"The barrage was tremendous, distance behind it was kept very well, as was direction. The men stood up to and kept behind the barrage like veterans. Just after the platoons had opened out a cloud of combined mist, smoke and dust started to rise. The fog rose so quickly that runners and platoons were lost. Enemy MGs on either flank opened up." - Maj. H. Macpherson, OC of „B‟ Company, Royal Scots Fusiliers
"My (tank) troop was sitting astride the Fontenay-Juvigny road facing east. The CO of the Hallams asked me to deal with a Panther holding up his advance ... At that moment two more Panthers appeared just south of the road." - Lt. Bob Hart of 'A' Squadron of the 24th Lancers
"The SS showed that they believed that thus far, everybody had been fighting like milkmaids." - Lt. Rudolph Schaaf
Operation Dauntless is a moderately complex wargame that covers the actions of the British 49th Infantry Division a.k.a "The Polar Bears" near Caen during Operation Martlet (called Operation Dauntless by the British at the time of the battle). Opposing these lads are elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" (Hitler Youth) and Panzer Lehr- elite panzergrenadier units. The goal of the British division is to seize the town of Fontenay, then press onward to secure the high ground near Rauray in time for the impending Operation Epsom, to be launched the next morning.
The game by designer Mark Mokszycki uses the same system as Red Winter, his game on the Battle of Tolvajärvi from the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939. The scale and key mechanics of Operation Dauntless are the same as Red Winter. Proposed future games in the series include Red Winter 2: The Battle of Ägläjärvi, Guadalcanal Land Battles, Scottish Corridor: The Battle for Cheux, and the Breaking the Panzers expansion for Operation Dauntless, covering the German counterattack at Point 110 (all are working titles and subject to change).
The scale is grand tactical- 90 minutes per game turn, 425 yards per hex, and mostly company sized infantry units with platoon sized armor units. Gone are the Winter War specific rules such as ski movement and night raids, and in their place we have a more detailed armor/anti-tank subsystem. There are lots of tanks on both sides in this one!
Special rules for Operation Dauntless include: British creeping barrages, hidden German unit setup, the 12th SS Fanatical Defense Table, British sabot ammo, assault guns, combat engineers, troop transport, British air strikes, British "funny" tanks (including the dreaded bunker-busting Churchill AVREs with their 290mm "Spigot" mortars, Sherman Crabs, and the flame-throwing Crocodiles), infantry anti-tank weapons, German ammo shortage, and abstracted effects of the immense British opening barrage by 250 artillery and naval guns.
Optional rules include: minefields, mine removal, Luftwaffe nuisance raids (night bombings), inaccurate German rocket artillery (the infamous Nebelwerfers), German signal platoons, and rules for linking chronological scenarios into a single "mega-campaign."
Terrain is a mixture of corn and wheat fields, orchards, woods, hedgerows, and small stone farm houses and villages. The map covers the area from le Haut d‟Audrieu and Cristot in the north, to Monts, Noyers and Missy in the south, extending west to Tilly sur Seulles and beyond, and east to Le Haut du Bosq and the outskirts of Cheux. The Germans begin the game dug in, and they may place a limited number of strongpoint markers during setup. A handful of strongpoint hexes are printed on the map; these represent walled farms, châteaus, and manors which are key to the German defense.
The Germans are on the defensive overall, but they are armed to the teeth with many powerful panzer formations- including Panzer IVs, Panthers, and Tigers- and will find themselves able to counterattack frequently and effectively. Some of the shorter scenarios feature the Germans on the offensive to recapture lost ground.
In general, the German infantry companies start with better Combat Strength and Ranged Attack values, relative to their British counterparts. The terrain heavily favors the Germans as well. But the British enjoy superior numbers, a more lenient recovery mechanic, and extensive offensive support from airstrikes and artillery. Furthermore, the German infantry companies are, on their reduced sides, inferior to the reduced British infantry. This simulates a key dilemma for the German combatants: excellent weapons and technology, but a desperate lack of manpower and supplies.
Operation Dauntless was designed for 2 players, but works very well solitaire.
