Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Assault on Chernobyl, 9th Panzer Division vs 304th Rifle Division

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Strelkovy Batalon
Location: Phils Basement
Game: Flames of War, Early War 1600 points
Mission: Fighting Withdrawal
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (
              Steve Turn, Soviet
Strelkovy (defender)

The Forces: The 3rd Leichte Panzerkompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division. 5 Zugs containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 10 Pz IIc’s, 4 Pz IIIe’s, 9 Kradschutzen teams with 6 R/MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader.  Morale and training level: Confident Veteran.

The 1/807 Strelkovy Batalon, 304th Rifle Division (formally the 109th Mechanized Division) 7 companies with a combined total of 59 Rifle teams, 10 T-26's, 10 45mm AT guns, 5 Komissars, 5 Maksim HMG teams, 3 Flame-throwers and a mortar. Morale and training level: Confident Conscript.

Scenario:  To cut off the major city of Kiev, 9th Panzer is attacking the newly formed Soviet 304th Rifle Division near the small town of Chernobyl.

The Board: Just south of the huge Pripyat marshes, Chernobyl is astride the Pripyat river, and is at one of the crossing points needed of to successfully surround Kiev, which is being defended by many Soviet Armies.  Chernobyl was a major town at one time, but the mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed has left it in ruins occupied by a small colony of Jews.

The board as viewed from the south.  Chernobyl is in the north, astride the head waters of the Pripyat River.

The board as viewed from the north. 

The mostly abandoned and ruined town of Chernobyl.
Apologies for the poor pictures.  My normal camera was off on another adventure, and I used my son's IPod for these.  It was OK for stills, but less forgiving if I was in a hurry.

Kapitän Klaus Krinkle pulled himself out of the hatch and surveyed the nearby town, and looked disgustedly at both his Herr issued map, and the captured map from a captured Soviet soldier.  Trying to compare the two was impossible.  The only thing he knew was that this was Chernobyl, and the headwaters of the Priypyat river.  Why cross here?  Kiev was 50 miles away.  This was too far away to support the encirclement of the Soviet forces there.  All high command would say was that the SEOO* ordered it.

He heard an oncoming motorcycle and waved.  The driver pulled alongside and shut off the engine.  The passenger got out of the sidecar and gave his legs a stretch.  "Herr Schultz, have we any sign of the enemy?" Klaus asked.

"Yes Herr Kapitän, it seems that we have beaten him to the Priypyat River.  They are now massing to the west of the town."

"That is good, they won't have a river line as an advantage.  It is amazing we beat them here, considering our maps of this area are not good, and..." He stopped to stare at the captured map in his hand, "Apparently their maps aren't either."  However this could explain much on how the Soviets were fighting, if they are using these maps, then they were as lost as we are in their own country.  So much for a home field advantage.  

"So who are we fighting today?"  Do we have a composition of the enemy?" queried Klaus. 

"The prisoners we have taken say they belong to the 304th Rifle Division.  The forces here seem to be composed of a battalion of infantry, but with an excessive amount of anti tank guns and half a company of light tanks." 

"Any T-34's or KV's?"

"No, Herr Kapitän"

"Any sign of the 109th Mechanized Division?"

"No, Herr Kapitän.  The 109 seems to have disappeared from the planet.  But the tanks may have belonged to them."

"That would be good, then they won't fight well together."  observed Klaus, then he ordered, "Inform the Zug commanders of your findings, I'll send orders shortly."

 "Ya vol, Herr Kapitän"

The motorcycle receded in the distance in the direction of a cluster of several more sidecar mounted motorcycles as Leutnant Schultz carried out his orders.  Klaus didn't like having to recross the the Priypyat again.  The bridge was not in good repair.  

Where is the 109th Mechanized?  They were chasing it, when they ran into the 304th Rifle.  Running into a Rifle Division was nothing new, His panzers were bound to overrun the foot troops, but the 109th couldn't have gone north, into the biggest swamp in the world, and he would have had reports if they went south.  It's almost as if they just renamed the thing, just to drive him nuts.  Just like the maps.

 Soviet setup.  Pretty much board edge to board edge, and up to 6 ranks deep.
Deployment view from the south.  The 9th Panzer is concentrated on the right.
From bottom to top, Leichte Panzer Platoon, Panzer II Platoon, Kradschutzen Platoon, Panzer III Platoon and furthest to the north, another Leichte Panzer Platoon.

