SP246 Triggerline Zoebel - AAR

von Marwitz

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SP246 Triggerline Zoebel - AAR

17383

Scenario Overview:

This scenario features an interesting and unusual tactical situation which is why I selected it for play.
The Russians have to assault across two Foot Bridges placed as part of the setup. Russian AFVs can solely cross over a Pontoon Bridge in U4 which is only completed (i.e. placed on board) at the start of Russian Turn 2. After having crossed the water obstacle of the 'Hauptgraben Canal', the challenge lies in navigating lots of open ground vs. German resistance while attempting to gain armor superiority, without which the attack might end in a blood-bath, in order to dislodge the German Infantry.

The action is set in mid-March 1945 on the Eastern Front close to the Seelow Heights and the river Oder which was the last major obstacle on the Russian's juggernaut to Berlin. EC are Wet and the ground soggy, which is represented by all AFVs paying an extra 1MP per non-road/bridge hexside crossed. As an added twist, all German AFV must pass a TC if a IS-2m (the Russians have two) crosses the water obstacle, a Flooded Stream, for the first time, failure of which is harshly penalized by Recall.

The objective is to clear most of the buildings west (to the left) of the water obstacle of Good Order Germany MMC for which the Russians have 6.5 Turns.

The Germans have 9x 467 with a normal assortment of SW but only two Leaders (a 9-1 and 8-1).These Germans are burdened with an ELR of 2. Their armored element is impressive - 2x Pz VG, 2x Pz VIE(L) with a SPW 251/1 thrown in.

The Russians have 14 squads roughly half of them Elite and 1st Line with a reasonable assortment of SW. Only three Leaders (9-2, 8-1, 7-0) seem a bit scarce in the light of the ample Open Ground they have to cross. This at-start force is supported by two T-34/85 and a 82mm MTR, which is clearly no match for the German armor. However, the Russians do get armored support with a punch in the form of two IS-2m and two IS-2 arriving in Turn 2. Any of these is perfectly capable to take out the German panzers and the IS-2m is frontally almost impervious to the Tiger's MA. Even the Panther's gun only has a chance to take these out frontally by a turret hit. The 'regular' IS-2 tanks are not quite as well armored but still are no piece of cake.


Preliminary Assessment:

The focus for the Russian attack must be the southern board 70, as most of the buildings, in which the German Infantry can hide, find themselves there. The notable exception is the 44R7 compound.

For the Russians, there are only two jumping-off positions that provide a semblance of cover: the central 70U1 Woods area and even less so the 70V10 area on the southern (bottom) board edge. On the German side, close to possible crossing points, there is only a single Woods hex in 70T10 which can be put under enemy fire and a small patch of woods close to the Pontoon Brigde being completed in Russian Turn 2 consisting of hexes 70R5/S5, which can be put under enemy fire as well. Besides that, Open Ground all over the place with three lone out of season Orchard hexes sprinkled in.

You will have understood that I have just described the main challenge for the Russians: The Germans will set up somewhere in the good TEM of the buildings towards the rear and take long-range pot shots vs. the Russians advancing towards them with nowhere to hide or to seek cover.

Meanwhile, as long als the German Armor is around, the Russian tanks cannot expose their flanks and the T-34s will be easy game. As such, the Russian armor is limited in its ability to closely support the assaulting Russain Infantry. The IS tanks, powerful as they were, do not have ROF and they can't even Intensive Fire. If this weren't enough, they have a circled B11 which could lead to Low Ammo and more trouble. Nevertheless, the Russian armor needed to get the better of their German counterpart.

Another striking problem was, that the sole source for Smoke for the Russians was their 82mm MTR aside from the one-time sD6's of the two T-34s. In view of the terrain to cover, this was precious little.

Now, to the German perspective:

An ELR of 2 is like the Sword of Damokles dangling overhead and would likely lead to trouble. But even worse was the fact, that the Germans only have two Leaders available. They cannot afford to lose a single one of these. But explain this to Snipers or other freakish occurrences. It was likely that one of these Leaders would be found in the 44R7 compound and the other one somewhere in the village of board 70. Maybe the German SPW 251/1 was intended as a means to allow a leader to change position quickly if the other one dropped out - but it would have to happen mostly along roads because of the increased offroad movement cost for AFV. Whatever happened, the Germans would need to find a compromise of skulking out of harm's way and shooting at the approaching Russians while on the move across the open terrain.

