@beige I really liked King’s Bounty – out of Vladivostok, too! Space Rangers territory. Another one to check out down the line if you need that PC strategy-RPG fix is the old Etherlords series. Kinda like King’s Bounty mixed with HoMM, wrapped around a card-based combat engine not too dissimilar from Magic: The Gathering. One of those perennially relaxing games.

Quick Men of War: Assault Squad vignette from the Operation Overlord skirmish for the US. Was making the final push against the German positions after a savage slog up from the coast, through a village (that, at this point, was reduced to bombed-out houses, broken walls, shredded fences and gardens, burning vehicle chassis and many, many corpses – bodies all lootable, as is the Ukrainian way) and into farmland. My cap points allowed me to call in a Sherman and a Chaffee, plus an M3 Ranger Halftrack and a few squads of infantry to bolster my ragged, tired forces holding the line. It was rolling fields dotted with haystacks and barns between my men and their final goal.

Sadly, my Sherman and Chaffee churned up from the beach just as I noticed the menacing muzzles of a Jagdpanther and a Panzer IV Ausf H now moving into a hull-down position in the top-centre of the map. I quickly took direct control of my Sherman, jamming the S key to spin the tracks into reverse, the Chaffee taking a glancing shot by the IV, but exploding as the Jagdpanther sent a round straight through the hull and hitting the engine. I swung the Sherman turret to try to get a shot off, but didn’t have the right elevation and my AT shell slammed into the embankment hiding the German hulls. Another shot by the IV slammed into my Sherman’s right-side treads and the sickening grind of snagged, broken caterpillar tracks coalesced with the despair of another skin-of-the-teeth engagement.

With my troops held back and the goal in sight, it was time for some hero antics. I needed something mobile to deal with the two German monsters. The M3 certainly wasn’t going to do the trick, and I needed those Rangers. Bringing my snipers forward and putting them in the shells of buildings nearest to the farmlands, they began picking off stormtroopers that began counterattacking. I had mortar teams come up on the flanks, but their ammunition was limited, so they had to make every salvo count.

The endgame came in the form of two ballsy marines (in this case, their names are Sergeants Whittington and Parsons), an M8 Greyhound, the Rangers and a whole lotta luck.

There was no way I was going to get my infantry forces across to the last cap point. The Germans had artillery on the right flank, with stormtroopers packing MG-42s in the hedgerows to the left. The two German tanks had reign over the centre…

Until I saw what my snipers must have picked off…out in the middle of one field, nestled next to a haystack, nicely out of the tanks’ visual radius, was a BMW sidecar motorcycle. The driver and LMG operator reclining in the grass with Springfield rounds in their noggins. I needed this bike if I was ever going to breach the lines. Problems, however, included the hideous artillery and AT guns on the right, the tanks in the middle and the MG42 troops in the hedges on the left. But hell, it was the only way.

Whittington and Parsons were set to prone, then began crawling out into the field. I had my Mortar teams start laying down FFE on the arty positions, then set to work in direct control with my Greyhound and its tiny little AT gun. Drawing the attention of the Jagdpanther and IV, I rolled quickly forward, found the right elevation and popped a round straight into the crew area of the IV – a lucky shot. The Greyhound engine whined as I shot it forward to the relative safety of a stone wall. Switching out of direct control, the M3 was moved up the right flank to take the artillery positions now that the mortars had scattered the Nazis manning in the guns. The M1 MG on the halftrack spat righteous fire upon the stormtroopers that were making a beeline back to their positions. The rangers jumped out, some took command of the PaKs, others nabbed the MG42 emplacements. They were good for the time being, but not forever.

Whittington and Parsons had luckily made it to the BMW. Now this was all about timing. As soon as the duo gunned that bike away from the haystack, the now-immobilised IV and the Jagd would send them both to hell. An upside was the carnivorous IV couldn’t move and the Jagd was…well…a Jagd. Bringing up a few squads of my marines, I had them ready to go on the mark. Racing a few snipers up to nearby haystacks gave me a slight edge in the open fields – at least, if the enemy were stupid enough to move slowly. This was it.

Whittington leaped aboard the bike, stomped the kickstart and the machine roared into life. Parsons jumped into the sidecar, swung the LMG on its swivel and the pair waited. I had one Mortar team start FFE’ing up the hedgerows, but the distance was a little short. Enough, though, to take attention off the BMW for a moment. I quickly gave the coordinates to Sergeant Whittington, and the engine roared as they accelerated up the field. Taking control of the Greyhound, I reversed it and felt the sting of another glanced shot from the IV. The Jagd had reversed out of firing range, leaving the stuck IV to deal with my Greyhound.

There was a screaming thump-thump-thump from the left flank. Holy hell. Whittington and Parsons were racing towards the line, dodging Nebelwerfer rockets! Parsons answered this by MG’ing into the entrenched soldiers dead ahead. My snipers were making work of the MG42s in the now-blasted hedgerows, the soldiers without cover and dropping like flies.

The end was in sight, but it could all go horribly wrong.

I had to get rid of that IV. It was the main thorn in my side, controlling the centre. I edged the Greyhound up over a hillock, watching its turret move in my direction and waiting for that muzzle-brake flash. Through the luckiest shot ever, my Greyhound crew managed to slot a round right into its turret. We’d done it.

Until the Jagd put its KwK43 cannon into use and fired a round straight through a barn wall and into the weak armour of my Greyhound. Bam. Engine was dead, hull was damaged beyond repair. The surviving crew scattered and I pulled them back to my line. My armour-killing days were over, even with bazooka troops at hand. OR SO I THOUGHT!

Switching back to the Sergeants, they’d breached the front! Not only that, but their path took them straight past the Nebelwerfer emplacement – of which the crew they’d made short work of – and were capturing the last point! Then I saw the Jagd rolling down around the farmyards it had been controlling…heading straight for the cap point Whittington and Parsons were valiantly capturing.

Then, the damn Jagd exploded!

Looking down through the smoking debris and corpses, the broken metal and shattered landscape…I spied the saviour of Whittington and Parsons. A single Sherman, one broken tread snaking off into the grass, its crew still bravely manning the turret of their immobilised tank. Down, yes, but certainly not out.

My Rangers and their M3 churned to the cap point as Whittington and Parsons hoisted the Stars and Stripes up the flagpole. A bloody victory, yes, but a victory nonetheless.