Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stalingrad Interlude- Part Deux

Now that my attack had shot its bolt, I had to hold on for the inevitable Soviet counter-attack.

German Forces:
6x Rifle Section ( +2 more as reinforcement)
4x LMG   (+1 more as reinforcement)
2x MMG
9-1 Leader
2x 8-1 Leader
8-0 Leader (My new campaign leader)
7-0 Leader (as reinforcement)

Soviet Forces (mostly East of main road around factory and Charnel House)
22 Rifle Sections
5 SMG sections

The scenario only lasts 10-15 minutes, so the Soviets have to press hard regardless of casualties to make up for lost ground. With my reduced force, its going to be tough.....

I'm abandoning the area South of the Charnel House- as my reduced forces will concentrate keeping them from jumping the road further toward the West. The North flank will be held (lightly) as I fall back from across the street. My MGs will form firegroups West to halt the oncoming rush while my infantry forms a screen to hold them at bay long enough for the MGs to do their dirty work.

Initial and Final positions
 The scenario started out with a heavy concentration of troops in the factory (A) and in and around the Charnel House (forces generated were random after I had set up). It looks like the attack is going to come mostly from the East and it appears my gamble to hold the North flank lightly is going to pay off.

The Soviet intial bombardment doesn't do much (thankfully), and with little other fanfare, the Soviets bolt from cover and swarm over toward the nearest German positions.

A first turn event turns out to be a friendly squad reinforcement (2 rifle sections, LMG and 7-0 Leader) that enter from the west edge. At least HQ seems to recognize my plight !

My infantry screen holds up the Soviets long enough for the machineguns to take bloody chunks out of them, but the Soviets being what they are, they kept coming and overrun the Northeastern buildings and start pressing on my central MG firegroup.

The buildings I left empty to the East slow down the Soviet attack there (another friendly event of an artillery counter-barrage helped a lot) and they made little progress there for the whole scenario (thankfully). My new campaign leader did a good job keeping my guys focused and firing- the enemy was pinned most of the time, letting me concentrate on the real threat further North with the bulk of my forces.

The Northern MG firegroup goes down in a bloody melee with Soviet SMG troops and spade-wielding Soviet riflemen after their rifle screening force does the same. The Soviets won some ground, but payed dearly for it.....

Despite their losses there were still enough Soviets to break into the rear area and I would have to contemplate a general withdrawal. But the one squad reinforcement (it often seems to come down to something like this to turn the tide) moved up and managed to hold them at bay long enough for the scenario to end (which it did thankfully a full 5 minutes early due to lucky rolls).

Losses were ghastly for both sides (considering this was a 10 minute scenario):

6 rifle sections
2x 8-1
(total about 18 figures dead)

12 Rifle Sections
3 SMG Sections
2 LMG Sections
(total about 42 figures dead)

Considering that my force was exhausted and spent (as was I after doing all this Stalingrad stuff), I concluded it as a Soviet Victory, for if the turn had continued longer, I would have lost more.

All in all, it was a fun couple of battles. With the massive amount of ruined buildings to play in, it definitely gives a much grittier "in your face" close-in battle with more limited Lines of Sight. I also tweaked my rules somewhat (like if you were adjacent to a ruined building, you were not in the "open" as the rubble extended to all adjacent hexes as well) amongst a few other sundry things that I think improved the rules and gave a better feel for the situation.

Onward to the next battle......

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stalingrad Interlude

Having had my tiny recon force decimated in the last scenario, I decided to fast forward the war (for a moment anyway- a true luxury of the wargamer :D) to a Stalingrad scenario. Besides, I'd built some card-stock ruined buildings/factories and figured I should at least use 'em :)

The Russians are, as usual, setup behind ? counters and you never know what you might get (I weighted the generation to be heavier in a factory and non-single hex building, however).

The Germans are composed of a weak company (the norm at that time- you were lucky to be at 2/3rd fighting strength by September 1942):

Rifle Section x16 (64 men)
LMG x6 (12 men)
MMGx2 (6 men)
9-1 Leader x2
8-1 Leader x2
8-0 Leader x2

The possibility of a StUG III arriving to support (turns out it was delayed and never entered).

