Friday, June 2, 2017

The Road to Berlin

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Soviet Tank Battalion vs Panzer Kampfgruppe (trained)
Location: Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Game: Flames of War, v3.0, Late War 2000 points

Mission: Hold the Line

Players: Phil Gardocki, Garth Parker, Jenny Parker, Panzer Kampfgruppe (trained) from Desperate Measures, defending
              Bruce Potter, Steve Turn, Soviet Tank Battalion, attacking

The Forces: Company Commander in a Jagdpanther, with 2 Jagdpanthers, 4 StuG IV's, 4 Hetzers, 7 Panzerfaust MG teams, 4 Panzerwerfer 42's + extra crew, 3 Sd Kfz 234/1 (2cm), 3 Sd Kfz 234/4 (PaK40), in 6 platoons, with Hans Rudel in a Ju 87G Stuka for air support.  All Confident Trained except for the infantry, which are Fearless.

The Soviets had 20 T-34 85', 4 BA 64', 4 45mm guns, 15 Infantry stands with SMG's, and HMG's, in 5 companies, with priority Sturmovik support. All Fearless Trained.

ScenarioThe Soviet juggernaut continues to pummel the German forces.  The 11th Tank Corps, 2nd Guards Army, 1st Belorussian Front, is forced to divert around the swampy area of Peitzer Ponds to the village of Teichland.  

A Kampfgruppe is organized from the 9th Army's, LVI Panzer Corps's, Panzer Division Müncheberg and Leibstandarte Schutzstaffel Adolf Hitler to hold the line at all costs while reinforcements are hastily assembled. 

The Board: The village of Teichland, south of the Peitzer Ponds of Bärenbrück and Laßzinswiesen.

The quiet village of Teichland.  Rustic setting, verdant farmlands, scenic river and lakes.  We'll see what we can do about that.
20 T-34 85's of the 11th Tank Corps stream into town.  Supported by a Reconnaissance Company, Anti-Tank Guns and Infantry.
You wouldn't know it, but the BA-64's in the picture are made of paper.
The only defenders visible are from Grenadiers from the 1st SS Panzer Division.  Armed with Machine-Guns and Panzerfausts, they are dug in and ready to repel all comers.  

The SS have been deployed in depth along the Mauster Street.
The German Company Commander, the engine of his Jagdpanther quietly idling along the woods edge, offers a stark contrast to the quiescence around him.
The Soviet Armored Cars make their Reconnaissance move to 16" from the SS.
The response of the 1st SS is, nothing.
Turn 1:
In what can only be described as perfect parade ground maneuvering, the T34's invest the town, lining up dead on their marks.

The Reconnaissance unit opens up on the dug in SS with their machine-guns, killing a team.  Well screened by their Armored Cars, the Soviet Infantry breaks out of cover and begins the long charge. 
An ambush is revealed, 2 Jagdpanthers along the wood line open up at long range, destroying 1, and bailing 1.  Hans Rudl, after dodging a flock of Soviet fighters dives to fire his 30mm cannon. But luck was not with him, as the closest tank crew panicked and fled their vehicle, but otherwise caused no damage.
Turn 2:
It is now time for the Red Army Air Force Sturmoviks to lay down rocket fire.  Successfully ranging in even though the trees.  The saving throws needed for the Jagdpanthers is 5 for a bail, 6 to bounce.
Both bounce.
The armored cars continue to pour on the MG fire into the 1st SS's positions, destroying another team, and pinning the platoon.
One T-34 is still bailed, 18 advance to short range and fire.  The frontal armor of the Jagdpanthers prove to be proof against the Soviet 85mm guns.
Another ambush is revealed, four Hetzers along the wood line.
German tank gunnery proves to be excellent, 6 more T-34's burn.
Turn 3:
The Hetzers pull back into the woods, and so are not visible to the T-34's.  Who concentrate on the German Company Commander instead, destroying his Jagdpanther.  Sturmoviks return, and are successful again at ranging in the woods.  4 Hetzers are under the template, but the rockets only find one.
The armored cars attempt an assault, but are stopped by MG fire.
Hans Rudl, again braving and avoiding fighters from the Red Army Air Force dives upon the Soviet formations, 30mm guns blazing.  The Soviet armor resists the shells, and their crews are unimpressed, continue to fire at the wood-line.
German tank gunnery has a bad turn, only killing one more T-34.

