As promised, today I am migrating the first four games from our Grossdeutschland at Kursk campaign to this blog as well. The first was played in April 2009 (about three years ago… we are really taking too long with this!), number 4 a little over one year ago.
I hope there are no major problems with the text! We had to migrate the server for our homepage to a new software twice and at times this created havoc with the text, and I am not sure if none of these mistakes made the move to this blog. If they did… well I hope you enjoy it anyway;-):
Game 1, Prelude
The first game is taking place on the eve of the battle of Kursk. The German player has to capture or destroy a Soviet observation post and, if possible, exit the Russian side of the board with a certain amount of troops for a decisive victory. The Soviet player has to prevent this.
The Terrain is relatively open. On the right hand side of the German deployment zone there is a lightly wooded hill. On the left side of the table, as well as in the middle of it there is another light wood each. In addition there is a ravine running the left hand side of the table. The Russian player can set up in fixed positions and foxholes. And he has some barbed wire to place (I did not get this done in time, so we used barbed wire fencing instead).
The German player had an Infantry Platoon HQ, two infantry squads (with two MG-42 each) at his disposition. In addition there was also a tri-pod mounted MG-42 team.
The Russian player had an observer team (setting up inside the OP), one rifle squad and a Maxim Team. In addition he received an AT-Rifle team. There were no tanks present, but its range and punch could still hurt the infantry.
The Russian player deployed his troops in a line spanning the whole of the table. The Maxim was deployed on his right flank covering the ravine, the LMG in the centre and the AT-Rifle on his left flank.
I decided to concentrate my troops on my right flank. Here I was hoping to receive some cover from the hill and woods for the beginning of my advance, I could concentrate my force on one spot and my MG´s (two from the Infantry Squads and the Tri-pod mounted one) would be able to keep the Russian positions at bay from atop the hill. At least that was the plan?
But there is this saying… no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. And that was the case here as well. One of the infantry machine gunners was dead, before he could even open fire. The same held true for the assistant on the other MG team, the Schütze who wanted to take his place and the NCO accompanying them. Another infantryman was so shocked by this that he was too shaken to fight on for the rest of the game. And then the Maxim and LMG opened up. While doing little physical damage, they certainly did not help German morale. At last the remaining MG-42, even if it had to fire without a feeder, and the tri-pod mounted MG-42 opened up and forced the Russian heavy weapons to cease fire. While the MG-42 on tri-pod slowly decimated the Maxim position, the remaining MG-42 fell victim to the Russian Riflemen. Now the assistant from the other MG seemed to get quite angry due to the death of his mates and started picking off the Russian infantry on the left flank, something he managed to complete until the end of the game with a little help from another Schütze. The MG-42 HMG kept the Russian positions at bay until the end of the game.
Things did not go any better on the other flank either. Right at the start one of the NCO´s fell victim to the AT-Rifle and the Russian infantry were taking a steady toll on the advancing Germans. And most of the deadly shots found the NCO´s. The two MG-42´s on that flank gave covering fire to their advancing comrades, taking on the OP and the foxhole with the AT-Rifle in the process. The AT-Rifle was quickly dispatched, same held true for a lot of Russian soldiers. The infantry started leapfrogging forward, all the while taking heavy losses from the few remaining Soviets. They also came under flanking fire from the LMG until it was in turn dispatched by the MG-42´s. In the end only one Russian remained, but he managed to severely wound the German Officer and kill one NCO? I guess this happens if you lead from the front.
With the last defender dead, the Germans blew up the OP and moved on (with the exact minimum required for a decisive victory, which certainly did not feel like one).
The Germans suffered 19 losses (KIA & WIA) with 10 men surviving, the Russians 21 losses (KIA and WIA) with no survivors.
After this scenario the score is 26 Victory Points and 6 Attachment Point for the Germans versus 19 Victory Points for the Russians.
(The Germans did not spend any AP´s to change the variable attachments for the next game.)
