Campaign AAR: Ozerekya Breakout (OzB)

nebel

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Timely that another poster would resurrect FCGorgon's nice AAR from last year. That thread inspired me to complete the campaign myself... Just finished my first ever play through of the Ozerekya Breakout HASL package from Lone Canuck. With only a tiny bit of arm twisting, my regular weekly opponent agreed to take the plunge on a HASL campaign which would be the first for both of us. To get warmed up on the layout of the map and the related rules for the situation, we played through the scenarios before diving into the full campaign or “Tactical Mission” in LCP parlance. The scenarios were mostly ‘meh’ however the 4th scenario “Jackboot to the Rear” was good fun and came down the last turn – giving us a taste of the tense times ahead in the campaign trying to attack and defend with seemingly inadequate forces.

This campaign features Russian Marines trying to breakout from their beachead (off board) and liberate the village of Glebovka. This campaign was designed to have up to 8 missions: morning and afternoon over 4 consecutive days. There are no night missions so our lack of experience there would not be exposed by a searchlight or its reflection in that chrome.

During this campaign, the combatants will field around 2-3 companies of infantry per side per mission including platoons of various MGs and HW. Both sides can add a limited number of engineers with their toys at any point in the endeavor. A small handful of AFV, a good selection of artillery (both on and offboard), as well as air support are also available to round out the options. The force mix and moderate counter density were appealing and the variety of choices did not disappoint during the campaign. For the defensive missions, fortifications are available to create strongpoints and will be valuable to both combatants as the battle tips back and forth. In fact, the Russians have only 5 attack options and are in ammo shortage after TM4 so in effect they need to move up the board and then hold on when the Axis counter punches.

My opponent prefers both to play the Axis and to defend so we had little trouble choosing sides. As the Russian I looked forward to unleashing some NOBA for the first time in my ASL career and planned to rush across the valley with light tanks and riders to try to grab some of the Tactical Locations (TAC) as early as possible. To supplement the OOB provided troops, I purchased a rifle company, a tank platoon, the big caliber NOBA as well as some reserve SMG troops. My main force of grunts would head up the west side taking the town and seizing as much of the road as possible to aid progress later in the campaign. I purchased a HW platoon to give me some MRT smoke and some MMG in the R37 two story building on the south edge as a fire base with a few remaining squads to the east again to capture TAC to avoid surprises downstream. I would note that with only one company of engineers available for the campaign that I plan to save them for the street fighting in the village or clearing a strongpoint along the way.

My expectation was that my opponent would defend upfront trying to bleed my forces as I pushed up the valley. The Russian spy network was not well informed! This screenshot shows the majority of the axis setup. Additional troops were stationed in the cellars of the village looking for vodka and hoping the NOBA would not head their way.OzB TM1 start.png
 

nebel

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My powerful 180mm NOBA fire missions land at the G30 and O29 areas at the tree line where I expected him to cover my assault across open ground - nothing there, at all except a few dummies... Instead I am facing a line of strongpoints high in the hills in the west with MGs and mortars and guns trained my direction with additional strongpoints far to the rear in the east. I would be facing crossfire for several TM’s.

However, on the whole, this worked to my advantage as I was able to push up both the east and the west sides. The long range from the Romanian guns and small size of my Stuarts allowed me to make good gains in the middle as well. As a result, my poor firebase took the brunt of many ROF shots and despite rotating skulking units, it was a tough position to be in. The losses were disconcerting not for their quantity but more for my inability to put any fire on target from this base of fire.

By the end of the first TM I reached his main line of resistance around A23-F23-I25 and pushed up hill mass on the east side all the way to CC16 area. The highlight of the first scenario for me was having a Stuart push up the east hill with a trail break taking what seemed like a dozen shots off of its armour and then return fire at a 47L ATG in a pillbox landing an improbable CH taking out the gun (and thusly the crew) in the next fire phase. Map photo shown below.

I had several big lessons learned for this first ‘mission’ in the campaign. For one, my tanks pushed a bit too far ahead landing themselves isolated in enemy territory when the scenario ended early. The subsequent redeployment cost me a tank due to this mistake. Secondly my failure to divert squads to digging foxholes as I advanced cost me in terms of having my east flank under ammo shortage during TM2. Fortunately, I completed a couple of foxholes along the front line so I was able to hold my gains in the west and force him to spend extra TP to reinforce his front line.

