J102 The Yelnya Bridge - AAR

von Marwitz

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J102 The Yelnya Bridge - AAR

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This little scenario I have skipped over several times because for some reason I always believed I had played it before. It turned out that I had not. As I had just finished reading most of the quite monumental (in size) divisional history of "Das Reich", I took this as a hook to play it now. In this playing, I have been the Russian defender.

There is some oddity about board 47 worth the mention. On the current SK style boards and VASL boards, hexes F3, G3, and H2 stand out strangely showing Level 2 Hill artwork while the center dot in these hexes is at Level 1. This would make them, by the letter of the rule, Level 1 hexes. However, on the original mounted versions of board 47, which were the sole ones in use when this scenario was originally designed, it was Level 2 Hill artwork that surrounded the center dots. So board 47 in the current 'official' SK-style version and the VASL version based on it have what one could call a 'flaw'. It is my recommendation to talk this over with your opponent for any game set on the non-mounted versions of bd 47. In any case, we played those three hexes as if they were Level 2 because this is how the situation was at the time of the scenario design.

The objective for the Russians is to exit a number of VP along the North edge (at the top), some of which must be Infantry (Prisoners don't count) for an immediate win or else Control the three building hexes at game end.

Many will connect board 47 to PTO. Indeed it is quite a nasty place to move about, first and foremost with vehicles. Entering from the South (bottom) and intending to exit in the North (top), two obvious choke points stand out glaringly: H6 (with the bridge) and Q6. Even after having crossed the Stream, vehicles have very few options to move off North. But as well for Infantry, the Stream or Stream-Woods hexes take time to cross. The thick Woods in the northern middle of the board will make it difficult for the Russians to switch forces from the West to the East and vice versa.

With regard to the forces, the Germans have two PSW 221, which can move on roads as quick as lightning, but which are quite brittle. A Pz IIIG and a Pz IIF are solid tools in the German's box, however, all German AFV can easily be taken out by the 'King Kong of All Evil', the Russian 76L ART piece, which can also fire SMOKE. The German Infantry is an SS crack force, even sporting 3x 548SS Assault Engineers, however, with only light SW and only two Leaders.

The Russians get a mix of 1st Line and Conscript squads, a 9-0 Commissar and an 8-1, one MMG, LMG, 50mm MTR, and ATR each. Their key asset is the aforementioned 76L 'Ratsch-Bumm' (in conteporary German vernacular) ART piece. 4 Dummy counters, two Trenches and a Pillbox are supposed to stiffen the Russian position. In mid-game, the Russians receive reinforcements in the form of one Platoon of Infantry. Another ally of the Russian is, of course, in many but not all ways the terrain.

4.5 Turns means that the Germans have no time for sloth.


Situation at Game Start:

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The Russians can take various approaches: They can put everything in the East (right), they could put everything in the West (left) or they can split their forces. Putting everything on one side will give the Germans at least the temporary benefit, that some of the Russians will have to change positions. The Western side has the added attraction, that if developments show exiting enough stuff being out of the question, the Gemans can still attempt to capture the buildings for a win. Likely for these reasons, my opponent chose the 'put all in the West' approach.

With my Russian defence, of course I had to prepare for all eventualities. So I sought out places from which my ranged weapons and those with anti-AFV capability (how flimsy it might be) could reach some targets. Furthermore, naturally, I needed to cover the choke points and have an eye on my capability to shift Russian forces from side to side - or rather from the middle to one side - before my reinforcements could plug any gaps that might have torn up until then.


Situation at the End of German Turn 1:

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In German Turn 1, my HIP Russian Gun position made its appearance concealed at once, since it did not set up in Concealment Terrain. That did not really concern me as it would get into action soon enough. For sure, not even having fired a shot yet, the Gun made a serious impression upon my opponent as he decided to move all his AFV offboard before entering. This put them into positions, where they would not be able to get to places fast - so it was quite a gamble in the light of an Exit VP option.

