THE KITCHEN, MARCH 2012
We thought I’d try a quick After Action Report (AAR) following our first version 3 game on Saturday night. We thought it would be fun to look at a game from the perspective of a platoon commander. For ease, we ran armour lists at 1,750 points and chose 1 of the new scenarios, Dust Up.
I fielded a LW Guards Tank Battalion of 3 platoons from Red Bear:
- Company HQ (T34/85)
- 1st platoon (5 x T34/76 with cupolas / 5 x T34/85s)
- 2nd platoon (5 x T34/85)
- 3rd platoon (5 x SU-100s)
- Priority Air Support (IL-2M Tip 3 Sturmis)
I was up against a bunch of Huns, some Tank Battalion from Grey Wolf
- Company HQ (2 x PIV)
- 1st Platoon (3 x PVs)
- 2nd Platoon (3 x PIVs)
- 3rd Platoon (4 x JagdPIVs)
- 4th Platoon (3 Quad AAs)
- 5th Platoon (2 x StuGIIIs)
Rolling 1 meant I was the defender (nice), but Chris got to pick the corner to deploy from. The objectives go down and we roll again. A 2 meant I go last (let’s hope that’s all my 1s and 2s gone for the game!).
HUNGARY, MARCH 1944.
Lt. Aleksandrov Rzhevsky doesn’t have far to travel to work in the morning. He and his 3 crewmates sleep in fox-holes and shell-scrapes beneath the hull of Olina, their new SU-100 straight off the product line at Uralmash. That’s probably just as well since before dawn this morning his platoon has been moving up to the now deserted village of Kishuta to cover the flank of an attack towards the River Tisza, the next objective on the road to Budapest.
Settling in to position, the crews work to camouflage their guns whilst Rzhevsky reviews his deployment. Georgy and Andrey lie concealed in a wheat field covering the open western approach to the village. Petr is tucked in behind some trees covering the fields to the northwest whilst Yakov watches the road in to town to the north.
Aleksandrov is nervous. Olina is a feisty girl and can pack a mean punch when she wants to and can certainly live up to her reputation “Pizdets vsemu” (“Fuck up everything”). But she’s a big girl and none too light on her feet if Fritz wants to waltz around both sides of the village. With this in mind he positions himself in reserve, able to duck north or west wherever a friendly face is needed.
As dawn breaks, the Company commander’s T34 rattles its way over to his position. Sat on the engine covers are some grizzled razvedchiki and a sullen German sporting a black-eye,
“Morning Comrade!’ Major Turchin shouts, grinning all the while, “Our guests are on their way!”
In a coughing cloud of diesel smoke Turchin disappears over the low rise to the rear of Rzhevsky’s position. The Old Man is going in to ‘Reserve’.
The scene is set. The orchestra starts to play as the first enemy tanks appear silhouetted against the rising sun.
With 3 platoons, I opted to keep the tanks in reserve and deploy the SU-100s in an L-shaped blocking position in the village itself. I figured I’d play defensive and use airpower to scatter, pin and, hopefully, weaken the Germans before the T34s arrived:
The scream of Mikulin AM-38 engines, a reverberating boom and 3 plumes of oily smoke were the first Lt. Rzhevsky knew of the Priority Air Support allocated to this position. The Hitlerites must have advanced beyond the cover of their AA assets and were now providing easy targets out in the open.
Rolling lucky, I get 3 Sturmis on and elect to bomb the Panthers out in the open. Automatically Ranging In (got to love version 3!) I get to re-roll 2/3 initial misses. All the Panthers are hit, fail their armour save and are destroyed. Someones had their wheatabix this morning…
The excited radio chatter confirming the kill of 3 Panthers is abruptly cut short by Georgy’s report of enemy armour in the tree line, range 1,200m.
The crack of high velocity rounds passing wide of their position stir the crews into action. From experience, Rzhevsky waves the 2 SU-100s back knowing that at this range and with targets in cover it would take a lucky man to hit the veteran German tankers. Georgy and Andrey move out of the enemy’s line of sight and tuck in on the edge of field.
2 IL-2s roar over Rzhevsky’s position and dive on a target northwest of the village with devastating effect. The trails left by their rockets disappear over the roof tops only to be replaced moments later by billowing clouds of black smoke:
I pull back the SU-100s after realising that I need a 6 (target is Vets4+, +1 Long Range, + 1 Concealed) with a ROF1 to cause any damage. To remain could result in losses next turn but, foolishly, I move without consideration of the possibility of German reserves in Turn 2.
The Sturmis are going to work on the rest of the P4s. I’m hoping to break these small platoons by forcing them to take a morale check!
No sooner had Georgy’s SU-100 rocked to a halt then it disappeared in deafening explosion of heat and light.
Instinctively, Rzhevsky drops into the fighting compartment and kicks his driver,
“Rotate, rotate! That fire is coming from the other side of the village!’
None too gracefully, Olina turns to face her new opponents. Over the radio net, Rzhevsky hears the Major scremaing blue murder at his gunner as 2 shots go wide.
“So much for the reserves” mutters the Lieutenant.
Taking full advantage of the 16″ table-edge deployment area, Chris races his JP4s around the eastern edge of the village and engages the SU-100s down the road and across the fields. Despite a ROF1, Chris rolls 2 hits and we allocate in accordance with the rules, somthing we haven’t adhered to as closely as we might have done in the past (v.3 makes this easy to understand). With hits being allocated to the weakest armour first, 2 of my SU-100s go up in smoke hit in the rear. If only I’d remained in the field I would have at least counted as Concealed!
With unsuccessful rolls for reinforcements, air attack and retaliatory fire (try hitting concealed Veterans whilst moving/turning with a ROF of 1!) I’m thinking that my luck may have turned.
By the time Olina turns, Rzhevsky is just in time to see the hatches on the Major’s T34 thrown open and the crew bail.
Heavily engaged, Olina’s crew are oblivious to the ensuing Soviet counterattack as 10 T34s charge in from reserve and double-time it down the enemy’s flank and on to their unprotected objective!
Things are looking up. Now Stationary, the SU-100s strike back and 3 dice at 5+ results in one hit. Once hit, he ain’t getting up - Pizdets vsemu!
As quickly as the action began, it had seemingly ended. Rzhevsky’s gunner lost sight of his target in the tall wheat field; but that didn’t mean he wasn’t there. As each long minute passed 1after the other without movement or gun fire Alekshandrov concluded that something must have changed…
Realising that he couldn’t push his Jagdpanzers on to the Soviet objective or knock the mass of T34s of his own objective, Chris concedes and resigns his men to a long-train journey to Siberia.
It’s never over until it’s over, that’s what I like about Flames of War. Our first v.3 game went smoothly and I’ve got to admit the new rulebook with it’s improved index and clear illustrations certainly help clarify the rules.
Aircraft’s ability to range in automatically makes them deadly and I like the fact that this will compel players to seek cover or purchase dedicated AA asserts. Clarifications over different types of scenery, like Rough going for Hillls, slows the Germans down (abit), particularly when your opponent forgets to use his Stormtrooper move
SU100s, whilst deadly, are very slow and experience real difficulties hitting German armour even when in stationary overwatch (is this really historically accurate?) I can’t help wondering if I’m better off reducing or dropping them from this list in favour of more T34s. It would limit the amount of Big Cat Killers I can field, but perhaps airpower can address that.
The combination of T34/76 and T34/85 gives a good range of punch and mobility as well as the ability to soak up hits whilst you maneuver.