AP99 - The Burial Mound

Continuing the report storm this was first posted Mid-November 2014 and was a further game vs my Czech opponent. Introducing air support for the first time as well..

"Nerves jangling, gear rubbing, check path ahead dodge, keep low..wait was that a..no it wasn’t. Deep breath..get up and go go go.. Bullets left ! not here. Nerves jangling, gear rubbing, check path ahead dodge, keep low..wait was that a..no it wasn’t. Deep breath..get up and go go go.. Bullets left ! still not near me.. get down anyway. Rifle up provide cover fire! Damn jam, why now?.
Work the action. aha a dud round –  eject – load  – re-aim. Focus, damn it, focus – try to hit something don’t waste the shot. Enemy fire has stopped.. Did we kill them? Of course not – I can see Russians moving back, why now?……wait, shouting close by it’s the Lieutenant, he is waving furiously downwards. Shit! Shells!! dive into a depression in the ground, keep hands over head, keep low, must keep mouth open. Stop, stop stop. Please stop…
Silence at last Must move forward get out of ranged zone. move! Come on get up body and MOVE. Russians shooting again. Ow, only a flesh wound, forget it too dangerous to stop here. There that foxhole over there..jump for it. Bollocks landed on a corpse. Covered in, I don’t want to know what I’m covered in… here come the shells again. Duck down. Onto the crazed dead face of the foxhole occupant. You are alive he isn’t, keep alive God please help me keep alive.
Upping the anti our next scenario is a revisit to Stalingrad with a meeting engagement between the Russians and Germans with varying waves of troops having to move to the infamous Mamayev Kurgan. Extra spice is added by the early morning mist (providing Level obstructions) and allowing easier movement to the target hill and the fact the Russians have a 70mm OBA with an off board observer along with two anti-aircraft guns which are very needed as the Luftwaffe finally arrives on turn four with two Stukas.
My opponent took the Russians as he was still practising artillery and I took the 6th Army as I wanted to practice with the Stukas. The Russian setup had the two anti-aircraft guns close to the hill and the majority of the small initial Russian force at level 3 on the hill itself. Rather than try and contest the hill at this early stage I decided to take the risky approach of attempting to take out the two guns (hopefully giving my ground air support freedom of operation later on) and also to take advantage of the Russian mortars minimum range of three versus my minimum of two.
Setup: As can be seen my forces have split into three with three explicit objectives A) the south gun, B) the enemy mortar on the hill and C) the north gun. B and C succeeded with A failing.
The initial turns were fairly fire free with an awful lot of – ‘do you think I can hit that’ …followed by lots of elevation checks followed usually by a ‘No’ or a ‘yes but with a +4′. My gun seizing plan proved averagely successful. My single squad in the North moved into a wood next to the Northmost and received a sixteen flat for its trouble (the gun shot using IFT).Fortunately the gun did not rate and only caused a pin check which the squad shrugged off. It then sustained and again caused a passed pin. That squad was then able to advance into combat taking three half turns to eventually kill the crew. On the other side I was less successful. Here the 16-1 broke the attacking squad perhaps unsurprisingly. The gun rated and followed this feat by breaking and casualty reducing my other squad in the wood.
I was still pleased with this result as with only one gun left my Stukas would have a much freer time of it. My sneaky mortar ploy worked well as well. I advanced within two hexes of the Russian mortar who could then not shoot and could instead only use their inherent at 2+2 and then hit him with my own mortar in return. This started badly with a four required to hit (Seven basic with minus two trench tem, minus two  level mist hindrance and plus one for the 9-1 leader directing) but rating twice I pushed this up to a six with area acquire. The last shot hit and broke the half squad who petrified turned into quivering conscripts. As my reinforcements could be seen all over the place they stayed in place only to surrender next turn when my valiant mortar squad assault moved next door.
Reinforcements on both sides managed to get a fair way across the access boards unscathed and things should start heating up when we continue in the next session.
