The Great War AAR: 1st July 1916 Hawthorn Crater

On Sunday Ninjasaurus Rex and I played another game of The Great War. As it is nearly the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, we played the scenario based on the attempted capture of the mine crater at Hawthorn Ridge. It also happens that this spot is my favourite part of the Somme battlefield;
I took this picture looking back from the Hawthorn crater, over the British front lines:

The scenario was based on 29th Division's assault on the crater left by the mine explosion, but despite destroying the position, the German defence was strong enough to stop the attack. Also included in the scenario is the sunken lane, which was the jumping off point for the 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, whose attack was stopped by German machine gun fire and an area of dead ground that had not be recognised before they attacked. 

The game was set up, I took the British attackers and Ninjasaurus took the German defences. Both of us had to gain six victory points to win. Note the cat trap in the top right corner, an empty box is an excellent way of making sure she didn't walk all over the board mid-game...

In my initial moves I took control of the lip of the crater, which dominated the centre of the board. It also gained me a victory point for its capture.

The Germans began moving reinforcements forward to deal with the threat, including a machine gun and mortar on their right flank.

Using an artillery bombardment card, I started shelling the German rear areas, it didn't have much effect, but kept their heads down a little.

Meanwhile, in the centre, I started inching my forces forward to consolidate the crater position, things were hotting up in this sector.

Using a Rush and Rotation card, I was able to storm forward with the infantry I had in the front lines still and most of the crater was in my hands.

There was a lot of fighting on the back edge of the crater as my infantry crested the lip and exchanged fire with the Germans in the support trenches.

I destroyed his mortar and machine gun on the left flank and overran the German front lines, gaining me more victory points!

I had broken into his front line in the centre and was making mincemeat of this forces, however, I was denied victory this turn as the last victory point I needed eluded me! I just couldn't destroy one more unit!

Suddenly, German counter battery fire opened up and was very accurate on the sunken lane!

It was incredibly deadly and I lost quite a few casualties taking his victory total to four.

The next turn proved to be mine though, I destroyed three more units and got the final points I needed to win. The British infantry had won the day with determination, good dice rolls and lucky cards!

It was a very bloody fight, judging by the casualties incurred by both sides and the Germans put up a stiff resistance.

My forces did much better than their historical counter-parts, I think a lot of the victory was gained due to unfortunate card combinations on the German's part. Ninjasaurus said he was waiting for the card that would allow him to use his central units, but it never appeared! I had some very good cards throughout, especially the Rush and Rotation card which allowed me to fill the crater with my forces. Even though, it was a hard slog, but a most enjoyable one!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Looks great with your painted figures.

    Nice to see you got your artillery template together without breaking it- unlike me :(



    1. Thanks Pete, yes, the template is a bit tricky to use. I hadn't glued mine at this stage and it proved to be a bugger to stand up properly. I've glued it now, but it doesn't actually fit in the box...


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