The 1st SS are emboldened having beat back the armored cars, and call up their half-tracks.
 Between the dug in infantry and their vehicles, the SS generate 19 dice.  6 Soviet infantry teams are killed in the first fusillade. 
Turn 4:
Soviet Gunnery is finally on target.  A Jagdpanther and a Hetzer are killed, others are bailed.  A successful morale check keeps their platoons on the board.
In their exuberance, to bring the half-tracks forward, the line of Soviet AT guns deployed in downtown Teichland went unnoticed.  The Soviet 45mm Gunners however, could not fail to notice the half-tracks and made them pay for their lack of situational awareness.
With the Soviet Infantry pinned, the SS turned some of their guns onto the Soviet Reconnaissance patrol, causing a morale check, which the Soviets failed.  The first unit to rout.
German reserves arrive, 4 STG's.  Even though moving and at and shooting at long range, they managed to bail two T-34's
I couldn't have put that hedge piece in a better spot for those gunners.
Turn 5:
The Hetzers have been wiped out.  The Newly arriving STG's are playing hide and seek on a nearby hill.
The remaining Hetzer, snuggled between the smoking wrecks of it's peers, is now occupied by the German Company Commander.  In the upper left are the STG's I have been talking about.
The Soviet attack on the German right has totally stalled out.
The SS are pinned and down to 4 of 7 infantry teams.
Even with all the bailed tanks remounted, both Soviet Tank Companies are just barely hanging on.
The last Jagdpanther gains two kills, forcing a morale check on a Soviet Tank Company.  The last two tanks have had enough, and they run for it.
German reserves arrive.  3 Heavy Panzerspah troops, and 4 Panzerwerfers.   

Moving as jeeps down the road at a speed of 24 inches, the Panzerspah platoon hopes to add its weight of fire to the beleaguered SS. 
German AA arrives in time to have the Red Army Air Force reduced to 1 dice.  The last Sturmoviks depart waggling their wings after destroying a STG.

But for the pinging of cooling metal, the machine-guns are silent as the last of the Soviet troops take to their heels and run for their trucks.  That makes the 3rd company break of 5.  Somewhere in the last turn, the Soviet Battalion Commander was killed, and with that, the Soviet Tank Battalion is routed.  The Germans hold the line and get to live another day.  Enjoy the war!

It has been a long time since I played Flames of War.  My last blog entry is two years old!  Even though I hadn't played, I made a considerable investment in the figures, picking up all kinds of Late War Germans, SS troopers, Panthers, Tigers,  decently painted aircraft.  So when Steve put this out for this weeks game, I was all for it.  Except not version 4.  So far, I have heard nothing about v4 that interests me.  And I have been listening to WWPD podcasts talk about it all year.  And for the record, WWPD podcasts is what got me into Flames of War to begin with.

So what went wrong?

For the Soviets, I think they took so many casualties on turn 2, that they were having a hard time to make up for it.  Even though they were only facing half the German company.  The Soviet Tank commander didn't want another turn of Hen's and Chicks trying to get the flank of the Jagdpanthers.

The Soviet Recon wasn't doing recon.  Instead it was being used as light tank support for the Infantry.  But that almost worked!  When the BA 64's assaulted, they were repulsed only by the barest minimum.  If they had caused 2 casualties, the SS would have been knocked off of the objective and making morale checks.  So that was a worthy shot.

