As some might have noticed, I have hardly gotten to play so far this year. Since it could not remain this way we finally played the next scenario from the SkirmishCampaigns “Großdeutschland at Kursk” book last Sunday. It was also the first chance to use the terrain boards after their makeover earlier this year. While the all green hills felt strange while setting things up, I am pleased with the over all looks in the end!
Again for those of you who are interested in how thing went so far… here are the first 4 games and the grand total results (just click on the tabs). Game numbers 5, 6 and 7can be found on this blog. As usual I am going to tell the story from my (the German) point of view.
The game is set on July 10th 1943. It re-enacts a German assault on a Warehouse near Berezovka by elements of the Panzergrenadierdivision Grossdeutschland and attached tanks from the 10th Panther Brigade. The Germans featured two 12-men Pioneer Squads (one with a flame thrower the other with a mine detector) mounted on SdKfz. 251/5s, a Mortar Team with an 8cm mortar, two PzKw V “Panther” and four PzKw IV. [Note: I will be using the German meaning throughout the report. So please do not be confused, but there is no plural “s” with Panther in German.] The Panther were very early production models and had to roll for a possible breakdown every time they moved. I also had reinforcements in the guise of a PzKw III and a Flammpanzer III, which would arrive on round two (determined by a dice roll). The Soviets had a 9-men Rifle Squad, a Maxim MG Team, an artillery observer who could call in fire from two 12cm mortars, a 76,2mm Field Gun (the famous crash-boom), two SU-76 and one SU-122 assault guns. The Soviets could all start in foxholes and trenches (and they did so), the vehicles dug in and camouflaged.
In addition to the barbed wire cutting the table in half, the Russian player could also deploy a good number of both anti-personel and anti-tank minefields. Not enough to mine all approaches, but enough to give me some serious trouble. None the less, we both agreed that the scenario greatly favoured the Germans and that it would be extremely hard for the Russians to win.
The table featured mainly open plains with a low hill to the left of the German deployment zone and another one on the right flank before it. There were a few light woods and numerous fields on the table, none of the crops being high enough to hide a men. A road ran the length of the table in the middle. Besides the warehouse, a big structure on the right, there were two wooden houses near the Soviet edge of the table, one of them being on fire. A liberal amount of craters dotted the area courtesy of the German artillery and fighter-bomber preparation.
The Russian player chose to deploy his SU-122 and one of the SU-76s on the left flank, the other together with the crash-boom and some infantry on the right. The rest of the infantry was scattered in shell holes along the front and three of them hid behind the warehouse (a sort of counter offensive force should I take it). The HMG team and spotter team hid in foxholes and a trench atop the road.
My deployment was quite simple. The mortar team set up behind the hill in my deployment zone, out of sight of the Soviets, with only the NCO lying atop the hill to direct their fire. The Panzer IVs deployed the whole width of my deployment zone, the Panther one to each flank. Each tank would start the game at full speed. The Pioniere waited in their half-tracks inside the woods on the right. The idea was for the tanks to clear the opposition before they would move forward to take the warehouse. The Panzer IV were meant to breach the barbed wire on the flanks since I hoped that only the direct approaches would be mined (this would prove right on later inspection). Since the dug-out for the field gun was almost touching the right table edge I decided that I would only do so on the left flank. The Panther would only move forward a little, giving fire support with their high velocity 7,5cm guns. The mortar team would support these moves and try to take out the crash-boom and the HMG.
The game was not up to a good start for me. I had hoped that the tanks speed would give them enough protection against the Russian gunners. But when the left hand SU-76 opened fire on one of my PzKw IV it scored a hit anyway. It killed the driver and commander and did heavy damage to the road wheels and tracks. The tank became slower due to the damage and the fact that a dead driver can not keep his foot on the throttle and thus became a far easier target when the self-propelled gun fired off its next shot. That one ruined the wheels and tracks completely and killed rest of the crew. The tank would be salvageable, but was out of the game without ever firing a shot. The Panther on the right flank did not get off to a good start either. It botched its breakdown roll on its first move and would only be able to move at a snail’s pace due to a damaged gearbox. Unfortunately this would mean that it had to end its move with its flank open to the right hand Russian positions. Not a good start!
This was somewhat set off by the fact that my mortar team got in action quiet well. Their first shot landed on the parapet of the field gun position. It only rattled the gun crew, but they were quickly able to adjust their fire and the next two shots landed smack in the middle of the position killing the crew and disabling the gun.
