Monday 23 January 2023

Barbarossa to Berlin Game 5, with BG Bagration - Engagement at Okolovo

For our fifth game in the series, it was another meeting engagement, a Recce Screen scenario, with 4 turns of recce-ing only (which went quick with not much happening, a few mortars fired, and my recce Valentine moved up and captured an objective, whilst a German sniper boldly did the same in the centre of the table. A few counters taken (3-all in scouts, so no counter there), and the game got going with the first reinforcements arriving. The Germans rolled in, with a Grille (!), odd-one, but it just hung back and launched big suppressing HE up the tabletop, supply truck always close by, because, well, that tactic won’t last long without one.

The Russians got their 120mm mortar battery and other support on, comms team, FHQ etc, to get set-up on or behind the hill for the coming fight. Next to arrive were the Zis 3 guns, to get into place, and cover, at the village. All this was to be ready for when the armour and tank-riding infantry showed up. They were the last to show, after the SU-85s had arrived and started their long range (and largely fruitless) duel.

The Germans had rolled-in to, but soon found themselves under galling 120mm mortar fire, spotted by the lurking BA-64. A direct hit KO’d their Pz-IV - good shot. But they also got their rude surprise in place, two Tigers! Eek… well this is unusual, lots of points in those beast, but it made for a different game, as we both rarely go for such ‘big ticket’ items. It was obvious, both sides had long guns and would be happier sitting back and snipe, both had supply vehicles at hand. So, Tigers matching up with the T34/85s and SU-85s, let's see how a 85mm AP shells fares against that good Krupp steel. The first loss to a Tiger was my poor Valentine, which had the audacity (or idiocy) to open its ambush fire on the Tiger with its 2 pdr gun. The return fire (having failed to pin it), was 1 shot, 1 kill, boom! One Valentine in bits… and the German infantry could nip forwards and retake that objective with ease, which they did.  

After about 6 turns of mortaring by both sides, one 80mm shell having hit and wrecked my Zis 3 towing truck, losing the gun crew too, so 2 counters… we both had unpinned from the suppression a few times. I was behind on counters, but everything was now in place to open fire. Both sides had also drawn and rolled for an Air Attack. Mine was a mere fighter (Air Cobra), the Germans got Stuka support (37mm cannon-armed). The first air attacks both missed, then the Air Cobra chased the Stuka and pinned and damaged it. Rare dog-fight action, but fun. The SU-85s, fired away, missed or glanced off, then the last Zis-3 pinned a Tiger with HE - hurrah! The next shot, from a T-34/85 smashed through the Tiger’s armour and killed it, shocker! That is my first ever confirmed Tiger kill in a BG game (I don’t face them much though). The Germans were in trouble, down to just 1 tank left and I had all of mine (5).

Well I did, until the next turn when a mine strike counter saw a T-34/85 brew-up, then an 88 round smashed another one. Mortar fire pinned both SU-85s too, and suddenly I didn’t have much to shoot back with.

By now the counters had built up quickly, so the decision to tactically co-ordinate to get an SU shot at the Tiger’s flank probably wasn’t the best. It failed the BtCoD test anyway (aargh!)… Good grief. From being on top, this game turned fast.

Could I kill that last Tiger? If so, he was in trouble, but as it turned out, no. Its Krupp armour prove strong and ace crew were not for pinning. Mean beast. I had sent my resupply truck rushing round the hill to re-bomb the SU-85s, now low on ammo, and when it was hit by another mortar bomb (for a single German 80mm mortar it never seemed to miss), it was blown up and the final counter broke the Russians. That mortar crew need a medal, 6 direct hits, 4 kills.

Oh well, that didn’t go so well. The Germans were still 10 BR from their total, so a solid win. The Tigers had halted our advance on Minsk at Okolovo.   It is now 3-2 to the Germans with just Fall of the Reich to go. That’s next, very soon… then back to playing something else for a bit. First, to smash my way to Berlin...