Situation: What to do?  When I set up the board I expected to give Steve the river advantage, but he chose opposite side instead.  I guess with fighting withdrawal time is on his side, and I had to first cross the Pripyat River first.  It is only slow going in the north, then becomes a bog check in the middle, then a skill check where it widens.  The problem with crossing at the shallows is that it leads right into the town.  Between defending infantry and their 2" no go bubble, all that slow going and thin alleyways there is going to be some serious traffic problems.  

I decided that the middle objective would be where I would try to win the game.  But I set the deployment up to look like I was going for the northern objective.  I'll see what I can lure north, maybe even get the ambush to pop there

Recon Move:
 Not much of one, as soon as I cross the bridge, I am then within sight and 16".

Turn 1:
I am going to miss not having Stukas for this one.  It would be easy to get 6 under the template everywhere.  I pushed the 3 platoons into the town, and the other two crossed the river south of the town to trade shots with the 45mm guns on the hill.

The crossing of the Pripyat buys the Soviets time.  As my Panzer I's, Panzerbefehlswagens, and Kradschutzen all move 4" in slow going.  But my forces threw out a considerable amount of MG fire, hitting conscripts, gone to ground and concealed is a 4.  I managed to pin one of the Strelkovy companies and the 45mm guns, but nothing killed.

The Soviet response is measured.  The battery on the hill kills a Panzer II.  The larger 6 gun battery hasn't been revealed.

My original thought here was to run the Panzer III's into the buildings.  But I had second thoughts on the number of skill check rolls that would involve.  The Kradschutzen was going to spread out to prevent any ambushes.
Leichte Platoon crosses north of Chernobyl, heading towards the northern objective.

The Leichte and Panzer II Platoon crosses south of Chernobyl, heading towards the center objective.
The 45mm AT battery on the hill kills one Panzer II and bails another.
Turn 2:
The 9th Panzer aggressively pushes into the town.  I am hoping to double assault and possibly rout the defenders.  I should have looked at the numbers better.

That's about 27 dice of MG fire.  This pins the Soviets, but not a single stand is killed.
The Panzer II's knock off another AT gun on the hill, pinning the platoon.

The more expendable elements of a Leichte Panzer Platoon approach for the assault.  The combined MG fire is 17 shots, which fails to pin the Strelkovy, or cause a single casualty.
Leichte Panzers assault, followed closely by their Panzer II's.  They killed a couple of stands, but were beaten back in the counter assault.
The ambush is revealed, 6 45mm at guns north of the town.  Killing 3 tanks of a Leichte Panzer Platoon.  The surviving 2 panzers pass their motivation and will pull back.
While the Soviet tank company is moving down the road, flanking the other Leichte Panzer Platoon.

Turn 3:
The initial assault didn't go as expected.  There are too few panzers and too many of them.  Worse, the slow moving T-26's are now close enough to intervene.  Only their bunched formation and Hens and Chicks is keeping them from being a decisive factor right now.  The 9th Panzer liberally douses all the Strelkovy with MG fire, some 30 dice, but still fails to get a single kill. 

If it is worth doing once, it is worth doing again.  Shot them MG fire and assault.  The MG fire scores nothing, but the assault kills a few stands before the Strelkovy Platoon breaks off.
I know this is a very bad picture, but it shows the Panzer III's, which have only been placeholders so far, leaving town in a redeployment to the center of the board.  The Kradschutzen hunker down to keep the Strelkovy company from redeploying.
The Panzer III platoon leader and a follower double time it and get all the way to the center.  In the top of the frame, are the results of the 2nd assault.
The Soviet T-26 company, decided to spread out a bit but hiding behind the hill.
Turn 4:
There are a lot of dead Strelkovy on the board, but not enough to force a motivation check.  So the center panzers assault again, killing more, forcing another break off, but no motivation failure.  On the high note, the center objective is now contested.  On a low note, those T-26's are almost there as well.
Into the breach once more.

Down to two guns, the Strelkovy 45 AT guns are withdrawn per the Fighting Withdrawal mission parameters,  But they were within 8 inches of the 9th Panzer, and so had to pass a motivation check, which they failed.  The 9th Panzer has it's first point.  The Strelkovy underneath the hill are not dug in.
A single Panzer III joins in the fray.
The center objective is secured!
The Panzer II's assault the other Strelkovy platoon, but one panzer gets double bailed and destroyed.
The T-26's take up firing positions.  About half of them can shoot.
And they are very effective.  2 dead, 2 bailed.  A successful motivation check is the only thing that keeps the 2nd Leichte Platoon in play.

Turn 5:
Shots are traded back an forth.  The end result is the Strelkovy defending the south and center objectives fled the field, but considerable damage was done to the Panzer forces.