Another problem is the German armor. Normally, you'd rejoice if you get a combination of Tigers and Panthers - it can't get much better than that after all. Yet, any hit by the powerful Russian 122L Gun with its TK# of 25 is likely to take out any one of the German tanks with the first hit. If the Russians have a bit of luck, things can go quickly down the drain. So the Germans need to find a way to keep their armor in the game as long as possible - at best out of harm's way but still able to shoot at some Russians. Of course, positions behind the 'indestructible' ASL-walls are best for the purpose, as Hulldown positions will reduce the chances of being hit by more than 50% which might make all the difference. Sadly, the only suitable Walls around are found around the 44R7 compound - which provides you with a glaring clue to the importance of that position for the Germans. On the bright side of it, only the IS-2m's can afford to face off the German armor frontally. Presenting the side target facing is hazardous for any Russian tank. But try to cross that Pontoon bridge onto the German side of the water obstacle without doing just that. The Germans have to exploit this. The German tanks are also very useful against Russian Infantry. Their MG's have more reach than the German squads.


Situation at the Start of Russian Turn 1 - Game Start:

17647

The Battle Plan:

The Germans had set up strongly in and around the 44R7 compound with two Panthers and a Tiger taking advantage of the precious Hull Down status provided by the walls, building TEM or a combination of both. The armor was supported by some Infantry, apparently even led by the best German 9-1 Leader. From there, the Germans could cover the entire length of the 'Hauptgraben Kanal' in a southerly direction with flanking fire.

Most of the remaining German Infantry set up in a wide crescent within the good TEM of the board 70 village buildings quite far back from the water obstacle but with good fields of fire for long-range shots.

The third important German position was a patch of Woods on the southern (bottom) board edge which provided cover for the second Tiger lurking behind it in a position which would make it very difficult for my Russian armor to turn north after crossing the Pontoon Bridge in order to engage the 44R7 compound. A squad with LMG provided Infantry cover and could lay down a Fire Lane vs. Russian attackers attempting to reach the Woods along the southern board edge.

This defensive setup was very sound as it made it very difficult for my Russians to come to grips with the German armor. But as long as the German armor was at large, crossing over with unsupported Russian Infantry would likely be a bloody undertaking.

Red arrows indicate my planned route of attack for the infantry, with the numbers indicating roughly the turn numbers I had in mind for these moves. Green arrows show the planned armor moves.

I decided to set up one Footbridge in 44U10 to provide an Infantry access with a short route to the 44R7 compound originating from some scarce rally terrain in which I could hide some of my Infantry until some armored fire support base was established. During the first Turn, I would send across only a single squad to keep the Germans busy and maybe hope for a wonder. The two T-34/85 were set up out of harm's way of the German cats and would provide Prep Fire support in the hope of inhibiting some units which could lay down fire on the southern Foot Bridge.

Especially, I liked moving in one of the two IS-2m's quite far in the North from where it had just sufficient MPs to reach hex 44AA8 and stop there. From that position, I could threaten the German Tiger in 44S7 and probably even the Panther in 44R7 - if LOS existed, then the Panther would not even be protected by the Wall. To hit the Tiger, I'd need a turret hit, though. Only the Panther had a chance to do some damage vs. my frontal armor, but in doing so, he would have to turn its turret and could not over the Pontoon Bridge any more. With a bit of luck, I might take out some of the German beasts early without much danger for my own tank.

Two squads were placed around the 70Y4 junction, where they would meet up with two of the entering Stalin-tanks and able to take off as part of an Armored Assault across the then established Pontoon Bridge in 70U4. In the Woods next to that junction my 82mm MTR was HIP'ed with the intention of laying down SMOKE into 70S2 as the opening shot as this would cover the southern Footbridge from fire originating from the 44R7 compound.