The key mechanics of Operation Dauntless are the same as those in Red Winter. Central to play is the Action Phase, wherein each unit may choose only one from several possible actions: move/assault, attempt recovery, dig in, or take replacement steps. This makes for some very tense decisions for both players. It also conveniently moves the game along at a brisk pace.
Both games feature the same uniquely simple unit recovery system. Reduced infantry units may opt to attempt to recover during their turn in lieu of other actions. This requires rolling a "6" on a single 6-sided die. However, units gain a +1 bonus to the die roll for maintaining their distance from enemy units. This provides a simple yet realistic incentive for players to withdraw their reduced units to the rear and move forward fresh units. The Germans receive a -1 penalty to recovery rolls, simulating a lack of replacement troops. The result, in game terms, is a gradual but noticeable "wearing down" of German units on the map.
Another deceptively simple mechanic is used for ranged support. Ranged fire from weapons such as artillery, mortars and machine guns provides a "use it or lose it" benefit to combats against the targeted hex. Thus the attacker will need to follow up his artillery strikes during the very same Combat Phase in order to exploit their benefit, or the suppressed hex will return to normal. No markers or "resets" of any kind are necessary for this mechanic.
Combat is fast and well integrated. Units may voluntarily perform combats against adjacent enemies (two-way firefights, which utilize a CRT), conduct assaults as part of movement, or make ranged attacks at a distance of two or more hexes. The "grand tactical" scale of 425 yards per hex yields ranges of 2 hexes for light machineguns, 3 hexes for heavy machineguns, and 6 hexes for medium mortars. British artillery is abstracted, being handled as off-map batteries which can strike any hex on the map. The German player has several self-propelled artillery pieces, including the 105mm Wespe, (Wasp) and 150mm Hummel (Bumble Bee). The British player may allocate artillery barrages without the need to track ammo, while the German player will need to keep a close eye on his ammunition.
Anti-tank (AT) fire is handled simply using a pair of 10-sided dice. These are added together and modified by a small number of possible factors: range to target (an easy to remember -1 DRM per hex), penetration (the firing unit's AT rating minus the target unit's Armor), and elevation. While somewhat abstract, the system generates believable results given the unit and time scales involved.
Interestingly, AT and Armor ratings represent actual average penetration and armor thickness, respectively, in ten millimeter increments. Thus, a Sherman duplex drive tank with an AT rating of 10 and an Armor rating of 7 can penetrate (roughly) a maximum of 100mm of armor and has an average armor thickness of 70mm. Average armor thickness ratings have been calculated using a simple algorithm which gives somewhat greater weight to frontal armor thickness than side thickness, and somewhat greater weight to turret than hull. Again, this is an abstract approach which generates believable results for platoon-sized armored units.
As any tread head knows, not all tank crews and weapons systems are created equal! Simple rules for Fire Control (representing an amalgam of diverse factors including: crew training, experience and morale, targeting systems, optics, stabilizers, rate of fire) lend a further nuance to the armor battles, and show that the penetration numbers aren‟t everything. Armored units are classified as FC class Poor, Standard, Good or Superior. Sherman tanks are treated as the standard, and have no special FC rules which apply. Non-standard units may roll additional dice, or reroll a die, according to their FC level. For example, a Panther (classified as Superior) rolls three 10-sided dice instead of two, and then discard the lowest die roll. In this manner, players will quickly come to realize that some units are much better (or worse) than their ratings would otherwise suggest!
The game scenarios include the Campaign Game, which covers a three day period from June 25th-27th, plus many shorter scenarios covering various actions from June 16th through June 30th.
Note that the fighting for Cheux, as well as the German armored counterattack at Point 110 on July 1st, are beyond the scope of this game- although both battles might be covered in future games or expansions, if interest exists.
The scenarios include:
18.T1 Tutorial: Combat
This is the first of four mini-scenarios which introduce the rules incrementally. Each scenario should take half an hour or less to complete once players are familiar with the rules. This scenario depicts house-to-house combat and introduces new players to Movement, Combat, and The Combat Results Table (CRT).
18.T2 Tutorial: Ranged Attacks and Support
This mini-scenario builds on the first tutorial by adding Ranged Attacks, both standalone and used to support Combats.