Game 2, Gertsovka Station
The second game took place on the 4th of July 1943 as well. And again the terrain was quite open. There were two hills on the German side of the table, one of them wooded. There were three other woods. One in the soviet deployment zone, one (from the German POV) slightly off left from the middle of the table and one on the right flank. The most striking feature was a small river dividing the table from left to right, which was spanned by a wooden bridge. There were two wooden houses in the soviet deployment zone. Just like before the Russian player would set up dug in. Plus he had barbed wire defences at his disposal.
The German player could make use of 3 infantry squads with one MG42 each and mounted on trucks. One of them would only arrive on turn 4, due to me having rolled a 4 on a D4 when checking for their arrival. In addition there was an infantry command group mounted on an unarmoured halftrack.
The Russian player had an infantry platoon command (great name for two men), a rifle squad with one LMG, an anti-tank-rifle team and a radio team at his disposal.
The Soviets had to either hold both buildings or to take and defend the woods on the right flank with at least ten men. Fulfilling both would be a decisive victory. The Germans had to prevent the Soviets from achieving either.
The majority of the Russians set up in either foxholes or the buildings. 12 men set up behind the building on the right to take the woods once the game began.
With the exception of the command group all the Germans began dismounted and along their table edge. The group inside the halftrack was meant to make a fast advance on the left and cross the river, while being covered by the remaining infantry. Since the Lieutenant wanted to retain direct command over the majority of his men, one of the riflemen took his place in the halftrack, while he stayed behind.
The Germans took a systematic start to the game. The two machine guns took positions on the hill taking the soviet positions under fire, while their comrades slowly advanced. On the Russian side part of their infantry took a dash from the houses to take the woods that were part of their victory conditions. This proved to be a very bad decision, since it put them right into the field of fire of one of the German MG´s and they took heavy losses. But for this MG it was not a walk in the park either. It gunner was quickly killed by the Russian LMG emplaced inside one of the buildings. This resulted in the second MG taking the house under fire. The Russian LMG gunner took cover. Meanwhile one of the infantrymen took the position of the dead gunner and recommenced fire on the advancing Russians. But this is not where the story ended. The Russian LMG started firing again despite the incoming fire and killed the replacement machine gunner. And then it started all over again. The Soviet LMG was forced to take cover, only to come back up again shortly after another trooper had taken over the first German MG to kill him. Just when we were afraid that this might go on forever, the second German MG killed the Soviet LMG gunner. The Russian infantry had stopped its advance to the woods… there were simply not enough men left to fulfil the victory conditions. Since the Soviet player had no chance left to achieve a decisive victory, he decided to concentrate completely on defending the buildings.
What had happened on the other flank in the meantime? At first the halftrack had been able to advance without being molested. Once it had crossed the creek, the defenders realised, what was coming at them and commenced firing. The infantry weapons failed to do much damage and the vehicles kept advancing towards the Russian foxholes until the AT-rifle scored a hit in the engine block, setting it on fire. Two soldiers were unable to get out of the burning halftrack in time. The rest of the squad went into position around the burning wreck, trying to expel their opponents from the foxholes using hand grenades. The Russians defended themselves in turn. But both sides only had limited success. The Russians simply lacked the range and they Germans, even though using stick grenades, did not throw well enough. When the Germans had lost two men, but the Soviets only one in this exchange, the German NCO charged through the Russian crossfire, firing his SMG from his hip and cleaned the foxholes.
This virtually broke the Russian resistance. So the Infantry began mounting their trucks to advance on the Soviet position. At the same time the 3rd rifle group finally entered the table. Driving their truck at top speed, they drove up to the bridge, taking it. Together with the remaining soldiers from the halftrack they cleared the buildings, thereby securing the German victory in this scenario.
All in all the German player secured 27 victory points and 2 attachment points for himself, the Russian player got 12 victory points. Just like he had done before, the German player chose not to use any AP´s to change his troop attachments for the next scenario.
Game 3, Pioneers Forward!
The next game depicted the 5th of July. The Germans had to make the most of their previous victories and break through the Russian minefields.