Most of my Infantry including the 9-2 and 7-0 Leaders set up on the southern board edge ready to cross the second Footbridge in 70U10. I selected that location as on the opposite side of the water obstacle there was one single Woods hex which was screened from the 44R7 compound by the 70R5/S5 Woods and seemed to provide the shortest route to the next patch of cover around 70O10. The Russian Infantry would spread out on the German side of the water obstacle and hope for the best.

In Turn 2, the IS-2m from the Y4 junction would cross the now available Pontoon Bridge, forcing Task Checks on the German AFVs hoping to trigger their Recall. Since the Morale of the German AFV crews were 8 or even 9 for the Tiger crews, probably not much would happen, but any recalled German tank would help. Depending on how the German armor situation looked around the 44R7 compound, the IS-2 and T-34/85 tanks would follow up to cross. If the situation was still too dangerous, they would provide Area Fire support vs. German Infantry to help out my Russian footsloggers on the enemy bank to get forward.

From Turn 3 onwards, the board 70 village would be attacked from the south-east and north-east with the intention to ultimately screw up rout paths and ways of retreat to crush the German opposition there for the win.

So much for best-laid plans.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 1:

17648

I can keep the description of Russian Turn 1 rather short as I have described my intentions in the Battle Plan above.
The MTR importantly put down a SMOKE round in the intended hex. The T-34/85s broke the dangerous German 467+MMG in 70L7. My northern IS-2m arrived in 44A8 as planned and during the AFPh established by MG fire, that LOS indeed existed to the Panther in 44R7. A shot of the MA missed as was to be expected, but Acquisition was gained on the Panther. I would hit the beast next halfturn on a 7 or less, which would give the Hitlerites something to think about.

In the south, my Infantry crossed the Footbridge. Everybody made it across, a squad broke. And - it had to be - my all important 9-2 and a 458+MMG squad both gacked their MCs on a 1 or 2FP @-2 shot. This was a serious setback as it would be very difficult to rally them. I had counted on that 9-2 to kick broken Russians back to duty...

The importance of the 44R7 compound was proved as an excellent fire base: As most of my Infantry stood back around the northern Footbridge except for one scouting squad which was immediately shot up, the German tanks trained their turrets to fire vs. one of my squads that had ventured beyond the screening Woods into 70O8, forcing a MC. Luckily, I rolles Snakes to Battle Harden, but I found it prudent to advance back to 70R7 after this unnerving experience.


Situation at the End of German Turn 1:

17650

German Turn 1 went rather quickly. The enemy fired some low FP shots on my southern crossing, of course, re-DM'ing my 9-2 & company and the other broken squad. The SPW ventured forth to corner my broken scout at the northern crossing, gunning them down mercilessy in combination with the Tiger to the last man - it was not pretty...

Alas, my IS-2m missed its all important shot vs. the Panther in 44R7, which was impressed enough to reverse out of the building behind the wall into R6. A pity!

The Germans redeployed their Infantry a bit and that was that.

All my Defensive Final fire was completely ineffective.


To be continued in a subsequent post...
As some off-topic (but not necessarily uninteresting) posts follow, you can click on the following link to directly jump to the continuation of the AAR.

von Marwitz
 
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jyoung

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Looking forward to reading your AAR as always. Apologies if you've explained this elsewhere, what's your trick for getting the counters so nicely lined up down the bottom? My OCD needs to know...
 

von Marwitz

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Looking forward to reading your AAR as always. Apologies if you've explained this elsewhere, what's your trick for getting the counters so nicely lined up down the bottom? My OCD needs to know...
OCD must be served...

There are two elements of the 'Alignment Trick'.

The first element is to use 'Perimeter Lines' from the 'Map Annotations' tab of the 'Draggable Overlays' window to be used as reference lines while you create the VASL file. When done, you can delete these 'Perimeter Lines' later. For the spacing between the counters, I usually use the movement flags as a reference.

Usually, I limit the height of 'stacks' to 3 units. You should use the highest stack (for example 3 AFVs with label) as a reference. The vehicle label should not overlap the setup-instructions. This way, you can set the right space for the reference 'Perimeter Line' beneath your highest stack.

17386


The second element is to avoid the extremely tiring issue of offboard counters not 'locking' exactly to the position where you want them to be but rather to jump a few pixels off into any direction. I have been plagued by years by this, the consequence being that you had to try for countless times until a counter finally happened to end up where you wanted it.