The battlefield, Germans enter top right, Russian bottom left, by the village.

Okolovo village and church

Big cat rolls in carrying some infantry support, also 'Panzer Ace'.

Making short work of the recce Valentine, oh well, that fight lasted about 5 seconds...

Mortar bombs wreck a Zis 3 tow and the gun.

They the FHQs scout car wagon... but the chit is an Air Attack.

Mortars pin the German support elements.

Zis 3 battery on tow, arrives to get deployed,

At the back, 120mm mortar battery and forward comms team.

First red armour arrives... long guns to duke it out at range

The VVS flies in, Air Cobra strafing run...

Occupying Okolovo in force.

Timed IL-2 strike, missing wildly... it hit nothing!

Air Cobra distracted by the arrival of an enemy Stuka, he gets on its tail and pins and damages it. Rare air-to-air combat.

German big cat roams the fields, looking for targets.

Here they are waiting, open fire!

120mm mortars wreck at Pz IV...

SU-85s arrive and line up that Tiger, if only they could hit.

Last Zis-3 lurks in woods, opens fire and pins the Tiger... yes!

Then a 85mm tank shell defeats the Krupp steel... Tiger kill... confirmed Tiger kill...

SU sniping away at long range...

whilst one closes in for a flank shot, only to be pinned by 50mm HE fire...

Grille's dedicated ammo truck blows up from a mortar hit - big bang! Grille with 1 ammo left...

Followed by an Tiger's 88 round smashing up its first Russian T-34/85. Lost that duel.

Pak38 keeps pinning my SU-85, and survived a 37mm cannon strafing run untouched... lucky day.








Monday 16 January 2023

Barbarossa to Berlin, Game 4 with BG Kursk - Assault on Point 164.

For this four game in our sequence, we changed it up a bit, with an Attack/Defence game, the Russians defending their strongpoint at Point 164 in a 'High Ground' scenario. Both sides picked 650 point forces, German panzers attacking against my Rifle Division defending.

Here is my force list. So, a solid defence with lots of good cover saves, with a T-34 counter-attack, this is Kursk after-all. 

Point 164, Germans attacking from bottom, Russians dug-in in the top half of the table.

Kursk - Rifle Division - Strongpoint 164

Rifle Platoon        58    5-i    off, mortar spotter, ura!
Maxim MG team    18    1-i

T-34 Platoon        100    9-i    Stal, T-34 Mobility

2 x T-34s        80    6-i    Stal, T-34 Mobility

82mm Mortar Battery    66    3-i    3 x 82mm mortars

Field Artillery Battery    55    4-i    2 x Zis 3, on-table

Foxholes x 4        40    0    40 men, 3+

Command Bunker    30    3-r    sen off, mortar spot, 4 men in 2+ cover

Minefield        15    0

Improvised Barricade    5    0    4+ save (for foot patrol)   

‘For the Motherland’    15    +D6 (+2)

Infantry Foot Patrol    22    2-i    scout, mortar spotter

AT Gun Battery    78    3-i    3 x 45mmL46 guns + 3 loader teams
3 x Gun Dug-outs    60    0    3+ cover, for AT guns

PRTP            10    0

Maxim MG dug-out - free (from scenario)

Minefield - free (from scenario)

Bunker - free (from scenario)

Both sides deployed, with the first 4 turns being at long range, as the Germans were not going to attack until their full force (and importantly the Panzer IVs) had arrived. But, this allowed time for the Russian T-34 reserves to arrive too.

It began as both sides traded IDF, my 82mm mortar battery destroying a SdKfz 250/1 and its recce squad inside in a lucky direct hit. The German’s 105mm timed strike hammered down on the hill and caused some pinning, but the 3+ and 2+ covers saves did their job. More tank HE added to this, and my AT guns returned HE fire and scored a few pins. Meanwhile, the infantry in foxholes were all waiting on ambush fire. On the right, in the village, this seemed the obvious covered route to advance, so I used both my minefields here to block that route, and one dug-in infantry squad to cover the minefield in case he had engineers to sneakily remove them. He didn’t, and so this route was blocked and so the Germans must come across the open ground opposite the hill instead, where my AT guns waited (when not pinned).

