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After-Action-Reports

Flames of War Break Out Mission

15th January 2011 

R 1255 vs G 985pts

Russia (Chris) v Germany (Justin)

German Breakout


    "Road Kill"

 

 

About this battle

After much 'to-ing and fro-ing' about when we could play we eventually agreed on an afternoon game, and we were lucky to have a full five hours, although it should be noted Chris miscalculated the start time, and on being half an hour late was tasked to make the tea for the entire afternoon, a task which he knew he could and would discharge succesfully, his secret being to ensure the tea bag remains in the hot water for at least 30 seconds (but not more than 60).

Chris bought his motley collection of Germans in a battered photographer's silver case, Justin produced a wealth of finely crafted Russians from a custom made container, and after pleasantries, we retired to the conservatory. After a general scenario discussion, the kettle whistled and so we supped on our tea whilst we grabbed a few minutes to look over our research documents and prepare the army lists.

Sides were allotted on the toss of a coin. Justin won and surprised Chris by opting to take the impoverished Germans who looked in a desperate situation even before a base hit the board. With the tea promptly despatched we proceeded to setup and lock horns.

Flames of War Table

Background

On the eve of Operation Bagration the German armed forces in Byelorussia had the equivalent of 52 divisions, about 400,000 combat troops with a further 400,000 in the administrative ‘tail’. Whilst substantial, the length of the front on the 23rd June 1944 meant that each kilometre was covered on average, by about 80 frontline infantry backed up by 2-3 artillery pieces and 1 or 2 assault guns (Zaloga, 1996.23).

Opposing them were 4 Soviet Army Fronts consisting of 118 Rifle divisions, 8 tank and mechanised corps, 6 cavalry divisions, 13 artillery divisions and 14 air defence divisions, around 1,700,000 troops in total.


Russian-soldiers


Deceived into believing that the main Soviet thrust would come against German Army Group North Ukraine, Army Group Centre was unprepared for the mobile assault delivered by 3rd and 1st Byelorussian fronts. With very little defence in depth and often denied the opportunity to make tactical withdrawals, the German High Command severely underestimated Soviet ambitions to not just drive them out of Byelorussia but to encircle and destroy as many of divisions as possible.

After 5 days of fierce fighting, 3rd and 4th Panzer Army’s defences in and around Vitebsk and Orsha had been breached and German units were ordered to undertake a fighting withdrawal westward to the Dvina River.

As the Soviet breakthrough developed into exploitation and encirclement, withdrawing units were often forced to break up into smaller, battalion sized groups in order to escape.

Our scenario, we have called Road Kill, depicts just such a rag-tag band of German as they battle their way westwards to escape destruction.

Russian-Map-1942
References: Zaloga, Steven (1996) ‘Operation Bagration’ Osprey Publishing, Wellingborough, Hants.

The Mission

Inspired by Steven Zaloga’s Wargaming Operation Bagration, we played a ‘retreat game’ by quickly adapting the ‘Breakthrough’ scenario on page 206 of the hardback rulebook.

after-action-report-mission

Conventional Breakthrough missions use the Defensive Battle, Delayed Reserves, Mobile Reserves and Prepared Positions rules. We retained only the Delayed Reserves rules for both German and Soviet players and added Dawn Attack. We adapted the Mobile Reserves rule to prevent either side from fielding any armour at the start of the game except that gifted in the initial order of battle.

We decided that there would be no objectives in this game other than that the German player survive and/or get most of his initial force off the table before the wife came home. We reversed the table layout from the Breakthrough mission with the Germans designated the defender and the Soviets the attacker.

Battlefront-Battlefield-Flames-of-War

Terrain Features

Woods

ford-15nn-scenery

 

 


Woods are area terrain and count as Difficult Going. As rough terrain, infantry and man- packed guns move at the regular 6”, but fully-tracked (8”), half-tracked (4”), wagons (4”) and light guns (4”) are subject to movement penalties.