Not very long ago, a setting in the VASL Preferences can be adjusted to minimize that issue. On the 'General' tab, you need to set the 'Mouse Drag Threshold' to 1, i.e. to the minimum. This means that the counter you place offboard will drop not further off than 1 pixel of where you want it.

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Once you have an existing VASL file, you can use that as a template. You will have many counters positioned already where you want them to. Now you merely need to exchange the counters rather than delete the old counters and reposition the new ones.

In our above example, say you want to prepare a scenario with Russians instead of Germans. Delete the top two 467s of each stack. Then place the desired Russian 1/2" counters atop the remaining 467. These new Russian counters will snap to form a stack. And as the German counter is in the exact position, where you want your Russian ones now, there is no need to realign anything and you can place your counters quickly. When done placing the Russians above the remaining German counters, delete the German counters.

Of course, you might not have the same number of Russian 1/2" stacks as German 1/2" stacks in your template file. If you wanted three Russian stacks in our example, you would need to realign the Pz VI (and whatever may follow) manually. However, this is less work than to realign everything. Furthermore, you can mark several stacks and then realign them as a group.


Hopefully, your OCD is at rest now, mate.

von Marwitz
 

jyoung

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Thanks Herr Oberst, that's fantastic (and above and beyond with the visual detail). Of course, my OCD will only truly be at rest once I've done my 10,000 hours of VASL play to master this new skill :).
 
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johnl

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With apologies to Herr Oberst you can accomplish a similar line up by setting up your 1/2" counters in a line on the board then selecting the whole lineup and moving it off board. Not quite OCD but maybe good enough to fool the uninitiated.
 

von Marwitz

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With apologies to Herr Oberst you can accomplish a similar line up by setting up your 1/2" counters in a line on the board then selecting the whole lineup and moving it off board. Not quite OCD but maybe good enough to fool the uninitiated.
Ja, sagen Sie! Tatsächlich!

That is a splendid idea which never occurred to me. No. The Oberst would never admit that.
Actually, I am pretty sure that the Oberst has been aware of the fact at a time but forgot about it as before you could set the Mouse Drag Threshold manually in the Preferences you still had a problem:

Your perfect line from on-board would have to snap to the exact place where you wanted it offboard - which was highly unlikely to happen. But if you moved the 'perfect' line of counters now off-board a little, then its counters would move into all sorts of directions with all order gone (due to the Mouse Drag Threshold being 10 by default I think - in any case larger than 1).

You would have needed to get all the stuff back onboard and retry. Rinse and repeat. Even more work.

On top of that, there would be no common base-line for 1/2" and 5/8" counters.

von Marwitz
 

von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of Russian Turn 2:

17651

In my Russian Turn 2, to my relief, I succeeded in rallying my 9-2. This was really a key unit, as his Leadership modifier was crucial not only to rally broken Russians but also while directing long-range Russian fire vs. the good TEM of the buildings in which the Germans were taking cover.

During Prep Fire, the first thing I tried was to place SMOKE with the 82mm MTR into my previously acquired hex of 44F8 to provide some crucial cover for my assaulting Infantry. Alas, I was out of SMOKE. That hurt.
Next, my IS-2m in 44AA8 took a shot vs the Tiger in 44S7. The Tiger of course decided to opt for Hull Down benefits instead of Building TEM, so I needed an 8 TH - and a Turret Hit, of course. I rolled a 3, alas in the wrong order, so once more a quite reasonable chance to take out one of the German panzers was wasted.
Despite numerous other tank shots using the Area Target Type vs. German Infantry, I could not hit anyone or rolled just one pip short to break any Germans. I did re-DM the MMG squad, though, which surely was not unimportant to do.

Now came the most important move of the turn: The second IS-2m set out to cross the just completed Pontoon Bridge in 44U4. In this context, it had been very important to chase away the Panther out of 44R7 because this would allow my Stalin-tank to cross without presenting its side armor facing of this key unit. In other words, chances were very high that the tank would arrive on the far bank to impose TCs on all German AFVs, and so I did. All German AFVs passed except one Panther, which was recalled. Recalling a Panther, of course, was the best thing that could happen as it had the most potent Gun on the German side. A Tiger's MA would have significantly more trouble with the frontal armor of the regular IS-2 tanks, so with one Panther soon gone, this would offer the Russians better options to bring these into the game.