Turn 4, after the long range fire, saw the Germans get going. First, a 1st priority artillery request and wire team combo saw a 210mm Nebelwerfer battery open up on the hill, screamin’ death hammered down and saw much pinning, and my senior officer, in his bunker lost 3 men, and the last was pinned, so removed. Drat! A blow, and 2 counters as the now dubbed Major Bogov did just that! It also pinned my AT guns, and so the German Panzers rolled forwards with more HE, trying to KO those guns, but they survived in their dug-outs. Ouch! That turn hurt. At least my waiting Maxim MG team managed to pin his incoming Stuka strike, so I was spared its bombs at least. Still, sheer weight of fire was hurting. A few T-34s started to arrive behind the hill, as did my Zis-3 battery, but they had no targets and the PRTP wasn’t well placed. Bit of a waste these.

The pressure mounted, as a second priority request saw a second ‘werfer strike on the hill, as the Germans tried to level it rather than take it! This strike saw a mortar team blown-up, another pinned, and more infantry losses, things were looking bad, the counters mounting. As defender, with defences worth few BRs, I knew my total was lower than his. This is the balance of Attack/Defence games (forget attacker's needing extra points), I get the cover saves, but pay for this in the lower BR for them. In the end, my total was 37 (mainly thanks to on-table guns rather than off-table ones, a deliberate decision for the BR). The German had 46 BR total.

With the panzer grenadiers advancing or waiting on reserve move in their 251/1s, I had to keep my troops on ambush fire, in case they rushed me, and unpinned, or they’d get assaulted. So, my orders were spent on ambush fire and I get unpinning, and this kept the German infantry back, not risking my close quarters fire if they came in and high cover saves in an assault, if I'd be fighting back. I kept up mortar fire from the now reduced battery, and this scored another lucky kill, his Pz III armoured artillery spotter was KO’d. Too late really, his ‘werfer stonks damage was done.

Whilst unpinning I got some luck and, for the first time in 4 games, pulled a Air Attack counter, and then rolled a 6. Incoming VVS, which was a PE-2. It dived in, aiming for his panzers. His 20mm AA truck had just moved, so wasn’t on ambush fire, so the attack run dropped all 8 small bombs. Much pinning and 2 direct hits saw a Pz-IV destroyed and a 251, with infantry still on board as well, all out pinned. 3 counters there and suddenly the German attack was looking in some trouble. Time for the counter-attack... I sent the T-34s in. They raced up, the first was hit by ambush fire from the covering Pz-IV and KO’d instantly. The others did good work throwing HE and pinning his infantry. The German attack could now not risk moving up and had to turn their fire on the attacking tanks, a break for my hard pushed infantry and guns. Combined with fire from the AT guns, one of which had run low on ammo due to a special counter, these added to the pinning and the initiative was now with the Russians.

The T-34s pressed on, even after another was hit and destroyed by 75mm AP shells. MG fire destroyed a German MG team and, after removing pinning and then another Pz-IV was hit in the flank and burning, the German attack had broken. To be fair, the German counter pulls hadn’t been kind, several 5s and too many 4s meant the attack withered rather sooner than I thought. I was OK(ish), still 7 BR left. Point 164 had held and the panzers had been stopped, despite a good start from the Germans and those two very painful big ‘werfer strikes. My AT guns had done well, mostly with pinning, and the T-34s bold rush turned it back my way. But the turning point had been the PE-2 dive bomber attack… that had been messy for the Germans… so thanks to Red Air Force for this one.

We move on the game 5, 1944 and into Belorussia… I have the army lists as a WIP, so it’ll be a good first test game. It is now 2-2 in wins in our six game sequence, all still to play for.

