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"The Raid on Saint Nazal'air"

A Panzerfäuste Scenario by Christian Cuello

nazal logo
Image from the Italieri Vosper MTB 74 St Nazaire Raid 1:35 Scale Model Kit

A crack team of Orc Commandos from Branzhûm take on seemingly insurmountable odds in a raid against the Dwarven Kraken pens and associated harbour installations of the Kaiser’s army at St. Nazal’aire.

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+++OFFICIAL COMMUNIQUE+++

The raid on St. Nazal’aire was carried out in the early hours of March 28 by light forces of the Royal Navy (under the command of Cmdr. R. E. D. Rydorc, R.N.), Special Service Troops (led by Lt.-Col. A. C. Norcman, of the Essex Regiment), and R.A.F. wyverns, the raid was primarily directed against the large kraken pens and the Dwarven harbour installations of the Kaiser’s army at St. Nazal’aire.

H.M.S. Campbeltown with bows filled with five tons of delayed action high explosive, forced her way through the doubled torpedo baffle protecting the entrance to the lock and rammed the centre of the main lock gate. The force of the impact was such that the destroyer came to a standstill only when her bridge was abreast the gate itself. As soon as the bows of the Campbeltown were firmly wedged, Orc troops landed as arranged and set about the work of demolition. The pumping station and dock-operating gear were destroyed, and other demolition work was carried out according to plan.

Meanwhile a motor torpedo boat had fired two delayed action torpedoes at the entrance to the kraken basin and a motor launch had taken off the crew of the Campbeltown. A large explosion, followed by a smaller one, was seen and heard by our returning forces at 4 a.m., which was the time the delayed action fuses were due to go off.

The raid caused panic among the enemy, who fired indiscriminately at friend and foe. Furthermore, a considerable number of riding pigs were startled by the commotion and proceeded to stampede through the base. The enemy's 6-in. guns sank one of their own flak ships at the time she was engaging our returning forces.

Only a small proportion of the diversionary bombing could be carried out by the wyvern squadron on account of low storm-cloud for fear of inflicting casualties on the Gnomish civilian population (and the potential for embarrassing mid-air collisions as wyverns are not particularly fond of thunder).

Their task accomplished, our troops commenced to withdraw in motor launches detailed for the purpose to rejoin the covering force of destroyers. Enemy machine-guns and a blockade of “Zinnmen” appear to have prevented the full withdrawal of some of our forces.

Five Dwarven torpedo boats came into sight and opened fire on our motor launches. The escorting destroyers drove them off and forced them to retire. Wyverns of Coastal Command provided air protection to our returning forces.

As was only to be expected, the Dwarven High Command claimed that the raid had been a complete failure.

+++END OF DOCUMENT+++

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(Author's Note - Shamelessly pinched and manipulated from the original account in the 1942 edition of The War Illustrated, which can be seen here:
http://www.thewarillustrated.info/126/st-nazaire-most-daring-raid-since-zeebrugge.asp
)


Generating the Scenario

Whilst simulating an entire operation the scale of St. Nazal’aire might be within scope in terms of figures and playing space, smaller games may be more realistic for most. And so, a sequence of smaller games, or off-the-table events might be worth considering. The chaos of the situation is captured in random events and staggered deployment for which rules are included below. However, the setting will remain somewhat consistent as far as a smaller raiding force will be attacking a larger encampment. As such, a single objective from the table below is to be determined:

d6 Objective
1 - Disable a piece of equipment: nominate an AA gun, radio transmitter, or other equipment and destroy it.
2 - Rescue a prisoner: locate and evacuate to a safe location.
3 - Take and hold an objective: occupy a location and hold it for x amount of turns.
4 - Steal documents: enter a building, capture an objective and exit the board.
5 - Plant a time-delayed bomb: occupy an objective while the explosive is planted, evacuate before it explodes!
6 - Eliminate the opposition: clear the area of a nominated opposing unit or character, no matter the cost!

In a scenario like St. Nazal’aire, you might like to link specific events from the narrative: ramming the dry dock and evacuating the explosive-laden ship in one game, and clear an exit to the nearby town in another.

Needless to say, the best time to undertake a raid is at night!

Setting up the Playing Area

As previously stated, it is certainly possible to take segments of a broader map to re-create scenes from the raid. A full tactical map should be put together prior to the game. Buildings should be numbered to facilitate the random events noted below. As well as this, clearly state the objective buildings.

However, it is possible to recreate segments of a larger encounter on the table-top so don’t be discouraged by a scenario as complex as this!