As Difficult Going each vehicle and Light, Medium or Heavy Gun team must take a Bogging Check when they enter or start their turn in the woods. Rolling a 1 means the team is bogged down. Freeing a bogged team requires a Skills Test. (Veteran 3+, Trained 4+). Teams within woods are concealed and cannot see or be seen by enemy troops more than 6" away from themselves.

If a unit is on the edge of the terrain area, they benefit from concealment, but can be seen. Wooded terrain blocks line-of-sight through it.

River and Ford ford-15nn-scenery

 

In this game, we defined our River as a Stream making it count as Very Difficult Going.

Infantry and man packed guns do not suffer a movement penalty, but Light, Medium or Heavy Gun teams cannot attempt to cross Very Difficult Going terrain. Fully tracked vehicles needs to take a Skill Test to cross Very Difficult Going, otherwise they become Bogged Down. Other vehicle types cannot attempt to cross at all.

We agreed that teams in contact with the river bank (i.e. the piece of scenery’s base) would count as concealed to represent reeds and other associated riverside vegetation. The stream is crossed by two Difficult Going fords.

 

Marshford-15nn-scenery

 

Marshes are area terrain and count as Difficult Going (see Woods above), but teams do not gain the benefit of concealment.

Marshes do not block Line of Sight.


Victory Conditions

The battle would end when either:

  • The German player exited all of their initial forces off the table, or
  • One side failed its Company Morale Check, or
  • The wife came home.

Pinching the scoring system included in the Counter Attack at Debrecen scenario published in Wargames Illustrated 277 (November 2010), we hastily agreed that if our game hadn’t ended by the time the wife got home, the German player would get 1 victory point for each platoon they got off the table. To reflect a retreat to a undisclosed location, the Germans could only leave through the edge in the opposite quarter to their initial deployment. Platoons could not leave the table moving at the double. The Soviet player would get 1 victory point for each enemy platoon destroyed.

The force with the most victory points at the end of the game would win, unless 1 of our forces failed a company morale check before the end of the game.

On reflection, you could really put the pinch on the German player and award the Soviet player an additional victory point for each German platoon left on the board at the end of a designated period of time / number of turns in the same way indicated in Counter Attack at Debrecen scenario.

Russian

Udarny Strelkovy Company

HEADQUARTERS PLATOON Motivation Experience Command Points
Battalon HQ rifle team fearless trained 4" 35
OPTIONAL SECTIONS:
Anti-tank platoon fearless trained 4" 45
Anti-tank rifle (attached) fearless trained 4" 45
Sapper platoon fearless trained 4" 95
COMBAT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
Udarny Strelkovy Company (1 SMG platoon) fearless trained 4" 235
Udarny Strelkovy Company (1 SMG platoon) fearless trained 4" 235
Udarny Mortar platoon plus observer rifle team fearless trained 4" 80
Understrength Udarny machine-gun company, 2 platoons of 3 teams fearless trained 4" 170
SUPPORT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
3 SU-76M confident trained 4" 115
Limited air support - IL-2 Shtumovik fearless trained n/a 200
Company Totals Platoons: 5 Points: 1255

Russian Company

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Battalon HQ rifle team

Anti-tank platoon (attached)

Anti-tank platoon (attached)

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Sapper platoon

Udarny Strelkovy Company

Udarny Strelkovy Company

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

Udarny Mortar platoon plus observer

Udarny machine-gun company

Limited air support - IL-2 Shtumovik

Russian-Strelkovy

Russian-Strelkovy

3 SU-76M

Vodka! And plenty of it!

 


Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik

The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik was a ground-attack aircraft (Shturmovik) which featured in Operation Bagration and produced by the Soviet Union in very large numbers. Its RS-82 and RS-132 rockets could destroy armoured vehicles with a single hit, but many experienced Il-2 pilots mainly utilized the cannon.

