Battlefield Academy is a simple wargame produced by Slitherine Games and sold by both Slitherine and Matrix Games. Battlefield Academy is based on a concept created by the BBC, and carries some BBC branding, for those who love the Beeb.
Battlefield Academy is best described as light tactical, focused on squads and individual vehicles and guns. While Battlefield Academy is approachable and simple to control, it is not completely without depth, as this AAR will attempt to show.
The Scenario is “Frontal Assault,” from the Western Desert Campaign. Battlefield Academy presents its missions using a comic book style intro:
Once the mission launches, we get an overview map with a briefing:
This scenario has a few notable terrain features that we can identify from the briefing map. First, and most obvious, is the ridge running down the center of the map, with two passes. There is a supply base in the right corner of the map, which is a victory hex. To win, we will need to control 3 hexes on the ridge, 1 hex near a small settlement at the top of the map, and the supply base hex.
We have an armor heavy force, with a combination of motorized and mechanized infantry as a complement. Significantly, we have two mobile artillery pieces, which will prove useful in clearing out the pass. We also have access to 25-pounder artillery support and Blenheim bomber air support. Looking at my force distribution and the map, I feel that the best plan is to attempt to secure the northern pass, take the settlement in the north, and then split my forces, swinging one group toward the supply base, while the other group seizes the ridge line and then the southern pass.
I begin by moving my units north towards the pass. I move the tanks and infantry as far north as they will go, hoping that there are no enemies ready to surprise me in the dunes. I assume that the Germans will fortify the ridge line, rather than wait exposed in the desert.
There are a few important things about this move. First, I tried to keep my anti-aircraft tank near the center of my formation, to best defend against German Stukas. Second, I used my artillery pieces to fire rather than to move, attempting to disrupt units on the ridge to the north. I also deployed my 25-pounder artillery barrage near the ridgeline. It will come in at the beginning of my next turn. Both of these turn out to be good ideas. The artillery barrage manages to disrupt and destroy a couple of units, hidden by the fog of war on the ridge. The anti-aircraft tank also finds success:
There was a lovely animation of a crashing Stuka, but I was not quick enough to capture the screenshot, which means that we are stuck with the explanatory message instead. After the aborted Stuka attack, the Germans move a number of light tanks (mostly Italian models) out from behind the ridge line. Luckily, my Crusader tanks are more than capable of taking out the weak Italian armor, and the Germans suffer a number of losses.
The second turn sees more successful artillery barrages on the ridges overlooking the pass. My armored units are also able to clean up the remaining two German tanks on my side of the ridge, allowing me to push forward. Next turn I should be able to occupy the pass, and begin moving towards the northern settlement.
My forces push through and take the pass without opposition, but there are a number of tanks in front of the settlement on the other side. This forces a bottleneck in the pass. I call in air support, which should hopefully take care of the problem. Either way, I have 17 turns remaining to take my objective hexes, so this should not slow me down too much, especially with my speedy Crusader tanks.
Next turn I plan to attempt to consolidate my forces in the pass, and get my heavier Matilda tanks up to the front, where they can make short work of the Italian light tanks and German Panzer IIIs defending the settlement.
Next Post: Breaking out of the pass.