18.T3 Tutorial: Armored Units
This mini-scenario focuses entirely on armored combat, to the point of excluding leg units. It makes a perfect introduction to Anti-Tank Table and the AT Reaction Cycle of triggers and reactions which simulate the fast-paced, knife-thrust nature of armored combat.
18.T4 Tutorial: Combined Arms Combat
This, the last of the four tutorial mini-scenarios, focuses on the integration of leg and armored units, with an emphasis on AT Fire in Assaults and Infantry Close Support.
18.1 "Nightmarish Crossroads"
- The Battle For Cristot (June 16th, 1200)
"It was about noon. Suddenly with a terrific crash and roar our guns opened up! I had never heard or seen anything like it. In front where the shells were bursting, nothing could be seen but a huge wall where the world seemed to end." - Rex Flower, mortar platoon, King‟s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
This small scenario features the 1/4 KOYLI Battalion's attack on the village of Cristot, following two days of intense shelling and bombing.
Play notes: This scenario makes for a good introduction to combined arms tactics. It is playable in about 2 hours.
Duration: Turns 6-13 (8 turns).
Historical notes: The attack from Le Haut d' Audrieu took place on a front 500 yards wide, with two companies up and the other two in reserve. 'A' and 'B' Companies led the attack, which kicked off at noon, with support from the tanks. One tank troop supported each forward infantry company, with the third tank troop behind. The infantry followed the creeping barrage and first encountered resistance about 500 yards from Cristot. The KOYLI fought their way into the village and found it a shambles. Opposing them were about 400 infantry of the 26th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, 12th SS Panzer Division. The German infantry had plenty of support from MGs and mortars, plus some SP guns and a handful of panzers. By nightfall, Cristot had been captured; it was the KOYLI Battalion's first major victory in the campaign. The cost had been high- 66 dead in five days of fighting. The battalion managed to exploit as far as Le Hamel (south of Cristot). They were relieved the following morning by the 7th Duke of Wellington's.
18.2 "The Groaning Woods"
- The Battle For Le Parc de Boislande, day one (June 17th, 1300)
"...the eeriness of Le Parc de Boislande. The undergrowth was unusually thick making silent movement impossible and the trees creaked in the wind in ghostly fashion. No wonder patrols sometimes returned to the Command Post wreathed in perspiration.." - David Rissik, historian of the 11th Bn. Durham Light Infantry
This small scenario features the 6th Duke of Wellington's attack on the densely wooded park, following a rolling barrage. The Dukes meet very stiff resistance.
Play notes: This scenario makes for a good introduction to combined arms tactics. It is playable in about 2 hours.
Duration: Turns 7-14 (8 turns).
Historical notes: A British patrol of the area started at dawn on the 17th, and the attack commenced at 1300, behind a rolling barrage. Three British carriers were destroyed by mines on the left. As the British neared the woods, they encountered stiff resistance from tanks and infantry of the 12 SS Panzer Division. At 4 pm, near the chateau at the center of the park, two British tanks were destroyed by 88's. Eventually, the Germans began to retreat in the face of the superior British numbers. Eventually the woods were cleared of Germans. About 30 men of the 12th SS had been taken prisoner, with many more killed or wounded. About 50 British had been killed, with twice as many wounded. Two hours later, at 6 pm, Tigers began to appear on the British flanks, and a tank vs. tank battle developed. More tigers appeared at 6:45. The British tanks and tank destroyers managed to destroy four of them (three by the tank destroyers), with only two British tanks lost. At 10 pm that night, 'C' Squadron tanks of the 24th Lancers arrived to relieve 'B' Squadron. They were themselves relieved by the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry the following day. The woods were British controlled- for the time being.
18.3 "Heavy Counterattack"
- The Battle for Le Parc de Boislande, day two (June 18th, 1400)
"Some of our infantrymen ran through the orchard looking fearfully behind them. (…) The company that "A" troop was attached to had been badly shaken by the accuracy and severity of the mortar fire and had suffered many casualties. When tanks and accompanying infantry of the Panzer Lehr Division moved forward behind the mortar attack many of the British infantry fled." - Gnr. John Mercer
Following four hours of heavy German artillery and mortar fire, the 6th Duke of Wellington's prepare to hold the park against a counterattack by infantry, tanks, and AT guns of Panzer Lehr Division. The Dukes are insufficiently dug in.