As my scouting effort at the northern Footbridge had unceremoniously been blown to pieces last Turn and on top of that the German SPW sat on the far side of that Footbrigde, the Russian Infantry in the center did not move this turn because it was just hopeless in the moment. The situation was similar at the southern crossing point, so I just advanced a bit. Consequently, my Infantry was not really battered this turn.

I hoped that with one Panther being Recalled by my next MPh not unlikely another German tank taken out, then I would be able to move my Infantry forward with much better chances of success.


Situation at the End of German Turn 2:

For some reason, no picture exists of the situation at the end of German Turn 2, so I will omit any comments.

Rumor has it, that Oberst von Marwitz had inadvertedly stepped into a turd left by Major von Schoff's wiener dog. Mortified by the defilment of his spitpolished riding boots and in rampant rage, the Oberst ordered all evidence of the incident to be effaced from history. To the relief of all, his orderly Koch conjured up a bottle of Armand de Brignac Midas from out of nowhere and the champagne served to cool the Oberst's temper, defusing the situation, so that the battle could be resumed.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 3:

17660

The so-called "turd-incident" did not have much impact on the German side of the front. The Landsers were used to the capriciousness of the Oberst when it came to his riding boots and had learned to adapt quickly to such emergencies. As such, word spread that the Panther indeed was not Recalled for 'Panzer-Angst' after a failed TC in view of the Russian IS-2m. Rather, the Oberst's ingenious orderly Koch - seemingly never short of precious liquids of all sorts - had 'organized' a spontanous refuelling for the said Panther, that led it to fatefully cross paths with Major von Schoff's wiener, known to be a dog with an attitude, matching its master in his overestimation of himself paired with its notorious tendency to chase after vehicles. There is no exact consensus of what happened next. Some say, the problem was liquidated, others say it was levelled, yet others say it was cleaned up, while some voices even claimed it was messy. In any case, the problem was gone.

On the Russian side of the front, though, the raging shouts of the Oberst, clearly audible despite the thunder of large caliber Guns and the roaring of MG's, had much more disruptive effects.

By the end of Russian Turn 3, it became apparent, that intimidated by the Oberst's shouting, the Russian IS-2m gunners had become shakey. Despite a cumulative 5 shots, four of which needed a THs between 8 and 10 - and a Turret hit due to the targets being Hull Down - only managed to hit the Walls. Three of the four Stalin tanks were on Low Ammo, a T-34/85 tank had malfed its MA. The crucial Russian 9-2 Leader, having watched numerous Hollywood movies, in which it always comes down to the Allied Leader taking down the German one in a fist-fight, broke down again, shooting himself in the foot, rather than to face the Oberst. A Russian 447+ATR which had attempted to sneak up on the SPW was broken in the process. Close to the southern (bottom) board edge, a few Russian squads had merely inched forward towards the patch of woods behind which the second German Tiger - meanwhile Concealed - was still lurking with its Infantry escort.

All the while the German Infantry was still untouched except for one squad that had gone down to a CH. Probably some of Major von Schoff's cronies trying to stupidly throw themselves between the Panther and the wiener in an attempt to save the latter.

I felt, that my Russian attack failed to gain momentum and I heard the clock to begin ticking. If the pace of the Russians would not pick up quickly, then it seemed Berlin would be saved...


Situation at the End of German Turn 3:

17684

In the Rally Phase of German Turn 3, the German MMG squad finally rallied again. On the Russian side, my 7-0 managed to convince my 9-2 to regain composure as his fear of being confronted by Oberst von Marwitz himself in a fistfight or rather more likely in a confrontation by rapier was entirely unfounded: The Oberst would not venture out into the soggy ground to put is riding boots at risk so shortly after his recent distress, especially as some blood quelling forth from my 9-2's boots after he shot himself into the foot might perchance leave a stain.

There was hardly any German Prep Fire as the Landsers prudently preferred to skulk out of sight to advance back into their buildings. The notable exception was the SPW 251/1 which, for reasons I have not understood, paraded along the front of the Russian order of battle to be taken out by an LMG if I remember correctly.

