For this Fall of the Reich game, we decided to use the map from the scenario but select our own 750 point forces, a chance to use some models that need a bit of tabletop time. I rarely get to play Germans, but I’d face the tough prospect of holding the village as the red tide surged towards Berlin. Gotterdammerung awaits!
I selected my 750 points force, 2 platoons of poor infantry, a Panzer IV platoon in reserve, a few bits a pieces and, something I’d rarely do, one big beast (the biggest beast), just because this model is 15 years old and only seen one battle. Time to dust it off and give it go.
Backs to Berlin 15 +D6
Volksgrenadier Platoon 85 7-i officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts 15
Feldkanone 295/1(r) 18 1-i 3 crew, 76mmL30 (4/4+, AP 5/3)
Volkssturm Platoon 71 5-i officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts 15
Pz IV H Platoon 160 9-v officer, mortar spotter
Foxholes - 20 men 20 0
Command Bunker - 4 men 30 3-r senior officer, mortar spotter,
1 Minefield 20 0
120mm mortar battery 72 0 off-table
Sniper + observer 15 1-v sniper-scout
SdKfz 250/9 26 1-r scout, mortar spotter
Jagdtiger 162 5-e + panzer ace
SdKfz 251/17 18 1-r AA
Supply Truck 8 1-i
750 pts 34+D6(4) BR 4 officers, 2 scouts
The Russians went with 2 platoons of basic infantry, mostly tank riding on 3 T-34 platoons. They’d be supported by a battery of 3 120mm mortars (on table), an infantry gun and a timed air strike from a Sturmovik. They had also maxed out on recce: 2 jeep teams (as extra mortar spotters), 2 snipers, a patrol in a White scout car and a Valentine (VIII) tank. They’d out scout the Germans then… they also took 2 PRTPs, cunning, one on each end of the village would mean they hit it every turn if needed.
It wouldn’t be, as, suspecting the village would be heavily targeted (fearfully by Katyusha strikes), I placed most of my forces outside of it. To the left, the Volkssturm platoon, dug-in, with the old Tsarist M1902/30 gun behind them and the command bunker to call in mortar fire. To the right, most of the Volksgrenadier platoon. The village had just the sniper, an MG team and a reserve MG team (soon waiting to move where needed on reserve move).
This deployment directly countered the Russia plan of attack, which was to split into two forces to go round the village, to the north and south, and not assault the houses. Tanks and infantry evenly divided, whilst the mortars hit the village and kept it well pinned down. First, was to get the mortar spotter jeep teams in place so he had the entire tabletop under observation… those 120’s would play merry-hell, I had no line of sight to them and couldn’t counter them.
Deployment complete, the Russian attackers took the first turn and the recce rolled on.
The Russian took their time to get set for the pushes left and right, getting the mortars on and set-up, snipers traded fire in a sniper duel and one of his was killed by a stray mortar round. As the Russian held back and built up their reinforcements each turn, we traded mortar fire and the German tanks also arrived, including the Jagdtiger which moved up through the village(on roads), the mortars would need to be lucky to effect it. The vital supply truck was another matter though, it lurked well back, wary of the mortaring. As the Jagdtiger arrived and rumbled up, a Sturmovik dived in to bomb the village, braving the 20mm ambush fire on my 251/17 (missed). To drop its bombs and, err, do very little, 1 pin was all from the bombing run.
The German tanks moved on to get some long range shots at the T-34s, one scored a hit and pinned a T-34 (glance). To the south the infantry were engaged in a fire-fight across the fields, with much pinning holding the Russians back, thanks to MG-42 fire raking the hedges. But the return fire was heavy too… stalemate here for now, but the Russian numbers would surely tell in the end.
A stroke of luck in the village, the 120mm mortar barrage (at a PRTP) causes a hit on the Jagdtiger, no damage but the resulting morale test is a ‘beyond the call of duty test’, it is elite (panzer ace) and so moves up and opened fire, hitting a T-34… and rolling a 3 for AP… glance, pinned it (argh!). Still it’s in position now, with many T-34 targets to aim for.
The Russians continue to manoeuvre left and right, and bomb the village, but are continually hindered by pinning. The Volkssturm’s machine gun team are doing good work, until pinned down themselves and the German sniper is killed by a mortar impact through the roof they were hiding in. The Russian are forced to take 2 counters to unpin, in preparation for the big push to come.