The table (again from the German POV) was flat, except for a hill on the right flank. It was cut left to right by a small river. There was a road running diagonally from the top to the bottom of the table, which crossed the river via a stone bridge. There were a few small woods around the table edges. As before the Soviet player was to set up in fixed positions. His deployment zone was slightly more than half the table. He was also allowed to place tons of barbed wire, a large (hidden) minebelt as well as two small minefields here. The Germans only had a small strip to set up on their table edge.
Battlefield from the German side
The defenders had to make do with a small force. There was a command squad consisting of a Lieutenant and two soldiers. In addition there was a 9 men rifle squad, with only one LMG, and an AT-rifle squad comprised by an NCO, two soldiers and the AT gunner.
Battlefield seen from the Soviet side
The Germans had a lot more and consisted of highly trained Pioniere. They had a Platoon HQ Squad consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, two Pioniere and a Kübelwagen. There were two Pionier Squads with two NCO´s, 9 Pioniere (one with a mine detector) and a machine gunner each. They were accompanied by a forward observer who was to co-ordinate their mortar support.
Their mission was simply to clear a path through the minebelt. The Russians had to prevent this. Simple enough? is it not? Well the biggest enemy for the Germans was time. The game would last a maximum of ten turns. This would be just enough time to sprint to the far side of the table and only if there was no stream and no barbed wire and no enemy to fire at you. And the Germans had no idea where the minebelt was. If the Russians had decided to place them at the very end of the table there would be no time to clear it.
After the Russians had set up things looked even worse. Since they could not be dug in on the stone bridge, one could see that the two small minefields had been deployed there. A quick crossing of the stream was impossible now. The barbed wire ran in one long line across the table on the German side of the river, while the Soviets were all sitting in trenches on the far side. So they could fire at the Germans while they had to deal with both the river and the wire.
Playing the Germans I decided to take a gamble. I assumed, that the minebelt would either be right infront of the barbed wire line, or between it and the river. That way I would be occupied to the maximum, while the Russians could pour their fire into me. So the Pioniere were to sprint until they had almost reached the barbed wire and were only to start looking for mines there. If my assumption was wrong? well then they would find the mines the hard way. Anyway… the two MG´s would stay behind with the officer to give covering fire, while the mortars would fire on the Russian main position.
But as the saying goes… no plan survives contact with the enemy. The Soviet fire was murderous right from the start. To have at least some cover, the Pioniere started their advance behind the hill, but once they were on top of it, the first three were KIA. The German MG fire caused minimal damage on the other side and the mortars fell short and continuously landed in the river. When the first Pionier with a minedetector had almost reached the wire more of his comrades had fallen and he started his search? finding nothing. I must have been wrong. One of his colleagues went forward to cut the wire and stepped on a mine.
Into the minefield
Another search showed that the minebelt was here indeed, but that the detector had failed to find it. Now the first three Pioniere started clearing a path under constant fire. Since the other Pioniere could do little to help them they started firing at the Russians and with great success. Their losses still mounted, but when more and more Soviets fell, the pressure on the Germans eased. One man caused another mine to explode while clearing it, but then the path was cleared.
At the wire
When the Pioniere closed on the bridge the 3 Russians still alive capitulated.
All in all the German player secured 26 victory points and 2 attachment points for himself, the Russian player got 20 victory points due to the high losses he had caused.
Game 4, Hill 247
The fourth game was the first from the second campaign and depicted events from the 6th of July. It was also the first game in the book that pitted armoured forces against one another. It re-enacted the German attack on Hill 247 which was only taken after 8 attempts in real life.
Except for the target hill on the Russian edge the terrain was flat. There were a few light woods in the German deployment zone, on the right flank and in the left Russian corner. In the middle of the table were two large corn fields, where the ground was very soft. Behind the right one was a large stone pile and there was a barn behind the left field.
The table from the German side
The Russians had a Command Squad with a Lieutenant and a soldier, a Rifle Section with an NCO, 7 soldiers and a LMG gunner, as well an artillery spotter at their disposal. In addition there was a 45mm AT gun with crew, as well as two T-34/76´s, all of them dug in and camouflaged. Except for the Rifle Section which deployed behind the stone pile everyone else dug in on the hill. Oh and there were two hidden minefields as well.
