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Flames of War Breakthrough Mission

20th Aug 2010

1500pts
German attack

Flames of War TableFlame-ofWar-Battle-Aug2010

I’m a Pioneer get me out of here!

For our first Battle Report, we thought we’d write one of our typical 1500pt games. Chris and I are still learning the rules so be prepared for some misinterpretations or mistakes as we wobble our way through. We play with what figures we have and whilst the Soviet Udarny Strelkovy are finished, Chris’ German Panzer Grenadiers are still work in progress.


A Breakthrough Scenario

Before we started playing, Chris and I agreed to give the Breakthrough mission on page 206 of the rule book an airing. The Breakthrough mission uses the Defensive Battle, Delayed Reserves, Mobile Reserves and Prepared Positions special rules. This puts the Soviet infantry dug-in and on the defensive whilst the Motorised Grenadiers are obliged to undertake a frontal or flank assault.

Over the last few games, we’ve been basing our table’s terrain layout around the examples included in Battlefront’s excellent Byelorussian Battlefields article. Tonight, we’re playing on a slightly adapted version of the ‘wooded table’.

Battlefront-Battlefield-Flames-of-War

We say ‘slight adapted’ as we’re using our own terrain. Fortunately, we’ve been able to acquire a set of the now sadly defunct Eastern Front Battlefield in a box buildings which we’ve placed alongside Terra Firma Studio’s freestanding 15mm fields. Roads, wood tiles and the mat itself are all Terrain Mat products.

Breakthrough-Flames-of-War-Table


Companies

Russia

Udarny Strelkovy

HEADQUARTERS PLATOON Motivation Experience Command Points
battalion HQ rifle team fearless trained 4" 95
OPTIONAL SECTIONS:
anti-tank platoon (attached) fearless trained 4" 45
anti-tank rifle (attached) fearless trained 4" 45
Sapper platoon (independent under 2iC) fearless trained 4" 95
COMBAT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
udarny strelkovy company (1 SMG platoon) fearless trained 235
2 hmg fearless trained 4" 50
udarny strelkovy company fearless trained 4" 235
2 hmg fearless trained 4" 50
udarny mortar company plus observer rifle team (3 tubes) fearless trained 4" 80
shock artillery battalion 2 gun platoons + 2 howitzer platoons + observer fearless trained 4" 225
SUPPORT PLATOONS (You may have Supporting Platoons for each Combat Section) Motivation Experience Command Points
3 SU-76M fearless trained 4" 115
1 flame-thrower section (attached) fearless trained 4" 90
Limited air support - IL-2 Shtumovik fearless trained n/a 200
Company Totals Platoons: 5 Points: 1500

Germany

gepanzerte panzergrenadier

HEADQUARTERS PLATOON Motivation Experience Command Points
Company HQ SMG team confident veteran 6" 75
OPTIONAL SECTIONS:
Anti-tank section (panzerschreck) confident veteran 6" 10
COMBAT PLATOONS Motivation Experience Command Points
G.Pz.Gr. Platoon 1 3 squads MG team confident veteran 275
G.Pz.Gr. Platoon 1 2 squads MG team confident veteran 6" 200
Pioneer Platoon 3 Squads confident veteran 6" 335
SUPPORT PLATOONS (You may have Supporting Platoons for each Combat Section) Motivation Experience Command Points
3 x Panther D platoon confident veteran 6" 560
Company Totals Platoons: 4 Points: 1460

Setup

In defence, Justin placed his recently painted Shock Artillery Battalion behind the small kolkhoz or collective farm covered to their front by an infantry company supported by attached flamethrowers and PTRD ant-tank rifles. The remaining infantry, sappers and mortars adopted a defensive hedgehog on the woodland in the opposite quarter.

Misunderstanding the mobile reserve special rule, which allow the defending player to retain all but 1 tracked unit on the board, Justin placed his Su76 off-table in support (doh!).

Flames-ofWar-Deployment

Chris opted to attack from the top left corner (3) and chose to place the game’s 2 objectives in the opposite corner of the board (4), 1 out in the open the other in a small copse.

Deciding on a frontal assault, Chris deployed his Panther platoon astride the road into the kolkhoz supported by an HMG and Pz.Gr. platoon concealed in the adjacent woodland. Nearby, a platoon of Pioneers mounted in half-tracks smoke their last cigarettes whilst they await their orders to attack.