Had the Recon instead used Eyes and Ears, lifting gone to ground, the 45mm guns would have started hitting on 4's, potentially doing more damage than the MG's of the Armored Cars.  Leaving the cars still be in place.  Then they could have evaded when they took the hits that lead to their routing.

On the German side, everything was a mess.  I brought Hetzers and STG's, because they were new toys, and I wanted to play with them.  But against T-34 85's they were out classed.  The Jagdpanthers killed most of the T-34's, I think the 8 Hetzers and STG's only caused bails.  On the other hand, because they were so bunched up, the kept drawing the attention of the Red Army Air Force, which leaving the Jagdpanthers mostly alone.

The Panzerspah was a total waste, and not just because they came on too late.  Ditto the Panzerwerfers.  The main opponent was the T-34's, for which the Panzerspah's and Panzerwerfers were inadequate.

Lastly the air support.  I forgot how bad air support is in FOW.  You can blame the dice if you want.  But to spend that many points on figure, that may, or may not show up every turn, then is subject to the vagaries of the dice, I would have been far better served without the aircraft, and gotten another Jagdpanther.  Or a good AA unit to counter enemy air, and when that threat is reduced, move it off to support the Infantry with high ROF guns.  85 points well spent.

Even the Soviets had trouble, with air support.  Despite the woods, their aircraft arrived every turn, ranged in every turn, often got four under the template, and only destroyed 1 Hetzer and 1 STG.  Too much unreliability for a potentially powerful unit.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

9th Panzer on the Road to Dunkirk

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs (Active)
Location: Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Game: Flames of War, Early War 1390 points

Mission: Hasty Attack
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (
              Bruce Potter/Steve Turn,
Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs  (defender)

The Forces: 3rd Leichte Panzerkompanie Kompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division  (defender) 5 Zugs containing 4 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 6 Pz I’s, 13 Pz IIc’s,  9 Kradschutzen teams (6 MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader).  

The French were running the Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs (attacker) 9 platoons containing 3 R-35’s, 5 Panhard’s,  28 infantry teams, 4 75mm towed guns, 3 mortars, 2 4.7cm SA-37 antitank, 3 2.5 SA-34 antitank, and 4 MG teams.

Scenario:  Following the French Retreat along the Rue Nationale, near the coastal town of Zuydcoote.

The Board: The coastal town of Zuydcoote, where French forces have established a blocking force to deny access to the Rue Charles Pichon leading to Dunkirk.
The town of Zuydcoote.  The Rue Charles Pichon runs long ways in the French deployment area.  At the bottom along the wood line are are 2.5cm AT guns.  The rails are possibly a fireworks launcher, maybe set up for Bastille Day?  In the distance are an infantry platoon heading for the woods and a Panhard Squadron on the road.
A close up of the east side of the board. 
The Germans will have to make of note of the "Fireworks" launcher.  They may have a use for it in a year or four.
In the German deployment area, the Kradschutzen deploy on the German left flank.  Supporting a Kampfgruppe of Panzer I's, II's and Motorcycles.

German Kampfgruppe forms up to assault the second objective.

Deployment full table view. 
Both sides have half their forces in reserve.  The French reserves are in "Scattered, Delay" status, while the Germans are normal.

Reconnaissance Move:
The Panhards stay on the road, keeping their high speed options open.  The Kradschutzen move out on the reconnaissance move, but have little where to go. 

Turn 1:
No German reserves arrive.  The noise of two stroke engines is deafening as the Kradschutzen race forward to the objective.
The Kradschutzen threaten the left side objective, but this is just a feint to keep the Anti Tank guns and fast firing 75's on this side of the board.
While the Panzer II Zug gets to hose down the French infantry on this side of the woods, while remaining mostly out of range of the French AT assets.
While the Kampfgruppe get to hose down the other side.
While the Germans focus two Zugs (Platoons) of Panzers on the French Infantry, they score many hits, but no kills, and just pin them.
The French shoot at the Kradshutzen.  Using their reconnaissance ability they disengage before being shot too badly.

