Sunday, 6 October 2019

Surrounded at Trybukha, BG: Barbarossa

This scenario was a re-hash of the Surrounded at Komosolyets scenario from the BG: Kursk book. We’d use the terrain, deployment, special rules etc, but pick our own 600 points forces. The Russians (me) would still be defending, the last knot of Mechanised Group Kynradov, with the a Panzer Division attacking from the three deployment zones.

Knowing the lay-out etc, up front allows for some more pre-battle planning (which I like). So I picked my Mechanised force to defend (a bit odd, but hey, needs must). I’d turn Trybukha in to a redoubt, using improvised barricades to give my infantry cheap hard cover. This outer defence, mostly using ambush fire, would have the support weapons, spotters for the mortars (my main artillery support) etc, with a second reserve platoon in the buildings and ready to move to take-over the defences when the first platoon’s squads were whittled away.  Also, the BA-10 armoured car would act as a reserve SP AT gun, able to move into position anywhere that looked most threatened by his tanks. Rather than just be entirely static and hold on, I also planned a counter-attack, got to really, as pure static defence gets a bit dull.  6 BT-7s would wait on reserve move. The plan here was to send them on a marauding breakout, to disrupt the panzers, I’d just throw them away with abandon, each going on a fast rampage to try and target soft-skins and other easier chits, it was a suicide mission, but it would be fun and hopefully stop the panzers careful orchestrated attack.

This was my force;

Remnants of Mechanised Group Kynradov

FHQ                22    3    Mortar Spotter
3 men

MC Dispatch        12    0    Dispatches

MRP 1            58    5     1 x 3, 4 x 8 men
Maxim MG Team        18    1
AT Rifle Team        14    1
47mm AT gun        18    1   
76.2mm Inf Gun        19    1

Reserve MRP         47    5    1 x 3, 4 x 8 men, Auxiliary

BT-7 Platoon        137    12    x 6 (1 extra)

FOO Team            16    1    2 men + car, arty spotter+

Hvy Mortar Battery        78    2    2 x 120mm
+ 2 loader teams

6 x Improvised Barricades    30    0    4+ cover save (36”)

2 x sniper hideouts        30    0    3+ cover, sniper-scout

Inf foot patrol            22    2    8 men, scout, (border guards)

BA-10 armoured car        28    1    scout

37mm AA gun + tow        40    1   

1 x 2nd Priority Request    10    0    4+

Totals: 599 pts, 36 BR, 0 officers, 4 scouts
Command Chaos (+D3), Comms breakdown (4+)

The German Panzergruppe was based around a strong kradschurten platoon, a Pz II platoon support by a  Pz III, a Pz IV and a StuG. With them were 50mm AT guns, a 75mm infantry gun, a single 105mm light howitzer deployed for direct fire, various HMG teams, a supply truck, and a pioneer squad in SdKfz 251/1, ready for a lighting ‘break-in’ close assault when my weak point was well pinned. Also, a single timed Stuka strike (knew that must come) and a single timed 105 arty strike. My greatest fear, of a PRTP in the centre of my redoubt being hit every turn by off-table mortars or, worse, 105s didn’t happen - phew! German artillery support was a bit weak.

For once I out-scouted the Germans (I set out to do that, because, well, I always seem to lose these days). I also had the only objective in the centre of the farm. 8 Russian units were waiting on ambush fire as the Germans rolled in on Turn 1. They attacked from the left and right, with their centre being his support-fire group, of spotters, the 105mm gun and a HMG. On the left was the main panzer force, with some infantry support and a 50mm AT gun and light mortar. On the right, the attack was led by a StuG and a Pz II with some infantry and the 75mm infantry gun.  This was more of probe I think, to draw attention and fire away from the panzers

Things started well for the Germans, their air strike (avoiding the already pinned 37mm flak, as it had been pinned down by incoming MG fire), bombing destroyed a BT-7 and pinned another. Their 105mm timed strike on the woods wrecked my 47mm AT gun with a direct hit. The incoming was thicken and pinning mounting as the panzers cautiously moved up. My lurking ambushing AT rifle scored an early kill, KOing his 222 armoured car, a rare kill for me.