Play notes: This scenario makes for a good introduction to combined arms tactics. It is playable in about an hour and a half.
Duration: Turns 8-13 (6 turns).
"Meanwhile things were not going well with the 6th Dukes. They had lost many men during their attack and the Boche (Germans) then counter-attacked and drove all but one company out of the wood. Large numbers came through my battalion rather shaken from this terrible ordeal in their first action." - Lt.-Col. Hart Dyke, CO of the Hallams
Following the intense shelling, the British watched and waited from the tree line of the densely wooded park as the Germans weaved their way towards them through the corn. The British opened fire and managed to halt the Germans in the center, but they became flanked on both sides. The Dukes put up a gallant effort, but the two front companies were completely overrun, and fell back in disorder. 'C' Company was isolated and surrounded at one point, but they managed to fight their way out. The 6th Dukes were gradually pushed back until only one company remained in the woods. At this point, the 7th Dukes were committed to the action, and they managed to reclaim the woods. In the end the Germans retreated, but the cost to the British was about 230 casualties and 4 tanks lost. The 6th Dukes were withdrawn to Le Haut d' Audrieu to recover.
18.4 The Battle For The Parc
- The full two day battle (June 17th-18th)
"This wood which harboured tanks and infantry had caused us much trouble. (…) Little opposition was met until reaching the actual objective when pockets of stiff enemy resistance were met. The tanks shot up well over 50 enemy infantry in a hedgerow. The left hand troops worked round to the forward edge of the objective, took up fire positions and fired HE at the enemy retreating over the skyline. On the right resistance was stiffer and the DOW had a heavy task in clearing the enemy out. At 4 pm in position by the château facing east two of our tanks were shot up by 88-mm guns." - Leonard Willis, B Squadron, 24th Lancers
This scenario covers the entire battle for the park, including its capture by the 6th Dukes on the 17th, the German counterattack and 6th Dukes' retreat on the 18th, and the 7th Dukes‟ recapture of the park on the evening of the18th.
Play notes: This scenario is playable in about 5 hours.
Duration: Turns 7-27 (20 turns).
18.5 The Campaign Game
- Operation Dauntless (June 25th-27th)
This scenario covers the first three days of the battle for Fontenay and the Rauray spur.
Historical note: The British referred only to June 25th as "Operation Martlet" and subsequent days were then "Epsom actions in the Martlet sector."
Play notes: This scenario is recommended for experienced players who know how to make use of combined arms, including creeping barrages. It will take you about 8-10 hours to play to completion.
Duration: Turns 1-42 (42 turns).
Play area: The entire map.
The Fog and the Opening Barrage
"We hoped to see the Lincolns carrying out the first phase of the attack. All we could hear was the constant noise of the tremendous barrage our artillery were putting down. At first periscope light we moved forward down the forward slope hoping to move down to the sunken road. We were enveloped in a fog so thick that the commanders could not see the end of their 75-mm guns." - 24th Lancer troop leader
To simulate the effects of the pre-game barrage combined with the dense fog, the following rules are in effect on game turn 1:
A British Creeping Barrage (12.3.2) is in effect.
All German units within the Fontenay (F) setup area may not move. Retreats are okay, and retreat limits are unaffected.
All British units have their MA reduced by 1.
All British units may only move in a straight line, except where starting on and following a road.
LOS is reduced to 0 (same hex only) during the British Action Phase, and reduced to 1 for all phases thereafter.
Design notes: The German penalty is due to the shell-shock, temporarily severed communications, and general confusion. The British penalty is due to the thick smoke and fog.
Historical notes: The operation began with a massive artillery barrage by 250 guns. The British troops left their start line and followed the creeping barrage. The mixture of smoke and morning fog was so thick that visibility was severely limited; several British units wandered right past German positions. When fighting did erupt, it was at point blank range.
18.6 Bas de Fontenay
- The left flank of 'Barracuda' (June 25th a.m.)
This short scenario covers the actions of the 4th Lincolns and Hallamshire Battalions, with support of the 24th Lancers tanks, in their efforts to secure Bas de Fontenay. This was the far left flank of Phase line 'Barracuda'- the first of the three objectives of Operation Dauntless.