Flames-of-War-Panther-Attack


Plans

German

German-Plan-of-attack-breakthrough
My situation playing with the Germans is usually one where I am facing overwhelming amounts of Soviet infantry and today was no exception. I had the choice of deploying an attack in the reinforcements e.g. Panthers and Infantry, or trying to fight my way out of a corner, I was hesitant about having practically all my forces off the board so I decided to attack immediately out of my initial deployment zone.


On seeing the Russian defensive deployment, lots of depth and support, I decided that a fast attack with a strong spearhead was the order of the day. I wanted to pile through the Russian front and rout the artillery and then turn to the isolated infantry company in the woods, which the heavy machine gun company would keep pinned down until they had accomplished this.

I tasked my pioneers with the primary assault, the tanks would roll over any remaining opposition and beyond, and the sturmpanzergrenadier would follow up in close support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soviet

Soviet-Plan-of-attack-breakthrough


My plan is simple, stay where I am. Well, that’s not strictly true. My biggest concern whilst deploying was where my opponent’s motorised elements would be. As a Soviet infantry commander, I’m not the most agile. The worst case scenario I could imagine would be Panthers and a platoon of motorised infantry racing on to the board in a flank move and securing one of the objectives before I could get there.

To address these concerns, I’ve deployed my artillery behind the farm, but with good lines of sight across the board. The 45mms AT guns dominate the centre of the table and are supported by HMGs to deter any infantry. Anti-tank rifles cover both company’s flanks

On my right flank, I plan to hold the woods with my infantry whilst moving my sappers out to capture the objectives in the open. These brave frontoviki will dig in on the objective and await any assault. Hopefully, their relatively high AT assault score will deter any armoured assaults. I can always reorientate the 45MM AT and HMGs to support them if necessary.

A platoon of SMGs will advance towards the other objective and dig in anticipation of an assault. Maintaining command distance will be a real headache

On my left flank, I deploy a company forward to screen the artillery with orders to gradually give ground towards the second objective if the enemy tries a frontal assault.

 


Turn One

Germans

I fired and then attempted to assault with the Pioneers in half-tracks using the armoured assault rule. The assault became pinned and my Pioneers remained in their halftracks and facing it off against the dug in Russians in the field.

I knew that this initial delay would cost me dearly as I wanted to see the backs of some Russians in turn one, but at least I had not broken in the face of the enemy. We take some fire but do not lose our momentum. With such limited forces every single move had to pay off in one form or another.

Soviets

With a frontal assault imminent, the battalion commander successfully requests support from the limited assets available. The relief felt on hearing the roar of the 1370hp Mikulin AM-35 V12 engine is tempered by the disappointment that only one lousy, measly stinking Storm Crow streaks over the battlefield.

Swooping low over the tree tops, the lone Sturmovik lines up on the Panther straddling the road and unleashes volley after volley of rockets. Uncanny dice rolling ensues and, as the smoke and dust clear, flames and black smoke are observed rising from the ruptured Panther’s turret - Oorrah Pobieda! – all is forgiven!

Panther-Tank-Fighting-Burning

Heartened by the destruction of 1 of the fascist’s big cats, the lead defensive platoon weathers the hail of rounds poured upon them by the advancing pioneers’ half-tracks. Emerging from their foxholes and supported by a team of PTRD anti-tank rifles, the platoon lets go with everything, knocking out 1 of the Hanomags.

PanzerGrenadier-Platoon-Attack-Russians

Making his passenger save, the HQ element jumps over the side of his half-track as his comrades in arms swallow deeply and think twice about assaulting into the corn field again. Would now be a good time to retire to a safe distance to chew on your sauerkraut comrade?


Turn Two

German

Dismounting, my second assault goes in and I am glad to be out of the half tracks. Being close to the enemy has paid off as I am secure from the planes I have suffered so much from this year.

Flame-Attack-Pioneer-Platoon-Flames-of-War

I press on into the field but am already looking very thin on the ground having lost 2 flame bases out of an already small Pioneer platoon. Ivan is pinned and has loses a stand. Uncanny rolling during defensive fire destroys all but the CO who, in turn, fails to hit in close combat.Inconceivably, the Russians fail to make their motivation test to counterattack and have to break off

.Flames-of-War-German-Infantry

Soviet

The elation felt at the end of turn one and starts to dissipate at the start of turn two when the limitations of limited air support become clear - no Sturmis appear! On my right flank, a platoon of SMG gunners double time it out of the woods and head directly towards the objective in the copse (rule check: can you double-time out of rough terrain? Re-reading it, I don’t think so). This attracts MG from a relocated Panther and I carelessly loose at stand.