My heavy mortars struggled with ‘communications breakdown’, even with 2 spotters in place, one looking left, one right, I only got off about 3-4 salvos in the entire game. They had been my main IDF support, but they did very little really. I still had the priority request and dispatch rider-combo up my sleeve though. Orders, orders, where have all the Orders gone? I rolled terribly, a total of 5, 5, 6 and 7 in the first 4 turns (on 2D6+1D3). So my defence did little, a few ambush shots, pinned an MG team with the infantry gun, pinned a kradschutzen squad with a sniper (good work). No orders to get my reserve units onto reserve move either, that could be a problem. Having lost the AT gun in the woods, and with the StuG and Pz II raking the wood-line and whittling away the only rifle squad, I decided to move the BA-10 to support and take on that armour. Only for a stray 105mm shell to deviate and hit it, KOing it before it had fired a shot.

One BT-7 sneaked up to get some AT shots at the panzers (otherwise I had little to face them), and a fluke shot and penetration (finally a good roll, an 11) killed his Pz IV. That 47mm gun is a worthy bit of kit in 1941. The German light mortar was doing amazing work, rolling 5+s to pin my riflemen and AT rifle team almost every turn. My left looked weak, if the panzers came I had little to hold them. The Germans were still getting set through, MGs into position to support the push, and his orders rolls were not much better than mine… a cautious start.

Overall, on counters taken, I had a narrow advantage, but I was already halfway through my 36 points. I needed orders to fight back, and finally got some, a good roll - at last. So, I unleashed my arty request and got a battery of 152mm guns, targeted by the FOO from behind his barricade on the right-wing attack, they caused a lot of pinning (no direct hits though). Still, with the orders to use and sent 3 BT-7s racing through the woods in the first counter attack - go! The enemy was very heavily pinned, so right on the bombardment's heels came the speeding tanks. On the left, my BT-7 scored a second kill, getting his Pz III too - this guy was a real hero. In return, I’d lost the 37mm AA to raking MG fire at long range in some dire hard cover saving throws and morale test (run away!). No AA cover left, hopefully the Luftwaffe wouldn’t show up.

Alarmed by the BT’s reckless headlong charge, he was forced to use Tactical Co-ordination, but then his pinned StuG, now unpinned, only to miss its close range shot. He also took 2 counters to unpin, and rolled two 1s. 7 BR lost for that… the dice were in fickle mood.

My BT-7 rampage continued, the first killing the Pz II with a point-blank side shot, another raking his supply truck with MG fire into flaming ruins. One BT-7 then broke down, being unreliable, and a second was hit at short range by the infantry gun’s HE shell. You know you’re tank armour is paper-thin when an LG18 can knock you out! One left, but it continued to maraud, hit his SdKfz 251/3 forward HQ vehicle, and glanced off, needing a 4+ I rolled a 3! Good grief. Anyway, the threat from the right was broken, he was now fire-fighting, not attacking.

On the left, I threw my last 2 BT’s into a similar mad attack, one dueled with his Pz II, both repeatedly unable to penetrate the other’s front armour, the other BT when searching easier targets, machine gunning an MG team to death as it sped through the corn. The Germans attacks had both stalled, so the pioneers were called up, there 251/1 on reserve move raced for an direct assault. But, my waiting infantry gun (this was the battle where infantry guns were actually good), hit the Hanomag and pinned it, ending that swift move. With a BT-7 then bearing down on it, the pioneers jumped out. No lightning strike from them. Danger averted. 

In the village, were my infantry had been whittled away, I moved up two reserve squads from the buildings to fill the gaps, and for once, the auxiliaries followed orders and got into the hard cover. Then, as I thought I had it won, the Luftwaffe arrived, another Stuka dived in, and it hammered the village centre, but only with more pinning. Still, most of my infantry now had their heads down. I figured it was close… I had 4 BR left, so 1 chit might end it for my defence. But when the last BT on my right machine gunned his kradschutzen squad, the counter he took broke him. The Germans pulled back, the cornfields burning with the fires from KO’d panzers and BT-7s. My ‘redoubt’ had held out. His BR was broken on 42, I had 4 left on 32 from 36. Phew! Inform STAVKA, were are holding at Trybukna! They shall not pass!