While my northern IS-2m still hit the Wall with the Tiger behind it with uncanny precision (I believe it wasted three 3s hitting that damned wall in 5 shots so far!), the remaining Panther finally ruptured in a Blaze when hit by a 122L round by the other IS-2m. At long last the path was clear for the Russian armor to cross over the Pontoon Bridge.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 4:

17685

It is my Russian Turn 4 and I really need to crank things up to get anywhere...

During the Russian Prep Fire Phase, the German Tiger behind his magic wall is missed by the 6th shot of the northern IS-2m and the first shot right through a gap in the buildings just south of him by the southern one. Can this be?! Believing to have glimpsed a black German steel helmet somewhere in the shrubbery, I am starting to look out for Darth Vader and the Dark Side of the force spiriting away my 122L AP shells...

Yet, finally my regular IS-2 tanks and one T-34/85 clatter across the Pontoon Bridge to provide some dearly needed cover and close support for my southern Infantry force and pinning the German Tiger there in his position. My southern Infantry finally arrives in force where I had planned it to be in my Turn 2.

An attempt across the northern Footbridge was once more repulsed with one of my elite squads limping back broken to where it came from.

I daresay, that the writing was now on the wall for the northern Tiger and my attack finally gained some momentum. The question was, if I would have sufficient time to meet the objectives.


To be continued in a subsequent post.
Unless you are interested in an astonishing display of the superior aristocratic education with regard to classic Greek mythology of the Oberst over that of the gum-chewing farmers of the Midwest*, you can jump directly to the continuation of the AAR, use this link.

von Marwitz


(* @Roadtogundagai : Please take this pun as an attempt of humor to reflect the imaginary personality of the 'Oberst' . It is not my intention to deride you or to cut you down. In case you feel offended, I apologize and will remove the remark if you give me a hint.)
 
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Roadtogundagai

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Excellent write up. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this. Looking forward to more on this AAR.

At the risk of being "that guy" - "Damocles" - not "Damokles". My OCD + high functioning autism won't let me pass by that one.
 

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Situation at the End of German Turn 4:

17686

In German Turn 4, the enemy continued his game of hide-and-seek to protect his Infantry successfully.

Blame it on Princess Leia that Darth Vader all of a sudden had more important things to do that to extend the northern Tiger's charmed life. At long last, in the DFPh it went down to the 8th round of 122L AP directed at him, eliminating the northern threat to my Russian armor for good. The northern 44R7 compound was now merely defended by a single German 467+LMG. In the attempt to reduce it, I malfed the CMG of the T-34/85 which had previously malfed its MA already. The old adage that there seems always to be one AFV that does everything wrong held true once more. I was yet looking for the other AFV that does all things right according to the second part of that old adage...

As in the game of hide-and-seek, my 82mm MTR had not achieved anything, I dismantled it after yet another ineffective shot for repositioning it in my next turn, so that it could pound the 44R7 compound and its Infantry defenses there. Note the special ability of these MTRs with regard to dismantling and reassembly.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 5:

17688

My Russian Turn 5. You remember what I said about my assault finally gaining some momentum by the end of Russian Turn 4? It continued to be a drag than a dash.

There was not much Russian Prep Fire because I had to get forward, the clock against me ticking ever louder. The strongest remaining German bulwark against my Infantry was the last German Tiger on the southern board edge. Since my Russian tanks were finally free from a threat to their flanks and rear and I needed to force things, I did it the 'Russian way' and bluntly moved two IS-2 tanks right into his face within less than 6 hexes range neutralizing the Russian Red TH numbers and taking advantage of the Large size of the Tiger. This left him not much choice but to fire in the hope of taking out the behemoths - it was not to be. My Infantry in the south tried to push it and was punished for it by losing 1.5 squad equivalents to K/* and KIA results and an extra elite squad broken.

At the northern Footbridge, things weren't much better: There was only a single German 467+LMG left defending the 44R7 compound, but these buggers managed to K/2 and Double Break another Russian elite squad, contaminating the area with Residual FP. So the rest of the Russians thought better not to follow. Two tanks moved up in support and to provide cover, so the situation would be better next turn. The problem was that there weren't just not many 'next' turns left.