To Il-2 pilots, the aircraft was simply the diminutive "Ilyusha". To the soldiers on the ground, it was the "Hunchback," the "Flying Tank" or the "Flying Infantryman"

As with all Air support, it must be successfully called in. Then the planes themselves must be placed no nearer than 16" from the nearest friendly unit. Once a target is declared, the planes are arranged in an echelon formation. If there is a friendly unit within 16" of the base of any of the aircraft, the attack is cancelled and the planes immediately fly away. Justin was very forgiving in our first couple of games and allowed me to change targets after I had declared invalid ones. A dozen games in to our wargaming career, that isn't the case now :)

In our game we allowed Limited Air support, which meant five dice instead of the usual seven. Furthermore, until dawn broke, no air strikes could be called in.

I knew if I could negotiate the myriad of dice required to actually get the stage of dropping even a bag of flour on my intended target, the target would be in a very bad way indeed, as the payload is awesome and dramatic, and can destroy anything, even when benefitting from concealment.


Russian Planning

North

I wanted to squeeze Justin into a tight pocket and aggressively react as he tried to break out. Initially I aimed to deploy a threat to his rear with Mortars and a single Strelkoky. In case the single German tank north of the river tried to clear them, I decided to bolster the Strelkovy with some AT infantry as I wanted to keep the AT guns in the south.

This company would remain in the rear, and when the Germans began their advance, the Strelkovy could charge into their rear causing maximum disruption. The MGs would crawl around the flank to hold the central ford, making any German infantry movement hazardous.

 

russian-plan

South

My other Strelkovy would occupy the wooded area to defend the eastern ford. The AT gun would join them to dominate both fords. The Engineers would advance cross country through the various crop fields and position themselves to immediately attack the StuG's when they arrived on the battlefield.

The SU76 would deal with any remaining StuG's and blast any remaining stragglers into the dust.


German

Grenadierkompanie

HEADQUARTERS PLATOON Motivation Experience Command Points
Company HQ SMG team confident veteran 6" 40
COMBAT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
Grenadier Platoon confident veteran 6" 155
Grenadier Platoon confident veteran 6" 155
SUPPORT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
HMG Platoon confident veteran 6" 140
Assault Gun Platoon confident veteran 6" 380
2 x adhoc half tracks confident veteran 6" 50
1 x captured Russian AT 76mm gun confident veteran 6" 65
Company Totals Platoons: 6 Points: 985

German Company

The German Order of Battle for this game dervies from Zaloga's recommendation of a 'retreat game' typical of Bagration, "German battalions were so depleted that a small battlegroup can be assembled on a scale as low as one figure/three soldiers.

german-detachment

captured-gun-crew

 

Thirty figures can represent a battalion, with a far higher proportion of MG42s and mortars than normal, since heavy weapons were retained as long as possible.

Together with a Pak 40 or two, a couple of half-tracks, some lorries, a few horse-drawn wagons and (if you're lucky) a tank, they form the core of a beleaguered unit trying to fight its way back to German lines" (Zaloga, 1996.94).

Since neither Chris or I have any lorries, I've substituted a VW Type 166 Schwimmwagen and a Stalinet :) Neither of us have painted up our PaK 40s so a captured ZiS-3 76 mm divisional gun M1942 manned by a supervised hiwi (Hilfswilliger, literally one willing to help) crew will have to be substituted. No problems with the half-tracks or the tank, in this case, a StuG G.

A platoon of MG42s makes up the numbers along with 2 platoons of infantry and the HQ unit. Racing to the rescue is a platoon of StuG Gs. My Tigers aren't finished yet :)

StuG III Ausf G

The Sturmgeschütz III originated from German experiences in World War I when it was discovered that during the offensives on the Western front the infantry lacked the means to effectively engage fortifications.

The artillery of the time was heavy and not mobile enough to keep up with the advancing infantry to destroy bunkers, pillboxes, and other minor obstacles with direct-fire.

