Monday, February 11, 2013

Attacking the Wiking SS at Vyazma

A Headless Body production.

Location: Ed Bernhard's Basement 
Players: Phil Gardocki, Legkiy Samokhodno-Artillyeriyskiy Polk (defender)
                 Ed Bernhard, Wiking SS (attacker)
Game: Flames of War Late War 1780 points
Mission: Encounter

The Forces:

2nd Tank Army's 1st Battalion, 1441st SU Regiment, 1/307th Tank Company, 208th Flak Company, 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company (Confident, Trained), 89th Guards Mortar Battalion (Fearless Trained).

A total of 15 SU-122's in 4 Batteries, 10 T-34's (5 76's, 5 85's), 8 Katyushas, 2 DShk AA trucks in 1 battery, 3 ZSU 17's, and 5 Recon Rifle/MG teams.

SS Wiking (Fearless, Trained) 2 Platoons of Grenadiers, 1 Platoon of 3 PaK 43’s (which was broken up and parsed to the Grenadiers), 1 Platoon of 3 Panzer IV’s (containing a Kanon), 1 Platoon of 2 STG's (also containing a Kanon), 1 Kampfgruppe of 2 STG's, 1 Reconnaissance platoon of 3 armored cars, and limited air support.

The Mission: Encounter, The Germans rolled to be the attacker.  Though, if you look at the mission, it doesn't matter who is attacking and who is defending.  2 objectives are placed in both the defenders and attackers area.   Each side has half their force in scattered, delayed, reserves.  Winner is he who can control either objective on the opposite side of the board.

The Board:
4 by 6 feet. 
A minor crossroad along the stream near Vyazma.

The Board:
A countryside area of fields, roadside hedges, woods and rises.

 The 1441st SU Regiment will be setting up on the left, "East", edge, the Wiking SS on the right, "West" edge.

Reverse view above.  1441st SU Regiment right, Wiking SS left.

     Both Ed and I are practicing for an the upcoming tourney, "White Out" and we know they love their bocage.  So the hedges along the road were considered bocage, even though this is very un-Russia like terrain.  This had the effect of splitting the board in two.  We each had an objective on each side of the split.  I decided to make a play for the right most objective and placed Boris Badinuff's 1/307th Tank Company, backed by Kapitan Poritonski's Guards Mortar Battalion.  This left my AA and Recon Companies to defend the other objective.  The Wiking SS had one Grenadier Platoon defending each objective, their Panzer IV Platoon, in between. 

Soviet Deployment, weighted right.  T-34's in front, 89th Guards Mortar Battalion behind.

German Deployment.  Pretty much center line.  One Platoon of Grenadiers on each objective, and a response team of 3 Panzer IV's.  The Kanon had been decorated with the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, allowing "Full Rate of Fire when moving" to go along with his "Re-roll Failed Skill Checks."

Soviet Deployment left.  3 ZSU-17's with quad .50 cals, and the 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company.

German deployment left.  A Grenadier Platoon backed by a PaK 43.
"Men", commanded Kapitan Petrov, "We have an opportunity."

"As we continue to encircle the Bosch in Vyazma, we have split off some of his forces, and can defeat them in detail."

"While most of the enemy are defending the ground further afield, we can take a key objective nearby, forcing them to come at us piecemeal, where our guns can grind them into dust."

"I know our SU's have not yet arrived from resupply, but Kommisar Ivan Inanovitch Ivanovsky, has gone to expedite their return.  Badinuff's tank company will pin the enemy till they arrive, and with speed and daring, we will secure a victory for Mother Russia!" 
I don't intend to fight on the left side of the board, and I didn't think the grenadiers on that side were going anywhere either, so I pushed the 5/1441st recon company to the hedge line, just to posture.  The 1/307th Tank Company began their hub to hub charge, but were slowed by the wheat field.  I am relying on the road side hedges to keep the Panzer IV's off my flank.  And with this mission, there are no ambushes.  The Wiking SS adjusted their Panzer IV positioning to compensate, but the other forces just waited.  (note to Ed, you probably should have dug in.)  The Luftwaffe made an appearance.  Two planes arrived, one was shot down, the other bailed a T-34.

Retiring the 208th Flak company, closer to the Kat's.

First air strike right on cue.  One plane was shot down, the other caused a bail.

 Turn 2:
I know I am relying on a massive tank company to carry the day, and it can take a hit, then punish my opponent afterwards.  But after measuring the distances, I couldn't get to 16 inches with all my tanks on turn 2.  If I am going to give his 2 PaK's the first shot, at least I want my return shot to be worth while.  So I decided to get ready for turn 3 by taking cover behind the hills and woods.
The 1/307th take cover from the PaK's.

But I forgot about the gap in the hedge.  The German platoon leader has another notch for his barrel. 

Turn 3:

Turn 3:
No Soviet Reserves arrive. Kapitan Badinuff's tank company take up firing positions on the hill near the Grenadiers and their PaK's.  But as I am outside of 6 inches, there are no targets visible.

German reserves arrive.  A pair of STG's, one of which is commanded by a warrior decorated with the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.  He arrived on the left side of the map, suddenly making one of my objectives vulnerable.  The Luftwaffe also made an appearance, and blew up a Katyusha.
Safe from the gap in the hedge, which is off camera to the left, but not in a good position to shoot either.
The Luftwaffe bags one Katyusha.