The left flank Panzer IV took revenge for its mate and fired at the SU-76 which had given its position away. Even though it was dug in, the first shot hit true, set off the ammo inside and killed the crew. With half the Russian AT-firepower out of the game things were beginning to look good for the Germans. So the SU-122 felt it was time to add some spice to it all and fired at my limping Panther, but missed it. So the Panther decided to return the favour. It hit, but the shot deflected off the armour. Which was not too bad since it ripped open the fuel tanks and set the assault gun on fire. The crew managed to get out, but there went the Russians biggest gun.
But now the remaining SU-76 took its turn and hit the slowed Panther in its flank. The shot penetrated the armour and hit the engine, setting it and the whole tank alight.
The crew of the SP-gun did not have much time to celebrate. Now that it had given away its position as well, the remaining Panther fired on it. Just like its brother the armour proved to week for the high velocity gun and again it went up in a ball of flames.
With no danger for them left on the table the Panzer all stopped to be more stable firing platforms and reloaded with high explosive ammo to take care of the infantry. The Soviet off-board mortar fire arrived, but the shots scattered wide and did not hit the PzKw IVs it was aimed at.
When the first 7,5cm shell hit a shell hole killing its occupants and the men hiding behind the warehouse started taking losses as well, things did not look too good for the Russians. The approach of the two Panzer III did not make things any more pleasant (especially the prospect of the Flammpanzer). When they saw the Pionier half-tracks moving up as well they lost their nerve and started to run. The Germans had won the day.
So in the end it was a German victory with the loss of one tank and five crew (6 victory points to the Soviets). The Soviets lost three tanks, eight crew, one gun and seven men (including the bonus for the game winner, 25 victory points total). So the first game of the final campaign started with a German win again. But from now on it would get harder… the final two games will always feature more Russian tanks then German ones. So stay tuned!
A last note: I will try to have the whole campaign in this one place. So I will re-post the reports from the first 4 games here as well in coming days. So if you have not read them on our clubs homepage, they will be here soon as well.
The Angry Lurker
April 24, 2012 at 12:45
An enjoyable read, good eye candy, I liked the stickers on the bases of the figures, going to check up on what I missed!
April 24, 2012 at 13:41
I have been following the campaign since you posted game 5. Excellent reading. Keep going!
April 24, 2012 at 14:09
Thank you guys!
@ Fran… the labels come in handy. Since the rules we use are card based this is the easiest way to find the mini that belongs to a given card.
Bruce D. Henderson
April 24, 2012 at 16:44
Wonderful to see these scenarios in 28mm – I did the less tank heavy ones in that scale.
As the Russian I would have probably placed my vehicles behind buildings and blanketed one flank with wire and minefields to channel Germans into the other flank. The vehicles could cover that open flank either directly or by popping out for a quick shot or two. Failing that the German armor would have to get pretty close which would be an equalizer for the Soviet guns. The Germans need to capture the warehouse for victory so would need infantry for that. They cannot keep their infantry back too long otherwise time runs out. Russians need to sit really tight and a) hope they are not spotted and b) have really good fire discipline until the Germans come upon them. The Su122 and the HMG and artillery are needed to strip the infantry from the tanks. The mortars would be best sighted just to the front of the warehouse. The Russians just need to survive long enough to kill German infantry and have stuff on the board to challenge occupation of the warehouse. Seems like your opponent went for the ‘up front and stop them at the gate’ approach rather than a more (risky) patient ‘let them advance the armor and strip away their infantry’ option.
Both ‘Face of Battle’ and ‘Arc of Fire’ are great rules for these scenarios! Thanks for posting these campaigns!
April 24, 2012 at 17:34
I agree with your observations. I would have played it different as well. Would have kept the gun and armour back (possibly hidden in the woods or behind the houses so not every tank would see me once I fired). Plus I would have placed the infantry inside the warehouse. It would have protected them from the mortar and would have made it harder to take. But this can not be helped.
In general I find that many of the ScirmishCampaighns scenarios call for inventive tactics rather then a direct approach. It suits me well, but I think my opponents rather favours linear tactics.
How did it end when you played it?
April 24, 2012 at 17:10
Nice looking game!!!