The StuG III Ausf G in our game

At around 75 points each, the StuG G will be a good all-rounder in this game with its 7.5cm StuK40 able to spread the AT love out to 32”, a hull MG to tickle enemy infantry, protected ammo and schurzen for those pesky AT rifles.

I’m going to have to make full use of their speed and firepower to knock any potential predators, namely those Su-76 and 45mm AT guns. After that, the only other thing that can trouble me is the Sky falling on my head in the shape of the IL-2's. I’ve got one early on that I’ll use as a mobile reserve running up and down the corridor created by my infantry wherever the danger is most apparent.


German Planning

I was going to try and escape off the map relay-style, leap-frogging 1 platoon over the other in order to get to the fords before the Russians could close in and cut me off. Each platoon would protect a roving-corridor down which my vulnerable soft-skinned vehicles would pass. It would be tricky and I’d have to try and deploy each platoon in terrain advantageous to their weapon type. It was a long-shot, but it might just work something like this:

Deployment

Battlefront-Battlefield-Flames-of-War

Turn One

german-convoy

German

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat by the side of the road, Heuberger looked down at his boots. His big toe looked back at him. It was black. Knocking his pipe out, he glanced down the road. The sun wasn’t yet up, but he could see the column stretching away into the distance. Landsers on the right, the few still salvageable vehicles on the left. All travelling in one direction: away from the Front.

Heuberger grits his teeth and trots up to a passing panje-wagen towing a Soviet ZiS-3 76mm AT gun,

German-Convoy

“Morning Comrades!’ he calls brightly to the crew, a mixture of sullen hiwis and Luftwaffe personnel. Affecting bon homie won’t get him anywhere fast this time. They all look as miserable as he feels. If Heuberger is going to get home, he is going to have to get a proper ride...

Ok, Turn 1.

I’m mounting my HMG section in the half-tracks to move swiftly down the road to the woods on the left. I did tear-arse it down there until Chris reminded me that you can’t move a regular speed at Night. Doh! Suitably crest-fallen, I forget to Stormtrooper move.

german-convoy

The rest of the platoons set off across country, towards the fords, infantry on the flanks, soft skins in the middle.

german-convoy

german-convoy

 

german-convoy

 

Russian

With Justin appearing to move the bulk of his force forward, it seems apparent he intends to hold the rear with a lightweight force of a couple of mgs with supporting HT's. Even though these machine guns can be wicked with their 6 dice roll of death, if pinned they are vulnerable. My eye is immediately drawn to the potential for a strong attack there. For now however, for now I must put into effect my planned deployment. With so many bases at my disposal, it's hard to contemplate any deviation from my original encirclement plan as it feels solid enough.

Time for a general advance.

North

I begin to advance the Strelkovy into the northern wood, I would much rather be double timing them, especially as there are no German mortars, rockets, planes or artillery, but at night this is sadly, but understandably alas, not permissible.

strelkovy deployment

The mortars and my chunky six base Maxim MGs advance down their respective edges of the table, the MGs approaching the river, the mortars moving to gain good LOS on the enemy column from the rear.

South

Meanwhile, in the south I advance as planned, moving the infantry to the marsh to begin deployment across my other anchor, the southern wooded area by the marsh.

strelkovy deployment

The sappers approach the corn fields and begin their march to hopefuly threaten the arrival of the German armour.

strelkovy deployment

russian-sappers

With the gun flanked by two bulky infantry the advance commenced and the flag's came out

The overall picture in the south looks weighty and I am certain I can absorb his rag tag force of lost souls.

strelkovy deployment

 

german-convoy

german-convoy

Turn Two

German

The Half-tracks continue to roll down the road whilst the infantry maintain their steady slog towards the fords.

I’m conscious that I’ve got a bit of time before the sun comes up and my troops can take advantage of the limited visibility to move into advantageous positions.