After another huge delay we carried on wandering through the mist and to steal a football phrase it was a game of two halves. Things initially went very well. I used the cover of the mist to move forward a strong force in the south to contest the last Russian trench which they succeeded in doing by firstly pinning then killing in combat its defenders. The only fly in my ointment here was the medium machine gun on the other hill which managed two snake eyes in a row and firstly killed the squad with the prisoners  and then wounded and broke the officer. I was fortunate that whilst wounding the officer they also shot dead all their own prisoners so I had no worries about released Russians charging round the battlefield. In the center I started to assemble my machine gun and mortar whilst looking for routes to the hill and in the North my two forward units tried to fall back and delay the Russians long enough for my flanking forces to get over there. All going nicely especially when the Russian then broke his medium machine gun . I could almost see the writing on the wall….
Things are going well with my nicely placed to hold the Southerly hill and with plenty of troops arriving to beat the Russians to the North
Unfortunately I am obviously blind. In my turn my oppo corrected a Spotting round and though not accurate it landed one hex away right in the middle of my entire southern flank force. Instantly a hail of fire rained down pinning two squads breaking an officer and killing a further squad. This left that flank very vulnerable to the swarming Russians and it was only the drawing of a red chit the next turn that allowed me to attempt to get out some of the brokens back. My entire defence on this flank now rests on one squad with an medium machine gun and a bunch of panicked infantry.
Oh for the love of all that is holy look where that FFE was sitting….
In the middle the die gods smiled. The Russians repaired the machine gun but then broke it again and in my assault phase my new super stack (two * 4-6-8 + medium machine gun +mortar + 9-2 leader) pinned the officer then wounded him and broke the squad. Up North my solo two squads obviously felt out on a limb and one broke to an easy morale and then was massacred by adjacent Russians. The other squad survived a hail of fire and is almost close to the swarm of reinforcements that side. We stopped for the night now with things looking interesting. The Northern Hill will probably be retained but I have four turns to chase the Ruskies off the Southern hill and he will be strong there.  I also have to decide what to do about the Stukas.
They could guarantee the North hill but I may have to risk the AA fire and use them to disrupt the Russians on the South hill. Let us run through the numbers. Should I decide to attack the southerly AA gun with a stuka then allowing I pass the sight test I would get a point blank attack before dropping bombs (4 +2) which has little chance of success before  then the bomb attack. This would be either an ITT attack with the emplacement on the to hit roll so a four to crit and six to hit. Not that good odds…. On the other hand hitting area target type avoids the tem on the to hit which is then a 7 but halfs the damage causing 16 + 2 with a 1MC as an average result on a seven. Since one on the dice makes little odds I would probably go for an ITT so 4 or less a flat attack on the 36 column (and auto destroys the gun) which is a K/4 on a 7. 5 or 6 would be a 16 flat, not destroying the gun which would cause a 2mc. These are not great odds and I could instead just use the Stukas to prevent the Southern Russians consolidating or the Northern. Either way I would have to take AA fire and my opponent has sighted the guns well so they both cover each hill in turn. If I risked a shot the Russians would have an eight  in ift equivalence so would need a six or less to do damage. (6 evade, 5 damage, 4< destroy) with the evade not counting if I launch any point attacks. . Lots to think about until we start again.
The Russians, helped by their OBA, are about to seize the southern hill. The Northern looks a lot more precarious.
Lots to think about and a blood bath resulted – after a weather roll that created gusts and started it raining preventing me from using smoke. The Russian shooting over the next turn was horrifically effective with no less than six German squads broken and a half squad killed along with an officer plus a further officer wounded by a sniper. All of a sudden my North hill looked vulnerable. Fortunately my opponent decided to leave my last remaining 4-6-7 on that flank alone and tried to pull all his squads (including the one manning the anti-aircraft gun) south. This allowed me a stuka strafe attack that broke one of them and almost did for another. In a further piece of good luck I snake eyed a defensive fire shot and destroyed one of the Northern Russians.
In the South my valiant medium machine gun lasted a turn but then went and I eventually pulled round my last unwounded 9-2 into place to try and gather a force big enough to possibly threaten the hill in the last two turns. It does not look good though. Also on this side I mucked up my first diving Stuka attack I placed it behind the gun forgetting it would move forward into its covered arc and should have placed it facing the other way. I then missed with the bombs by one and the resultant AA fire damaged the aircraft recalling it. If I had placed it the other way then the covered arc would have had to change adding one to the roll making the aircraft evade instead.Live and learn I suppose.