Top game again, a real blast, with some dire dice on both sides. My plan had just worked, after almost being scuppered early by command chaos and communications breakdown. In all, that 600 point-game last 4 hours… a longer game than normal, but we both had so few orders to use. Oh, and 5 times in the game the Germans unpinned and rolled a 1… I felt for him. It became a  running joke.

Here are some shots of the action.

Mortars and BT lines, behind Trybukna farm

Infantry in the woods, behind rock and log barricades

The log walls of the redoubt

More BTs heading left through the farm

 AA on ambush fire, awaiting he Luftwaffe. They'll be coming. 

 In reserve, the border guard squad and BA-10 mobile AT gun. 

 105 barrage hits the woods on turn 2

 and here they are! No AA fire, gun was pinned. BT-7 paid the price down below.

Direct hit... 

 On my right, StuG and Pz II lead on across the ripe cornfields

Incoming, one of just a few mortar barrages

The 120mm mortar-men and their loader teams. Not the impact I hoped for.

BT sneaks an early AT shot in, and scores a Pz IV kill! 

 Pinning building up in the redoubt

StuG shells the tree line 

BT-7s charge through the trees - Stal! Stal! Stal!  Death of glory - but mostly death!

 and on, behind the 152mm barrage, the enemy, already well pinned are sitting ducks! 
Still coming, soft targets ahead - make hay whilst the sun shines (obviously). 

StuG gets back in the action, spins on the spot, and... boom, miss. 

Close-quarters carnage in the cornfield

Infantry gun chipping in with its aid... 1 gunner left and he scored a kill.

 On the other flank, Pz III takes aim at a BT-7.

 PzII wreck by the main road (victim of a mines strike counter)

 The main panzer attack smoulders... a hard fight, but the Russians held on.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Tank Battle at Maknassy, BG:Torch AAR

The game was a 800 point meeting engagement, US 1st Armoured Division vs DAK, and the randomly generated scenario was a Flanking Attack. The US tankers were approaching the outskirts of the town Maknassy when DAK forces launched a spoiling panzer counter-attack to help hold the town and the important mountain pass beyond.

The DAK force was a real mish-mash of armour, from a Pz II, several Ausfs of Pz IIIs and IVs (one lang, one kurtz), a captured Valentine(wild) and a Tiger (eek)… so a bit of everything, 9 panzers in all. They’d be facing 3 Stuarts, 3 Lees and 3 Shermans (and god knows how I’d stop that Tiger). Infantry; I had an inexperienced armoured platoon in their half tracks, the Germans, reg grenadier platoon, all just tank riding to start with. I had invested points in artillery, with an off-table 105 battery and a T19 battery (with required supply truck of course). His was again a mish-mash, 2 timed 105 strikes, an on-table 80mm mortar (that proved a real pain) and a 150mm Bison (and required resupply truck of course). He had a timed Stuka strike… I had no air support (unless I could get lucky with chits).  For recce; for me, just 2 jeep teams, one with an MG, one as the officer and arty spotter (handy with guns to call-on). He had thus out-scouted me, with an 8-Rad, sniper, kradschutzen MG team (Kettenkrad subbing in for Zundapp and sidecar), and his own recce officer in a light car. First chit to me for the scouts. In all, my BR total was 47, the DAKs, 56… one well, that off-table artillery is expensive, brings no BR, but hopefully it would do its pinning business when I had my spotters in place.

My plan, after rolling the scenario, was to try and use my Stuarts and half-tracks speed to get to those objectives. With his recce troops out front and waiting tank support, I thought I could jump them early, out-match them with my light tanks and destroy them in detail to get to those objectives and harvest counters. Meanwhile my recce would hang back, call in artillery fire on the town and harass his tank’s advance. Then, when my tanks had arrived, I’d attack  towards town, but only against well pinned enemy tanks, who would be under all those 105mm guns ever turn. Those guns were key, keep them firing, I had 5 artillery spotters on the table to do so. Hopefully, I was playing to the US’ strengths. 