 

german-convoy

Russian

North

The Strelkovy quickly reach the woods in an organised fashion. I have the AT rifles concentrated on the left where I believe he will be weakest, I want them to clear any half track and try for the STuG.

strelkovy deployment

It's still dark and sadly I can't move fast, I want a quick encirclement before Justin is able to properly deploy.

strelkovy deployment

The mortars have gained a reasonable LOS but the Germans are fast disappearing behind the trees and they can't see more than a stone's throw because of the night. The MGs move towards the river as planned.

The deployment proceeds well, but I am getting hungry to pour some lead into the leviathan like Germans. It's still dark so my range is limited and the planes can't arrive until we see a glimmer of light; noone can even spot the Germans yet let alone get close enough to shoot.

It's looking like the German MG is moving into a fixed position in the northern wood (perfect for the bases which feature logs) will have to face my combined force of the mortar, MGs and infantry and I'm confident about toasting him in the not too distant future.

russian-positions

South

The Strelkovy deploy ahead of the marsh in the wooded area to face the ford. Next turn I must remember to dig them in.

strelkovy deployment

The sappers approach the field. All is going smoothly, even though I can't send in the aricraft due to night, it's nice moving about with no indirect fire landing around.

strelkovy deployment

I make the tea and then as I sup, I anticipate the onslaught I intend to deliver. Justin seems calm - but must know he's in a tight spot. I reckon he needs those StuG's and I have enough in the closet to take them down when they come.

 

german-convoy

german-convoy

Turn Three

German

Cramped, certainly. Faster, definitely. Heuberger’s big toe appreciates the lift he’s hitched in the half-tracks. Shame it doesn’t last that long.

The Sun looks like it’s coming up, just not in my turn. No sign of reinforcements either.

german-convoy

Heuberger is unceremoniously dumped out of his ride and into the tree line as the HMG teams he’s hitched a lift with leave the relative safety of the Hanomags and deploy in the woods adjacent the road. I’m going to cover the open ground between the rear of the column and the copse opposite with 2 HMG42 teams, their associated HQ, the Company Commander and both HTs.Surely, no-one in their right mind would cross open ground covered by Spandaus?

For the rest, the march continues. Why did I forget to Stormtrooper again?

 

german-convoy

Russian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North

The sun is up and a tempting opportunity presents itself - to immediately attack those MGs - charging at them as fast as possible. But only because I can assume the supporting fire can pin them - because if they don't those Strelkovy will be history and whats left will be exposed.

On the other hand, I can sit and duke it out, but the woods give both concealement and defense. In addition my troops being near mean the planes can't attack them, and I fear once deployed and dug in, those mg 42's and HT's can hold up lot of my strengh.

Although my own Maxim MGs are advancing into position toward the river and not deployed as such for fighting, a quick measurement reveals 4 of the bases are in range of the two bases of German MG which are skulking on the edge of the woods.

So thats 24 dice on those MG42's for starters.

russian-map-turn3

Futhermore with the mortars on top of this will surely result in a pinning, if not a base or two and I might be able to hit a half track in the bargain. If I charge the Strelkovy forwards with this flanked support, even if they lose a few bases, they will wreck the enemy's rear guard and leave him exposed to anything I have left.

I've budgeted to lose this Strelkovy anyway. My only regret is attaching ALL the AT infantry guns to this Strelkovy and so they will have to commit to the charge also, leaving me with no AT support in the north and just the Engineers and SU76 to take out 4 tanks.

And it feels wrong charging infantry with AT guns. I've never used them before and I'm unsure of their range - and typically me I decide to not to check at this stage.

However they can threaten the 2 half tracks which now loom menacingly and if these vehicles survive the mortars the AT guns can finish them off.

I decide to go for it and commit all these northern forces. The other lot will have to worry about the two fords..

I run the Strelkovy directly toward the MGs, not double timing as this would result in a bloodbath with double hits - well let's face it, it could still be a total bloodbath.

I open up with the Maxims and they do the business but do not take a base. The mortars have moved previously so cannot yet fire. The MG is pinned but worringly the half tracks are suddenly looming.