The German Infantry could more or less move where it wanted to with its Morale of 8 and as my Russians were often obliged to fire long range. But there were some successes: A 548SS AE with the 8-1 moved into the Bore Sighted hex of my MTR in H7 - and got KIA'ed with the Leader broken. Another 548SS AE was broken by the MMG.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 1:

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In my Russian Turn 1, I was pretty safe from most of the German AFV. My ATR was hoping to kill one of the thin-skinned PSWs, but no luck. Unfortunately, I broke my MTR, but I was happy to break two more German squads, one of which rolled Boxcars to be reduced to a HS.

For the second Turn, the German would not have the punch he needed to get forward quickly.


To be continued in a subsequent post...

von Marwitz
 
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Eagle4ty

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J102 The Yelnya Bridge - AAR

View attachment 16512


This little scenario I have skipped over several times because for some reason I always believed I had played it before. It turned out that I had not. As I had just finished reading most of the quite monumental (in size) divisional history of "Das Reich", I took this as a hook to play it now. In this playing, I have been the Russian defender.


Step by step I will complete this AAR when I find the time...

von Marwitz
Fun little scenario. Plays basically plays the same every time and setups and attack plans vary little so not much replay value but worth a once over.
 

von Marwitz

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Which Das Reich history did you read, and would you recommend it?
This one. Less volumes I. and III. and without the illustrated book. I don't own the volumes which I did not read.
It seems to be out of print, the language is German. I do not know if an English translation exists.

In comparison to other divisional histories that I own, this one is quite massive. My estimate for all five volumes would be close to 2000 pages.

The author, Otto Weidinger was a highly decorated SS regimental commander (Knightscross with Oakleaves and Swords I believe) at the end of the war. His attitude towards the SS is rather - uncritical - I'd say. He almost always leaves out politics, though. Each of the three volumes that I have read II, IV, V contain some pages with pictures and numerous small maps. If you want to track the movement of units down to regimental or even batallion level, then this one is for you. But you should provide yourself with some maps for the purpose.
There are some interspersed individual combat reports by various soldiers of the division, but these are relatively rare and short. More of that would have given a much better understanding of the 'life on the ground'. I have read other divisional histories or individual accounts that much better capture the actual atmosphere, while this divisional history is more abstract in many cases. If you look at this divisional history as a source for scenario designs, it might be a disappointment.

von Marwitz
 
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Chris_Riches

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Thanks, both for a swift reply and also a really useful characterisation of the books. I can recognise the style - I have read various German ones vs others, and there is a bit of a nationality trait amongst them.
 

von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of German Turn 2:

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In German Turn 2, my opponent was still struggling to get his Infantry force back in order. The German AFV dispersed again, the tanks being apparently content to act as fire-bases instead of planning for an exit. My Russians could not do any damage except to re-DM two of his squads while the Germans helped a bit by eliminating another HS by a boxcars roll on a MC.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 2:

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In Russian Turn 2, the German Infantry mostly rallied again - but it had lost valuable time. I had no reason to change my disposition much. My Leader in L2 managed to Shock the PSW in O7 before being killed by th German Tank in L8 himself. This was somewhat of a setback, because now I had no Leader any more in the center. However, in my next turn, a 7-0 would enter with the Russian reinforcements. My 76L Gun just failed to eliminate the Pz II in S8, merely immobilizing it. Once again, the German 548SS AE squad in D8 was re-DM'ed.


Situation at the End of German Turn 3:

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By German Turn 3, it had become rather obvious that the instant win by exiting VP appeared improbable. The PSW flippen from Shock to UK. His Infantry having recovered, my opponent now made a push forward in earnst.

First, the Pz II dueling with my Gun on the hill managed to break its crew. Remarkably, my opponent used its MA for TH attempts and fired the CMG separately and did not combine the MA with the CMG for an IFE shot. With the most dangerous Russian weapon neutralized for the moment, the second PSW braved the bridge, surviving a Bore Sighted TH/TK by the Russian MMG on the hill, to VBM freeze a Russian Conscript squad in Building I5. Quite daring, but it allowed the German Infantry to move into the Stream. I realized too late, that the Russian MMG does have LOS into the two most important Stream hexes.

My Russians could not do a lot of damage, however, the German 8-1 Leader was broken again - which was nice. Furthermore, the Russian Sniper had eliminated a broken German HS. The German Infantry losses were tallied with one Assault Engineer Squad and three Halfsquads, the absence of which could be felt.

