Monday, May 20, 2013

Shimsk Breakthrough

A Headless Body production.

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

The Forces:
2nd Tank Army's 1441st SU Regiment, with 4 Batteries of SU-122's, supported by the 1/307th Tank Company, 208th Flak Company, 5/1441 Reconnaissance Company (Confident, Trained), and the 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.

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie (Confident, Veteran) 2 Platoons of Panzergrenadiers (command team, panzerfaust smg, 6 MG teams, haltracks), Platoon of 2 PaK 43’s, 1 Battery of 4 Sturmgeschutz's (2 STG IIIg's and 2 Stg H42's), 1 Platoon of 2 Tigers, (triple firing) and a Reconnaissance Platoon of 3 Armored Cars.

The Mission: Breakthrough,  The defender sets up in quarters cater cornered from each other.  The attacker in a third quarter, the 2 objectives are placed in the remaining quarter.   The defender has mobile reserves, the attacker delayed reserves.  Attacker wins if he can control an objective, defender on turn 6+ if the attacker is not within 16 inches of either objective. 

The Board:
4 by 6 feet. 
The northern river port town of Shimsk, near Novgorod.
The Board:
A countryside area of fields, roadside hedges, woods and rises.  The town of Shimsk is near the center of the map.  Snow drifts are still present where they were deepest.  The Shelon River, a tributary of Lake Ilmen,  is running deep with melting snow. The farming collective's pond is also still frozen over.

The south side of the board.  East is at the bottom of the shot.  Shimsk is on the right, the Shelon River, is on the left.
Reverse view of the southwest edge of the map.
Reverse view of the northern half of the board.

Defender picks the quarter of the board to deploy in, and chose the southeast and northwest quarters.  The attacking Soviets deployed in the southwest quarter, squeezed between the river Shelon and Shimsk.  2 batteries of SU's were sent on a flank march.

OK- NOBODY breath now.

German half tracks near both objectives.
German Panzergrenadiers north of Shimsk.
While the Tigers quietly look on.

While waiting for his Battalion to form up, Kapitan Koning surveyed the land around him.  He confirmed the the reports that the reconnaissance company had handed him.  The Germans were dug in around Shimsk, but had not invested the town. Off in the distance were the half tracks they would use either as support to to flee on.  And off to the east there was nothing.  Wait.  "Kakogo cherta", he exclaimed!  He handed his binoculars to his radio operator.  "Damn!"  He knew his reconnaissance teams were myopic, but even a blind man could have seen a Tiger tank, let alone two!  He was tempted to send the reconnaissance company to deal with the Tigers armed only with sketch pads.
Still, the enemy forces were separated by the town, and though Kapitan Badinuff wouldn't like it, his 10 tanks should be able to deal with the Tigers.  And if not, he should be able to distract them long enough to get to the for us to take the objective, cutting the German lines in two.

Turn 1:
There is lots of slow going on the board, but I need the T-34's to close in fast on the Tigers to short range.  I sent the T-34/76's through the plowed field, and the T-34/85's around the cleared area, but hugging cover from facing the PaK 40's.  The SU Batteries mainly loop around the town and take up position to "Volley Fire" the Grenadiers.  It really doesn't look good for the Germans.  But for all the massed firepower, there are no effective shots I can take, between "Hens and Chicks", range, cover, and veterans, all my shots require a 7 to hit. 

German reserves arrive.  A battery of Sturmgeschutzs, 75's and 105's.  They had 4 shots, which scored 3 hits, 2 kills, 1 bail, and a motivation check, scoring the first kill with one SU Battery fleeing the field.

However, the luck was not so one sided.  Between 2 PaK 40's and 2 triple-firing Tigers, only 1 T-34 was killed from Kapitan Badinuff's charging 1/307th Tank Battalion.

The 1/307th heads towards the Tigers and the PaK 40's.  The reconnaissance teams head into town, supported by an SU Battery
The SU Batteries take up firing positions.
Sturmgeschutzs arrive from reserve...
Turn 2:
The 1/307th Tank Battalion continued their charge, but ignored the Tigers and instead hosed down the PaK's with heavy MG fire.  Since the PaK's fired last turn, they lost their "Gone to Ground" status and their 3+ save making them much more vulnerable.  Both PaK guns were killed.  Since I "Shot too well", I opted to assault the PaK positions and consolidate my tanks.

On the other side of Shimsk, a similar choice had to be made.  Shoot at the Sturmgeschutzs, or the Grenadiers?  Since the Grenadiers couldn't really hurt me I probably should have shot at the Sturmgeschutzs.  But I thought that I had a reasonable chance of killing the whole Grenadier Platoon, as I had them at short range, re-rolling misses, and a chance to lift "Gone to Ground".  Added to that was 18 dice from the 208th Flak Company. But the lifting of GTG failed, and I only managed to kill two of the seven Grenadiers.