And while the Panzer II Zug was out of range of most of the French 75's, they were close enough and 2 tanks were destroyed.
And while the Panzer II Zug was out of range of most of the French 75's, they were close enough and 2 tanks were destroyed by well aimed fire.
The Panhards travel a bit down the road and start shooting their 25's at the German Leichte Tank Zug.

Turn 2:
German reserves arrive. A Light Tank Platoon (Lichte Panzer Zug).  The reserves race up the center of the board, but are too far away to engage anyone.

The Germans pull the remains of their Panzer II Zug away from the 75's, circling around the center woods to assist the Kampfgruppe, but will not play a part in this turn.  

With the Panhards coming into range it is time to reveal the nicest part of the Panzer II, a Rate of Fire of 3!  2 Panhards blow up, 2 more are bailed.  While the Panzerbefehlswagens and Panzer I's hose the infantry generously with machine gun fire.  The plucky French stay on the field with the help of their Company Commander with the Motivation Check.

But the French retaliate and manage to destroy 4 panzers, causing a Motivation Check.  The Germans pass, but pull out of the line to the cover of the woods on the right flank.

The Panhards are two dead and one alive.  But heeded the urging of their Company Commander and stay in the field.

To good effect, as four panzers were destroyed.  The German Second in Command pulls his zug out to go around the right flank.
A view from the German Reserve Platoon.
Turn 3:
German reserves arrive, another Lichte Panzer Zug.  They double-time around the woods on the right flank to join the German Company Commander.  The reserves from the previous turn take advantage of the smoking ruins of the burning panzers as cover and continue to hose the French infantry with MG fire.  

The French Panhards line up to face the flanking Germans.

The German Company Commander and the remains of the Panzer II Platoon head for the right flank.  The remains of the 2iC's Platoon are taking cover behind the woods.

Taking shots at the infantry while receiving cover from the smoking tanks.  To the right, the German Company Commander's tank complete their flank march and start coming in from the side.  Another Panhard blows up, and the rest of the armored cars flee the field.
Turn 4:
German reserves arrive, the last Lichte Panzer Zug.  This is looking good for a massive assault on the French infantry with 3 Panzer Platoons.  The only thing that can save them is their own reserves.  But with "Delayed" and "Scattered" Reserves those odds are slim.

Of course, that is what happened.  The French 4.7cm AT guns arrive, behind the definitely and inarguably bullet proof walls.  Lots of shooting occurs, but no real casualties.

Further French reserves arrive, 3 R-35's on the left flank.

The German Company Commander pushing the remains of the 2iC's Zug in front, and reinforced by reserve Leichte Zug.
Left flank arrival of the R-35's off in the distance. 
French 4.7's arrive behind the walls.

Turn 5:
French reserves arrive, 3 R-35's on the left flank.  The begin to head towards the German objective, which is guarded by Kradschutzen.

On the right flank, the Germans decide to assault the 4.7 guns.  Risking bog checks and bails, they destroy the two guns, but not the platoon leader, and with the help of the French Company Commander, stay on the board.

First assault in progress.  The first French 4.7 gun is destroyed, the second is in progress.

Meanwhile, the R-35's, which are classified as slow tanks, grind forward.
Turn 6:
The Germans launch their big assault.
Three assaults on the French infantry platoon.  At the end, the French are dug out of their trenches, but still fighting, and the the objective (the crashed V-1 prototype) is now contested.
The Kradschutzen dodge left.

Turn 7:
To cover the objective, the Kradschutzen now must make a stand.

They take their lumps.

And being recon, buggered out before the armored monsters.

The R-35's, now facing zero opposition close in on the objective.

At this point we called it.  Even if the Germans cleaned out French infantry platoon on the right flank off of the objective, there was a another French unit that would be able to contest the objective one more turn, so the timing was going to have this as a French win on the left flank.