It started well (for the Germans) with the first turn, out-scouting me, taking objectives and his first Bison 150m shot scored a lucky direct hit with one of my recce MG jeeps - messy. 4 counters before I had a go. Grin and bare it, my first turn and I got the guns firing into the edge of town. A lucky deviation resulted in the lurking Bison taking a direct hit and being destroyed - result! That shut him up!

Initial skirmishing complete, Panzer IVs arrived and they moved to his right, my left, to reinforce his recce troops. But they had a long way to move-up, so I still went with plan A - attack, attack… my Stuarts rushed his recce troops, MGs blazing, and his recce screen tried to fall back. His sniper was killed, the 8-rad armoured car shot from the rear as it tried to escape (bouncing 20mm shells off the M3’s front armour as it went), his MG team was wiped out in another 105mm stonk… and his recce commander was pinned, then a turn later wiped out. Only the 2 soft skinned transports escaped the mauling, withdrawing off the table to save the imminent extra counters.I took the objective too… so that was 4 chits for the Germans (take that!).

It had worked, but now my Stuarts had 2 Pz IVs to face down (including the ‘special’ on ambush fire) and the captured Valentine. A tough nut, and it became cagey… both waiting on ambush fire for the other to come forwards in a Mexican stand-off. At least I was still shelling him.

In the centre his Panzer III N and Tiger were in close co-operation… a timed Stuka strike KO’d one of my Shermans (large bomb, direct hit!), but my artillery was now becoming dominant (and using a lot of my Orders)… but pinning his Tiger each turn. So far had got 1 shot off, a miss. The Panzer III N took the table-centre objective, and was then KO’d in another artillery stonk. My plan was working. We had a short break (for tea), and I had taken 7 counters… the Germans 12… US on top.

After the break, the German fight back began. My artillery so far had rolled really well… now the luck changed and the direct hits dried up as did the pins on enclosed armour. On my right, my recce artillery spotter team had to evacuate their post, jumping back in their jeep to fall-back, when 2 Pz IIIs came looking for them. I countered that with my Lees, moving up to engage. In the first exchange of fire I lost a Lee, him a Pz III, and then we both began failing ever penetration roll required after hits… glance, glance, glance…  that dual would continue for the rest of the game. A lot of 37mm ammo was used to little effect.

The fight was now on my left, my dismounted infantry pushed up, captured the central objective, but the artillery support let them down for a turn, and suddenly they were under heavy MG fire from panzers, pinned, then the squad was wiped out. The Tiger’s 88 roared again and another Sherman, which had been furiously using HE to try and keep it pinned, was turned in burning scrap. Lost that dual.

Those Panzers IVs finally tried to break the stand-off on the left, moved forwards to get lines of sight, I missed with the ambush fire (drat) and the 75mmL48 gun wrecked the platoon HQ M3 with ease. My return fire did KO his PzIV kurz with a side shot… still, that ‘special’ was too much for my 2 M3s, and they had to pullback and lurk out of sight again. It was now very close… but the tank fight was edging the German’s way. His annoying Valentine scored a 6 pdr-kill on one of Lees, but was then out of ammo (and it has no MGs!). It was useless now and withdraw back to town. The Tiger then rolled forwards to claim the centre objective back again, and that last counter pushed me over my BR total. The Germans had lost 50 BR from their 56. I had lost 48 from 47. A narrow German win… 2 more counters (maybe) would have done it! We had inflicted 20 counters each on each other.

4 hours of play and a really good game. After a bad start I was right on top at the tea break, and the DAK were a bit glum (mostly because his Tiger had been pinned for 4 consecutive turns and drawn 4 counters just to unpin it). My arty had was causing havoc. But the German tanks then showed their quality and edged the tank-vs-tank engagement. His slightly better BR had just won it for him.

Here are some shots of the Maknassy battlefield. The edge of town, surrounding fields and cactus patches, a farm, and two rocky-topped ridges over a shallow valley. Next time we’ve decided to go Ostfront, 1941 with Barbarossa, my Russians will be defending on day 2 of the invasion.

And finally, some snaps of the game in progress.