Two Panzer III's, under cover, kill one T-26, and bail another.  The combined fire with the Panzer II's on the hill is 2 dead, 2 bailed.

The T-26's fire back, destroying the 2nd Leichte Panzer Platoon.
And a Panzer III.
Turn 6:
More shots traded.  The Tankovy is taken to it's limits, but it survives to take out both a Leichte Panzer and Panzer III platoons.
A single Panzer I and a PanzerDammitVagon face half a T-26 company.

The score is 2 units dead on each side.  The only viable AT force the Germans have are 4 Panzer II's on the center objective.

The remaining Panzer II's triple fire the T-26's, killing 3 more.  The Soviet Tankovy failed it's motivation check, and fled the field.  The remaining Leichte Panzer Platoon, down to a single Panzer I and the command tank storm trooper to the southern objective.  The two remaining Soviet Strelkovy Platoons are buttoned up in the north.  Covered by the MG's of the Kradschutzen and the Company Commanders tank.  They could do nothing.  So either by company failure or by the 9th Panzer taking the final objective, the 304th lost this fight, 4-3.

End game.  The Tankovy Company is destroyed by the remaining Panzer II's.  Leaving the 9th Panzer in control of the both the center and southern objectives.  The center objective was removed according to the scenario parameters, but there is nothing the Soviets can do about the southern one.  The 9th Panzer wins, 4-3.
* SEOO: Search Engine Optimization Officer. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Liberation of Dimshizak

A Headless Body Production
Location: Steve's Gameroom
Players:   Phil Gardocki, Soviet Tankovy  (attacker)
                 Steve Turn, German Grenadierkompanie
Game: Flames of War, Mid War, 1625 points

The Forces:
Soviet Red Army Tankovy Battalion (Mostly Fearless, Conscript).
          1 Company of 10 lend lease Shermans
          1 Company of 5 T-34 tanks
          1 Battalion of 8 Katyushas and DShk AA MG's ( Fearless, Trained).
          1 Battery of 4 SU 122's

German  Grenadierkompanie (Confident, Veteran)
           3 Grenadier Platoons of Parachute Rifles
                     Each with 6 Rifle MG teams and a Panzerknacker
           1 Platoon of 2 15cm sIG33's
           1 Platoon of 4 PaK40's
           1 Battery of 3 Nebelwerfers
         1 Platoon of 2 8.8cm FlaK 36's with 8 crew, allowing a rate of fire of 3. (Confident, Trained)
           With Priority Air Support Ju 87 Stukas

Mission:Surrounded.  2 objectives are placed.  Both defenders and attackers start in prepared positions.   Attacker wins by holding either objective.  Defender wins if no attackers are within 16 inches of an objective turn 6.  Both sides start with all troops on the board.  Attacker must have units in both deployment zones.

The Board:
Large pieces of woods and some hills populate the north and south edges of the board.  The medieval walled town of Dimshizak is in the center.  There is a stream running from east to west on the north side of the board.
The board from the north edge.  The medieval walled town of Dimshizak.
The board from the southwest corner.  Looks like a great defense if the defender gets the east side to deploy in.

The defender occupies the center 2 feet of the long side of the board.  The attacker deploys along both short edges of the board.  This is one of those things I love about this game.  The board can be set up for for ideal defense one way, but the mission throws you a curve ball.  In this case the mission rolled was "Surrounded", and while a walled village may seem like an ideal defensive area, there is just too much company that needs to deployed, and a lot of open ground around the village to put it in.

The T-34's and the SU's would attack from the north, while the Lend Lease Shermans and the Katyusha's would come in from the south.
The Soviets deploy 5 T-34's and 4 SU-122s on the north edge.  German 88's are on the west edge.  Mortars and PaK 40's on the east.  Lots of grenadiers in the open defending the "mini-uber-Koningstiger"
While crammed in the south west corner are 10 Lend Lease Shermans, 8 Katyushas, and supporting teams.
The Germans have triple firing 88's dug in and at the ready, that can strike at the Soviets no matter from where they approach.

In the east, Grenadiers backed by Nebelwerfers and sIG 150's
Kapitan Koning put down is binoculars.  The situation looked about as the briefing had informed him.  The Germans have established a hard point and would fight for Dimshizak.  Not that they were given much of a choice, by being surrounded.  The objective here was one of eradication, not of finesse.  The new Commissar expressed an interest in the miniature Bengal Tigers that seem to litter the battlefields recently.  Koning could see two of them here, though it seemed like the Bosch tried to scuttle one in a pond.  So much effort to create these tiny replica's, and to what end?  Some kind of deception plan to try to convince us there are panzers here?  If so, that would only encourage our attacks.  We can never destroy enough panzers.