Too late to worry about them now!

Za Rodinu! Za Stalina! Ourraaaaaahhhhhhhh!

 

german-convoy

strelkovy-charge

Turn Four

German

russian-charge

Turn 4.

A ragged Urrah erupts from the tree line opposite Heuberger, who watches in utter disbelief as rank after rank of Russian infantry break cover and hurl themselves towards his position,

‘Steady lads’ he mutters as he drops down behind the No.1 who already has his shoulder firmly braced against the MG42’s shoulder stock. A sound like the air ripping but the first burst falls short.

The No. 1 compensates and green tracer slices through the first wave of khaki clad figures. 5 stands down, Pinned and out in the open. That Strelkovy isn’t going anywhere fast.

russians-pinned

Elsewhere, the captured ZiS-3 deploys on the other side of the marsh and pops off a hopeful round in the general direction of some Russian HMGs putting on a wriggle towards the ford.

Behind them and covered by their attached HMGs a platoon of infantry finally remember to Stormtrooper it across open ground to throw themselves down beside the river bank. If there wasn’t a war on, this would be a nice spot for a smoke!

And lo? Carrying across the water...is that the not so distant sound of 3 300 metric horsepower 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM engines? I think that it is.

Reinforcements!

Racing to the rescue, my 3 StuG Gs roll onto the board catching 2 45mm AT guns out in the open. Pivoting on their axes, they shoot at long range!

And then there was one.

Russian

The combined machine guns who unpinned have ripped into the Strelkovy but I know I can take it to some extent. And I manage to unpin also.

More of a concern are the tanks which have just arrived and for which I am wholly unprepared. I rush one AT gun into partially concealed cover and intend to dig in here.

russian-charge

Either way this infantry assault is going down and I am committed. So I throw everything at the MGs and get some mortar in over the MG and Half Track and the MG is pinned again.

I want to assault them and the Half track in one thrust if possible, which would cause a morale check on the remaining one, as well as the morale situation on his remaining MG - although I couldn't locate the other one with a brief glance at his Steptoe and Son like formation.

russians-pinned

The planes finally arrive. The planes miss on every attempt. The mortars range in. The mortars also miss.

However on the bright side the Strelkovy take two bases between them - however with the consequence of leaving me out of assault distance - and so out of the reach of the relative safety of the woods.

So I'm suddenly standing in 6 inch grass staring at hull mounted machine guns.

Two hand held AT guns take a pot shot at the HT but no dice. Time to face the music now I think.

strelkovy deployment

And time to put the kettle on.

russians-pinned

Turn Five

German

His ears ringing to the cries of Sanitater! Heuberger staggers away from what’s left of his surrogate HMG team only to bump headfirst into the grizzled Sergeant who is skirmishing his way up to the front to win that coveted Cross of Iron,

“We are attacking! We are defending! We are Counter-Attacking!’ cries Heuberger and runs off into the trees. Sure he’s heard that somewhere before, the Sergeant fixes his steely gaze on what’s left the of the Strelkovy, raises his Ppsh. 41 and fires into the Russians: Chop Chop Chop.

The HMG HQ section and the Hanomags supported over the marsh by the StuG’s vehicle mounted HMG and elements of the second platoon fire at the stranded Strelkovy knocking off a few more stands and Pinning them once again.

Meanwhile the ZiS-3 AT attempts to engage the Maxim platoon without effect whilst the first platoon wades across the stream and settles in on the opposite bank. Ford secure Herr Leutnant!

Despite the frantic attempts of the Russian HQ’s 45mm AT gun crew to squirrel their gun away in the overgrown wheat field, it’s still within range and line of site of the stationary StuGs. 6 dice later, a failed gun save and it’s Спокойной ночи (Spokoinoi nochi – good night!).

