Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flames of War: My first V3 game

Chris has already done a 'serious report' so I am going to run this in my usual style. 

The Mission.... Was the crazy new two ambush 'Hold the Line'. The Soviets defended in this one, a probing action somewhere in the Ukraine - forced to halt a German counterattack. A four platoon force (as I thought when building it, but it was actually five?) defends with all of its forces in ambush. both of had air and both of us had AA and there are no trees because all of mine (in honour of the massive trees outside a former flat) are much too large for this absurd new world where terrain can block the LOS of AA to enemy planes. Numerous new trees are on order!

Our 1500 pt MW forces (both from Eastern Front) were: 
Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers (Chris)
HQ - CiC and 2iC,  panzerknacker SMG 2x251/1c                                          80
Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier platoon with panzerknacker and 4 251/1c        235
Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier platoon with panzerknacker and 4 251/1c        235
3 Pak 40                                                                                                          220
2 Stug f/8                                                                                                         340
3 Nebelwerfers                                                                                                115
2 Armoured 3.7cm AA halftracks                                                                   125
Limited Gun Stukas                                                                                         135
Rota Radzveki (me)
HQ - CiC + 2iC + Komissar + 3 DShK AA Trucks                                         95
Full Razvedki Platoon with  5 captured 251s                                                205
Three squad Razvedki Platoon with  4 captured 251s                                   160
7 T-34/76 + 3 T-34/56                                                                                   635
4 SU-122                                                                                                       245
Sporadic Sturmovik                                                                                       145

 How did the Germans fare vs the phantom Soviet forces?  

(From the Journal of Starshiry Politruk Ormorov) After our massive successes against the Fascists, in the months following Kursk, our forward detachment had been ranging ahead of the main advance to find further gaps - to be exploited by the glorious Red Army of Workers and Peasants! Comrade-Major Pavlov has located a German mechanised force of company strength, with armour and rocket artillery in support, and has chosen to make his defense behind the stream running through the village of Ubinye. Just as the Nazis attempted to ford that stream - we sprang our ambush. The fools had been absolutely unaware of an entire company of T-34s, hidden amongst scrub and open ground to our left and a full platoon of infantry awaiting them in the village itself.

The ambush by the T-34s was executed with scientific precision. The Fascists, fearing some sort of ambush as they advanced, had laid some smoke screen in an attempt to screen their crossing. However, they had huddled their assault guns too close to their infantry, and when our tanks appeared they destroyed a StuG immediately and caused the other's crew to bail out. They also devastated the enemy 75mm guns that had been attempting to cover them, form a nearby rocky escarpment. Unfortunately Starshiy Lejtenant Yakov was derelict in his duty and rashly assaulted the Germans as they entered Ubinye. After a brief firefight, the Nazi Veterans had eliminated the entire platoon, along with Major Pavlov.
V3 Note: We got the rules a little wrong here. Being bailed out by the flamethrower should have caused Chris to take a motivation test to allow his men to remount - they had a 50/50 chance of being dismounted. However, it made no real difference to the game, the ambush was a stupid and rash move and even though I only got half the flamethrower hits I expected - destroying the contents of two HTs wouldn't have turned it into a smart play. I need to learn patience!

The Fascist armoured troops now have a clear run through Ubinye to secure their objective - the road east. More of their armoured transporter troops have crossed the stream and taken up position in some central scrub, while our T-34s were occupied eliminating the remaining Assault Guns and anti-tank guns. A flight of three Jabo's swooped in and attempted to smash our armour but our heroic AA gunners drove them off. Once the skies were clear, Kapitan Ustinov ordered several of his tanks and the AA trucks to swing around and attempt to eliminate the fascist infantry before they could join up with those breaking through Ubinye.

V3 Note: The new 'Hens and Chicks' rule allows Soviets to finally go back to something close to the V1 situation where they could move 12" and shoot. It is better than V1 though, as stationary (and ambushing) T-34s get ROF2. You do acquire a +1 penalty when you move, but that is similar to the old ROF1 T-34 situation and overall I much prefer this rule to the previous one - our tank companies are actual maneuver elements again!

