Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Game

The Situation: Eastern Poland, June 30th, 1941

German: Our attack on the Soviet Union has been successful. However, Soviet pockets of isolated in the 1st days are attempting to break through back to their own lines. You are charged with beating back these groups until stronger forces can be released from the front to deal with them. Hold your positions ! In no event should the enemy be allowed to break through your front and infiltrate back to his own lines.

Forces: 7 rifle. 2 SMG, 1 LMG

Russian: The Revolution is under attack by the Facist dogs ! We must resist them to our last breath, Comrades ! By suprise and deceit we have been isolated behind enemy lines. Our mission from the High Command is to rejoin our brethren further East and defeat the Facist invaders. Let not one stand in your way ! We travel light and fast. DEATH TO THE FACISTS.....

Forces: 18 Rifle, SMG, LMG

The Course of the battle:

The Germans set up in 3 groups: LMG and rifleman and two groups of 3 riflemen and an SMG. The LMG set up at the top of the map, covering the widest area.
The Russians came on in three groups, with the largest in the center and the LMG in a group of riflemen at the bottom of the picture. The plan was to use the LMG group to provide covering fire while the other groups forded the stream.

The Germans rolled well on their command chart (getting 2 "F"s and 1 "A"). They concentrated fire on the LMG group, as they were the only visible one and managed to pin them all then force the rest to panic, all except the lone Russian LMG.
The Russians struggled across the stream unmolested, as the Germans appeared to have been so elated at wiping out one of the most dangerous Russian groups (German command rolls were atrocious). The Russian LMG re-united with what was the center group and formed a large, dangerous fire group. It looked as if the Gods of Chance had failed the Germans, who managed to jam their LMG during some of the most innefectual firing ever seen on the Eastern Front !
Unhurt, the Russian fire group commenced to putting a hurting on the German LMG group, wiping it out. I addition, the other Russian maneuver group started to get in position to flank the middle German group by positioning itself to make an end-run around the position recently vacated by the German LMG group to grab one of the victory buildings.
The one bright spot is that the Germans managed to extricate themselves and the LMG (which was dropped in the hex where its operator died) into a secondary line of resistance (they seemed to exlusively wind up with "M" rolls). To boot, one of the SMGs becomes hero-ized (Snake Eyes on a Morale Check) which increases his freedom of action and makes him fire more effectively.

With a presence in the two closest buildings and a flanking LMG, the German position was not totally hopeless, but the Russians were closing in fast with 2 groups that would not be afraid to get into melee to grab those victory buildings (indeed, with my rules the Russians melee better than the Germans and encourages such behavior. Call it unfair or "gamey", it still adds flavor to the game).
With the Russians poised in the center position to sieze at least one of the victory buildings, the Germans find their courage (and ammo) and begin to whittle the Russian groups down (pinning them effectively). Meanwhile the German LMG, having channeled the Russians into the center of the woods, maneuvers towards the hedge in order to be able to provide support fire if they Germans lose the center building.
The Russians begin suffering from bad command rolls now, managing to just rally enough pinned troops from losing them to panic, but unable to mount an effective attack of their own. (An "F" command is required to enter into melee, unless a hero is present in the same hex).
But German ammo appears to become scarce, and the fire slackens enough for the Russians to attempt to enter into melee with the center building. Inside the Hero SMG and rifleman blaze away like madmen at the incoming horde of brown. The Hero manages to kill 2 and pin all but one of the others. That one Russian enters into melee and kills the rifleman, but is promptly killed by the Hero. That SMG Hero will be mentioned in dispatches for sure if he and his compatriots survive this day ! The German group in the other ruined house finishes the job on those who didn't make it into melee, panicing them all. Suddenly, what looked like a near sure thing is looking quite dicey for the remaining Russian group (which is near its break point)
The Russians seem to have lost their nerve seeing their compatriots gunned down and scattered. Their fire is inneffectual. On the German side, the LMG has entered the house and with the Hero, lays down a large quantity of fire on the last Russian group. Fire from the other ruined house panics the last Russians.

The Russians have had enough. They finally reach their break point and the scenario is over. Final losses:
Russian: 7 killed, 13 paniced
German: 3 killed, 1 Paniced

Overall Battle Commentary:
  1. The Russian plan was fine, as far as it went. They are hard to maneuver around the board, and tend to do so in large groups (which also makes a large target). These large groups can be effective firing, but the Russians cannot always manage to out-gun the Germans due to command constraints.
  2. Without the German Hero in the center building, the Russians would have taken it easily, and with it the center of the German position and probably the game as well.
  3. The German LMG was effective as a firer only on the 1st turn of the game, after which it jammed and its operator killed. It was re-aquired, and even though it never fired a shot the rest of the game, it channeled the Russians into the center wood by holding the German right flank. Sometimes just the threat of a weapon is enough for it to influence a battle.
  4. The Germans may have fallen back too hastily, but considering their command rolls (lots of "M"s) they were not firing very effectively at that point anyway. Once they fell back to the houses they seemed to get in sync and managed to lay down effective fire that kept the Russians from overwhelming the center house.
  5. All in all, an enjoyable game. It lasted 12 turns (3 scale minutes) and played in less than 1 hour. I think my rules would work well at a convention......

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