All the German troops were motorized. There was the Panzergrenadier Platoon HQ mounted on a SdKfz 251/10 consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, three Grenadieren and two gunners for the 37mm gun. There was also a Grenadiergroup inside a SdKfz 251/1 which featured two NCO´s, four Grenadiere and two MG-42 teams. In addition there was a 8cm mortar on a SdKfz 251/2 with a spotter team, two StuG IIIF, two Marder III SP (one represented by a Marder II) guns and two SdKfz 234 scout cars.
The Germans had to expel the Russians from the hill, they had to prevent this. For a decisive victory the Germans were not allowed to lose more than two vehicles, while the Russians had to destroy 5 or more for a decisive victory of their own.
Due to their weak armour the 251´s became a real risk for a German victory, So all 3 of them stayed hidden behind one of the woods in the German deployment zone. The Grenadiers were to wait here until the T-34´s had been dispatched, while the mortar would fire at the Soviet positions with the aid of its spotters inside the woods. The remaining vehicles would advance over the flanks. The scout cars would bring up the flanks, with the Sturmgeschütze next and the Marder in the middle. The scouts were in danger too since they too were only lightly armoured, but they were supposed to use their high-speed in their defence. Plus? they had to advance fast to spot the T-34´s in case the SP guns failed to do so and if push came to shove they had to attack the from behind with their autocannons. The Marder too had to stay on the move, since their armour was inadequate, too.
So the Germans started their advance, while the crews tried to spot the Russian tanks with limited success. The Soviet infantry stayed calm. Just as the scout car on the left pushed through a minefield that had been hidden between the field and the table edge without taking major damage it spotted one of the T-34´s. but before it could radio on its findings, both tanks shot at one of the Marder without scoring a hit, but giving their positions off anyway. Now all German guns stopped and fired at the tanks. But they either missed or the shots got stuck in the earth in front of the dug in tanks. At this very moment the Russian AT gun fired at the left scout car setting it on fire. Just the rear driver got out in time and managed to save himself. At once one of the Marder reloaded and scored a direct hit on the AT position.
What followed showed the big weakness of the early T-34´s. Since the commander had to handle the gun and command his crew he could do neither very effectively. Before they had reloaded, the Germans were always on the move again and the Russians missed their moving targets. So this turned into a game of cat and mouse. The Russians shot at the moving Germans and missed. They in turn stopped to fire but only hit the earthen positions most of the time and were back on the move before the Soviets returned their fire.
Then three things happened almost at once. One of the Marder got stuck in the soft ground of the fields. While the driver tried his best to get it unstuck, the crew saw one of the T-34´s taking aim. They quickly reloaded, fired and hit the turret. The shot pierced the armour, set of the ammo stored there and the tank exploded.
The second T-34 tried to take revenge but narrowly missed the stuck Marder. Shortly after it got itself free and moved on. Now the Russian Infantry opened fire on the remaining scout car. The rifles could not do any damage, but the LMG pierced the turret, destroying the 20mm gun and killing the gunner. The driver decided to take revenge and speeded towards the soldiers behind the stone pile. Five could not evade and were run over. While the scout car turned to run over the foxholes on the hill the rear driver moved into the turret and manned the MG.
Just at that moment one of the Sturmgeschütze hit the remaining T-34 and set it on fire. Now the Panzergrenadiere moved off to clear the hill and the SP guns switched to HE ammo. The very first shot from one of the Marder hit the foxhole with the spotter, who was still trying in vain to call in an artillery strike. The other trenches were hit in quick succession and the Russian position was completely annihilated.
All in all the game went surprisingly fast and did not even last three complete turns. Too fast for the German mortar, which was still ranging in at that time. Just as surprising the Germans only lost one scout car and only 4 crew between both scout cars.
The German player got 31 victory points and 6 attachment points for himself, the Russian player only got 5 victory points. While the German player only rolled a poor attachment for the next game (two Panzerkampfwagen III), he chose not to use any AP´s since they would not have changed the result.