VP counts for TM1 were Axis gaining 24 CVP and Russians gaining 20 CVP along with 3 Location VP. In a theme that would develop as we go along my opponent lost several support weapons and a gun to permanent breakdown. Otherwise casualties were limited as I pushed along as far as I could while staying out of sight from his main strongpoints. From my view this was a successful first mission and the capture of the large Z24 hill mass will allow me to have a fire base during subsequent missions to hit both his MLR as well as Glebovka itself. Two VASL screenshots show main fronts East and West at end of TM1 consolidation
 

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King Scott

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I've played this one a couple of times, and it is a lot of fun...you are both in for some good times. The Romanians are in trouble with such a strong Russian penetration in the East...the Romanians want the Russians in the center and not behind the tree line.

Semper Fi!
Scott
 

nebel

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I've played this one a couple of times, and it is a lot of fun...you are both in for some good times. The Romanians are in trouble with such a strong Russian penetration in the East...the Romanians want the Russians in the center and not behind the tree line.

Semper Fi!
Scott
Yep the Russians had some running room early.
 

nebel

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In TM2 as the Russian I of course had to continue the attack. I would now have my well led SMG reserves from TM1 joined by another HW platoon, a rifle company, as well as more NOBA and air support aiming at breaking up the MLR. My TM2 goals were to consolidate gains by capturing missed Tactical Locations (TL) and break the MLR along the west edge to reduce the cross fire that I was taking in the valley, continue pushing up the east edge to the hill at DD9 where my opponent had created a strong line of fortifications overlooking the vineyard in front of the V13/V14 victory building.
OzB TM2 setup west.PNG
I set the rifle company on the east flank woods hoping a strong push in this sector would allow me to flank the T13/V14 compound. The mortar would support this flank hoping for some smoke to limit the crossfire. A few units would also be diverted to grab the remaining isolated axis controlled TL behind my front lines.
OzB TM2 setup east.PNG
 

nebel

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TM2 Report: Again the NOBA failed to do anything useful as it drifted off the mark. This would be indicative of the tough slog I had in front of me in TM2. Similarly my air support showed itself as extremely finicky - each plane rolling high enough to be recalled rather than attacking... Some units moved down the hill alone into the vineyard and slowly moved toward the objective and throughout this mission my units would slowly get chewed up by stripping concealment, breaking, reducing and dying in ROF attack after ROF attack from the many Romanian mg’s. In truth this battle of attrition was on both sides as the b11 weapons also started melting away and although I would lose a HS at a time I did not give my opponent large stacks to destroy. The key goal here was to claim enough territory that the Z24 hill would be secure enough to set up reserves on it in the next TM allowing me to bring cheap guns directly to bear on the axis of evil. The cost in men and machines was heavy...

My sole armour loss back in TM1 was the redeployment to escape isolation but that did not carry through in the second mission. My opponent purchased both of his remaining Romanian ATG groups and used them to good effect. The air was filled with AP rounds flying at me from all sides. The tighter ranges increasing the penetration value of these small guns just enough to make them dangerous. Soon I had lost 3 tanks burning in the vineyards and valley with an additional tank recalled for breaking its MA. My sole remaining tank was reduced to hiding in the stream. This turned out to be effective in assisting the infantry assault up the main road. Unfortunately it found an axis ATG in L18 which hit and immobilized it adjacent to that building at the end of the mission.

In the end, TM2 was extremely tough on the allies with the worst being an ill advised human wave into the forest on the east edge attempting to chase what appeared to be a sole picket squad. I had squealed with glee that I would be able to push quickly up the west flank and reach the picket. Unfortunately my 6 human wave squads discovered that the picket was secured behind a 4 hex minefield along the DD14 chokepoint. I marked this area for avoidance in the future with a string of dead Russians. I lost 4.5 squads and wounded my leader jumping into and limping out of those mines. You can see the massive green wall on the east flank and the offending minefield that ate up most of a company of Russians trying to flank them. The compound is also still firmly in axis hands.


OzB TM2 end East.png

Meanwhile, in the west little progress was made due to the isolation on the hill, the cover of the C21 trench with MGs and an AA gun, and the time it took to position the next wave of bodies for an effective assault. With my remaining Stuart assisting I did make progress up the road. After several squads were sent packing I was able to reach and seize the next treeline from F23-J23. Unfortunately, further advance meant pushing forward in the CA of the pillbox on C20 which would need to be blocked or reduced for effective progress in TM3.

OzB TM2 end West.png

The end of TM2 showed a stinging loss for the Russians who burned through 62 VP of casualties while achieving only 7 VP of kills on the Romanian forces. The biggest success for me in this mission was the ability to secure enough of a buffer on the Z24 hill to enable the purchase of guns in reserves on the hill for use in the future.
 
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