I’m beginning to like this game. A lot.

russian-charge

Russian

The SU76 arrive and I immediately task them with a job I know they like to do - blasting at infantry - in this case the ones at the ford, which have cheekily attached themselves to a bank of cover and now suddenly seem a tough prospect, so I deply the SU76 accordingly, they can deal with the StuGs later

I'm regretting not putting my Maxims or at least some of them south, they would have a better range than the Strelkovy and could have done a better job. It would have been fun to charge with two from the north.

I lose an AT gun to a volley from the three StuGs.

As to the north, the enemy MGs are almost evaporated and hanging on by a thread so that leaves me the Strelkovy vs the half tracks - but the Strelkovy are now pinned again.

They fail to unpin and now their situation looks desperate - if it wasn't before.

I move my Maxim toward the cover of the river and fail to dig the mortars in. Suddenly the north looks very bad, especially as the mortars fail to damage the half track which is firing non stop at me.My Strelkovy fail to dig in.

I think our spades got requisitioned en-route.

strelkovy deployment

The engineers continue their grand flanking manoeuvre but my opponent hardly seems bothered; analysing their situation, I conclude they are islolated and will just be a sideshow to the main event.

strelkovy deployment

But hang on. Just as I am about to fire the SU76 at the infantry I think I can see the rear end of that StuG in the main column.

It's in range. I snipe it. It's history.

 

russian-charge

russians-pinned

russians-pinned

Turn Six

German

 

Even I’m beginning to feel sorry for the little lead widows of the stranded Strelkovy who lose another 4 stands to withering fire that triggers a morale test. Fearlessly, they pass without demur - curse the hardy Russian rifleman!

Turning without cost on its axis, the ZiS-3 AT gun lines up the newly arrived Su-76s in its sights. Now, I’ve got to admit, I was feeling very confident here. Cocky you might say. After all, this was why the gun was deployed here, to cover the centre of the board with ROF 2, AT 9. Imagine my surprise when I fail to hit anything by rolling a 1 and a 2. Not good.

Not good at all. That’s the last time I trust hiwis.

russian-charge

Shocked by the loss of their StuG, the rest of the infantry Go to Ground, Concealed by the river bank.

Edging forward towards the central ford, the platoon of StuGs turn to engage the Maxim platoon who find themselves out in the open and losing a stand. I’m keeping a beady eye on those engineers mind.

Russian

The infantry in the initial charge have suffered badly. Few remain. Corpses are the only cover.

They are pinned. They are dying.

But at last some good new. Our men rejoice as a mortar round falls neatly into a busy half track and there is a immediate cessation of duty from those gentlemen. However its brother remains.

I reflect that would have been nice on turn 2.

russian-charge

But the Strelkovy are going nowhere except back in the box so it's unclear what the objectives are anymore. But since when was that a reason to stop attacking?

I decide to sacrifice isolated infantry units to keep the StuG busy, then I move the SU76 around and destroy them.

So on one side of the tanks I double time the Maxims to the cover of the riverbank, and on the other, I arrange a bizarre looking column of Engineers to approach the StuG head on, flags waving.

As I solemly move the figures into position, we both think of the word 'desperation' at exactly the same time.

russian-charge

 

russian-charge

russian-charge

Turn Seven

German

Job done, the steely-eyed sergeant of the HMG HQ team a fail sole survivor test and gracefully leaves the field.

Realising that the rear-guard depends upon them, the surviving half-track crew bravely return to their mount and along with supporting fire from the 2nd infantry platoon destroy what’s left of the Strelkovy in front of their position. Over the sights of the smoking barrels, the few remaining stragglers raise their hands in surrender or hightail it back to the tree line.

On the other side of the marsh, the second platoon’s attached MG42 stand catches a glimpse of the Maxim platoon as they double-time it towards the riverbank. Their mad scramble doesn’t pay off as 2 stands fall by the wayside.

Shocked by the sudden sodden appearance of a hysterical Heuberger emerging from the marsh, the hiwis confound me further by rolling Snake Eyes in their attempt to knock out the Su-76s.