In the center I was more successful getting several squad next to the defenders. In my turn my mortar and the medium machine gun stack managed to casualty reduce the squad twice destroying it. In his turn he managed to get another squad with light machine gun into the same hex which I then managed to pin and attack in close combat. My bad luck in the shooting phase balanced itself here as I won the combat for no losses. Next turn I encircled the unit next to me and advanced into combat after pinning them easily winning the 6-1 combat that resulted. On the deficit side my mortar broke.
So its now the end of German turn six with another stoppage.It is looking dicey for the Germans but we will see what happens next.
So finally we managed to reach the last two turns! The Russian turn was quiet as not a lot could be seen – my remaining Stuka almost had a strafing shot against two units on the road but failed to see them. The remaining Northern Russians might have caused difficulty but firstly one was killed with a subsequent first fire two down two on a die roll of three (though as a Russian consolation prize the Russian Sniper woke and broke my Medium machine gun squad in the South)  another was hit in open ground, rolled a double one and managed to get a ‘surrender’ result on the battle hardening so sat there disrupted essentially out of the game. My own turn seven was equally non-consequential as I hugged cover and tried to get as many units forward as possible. With a deep breath in the advance phase I then moved the majority of my troops into line of sight of the massed Russian defenders – risky but at this stage I needed some luck and to take some chances.
Hmm, think my mobile needs its camera cleaning as we appear to have a LOS mist hindrance coming down. Here you can almost see my valiant Landsers stepping into the open in front of a strong southerly Russian defence.
The last Russian turn showed my luck was flowing. The Russian sniper woke again but went haring of to the North to casualty reduce the broken squad in the left middle of the map – they weren’t going to be helpful for the final assault so were a fortunate irrelevancy. The Russian prep phase was appalling. Considering how many guys I had in the open I was expecting to get massacred but the end result was the wounded officer in the far south broken and one half squad pinned in the middle. Finally I sent my Stuka diving in to bomb the rear most X4 Russian hex. It saw the enemy , dived sirens wailing and missed badly with both machine guns and bombs!
How to prep everything and miss. Not that I was complaining…
Unfortunately what goes around comes around and my own defensive fire was equally ineffective with only one Russian squad broken (a first line squad in the shellholes). I had hoped for more but still faced a solid four hexes of Russians to deal with and a plethora of mortars.
I made one early mistake. I managed to fix the mortar in the gully and decided not to prep anything. When I started moving I realised that even with dropping the mortar I could not get that squad next door to a Russian so should have shot it anyway.
Movement was tense and my boys did take casualties though mainly pins – my last remaining 9-2 and two squads in the North all deciding to hunker down under the ferocity of the Russian fire. The other wounded officer and a squad with him also broke. Finally I advanced a 4-6-7 towards the rearmost Russians in X4 but had the squad receive a K2 result  and then rolled box cars for the morale check wiping out the lot.
This left me with two problems – I had no one to deal with X4 in combat so had to rely on shooting and my southern forces no longer had weight of numbers to hopefully defeat their opponents in combat. My shooting was again unfortunately poor. No Russians broke or even pinned and the key X4 squad laughed at my morale check against them. I had actually lost at this point but we decided to finish the advances and combats to see what would have happened. Out of the three combats I won the south most killing the defenders, won the north most again killing the defending squad and officer but lost the middle being casualty reduced.
So near yet so far….the end.

So in the end I was short by two hexes and two full Russian squads. It had been close though and the game was fast, bloody and furious. The decisive actions for the Germans were the very effective early OBA, the wind roll that stopped me using smoke to screen my advance, my bad handling and rolling with the Stukas (though at least one of them had one round of effectiveness) and finally my bad decision to not use the mortar in the last turn to try and damage the forward Russian squad (which would have allowed me to advance on X4 as opposed to needing to shoot at it). The Russian Sniper was also very effective gaining four ‘one’ attacks on five actions whereas I managed no Sniper activation in four actions. That’s what makes this game so great and so consistently different.


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