Play notes: This very short scenario makes for a good introduction to the game, but requires an understanding of combined arms.
Duration: Turns 1-4 (4 turns).
18.7 "Hell's Lane"
- The RSF at Fontenay (June 25th, 2100)
"...crossed the start line at 0415 hrs in a fairly compact bunch of units. The barrage was tremendous, distance behind it was kept very well, as was direction. The men stood up to and kept behind the barrage like veterans. Just after the platoons had opened out a cloud of combined mist, smoke and dust started to rise. The fog rose so quickly that runners and platoons were lost. Enemy MGs on either flank opened up. " - Maj. H. Macpherson, OC of B Company, RSF
This scenario depicts the Royal Scots Fusiliers in their push for the toughest of the initial Operation Dauntless objectives: the capture of the village of Fontenay. At the northern end of the village lay the valley crossroads known as Hell's Lane.
Play notes: Despite its 12 turn length, this scenario should only take about 3 hours due to the small number of units involved.
Duration: Turns 1-12 (12 turns).
"...a ground mist came down. After a further 100x visibility was only about 3 yds. I lost touch with 17 pl, visibility came worse, the rate of advance slowed down resulting in the loss of the barrage. All platoon comd. had the compass bearing to the first objective. 17 pl was subjected to intense mortar fire, obviously an enemy DF task. I was by this time completely out of touch with everyone even by 38 set when we reached Hell's Lane." - Maj. H. Macpherson, OC of 'B' Company, RSF
After taking heavy losses during the march through the fog, the RSF, supported by armor of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, managed to fight their way to the crossroads valley known as "Hell's Lane" at the northern end of Fontenay. The fighting continued all day, but the RSF were unable to capture the town. The 7th Duke of Wellington's were eventually committed to the fight, and passed through the RSF at 2030 that evening.
18.8 "The Simmering Cauldron"
- The Battle for Fontenay (June 25th – 26th a.m.)
"The village was like a simmering cauldron. (...) I jumped into a crater and watched the enemy tanks attack Fontenay. Firing continuously, feeling secure, the steel colossi were moving slowly towards the rubble of Fontenay. Our antitank guns were destroyed by the insane artillery fire. The Panzergrenadiere held their Panzerfäuste tightly. Man against tank! (… I could see how soldiers were leaping onto the vehicles. The enemy artillery was firing over our heads. (...) The tank-versus-tank engagement started. There were casualties on both sides. Thick, black, oily smoke rolled over the battlefield." - Kurt "Panzermeyer" Meyer, Commander, 12th SS Panzer Division
This scenario covers the first two days of Operation Dauntless, focusing on the capture of Fontenay.
Play notes: Both sides have a lot of forces available as Variable Reinforcements. It will take about 4 hours to complete this scenario.
Duration: Turns 1-16 (16 turns)
Historical notes: Codenamed "Barracuda", the first of the three phase lines of Operation Dauntless involved the capture of the Caen-Juvigny road which cut a path through the center of Fontenay. This proved to be a difficult task. The German defenders trickled in numerous reinforcements over the course of the twenty-four hour battle, and the Polar Bears were forced to pay a high price for their victory.
18.9 The Dukes Join the Fray
- The 7th Duke of Wellington's Join the Fray at Fontenay (June 25th p.m.- 26th a.m.)
The RSF were battered by the day's heavy fighting at Fontenay. The 7th Dukes were committed to the action as late as 2030 on June 25th.
Duration: Turns 12-16 (5 turns)
Historical notes: A fierce firefight began at the Calvary statue. The Dukes, caught in the open, took friendly fire from their own artillery and MGs. The fighting continued, blindly, all night. 'A' Company of the Dukes suffered 11 dead and 34 wounded, and the 12th SS Panzer Division still held the eastern portion of the village. At dawn the following morning, the Germans voluntarily pulled out of Fontenay in order to straighten their front line.