My objectives were 2 small and one large factory. I had multiple "scenarios" to capture them, so I didn't have to get them all at once (and with my force as small as it was, that would be impossible).

Below is the map and the simple plan (which was to evolve in 3 stages- this was stage 1):
Start and Finish lines

The plan was to flank South of the factory before taking it (obviously it would be held very strongly). I didn't want to try to jump the tracks to the North as that was a very open, vulnerable area. as for this game, hexes adjacent to a ruined building are not open terrain (the rubble extends into those hexes) but the tracks were.

On to the game itself:

The 1st turn bombardment was an abject failure- its only result was to activate more Soviets than I'd have liked. On top of this, my force in the Northernmost building at my start line was shelled and lost an LMG in the process while pinning all the attackers there. Nothing like a little fratricide to really boost morale....

Still, things went well and the 3 attacks went in and pushed the Soviets back with little loss. If only that damn StUG would've showed up and lent its weight to the attack......

After about 15 minutes, my personal leader (an 8-1) had pushed to the house that would be called "the Charnel House". My front line was adjacent to the factory and ready to start moving my MMGs forward and prepare for the next phase of the advance. Soviet resistance was very light.

Then, the Soviets really woke up. The Factory (A) was jam packed with Soviets and decent leaders (a 9-1 and an 8-0), and the area around the Charnel house had a bunch as well, including a few SMG sections (terrors in close combat, as we shall see).

The initiative cards favored the Soviets, and I found myself in a Battle Royale for the Charnel House. To top it off, Soviet events started occurring. Among others, sniper attacks events delayed the reinforcement group and the MMGs when they were desperately needed to hold off the hordes decending on the Charnel House. Soviet artillery started blasting my forward positions and everyone had to get into cover (into the buildings) pronto....

Melee followed melee in and around the Charnel House. I tried to pull out of the place, but wound up dying amid the corpses of my own men and a lot of Soviets. C'est le guerre.....

With both sides blooded to a standstill (the fire from the factory and my return fire basically each nullified other), the scenario wound down to its 30 minute conclusion.

For a decent gain, I had lost quite a bit in units:

Rifle Section x 10
LMG x 2
8-0 Leader
8-1 Leader (me)

The Soviets had suffered heavier, but had stopped my attack cold:
Rifle Section x15
SMG Section x5
LMG x4
MMG x1
7-0 Leader
8-0 leader

In manpower terms (actual losses- not unit losses- most units routed)
German 21 infantry
Soviet 60 infantry

A very bloody day indeed. And I'm still waiting for that damn StUG....

Now I would have to hold onto my gains (with a little help I hoped) with my reduced force (the roll for the next scenario was "counter-attack").....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scenario 3- June 24th, 1941 1:00 PM

The Soviets are regrouping around a small village around a rail line. I've been ordered to scout out the village(mission type is recon- I get points for finding guns/AFV and not losing units) to gauge the level of resistance expected.
The peaceful (for now) village...
As per German doctrine, I am to seize the village if practical.

My force is composed of:
251/1 Halftrack
250/1 Halftrack
221 Scout car
2 Trucks
6 Rifle sections (24 figures)
2 LMG sections (4 figures)
81mm MTR (3 figures)
2 leaders (9-1, 8-0)
My campaign leader (a newly minted 8-1 :D)

I am using a new base system for my troops- they are composed of "Magnet Ready" material (e.g. it is not magnetized itself but magnets will stick to it). They are soft magnet like material I've printed out the numbers for the counters (and IDs) which I can stick my figures on and I've made them double sided. The bases are the same sizes as my metal bases I used previously.
The double-sided bases (German here obviously)
The number of figures in the profile is how many figures would be present if I use figures (the LMG is a Support Weapon, and always has 2 figures). I can flip the counter to represent that the unit is pinned.

For this game, I didn't put the figures on the bases (I can track losses by hit markers- besides, my figures were taking a beating) and I wanted to try out using the counters alone for my infantry units.