The Germans know it’s coming and, rolling well for orders, give them hell to hold them bank. The Jagtiger scores hit on the White scout car and it vapourised… T-34s are scattering to avoid its narrow arc of fire. The Panzer IVs score a hit and another pin (another damn glance, I cannot roll AP today). The Volksgrenadier infantry and machine guns do more pinning and stall the push to the south for another turn. Outnumbered 2 to ,1 they are putting up a hell of a fight. T-34 return fire hits and KO’d a Panzer IV, whilst others rake the hedges with MGs and pin my men down. The Jagdtiger fires, misses, then pulls back and the ammo truck is forced to risk the mortar fire to re-arm it. The trucks get pinned in the incoming barrage of 120mm bombs… but a BtCoD counter means it unpins and rearms the Jagdtiger (under heavy mortar fire - heroics indeed). Bombed up, the Jagdtiger turns around and heads back into the fight.
The Russian push to the north is on, infantry jump from the tanks and advance at my line of Volkssturm in their foxholes. They use their single panzerfaust, hit, and … glance again (god damn it!). Still, a pinned tank. The Russian fire whittles the Volkssturm down. But they give as a good as they get. Another T-34 speeds across the field, and another panzerfausts is launched on ambush fire, killing it – at last! The red infantry assault the line of foxholes and overrun one Volkssturm squad. Behind, the Tsarist M1902 gun has opened fire as an improvised AT gun, and proved predictably woeful…
The pressure is mounting, the Russian rain of 120mm mortars continues, with two direct hits and wipes out another machine gun team and Volkssturm’s Platoon HQ team, hiding in the clock tower. Those counters push my BR to the limit. One more turn, but can I break the Russians?
The Jagdtiger does its best, lines up 2 T-34s, hits both and turns them both into burning scrap… those two counters are… not enough (one sees my 120mm mortar battery off-table run out ammo - great!). My Panzer IVs are now low on ammo, one fires it’s last AP round, misses, and reverses back to find the ammo truck. Lacking any tank support, my infantry to the south are suddenly entirely pinned down. 12 men have held off most of a Russian platoon and two T-34s all game, but now the Russians are coming across the field, intent on getting close assaults in against my pinned troops. I just have to unpin… and that counter, a 4, breaks the Germans’ BR of 38… game over. Fallback!
Freidersdorf has fallen, the red tide has swept over it. In the end, the Russians still had 13 BR left, so a solid win, but he did draw 5 special counters in the game (no aircraft though, thankfully, as he had a VVS officer lurking at the bank). Still, if a few of them had been numbers, it would have been very close. The Russian had their own bad luck though (4 times rally counters drawn and rolled a 1!). My inexperienced infantry had put up a good fight, the best the Third Reich can hope for in 1945. I had killed 3 T-34s and lost just 1 Pz-IV, the Jagdtiger did well, 3 kills and it should have been more but for some unlucky dice (missed twice needing 3+ both times!, and scored a glancing hit with that massive damn gun!). The Russians should have paid more, but AP rolls that glanced and pinned 4 times cost too! Still, it was a fun run out for the Jagdtiger and a really good game. Time for tea and a re-cap.
The reds are very tough in 1945… they roll on for Berlin…
|Russian approach, to the south of the village|
|Tsarist Model 1902/30 gun, now part of the Volksgrenadier's defence as an ad hoc AT gun. Covering north of town. |
|Volksgrenadier advance to the road and hedge to meet the Russian infantry. |
|Reserve squad and 251/17, the AA defence. |
|First Russian recce, White scout car and Valentine. |
|Russians deploy their 120mm mortar battery in close support. |
|First T-34s arrive, all carry tank riders. |
|VVS swoops in through 20mm flak fire, to bomb the rear of the village.|
|Bombs away... but mostly misses...|
|The mighty Jagdtiger arrives in the village.|
|and Panzer IV support...|
|German mortar fire starts up. |
|and the Jagdtiger is quickly in position to engage the lead T-34s. |
|Return fire KO's a Pz-IV from long range, unlucky. |
|North of town, the last of Volkssturm (in foxholes) pinned down and about to be overrun. |
|Having been re-armed under the mortar rain, the Jagdtiger now blocks the main road into town and scores 2 T-34 kills. |
|Then another T-34 gets a panzerfaust and brews-up. |
|More T-34s burst into the field to the south, and the Volksgrenadier cannot stop them. With Russians breaking through to the north and south, its time to fall back towards Berlin... what is German for 'run away!'?|