On the German side, more reserves rolled in.  His Armored Car Platoon.  Not seeing anything of they wanted to tangle with, they instead double-timed it towards the objective.  The Sturmgeschutzs, double fired at long range, targeting the remaining SU Battery, destroying two, bailing another.  Leaving the Battery commander to pass his motivation check.

The German Tigers have "Rapid Fire!" and so have a rate of fire of 3.  They also have a target rich environment, and fired their 6 dice, flaming a T-34/76.
Continuing the charge of the 1/307 Tank Battalion.
The reconnaissance found their way into the buildings.  The SU 122's "Volley Fire" the Grenadiers.

Two Grenadiers down.

Position of the 1/307 on turn 2, after consolidating the assault. Closing in on the kill, but with the Tiger hull down and "Hens and Chicks", the T-34's still need a 6 to hit at this time

Turn 3:
Boris's blood was pounding.  With 88's exploding everywhere, and yet, only one T-34 was burning.  In a minute we will have their flanks!

No reserves arrive.  The 1/307 Tank Battalion continued their charge.  All the T-34/85's would cross over the bridge, while the wide tracks of the T-34/76's should carry them across the stream. Only one tank bogged in the crossing, but the rest were closing in on the flanks of the Tigers.  And as it turned out, the flank shot missed, but a lucky frontal hit managed to pop the Tiger. 
One Tiger dead.  So how come they don't burn like the Soviets do?  Petrol vs Diesel perhaps?

In Shimsk, I have only one more turn to clean out the Grenadiers.  5 chances to lift "Gone to Ground", then range in with the Katyusha's, then 20 dice of MG fire back up by 2 volley fires of 122's and 2 76 main guns.
As I said, 5 chances to lift "Gone to Ground".
Turn 3 (continued):
OK, so the Grenadiers are still "Gone to Ground", and I manage to only kill one team.  I toyed with the idea of assaulting them with the 208th Flak Company.  But I let it go.  I only needed to kill one more team to force a motivation check.

German Reserves arrive, the other Panzergrenidier platoon on half tracks.  The remaining Tiger flamed another T-34, then "Storm Trooper" backwards to the corner to better cover its flanks.  The Sturmgeschutzs continue to make the the 1441st life miserable, destroying one flak-track, and bailing another.

The newly arrived Panzergrenidier platoon poured on the fire, double bailing a flak-trak.  Its crew had enough, set fire to the engine, and fled.  Leaving the Flak Company Commander alone in the smoke.
STG's kill one Flak Trak, bail another.

Turn 4:
Soviet reserves arrive, an SU Battery near one of the objectives.  The Germans already are sitting on the objective from earlier arrivals.  I decide to go for it despite bad odds and assault the German infantry.  But both the Panzerfaust and Panzerschrek did their jobs, hitting two guns, halting the assault.

Meanwhile the 1/307 is closing in for the kill.  4 surviving T-34/85's and one plucky T-34/76 right on the flank of the Tiger.

In Shimsk, the Soviet pressure on the Panzergrenadiers slackens off considerably.  The Sturmgeschutzs split their fire and destroy both the SU Battery and the Flak Company. 

SU battery with 3 bailed, one alive, so no motivation check.

Turn 5:
The tide had definitely turned on this fight.  It was clear that the Germans were going for a company kill. They need 5 units, and already have 3 down, 2 desiccated.

The T-34 swarm finishes their job with the last Tiger Kill.  They have 6 surviving tanks and so ware still a very viable unit.  It's just that they are way out of position to help anyone else.

The Sturmgeschutzs, with assistance from the half tracks, begin chewing up the Katyusha Battalion. 
"Tell Kapitan Koning, mission accomplished!"

Two German Grenadier teams go in for the assault, and burn the SU Battery.

While the T-34's continue to pound the last Tiger.

Turn 6:
Soviet reserves arrive, the last SU Battery.  They rolled 2 sixes on their shots, picking up the Panzerfaust and Panzerschrek teams.  But are not quite close enough to claim the objective.

Through the fire and smoke, the German Panzergrenidiers swarm the Soviet Katyusha Battery.

The last whole SU battery arrives and destroys the defending infantry.  Only the German Armored Cars are keeping the objective in play.
The Katyusha's are burning. 

Turn 7:
This is a long game.  The 1441st pushes it's last SU's to contest both objectives.  Killing one armored car, and forcing the rest to retreat.
The German counters this move with the Sturmgeschutz battery, to race towrads the objective, leaving the Panzergrenidiers to clean up Shimsk.
The last SU Battery contesting both objectives.
Turn 8:
The Soviets continue to contest the objectives, but the Germans are on them as well.  In the final end game, the Germans manage to shoot up the both the 5/1441 Reconnaissance Battalion and the 89th Guards Mortar Battalion for 5 units killed, causing a Regimental Motivation check, which the Soviets failed.  Putting the win in the Germans column, 4-3.

While this looks bad for the Germans, it was the final step to their victory.