The strongpoint, command bunker, infantry in foxholes, AT gun dug-outs.

105 shelling starts the game... boom! boom! boom!

Stuka dives in and is pinned by MG fire...phew!

Infantry cover the lane to the village, blocked by both mine fields.
Early mortar direct hit on recce 250... right in the back!

'Werfer strike on the hill... target, the bunker. First of two - rude!

German reserve arriving behind the railway embankment.

German attack starts to struggle, 251 ht by AT gun fire, Pz III arty observer tank KO'd by mortar fire.

Panzer Grenadiers MG team de-buss into the woods, and are pinned, the rifle squad wait in the wagon for a rush to close assault.

Panzer IVs advance, firing HE onto the hill.

T-34s wait the order to go.

Another 251 comes forward and is KO'd by AT fire, infantry pile out, but pinned.

The VVS unleash their own heavy firepower in a dive bombing attack. The PE-2 scores multiple kills.

First T-34 comes forward to aid the AT gun, now down to 1 shot left.

Stal! Here comes the armoured counter attack.

T-34 'lifts it's hat' to a Pz-IV's 75mm lang gun.

Boldly surging on, a T-34 at point blank, missed!

But this one didn't, ended the game. Urah for the Motherland!

Sunday 8 January 2023

Barbarossa to Berlin, Game 3 with BG Stalingrad - Red October

The third in our series of Ostfront BG games, a diversion into Stalingrad for a urban fight using all the Stalingrad rules and the Stadtkampf scenario at 650 points per side.

As before, we play straight up pick-up games, select forces, scenario, generate terrain etc and see what we get. My Russian forces here were, in brief, a remnant platoon with support from a 50mm mortar, marksman, anti-tank rifle team and anti-tank gun, a extra remnant squad, a reserve platoon, sapper squad with flamethrower, FHQ, NKVD officer, off-table 122mm howitzers across the Volga, ace sniper and observer, infantry foot patrol, and defences in an arty spotter bunker, a tunnel access for the sapper squad and a reinforced building (which was the main workhall). No tanks, no vehicles at all in fact. An all infantry force.

Having randomly set-up the terrain we had various factory buildings and ruins, some railway tracks etc, which we just rolled to place around the table in remaining spaces, staring with the largest buildings and then filling in gaps with smaller ones, we added rubble and rolled for which buildings were on fire, and got this. The flaming buildings were in right awkward places, blocking two covered routes to get to the enemy. 

Germans on nearest edge, Russians far side, holding the central workhall and marshalling yard (with crane). Admin building on German left.

The Russian chose to hold the factory area with the marshalling yard to their left and workshop and admin building on the right, with the Germans opposite. Both deployed our defences and units, including scouts, set timed strikes and ammo’d up AFVs (not me). Time to let battle commence.

The initial turns were cagey. Neither side came out of their positions as they awaited extra reinforcements which are slow to arrive. Patients was required as both sides flung some artillery to little effect beyond a few pins. My plan was to launch small spoiling attacks forwards, like the sappers in their tunnel, but mostly to hang on to the workhall and the objectives I had (again 5 were present). I had 3 quickly, the Germans 2. They started to get their StuG support onto the table and two squads used tunnels to get into the admin block and seize it. The fighting was sporadic, shot traded here and there, a bit of pinning, the odd sniper round, but as yet no major push from either side and a lot of units waiting on ambush fire for the action to kick-off. My sappers found their own tunnel had been collapsed and so couldn’t deploy forwards.