Now if only we had more ammunition for the rockets.  Koning would be happy to "plow the fields" here for a day or two before the assault, but winter is coming, and we need to capture as much ground as possible before General Mud slows things down.

Turn 1:
Soviet tanks close in from both sides pincering the western objective.  The T-34's took up positions along the wood-line.  The combined forces focused on the 88's as they were not concealed in their location and took out one, along with its command staff.  The 88's failed their motivation and abandoned their other gun.  A good beginning. 

The PaK's replied, killing 5 Shermans in one volley.  I cannot take another volley like that again.  The T-34's,  faced long range fire from the sIG 150's and the Nebelwerfers, with the results of one tank bailed.  The Luftwaffe scrapped together a couple of Stukas, which raked the SU Battery, destroying one.

The T-34 company is a bit small, with only 5 tanks.  So I will use them primarily to pin and distract the German forces on the east side of the town.

Surprise!  The PaK 40's were hiding out in the open.
The Soviets get very lucky on the opening turn, killing a triple firing 88 and its command team.  The remaining 88 crew abandoned their position.
But the PaK 40's just ruin the Company of Lend Lease Shermans.  5 tanks are destroyed and one is bailed.

And a Stuka bombing run claims an SU-122.
Turn 2:My Shermans can't stay where they are, so Kapitan Badinuff lead as many as could follow off to the flank of the PaK 40's  Between shooting and assaulting, the Shermans managed to destroy two of the weapons.

The remaining PaK's, now pinned, did not manage much this turn, only bailing a Sherman.  The Luftwaffe, took another bombing run on the SU's, destroying another one.  The German Mortars followed the rocket contrails of the Katyushas, fired back, destroying one, and pinning the battery.
A couple of Shermans flank the PaK -40's.  Pinning them with MG fire before assaulting.
The Stukas claim a second SU.
The Germans are prepared to defend the mini-uber-Koningstiger.
Turn 3:
Not a lot of shooting here.  With the menace of the PaK's and 88's removed, the T-34's left their wood-line to assist on the final assault on the objective.  The remaining German AT Assets were on the wrong side of town to help.  The Germans start redeploying their Grenadiers from east to west in an attempt to hold the objective. 

Turn 4:
The T-34's rake the redeploying Germans with machine gun fire. While the remaining Sherman tanks rolled forward to the objective, assaulting and killing all but one team of the defenders, who fled into town.  The German forces redeploy in the for a counter assault, but they don't have the speed.  In the end is is a Soviet 6-1 win.
The remains of the 1/307 Tank Battalion take the objective.

Then both the T-34's and the Shermans take up positions to defend the objective from all comers.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Red Army Tank Battalion vs American Parachute Rifle Company

A Headless Body Production
Location: Phil's Basement
Players:   Phil Gardocki, Soviet Tankovy  (attacker)
                   Ed Bernhard, American Paratroopers (defender)
Game: Flames of War, Mid War, 1625 points

The Forces:
Soviet Red Army Tankovy Battalion (Mostly Fearless, Conscript).
          1 Company of 10 lend lease Shermans
          1 Company of 5 T-34 tanks
          1 Battalion of 8 Katyushas and DShk AA Machine Gun's (Fearless, Trained)
          1 Battery of 4 SU 122's

American Paratroopers (Fearless, Veteran)
           3 Platoons of Parachute Rifles
                     Each with 8 Rifle Machine Gun teams, a Mortar and a Bazooka.
           1 Platoon of 4 M10's
           1 Platoon of 4 Chemical Mortars.
           With P-40 Warhawks in Limited Air Support.

Mission: Cauldron.  2 objectives are placed.  Both defenders and attackers start in prepared positions.   Attacker wins by taking either objective.  Defender wins if no attackers are on the defenders side of the board after turn 6.  Attacker has random deployment.  Defender has delayed reserves, the attacker normal reserves.

The Board:
Numerous hills and fields populate the board.  All hills are high enough to hide behind.  A Road traverses the board from east to west.  A stream cuts a quarter of the board from south to east. 

Faced with defending two spread out objectives, the Americans opt to deploy two of their large Parachute Rifle Platoons, keeping the remaining Rifle, Mortars and M10's in reserve.  Each platoon was on the board was covering one of the objectives.  The Soviets started with random deployment, but rolled a couple of 5's and 6's, and so got to pick the quarters they wanted to deploy in.  So they deployed the Shermans and the Katyushas in the northwest quadrant, with the Tanks a short distance from the north objective.