Meanwhile, the StuGs enjoy better fortune cuddling up to those pesky engineers with some HE. Perhaps a cup of sweet tea will enable my opponent to gather his nerves .

russian-charge

Russian

The planes at last arrive. All three of them. But once again miss their targets.

I think they sent me rookies.

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The AT continues to fail in inflicting any damage to the StuGs. It frantically tried tyo dig in. It fails.

The Strelkovy in the north are finished. They more or less all died fighting and Justin really made a mess of them and hung on. I'm not sure how effective any remaining troops would have been if I had made it made it through to the woods anyway, and decide it had been a folly to deploy heavily here.

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More good news - the Engineers are running away - understandable as high explosive detonates all around them. I am now making endless treks to the casualty tin. There's a two minute period where I'm seeing more of the tin than the board; to add salt into the wound, as I walk back each time. Justin's dice are falling again and he's smiling again.

It's down to the tanks to save the day. If I can win the AT battle, I have enough infantry to hold him and the mortars, MG and a Strelkovy are untouched. I edge my tanks around the marsh and prepare to take on the StuGs.

 

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Turn Eight

German

I’m scenting a win here. Time to finish him off.

The remaining half-track turns its attention on the mortar crews and covers the advance of the 2nd infantry platoon as it crosses the marsh and heads towards the centre ford.

Heuberger nerves are steadied with what’s left of the hiwis’ vodka. No wonder they couldn’t hit anything!

Movement and muzzle flash beyond the tree line draws the attention of the StuGs away from the engineers and towards the Su-76s. Squinting through the periscope of his rotating cupola, the 1 of the StuG Commanders traces a clear line of sight to the 'Golozhopiy Ferdinand' (bare-arsed Ferdinand).

It only takes 1 of those 1 of those 54 7.5 cm rounds to ruin the rest of your day.

Russian

I lose a tank. And of what remains, after some discussion, I can't see his to fire back. *see related blog article: Lines of Sight

The MGs are wondering what their orders were and are. The Engineers once again resume their unique method of trying to distract the German armour by charging forward once again in a strange column, much like ducks might manoeuvre.

That would seem to follow the general pattern of Chris is getting screwed to the floor here.

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No matter. I have two tanks. Smallish and open topped yes. But they can turn this around. I move them to duke it out and prepare for my moment in history.

They miss.

I await the death blow.

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Oh and I lose the remaining AT gun, which achieved nothing, on morale.

Happy Days.

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Turn Nine

German

The general advance continues. 2nd platoon continues to move towards the central ford covered by 1st platoon and the AT gun.

Outnumbered 3:2, the superiority of German optics and training shows as the StuG crews destroy another Su-76. I can afford to ignore those engineers.

Is Heuberger's home frei?

 

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Russian

My tanks fail morale and are gone.

The Engineers line up for a final patriotic slaughter.

This is ridiculous. Time to concede.

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Summary

German

This was a game I didn’t expect to win and, interestingly, it’s our first ever victory for the Germans. However, I have the feeling that this wasn’t one of those games that I won, but that my opponent lost if know what I mean...

What did I learn?

Well, Confident Veterans that are concealed and Dug-in aren’t going to be easily removed. Never ever think you can charge HMGs across open ground without pinning them first Take full advantage of any cover to block or impede line of sight and, in particular, ranging in attempts by aircraft. Dominate the open ground from a position of strength that has good lines of site with long range weapons. Watch your arse for unexpected long-range sniping.

Good game.

Russian

As I finish the last dregs of my final cuppa, I reflect. Yes, I played a terrible game. We hadn't played in a couple of weeks so I was really up for a good scrap and so was hungry to go in fighting - this was a bad attitude.

I should have set up much more considered defensive positions and had a more concentrated force mutually supporting for a proper assault, if I really had to make one at all. I fragmented my force badly and my plan was neither coherent or logical at any point from inception onwards.

Had a great day though and left with a smile on my face :))

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