The German attack moved in steadily, a timed 105 strike on the workhall initiating the advance, StuG fire at the workhall did little (thanks to the reinforced save) and return anti-tank rifle fire pinned one, good shooting. My reinforcements had been slowly deploying, reserve platoon on the right, and the firefight between the workshop and admin building was intense, both sides becoming well pinned, my sniper ace doing good work here too. When a StuG appeared to help, that seemed like it would gain the Germans the upper hand, with no anti-tank weapon to shoot back, instead a veteran squad moved up against it and used anti-tank grenades, twice failing, but the StuG pulled back after its infantry support, an MG team, was wiped out by PPsH fire. Ammo was a consideration here too, StuG running low I guessed.

Artillery fire still fell, my 122s doing useful work in pinning, and killing a German sniper. His 105, on-table and firing at a PRTP on the workhall, was annoying, but I couldn’t stop it. A direct hit wiped out my anti-tank rifle team. We were 6-7 turns in and the counters stack was even(ish), no clear leader as yet.

Things started to move the German’s way as the StuGs opened fire on the workhall and their infantry and MG teams worked into place to try an assault. A flaming building blocked the main route, and an assault over open ground was suicidal, so there was only one way, which was currently covered by a remnant squad’s PPsHs waiting on ambush fire, trying to get them pinned was a task the Germans were finding hard. Meanwhile, the 122 shells pinned a StuG and immobilised the StuH-33, broken track, but that didn’t stop it launching 150mm shells into the workhall, where the casualty count was increasing despite the 3+ cover save. I sent fresh reserve squads in, and the 50mm mortar was keeping Germans heads down until StuG fire did for it too… more counters.

The Germans were on top now, so time for a counter-attack. My Sappers had been waiting on reserve move and now moved up through the marshalling yards’ station. The German trench was no longer on ambush fire, they fired into the workhall to try and get the assault going. My sappers now rushed the open ground and, whoosh! Unleashed their flamethrower attack, wiping out the rifle squad and causing 2 counters for the Germans (I didn’t know it then but they drew a 4 and a 5 - ouch!). The Germans pressed for the workhall, one squad braving PPsH ambush fire to try and assault, that failed and it too was wiped out, another counter. They had support though and the second squad wiped out my sub-machine gunners in turn as the fighting got close and personal. That counter was a 4, with only 3 BR left, the Russians were defeated. But not by much, the late Russian rally had the Germans just 2 from their total BR… so very close. 1 more counter would have done it (or a better roll for my 'Bled White' special rule). Great game, very different from the last 2, and close, so close, again.

It is now 2-1 to the Germans in wins (narrow ones), with our next game a 1943 Kursk tank-fest again. Let’s see if the Reds can even it up. 

Admin building, the German tunneled in and took it.

Marshalling yard and crane, home to a sniper.

Main workhall, the left-front was a reinforced building.

First StuG sneaks on, with some infantry support.

Sniper ace waiting... waiting...

German occupied trench on their left, a blocking position, mostly on ambush fire.

More landsers infiltrate forwards, heading for the workhall.

105 at the back, hitting their PRTP, on the workhall - constant, accurate, harassment.

Reserves for the workhall meatgrinder.

Sneaking up through the marshalling yard's station buildings (and water tower)

Firing down from the admin building, a protracted firefight with the workshop ahead. Smoking T-34 marks an objective. 

StuG arrives to aid the fight here.

Whilst the others line up the workhall.

Inside, NKVD squad (foot patrol) hold the objective marker, as the 50mm mortar returns fire (doesn't really seem fair that).

Urrah! Timed 105 strike hammers the workhall.

Remnant squad hunts the lone StuG with their AT grenades, they fail, but it pulls back anyway.

122 shells falling around the StuGs in the centre.

FAMO arrives to try and fix the immobilised StuH-33B, working under fire.

German infantry sneak up to the workhall, the buildings behind is on fire and cannot be entered.

Inside the workhall again, reserve giving (and taking) fire from the admin building. Stalemate here.

Reserves risk a rush across the marshalling yard for the workhall, and get pinned by incoming. Pinned in the open, not good!

45mm AT gun taking long range pot-shots at the 33B, always an optimist! 2 hits, 2 glances... they tried.