At least von of these tanks I had moved cannily, even risking ESB to re-DM one German squad during the AFPh in 44N5 to decrease its chance from being rallied by the 9-1 in the next German turn to return to the defence of the 44R7 compound and delaying my crossing there yet longer. Furthermore in the south, the last Tiger was destroyed by one of the Stalins. Unfortunately, one of them and the second T-34/85 both malfed their MA. So by now I had three of my six tanks with malfed MA, three were under Low Ammo (some of which both). Merely a single IS-2 remained fully operational.

I had just two Movement Phases left in which to close with 6.5 Geraman squads and to put them out of Good Order in village terrain.


Situation at the End of German Turn 5:

17689

In German Turn 5, fortunately for me, the broken German squad in 44O5 did not rally. Risking ESB my previous turn in order to re-DM it had paid off.

The Germans continued their most promising course of action successfully - the skulking game. It was merely down south in the vincinity of the recently wrecked Tiger, that on enemy 467+LMG could not hide away and was broken by Russian fire. It did manage to rout a way a short bit though.

My Russians lost another elite half-squad to some Boxcars fate roll. Besides that, the skulking of the Germans gave the Russian Infantry some respite from German fire. My 82mm MTR had reassembled in 70V4 and got off a round to 44R7 where the German 467+LMG had taken position.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 6:

17690

You've heard me say this before: I had to move...

During the Rally Phase of my Russian Turn 6, my Leaders whipped all there was of Russian brokies into shape with the remark that if they would not move westward NOW, Comrade Stalin surely would see to it that they'd move way eastward to some cold place soon. This worked. I should have thought of this earlier... Unfortunately, the German 9-1 with his brokie in 44O6 must have overheard this trick of mine and tested it on his Landsers as well - it worked like a charm.

Besides my 82mm MTR, there was no Prep Fire - I could have spared the rounds as they didn't have any effect.

With the German squad in 44O6 back in action and the one in 44R7 still at large, I determined that I could not rely on the sole non-malfed BMG of the T-34/85 to keem the former away from reinforcing the latter, which headed down the road to close in with the board 70 village from behind to mess up Rout Paths. Thus I moved up a darned IS-2m to 44T4 to cover the open ground between the rallied Germans and the 44R7 compound to make them think twice to dare cross it. Three squads with two LMG and the 8-1 Leader were set to swarm the German 467+LMG in 44R7. This time, it could not stop the Russians nor could they affect it in the AFPh. At long last it went down in CC taking a Russian 447 with it.

Barring freak events, I had after an incredibly dogged battle finally evicted the Germans from the 44R7 compound and secured it. It had taken me 10 or 11 shots by 122L Guns to take out 2 German panzers and my losses in squads numbered 3 compared to 1 of the Germans.

Down in the board 70 village, I was desperately short of time. The Germans in the immediate front of my infantry consisted mainly of a 247+PSK and a 8-1 led 467+MMG. However, three more squads had some more or less tricky LOS opportunities. What I needed most for my assaulting Infantry was freedom of movement. So I resolved to sacrifice as many tanks as it would take to gain it. The German PSK destoryed one with its Backblast breaking its possessing half-squad. A second one was blazed by a Panzerfaust in the hex of the 8-1, 467+MMG shrouding it in Smoke. This was what I needed. I rushed up to close in with all I had, being able to capture 1.5 broken German squad equivalents as PoWs and finally claiming some TEM in Buildings.

Still, 4 German squads and their 8-1 were in Good Order and could attempt to get somewhat out of harm's way in their last turn which I would have to come to grips with and to put in disorder.


To be continued in a subsequent post...

von Marwitz
 
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von Marwitz

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Situation at the End of German Turn 6:

17691

The 6th and final German Turn is quickly told.