Now to the course of the battle:

My Armored Car pokes slowly down the road (its commander head out of the turret naturally), revealing only Soviet small arms (rifle sections) but also unluckily shot and wounded (he's my only armor leader- 8-0- rotten luck !). With the Soviet resistance centered in Woods E and building C, I bring the rest of my force onboard, unloading my mortar and most of my troops in woods B. My personal leader along with an LMG and rifle section head to the woods D on the hill for covering fire.

1:03 PM: Scattered Soviet Resistance, so far...
The Soviets have woken up, revealing more troops (including LMGs) on the northern edge of woods E and a 45AT gun in woods T. So far my concentrated fire beats back the the Soviets and my mortar immobilizes then destroys the AT gun.

With the threat of the gun gone, we trade shots and a few losses, with the Soviets taking the worst of it as I move forward to position myself to cross the rail line.
1:06 PM: Getting ready to jump the rail line.
It is hard not to get too cocky , seeing as I am pushing all the Soviets before me. However, the hand of fate is fickle indeed....

More infantry is revealed in woods O and M. But the real threat is from an 82mm mortar that is revealed in woods S.

The mortar promptly drops an accurate series of rounds on my 251 halftrack (it is carrying a rifle section on it that I am using it as a mobile infantry fire unit along with its MG). A round lands in the open compartment, blowing it apart is a spectacular explosion. Suddenly, I go down in VP (I had 2 for revealing the 2 guns so far but lost -2 for the APC being destroyed and -1 for the rifle section incinerated in it). Fate giveth then taketh away.....

As I position my troops to wreak vengeance on the dastardly mortar, a bigger threat is revealed in the North on my flank from field G. A T-34 emerges, and the initiative cards favor the Soviets. In a few moments, my PZ IV takes a shot in the side of the turret. The crew has no chance and is destroyed.

In less than 2 minutes I have lost my best APC and 1/3rd my armored force. The T-34 is on my flank and I have no way to flank him (his frontal armor is too good for my puny 50mm to get a good odds shot in). I can do nothing more than lose more troops here to no effect. Time to pull a Monty Python and "RUN AWAY !".
1:09 PM: Before the Pz IV is lit up.
I promptly disengage and pull off the map the way I came, cursing my luck.

I lose this scenario by withdrawing, but I don't think I could've redeemed my VP difference considering I had over 1/2 the board left to cover and a menacing T-34 on my flank.

My losses are galling, however:
251/1 Halftrack
9 riflemen (4 in the dead halftrack alone).

The Soviets losses are minimal:
13 Riflemen
3 crew
45 AT gun

All in all, you could say I performed my mission (I scouted the resistance as I was ordered to do) and Regiment can call in more, heavier means to deal with this bunch of Soviets. But I lost too much doing so (1/3rd my riflemen, 1/3rd my tank support and 1/4 my transport). I will get a dressing down from HQ for sure- I should've ensured the Northern farm was clear before attempting set myself up for crossing the rail line. Sometimes you can push fortune to far.....

Something neat about this system is the fact that you won't always win- you may have to withdraw in order to save some of your forces for the next battle and not lose too badly. But if you follow solid principles of attack (concentration of firepower, ensuring as best as possible you are focused on the right target(s) and attempting to minimize suprises by keeping something in reserve, something I failed this time around) you should win more than you lose.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Endgame number 2

The end action is kind of anti-climatic, however....

I get my infantry into Woods R, although the BT-7 is proving more problematic than I would wish it to be.

The BT-7 manages to immobilize my Armored Car (they passed their "Oh Crap" check and got an 8-0 armor leader to boot !) but is promptly destroyed by return fire from my other AFVs. The BA-6 is ineffective, and rolls to press forward where it can actually hit something (the field hinders the To Hit roll).

The BT-7 dies and I drive the infantry out of woods S

The Soviet Infantry was pretty inneffectual at stopping me, failing morale check rolls and routing, although I took a few losses cleaning out woods I. In that attack, the BA-6 is destroyed and along with it any chance the Soviets can change their fortunes in this scenario.

