I've just completed the fifth scenario, this one solo (my son is my co-op partner, and he's in and out). I've been using Savage Worlds (Savage Showdown, actually) as the rules set. These rules are awesome for these kinds of scenario driven games. They have their downsides, but overall I think they fit the bill. Showdown is incredibly deadly, and solo/co-op friendly.
Seeing how I'm halfway done, I thought I'd share a peek into the campaign diary I'm keeping. I take pictures during the game and jot down notes so I don't loose anything later on. When all 10 scenarios are done, I'll probably print the diary and bind it. I'll also link it up online, but doubt anyone but me would find it interesting.
So right after this, will be the excerpt from the diary. There are three parts to each entry. There's the set up that I copy right out of the book. Then there's a POV after action report I do as the player character. (The writing is pretty lame; I don't put much effort into it, since it's just for me really). Finally, I'll record casualties, victory outcomes, and any other notes. Right now, the diary is up to 23 pages, but that's with lots of pictures.
Be warned, there's lots of reading ahead!
Mission Five: Self Propelled Gun
Something startles Kiefer from a deep sleep. He brushes the dirt from his face, closes his eyes and settles back into a rhythmic breathing pattern. Suddenly, more dirt falls on his cheek and he swats the air. This time he sits up, annoyed that his sleep has been interrupted. He holds his breath to listen for the source of his discontent. He hears the birds and a few insects, but nothing more. Then dirt from the top of his foxhole breaks off all around the perimeter, and he feels the ground begin to tremble. Then he hears the distinctive sound of clanking treads. The continued tremor from the massive weight of several armored fighting vehicles causes him to peer out of his cover.
Kiefer rises and whispers, “LT?” With no response, he says it louder, “Lieutenant, I hear enemy armor!” The men begin to scramble for their weapons and one soldier yells, “Tiger!” As the squad scans the road, a large self-propelled gun is observed following a half-track. Closer examination reveals a Sturmhaubitz 42. The half-track most likely contains a security element. They seem to be unaware of the squad’s presence and are moving to establish an artillery position that will enable the SP gun to fire on the Battalion CP.
As the Panzergrenadiers disembark and take up defensive positions, the StuH 42 comes to a stop just to the left of the half-track. The tank commander opens his hatch and stands up tall in the cupola with his binoculars. He scans the horizon and calls out coordinates to his gunner.
After Action Report (POV is PFC Dickie Summers)
The early morning sun was at our backs, and probably made it hard for the Germans to see us. They had cruised past, one Tiger and a halftrack. Hollis told me later it was an infantry gun called a StuH. They all look the same to me. We were on patrol in a hilly patch of land, following a road and scouting for Gerry, and he ended up driving right past us.
Lt. Freeman (we still haven't taken to calling him Curly to his face) lined us up behind a hill and sent Jay Shannon up it to see what the Krauts were about. We call Jay "Shy Shannon" on account of his not saying much, but he had a lot to say after he had a look. The StuH had stopped on top of an outcrop and the halftrack was unloading a squad of Panzergrenadiers.
Lt. Freeman broke us into a fire and maneuver team. The maneuver team included me, Shy Shannon, Kiefer (with the rifle grenade), Cpl Becker, and Allen Owen. My job was to kill the tank commander and hopefully stop that tank from taking action. Keef and the others would lay down fire on the Panzergrenadiers and hopefully chase them off. The LT and Sgt Markham would take the rest of the squad to a ruined farmhouse and create a firebase to cover us while we tried to flank the Germans.
Sounded like a plan from boot camp. What could go wrong?
I got off my shot and the German TC slumped over in his cupola. The rest of the crew bailed out. Keef and the others didn't do as well. The Krauts were in a cluster by their halftrack, but Keef's rifle grenade went wide. They spotted us right away. To make it worse, we were on the hill with no cover.
Despite the fleeing StuH crew, the Panzergrenadiers went to work. They turned their halftrack around and used it for cover, while a team of them slipped into the hedgerows along the road to get a firing position on the hill.
With all the German MGs we were torn up pretty bad on that hill. We had to hit the dirt. Owen went down right away. He didn't even cry out, just collapsed like a sack of potatoes. Sgt Markham and the BAR weren't doing much to relieve pressure on us. Their position didn't give a good view of the Germans, though they managed to snipe a Kraut officer hiding behind the halftrack.
The hill was a goddamn nightmare. The entire German squad had us pinned. Keef fired a few grenades, but both went wide. Too much lead whizzing overhead to line up a shot. A bullet grazed my helmet and I went blank from fear. I actually thought I was dead. I'm sure it wasn't long, but in that time Corporal Becker was rolling on his back while Shy Shannon lay face down with blood pumping into the grass. Only Keef seemed to have it together. But that wasn't going to last. I started saying my prayers, hoping someone was listening to me.
And He was. An M10 TD showed up. Sgt Markham had friends in the tank destroyer platoons, and I suppose somehow he managed to have one in the area. I don't ask too many questions about lucky breaks. That it showed up when it did is a miracle.
The StuH crew, seeing how well the Panzergrenadiers were doing, decided to jump back into their tank. Our TD had a shot at its rear armor. That TD was flying ahead like it knew just where to go. I kept down, but raised my head enough to see the TD take a shot and miss. The StuH started to lumber around to face its gun toward the farmhouse.
Doc Anderson had sprinted across the open field for us up on the hill. Looking back, his brave run probably saved his life. The Krauts were more aggressive now that their tank was back. Corporal Becker raised his head to shout something to me. I crawled back to hear him over the noise. My shoulder and left leg burned with fire, and I felt like Joe Lewis had used me for a punching bag. Becker screamed and rolled down the hill. Keef dragged me back down the slope, while Doc worked on the others. He was a true hero, standing out there while the Germans shot at him, working on the wounded like nothing more than mosquitoes were flying around him.
The StuH lined up a shot on the farmhouse and blew the top floor to pieces. Charlie Mayer and Hollis Woodard were up there. Charlie had the BAR and so drew the StuH fire. The halftrack crew used their MGs to keep up the pressure, and Sgt Markham got hit as well. I thought we were going to break off, but we held.
Our M10 angel came through for us. I could hear the TD commander shouting for his gunner to hurry up. The moment they lined up their shot, I heard a gigantic clang and the StuH went up in flames.
The Krauts decided they had enough with a fresh M10 and no anti-tank capabilities. They pulled out, firing as they went. Lt. Freeman wisely didn't pursue them. We didn't have the fire power to handle them, and so Gerry slipped away.
Without that M10 to shift the tide, I don't think I could be giving you this report. As it is, I'm going to be laid up for a while as these wounds heal. I'll never know the name of the place where we fought, but I won't soon forget that hill and all the blood my buddies and I left on it that day.
KIA: Sgt Paul Markham, Pvt Allan Owen, PFC Charlie Mayer, Pvt Jay Shannon
WIA: Cpl Gene Becker
WIA (fit for duty): PFC Richard "Dickie" Summers, Pvt Hollis Woodard
Mission Outcome: Draw (2xp) StuH eliminated, 2 enemies killed
Notes: PFC Richard Summers awarded Purple Heart and promoted to Corporal. Congratulations, soldier!
Now only three soldiers survive from the original D-Day squad.