The Grenadiers,emboldened by the arrival of a pair of STG's, join them in an attack on my objective.
"Hurry up, he says!  You don't need a full load, 20 rounds of is enough, he saysHead to the sounds of gunfire he says!  What gunfire?  I have heard more noise coming from a fly fart" complained Leytenant Koning, platoon leader of the 1/1441st SU battery.

Turn 4:
Soviet reserves arrive.  A battery of SU's on the right corner of the table. The tactical problem is this:  The enemy is invisible to me unless I get to within 6 inches.  If I approach to 6 inches, "Hens and Chicks" means I have a ROF of 1 with a +1 to hit.  Also, the Grenadiers can surprise my tanks by assaulting from the woods.  Then my surviving tanks finally get to shoot back.  This is a bad plan. Lets see if I can fish him out by approaching with one T-34 to 6 inches.  

German reserves arrive.  Another pair of STG's, following the first.  The race is now on on who can secure an enemy objective first!  I have nothing that can deal with the STG's on the left, and I realize that the hedges would keep me from reinforcing that area.  Worse, only fully tracked vehicles can cross the hedge so my AA Company is trapped.

Not all of the 5/1441st Recon Company manage to get back to the safety of the woods but the STG's MG's shoot wide and miss.  The PaK's step out of the woods and blow up the fishing T-34.  Then "storm-trooper" back into the woods.*  What??? Consult the rule book.  It doesn't matter if the PaK's shot in turn 4, they are still not visible on turn 5.

Sending in a scout.

This is why you might not want to be seen.

The First Platoon of STG's navigates the gap in the hedge and approaches the now retreating 5/1441 Reconnaissance company.  The STG platoon leader is a war hero, decorated with the Knight's Cross with Diamonds.("Full Rate of Fire when moving",  "Re-roll Failed Skill Checks", "Re-roll failed to hit rolls" and "Warrior is only destroyed on a 5+".)
The Panzer IV's take up position on the hedge line, but this is a standoff as no-one can see anyone right now.

Turn 5.
Turn 5:
Soviet reserves arrive. Two more batteries of SU's.  Both on the right hand corner.  Since that corner is at a standoff right now, I'll wait till they get into position and then charge the objective.  While my objective is being assaulted by the STG's, I think it will still take 3 or more turns for him to secure it.

German reserves arrive.  An armored car platoon reinforced with some foot troops armed with Panzerschreks.  They also arrive on the Soviet right flank.  The schreks do their thing, and kill two more T-34's.  This is a mixed blessing.  They may hurt my tanks, but offer me a cheap platoon to kill.

German armored cars and Panzerschreks arrive on the right flank of the 1/307th.

And to add to the hurt, the PaK's are rolled out of the woods.

The STG Warrior lines up a shot on the AA guns and kills one.  One of the recon teams is also Machine-Guned down.

New dice for legibility.
Turn 6:
Soviet reserves arrive. The last battery of SU's arrives on the left side.  I'll get three flank shots on the one platoon of STG's, while lining up an assault with my recon teams.  3 shots, 2 hits, 1 bail, 1 killed.  But I measured poorly setting up the assault as the bailed survivor was 6 and a smidgen inches away and out of reach.

On the right flank, the SU's get their first shots on the Armored Car Platoon.  The cars themselves make their skill check and vacate the area, leaving two guilty faced infantry teams holding smoking tubes of spent panzerschreks to face down 3 batteries of SU's.

The 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company prepares to assault the STG's.

The 4/1441, "Grey" battery arrives.  Flaming the STG Kanon, and bailing the other STG.  The men of the 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company breath a sigh of relief as this is a case of "shot too well" and the bailed STG is out of range.

"Hens and Chicks" be damned.  When you have this many 12.2cm guns shooting at you, its over.

The Kanon fled his STG to take control of his other vehicle.  Only to find the crew had already fled the field.  The other two STG's take up defensive positions along the hedgerow.

Turn 7:
The 89th Guards Mortar Battalion gets a lucky turn and manages to bail the other two STGs on the road and pin the supporting Grenadiers.  The 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company get their opportunity to assault the bailed platoon, destroying both STG's, then pull back.

On the right flank, the SU's line up on the Grenadiers in the woods, killing one PaK, and an infantry team.  The T-34's knock off an armored car.  The Armored Car Platoon passed it's motivation testBut we called it here as Soviet win.  The left side was a draw, no Soviet Platoons have failed, while the Germans only had one Platoon not sitting at 50%.

The 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company approaches, assaults and recovers leaving 2 smoking STG's.

Final position on the right flank.  The Soviets were set to alternately step forward their batteries giving one "volley fire" while the other suffers from "Hens and Chicks".  The single PaK-43 couldn't stop them from coming in and taking the objective.

Wait a minute.  Where is the platoon of 3 Panzer IV's?  Why haven't they stepped in here somewhere.
Unfortunately, fate stepped in there.  One Pz IV was firing into the flanks of the T-34's when available, but mostly he didn't have a shot, or it missed.  The other two got bogged crossing the hedge, and even with "re-roll skill checks" there was a never ending series of 1's and 2's.  There was no need to belabor the point in the batrep.  On turn 7 I detached one of my SU Batteries to face them down should they succeed in unbogging, and attacking them if they stayed bogged.  At that point, whether the Pz IV's would have won or lost, they could only have changed the score from a 6-1 to a 5-2.

*It has been pointed out to me that Gun Teams cannot "Stormtrooper" after shooting.  You learn someting new every day.

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