 US recce watching town from a cactus patch

 Sherman on high ground watching the valley into town

The edge of town, DAK arty spotter lurking in his funny little vehicle. 
His job, to spot for the Bison was soon redundant. 

Rocks on high ground, over looking the central objective, marked by the crashed Spitfire. 

Recce jeep meets 150mm Bison shell.  Ouch!

M3s arrive and charge to tge opposite valley side, where the DAK recce are lurking.  
(OK, my M5 models are standing in for M3s, not something I'd usual do - must paint M3s)

Time air strike scored direct hit on the covering Sherman.

Recce officer and arty spotter in place to watch town and get those guns firing. 

Tiger and his little buddy move towards the centre objective. 

80mm mortar shell wrecks an M3 after unloading its MG teams into the rocks, 
to cover the infantry across the valley. A single 80m mortar would continually score direct hits.

Hunt the 8-rad! 

 M3 Lees arrive and move right to engage his Pz IIIs. 
 US armoured infantry takes the far ridgeline, swiftly moving up behind the M3s 
and claiming an objective. 
Arty pinning... the bane of the Tiger (and soon to kill the Pz III N). 

Almost ready, M3s, with T19s arrived behind and firing a lot of shells over the ridge. 

One scored a direct hit!

Recce officer escapes, as the M3 Lees engage

Lee on higher ground with great LoS. Until the Valentine spotter him and it turns out, 
the 6 pdr is pretty good at tank-killing. 

Annoying to be KO'd by your own side's equipment. The captured 6 pdr Valentine. 

Pz III in the cactus patch, it survived 4 hits which glanced off (I cannot roll 6+ on 2D6). 

T19s rearm, as the comms relay team do valuable work closeby. 

Pz III gets another Lee. 

 US infantry get to the central objective, but are quickly pinned, then gunned down. 
Covering Sherman takes an 88 hit, KO'd...  Tiger's only victim.

 DAK man-of-the match, and still haven't ever actually killed a Tiger on the tabletop. 


Sunday, 28 July 2019

Erfundensdorf, game 4. Advance along the HelmingstraBe.

We have resumed our FotR (roughly April ’45 I think) campaign set at the small (made-up) town of Erfundensdorf, from earlier in the year. The arrival of Spring and the cricket season meant Friday evenings were not longer free for BG gaming, so we put it all on hold until autumn, except for this Saturday evening… basically, we had some free-time so sneaked in the next game.

So far, the US armoured division attempting to surround and take the town has won all the previous 3 games, but have only really been facing some ersatz equipment, local Volkssturm and a single veteran fallschirmjager company stiffening them up. The US tanks and recce taskforces have captured 3 approaches to the town itself and today would be after the main road from the north-west, HelmingstraBe… and clearing the German strongpoint holding it at the Rubelzahn farm.

The defenders (me) would again be the last of the FJ, a platoon dug-in into foxholes, behind log barricades and holding the well-fortified farm. They had a Hetzer, PaK-38 and an ’88’ with them covering the road which was also blocked by a minefield. Reinforcements would come from town in the shape of more Volkssturm and 2 Jagdpanzer IVs (only L48s though). My big hitters were off-table 150mm Nebelwerfers.

The US’s heavyweights of Taskforce Elgar were tasked with clearing the farm and road. An M26 Pershing platoon, backed up by M36 Jacksons, an armoured infantry platoon, off-table 105mm guns and a flanking force of 3 more Shermans and one of the infantry platoons tracks. Their mission had a high priority because from here they can encircle north of the town and cut-off the road leading east, where German reinforcements are on the way, fail here and those tanks will get through automatically… breakthrough and they can fight the next battle to try and stop them in campaign turn 2.

This would be the last of the 4 morning battles before moving into the afternoon.

We used the Strongpoint Attack scenario, slightly adapted, with roughly 750 pts each in a platoon-sized game.

It started with the US dropping in their first arty fire, to little effect and the FJ all getting onto ambush fire. A 105 shell did pin my 88 - unlucky.