It was excellent news that my Conscript squad in I5 survived this turn, ending up in CC with the PSW.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 3:

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Russian Turn 3 saw the entry of my reinforcements, consisting of 3x 447, a LMG, and a 7-0. One of the squads I detailed to move towards my Gun with the intention to act as a temporary crew until my Infantry Crew would recover. The rest entered in the center. One German PSW finally became a 'confirmed' kill in O7.

Again, I could do not overly much damage to the Germans with my fire, but importantly, I managed to break a 548SS AE which was preparing to place a DC on my Conscripts with the PSW in its hex. The bad thing for the Germans in being broken in the Stream hex was that they would need to rout back out as long a I had a GO unit next to it. That way, some attempts of the Germans to finally emerge on the other side had been frustrated at considerable cost in time. The 548SS AE in D8 was re-DM'ed yet again, this time by the Russian Sniper. Still, all these little successes added up and had prevented the German attack from gaining momentum so far. As it was clear that nothing would happen on the eastern (right) flank, I moved my units from there over towards the buildings.

As the crowning end to this Turn, the Russian Conscripts in I5 eliminated the remaining PSW in CC, now being ready to fire Point Blank at any Germans in the ADJACENT stream hex in German Turn 4.


To be continued in a subsequent turn.

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of German Turn 4:

16546

In Turn 4, the Germans were painfully aware that they were running out of time. And Russians were closing in towards the buildings from various directions. Still, the Germans had no choice but to push forward. My Russian 447 had 'found' the 76L Gun to serve it as a temporary crew.

As the Germans attacked once more through the Stream and across the Bridge, the same thing happened as before. My Russians always managed to break a couple of them and the German attack just could not gain steam. By now the PzIII was in the Stream and in the CCPh, my brave Conscript Squad in I5 found itself in Melee with a German 9-1 and a HS.

The prospect looked very grim for the Germans.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 4:

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Russian Turn 4 saw yet another beating back of a desperate German attack. Despite all attempts, the Germans could not get out of the Stream without being shot up and forced to rout back to the southern side. My temporary Gun crew did just fine and blazed the German Pz IIIG. The German units in H7 were all broken, consisting of a 8-1, two squads+LMG and a halfsquad.

Russian units reinforced the two yet uncontested buildings and the area around them to create a 'wall of bodies'. A Conscript squad advanced to H5 to block the Bridge exit hex. German Passage through the Stream was now requiring even more MF due to the burning Wreck of the tank.
At last, the Melee in I5 was inconclusive. I had reinforced it with a Concealed Conscript squad which elected not to take part in the attack, with the intention to prolong the Melee and to serve as a block to any German movement on top of that.

Nothing short of a miracle could now prevent a Russian victory.


Situation at the Start of the PFPh of German Turn 5 - Game End:

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The only German unit which rallied was the 548 in D8. At last. But too late. None of the units in H7 came back.
At this point, my opponent conceded. Russian win.


Review:

It was a nice little scenario. I liked it. Probably the replay value is limited because there are only so many paths the Germans can take on the halfboard and only so many ways the Russians can defend against it. That Russian 76L Gun can be a real beast in this one. If you are looking for a quick, short game, this one is for you.


von Marwitz
 
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AdrianE

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Nice AAR. I like all of the ones of yours that you have posted.
Why give the MTR to a conscript? Its a key weapon in this scenario and I would not want to take the risk of higher breakdown numbers.
 

von Marwitz

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Nice AAR. I like all of the ones of yours that you have posted.
Why give the MTR to a conscript? Its a key weapon in this scenario and I would not want to take the risk of higher breakdown numbers.
Thank you for the kind words.

I gave the MTR to a Concript because I wanted a squad with a normal range of 4 in the Pillbox in Q3 or from the Trench in R2 to reach the Stream with full FP. Holding that flank merely with Conscripts that stand the risk of double-cowering and Morale 6 seemed a higher risk to me than the increased B# for the MTR. Further, I did not count on the Conscript squad retaining the MTR unbroken anyway (as it is indeed an important weapon) and figured it would be retrieved by one of the reinforcing 447s.

von Marwitz
 
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