In the north, the sole remaining 467 with the 9-1 had gotten the message that an attempt to recapturing a Location in the 44R7 building was bound to fail. So they moved to the much more inviting West taking advantage of terrain and a Burning Wreck to avoid Russian fire all the way to 44J5 where they - having still some bad in them - obviously intended to put an end to my damaged T-34/85 either with Panzerfausts or in CC. Now it paid off that I had repositioned my 82mm MTR, which brought down two hits on the Hitlerites (one of them during Final Fire), breaking both Leader and squad, before malfing on the third ROF shot. With this, the northern area had been ridded of German Good Order units, which were far from relevant building Locations and unable to reach them before game end to boot.

In the board 70 village, the Germans skulked or carefully moved back successfully evading any harm by the Russians.
One German squad inadvertedly went too far into D4, as the for the Victory Conditions only Good Order units in the F hexrow and further eastward were relevant. This would help my final assault although that German squad still might interfere with its fire.


Situation at the End of Russian Turn 7 - Game End:

17692

The final Russian half-turn 7!

What was left to do was to get three German squads out of Good Order. But this would be extremely tricky business.

First let us bring to end the story in the North. The broken Germans there did not rally. My IS-2m closed in and blew the lot of them to Kingdom Come with a well aimed 122mm HE round in the AFPh.

The Russian Infantry from the 44R7 compound could not have any real impact on the game any more, but I still rushed them south to act as a screen of Sniper bait along with my limping and otherwise useless wounded 9-2.

This brings us to the quite mind whacking business of which of my Russians to move in which exact order anticipating possible German shots and Residual FP placement. I managed to use my three remaining tanks in the area to freeze all three remaining Good Order German squads - sort of. Two went up in flames after being hit by Panzerfausts, the third one survived but bound the German squad by Target Selection limits. My oppoent was no fool, though, and he did not miss the opportunity to put down some RFP in some places during the tanks' approaches.

Defensive Fire could not prevent my Russians to move ADJACENT to all three relevant German Good Order squads. Alas, my Advancing Fire was ineffective - but I did massacre the PoWs as not to burden my Russians needlessly in CC. Nevertheless, thus my Russians contrieved to advance units into CC with all three German squads.

The CC in 70G6 was inconclusive and turned into Melee - so these Germans were no longer Good Order.
In 70F4, CC was sequential. I had my almost useless T-34/85 with malfed weapons except its BMG and a CX half-squad vs. a German CX squad. Of course, the Germans went for the half-squad and managed to kill it. My tank failed to take out the German squad. This meant the German win as I had made the stupid mistake not to stop my tank in Bypass as a consequence of which, the German squad was merely in CC but not held in Melee and thus still in Good Order.
Before I could go about to curse myself for this blunder, we resolved the third CC. The Germans managed to Ambush the Russians and infiltrated out to 44I5. With this outcome, my blunder of not stopping the tank in 44F4 had become moot, as the Germans would still have one the game.


Review:

It was a tense game. From mid-game until Turn 6 I did not think that I had a chance to win this any more because I had simply lost too much time until then. I believe there were two key factors that cost me the game:

The first one was the failure of my crucial 9-2 Leader. He broke twice rolling above 10 and wounded, barely surviving. This leader was sorely missing providing Rally capabiltiy and his Leadership DRM for attacks in the difficult phase where the Russians were still in the open. His helping to move about quickly became impossible with this wound.

The second one was that it took way too long - the end of German Turn 4 and not before 10 or 11 shots were fired, 8 of them vs. the Tiger, before I could clear the German AFV from the 44R7 compound and with it the threat to the flank and rear of my armor when it would cross the Pontoon Bridge. This was one Turn too late, it could have well happened by Turn 2. I think if my tanks had been done one turn earlier I could have done it even without the 9-2 in non-wounded and generally miserable state in our playing. But as it played out, moving the tanks (especially the T-34/85s) and Russian Infantry over in the north and center earlier would very likely only have incurred more losses with no gain.

More than the single SMOKE round of the 82mm MTR would also have helped.

I think that my basic strategy was sound - not that there seem to be to many obvious alternatives at hand. But my opponent set up a skillful defence - I think he placed his tanks very well, mutually supporting each other and the German Infantry while threatening the Russian Armor with side- or rear shots if it dared to cross to confront either the northern tanks or the southern Tiger. For his Infantry, the played the skulking game well without mistakes. His single blunder was to move one of his Good Order squads out of the area from which I was required to clear them.


von Marwitz
 
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