The first turns would be cautious, with the US lacking orders (twice rolling double 1), and some long range AT fire from me to no effect. The US decided, given his tank-heavy force, that KOing my AT guns would be his priority and targeted them with lots of HE suppressing fire, keeping their heads down. A few turns of rest-bite from the US arty soon ended and farm was under fire, spotted by the armoured infantry platoon HQ away at the back - an easy day’s work for those guys.

I had off-table 150mm Nebelwerfer fire to launch and did so, causing some pinning and destroying an unlucky Pershing with a direct hit. My PaK-38 got a shot off and KO’d a Jackson that had ventured out of the woods and into the open ploughed fields. So far so good, but my 88 couldn’t get any shots off, and when it did, failed to spot (a lot of smoke and dust from those arty and werfer strikes obviously).

The US infantry pushed towards the farm but, in a rookie move, dismounted from their M3 in front of a 2 ambush-fire waiting MG42s. Caught in the crossfire the squad routed, leaving the M3 to trade bullets for the rest of the game. Short on infantry the attack was stalled, but hammering away at range. Both sides had an ammunition problem, no supply trucks on either side. My lurking Hetzer peaked out at the farm to take a shot, glanced a shell of a M26’s front armour and was hit by 90mm return fire from a Jackson, brewing it up. Oh well, it only had 1 shot left anyway.

So it went, a duel at long range. The US flanking force drove in and added their weight of fire to the shelling, and the arty zero’d the farm and pounded it to rubble, pinning most inside. My Volkssturm platoon arrived, woo-hoo, with 1 squad launching a quick counter to hit a Pershing with their ‘faust., only to again glance but pin it. More werfer fire, more pinning, 1 M3 half-track destroyed and the US chit counter was building. Then disaster for me, my Pak-38 was hit by Pershing HE fire and the gun destroyed - the crew ran… drat. Then an AP shell hit my ’88’ (a 6 rolled) and smashed a 90mm hole through it… again the crew ran. Double-drat.

All I had left was my 2 JgPazner IV, and as they rolled on to engage, an ambush fire long range snipe from the distance Jackson (in the woods) hit and KO’d one on the table edge… 90mm guns are rather good. My last AFV fought until out of ammo, hit and glanced off a Pershing, then KO’d a Sherman … then withdrew ammo pins empty. I had no AT shots left and was being pummeled. When a FJ MG team was machine gunned down the resulting chit broke my BR total of just 32. I had inflicted 36 BR loss of the US, but their total was 44, still 8 short. My defenders had hung tough and fought it out, but in the end, they had to give up that farm, another narrow US win.

Here are some pics of the actions. On to game 5, Taskforce Elgar trying to intercept my reinforcements before we get to the grand finale of the campaign, game 6 and storming the town itself from various directions in an ultimate Hexenkessel.

HelmingstraBe and the Rubelzahn Farm from above. 
FJ deployed at the bottom awaiting the US heavy-weights.

 US end of the table, heavy wooded, then open fields.

FJ dug-in to foxholes screen the farm

First incoming shells scream in. 105s... 

FJ 88 awaits on ambush fire, with a loader team, in a gun-pit. 

The farmhouse strongpoint, spotters and MG teams

Pak-38 on ambush and the rest of the platoon. This 'hedge' had a ditch, making it hard cover.

Hetzer gotta hetz...

... or not. Ko'd in the farmyard by 90mm return fire. 

Armoured infantry claim an objective (marked by KO'd Sherman), on the edge of the woods. 

 First werfer strike

Victim of the PAK-38... TDs ain't tanks!

US infantry support dismounts from track, under ambush MG fire. .30 cal team forgot its ammo!

Squad out! Pinned, then MG42s cut them to pieces quickly.

 88, pinned again

 2nd werfer strike

M26s push on through the ploughed fields on their left, firing as they come.

 Volkssturm break cover to sneak a 'faust shot... hit, glance, pin... run-away. 

 Jgpanzer IV arrives and dies... long range sniper shooting from a Jackon at 60". 

Good shootin' Tex! TD does it's job. 

 Volkssturm reinforce the farm, hiding in the barn from incoming artillery. 

US armour in place, shelling and MGing all before them. 

 Last of the defenders runs out of ammo, time to go... another small patch of the Third Reich lost.