For fellow bloggers regarding Picassa:
I discovered something about the Google program, Picassa today.  If you delete the pictures from you hard drive, Picassa will synchronize, and delete them from your web album.  In the blog, the pictures will be replaced by a "File Not Found" symbol.  Once you publish, you are OK, but before then, you run the risk of losing your work.  

In my case, I lost 4, count'em 4 copies of the photos.  I deleted them from the camera, the temp download folder, the shrink to size folder, while Picassa deleted the photos in the web album.  I was saved only by the recycle bin.
Soviet Lend Lease Tanks backed by Katyushas in the northeast corner.

1st Parachute Platoon in the southwest corner.
2nd Parachute Platoon in the northwest corner.

Turn 1:
The defender moves first in cauldron, and the Americans made the most of it.  Aircraft came in blowing up two Shermans.  While mortars barraged the Katyusha observer post and supporting AA gun.  This had the effect of pinning the entire Katyusha battery. 

Soviet reserves arrive.  They bring on the SU-122 battery.  Being Fearless, the Katyusha's roll a 1 to unpin, and so remain cowering under their trucks.  The tanks and SU's advance, throwing some 32 dice of MG fire at the dug in Americans to no effect.  The SU's, however can shoot at the mortars, which shot, and so were not considered gone to ground.  The SU's rolled two sixes to hit, but a one/five in the firepower rolls, and so killed only one team.
A blurry "P-47" bombs the Lend Lease Shermans, destroying 2.
Katyushas pinned by a single mortar, advantage, Americans!
The Katyusha muff their unpin roll.
The SU Battery arrives from reserves and advances to "Volley Fire" range.
While the surviving Shermans pin the front of the 2nd Paras, and contest the objective.
Turn 2:
To avoid providing a better target, only the mortar from the 1st Parachute fired, causing a hit, but no damage.  Again the planes came in, destroying an SU-122.

The Soviets decide all their main guns are within 16" of the target, and just shoot.  6 shots from SU-122's with Volley Fire, 16 shots of 75's and 16 MG's from the Lend Lease Shermans.  Pinning the Paratroopers, and killing a Rifle Team.
Choices, stay concentrated and get the advantage of volley fire, or spread out and avoid being a good target to the P-47's
Range is good, no need to move, open fire!
Turn 3:
No American reserves arrive.  American aircraft arrive, again targeting the SU's, but the combination of only having one plane and an excellent armor save prevented any kills.

Soviet reserves arrive, the T-34's follow the SU's on the north edge of the board.  The Katyushas finally unpin, but fail to range in.  But between the tanks and assault guns there was rolled 16 dice for main guns, 18 more for machine guns, 3 for the single .50 cal, while "Volley Firing" 6 Breakthrough guns.  This combination killed a total of two teams, and pinned the 2nd Paratroopers. 

Turn 4:
No American reserves arrive.  No American aircraft arrive, its beginning to look very bad for the Yanks.

Feeling the need for a decision before the American reserves can upset things.  The  Soviet tankers push forward to assault range.  
The 2nd Parachute is looking at a wall of steel.

Phase 1, shoot, killing another team, pinning the platoon.
Phase 2, assault the corner with the smaller T-34 Tank Company.  Trading a tank, for a paratrooper team.
Phase 3, assault with the large Lend Lease Sherman Platoon.  The Americans get two bazooka shots.  Since the Soviets are conscripts, they only miss on a 1.   If both bazookas hit, they can turn back the Soviet tank assault. (Note, the picture here shows two 1's rolled)
There was a lot of back and forth here before the final resolution.  The Soviets have taken the objective.
Turn 5:
All the American reserves arrive.  The 2nd Parachute Platoon remained pinned, and so cannot approach and contest the objective.  Mathematically, neither can the M-10's reach it either coming on the board edge.  Even after successfully assaulting the Katyusha's Commissar, Spotter, and AA Teams.  So the M-10's, assisted by the Rifle teams of the Chemical Mortar Platoon, and the 3rd Parachute Platoon amused themselves assaulting the Katyusha Battalion.  The Battalion was reduced to just its Commissar, but passed both morale checks, giving the Soviets a 6-1 win.

All the American reserves arrive, the M10's, the 3rd Parachute Platoon and the Chemical Mortar Platoon.
The Americans cannot reach the objective.

Which simplifies their decision tree.  The 3rd Parachute Platoon and the M-10's rip through the Katyushas like flak though a goose.  Killing 10 out of 11 teams.
 Leaving only the Commissar, who was last seen being pursued by a few M-10's, running for cover in smoke