Bruce D. Henderson
April 24, 2012 at 19:14
Unfortunately, never played out this scenario – had to sell my 15’s AND 28’s to pay for medical bills overseas for my son (extortion basically -long story!) . Used my 15’s for the early war books and the 28’s for late war infantry stuff.
Other similar scenarios in the 1941 books -the Senno II and III from Ghosts at Smolensk – I did exactly that with my Russian BT-7’s. Germans waited too long to bring their infantry up (hoping the tanks would do all the work -which I (and mud) didn’t give them a chance to), so they lost the scenario and quite a bit of the infantry caught in the open trying to make up the lost time .
Have started collecting US, UK and German forces in 20mm then will move back to the Eastern Front. [Waiting for Valiant to make Russian infantry]. Have pretty much all the SkirmishCampaign books. My favorite is the Norway book actually, as it has an algorithm rather than purely linear campaign design, and is mostly infantry focused.
I agree one has to make good decisions based upon resources and lay of land and keep a good handle on victory conditions – both the scenario and the campaign. Gamers are not used to retreating, losing the skirmish but conserving for future encounters. The VP’s for mission completion pale in comparison to lost VP’s for KIA’s etc -unless the scenario allows you to throw stuff away for free. Gives one a good idea of some the challenges of a platoon or company commander. And yes, there are times we you just have to bite the bullet (follow orders) and charge up the middle, or hold at all costs, and hope your luck holds, but this should be rare. Hope your friend learns this and does the (quick-learning) Soviets proud. Too difficult to go toe-to-toe with German armor leadership and coordination – let alone long 75’s. Beat them in-depth -obstacles, channeling, AT positions, strip off the infantry with artillery and pinning fire, then close assault the tanks as they pass, and if you have armor bring it out now for the counterpunch – preferably in the flank or bypass into the enemy’s rear area. Trying to match strength for strength at this juncture in the war would not be a good idea. Linear tactics just welcomes someone to lay down a parallel sheath artillery barrage and suppress or cover with smoke (which gamers also neglect) your entire force. Or pick stuff off from overwatch as it appears. Thanks again for the entertaining battle reports!
April 25, 2012 at 09:04
That is a bummer! But I am sure your son is grateful for your sacrifice! But it is good you are rebuilding your collection and I think 20mm is a good choice (I am not even sure if I would go 28mm again today).
I agree that the SC books can be a real challange. As you said… you can technically win a scenario, but loose so many points, that it becomes quiete a hollow victory. It almost happened to me with the “Pioneers Forward!” Scenario from this book. Hardly any time to reach the objective, not sure thwere the minefield was in the first place and a hail of Soviet fire. For a real life commander a mission like that is a nightmare (not to speak of the men being fed into such a meatgrinder)!
The Norway book is one of my favourites, too. I am just waiting for someone to do some proper minis (especially early war Highlanders) for it!
Once we are done with this book we plan to play “Monty´s Epsom”… only problem right now is that none of the Brits and only half the SS needed are painted. 😦
Bruce D. Henderson
April 26, 2012 at 17:56
If you switch to 20mm, FAA (Battalion Games now) has the French, Norwegians and early war Brits – not sure where to get the Highlanders. AB perhaps -or go with WWI Highlanders with helmets for the riflemen, Lewis MG’s instead of Brens? For the German sailors would just go with some form of German infantry – I believe there are some German figs with the Czech LMG or could mix in some interwar Soviet Sailors?
Luckily Warlord Games seems to be just pumping out plastics in 28mm. Plenty of figs and vehicles now available for Epsom – you seem to have the Germans covered. Big tables in 28mm. 4′ x14′ in the last scenario – that’s if you use those larger ranges. Another reason I went 20mm! 2’x 7′ more manageable!
April 26, 2012 at 19:52
Your posts reminded me of seeing an announcement last year. There are some highlanders from Pulp Miniatures which should do:
Artizan has other early war Brits and I think someone anounced 28mm Norwegians last year. So it should work out in 28mm soon, too.
Late War Brits are quiet good to go:
And I incidently started painting the infantry today.
August 31, 2012 at 01:42
I was able to find the FOB rules. Thinking of using the tank charts From. Battleground WW2 to detail up the hits to vehicles. Only use the charts broken down by d20 results. I guess I need more detail. Game mechanics look good. I will have questions for you.
September 5, 2012 at 10:37
glad you liked them so far. Feel free to ask any questions that come to your mind!