Choosing your Forces

One of the main points to characterise this scenario Force composition will always be in favour of the Defender. In the case of St. Nazal’aire, this also means the leadership is somewhat less competent than the tenacious Attackers. This is not, however, a balanced scenario! As such, the Defender will always outnumber the Attacker.

A rough guide to working this out is a 1:3 ratio in favour of the Defender. 

Using this framework you can build the scenario for the models you have in your collection using either Panzerfäuste Skirmish or Panzerfäuste Mass Battle.

Deployment

At the beginning of the scenario, forces are deployed in equal number (or equivalent) on the tabletop with the additional ⅔ of the defending force hidden; off-table or within buildings. This is in part “secret” deployment (see below) or can be triggered as reinforcements.

The deployment of the attacking force can be determined at the beginning of the scenario. In the case of St. Nazal’aire the Orcish commandos manoeuvred into position with a combination of stealth and cunning until the Dwarven defenders caught wind of the ploy and began opening fire. In a hail of bullets several key points were breached and the commandos flooded in.

As such, force deployment can be relatively standard in the heat of battle.

For those interested in more subtle actions, some guidelines are included below.

Special Rules

Secret Deployment: Amidst the chaos of the raid, the defenders scramble to ready themselves. The defending player can nominate certain buildings to contain 1 section or demi-section. These are noted at the beginning of the game on a tactical map, or otherwise noted down on paper.

Alarm Levels: As the attackers sneak their way through the enemy encampment, the defender keeps a tally of alarm levels. This ranges from 1 - 3. Certain events can trigger the alarm however the sound of gunfire or being spotted by a sentry will take the alarm to full alert. Ideas on how to implement the alarm system can be found below (see Random events).

Sentries: Part of the defending force can be nominated as sentries. These are typically single or in pairs. It is their job to patrol the perimeter and sound the alarm. Sentries moved in a programmed direction in either a horizontal or vertical line between two points. If an attacker is spotted by a sentry and cannot silence them in a single round of combat with a melee weapon (or silenced forearm) it is assumed the alarm has been raised!

Searchlights: In a similar method to the sentry, a spotlight token can be moved in a programmed direction around a watchtower. This can be around the entire radius of the tower. Attackers caught in the light of the watchtower will sound the alarm.

Random events: To add a further tactical element to the game, random events can also be introduced. These can be triggered by randomly assigned tokens across the table or notes on the Defender’s tactical map. These are activated by a soldier owned by either player but can affect either Attacker or Defender on a 50% chance. 6 tokens can be deployed per square foot of playing area. See the table below for some ideas:

d6 Attacker - Random event
1 - A stray dog roaming the complex spots you and starts barking. Soldiers from the closest building are alerted and come out to investigate. This adds one alarm token.
2 - As the commandos sneak their way past a seemingly unoccupied building, a demi-section of soldiers emerge - both equally surprised!
3 - Well, that wasn’t on the map! Place a non-offensive barricade in place: barrels, crates etc. This is not impassable, but trying to overcome this will result in an alarm token.
4 - One of your flat-footed soldiers kicks a stray can of food. Add one alarm token.
5 - A cold wind carrying an air of misfortune passes through the raiders unit. The next dice roll to attack or otherwise complete an action must be re-rolled, and the second result used instead. Spooky!
6 - Click! Booby trap! A small but dangerous explosive device is about to triggered - take an action to disarm otherwise it will go boom!

d6 Defender - Random event
1 - A sentry looks down and notices his shoelaces are untied. He pauses in mid-patrol to tie them up… this occupies his attention for an entire turn.
2 - A previously occupied building switches its contents with another… this is randomised by the Attacker but remains known only to the Defender.
3 - Power goes down inexplicably - one searchlight is switched off for a turn while repairs take place.
4 - One panicked soldier opens fire on a randomly determined friendly unit not in a building.
5 - Fear of the dark! Walking past a darkened corner a friendly soldier is snatched by a lone commando. Remove the friendly soldier as a casualty and replace it with an attacker.
6 - A wyvern attack wing soars over the base on a strafing run!

Acknowledgments

In writing this scenario, I must acknowledge the work of Donald Featherstone and the article which triggered the whole idea - They came in from the Sea in his book Complete Wargaming. While this provides a strong foundation with which to capture the essence of the famous commando raid, I have simply fleshed out some elements which I think would work in games of Panzerfauste and other historo-fantasy skirmish level games.

Feel free to try these ideas out and come up with some of your own. Enjoy!

Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Original! This scenario was written exclusively for Orcs in the Webbe and was first published on the 9th December 2015 as part of it's 2015 Advent Calendar.

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