Russian-Infantry-Attack-Flames-of-War-Game

Following suit, the 2iC waves his sappers forward to dominate the second objective in the open. Back in the kolkhoz, 2 of the supporting Maxim no longer in LOS of the burning Panther open fire on the German MG42 platoon in the woods knocking off a stand. The remaining relocated Panthers attract artillery fire that kills a stand of supporting infantry from the attached Grendier platoon.

Viciously kicking and beating their men, the NCOs from the platoon that broke off following the melee manage to form a defensive line in the field on the other side of the road. Battered, bruised and bewildered, the men lie apprehensively amid the corn rolling their makhorka in their torn up copies of Pravda and Red Star.


Turn Three

German

I press the attack and take an objective view of the situation. I am making good ground and have only lost one platoon (my Pioneers commander fled the field under the sole survivor rule). I move my Panther and Grenadier platoon out of the wood to support the attack in strength. I decide to spread the targets and gain maximum momentum by throwing a large second and final wave in, the first wave having now evaporated. With Panthers putting their gun barrels though the windows of houses the Grenadiers doubled to reach the safety of the buildings.

I know in my heart I need plenty of good rolls to see this through

I persevere. I wait for the inevitable Russian flame attack, there is no time to consider these consequences as speed is everything.

I am annoyed I cannot use my mgs as their points are tied up by pinning the large Russian force in the woods. The Russians are running around just out of range. I know if the assault can continue for 2 more turns I will have victory but I will have to roll perfectly at the critical time. I still have a decent chance as our games do seem to twist and turn dramatically, so I renew myself mentally, open another beer and think about the fragility of the Russian position if I can break it in half in this sector.

I might yet be leaving with a smile tonight.

Soviet

In light of the assault by the Panthers, the tactical withdrawal continues with a new defensive line formed on the rearward edge of the field whilst 1 platoon retreats towards the objective in the copse. I edge some flamethrower crews up behind the buildings to await the Panthers.

On the other flank, my sappers arrive at the objective and reach for their shovels.

Tanks-assault-buildings-Flames-of-War-Scenery

Turn Four

German

I gain more ground and consolidate buildings with the infantry. Pushing my Panthers into the field, I assault through the retreating Russian infantry – vowarts!

German-Assult-Russian-Infantry

Soviet

Whilst the skies remain empty, reinforcements from the local reserve arrive in the form of 3 Su-76 assault guns who are ordered towards the objectives on the other side of the board.

In the opposite corner, sweat dripping from their pale faces, a flamethrower team breaks from the cover of a nearby building and runs into the wheat field towards the dust and smoke thrown up by 1 of the advancing Panthers. Emerging alongside the Panther’s flank, the lead sapper raises his flamethrower to spew forth acrid smoke and fire. Seconds later, hatches are flung open the newly painted crew (I knew those bailed out figures would have a use somewhere!) bail out. In the excitement, the opportunity to capture the Panther through a successive assault is lost as the remainder of the company continue their retreat towards the objective (doh!).

Flames-of-War-Tank-Attack


Turn 5

German

Flames-of-War-reinforcements

On come the reinforcements, but, as I come within charging range of Russian artillery, suddenly it’s all over.

Defensive fire bails both Panthers. I stand a theoretical chance with newly arrived reinforcements but in reality, without armour or any other support than out of range mg’s this game is over. I’m going to bed.

Tank-Assault-Flames-of-War

Panther-Attack-Russian-Infantry-Flames-of-War-game


Reflection and final thoughts

German

I need to buy some mortars, and extremely quickly! My only other thought is that I can’t wait for Justin to take a turn at attacking with my expensive unbalanced troops! There, I had a moan and feel a bit better.

Soviet

This was a good game which provided me with an opportunity to use my newly painted God of War artillery battalion. Once again, the threat of aircraft and the attritional effect of significant volumes of arty put pressure on my opponent to advance quickly up the board and, hopefully, make mistakes. Soviet infantry have little that can adequately deal with Panthers, it was a mistake not to have sufficient infantry ready to support the flamethrower crew.

The decision to go for a frontal assault meant the Germans couldn’t take advantage of their mobility, a factor I’m going to try and exploit in our next game when I’ll be donning the jackboots as the Hun*.

*no AAR on this game which we played two weeks later, I kicked his butt with his own troops :) Chris

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