In game three Poochie and I had one of those match ups you just don’t want to face on certain in missions- a double strelkovy blob run by Rob Shirely and Lance.
· HQ with sappers and a couple of AT rifles
· 1x 28 stand strelk coy & 1x 19 team strelkovy
They also had:
- 12x 76mm AT/artillery
- 6x45mm AT guns (in ambush)
- 2x 45mm AT guns
- 4x 76mm howitzers
Rob and Lance deployed their infantry in linear lines, with attached pioneers and AT rifles scattered throughout the formations. Each company was about 1” behind the one in front which meant that when we attacked we’d be drawing in teams from 3-4 companies if we assaulted- and possibly some AT guns or artillery too. Not only that but the 76mm artillery battalion was deployed linearly across most of the front meaning we’d struggle to avoid those for most of the table!
Poochie and my plan? Plan, what plan? We really only had one chance, to try and bust open a hole somewhere and keep on killing teams. The one hope we had was to try and keep as close as possible to the Soviets to make it hard for teams to be withdrawn- under the strategic withdrawal rules if we had teams/tanks within 8” of the withdrawing platoon it would require a skills test to withdraw or would count as being destroyed. One thing that made out tanks job harder though was the fact that Rob and Lance 6x 45mm AT guns (AT 6 or 7, RoF 3) in ambush and we really couldn’t avoid them hitting our platoons as there was lots of terrain which offered good places to spring ambushes but equally would inhibit our movement and minimise our mobility advantage.
In the end Poochie and I decided to hit the far left end of the rather long line to try to avoid the larger 76mm artillery, lined up our tanks and went for it.
The Soviets deploy: Our tanks in this photo are not yet positioned.
And from the other table edge.
Turn 1. Panzers marsch!
Turn 2: Poochie got a flight of 3 stukas arrive to blast/pin massed hordes of Soviets but Lance managed to scare them off with his Chaika.
Through good dose of luck Poochie’s two panzer platoons somehow survive the Soviet ambush- he loses a couple of panzer IIs and a panzer III but it could have been a lot worse! Unfortunately the last 45mm AT gun decided to fire at my 8 rads which despite being concealed and gone to ground took 2 hits and I lost one vehicle- grrrr. I had hoped the next turn to sneak them though the Soviet lines and start harassing their smaller guns.
Turn 3: Our return fire on turn 3 decimates the AT platoon.
I’d sent Boris and my commander sneaking though the village knocking out single 76mm artillery pieces and using the buildings to block line of sight to other guns. It was working- kind of and I managed to get 2 or 3 guns as a result. Rob and Lance however sent their infantry forward to occupy many of the buildings and then assaulted Boris- who having weathered the assault Boris broke off though the enemy companies and redeployed closer to the objective.
Turn 4: Poochie started clearing out the Soviet infantry- time to start mashing. We lined up as many of our tanks up as we could and threw in assaults at the Soviets before us and destroyed quite a few teams but not enough on any one company to force morale checks.
Eventually Poochies’s tanks luck ran out and he failed two armour saves vs assaulting infantry and lost two of them.
Having successfully launched another assault Boris broke through the Soviet lines and onto an objective- just to prove he can. Rob and Lances’ response? Swarm the objective with everything but the kitchen sink.
Luckily all the hits either missed or Boris managed to bounce but then I once again broke off to and ended even further behind the Soviet lines.
Turn 5: The end is nigh! We were rapidly running out of time so threw all the assults we could in to try and break a company or two and ended up losing a few more tanks. Half wayu though the turn we ran out of time,
A tough game for us: We only got to half way through turn 5 but even so managed to “bounce” the Soviet lines by using the tanks don’t stop for anything rules during assaults instead of continuing to contest objectives, we just simply could not drive the enemy far enough back to prevent the objectives being contested. We launched a lot of panzer assaults but our platoons weren’t big enough to make a serious dent in the Soviet numbers and there was always a pioneer or two about to cause us major concerns while the intermingled companies in assaults meant no one company was able to be too badly mauled with our assaults.
The holding our tanks as close as possible to prevent strategic withdrawal of platoons really worked well though and gave us a couple more points as they were forced to pass skill tests to successfully withdraw and by the end of the game had taken 3 platoons off them so were happy with that. However we simply could not kill enough teams in any single company to force morale tests which didn’t help our cause and the way the defences were set up we were unable to concentrate on trying to break one battalion or the other- but had we got to turn 7 or so could have become really interesting as the Soviets were being forced to withdraw companies each turn.
In the end the game timed out half way though turn 5 but even so Rob and Lance were trying to keep the game moving and not mucking round with their turns and I appreciated that.
A force like that was always going to be a challenge on that table for us but it was a good challenge and we gave it a good crack. We did manage to destroy three units (45mm AT guns, and a couple of companies as they attempted to withdraw) to take a couple of points of them and also managed to bounce some units across their lines.
Finally, my recon didn’t do much, was unable to keep the ambush away and perhaps should have been deployed on the far right end of the table just to stop the Soviets reinforcing the left as much as they were but it would have in all likelihood been swamped by massed infantry and I had hoped might have created an anti-ambush bubble to protect our schwerpunkt.
Good game though so at the end of the day we were sitting on two good wins and a close lose- not bad for a force which we thought we'd do well to get one win with.