Sunday, February 26, 2012

This... ends... here!

Situation normal, all [insert metaphor of choice] up!  The Soviets have ruptured the front.  We are to delay their advance as long as possible and then withdraw.  Although we know they are coming to our front, they could show up anywhere behind the line as well.  So what are our assets?

Two companies of panzer-grenadiers (in trucks), two platoons of Panzer IVs, two Panthers, a Tiger I, 105s, mortars, two towed 75s and starting dug in.  Fighting the long way along the road, a ridge line dominated the center with intermittent woods and a village at the end.  Off the line were the Panthers, towed 75s, a platoon of Panzer-Grenadiers and most of the artillery.
From the German rear, looking towards the front.

The ridge and waiting Germans.

Initial Soviet deployment to our front.

As expected, as the Soviet attack started to the front, additional Soviets came in on both flanks.  What was not expected was the strength of the flanking attacks.  Full companies of lend-lease Shermans and Churchills roared on table with accompanying infantry.  The carnage began quickly.
Surprise!  Nine Shermans, three Churchills plus supports.

Nine Shermans and a mass of infantry on the other flank.

Depending on your viewpoint, things are going well here.

The Soviet infantry facing the ridge found that they were deployed too far back and were ravaged by German artillery.  So too went the Soviet anti-tank guns which were quickly neutralized by the artillery, giving the German tanks a free hand to act/react.  One platoon of MkIVs rapidly began to redeploy to face the new crisis.  Soviet tankers took out a pair of 105mm guns that had just redeployed to meet the threat.
Concentrating on taking out the Shermans.

The rampaging T-34 rolls on.

The Churchills close on their hapless victims.

Although long range fire from the Panthers and lucky shooting from the towed 75s exacted a severe toll on one flank, the Soviet Churchills closed for an assault.  Approaching as they did there was little the infantry could do but die or run.  Similarly on the ridge a T-34 assaulted the German infantry, right into the face of a well placed Panzerschreck team.  Well placed perhaps, but ill-schooled in their weapon as two shots went wild and they were quickly steam-rolled.  On the other flank, away from the camera, the Soviet tanks were stopped cold by the redeployed MkIVs but the infantry rolled on in and took the village from the stunned Panzer-Grenadiers.
Shermans dead or run off, along with the remaining Churchills.

Armored cavalry to the rescue, Panthers sit tight.

The T-34 has done it's job, but now is alone and isolated.

At this point the Soviet morale began to break.  Tanks were abandoned as their crews ran for safety.  Cavalry and infantry began to inch backwards, realizing they had no chance of breaking through.  A hurried report went out to high command: "once we blast the Soviet infantry out of the village we can hold for some time.  Send more ammunition!"

Thanks to Dan for hosting and for Todd, Andrew and Jake for playing being gentlemen gamers.  Some Soviet airpower would have helped a great deal.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Volleys Rolling on the River

Some scheduling and communication issues lead to having only three players for our SYW game and no cavalry for the Hanoverian side.  Making the best of it we determined that all the French and Hanoverian cavalry was off battling on better ground.  Rules were Final Argument of Kings 2nd Edition (play test version) with the French fielding 23 battalions of 12 and 16 figures with 6 batteries against 17 Hanoverian, all 16 figures and 5 batteries.  The river was a disorganizing feature.  You could move up to it, then place yourself on the other side in good order, move across and dice to be disordered, or charge across and automatically be disordered.  It has a big effect on play.  The French had to evict the enemy from the river line.

As the French commander, observing the enemy behind the town on the left I determined to move forward as the artillery on the hill prepped the enemy line, then turn right and descend upon them, rolling up the line.  Or, that was my plan.

On the right I delayed the advance of my small brigade, hoping to get more Hanoverian battalions engaged first.

My two grenadier battalions and Regt. la Marck got well stuck in against the river line, absorbing a lot of punishment, though the potential was mitigated by some horrid dice on the part of my opponents.  The Hanoverians behind the town rapidly reacted to the turning attempt, advancing to bring flank pressure of their own.  The French artillery park were ordered up by the commander in chief to create a new killing zone.

As the Irish moved up behind the embattled grenadiers and Germans, the battle became general across the whole front.  The honor of the first charge of the day went to the Hanoverians though it failed.  Musketry and limited artillery continued to whittle down the Hanoverian defenders till an opening appeared.  Old regiments with long traditions like Picardie, Normandie and Auvergne fixed bayonets and readied themselves.  Splashing across the river the line was ruptured and the enemy guns scattered.  Hanoverian counter-attack caused great harm but another charge put an end to the fighting, before the Irish even got stuck in.  We did get to see the rare exchange of lines as the battered but unbroken grenadiers and Germans disengaged to allow the following Irish brigade to take their place.

Though the French had a bit more of a numeric advantage than I expected the battle was exceptionally hard fought with both sides attacking somewhere.  Tip 'o the three-cornered hat to Andrew and Jake for the gallant effort.  Game finished in about three hours after a delayed start.