Endgame, 12:25 PM
The few infantry on hill O could do nothing to stop me and the ? markers wound of blank (an HMG that appeared in woods K routed after 1 shot from my task force). I had broken the Soviet will to resist and Victory was mine !

German Losses:
3 rifle infantry
1 Immobilized AC

Russian Losses:
21 rifle infantry
2x BT-7
1 x T-26
1x T34-M40
1x 45 AT (captured)

My personal leader gained enough elan to reach 8-1 status and I gained an 8-0 armor leader in my scout car (which should be repaired for the next scenario).

All in all, the rules worked fairly well (I need a few tweaks here and there).

Its onward to the East from here......

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pressing the advantage....

The Soviets manhandle the gun to the backside of hill A, where they can hold up my advance down the road until I can clean them off. My infantry working its way through the woods on the hill squares off with the Soviets, using its superior firepower to keep them at arms reach (and out of melee range) while the mortar lays down good supressive fire on the gun, allowing me to work around the hill and bring more firepower on the defenders.

The Germans work their way around the hill

I clear field C and house D, working my way west of the road, but the Soviets start popping up on and around hill E. Things are heating up all across my front now.

A BT-7, T-26 and a  T-34 makes an appearance, along with a scattering of rifle sections around hill E. I quickly manage to destroy the BT-7 and T-26 (that armor is terribly weak) and drive off the infantry, but the T-34 parks his butt and proceeds to blast my troops. His front hull armor is virtually invulnerable (except to a fluke or critical hit) and I can't flank him since I don't even control hill A yet.

Luckily the Soviet resistance on hill A crumbles, allowing me to assault the farm F and begin to flank that nasty T-34 (his gunnery is terrible- miss, miss, gack (broken gun) which he hurredly manages to fix).

The T-34 begining to be flanked
My Pz IV and Pz III ding rounds off the T-34, limiting his actions (a hit does not neccesarily have to penetrate to affect an AFV- multiple hits can reduce the amount of things an AFV can do). A lucky shot tears into a track, immobilizing the T-34. The crew fails its "oh crap" roll badly and bails. Victory !

I finally clear off hill A, and capture the 45 AT gun which I intend to turn against its former owners with the help of my personal leader. Now, the next stage is to mount an advance to the crossroads- only rifle sections appear to be appearing and those I can brush off with HE/MG/Infantry fire.

Onward to the crossroads !
I embark my infantry and head towards woods H and I. So far not much appears that can stop me. The few rifle sections I disperse with the help of me on the overwatching 45 AT (which thankfully hasn't gacked or run out of ammo).

I get my troops up and organized for pressing across to field Q to clear the crossroads.

Soviet resistance flares anew in the form of BA-6 Armored car and BT-7 on the far side of field Q and some rifle sections in house M. They may have weak armor, but that 45 gun can hurt my early war German armor so caution is the keyword !

Right before the final push (hopefully)

My forces are ready for what I hope is the victory push to clear the SE part of the board. With 10 min still to go to clear the ? markers, it might be a bit tight time-wise but is definitely do-able.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Second Scenario- June 23rd 1941

Regiment has not made good some of the losses from yesterday's hectic day. They let me retain the 250 halftrack and the rifle section, but do not forward me another Mk II. However, at least the Mark IV was quickly patched up and on the move again- those boys in Panzer Maintenence are on the ball !. I could've used some more infantry, however.....

All this largesse from the Regiment means only one thing- I am to continue to advance at the sharp end. "Go down there, get shot at and report back...."

My Forces :
1 Pz IVE
1 Sdkfz 221 Armored Car
1 251/1 Halftracks
1 250/1 Halftrack
2 Opel Blitz trucks
5 Rifle sections (20 figs)
2 LMG sections (2 LMG, 2 assistant gunners for 4 figs)
81mm Mtr and crew (Mtr and 3 figs)
2 Leaders (an 8-1 and an 8-0)
1 Campaign Leader (me as an 8-0)

Since beating back the Soviet Counter-attack yesterday, resistance has been non-existent. The whole Polish countryside is hot, dry and spookily empty except for the rumble of our tracks and the occasional grunt from the dusty Panzer Troops....