Our reserves seem to have become lost somewhere along the road, so we are in a perilous position. We must hold the high ground that covers the crossing and must also hold the road east. However, the Fascists have brought up rocket artillery and two platoons of their infantry are now working their way through cover to flank our positions and cut us off. Comrade Kapitan Ustinov's tanks are now 'buttoned up' under enemy bombardment and are more vulnerable to the experienced German infantry approaching from their blindspots. If only there was some way to neutralise their Rocket batteries! 

Then I saw it. Those weren't the ugly gull-winged Jabos of the Fascists! Our Flying Tanks had arrived from the gathering gloom, and were making a strafing run on the enemy artillery. It was a flight of three and surely with this support our glorious advance could resume. It was not be though. My heart fell as I saw blooming black puffs of heavy enemy Ack Ack. They must have AA halftracks somewhere lurking in their rear. Despite superior Soviet engineering and the bravery of the Red Aircrews, the entire flight was downed before it could launch its rockets.

Where are our reserves? Kapitan Ustinov's T-34s have managed to stabilise our line and throw the enemy thrust back into Ubinye. However, his tanks are strung out in a vulnerable, and too-thin, line. They suffer constant rocket bombardment, have lost their AA trucks, and must always be on the watch for another Fascist infantry attack. If there was just another platoon to secure that East road, his tanks could have finished the infantry to his front.

The German infantry now like their chances. At any one time, half of Ustinov's T-34s on the hill are bailed by artillery. He has more, but they are too far away to guard against close infantry assaults - due to the necessity to watch the east road. If we can hold on, we might yet achieve victory here though.... I can hear the clatter of approaching tracks - our reserves are kilometers away now, minutes till their arrival!
In fact, just as I see the nerve of yet another Fascist infantry assault fail, our second platoon of armoured transporters arrives, their skilled and ready crews raking the Germans in Ubinye with machine-gun fire and finishing what the T-34 crews started.

V3 note: Thank scientific Lenin-Marxism for the rule that you automatically get a reserve with three dice! Five turns is long enough to wait. 

I feel the tide is now turning. We firmly hold the east road and now just need to push the attackers back to secure yet more of our stolen Rodina. At that moment, gull-winged Jabo's scream in from the south quarter and manage to bail the lead armoured transporter. At the same time, Ustinov's T-34s are finally overcome and the remaining Nazis hold the rise covering the stream crossing.

The Fascist invaders may have won this round but they may have stuck their head into the noose... the main armoured column will be in Ubinye in hours.

V3 Note: Yep we got the half-track bailed put rules wrong again, that lead '251 could have contested this turn on an extra 3+.

All in all, rules mis-steps (which cut both ways) considered, that was a really fun game and a well-handled attack by Chris. I am really glad we have our 'Ironman Challenge' going though, because what made it fun was that both of us had mechanised forces. The new 'Hold the Line' is just made for a defending high-morale infantry force, with it's cheap ATGs and open-topped SP AT (and possibly even forts!) and would have been a pretty unbalanced match up. As it was, the attacker had a fair chance here vs a more fragile mechanised list that was forced to wait many turns for it's support to arrive. 

I ran the Rota Razvedki to avoid 'blue on blue', since both Chris and I are building up armoured PzGren armies. I actually enjoyed running it and was surprised how much I liked a conscript T-34 coy with 57mm upgrades (to represent the arrowhead ammo for late '43) as a support. It is pretty flexible with the new H&C and well suited to a mechanised list. A proper Rota list should have had M3 scout-cars though. It costs 25 pts more and is an order of magnitude better now that the transport rules allow them to brought on and off when you need them. It'll cost me a bit to pick them up though, so just the '251s for now. 

Anyway, cheers for a really fun game, Chris! 

Thanks for reading.

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