18.10 "The Hell of a Day"
- The Battle for Tessel Wood (June 25th, 1130)
"I saw the Sherman tanks go up in confident and steady formation and disappear into a hilltop wood near Tessel. I was very scared at the thought of my first action but the sight of the tanks charging into the wood eased my fears, because I thought there would be nothing left to fight. Imagine my dismay when an hour or so later the tanks or what was left of them came belting out back." - Pte. Robert Nixon
As the Brits still struggled to capture the east sector of Fontenay, the next phase of the operation began. Codenamed "Walrus", its goal was the dense wood near Tessel-Bretteville. The 1/4th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), being the reserve battalion of the 146th Brigade, were tasked with capturing the wood. They marched uphill across open ground, following a creeping barrage and supported by the tanks of 'B' and 'C' Squadron, 24th Lancers.
Play notes: This scenario makes for a good introduction to combined arms tactics. It is playable in about 2 hours.
Duration: Turns 6-12 (7 turns).
Historical notes: 'C' Squadron of the 25th Lancer tanks engaged targets on the west side of the woods, while 'B' Squadron operated in the area south and southeast of Fontenay. The woods were finally taken, but it was not long before the 1/4th KOYLI were then counterattacked by the Hitlerjugend.
18.11 The Battle for St-Nicolas Farm
– The 6th Dukes Attack, and are Counter-Attacked (June 26th, a.m.)
On the left flank, the 7th Dukes, supported by armor of the 1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry, attack out of Fontenay-le-Pesnel towards St-Nicolas farm. The German infantry and tanks are waiting for them.
Historical notes: The Dukes' initial attack was repulsed, and the Dukes then regrouped while the British artillery softened the German positions with a heavy bombardment. In the mid-afternoon, the Dukes again
attacked the farm, and were this time successful in capturing it. The British armor managed to push 1.5 km beyond the farm. They were stopped just short of Rauray, and joined later that evening by the 11th DLI. Rauray and the nearby high ground had not been captured, but the British were optimistic that it would fall the following day.
18.12 The End of the 6th Dukes
- Stopping the Juvigny-Fontenay Gap (June 27th, a.m.)
This scenario covers the 6th Duke of Wellington's final battle action: stopping the gap between Juvigny and the western outskirts of Fontenay-le-Pesnel.
Historical notes: As with the Dukes' earlier action at Le Parc de Boislande, casualties to the battalion were horrendous. The 6th Dukes were disbanded shortly after the battle.
18.13 Phase Line: "Albacore"
– The Battles for Vendes and Rauray (June 27th, a.m.)
The Hallamshire Battalion attacks from the southern edge of Tessel Wood in an attempt to capture Vendes, while simultaneously the 11th DLI try to infiltrate Rauray. The ultimate goal is the capture of the Rauray Spur- high ground which overlooks the battlefield of the in-progress Operation Epsom to the east.
Historical notes: The Hallams were unable to capture Vendes. Meanwhile, the 11th DLI, supported by armor of the 1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry, were not initially able to wrestle Rauray from the German tanks, panzergrenadiers and 88's. A second attempt at 1400 hours was successful. By 1600 hours, Rauray village was cleared. The Germans had been denied the vital high ground overlooking Operation Epsom, now well into its second day, to the east.
18.14 "Infernal Orchards"
- The Tyneside Scots and Lincolns fight for Tessel-Bretteville and Bretteville (June 28th and 29th)
This is the British breakout from Tessel Wood. The Tyneside Scots, later relieved by the Lincolns, push into the orchards of Tessel-Bretteville and the village of Bretteville.
Note pertaining to all scenarios:
The exact number, details, and names of scenarios are subject to change, as the scenarios are still undergoing playtesting and development.
2.5 counter sheets of 5/8" counters (2 sheets of unit counters + ½ sheet of markers)
1 Standard sized map
1 Rule book (about 20-24 pages)
1 Play book (includes scenarios, designer notes, and optional rules- about 36 pages)
2 identical double-sided Player Aid Cards
1 single-sided British Variable Reinforcement Card
1 single-sided German Variable Reinforcement Card
2 6-sided dice
2 10-sided dice
Credits To Date:
Design, Development, Research, Rules & Scenarios: Mark Mokszycki
Playtest Map art: Mark Mahaffey
Playtest counter art: Michael Evans, Mark Mokszycki
Editing: Ian Thompson, Keith Mageau