This is going to be a tough one for the teacher’s union: the Brits have the advantage in numbers, morale and artillery. And it’s only a one-board scenario, which makes the British force pretty overwhelming. Half the German force sets up in hiding, and it’s hard to blame them.
A Warm Afternoon in Hottot
15 June 1944
The British again attacked on a broad front, managing to take Hottot earlier in the day. The 69th Infantry Brigade then attempted to exploit eastward to cut the defending panzer grenadiers’ communications. To prevent this, General Bayerlein ordered Major Markowski to use his Panthers to restore the situation. Late in the afternoon the forces moved into position.
Note: This scenario uses boards from 1940: The Fall of France and pieces from Beyond Normandy. Use British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
The British subjected Hottot to an intense artillery barrage, after which Major Markowski led his charges forward. The British took precautions against a counterattack and met the German counter-assault with a whirlwind of fire of their own. Cromwell tanks traded shots with the Panthers who slowly gained the upper hand and entered the town. There they received heavy fire from British infantry equipped with PIAT antitank weapons. Eventually the village fell to the Wehrmacht but the surviving Panthers were quickly withdrawn to Tilly to restore the deteriorating situation there.
For once, the Germans have more tanks than the Brits – but the British infantry outnumbers that of the Germans 23:6, plus they have better morale. Both sides are on the attack on a crowded battlefield.
Trash the Town to Take It
18 June 1944
On the evening of the 17th the British bombarded Tilly unmercifully. At dawn of the next day they started up again. Nineteen civilians died while the explosions reduced Tilly to rubble, but it remained unclear how much effect the barrage affected the defenders. When the bombardment lifted a strong mixed battle group moved forward to find out.
Note: This scenario uses boards from 1940: The Fall of France, units and British leaders from Beyond Normandy.
After a long and bitter fight the British managed to force their way into Tilly. There they engaged the panzer grenadiers who had turned the rubble of the town to their advantage. Slowly the British pushed back the defenders until the Panthers counterattacked once again. This time it didn't matter, and the Germans fell back to form a new line running from Mantilly to Sagy.
This is a big scenario, with a very big British force backed by a huge allotment of artillery, a large tank contingent, better morale and air support on the march against German defenders hoping to get some Panther tank support to blunt the British drive.
And that’s the first third of the scenarios. More later, as Panzer Lehr faces the Americans, too.
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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.