Overhead, the droning of a Fieseler Storch makes its presence felt as it swoops down and drops a message cannister- the enemy has been sighted ahead around a small crossroads.....

The Situation

My scout car edges its way up the road, drawing fire from some jumpy Russians on Hill A and Woods B. So far so good.... except that as its last activation, it turns up 45 AT on the East edge of Hill A. Luckily they miss the thin-skinned vehicle, and the scout car scurries out of its line of sight further up the road.

The rest of my force enters carefully, with the Pz IV laying some smoke and blinding the AT gun- we'll deal with it when I get my infantry and mortar up and online.

End of 1st Turn
I clean the Soviets out of woods B. With that as a fire-base for my mortar and MGs, I can now combat the Russians and that gun on Hill A. Soviet fire has been negligible and ineffective and it appears I have confused them with the suddeness of my attack. Its a good start so far......

Pressing the Russians on Hill A...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Endgame.... or maybe not....

As I position myself to clear out the remaining nests of resistance, a rumble from the North edge turns into a Soviet counter-attack Event ! With trepidation I roll the forces that are activated (some ? markers wind up being nothing or advancing without activing). A T-26 and some truck borne infantry emerge from the North, bearing down upon my re-organizing forces.

The intitiative cards favor me, however, and my tanks, MTR and MGs make short work of the T-26 and the trucks. Thankfully only the T-26 AFV (and not a T-34) was activated and not further East where they could've added to my woes to clear the board or further west where they could overrun my mortar. The end result :the Soviet counter-attack had blundered into a trap !

The Soviet Counter-attack stopped cold !
Since the counter-attack occured, I had gained an extra 30 minutes to win the scenario, so I had about 35 minutes to clear the last of the board. No problem..... right ?

Not so fast. As I move into Farm (E) with my Pz III covering from the south and the Pz IV covering from the North, they activate a dreaded T-34 M40 in the  woods (G). My attack toward the farm is stopped cold until I can deal with the monster.

The T-34 is in the upper right corner while the Infantry and 251/1 scramble for cover.

My tanks move to engage but the T-34 is in an defilade position- we have no shot. Thankfully, neither does he as the infantry and APC scramble to make themselves "non-visible" as possible.

The T-34 takes the bull by the horns and breaks the deadlock by backing out to the road. Luck favors the Soviets this time and he passes his radioless check, moves back and gets his shot off at the Pz IV before he can respond (damn initiative cards !). The shot pierces the hull, immobilizing and stunning it. Thankfully, the crew pass their "oh crap !" MC and don't bail. Now if they can only rally....

While the T-34's attention is drawn to the Pz IV, the Pz III manages to slip around the flank, and due to initiative cards (the Soviet got 2 in a row, now the Germans did as well and I didn't pull the "Re-Mix" card) slammed a round into the T-34 turret side. The tank is immobilized and the crew panics and bails.

Endgame 12:37 PM

With that last flurry of action, the Soviet resistance breaks, and since I've activated all the ? markers and only the soviet 76.2mm Infantry gun in the far corner is still active with over 25 minutes left for me to win the scenario, I declare victory (I've got a feeling that the gun crew would high-tail it out of there).

My men and I scramble over the abandoned T-34 to get a better look at this beast....

The end result is a victory in a little over 37 minutes.

My casualties are:
1 Infantyman
251/1 APC (and 2 crew)
Pz IIF (and 3 crew).
1 Immobilized Pz IVE (which should be repaired before the next scenario).
My leader gains 8 elan points (need 2 more to get promoted to 8-1 !)

Enemy casualties are much heavier:
51 infantry (including: ATR, LMG, HMG, 82 MTR, 2 x 45 AT, 76.2mm IG)
3 Trucks
2 BT-7 (1 chased off, the other destroyed)
1 BA-6
2 T-34 M40 (1 destroyed, 1 abandoned)

All in all, a fun game (it took longer to play out than it normally would because of the picture taking, notes etc). The events made it unpredictable to be sure. The counter-attack was unexpected and mercifully short-lived ! My little Kampfgruppe advances to the next scenario.

Advance East ! Its always East......